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The President’s Methane Reduction Strategy – Here’s What Energy Companies Need to Know

President Obama recently released a Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions (Strategy) that sets forth a multi-pronged plan for reducing methane emissions both domestically and globally.  Domestically, the plan is to focus on four sources of methane—the oil and gas sector, coal mines, agriculture and landfills—and to pursue a mix of regulatory actions with respect to … Continue Reading

D.C. Circuit Denies Rehearing on Nuclear Waste Fee Decision

The D.C. Circuit last week denied the Department of Energy’s (DOE) petition for en banc review of the court’s November decision holding that the DOE could not continue to collect nuclear waste fees from utilities.  The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) and National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) filed suit after the DOE’s termination of … Continue Reading

Massachusetts Permit for New Natural Gas Plant Incorporates Global Climate Conditions Including Sunset Date

The Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board (Siting Board) approved a certificate for a 630-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant in Salem last month.  The certificate is unique in that it incorporates the terms of a settlement agreement that imposes greenhouse gas emissions caps and requires the plant to sunset operations no later than 2050. The facility … Continue Reading

Deadline Extended to Submit Comments on EPA’s Proposed Greenhouse Gas Emission Limits for New Power Plants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that it is extending until May 9, 2014, the deadline for submitting comments on its proposed rule to set greenhouse gas emission limits for new coal- and gas-fired power plants.  The announcement came in a Federal Register notice signed by EPA on February 26 and slated for … Continue Reading

Greenhouse Gas Limits for New Power Plants – Comments due to EPA by March 10, 2014

Yesterday, the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to set greenhouse gas emissions limits for new coal-fired and natural gas-fired power plants was published in the Federal Register.  This proposal was originally posted on EPA’s website on September 20, 2013; however, the formal publication triggers the start of a 60-day public comment period.  The … Continue Reading

Baucus Proposes Reforms to Energy Tax Incentives

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) released a proposal on December 18 that would streamline energy tax incentives to make them more predictable and technology-neutral.  The proposal consolidates several different energy tax incentives into just two tax credits: one for electricity and one for transportation fuels.  The proposed provisions would allow facilities placed in … Continue Reading

What is the Social Cost of Carbon? OMB is now Taking Comments on that Issue.

The federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is now seeking public comment on how the United States government should calculate the “social cost of carbon” – the dollar figure used by federal agencies to estimate the harms associated with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and the benefits associated with reducing those emissions.  OMB’s request, published … Continue Reading

Illinois Releases Proposed Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations

Nearly six months after passage of the much touted Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Regulation Act (225 ILCS 732/1-1 et seq.) (the Act), the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) issued proposed regulations implementing the Act (the HFRA Regulations) and scheduled two public hearings to receive public input (one in Chicago on November 26, 2013 and the second in Ina … Continue Reading

The President’s New Climate Change Executive Order – What Does it Mean for the Energy Sector?

President Obama issued a new climate change-related executive order on November 1, creating a new interagency Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience and directing all federal agencies to focus on improving the nation’s ability to anticipate and adapt to changing climate conditions.  The order does not create new obligations for regulated entities, but it does … Continue Reading

New Legislation Would Vacate Proposed Carbon Pollution Standard for New Power Plants

by Bethany K. Hatef Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY.), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee, introduced a bill on October 28, 2013 that would void the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pending proposed rulemaking, regulating emissions of carbon dioxide from new coal-fired and natural gas-fired power plants.  Representative Whitfield … Continue Reading

Power Plant Cases in the Supreme Court

by Jacob Hollinger The Supreme Court’s 2013 term just began but it is already shaping up to be an important one for power plant owners and operators.  Three points stand out: First, on October 7, the Court denied cert. in Luminant Generation Co. LLC v. EPA, a case in which several power companies were challenging … Continue Reading

EPA Proposes CO2 Emission Limits for New Power Plants and on Track to Regulate CO2 Emissions from Existing Plants by 2015

by Jacob Hollinger and Bethany Hatef The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a proposed rule concerning carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new coal-fired and natural gas-fired power plants. The September 20 proposal meets a deadline set by President Obama in a June 25 Presidential Memorandum and keeps EPA on track to meet the President’s June 2015 deadline … Continue Reading

Third Circuit PSD Decision is a Loss for EPA, But Also Contains Warnings for Power Plant Owners

by Jacob Hollinger The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suffered an important loss on August 21 when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal EPA’s prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) enforcement action against the current and former owners of Pennsylvania’s coal-fired Homer City Generating Station. In United States v. EME … Continue Reading

United Kingdom Government Confirms Change to Sustainability Criteria for Biomass

by Caroline Lindsey The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in the United Kingdom published its response to its “Consultation on proposals to enhance the sustainability criteria for the use of biomass feedstocks under the Renewables Obligation (RO)” on 22 August 2013 (the Response). The original consultation was published on 7 September 2012. In … Continue Reading

House Bill Would Circumvent Federal Regulation of Coal Ash

by Bethany Hatef On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would significantly alter the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority with respect to the regulation of coal combustion residuals (CCR) or coal ash under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).  If enacted, this legislation would allow states to develop, implement and … Continue Reading

Obama’s Climate Plan Provides Timeline to Reduce Carbon Emissions at New and Existing Power Plants

by Bethany K. Hatef Following up on his Inaugural Address promise to prioritize climate change, President Obama unveiled yesterday a Climate Action Plan (Plan), which includes details about what steps the Administration will take to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.The White House also released a Presidential Memorandum that provides the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency … Continue Reading

Illinois to Act on Fracing – Or Not

by Thomas L. Hefty The Illinois General Assembly could be on the verge of enacting legislation, the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act (H.B 2615), that some environmental groups are touting as an environmental best practices for regulating the shale oil and gas recovery method known as horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracing). H.B. 2615, the result of months of negotiations … Continue Reading

California Cap-and-Trade Program Marches Forward

by Ari Peskoe California’s cap-and-trade compliance obligations became binding on January 1, 2013, culminating six years of regulatory proceedings. Although the California Air Resources Board (CARB) deemed the first auction for emission allowances in November a success, revised statistics revealed that two-thirds of all bids submitted were disqualified. In other recent developments, the state’s Public Utility Commission … Continue Reading

LEED v4 Nearing Completion

by Thomas L. Hefty The fifth and final public comment session for the new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard that will replace the current LEED 2009 (aka LEED v3) standard ended earlier this month. LEED v4 is intended to address one of the major criticisms of LEED v3, which is that it is … Continue Reading

New Research Finds Shale Natural Gas Production Emits Less Fugitive Methane that Previously Reported

by James A. Pardo and Brandon H. Barnes Shale natural gas production emits significantly less fugitive methane than previously thought, concluded researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in a November 26, 2012, study published in Environmental Research Letters.  According to the researchers, "it is incorrect to suggest that shale gas-related hydraulic fracturing has substantially altered the … Continue Reading
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