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Virginia is proposing its own power plant rules

Huffington Post | Posted on May 18, 2017

Virginia became the first state since President Donald Trump abandoned rules to reduce power plant emissions to begin drafting rules to replace the federal mandate.At a press conference on Tuesday morning, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) ordered state air regulators to propose rules by the end of the year to scale back carbon dioxide emissions from the utility sector and increase renewable energy investments throughout the state. “This should be done on the federal level,” McAuliffe told HuffPost by phone ahead of the announcement. “But obviously with the pronouncements now coming out of the Trump administration, we cannot rely on them to do it, so we will be taking it into our own hands on the state level.”The move lays the groundwork for a cap-and-trade system, which would set a fixed limit on the state’s carbon dioxide emissions and allow companies to buy and sell the rights to pollute. Once in place, Virginia will be allowed to participate in the carbon permit trading programs such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. 

 


Energy Company Unhooks Gas Lines After Fatal Colorado Blast

US News and World Report | Posted on May 18, 2017

The company that owns a gas well linked to a fatal home explosion in Colorado said Tuesday it will permanently disconnect other pipelines in the area like the one blamed in the explosion.Anadarko Petroleum, which owns the well, did not say how many pipelines would be disconnected. But the company has said it operates more than 3,000 similar wells in northeastern Colorado.Fire investigators have said unrefined, odorless natural gas from a severed 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) pipeline seeped into a home in the town of Firestone, causing the April 17 explosion that killed two people. A third was badly burned.The pipeline was thought to be out of service, but investigators said it was still connected to a well near the home. They have not determined why it was connected.

 


Diane Sullivan is a hero, but not the type HSUS seeks

Watt Ag Net | Posted on May 12, 2017

Massachusetts woman not intimidated by animal rights activists, persists on her quest to keep food affordable to all. By now, we have probably all seen those Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) ads that show a sad little puppy or kitten, asking people to be a hero. Hero is a word that is overused. Yes, if a person donates to their local animal shelter or goes to the local animal shelter to adopt an animal, he or she could be a hero in that pet’s eyes. But that doesn’t appear to be HSUS’ intent with these ads. They want people to donate to their organization, and studies have shown that only a minute percentage of HSUS funds go to helping animal shelters.To me, a hero can be defined as someone who seeks to improve the lives of others and is undeterred in his or her efforts to do so in an honest and ethical way.People attending the Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit recently in Kansas City got to hear a hero tell her story. That hero is Dianne Sullivan, and fortunately, her story hasn’t ended.


Dakota Access pipeline leaked 84 gallons of oil in April

Telegraph Herald | Posted on May 11, 2017

The Dakota Access pipeline leaked 84 gallons of oil in South Dakota early last month, which an American Indian tribe says bolsters its argument that the pipeline jeopardizes its water supply and deserves further environmental review. The April 4 spill was relatively small and was quickly cleaned up, and it didn’t threaten any waterways. The state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources posted a report in its website’s searchable database, but it didn’t take any other steps to announce it, despite an ongoing lawsuit by four Sioux tribes seeking to shut down the pipeline.Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist with the agency, said Wednesday that the state doesn’t issue news releases on spills unless there is a threat to public health, a fishery or a drinking water system. He said there was no such threat with the Dakota Access leak, which happened nearly 100 miles east of the Missouri River’s Lake Oahe reservoir, which is the tribes’ water supply.“We realize Dakota Access gets a lot of attention. We also try to treat all of our spills in a consistent manner,” Walsh said. “We treated this as we would treat any other 84-gallon oil spill.”


U.S. blocks major pipeline after 18 leaks and a 2 million gallon spill of drilling mud

The Washington Post | Posted on May 11, 2017

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has curtailed work on a natural-gas pipeline in Ohio after the owner, Energy Transfer Partners, reported 18 leaks and spilled more than 2 million gallons of drilling materials. The pipeline regulator blocked Energy Transfer Partners, which also built the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, from starting horizontal drilling in eight areas where drilling has not yet begun. In other areas, where the company has already begun horizontal drilling, the FERC said drilling could continue.The FERC also ordered the company to double the number of environmental inspectors and to preserve documents the commission wants to examine as it investigates the spills.The biggest spill, in a pristine wetland along the Tuscarawas River about 50 miles south of Akron, covered 6.5 acres, the commission said, “coating wetland soils and vegetation with bentonite clay and bore-hole cuttings.” A video provided by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency showed drilling mud a foot or two deep.


Senate Can’t Pass Methane Rollback So Interior Decides To Do It Anyway

The Huffington Post | Posted on May 11, 2017

Hours after Senate Republicans’ failed attempt to overturn an Obama-era rule regulating methane emissions, the Trump administration announced it will take matters into its own hands. Kate MacGregor, the acting assistant secretary for Land and Minerals Management at the Department of the Interior, said shortly after Wednesday’s vote that as part of President Donald Trump’s America-first energy plan, the agency has flagged the methane rule as one it will “suspend, revise or rescind given its significant regulatory burden that encumbers American energy production, economic growth and job creation.” The rule is one of several the Interior Department is reviewing as part of an executive order signed by Trump in March.In other words, the agency intends to do what Senate Republicans could not. It’s a move that would be seen by environmentalists as yet another attack on the climate and public health.


Environmentalists triumph as Senate upholds drilling rule

Telegraph Herald | Posted on May 11, 2017

Environmentalists notched a rare win in the Republican-led Senate on Wednesday as a GOP effort to reverse an Obama-era rule restricting harmful methane emissions unexpectedly failed. The 51-49 vote against the repeal measure was a blow to the fossil- fuel industry and groups linked to the conservative Koch Brothers, which had waged a public campaign to overturn the Interior Department rule.The rule, finalized in November, would force energy companies to capture methane that’s burned off or “flared” at drilling sites because it earns less money than oil. An estimated $330 million per year in methane — the component of natural gas — is wasted through leaks or intentional releases, enough to power about 5 million homes per year. The Interior Department said in a statement Wednesday that the rule imposes significant burdens on energy production and they would review it.


Low Carbon Fuel Standard or Renewable Fuel Standard?

Biofuels Digest | Posted on May 11, 2017

What is different about a Low Carbon Fuel Standard — as compared to a Renewable Fuel Standard?There are 4 primary differences.1. An RFS creates a standard, and any fuel that meets that standard can compete in that market. Once a fuel has met the low-carbon standard, it becomes entirely about fuel price. In an LCFS, all fuels get credited according to the carbon reductions of their pathway. So, there are no “motivational dead zones” when it comes to pushing harder on reducing carbon.2. An LCFS sets carbon volumes, not fuel volumes. 3. All fuels and energy systems compete against each other. Nat Gas? Electrics? Biofuels? Just register a pathway, prove the carbon intensity, and you can compete as a carbon-lowering fuel. 4. So far, the California LCFS only covers road transportation. So, jet fuel qualifies under the US RFS, but not under the California LCFS. This creates problems for airlines, because jet producers can generally also produce diesel fuel, and diesel qualifies under both the RFS and the LCFS  — so, there’s far less value in jet fuel and, consequently, no one wants to make it despite airlines clamoring for a low—carbon solution and everyone agreeing that there’s no low-carbon solution on the horizon for aviation except low carbon liquid fuels.


Icahn’s Pig in a Poke

Biofuels Digest | Posted on May 11, 2017

Members of the U.S. Senate are questioning whether Carl Icahn’s lobbying to change the Renewable Fuel Standard creates an ethics conflict with his role as advisor in the Trump administration. In addition to the ethics question, Members of Congress and some in the biofuels industry should examine whether Icahn could even deliver on the purported quid-pro-quo even if he wanted to. In late February 2017, Icahn and a biofuel trade association reportedly discussed a presidential executive order to make Icahn’s desired change to the RFS Point of Obligation (the so-called POO) in exchange for modifications to unconnected policy priorities for biofuel producers. The proposed “deal” essentially was a non-starter, since altering federal policies is a far more challenging task than Icahn or his partners care to admit publicly. In short, the reported “deal” cannot be accomplished simply by waving a magic wand or through a presidential executive order.Icahn claims the RFS exacts a disproportionate toll on his business interests, and he therefore wants to move the POO as far from CVR as possible. Icahn Enterprises owns 82 percent of CVR Energy, which includes two oil refineries – one in Kansas and a small one in Oklahoma – and a rack marketing terminal for selling finished fuel. Despite owning the rack terminal, CVR protests it cannot blend enough biofuel to meet the obligation and must therefore buy Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) on the market. However, Reuters has reported that CVR sold RINs on several occasions in the past year, creating a short position in the market and apparently gambling that it can escape the obligation or buy the RINs back at a deflated price.


Desert critters avoid noisy wind farm turbines

Popular Science | Posted on May 11, 2017

Our understanding of renewable energy impacts remains woefully deficient, but a new study, published last month in The Journal of Wildlife Management, suggests that windfarms affect the hunting and scavenging behaviors of the desert’s foxes, coyotes, and bobcats. Scientists visited a wind farm near Palm Springs, California, home to 460 lofty wind turbines, and set up motion-activated cameras in front of 46 desert tortoise burrows. They found that mesocarnivores (animals that mostly munch meat, but also occasionally eat some fungi and plant material), like foxes and bobcats, more often visited tortoise burrows that were farther away from the noisy, spinning machines. Lovich, a co-author of the study, explains that this sort of research aims to improve our understanding of how wind turbines affect wildlife, so future farms can be designed in less impactful ways. “My research is all about trying to find ways to minimize the negative effects of renewable energy, while maximizing the positive effects for society,” he says.


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