As we end the summer, this year is expected to be the hottest on record for the second year in a row. Climate change is on the forefront of President Obama's mind in his final months in office. Last week, he delivered paperwork commiting the US to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gas pollution to about a quarter below the levels from 2005 by 2025. Likewise, China , the leading producer of greenhouse gas, has committed to a halt in emissions by 2030. A large part of this decrease has been attributed to the reduction in coal consumption.Read More
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A recent article on the quality of the air in China began with this frighening statistic: Outdoor air pollution contributed to 1.2 million premature deaths inin 2010, nearly 40 percent of the global total. Brought into the headlines during the Beijing Olympics, the poor quality of the air in China is nothing new.
Last week, the EPA announced an extension of the public comment period for "Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program: Proposed Amendments and Confidentiality Determinations for Subpart I." The initial deadline for comment was December 17, 2012 and has been extended to January 16, 2013. In their announcement, the EPA stated that the reason for the extended comment period is the inclusion of two additional pieces of information. First, the summarization of a conference call the EPA held with the Semiconductor Industry Association in late October. The second is the EPA response to questions raised during that call about the calculation of Tier 2A emissions factors.
In brief, the amendment proposes changes to some of the calculation methods being utilized, provides some clarification of terms/definitions and adjusts the requirements for reporting. The amendments affect all manufacturers of electronics including semiconductors, LEDs, MEMS, LCDs and photovoltaic cells. The full proposal can be viewed here, and you can add your comments to the public record.
The EPA also has a fact sheet, which summarizes the proposal and can be viewed on the EPA site.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a standard for carbon pollution from new power plants, as required by the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling regarding the Clean Air Act.
This is the first Clean Air Act standard to address power plant carbon emissions. The carbon pollution standard, now open to public comment, reflects the existing move in to building plants that use clean-burning and take advantage of more efficient technologies. It also allows for the use of new technologies that will emit less carbon pollution but still burn coal. It is important to note that this standard applies only to new generating units, not those already operating, being built or that will begin construction within the next year.
Speaking about the proposal, EPA Administrator said, “Right now there are no limits to the amount of carbon pollution that future power plants will be able to put into our skies – and the health and economic threats of a changing climate continue to grow. We’re putting in place a standard that relies on the use of clean, American made technology to tackle a challenge that we can’t leave to our kids and grandkids.”
The proposed standard gives a good deal of flexibility, and it can be met by facilities using a variety of methods, including natural gas technologies and coal with implementation of emissions reducing technologies. Since existing plants and those being built within the year are not subject to this standard, EPA did not project any additional cost to comply with this standard.
A number of statements from legislators, environmental and health groups and business people have been released regarding this proposal. Just a few of these are below. To read more, please visit the EPA.
Ranking Member of the US House of Representative’s Committee on Energy and Commerce, Henry A. Waxman, released the following, “The proposal is a breakthrough. It sets achievable limits on dangerous carbon pollution, spurs investments in new clean energy technologies, and provides certainty for industry. And it shows the President is listening to scientists, not extremists who deny the existence of climate change. Today’s action will reduce pollution, make families healthier, promote innovation, and help us compete with China and other countries that are investing in clean energy.”
The Sierra Club urged its member’s to send messages to EPA Administrator Jackson to urge implementation of these protections, stating “For the first time ever, the Obama Administration and the EPA are proposing national limits on carbon pollution. Carbon pollution is linked not only to climate disruption, but also to significant health hazards like the smog that triggers asthma attacks. Right now, 158 million Americans live in counties with unacceptable air pollution levels. By supporting the EPA's effort for clean air, we can make sure they go the distance and put new protections in place.”
Ralph Izzo, Chairman and CEO of Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG), released a statement, “While we would have preferred that Congress enact legislation limiting greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA took an important step today in addressing the significant environmental threat posed by climate change.
The Agency’s action establishes a logical and modest standard for new electric power plants and provides the industry with much needed regulatory certainty. The EPA provides a framework for the industry to confront this problem in a cost effective manner.
We understand that the EPA continues to evaluate regulatory options for already existing plants that may be affected by the Clean Air Act and we look forward to working with the Agency to evaluate the best approaches for achieving meaningful greenhouse gas reductions in as flexible and economic manner as possible.”
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Last Wednesday, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled an online, searchable Greenhouse Gas database. The user-friendly database allows you to search for reported emissions from most major sectors by location or business name. In addition, the results can be filtered to examine particular gases and levels. Gases can be selected from the reported list of Carbon Dioxide, Nitrous Oxide, Methane, PFC-14, PFC-116 and HFC-23. Users can limit the emission range from 0 to 23,000,000 MT Carbon Dioxide emitted.
The new database fulfills the requirements set by a 2008 appropriations bill. The EPA hopes that by making this data easy to obtain will increase public pressure for decreasing emissions on emitting facilities. Gina McCarthy, an assistant administrator for air and radiation at the EPA stated, "We’re hopeful that the information will be a strong driver of greenhouse-gas reduction.”
A Supreme Court decision in 2007 triggered the process by which EPA is now mandated to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from all sectors of the economy. It has already started addressing such emissions from the transportation sector — which accounts for about 30 percent of the nation’s greenhouse-gas emissions — through the administration’s tougher fuel-economy standards.
As I mentioned in this blog post, the EPA is facing a court appointed deadline this year to propose regulations for power plants and refineries this year. Currently, coal-based power plants account for 40% of all of the US greenhouse gas emissions, and those plants produce approximately 45% of the country’s electricity. Any regulations would not effect these existing plants, but would strictly regulate new power plants. According to McCarthy, there are no plans currently to build new power plants. When asked about possible control of existing plants, she stated, “We have not prepared any proposal for existing facilities at this point.” This means that any regulations that are implemented will be limited in their power to address the concerns of environmental groups on the current levels of US emissions.
One other interesting thing to note is that all of these regulations are based on Supreme Court-mandated ability of the EPA to regulate Carbon Dioxide, which is listed as a pollutant by the Clean Air Act. Industry groups, utilities, and states and challenging this authority in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, with a ruling expected in February.
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"The air soft as that of Seville in April, and so fragrant that it was delicious to breathe it." - Christopher Columbus
These are the words Columbus wrote after his long voyage across the Atlantic. At Environics, we are always interested in air quality. Our Ambient Air Calibration systems are used in the field to calibrate the analyzers that collect crucial data on the air around us.
Today, I discovered a great tool called "My Environment" which allows you to be more knowledgable about the air quality where you live. Developed by the US EPA, the "My Air" tool allows you to see daily air quality (ozone levels, UV levels and radon levels) as well as compared to monthly and historical data. You can also choose to see emissions data and areas which are non-compliant with current ozone standards. You can see a snapshot of the results for our headquarters in Tolland, CT below.
Interested in more than just the air quality? My Environment includes a My Water, My Health, My Land and My Energy tabs. Each shows you a current look at your town as well as historical records and reports.
Can't get enough? You can even download My Environment as a widget for your desktop so this info will always be right at your fingertips!
The expected mid-December announcement from the EPA on plans to regulate emissions looks to be delayed based on an announcement yesterday. The regulations, which would be the first United States' regulations ever on emissions from oil refineries, was set to be finalized by the end of 2012 based on agreement between the EPA and various state and environmental organizations.