The Climate Report
The Climate Report is a periodic newsletter that examines some of the topics affecting the field of climate change.
In This Issue
U.S. Regulatory Developments
With less than a month left in the public comment period, utilities, state regulators, and system operators have already expressed concern over the legality and feasibility of U.S. EPA's "Clean Power Plan" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, as well as the impact the proposal could have on electric reliability. Under its Significant New Alternatives Policy program, EPA has proposed new rules limiting the future use of certain hydroflurocarbons presently used as refrigerants in light-duty vehicle air conditioning systems and other products, and approving the use of substitutes with lower global warming potential.
Climate Change Issues for Management
Kellogg Company has joined Ceres's Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy, which engages consumer companies in efforts to transition to a low-carbon economy. A coalition of large investors, including Trillium Asset Management and Mercy Health, as well as the BlueGreen Alliance, have called on EPA to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas operations.
Renewable Energy and Carbon Markets
NRG Energy, Inc. and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp. have announced plans for the first carbon capture and sequestration project to be developed and built by an independent power producer without the support of ratepayers or government subsidies. The Petra Nova Carbon Capture project will capture 90 percent of post-combustion carbon dioxide from the coal-fired, 240 megawatt W.A. Parish plant in Texas, 1.6 million tons annually. The project will then convert the captured greenhouse gas into a revenue stream by pumping it 82 miles via pipeline to a mature oil field, where it will be injected to enhance oil recovery.
Climate Change Litigation
Several states have petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit seeking review of the 2011 agreement between EPA and various governmental entities and environmental organizations that resulted in EPA's proposed greenhouse gas regulations for existing power plants. A U.S. district court has held that the federal government violated the National Environmental Policy Act when authorizing enhanced mining activities in western Colorado without addressing greenhouse gas emissions in environmental impact statements. Industry groups and two states have asked the D.C. Circuit to reconsider its dismissal of their challenge to EPA's greenhouse gas State Implementation Plan rules.
Climate Change Regulation Beyond the U.S.
The United Kingdom has closed its consultation on proposed "minimum energy performance standards" to be established under the Energy Act of 2011 for residential and commercial rental properties. Although proposed regulatory text was not provided for comment, it appears that the initial target of the program will be the least efficient buildings, those with Energy Performance Certificate ratings of E, F, or G. Pursuant to its NER300 program, the European Commission has approved the award of 100 million greenhouse gas emission allowances to 19 projects in 12 Member States involving innovative renewable energy or carbon capture and storage technologies.