Maryland's Senate approved a ban on fracking in the state, a bill Gov. Larry Hogan has pledged to sign. Maryland would join Vermont as the only states that ban fracking through legislation. Vermont does not have the shale formations containing natural gas where fracking could be done but Maryland has it in the western part of the state.
An oil pipeline spill that contaminated a tributary of the Little Missouri River last December is now estimated to be three times larger than originally thought, making it one of the most significant pipeline spills in North Dakota history.Belle Fourche Pipeline Co. reports about 12,615 barrels, or 529,830 gallons, of oil spilled as a result of a pipeline leak the company now believes started on Dec. 1 and was discovered by a landowner on Dec. 5, said spokeswoman Wendy Owen.The spill contaminated a hillside and Ash Coulee Creek about 16 miles northwest of Belfield.An earlier estimate put the spill at 4,200 barrels, or 176,400 gallons, but was revised after the company was able to pinpoint when the spill started and review metering data, said Owen.
Peobody's debt-cutting plan will leave taxpayers facing a bigger bill for cleaning up nearly two dozen hazardous sites primarily in the central U.S., including a swath of northeast Oklahoma that once produced lead ore for bullets in both World Wars. The 22 properties will be shed by miner Peabody Energy Corp. when it leaves bankruptcy with a plan that shifts cleanup costs to the government. Peabody’s chapter 11 plan, approved Friday by a federal judge, and related settlements allow the company to provide about 2% of as much as $2.7 billion in environmental liabilities asserted by federal, state and tribal authorities for the sites polluted from lead and zinc mining that ended decades ago. But the gap between what governmental authorities sought from Peabody and what they will get at the end of the bankruptcy means the cost of cleaning up the sites will fall to governments and taxpayers. That comes as state budgets are stretched thin and the Environmental Protection Agency faces a 31% funding cut under President Donald Trump’s budget proposal.
California opened another front in its fight against global warming on Thursday, launching a new strategy for slashing so-called super pollutants that have an outsize impact on the climate. The plan targets emissions such as methane from cow manure, black carbon from diesel exhaust and hydrofluorocarbons from refrigerators. Regulators at the Air Resources Board, which approved the strategy, and other government agencies will now need to write detailed rules for achieving the reductions.
The authors argue a carbon roadmap, driven by a simple rule of thumb or "carbon law" of halving emissions every decade, could catalyse disruptive innovation. Such a "carbon law," based on Moore's Law in the computer industry, applies to cities, nations and industrial sectors. The authors say fossil-fuel emissions should peak by 2020 at the latest and fall to around zero by 2050 to meet the UN's Paris Agreement's climate goal of limiting the global temperature rise to "well below 2°C" from preindustrial times. A "carbon law" approach, say the international team of scientists, ensures that the greatest efforts to reduce emissions happens sooner not later and reduces the risk of blowing the remaining global carbon budget to stay below 2°C. Moore's Law states that computer processors double in power about every two years. While it is neither a natural nor legal law, this simple rule of thumb or heuristic has been described as a "golden rule" which has held for 50 years and still drives disruptive innovation. The paper notes that a "carbon law" offers a flexible way to think about reducing carbon emissions. It can be applied across borders and economic sectors, as well as both regional and global scales.
Under President Trump, the Environmental Protection Agency is on the chopping block. Both the president’s proposed budget and his executive orders on cutting regulations would shrink the EPA. But of the 38 EPA programs that the Trump administration has proposed cutting, at least one is quite surprising: the popular — and voluntary — Energy Star program. It’s not a mandatory regulation, nor a “job killer.” We can only assume that it’s on the list because its strong connection with climate change mitigation. Let us explain. Launched in 1992, Energy Star sets energy efficiency standards for appliances, electronics, and houses and buildings. But it’s not exactly a regulation. Businesses decide on their own whether to design products that comply with these standards. The EPA claims that Energy Star has lowered consumers’ electricity bills by $430 billion (contrast this with the annual administrative cost of the program of about $57 million). This lower energy consumption has prevented 2.7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Today the National Biodiesel Board filed an antidumping and countervailing duty petition, making the case that Argentine and Indonesian companies are violating trade laws by flooding the U.S. market with dumped and subsidized biodiesel. The petition was filed with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission on behalf of the National Biodiesel Board Fair Trade Coalition, which is made up of the National Biodiesel Board and U.S. biodiesel producers. “The National Biodiesel Board and U.S. biodiesel industry is committed to fair trade, and we support the right of producers and workers to compete on a level playing field,” said Donnell Rehagen, National Biodiesel Board CEO. “This is a simple case where companies in Argentina and Indonesia are getting advantages that cheat U.S. trade laws and are counter to fair competition. NBB is involved because U.S. biodiesel production, which currently support more than 50,000 American jobs, is being put at risk by unfair market practices.” Because of illegal trade activities, biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia surged by 464 percent from 2014 to 2016. That growth has taken 18.3 percentage points of market share from U.S. manufacturers. “The resulting imbalance caused by unfair trade practices is suffocating U.S. biodiesel producers,” Rehagen explained. “Our goal is to create a level playing field to give markets, consumers and retailers access to the benefits of true and fair competition.”Based on NBB’s review, Argentine and Indonesian producers are dumping their biodiesel in the United States by selling at prices that are substantially below their costs of production. This is reflected in the petition’s alleged dumping margins of 23.3percent for Argentina and 34.0 percent for Indonesia. The petition also alleges illegal subsidies based on numerous government programs in those countries.This is not the first time that Argentine and Indonesian biodiesel producers have been charged with violating international trade laws. In 2013, the EU imposed 41.9 to 49.2 percent duties on Argentina and 8.8 to 23.3 percent duties on Indonesia. Just last year, Peru imposed both antidumping and countervailing duties on Argentine biodiesel.
Despite the ongoing rollout of E15 fuel nationwide, a handful of bills introduced in legislatures in D.C. and elsewhere aim to put a halt to sale of the fuel blamed for causing damage to older vehicles. The most extreme of those bills, H.R. 1314, which Virginia Representative Robert Goodlatte introduced, calls for the elimination of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the portion of the Clean Air Act enacted in 2005 that provides for minimum volumes of renewable fuels to be blended into the country’s fuel supply. At the same time, Goodlatte introduced H.R. 1315, the RFS Reform Act of 2017, which would keep ethanol blending amounts at current levels and ban the the production and sale of any fuel with a blend of more than 10 percent ethanol. The bill essentially resurrects two similar bills that Goodlatte introduced in prior sessions of Congress and that died in committee. Similarly, H.R. 119, the Leave Ethanol Volumes at Existing Levels Act, which Texas Representative Michael Burgess introduced, would cap ethanol fuel blends at 10 percent. measures to restrict ethanol-blended fuel sales in the state. The first, S.B. 115, calls for the prohibition of all ethanol-blended fuels while the second, Senate Resolution 205, asks the U.S. Congress to eliminate all requirements for the use of ethanol as a fuel.
President Donald Trump’s White House has said his plans to slash environmental regulations will trigger a new energy boom and help the United States drill its way to independence from foreign oil. But the top U.S. oil and gas companies have been telling their shareholders that regulations have little impact on their business, according to a Reuters review of U.S. securities filings from the top producers.In annual reports to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 13 of the 15 biggest U.S. oil and gas producers said that compliance with current regulations is not impacting their operations or their financial condition.The other two made no comment about whether their businesses were materially affected by regulation, but reported spending on compliance with environmental regulations at less than 3 percent of revenue.The dissonance raises questions about whether Trump’s war on regulation can increase domestic oil and gas output, as he has promised, or boost profits and share prices of oil and gas companies, as some investors have hoped.
There has been much debate and much written about the likely costs and benefits of including ethanol in the domestic gasoline supply. Costs and benefits fall into two major categories--environmental and economic (e.g., Stock, 2015). One economic consideration is the potential impact on domestic gasoline prices from augmenting the gasoline supply with biofuels. A second economic consideration, and one that has received the most attention, is the cost of ethanol relative to petroleum-based fuel. What has been missing from the analysis of the value of ethanol in the gasoline blend is an estimate of the net value of ethanol based on: i) an energy penalty relative to gasoline; and ii) an octane premium based on the lower price of ethanol relative to petroleum sources of octane. This article provides an analysis of that net value since January 2007.