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Minnesota Department Of Commerce Says Enbridge Insurance Coverage Is Lacking

Wisconsin Public Radio | Posted on September 6, 2018

The Minnesota Department of Commerce says energy firm Enbridge does not have adequate insurance to protect the public from damages related to crude oil spills. Some critics, including one Wisconsin environmental group, argue that puts taxpayers on the hook to pay for cleanup of any accidents on the company’s pipelines. The Minnesota Department of Commerce is reviewing Enbridge’s policies to make sure the company is meeting conditions for building its $2.9 billion Line 3 replacement project that runs through Minnesota to the company’s terminal in Superior.

Dire Climate Change Warnings Cut From Trump Power-Plant Proposal

Bloomberg | Posted on September 6, 2018

Warnings about potentially severe consequences of climate change were deleted from a Trump administration plan to weaken curbs on power plant emissions during a White House review. Drafts had devoted more than 500 words to highlighting the impacts -- more heat waves, intense hurricanes, heavy rainfalls, floods and water pollution -- as part of the proposal to replace Obama-era restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. That language was left out of the Trump administration’s final analysis of the Environmental Protection Agency proposal. Among the abandoned assertions: an acknowledgment that “the climate has continued to change, with new records being set” for global average surface temperatures, Arctic sea ice retreat, carbon dioxide concentrations and sea level rise, all markers of the phenomenon. The administration also scrapped a reference to numerous “major scientific assessments” that “strengthen the case that GHGs endanger public health and welfare both for current and future generations.”


California passes landmark 100% clean energy goal

Utility Dive | Posted on August 30, 2018

The California Senate on Wednesday passed legislation that would set the state on a path to eliminate carbon emissions from its electricity generation, after the state Assembly approved it on Tuesday. S.B. 100 would set a state goal to supply 100% of retail electricity sales from carbon-free resources by 2045 and direct state agencies to begin planning for the target. The bill would also boost the state's current 50% renewable portfolio standard to 60% by 2030 and mandate that California's actions do not "contribute to greenhouse gas emissions increases elsewhere in the western grid."Utilities in the state oppose the effort, with Pacific Gas and Electric telling the Wall Street Journal the legislation is "poorly timed." The bill must be passed by the Senate before heading to Gov. Jerry Brown, who supports the effort and is likely to sign it. 

TVA shifts coal ash strategy in response to spill, Obama-era rule

Utility Dive | Posted on August 30, 2018

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) said it will alter its management of coal ash at a Kentucky coal plant in response to an Obama-era regulation under threat by the Trump administration.The utility will close two unlined coal ash storage units at its Shawnee Fossil Plant, removing water from the waste project, and capping the remaining contents in place, according to a final supplemental Environmental Impact Statement released on Friday. TVA will then build a clay-lined coal ash facility to handle new waste from the operating plant. The plan is part of TVA's process to "convert from wet to dry storage," at all its sites, said TVA spokesperson Scott Brooks. The utility committed to the process in 2009 after a major coal ash spill at its Kingston plant.

Trump's EPA unveils weaker alternative to Obama power plant rule

Reuters | Posted on August 22, 2018

The Trump administration proposed replacing a signature Obama-era policy to combat climate change with a weaker plan that would let states write their own rules on coal-fired power plants, prompting critics to warn of dire environmental and health consequences. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal would require states to submit plans for improving efficiency of coal-fired power plants. The federal government will set carbon emission guidelines, but states will have the leeway to set less-stringent standards, taking into account a facility’s age and the cost of upgrades.The rule also could allow power plant owners to sidestep costly permits for those improvements.

Seeking Certainty in Biofuels, But Finding Little

DTN | Posted on August 22, 2018

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler dropped into Iowa this week. Wheeler talked about "certainty" but offered none. Based on the news reports from the Des Moines Register and Cedar Rapids Gazette, Wheeler didn't say EPA was going to back off on small-refinery exemptions, and he said the agency is stilling "looking into" the possibility of E15 year-round. There were still no answers about the biofuel demand lost from EPA's small-refinery exemptions, only Wheeler pointing out the need for more transparency. As DTN has reported, EPA granted more than 2.25 billion gallons of exemptions to the Renewable Fuels Standard for 2016 and 2017, which translates into basically 800 million bushels of lost corn demand.

Modernizing renewables mandates is no longer about the megawatts

Utility Dive | Posted on August 22, 2018

Mandate innovations should no longer be limited to megawatts of wind and solar. State mandates, called renewable portfolio standards (RPS), set a standard for the renewable MWs that state load serving entities (LSE) must have in their portfolios by a specified date. RPSs, mandated in D.C. and 29 states, are at least partially responsible for 56% of the 120 GW of renewables built since 2000, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. RPSs were conceived as a means to drive the market for renewables to achieve policy goals like reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and increasing power system reliability through resource diversity. As the supply of renewables has expanded, states like Massachusetts and Arizona are experimenting with new policies to achieve the same goals in new ways. Ideas like Massachusetts' Clean Energy Standard (CES) and Arizona's Clean Peak Standard (CPS) are gaining momentum as policymakers come to understand the need for ways to evolve the RPS concept.

EPA analysis of its own new climate proposal: thousands of people will die

Vox | Posted on August 22, 2018

The Environmental Protection Agency has released the details of its plan to replace President Obama’s signature climate change policy, the Clean Power Plan, and it’s pretty much what we expected: a tepid pledge to fight climate change that’s actually a coal bailout.For the new proposal to stand, it has to be just as good as or better than the one it replaces in order to comply with the law. But it’s much weaker than the rule it’s replacing, so the EPA is arguing for a cost-benefit calculation that justifies a relaxed standard. Meanwhile, environmental activists and some states see this as a vulnerability and are girding themselves for a legal fight. The big difference is that rather than the federal government setting targets for states, states can set targets for themselves. The ACE also restricts what states can do to push coal-fired power plants to become cleaner.The CPP’s goal was to cut US greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent compared to 2005 levels by 2030. The ACE would reduce emissions between 0.7 and 1.5 percent in the same time frame.But the EPA’s own calculations show the new proposal would lead to upward of 1,400 additional premature deaths each year due to higher levels of air pollution. So the EPA is trading the health and well-being of thousands of Americans for keeping polluting and often unprofitable power plants online.

States greet Trump's new coal rules with lawsuit threats

CBS | Posted on August 22, 2018

States with a history of fighting air pollution generated by coal-fired power plants criticized a move by President Donald Trump's administration to scale back federal restrictions on emissions, with some threatening court challenges. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan was among those who pledged to "take legal action to ensure the federal government does its job" to protect the environment and people's health. She warned the Republican administration's move will have "disastrous consequences." New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood also vowed to sue the Environmental Protection Agency if the plan is approved. "If the Trump administration's proposal to dismantle the Clean Power Plan is adopted, we will work with our state and local partners to file suit to block it -- in order to protect New Yorkers, and all Americans, from the increasingly devastating impacts of climate change," Underwood said. Both attorneys general are part of a coalition that includes officials from 15 other states, the District of Columbia, four cities and one county who defend former President Barack Obama's 2015 Clean Power Plan. That plan requires reductions in climate-changing emissions from fossil-fuel-burning plants. Two other states and the city of Los Angeles also joined in comments the coalition filed in April opposing the repeal of the Clean Power Plan.

New Illinois law requires gas-leak notification for water protection

The Southern Illinoisan | Posted on August 22, 2018

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed a law requiring owners of gas storage fields to notify local officials if a natural gas leak threatens drinking water supplies. The law is designed to protect the Mahomet Aquifer in east-central Illinois. It is the area's primary water source. It provides drinking water for more than 500,000 residents.The measure sponsored by Mahomet Republican Sen. Chapin Rose also requires annual storage-field inspections by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.