Climate, Energy, & Air Update - January 31 - February 13, 2013

February 13, 2013

Obama exhorts Congress to adopt “bipartisan, market-based” climate policies, but warns if they don’t act soon he will move forward with “executive actions” . . . SOTU also calls for sending revenues from leasing of federal lands to Energy Security Trust Fund to support clean energy R&D . . . EPA releases 2011 GHG emissions reporting data.  Methane emissions are up . . . EPA pushes forward on 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard and Tier 3 rules.  Bipartisan groups of legislators send letters to EPA with concerns about both RFS and Tier 3 . . . Reps. Harper (R-MS) and Matheson (D-UT) introduce bill to modify methodology for setting RFS volume obligations  . . . Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) releases energy blueprint . . . New paper on electricity policy advocates expanded back-up siting authority for FERC . . . World Resource Institute charts policy pathways to U.S. Copenhagen commitment . . . Commission issues recommendations for doubling U.S. energy productivity by 2030.

Executive Branch 

Also see our table of "Key EPA Rulemakings Affecting the Energy Sector."
  • Obama SOTU Addresses Climate and Energy.  In this State of the Union address, President Obama exhorted Congress to adopt a “bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change”– citing the 2007 McCain-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill – and warned that if “Congress won’t act soon” he will direct his Cabinet to come up with “executive actions.”  Obama also touted the “natural gas boom” and said his Administration will “keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits.”  Noting that much of the expanded energy comes from federal lands and waters, the President proposed that some of the leasing revenues go to an “Energy Security Trust Fund” that would finance research and technology to shift the transportation sector “off oil for good.”  The speech also called for further driving down the costs of solar and wind energy, suggesting the President’s support for a further extension of the production tax credit for wind energy.  Finally, the President announced a goal of cutting in half over the next twenty years the amount of energy wasted by homes and businesses.  He said that states coming forward with good energy efficiency ideas will be able to count on federal funding for implementation.

  • EPA Releases 2011 GHG Emissions Reporting Data.  On February 5, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data for the second consecutive year; the data covers 2011 emissions.  The data, which is collected through the agency’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, includes information from approximately 8,000 facilities in 41 source categories, 12 of which  are new, including: petroleum and natural gas systems, industrial wastewater treatment facilities and coal mines.  According to the data, power plants remain the largest stationary sources of GHG emissions. The reported 2011 power plant emissions dropped 4.6% from the reported 2010 level.   This decline is attributable to increased use of natural gas and renewable fuels and lower power demand.
       
  • EPA Publishes Final Rule Clarifying Nonhazardous Secondary Wastes.  On February 7, the EPA published its “Reconsideration and Final Amendments; Non- Hazardous Secondary Materials That Are Solid Waste” rule (NHSM rule).  The February 7 rule and amendments clarify which secondary materials may be treated as fuels rather than solid wastes when incinerated, and also lifts the delay in the effective date for the agency’s March 2011 final rule, entitled “Standards of Performance for New Stationary Sources and Emissions Guidelines for Existing Sources: Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incineration” (CISWI rule).  Nonhazardous secondary materials that are considered wastes are subject to the more stringent CISWI rule under section 129 of the Clean Air Act (CAA).   The NHSM rule clarifies and expands which materials the agency considers to be fuels and thus subject to the less stringent industrial boiler requirements under section 112 of the CAA.    Examples of nonhazardous secondary materials include: resinated wood, coal refuse (recovered from legacy piles), dewatered pulp and paper sludges, and non-discarded scrap tires (managed by tire collection programs).

  • EPA Issues Two New Proposed Rules for RFS Program.  On February 7, EPA proposed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Volume Requirements for 2013 that would require petroleum refiners to blend a greater percentage of renewable fuels, including cellulosic biofuels, than the requirements for 2012 – even though the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) recently vacated the agency’s 2012 cellulosic biofuel volume requirements as being aspirational rather than factually supported.  See American Petroleum Institute v. EPA, No. 12-1139.  EPA is primarily relying on two companies, KiOR, Inc. and INEOS Bio, to produce the required volumes of cellulosic biofuels.  The agency will accept comments on the RFS proposed volume rule until March 25.  Additionally, EPA issued a proposed rule on January 31 that would establish an RFS voluntary quality assurance program for renewable identification numbers (RINs).  Under the RFS program, petroleum refiners may demonstrate compliance by submitting RINs, which are issued by EPA to entities that produce or import renewable fuels.  Currently, there is no mechanism to ensure RINs are legitimate; refiners operate under a “buyer beware” rule.  This approach led to controversy in 2012 when many RINs turned out to be fraudulent because they were not associated with actual production, resulting in liability for the refiners that purchased the RINs.  The proposed rule would establish a system for third-party verification of RINs.  While the program would be voluntary, petroleum refiners that purchased the verified RINs would be allowed an affirmative defense against civil liability if the RINs turn out to be invalid. 

  • EPA’s Proposed Tier 3 Gasoline Standards Are Under Review at White House.  The White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is currently reviewing EPA’s proposed rule to set Tier 3 vehicle and gasoline standards under the CAA.  OMB is required to review and coordinate all significant federal regulations to ensure they reflect the Administration’s priorities and are based on sound economic principles.  The current Tier 2 rule, which EPA finalized in 2000, lowered the sulfur content in gasoline to 30 parts per million.
  • Energy & Treasury Departments Offer $150 Million in Tax Credits for Clean Energy Manufacturers.  The Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit Program was established to support domestic investment in clean energy and energy efficiency manufacturing facilities by providing a 30 percent investment tax credit.  The initial round of credits offered $2.3 billion to 183 projects based on a competitive award process.  On February 7, the U.S. Departments of Energy and the Treasury announced the availability of $150 million in unused tax credits, which will also be awarded on a competitive basis.  Project approval will be based on criteria such as domestic job creation, technological innovation, speed to project completion, and potential for reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

  • DOI Announces Lease of Gulf Acres for Oil and Gas Exploration.  The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced that it will offer 38.6 million acres off the coasts of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi for oil and gas exploration.  The sale, which is scheduled for March 20, will encompass 7,299 blocks 4 to 230 feet offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.  According to DOI, the lease salecould produce as much as 1 billion barrels of oil and 4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.  For more information, see: http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/interior-to-offer-38-million-acres-for-oil-and-gas-development-in-central-gulf-of-mexico-lease-sale.cfm

  • FutureGen Carbon Capture Project Moves to Phase 2.  The Department of Energy (DOE) has approved a second phase for the FutureGen project – a public-private partnership to construct a near-zero-emission coal-fired power plant utilizing carbon capture and sequestration.  The FutureGen project involves retro-fitting a plant in Meredosia, Illinois, which was formerly owned by Ameren Energy Resources.  Carbon dioxide (CO2) from the plant will be piped to a sequestration site 30 miles away where it will be used for enhanced oil recovery.   The aim is to capture 90 percent of the plant’s CO2 emissions.  DOE’s February 4 approval for Phase 2 authorizes a range of preconstruction activities, including permitting, environmental review, and design.  Van Ness Feldman is counsel to the FutureGen Industrial Alliance, a non-profit entity that is serving as the private sector partner in the project. 
  • GSA Seeks Additional Comments on Green Building Rating Systems.  On February 5, the Government Services Administration (GSA), which manages federal infrastructure, issued a set of initial findings on the government’s use of green building rating systems and requested additional comment by April 5 on whether and how to use such systems.  The GSA released findings from an inter-agency group that has been evaluating three private sector rating systems: the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, the Green Building Initiative's Green Globes, and the International Living Future Institute's Living Building Challenge.  The interagency group generally found that the LEED system works best for existing buildings, while the Green Globes system has advantages in rating new buildings.  The GSA is requesting comment on several issues, including whether to adopt a single rating system or multiple systems.  Under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the GSA is required to re-evaluate such systems periodically and provide recommendations to the Secretary of Energy.  For more information, see http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/162683.
      
  • DOI to Audit Whether Coal Companies Underpaid Royalties for Exported Federal Coal. Responding to a January 3 letter from Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that he has directed DOI’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue to investigate whether coal leases from federal land in Wyoming and Montana have complied with requirements for arms-length transactions and appropriate royalty payments.  Salazar’s letter also welcomed legislative efforts to improve the federal coal leasing regime.  The original Wyden-Murkowski letter was spurred by an article in Reuters alleging that coal companies have under-paid royalties due to the federal government by selling coal mined from federal lands to affiliated domestic brokers who then exported the coal to Asia.  According to Reuters, this approach has allowed coal companies to pay royalties solely on the basis of the domestic sale rather than on the basis of the more lucrative exports.  The Reuters article is available here: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/04/usa-coal-royalty-idUSL1E8N4AJI20121204.  The Salazar letter is available here:http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=94316913-27c1-4152-a272-7cabff2010c8

  • Delaware River Basin Commission Reverses Itself, Will Conduct Environmental Review of Existing Pipelines.  The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), a joint federal-state agency charged with managing water resources in the Delaware River Basin, has reversed itself and decided to review two existing natural gas pipelines built by Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., LLC (TGP) and Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. through the Delaware State Forest in northeastern Pennsylvania.  In a January 30 letter to environmental group Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the DRBC admits that its rules of procedure require environmental review of the pipelines because they cross areas that have been incorporated into the DRBC’s Comprehensive Plan for water management.  Although the decision to review the pipelines will not require the pipelines to interrupt their operations in the near term, it could set a precedent leading to review of future pipeline projects (such as TGP’s planned Northeast Upgrade Project) that cross lands within the jurisdiction of the DRBC.
Congress
  • Senators Working on Bipartisan Bill to Address Nuclear Waste.  Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and a bipartisan group of Senators are working to craft legislation to address the issues surrounding the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository.  According to Chairman Wyden, Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have begun conversations on the matter and the group expects to propose legislation soon.  While no specifics have been released, expectations are that any legislation addressing nuclear waste will lean heavily on recommendations in the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC) final Report to the Secretary of Energy from January, 2012.  Van Ness Feldman served as outside counsel to the BRC.  Additional information on the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel  is available at http://www.vnf.com/news-alerts-674.html

  • Senators Craft Revenue Sharing Bills.  On January 3, Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) introduced S. 199, a bill to establish revenue sharing between the federal government and State of Alaska for the development of oil and gas on Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf.  Specifically, the bill would establish a 37.5 percent royalty rate for oil and gas developed off the coast of Alaska.  As mentioned in last week’s update, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has said that she is working on a bill to expand of revenue sharing between offshore oil and gas developers and all affected states.  Additional information on Senator Begich’s bill is available at http://www.begich.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2013/1/begich-introduces-revenue-sharing-bill-presses-issue-with-treasury-nominee-jack-lew
  • Sen. Murkowski Releases Energy Blueprint.  On February 4, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) released a document entitled “Energy 20/20: A Vision for America’s Energy Future,” which sets a path to U.S. energy independence from OPEC sources by 2020.  Sen. Murkowski described the document in the cover letter as being a “blueprint for discussion, not an ‘energy plan’ in and of itself.”  The blueprint follows six themes; producing more sources of energy; consuming less by increasing efficiency; developing clean energy technologies; modernizing transmission infrastructure; making government more effective; continued efforts to develop energy sources responsibly; and revenue sharing.  Specific proposals in the blueprint include opening the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas development, and establishing an accelerated process for permitting renewable energy projects.  The Blueprint specifically mentions approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, acceleration of the permits for natural gas exports from the lower 48 states, and encouragement of coal exports as keys to reaching energy independence by 2020.  The press release, summary and full document are available at http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/republican-news?ID=58c77992-0362-47c9-bd53-ab121f1c4414.

  • House Energy and Commerce Committee Holds Mark-up, Debates Climate Change.  On February 6, the House Energy and Commerce Committee began a mark-up to adopt an oversight plan for the 113th Congress.  Normally,  adoption of the committee’s oversight plan is uneventful.  This year, however, the Committee engaged in protracted debate to consider  amendments  to add climate change issues to the Committee’s Oversight Plan.  Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) offered an amendment that would have directed the Committee to hear from scientists on the role of climate change in causing drought, heat waves, wildfires, reduced crop yields, and impaired electricity generation; however, this amendment was defeated by a vote of 19 to 27.  Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) offered another amendment that would have required the Committee to hear from scientists on the threats of climate change to coastal areas in the United States, including how climate change can contribute to storms like Hurricane Sandy; this amendment was defeated by a vote of 18 to 27.  The Committee’s Oversight Plan  states that the Committee intends to “examine the EPA’s efforts to regulate domestic greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act” and will “consider whether such agreements and regulatory efforts are scientifically well grounded.”  Additional information on the amendments is available at http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/index.php?q=news/house-energy-and-commerce-republicans-turn-blind-eye-to-climate-change-science  and the full oversight plan is available at http://docs.house.gov/meetings/IF/IF00/20130205/100232/BILLS-113pih-ECOversightPlan113.pdf
        
  • House Members Introduce Bill to Alter RFS.  On February 6, Reps. Gregg Harper (R-MS) and Jim Matheson (D-UT) introduced H.R. 550, a bill to alter the way the EPA sets the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandate.  H.R. 550 would force the EPA to base its annual cellulosic biofuel requirements under the RFS on the previous year's actual production rather than estimates and forecasts.  Additional information on H.R. 550 is available from Rep. Harper’s website at http://harper.house.gov/press-release/lawmakers-aim-improve-epa-mandate

  • Bipartisan Group of House Members Send Letter to EPA Regarding Biofuels.  On February 7, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) was joined by Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), Oversight Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) in penning a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.  The letter is a continuation of the Committee’s oversight of the Agency’s management of fraud in the production and trade of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs).  The letter requests that the Administrator respond to specific questions, including an assessment of the Agency’s current efforts to “reduce fraudulent or improper generation, registration or retirement of RINS.”  Additional information, including a copy of the letter, is available at http://energycommerce.house.gov/press-release/committee-leaders-request-update-epas-efforts-combat-rin-fraud

  • Bipartisan Group of Senators Sends Letter to EPA Regarding the Tier 3 Rule.  On February 4, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Senator David Vitter (R-LA) was joined by Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), John Hoeven (R-ND), James Inhofe (R-OK), and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) in sending a letter to President Obama regarding the EPA’s proposal for Tier 3 regulations addressing the sulfur content in gasoline.  In the letter, the five Senators urge the President not to move forward with such regulation because it is unneeded.  To date, EPA has asserted that Tier 3 standards are needed to achieve the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone.  As discussed in the Executive section, the EPA’s proposed regulation currently awaits approval by the OMB.  A copy of the letter is available at http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=a70c480c-ce1b-5ee7-430b-ae4f2e5230d9&Region_id=&Issue_id=. 

  • Bipartisan Group of Senators Sends Letter to EPA Regarding Particulate Matter Standards.  On February 8, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Senator David Vitter (R-LA) and Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson regarding the NAAQS for fine particulate matter.  The duo posed seven questions on the science behind these new regulations and how they will impact states and localities and economic recovery.  The letter states that “this rule is based on incomplete science and a truncated process and may be imposing unnecessary new and additional burdens on states and localities.”  The letter requests responses from Administrator by February 22, a week after her final day as EPA Administrator.  A copy of the letter is available at http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=bb4696b1-cb4d-0f5d-d5d6-6761db981a43.

  • Senate Committee Names Subcommittee Leaders.  On February 12, Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ranking Member David Vitter (R-LA) announced the Subcommittee Chairs and Ranking Members for the 113th Congress.   Senator Vitter’s ascension to Ranking Member of the Full Committee left vacant the slot for the Ranking Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, creating a domino effect of changes to the Ranking Members on the Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee and the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee.  cChanges include Tom Udall (D-NM) taking the Chair of the Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health Subcommittee.  The new committee roster is available at http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Majority.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=cf3ea369-f9e8-6353-b962-576f42fac9d8
Judicial

For more information on pending environmental law cases, see the VNF Environment Appellate Litigation Tracking Tool at http://www.vnf.com/litigationtracker

  • D.C. Circuit Suspends Briefing in Lawsuit Challenging NSPS Standards for Conventional Air Pollutants.  The D.C. Circuit has suspended briefing in Utility Air Regulatory Group (UARG) v. EPA(No. 12-1166) pending further order of the court.  The case addresses the challenges by UARG and others to the recently revised Clean Air Act New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for fossil-fueled electric generating units, which were issued in connection with the Utility Mercury and Air Toxics Standard.  On January 8, EPA filed a motion in the case requesting that certain issues in the case be severed and held in abeyance while EPA reconsiders them in the context of pending revisions to the NSPS rule.  UARG opposed the motion.  The D. C. Circuit’s short January 29 decision to suspend briefing does not mention the competing motions, but may have been issued in order to allow the court to revise the briefing schedule to take into account the parties’ dispute over severance of the issues being reconsidered by EPA.

  • U.S. Government Ordered to Compensate SMUD for Nuclear Waste Storage Costs; D.C. Circuit Asked to Suspend Collection of Nuclear Waste Fee.  On February 1, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ordered the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to pay $34.7 million to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) to compensate SMUD for its costs in storing nuclear waste from the Rancho Seco Nuclear Generating Station.  Under the federal Nuclear Waste Policy Act, DOE is required to remove and store spent nuclear fuel from U.S. reactors in centralized waste storage facilities.  To pay for storage and disposal of the waste, DOE collects a fee on every unit of electricity produced by nuclear power plants in the U.S.  The payment to SMUD is the latest in a series of lawsuits in which the U.S. has been required to pay a total of almost $2 billion to dozens of electric utilities for failing to provide a permanent solution to the storage of spent nuclear fuel now located at nuclear reactor sites around the country.  Separately, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) and National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) filed a motion in the D.C. Circuit to reopen a challenge to DOE’s continued collection of the nuclear waste fee.  The petitioners’ motion argues that DOE cannot continue to collect the fee because its current long-term waste storage plan (which would involve creating an interim storage facility and moving authority for nuclear waste facility siting to a new governmental or quasi-governmental entity) cannot be implemented unless and until Congress acts.  The D.C. Circuit case is National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners v. U.S. DOE (No. 11-1066).  For more on the lawsuit and the Nuclear Waste Fee dispute, see our June 8, 2012 Alert: http://www.vnf.com/news-alerts-715.html.

  • New York Court Rejects Challenge to Hudson River Natural Gas Pipeline.  A New York State trial court has denied petitions by environmental groups to require environmental review of a $1.2 billion natural gas pipeline that will run under the Hudson River from New Jersey to the West Village in Manhattan.  New York Superior Court Judge Eileen A. Rakower held that environmental review under New York state law was pre-empted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) exclusive authority under the Natural Gas Act over siting of interstate pipelines.  The project has already received partial approval from FERC to proceed. The case is Sane Energy Project et al. v. the Hudson River Park Trust et al., Case No. 12103707, Supreme Court of the State of New York – New York County.

  • Environmental Groups Threaten to Sue NRG Energy Over Clean Water Act Violations at Three Power Plants; Lawsuit Challenges Pollution Credit Trading System.  On January 24, environmental groups sent NRG Energy a “notice of intent to sue”—a legal prelude to filing a citizen suit under the Clean Water Act—alleging that three coal-fired power plants owned by NRG are violating their permit limits for nitrogen and phosphorus.  The notice alleges that the power plants attempted to avoid their individual permit obligations by purchasing and transferring nitrogen and phosphorus “pollution credits” through Maryland’s pollution credit trading program, which the environmental groups claim violates the Clean Water Act.  One of the groups, Food and Water Watch, is also involved in a separate lawsuit over the legality of using pollution credits from a trading system for complying with the Clean Water Act.  A decision in that case, Food and Water Watch and Friends of the Earth v. EPA, is still pending before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Studies and Reports
  • Bipartisan Group Advocates Expanding FERC Back-up Siting Authority.  On February 7, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) released a report entitled “Capitalizing on the Evolving Power Sector: Policies for a Modern and Reliable U.S. Electric Grid.” The report’s contributors are representatives of an array of industry, environmental and government organizations; the group was chaired by former Congressman Rick Boucher (D-Va), former FERC Chairman Curt Hébert, and Allison Clements, a Senior Attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.  Van Ness Feldman contributed legal and regulatory analysis and knowledge.  The group considered a broad set of issues concerning the reliability, efficiency, and environmental impacts of the electric grid.  Among the report’s more important recommendations are a proposal to significantly revise FERC’s backstop transmission siting authority: removing the geographic restrictions but limiting its application to high-voltage lines; a proposal for FERC to recognize that it may be efficient to build oversized transmission lines in anticipation of future generation; and a proposal that states and regional transmission planners coordinate their respective independent planning processes.  Following the release of the report, the BPC and the chairs said they would conduct outreach on Capitol Hill to garner support for legislation implementing the report’s recommendations.  A video of the BPC’s roll-out event, and the full BPC report, are available here.

  • World Resources Institute Report Outlines Federal and State Policies to Reduce GHG Emissions. The World Resources Institute (WRI), a think tank focused on environmental and economic development issues, released an updated report evaluating the amount of GHG emission reductions that could be achieved as a result of federal and state policies that do not require new laws enacted by Congress.  The report concludes that without new action by the Executive Branch, the U.S. will not be able to meet its Copenhagen commitment to reduce GHG emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, nor achieve the long-term reductions by 2050 that many scientists say will be necessary to avoid adverse impacts from climate change.  However, WRI concludes that with certain “go-getter,” aggressive policies, particularly aimed at power plants and natural gas systems, it will be possible to achieve the Copenhagen commitment; the longer-term goal still will require action by Congress.  The report identifies a broad set of federal and state policies and assesses the amount of reductions they could achieve at various levels of ambition.  Notably, the report recommends extensive use of the EPA’s authority under section 111 to set New Source Performance Standards for new and existing sources in the power, natural gas, and industrial sectors. The report is available at: http://www.wri.org/publication/can-us-get-there-from-here

  • Commission Issues Recommendations for Doubling U.S. Energy Productivity by 2030.  The Alliance Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy – a commission headed by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Thomas King, the President of National Grid U.S. – issued a report setting forth recommendations to double the energy productivity of the U.S. by 2030.  The Commission, working with the Alliance to Save Energy, developed recommendations in three areas: (1) expanding investment in energy productivity through financial market and tax reforms, new research and development policies, and best practices in the government’s management of its own energy use; (2) modernizing regulations and infrastructure, including through reformed utility policies to promote demand-side management and crediting energy efficiency in environmental regulations; and (3) educating and engaging stakeholders, including through providing information on building energy use and corporate energy management performance.  According to modeling done for the report, the recommended policies would yield $1,000 per year in average household savings on energy, over a million new jobs, a one-third reduction in CO2 emissions, and a comparable reduction in oil imports.   
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