A selection of recent emissions reduction policy and project news.
Scientists put EPA chief's climate claims to the test
A group of prominent scientists has issued a new study aimed at refuting statements made by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt during his February confirmation process regarding climate change. In "Tropospheric Warming Over The Past Two Decades," eight scientists fired back against claims Pruitt made, when responding to senators' questions, that global warming leveled off over the past few decades. "We test this claim here," the scientists wrote.
19% of US underground gas storage wells not built for the job, study finds
Nearly a fifth of wells used at underground gas storage facilities were not originally built to support storage operations and may be more leak-prone as a result, Harvard University researchers reported in a study published May 24. Repurposed wells and older wells, which are two categories with significant overlap, are more likely to have been built and operated without safeguards that would prevent a single well issue from resulting in a leak, the researchers said.
Trump's budget proposal slashes clean coal investment by 85%
President Donald Trump's proposed fiscal 2018 budget would cut back drastically on clean coal technology, despite the rhetoric he used during his campaign. In a fiscal 2018 Congressional Budget Request document, the administration allocates $31 million for carbon capture and storage research under the U.S. Department of Energy's Fossil Energy Research and Development, which is an 85% drop from the $207 million it received in 2016.
Trump does little to ease Clean Power Plan repeal, says energy legal advocate
Despite significant support from the Trump administration, the process of rolling back the EPA's Clean Power Plan has become no less complicated for energy advocates, according to an attorney who argued a portion of a challenge to the rule in federal court. Addressing industry attorneys at the 2017 Energy & Mineral Law Foundation conference in Williamsburg, Va., on May 22, Thomas Lorenzen outlined the avenues available for rolling back the EPA's carbon rule, warning that the new administration had made the landscape no less rocky.
EPA: Proposed $2.6B funding cut 'returns focus to core statutory mission'
The 31% budget cut proposed for the EPA is respectful of the American taxpayer while supporting the agency's core mission, according to agency administrator Scott Pruitt. Trump on May 23 released his budget request for the 2018 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. While sticking to numbers similar to his March "skinny budget" proposal, the president's request provided more detail on program areas he would like to cut.
Natural gas edges out coal-fired generation in March
After three consecutive months of coal providing the largest share of the nation's electricity, natural gas-fired generation narrowly edged out coal in March despite a 17.5 million-MWh year-over-year increase in coal output during the month. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's latest "Electric Power Monthly" released May 25, net utility-scale generation increased 4.5% year over year in March to 317.9 million MWh.
Intermountain Power to shut Utah coal plant in 2025
Owners of the Intermountain Power Project in Utah will stop operating coal-fired units in 2025. The two-unit, 1,800-MW power plant near Delta, Utah, owned by the Intermountain Power Agency began operating in 1986. The plant is facing the loss of existing customers, less demand for coal-fired electricity and environmental regulatory issues, the Intermountain Power Agency said May 23.
Divided lawmakers make late-stage pleas on Paris climate accord
Congressional allies and enemies of the Paris Agreement on climate change tried to sway Trump's decision on whether to withdraw from the agreement ahead of a gathering of world leaders at the G7 Summit in Italy. On May 25, a group of over 20 Republican U.S. Senators sent a letter to Trump asking him to make a "clean break" from the Paris Agreement, arguing that staying in the deal would make striking down the EPA's Clean Power Plan more difficult legally.
Isolating Trump, 6 of G-7's leaders recommit to Paris pact
All but one of the Group of Seven leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change, with Trump as the sole exception. The leaders of the major industrial powers also vowed to fight economic protectionism in order to protect open and fair markets.
Trump's 2-for-1 order assailed by legal scholars, economists, gets court setback
Trump's executive order requiring two regulations to be repealed for each new regulation enacted has been assailed by a group of 95 legal scholars and economists and received a setback in a court fight over the legality of that order. Executive Order 13771 requires any agency imposing a new regulation to identify two existing rules for repeal and to find cost savings from eliminated rules that at least equal the costs imposed by the new regulation.
Report: Trump adviser says natural gas 'such a cleaner fuel' than coal
A top Trump adviser talked up abundant natural gas, solar and wind but seemed less inspired by coal when speaking to press at a U.S. military facility in Italy on May 25. According to a White House pool report, Gary Cohn, director of Trump's National Economic Council, said May 25 that he predicts a "fairly robust discussion" on climate change as world leaders gather at the G7 Summit in Italy.
Fola coal mines sued over alleged violations of Clean Water Act
A lawsuit filed by a coalition of environmental groups alleges that two West Virginia mines owned by Fola Coal Co. LLC are in "continuing violation" of the federal Clean Water Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. The suit, filed May 24 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia at Huntington, claims the No. 4A and Bullpen surface mines have been improperly discharging pollutants into tributaries of Leatherwood Creek since at least January 2015 and asks the court for an injunction ordering Fola to cease violations and comply with its discharge permits.
RI pipe leak leaves lawmakers worried about cancer risks, regulatory response
Concerned about the environmental and health impacts of a pipeline leak that released natural gas and potential carcinogens, three Rhode Island state senators demanded that regulators share more information with the public. The lawmakers expressed concern not only about the estimated 19 MMcf of gas that escaped in Providence, R.I., but also about news reports that the leak released two gallons of polychlorinated biphenyls, which are man-made organic chemicals thought to be carcinogenic and associated with other negative health impacts, according to the EPA.
Canada proposes nationwide methane emissions rules for oil, gas sector
A little more than a year after setting methane emissions reduction goals for the oil and gas sector, the Canadian federal government on May 25 proposed national standards that are largely aimed at upstream operators. Environment and Climate Change Canada, the agency that released the rules, estimated that implementing methane reduction requirements would cost C$3.3 billion over 18 years, offset partially by the value of the captured gas.