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AGs vow to fight fossil fuel industry on climate; PacifiCorp favors closing Wyo. coal plant


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AGs vow to fight fossil fuel industry on climate; PacifiCorp favors closing Wyo. coal plant

A coalition of attorneys general from 19 states and the U.S.Virgin Islands have pledged to work together to combat climate change,including by potentially investigating whether fossil fuel producers havemisled investors on climate-related investment and planning impacts. The effortis being led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose state hasinvestigated coal producer PeabodyEnergy Corp. and oil giant ExxonMobil Corp. over their climate-related financial disclosures.

Coal-fired power plant retirements are growing on a globalscale, led by those in the U.S. and Europe, but the retirements are nothappening quickly enough to counteract the building of coal plants in other partsof the world, according to a new report from the Sierra Club, Greenpeace andCoalSwarm. Globally, 338 GW of new coal capacity is under construction and1,086 GW is in various stages of planning, which is equal to about 1,500 coalplants and close to $1 trillion of potentially "wasted capital,"according to the report's authors.

The U.S. EPA is working toward a legally unassailableframework for regulating oil and gas industry methane emissions from sources, AdministratorGina McCarthy said March 30. The agency's industry emissions informationcollection request — announced earlier this month — is a material step forwardin that process, McCarthy told attendees at the Global Methane Forum inWashington, D.C.

Leading Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump andTed Cruz both say they will have the U.S. EPA reconsider its determination thatcarbon dioxide emissions pose a threat to public health and welfare, a findingthat enabled the U.S. EPA to form federal climate regulations for the utilitysector. Trump and Cruz made the pledge in their responses to asurvey from the American Energy Alliance released March 30.

California regulators are working to from thestate's gas utilities, which recently reported a total of 229 leaks on theirgas storage systems. Responding to state statutory mandates to reduce methaneemissions, the California Public Utilities Commission, in collaboration withthe California Air Resources Board, on March 24 proposed more than two dozenrecommended practices encompassing leak prevention, leak detection, leakrepairs, training, record-keeping and other procedures.

Cenovus EnergyInc., one of the biggest nonmining producers of oil sands crude inCanada, is studying the use of fuel cells to capture CO2 from gases emittedthrough its production process, even as a project in Saskatchewan that it hasties to is reported to be in trouble. Calgary, Alberta-based Cenovus is thelead partner in a study that could see FuelCellEnergy Inc.'s technology used to mitigate CO2 emissions from a14-MW natural gas-fired cogeneration facility at the University of Calgary.

The U.S. EPA is set to revise certain greenhouse gaspermitting programs as directed by a federal appeals court. The changes wererequired in response to a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court that preserved the EPA'sability to require permits from large-scale greenhouse gas polluters, but alsoreprimanded the agency for overreaching.

The cost estimate for Mississippi Power Co.'s integrated gasificationcombined-cycle generation project increased slightly, according to an April 1filing, and the utility suggested that further schedule revisions could be onthe way for when the plant comes fully online. The project, located in KemperCounty, Miss., is currently scheduledto enter commercial operation during the third quarter of 2016, running onsyngas fuel derived from onsite lignite.

Under current market conditions, closing unit 3 of theNaughton coal-fueled plant in Wyoming at the end of 2017 would be moreeconomical than converting it to natural gas as previously planned, subsidiaryPacifiCorp said March31 as it announced the filing of its 2015 integrated resource plan update withpublic utility commissions in the six states it serves.

Congress gave the U.S. EPA "gap-filling" authorityunder the Clean Air Act to draft regulations for an array of emissions andsources, providing a firm legal foundation for the Clean Power Plan, a group ofmore than 200 former and current members of Congress told a federal appealscourt March 31. Amici curiae briefs on behalf of the EPA were dueApril 1 in the challenge of the agency's carbon-cutting rule before the U.S.Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Georgia PowerCo. is preparing to close all 29 ash ponds at 11 of its coal-firedfacilities in Georgia, according to a March 29 statement. The permanent closurewill cost over a billion dollars in the next decade and is being undertaken inresponse to the U.S.EPA's coal ash ruleand effluent guidelines,the Southern Co.subsidiary said.