Incompetence and overreach at the EPA.
The EPA’s new method for measuring the amount of methane that escapes from natural gas wells is based on flawed data. Oklahoma’s attorney general says this misguided policy decision treads on state regulatory authority and stifles resource development.
Decommissioning and remediation of coal- and oil-fired plants.
Bruce J. Baker, Jean H. McCreary, and Libby Ford
As new EPA regulations drive companies to decommission older power plants, utilities face issues involving plant retirement and demolition. Some sites can host new power plants, but many can be better used for other commercial purposes. Thoughtful planning and decommissioning strategies can bring the greatest value from underutilized assets.
Developing a new paradigm for managing fine particulate air pollution.
Annette C. Rohr and Ronald E. Wyzga
The Environmental Protection Agency regulates emissions of particulate matter based on the mass of those emissions—not on the toxicity of the particular components. A growing body of evidence shows that different kinds of particulates affect health differently. Research by the Electric Power Research Institute suggests that in order to most effectively protect public health, the EPA’s next round of air quality standards should differentiate between relatively benign sulfate or nitrate compounds, and more harmful trace metals in particulate emissions.
EPA, mercury and electric reliability.
The energy industry has known for decades that federal regulators eventually would set rules under the Clean Air Act to govern emissions of mercury and other air toxics from coal-fired power plants. However, with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now having issued a final mercury rule, along with guidelines for possible extensions of the compliance deadline, utilities and power plant owners finally have a clear idea what they are up against. And the outlook isn't pretty. The challenge is to retrofit many hundreds of generating plants across the country--and all on the same three-year compliance schedule. Yet two wildcards remain in play: what deference the EPA will give to electric reliability needs, as it "consults" with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Council; and how effective FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff will be as Republican leadership in Congress works to derail the new rules.
Has the Supreme Court frozen climate change litigation?
Wansheng Jerry Liu and David Restaino
The Supreme Court’s decision in American Electric Power v. Connecticut strongly limits private nuisance actions against greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters by keeping these cases out of federal court. But the AEP decision won’t stop lawmakers from enacting new GHG regulations, and it won’t prevent plaintiffs from suing emitters in state courts.
1. ‘Policy’ Guides the Grid; 2. Carbon Not a Nuisance (Yet); 3. Gigabucks for Negawatts; 4. A MOPR, Not a NOPR; 5. Ramp Up the Frequency; 6. Cap-and-Trade Still Lives; 7. Cyber Insecurity; 8. Korridor Killer; 9. The Burden Not Shared; 10. Ozone Can Wait.
Smart grid evolution requires two-way communication—with meters and with customers themselves.
Despite the industry’s cautious and inconsistent approach, the smart grid is becoming a reality. Projects and pilots have provided valuable experience about what works and what doesn’t. Recent survey results illustrate the lessons utilities have learned—and how they’re changing their strategies.
Why electricity is good—and more is better.
A century of electrification shows clearly that more electricity—and cheaper electricity—enhances public health, raises living standards and also improves the environment. Conversely, higher prices harm businesses and families, with a disproportionate impact on low-income households. Public welfare goals are best served by public policies that make electricity more accessible and affordable to the masses—not less.
What conservation potential assessments tell us about ‘achievable’ efficiency.
Regulators across the country are relying on conservation-potential assessments to guide their policy decisions. Models based on macroeconomic analysis, end-use forecasting and accounting measurements provide different ways to assess the achievability of conservation and efficiency goals.
In-state green mandates face Constitutional challenges.
By Richard Lehfeldt, Woody N. Peterson, and David T. Schur
In effort to promote local green energy resources, some states are enacting policies that tread on federal authority. Restrictions on power imports to satisfy RPS requirements might violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Can the states foster home-grown energy without running afoul of federal laws?