EPA Proposes to Cut Methane Emissions from New and Existing Landfills

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential more than 25 times that of carbon dioxide. Climate change threatens the health and welfare of current and future generations. Children, older adults, people with heart or lung disease and people living in poverty may be most at risk from the health impacts of climate change. In addition to methane, landfills also emit other pollutants, including the air toxics benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and vinyl chloride.

Image Source:  http://www.environmentalleader.com/

Sourced through Scoop.it from: yosemite.epa.gov

>”Release Date: 08/14/2015
Contact Information: Enesta Jones jones.enesta@epa.gov 202-564-7873 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – As part of the President’s Climate Action Plan – Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued two proposals to further reduce emissions of methane-rich gas from municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills. Under today’s proposals, new, modified and existing landfills would begin collecting and controlling landfill gas at emission levels nearly a third lower than current requirements.  […]

Municipal solid waste landfills receive non-hazardous wastes from homes, businesses and institutions. As landfill waste decomposes, it produces a number of air toxics, carbon dioxide, and methane. MSW landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the U.S., accounting for 18 percent of methane emissions in 2013 – the equivalent of approximately 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution.

Combined, the proposed rules are expected to reduce methane emissions by an estimated 487,000 tons a year beginning in 2025 – equivalent to reducing 12.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, or the carbon pollution emissions from more than 1.1 million homes. EPA estimates the climate benefits of the combined proposals at nearly $750 million in 2025 or nearly $14 for every dollar spent to comply. Combined costs of the proposed rules are estimated at $55 million in 2025.

Today’s proposals would strengthen a previously proposed rule for new landfills that was issued in 2014, and would update the agency’s 1996 emission guidelines for existing landfills. The proposals are based on additional data and analysis, and public comments received on a proposal and Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking EPA issued in 2014.

EPA will take comment on the proposed rules for 60 days after they are published in the Federal Register. The agency will hold a public hearing if one is requested within five days of publication.  “<

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New EPA Emissions Rules To Cut GHG Methane Emissions By 40 Percent in Oil and Gas Sector

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will propose regulations on Tuesday aimed at cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45 percent over the next decade

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.huffingtonpost.com

>”WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will propose regulations on Tuesday aimed at cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45 percent over the next decade from 2012 levels, a source familiar with the issue said on Monday.

The regulations on methane are one part of the Obama administration’s strategy to curb greenhouse gases and combat climate change.

The targets in Tuesday’s proposal are in line with a January announcement by the Obama administration that it wanted to reduce oil and gas industry methane emissions by up to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025, the source said.

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama unveiled the final version of his plan to tackle greenhouse gases from coal-fired power plants, requiring carbon emissions from the sector be cut 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

(Reporting By Valerie Volcovici; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Peter Cooney)”<

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96 Million ‘Shade Balls’ Installed to Cover L.A.’s Reservoirs

A California woman, for one, who wants to ease the drought, put disabled vets to work, and make some money

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.bloomberg.com

>” […] The shade balls of Los Angeles are 4 inches in diameter, hollow, polyethylene orbs […] The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has now dumped 96 million balls into local reservoirs to reduce evaporation and block sunlight from encouraging algae growth and toxic chemical reactions. The balls are coated with a chemical that blocks ultraviolet light and helps the spheres last as long as 25 years. Las Virgenes, north of L.A., now uses shade balls, too. […]

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has encouraged the nation’s water managers in recent years to find ways to cover or contain their resources, to prevent sunlight from reacting with chlorine and possibly creating carcinogens, says Ed Osann, a senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. The shade balls shouldn’t pose a pollution problem in themselves, he says, since “everything that comes in contact with drinking water has to be a certified material.” Chase says the balls are designed not to degrade.

The shade balls are a novel way to protect drinking water, and Californians’ latest attempt to adjust to their four-year drought. […]”<

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EPA and the Petroleum Industry: Fracking, Cover-ups and Academic Freedom

Thyne says he’s not the only one who’s been subjected to undue pressure from the oil and gas industry. He says he knows of faculty around the nation who have been targeted as well, including an engineer at Cornell University who called for an outright fracking ban in his state.

“Industry did a bunch of nasty pieces on him, trying to make him look like a wild-eyed, pistol-waving lunatic,” Thyne says.

There was even one woman from the tiny town of Raton, N.M., who claimed she was being followed and harassed after complaining about her water well being contaminated by nearby drilling operations.

“This ain’t shit,” Thyne says of his own situation. “I’ve talked to people who’ve been shot at. … It’s a real sticky situation, because there are some people getting jobs in the community, because of the development, and they’re good-paying jobs, and this is changing our economy, so it’s all positive, and then you say, ‘Yeah, well, so-and-so screwed up my well, and they won’t compensate me for it, so I’m going to take them to court, or I’m going to make waves.’ And you’ve got your neighbors mad at you.”

In addition, taking a big oil or gas company to court isn’t a walk in the park.

“You’ve got to have really deep pockets, you’ve got to go to court for a couple of years,” Thyne says. “They’re going to push it back and push it back and push it back, and then they’re going to wait until the last second, literally, and they’re going to settle. And they’re probably going to simply buy your land for what you paid for it, and get you to sign a nondisclosure [agreement] and say bye bye.”

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.boulderweekly.com

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E.P.A. Proposal to Regulate GHG Emissions and Fuel Economy for HD Trucks

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose rules requiring heavy trucks to increase their fuel economy by up to 40 percent by 2027.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.nytimes.com

>” […] This week, the E.P.A. is expected to propose regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-duty trucks, requiring that their fuel economy increase up to 40 percent by 2027, compared with levels in 2010, according to people briefed on the proposal. A tractor-trailer now averages five to six miles a gallon of diesel. The new regulations would seek to raise that average to as much as nine miles a gallon. A truck’s emissions can vary greatly, depending on how much it is carrying.

The hotly debated rules, which cover almost any truck larger than a standard pickup, are the latest in a stack of sweeping climate change policy measures on which President Obama hopes to build his environmental legacy. Already, his administration has proposed rules to cut emissions from power plants and has imposed significantly higher fuel efficiency standards on passenger vehicles.

The truck proposals could cut millions of tons of carbon dioxide pollution while saving millions of barrels of oil. Trucks now account for a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles in the United States, even though they make up only 4 percent of traffic, the E.P.A. says.

But the rules will also impose significant burdens on America’s trucking industry — the beating heart of the nation’s economy, hauling food, raw goods and other freight across the country.

It is expected that the new rules will add $12,000 to $14,000 to the manufacturing cost of a new tractor-trailer, although E.P.A. studies estimate that cost will be recouped after 18 months by fuel savings.

Environmental advocates say that without regulation, the contribution of American trucks to global warming will soar.

“Trucking is set to be a bad actor if we don’t do something now,” Jason Mathers, head of the Green Freight program at the Environmental Defense Fund.

But some in the trucking industry are wary.

“I’ll put it this way: We told them what we can do, but they haven’t told us what they plan to do,” said Tony Greszler, vice president for government relations for Volvo Group North America, one of the largest manufacturers of big trucks. “We have concerns with how this will play out.”

The E.P.A., along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, began its initial phase of big truck fuel economy regulation in 2011, and those efforts have been widely seen within the industry as successful. But meeting the initial standards, like using more efficient tires, was not especially difficult by comparison. […]”

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Net Zero Case Study: Bullitt Center – Green Materials

The Bullitt Center in Seattle, Washington, is one of the most self-sufficient buildings on the planet.  It is net zero energy and, after the water reuse system is approved by city authorities, net zero water.  Net zero means that the building uses the same amount as it creates or generates – it is self-sufficient.

Source: greenbuildingelements.com

>”[…]

Healthy Green Materials

The Living Building Challenge requires projects to avoid as many of the chemicals and substances that are found on the Red List as possible.  These substances have been recognized by government agencies, such as the US Environmental Protection Agency, the European Union Commission, and the State of California, as potentially harmful to human or animal life on Earth.  Not all of the substances can be avoided, though, due to the lack of availability of materials that do not contain them.

The Bullitt Center team avoided over 360 known chemicals on this list.  Some were easy to avoid, as alternatives were readily available.  The team also worked with suppliers to create products that met their requirements, changing the way the products were made and making them available to others.

Most plumbing valves, even those made of brass and bronze, contain up to 7% lead.  Lead free valves, with an allowable lead content of only 0.25%, were used in both the potable and non-potable water systems, including fire sprinklers.Phthalates are commonly used in PVC and other plastic products.  A high-performance water barrier company performed 6 months of research to develop a product that did not contain phthalates, just for the Bullitt Center project.  The new product has now replaced the original version going forward.  Dioxins are a by-product of the manufacture, combustion, and disposal of products containing chlorine, most notably PVC products.  Couplings for no-hub ductile iron pipe are commonly made with neoprene, which contains chlorine.  The team worked with the manufacturer to special order couplings made of EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) rubber.  The electrician was able to find electrical wire not coated in PVC that met code standards.  The fiberglass insulation in the project is held together by a plant-based polymer, not the usual one that contains formaldehyde.

Certified Wood

The Bullitt Center is a wood-framed structure.  Because of its location and the importance of the timber industry in the Pacific Northwest, the project team decided this was the best choice for the project.  100% of the lumber in the building has been harvested from anForest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified source.  The project was also recognized as the only commercial project to receive the Forest Stewardship Council Project Certification, in recognition of responsible forest products use throughout the building.

Local Sourcing

Perhaps the greatest story about green materials and the Bullitt Center involves the curtain wall (window) system.  Due to the high performance needs of the project, only one product could be used, and it was only manufactured in Europe.  A Washington company partnered with the European manufacturer to gain the knowledge to manufacture and install the system in the US.   The Washington company flew their employees over to find out how to make and install the system, and a licensing agreement was reached.  Now this high performance system is available in the US for future projects to use.

[…]”<

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Duke’s maligned handling of toxic coal ash is claimed typical for industry

Over 200 contaminations and spills document water contamination and deformed fish near coal ash sites.

Source: www.utilitydive.com

>” Duke Energy faces criminal charges and a $100 million fine for a 2014 spill of 39,000 tons of coal ash into North Carolina’s Dan River but environmental activists say its mishandling of coal ash waste is not atypical of the coal industry.  […] EPA released a final ruling on handling coal ash last December but both utility industry and environmental groups were dissatisfied. It creates requirements and standards for the management of coal combustion residuals (CCRs or coal ash) under Subtitle D of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). That subtitle governs solid waste. There is not yet adequate data, the EPA said, to justify managing coal ash under Subtitle C of RCRA, which pertains to hazardous waste.

“Coal ash is a toxic soup of heavy metals,” said NC WARN Energy Expert Nancy LaPlaca. “Pretending it is not hazardous waste is outrageous.”

Utilities are “pleased” that the EPA found it did not have adequate information to regulate coal as hazardous waste, explained Schiff, Hardin Partner/Utilities Counsel Josh More. But “EPA is pretty explicit this is not their final determination.” It failed, he added, because “it is a self-implementing program.”  […]”<

 

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Clothes Dryers Latest Home Appliance to Obtain Energy Star Certification

For the first time in six years, Energy Star certification, a standard seal of approval for energy efficiency, has been expanded to include another major household appliance. Clothes dryers, perhaps the last of …

Source: www.pddnet.com

>” […] Clothes dryers, perhaps the last of the major household appliances to be included in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s program, became available in 45 Energy Star models starting Presidents’ Day weekend, according to the EPA.

“Dryers are one of the most common household appliances and the biggest energy users,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

While washing machines have become 70 percent more energy-efficient since 1990, dryers — used by an estimated 80 percent of American households — have continued to use a high amount of energy, the agency says. […]

“Refrigerators were the dominant energy consumer in 1981. Now dryers are the last frontier in the home for radical energy conservation,” said Charles Hall, senior manager of product development for Whirlpool.

Energy Star-certified dryers include gas, electric and compact models. Manufacturers offering them include LG, Whirlpool, Kenmore, Maytag and Safemate.

All of the energy-efficient models include moisture sensors to ensure that the dryer does not continue running after the clothes are dry, which reduces energy consumption by around 20 percent, the EPA says.

In addition, two of the Energy Star-approved models — LG’s EcoHybrid Heat Pump Dryer (model DLHX4072) and Whirlpool’s HybridCare Heat Pump Dryer (model WED99HED) — also include innovative “heat pump” technology, which reduces energy consumption by around 40 percent more than that, the EPA and manufacturers say.

Heat-pump dryers combine conventional vented drying with heat-pump technology, which recycles heat. The technology, long common in much of Europe, is similar to that used in air conditioners and dehumidifiers.

Although Energy Star models can cost roughly $600 more than comparable standard models, Hall said the higher cost is more than balanced out by energy savings and up to $600 rebates offered by government and utility incentive programs.

But the real impact will be felt once the transition to Energy Star models is complete. According to the EPA, if all the clothes dryers sold in the U.S. this year were Energy Star-certified, it would save an estimated $1.5 billion in annual utility costs and prevent yearly greenhouse-gas emissions equal to more than 2 million vehicles.

To earn the Energy Star label, products must be certified by an EPA-recognized third party based on rigorous testing in an EPA-recognized laboratory.”<

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Comments on Improving EPA’s Proposed Clean Power Plan

The summer deadline is approaching for finalizing the Environmental Protection Agency’s first-ever limits on dangerous carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants, and opponents are ratcheting up their complaints….

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com

“> […] Some 1500 mostly coal- and gas-fired power plants spew out more than two billion tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide each year — 40 percent of the nation’s total. The vast majority of the millions of public comments submitted last fall express strong support for the Clean Power Plan, which as proposed last June starts in 2020 and ramps emissions down gradually over the next decade.

But big coal polluters and their political allies have big megaphones.

Many hope to kill the proposal outright. But for others the back-up agenda is to get the standards weakened and delayed past 2020. Their comments and speeches read like Armageddon is coming if power plants have to start limiting their carbon pollution in 2020 — five years from now. Republican members of the Senate environment committee banged that drum over and over at a hearing last week. As on so many issues, they hope endless repetition will make their story seem true.

The truth is that the standards and timeline EPA proposed last June are quite modest and readily achievable. They can be met without any threat to the reliability of electric power. A new report from the highly respected Brattle Group shows that states can meet the EPA’s proposal “while maintaining the high level of electric reliability enjoyed by U.S. electricity customers.” […]

The plan as proposed in June sets state-by-state targets that, on an overall national basis, would cut power plants’ carbon pollution by 26 percent by 2020 and 30 percent by 2030, when compared to 2005 levels.

We found that with three specific improvements – I’ll describe them below – the plan could achieve 50 percent more carbon pollution reductions (36 percent by 2020 and 44 percent by 2030).

Here are the three factors:

First, the costs of clean energy are falling dramatically, and EPA’s June proposal was based on out of date cost and performance data for renewable electricity and efficiency energy. An NRDC issue brief published last fall details how sharply the cost and performance of energy efficiency and renewable energy have improved. When we factored in up-to-date data, our analysis shows that the Clean Power Plan’s state-by-state targets as proposed in June 2014 can be met at a net savings to Americans of $1.8-4.3 billion in 2020 and $6.4-9.4 billion in 2030. More reliance on energy efficiency and renewables will also create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobsthat can’t be shipped overseas.

The lower cost of clean energy technologies opens the door to getting substantially more carbon pollution reductions from the nation’s largest emitters.

We also took two other specific improvements into account:

In an October 2014 notice seeking further public comment, EPA explained that the formula it had used to calculate state targets in the June 2014 proposal did not correctly account for the emission reductions made by renewables and energy efficiency. The formula did not fully account for the reduction in generation at coal and gas power plants that occurs when additional renewables are added to the grid and when businesses and homeowners reduce how much electricity they need by improving the efficiency of our buildings, appliances, and other electricity-using equipment. NRDC corrected the formula in our updated analysis to capture the full emission reduction associated with ramping up renewables and efficiency.EPA also asked for comment on an approach to better balancing state targets by adopting a minimum rate of transition from older high-emitting generation to lower-emitting sources. NRDC analyzed state targets that include conversion of 20 percent of coal generation in 2012 to natural gas generation over the period between 2020 and 2029.

These three factors — updating the cost and performance data for renewables and efficiency, correcting the target-setting formula, and including a minimum rate of transition from higher- to lower-emitting plants — produce the substantial additional carbon pollution reductions in our analysis, all at very reasonable costs. […]”<

 

See EPA’s Clean Power Plan:  http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/clean-power-plan-proposed-rule

 

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Clean Power Plan Seen as Historic Opportunity to Modernize the Electrical Grid

Following the launch of the Clean Power Plan, concerns were raised about how adding renewable energy to the grid would affect reliability. According to a new report […] compliance is unlikely to materially affect reliability.

 

image source:  http://phys.org/news/2010-10-electric-grid.html

Source: domesticfuel.com

>”[…] Report lead author Jurgen Weiss PhD, senior researcher and lead author said that while the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) focused on concerns about the feasibility of achieving emissions standards with the technologies used to set the standards, they did not address several mitigating factors. These include:

The impact of retiring older, inefficient coal plants, due to current environmental regulations and market trends, on emissions rates of the remaining fleet;Various ways to address natural gas pipeline constraints; andEvidence that that higher levels of variable renewable energy sources can be effectively managed.

“With the tools currently available for managing an electric power system that is already in flux, we think it unlikely that compliance with EPA carbon rules will have a significant impact on reliability,” reported Weiss.

In November 2014, NERC issued an Initial Reliability Review in which it identified elements of the Clean Power Plan that could lead to reliability concerns. Echoed by some grid operators and cited in comments to EPA submitted by states, utilities, and industry groups, the NERC study has made reliability a critical issue in finalizing, and then implementing, the Clean Power Plan. These concerns compelled AEE to respond to the concerns by commissioning the Brattle study.

“We see EPA’s Clean Power Plan as an historic opportunity to modernize the U.S. electric power system,” said Malcolm Woolf, Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs for Advanced Energy Economy, a business association. “We believe that advanced energy technologies, put to work by policies and market rules that we see in action today, will increase the reliability and resiliency of the electric power system, not reduce it.  […]”<

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