E.P.A. Limit on Gases to Pose Risk to Obama and Congress via John M. Broder at NY Times
Archive for December, 2010
EPA to Set Modest Pace for Greenhouse Gas Standards / Agency stresses flexibility and public input in developing cost-effective and protective GHG standards for largest emitters
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued its plan for establishing greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution standards under the Clean Air Act in 2011. The agency looked at a number of sectors and is moving forward on GHG standards for fossil fuel power plants and petroleum refineries—two of the largest industrial sources, representing nearly 40 percent of the GHG pollution in the United States. The schedule issued in today’s agreements provides a clear path forward for these sectors and is part of EPA’s common-sense approach to addressing GHGs from the largest industrial pollution sources.
“We are following through on our commitment to proceed in a measured and careful way to reduce GHG pollution that threatens the health and welfare of Americans, and contributes to climate change,” Administrator Lisa Jackson said. “These standards will help American companies attract private investment to the clean energy upgrades that make our companies more competitive and create good jobs here at home.”
Several states, local governments and environmental organizations sued EPA over the agency’s failure to update the pollution standards for fossil fuel power plants and petroleum refineries, two of the largest source categories of GHG pollution in the United States. Under today’s agreement, EPA will propose standards for power plants in July 2011 and for refineries in December 2011 and will issue final standards in May 2012 and November 2012, respectively.
This schedule will allow the agency to host listening sessions with the business community, states and other stakeholders in early 2011, well before the rulemaking process begins, as well as to solicit additional feedback during the routine notice and comment period. Together this feedback will lead to smart, cost-effective and protective standards that reflect the latest and best information.
The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set industry-specific standards for new sources that emit significant quantities of harmful pollutants. These standards, called New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), set the level of pollution new facilities may emit and address air pollution from existing facilities. The Act allows flexible and innovative approaches that take into account cost, health and environmental impacts, and energy requirements. EPA must also periodically update these standards to reflect improvements in control technologies.
Earlier this year, EPA issued a common-sense approach to GHG permitting for the largest industrial sources. This approach, the GHG permitting guidelines issued in November, and these standards will give power plants and refineries a clear and sensible path for addressing GHG pollution.
EPA will accept public comment on these two agreements for 30 days following publication of notice in the Federal Register.
Mayor Newsom And California Independent System Operator Announce Effective End To Potrero Power Plant Operations By December 31
San Francisco - December 21, 2010 Mayor Gavin Newsom and the California Independent System Operator (California ISO), the nonprofit state organization that oversees the reliability of California’s electric grid, today announced that the GenOn Energy/Mirant-owned Potrero Power Plant in San Francisco will effectively cease operations by December 31. With the Trans Bay Cable successfully placed into commercial operation and the final segment of the San Francisco Recabling Project (Martin-Bayshore-Potrero) completed by PG&E, California ISO will release the Potrero Power Plant from its reliability must-run (RMR) contract obligation, allowing the plant to close entirely.
“Today is a historic day for so many who have worked for years to close this power plant,” said Mayor Newsom. “This is a monumental step towards cleaner air, environmental justice and our future of renewable energy and healthier communities. I want to express my sincere thanks to California ISO President & CEO Yakout Mansour for working closely with San Francisco to find a way to shutter the City’s last fossil fuel power plant while protecting the reliability of our electric grid. It has been a long and sometimes difficult road, but at last, we come together to celebrate this victory for the people of the Southeast sector and our entire City.”
“The California ISO’s job was to keep the lights on while the local infrastructure was developed to support removal of the Potrero Power Plant from the power grid,” said Yakout Mansour, California ISO President & CEO. “We thank Mayor Newsom for striking the right balance between the wishes of the community and the security of the electric supply to San Francisco.”
In a letter today, California ISO provided the RMR termination notice to GenOn Energy/Mirant effective January 1, 2011, which would technically terminate the RMR agreement by February 28, 2011. However, the California ISO will not plan to dispatch the Potrero power plant at all during this two month termination period, except in an extreme emergency, effectively ceasing operations after December 31, 2010.
“We are happy to be partners with the City and County of San Francisco,” said John Chillemi, President of GenOn West, formerly Mirant. “It has been a bit of a roller coaster to get here, but today we’re celebrating what was anticipated in our agreement with the City.”
“It’s a win-win for the residents of Potrero and Dogpatch neighborhoods and our entire City,” said Supervisor Sophie Maxwell. “The closure of the last fossil fuel plant in San Francisco furthers our clean energy goals and ensures a healthier environment for our City’s future.”
Full Press Release available at City and County of SF Office of the Mayor online.
Police Arrest 131 Antiwar Protesters In Front Of White House via Dan Froomkin at Huffington Post
* Among those arrested – Green Festival speaker, Global Exchange and Code Pink co founder Medea Benjamin.
Everything Is Negotiable, Except With Nature: You Can’t Bargain About Global Warming With Chemistry and Physics
Press Office – Venezuelan Embassy to the U.S. / December 7, 2010
Claudia Salerno, Venezuela’s Envoy for Climate Change, during an Interview with Democracy Now!
“The continuation of Kyoto cannot be put under negotiation, conditions or blackmails, because it’s the only legally biding agreement we have to actually control the emissions from the big countries,” said Claudia Salerno, Venezuela’s especial envoy for climate change, during an interview with Amy Goodman broadcast by Democracy Now from Cancun.
Delegates from 193 nations are gathered in Cancun to participate in the XVI Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will be held until December 10.
“Kyoto is important for the world because it’s the only legally binding agreement we have to actually control the emissions of the big countries, which are actually historically responsible for what we are living right now,” she emphasized during the interview.
Salerno also represents the member-states of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) in the Cancun negotiations, when this alliance agrees to participate as a bloc in the negotiations. ALBA is a Latin American political alliance formed by Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela.
When asked about whether ALBA countries would pull out of the talks in case a legally biding agreement is not reached, Salerno clarified that this regional bloc never considered abandoning the discussions. “We, the ALBA countries, never said that we would leave this process if something doesn’t come up. We criticized that blackmailing approach (…) No, even in the worst minutes of Copenhagen we did not leave, and we will never ever leave,” she highlighted.
Additionally, Salerno said that the countries that didn’t sign the Kyoto Protocol, such as the United States, should not have the power of decision in an agreement they are not part of. “It’s an irony how the system is functioning. The only country that is not part of the Kyoto Protocol [the U.S.] has the power to end it. That’s unfair. It’s unfair to the rest of the countries that signed it and ratified it,” she emphasized.
“Obligation cannot be blackmailed, obligations have to be enforced and fulfilled,” added the Venezuelan negotiator.
The U.S., whose Congress did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, doesn’t want to assume a commitment for a second round of obligations in this agreement, once the first deadline for achieving those commitments finishes in 2012. Japan, for its part, announced in Cancun this same position, which has created an environment of disconcert and keeps the negotiations at a standstill. According to the experts, this would mean the death of the Kyoto protocol.
During the interview, broadcast by WPFW Pacifica Radio, Salerno pointed out that Venezuela, even as an oil-exporting country has a long tradition of commitments with the environment. Furthermore, she highlighted that Venezuela is part of the Amazonian basin and has one the largest protected areas in Latin America.
“We were the first country in Latin America to have a Ministry of Environment, and the first country of the region to have a penal law on the environment, so we are very committed with the environment,” Salerno added.
As an example, the Venezuelan diplomat said that 60 million conventional light bulbs were replaced by energy-saving light bulbs in Venezuela, part of a joint project with the country’s communities.
In several meetings, President Chávez has reiterated his government’s commitment with the environment and, therefore, with the rational consumption of natural resources in Venezuela. The Venezuelan leader has also insisted on the need to change the predator model of the neoliberal system, which is destroying nature.
See the full interview with Democracy Now! here. (Minute 13:00.)