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Monday, June 16, 2014

Top Five Bloomberg BNA Energy and Climate Report Stories for the Week Ending June 13

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    CornProductionPhotoDanielAckerBloomberg

The nation's first farmer to earn greenhouse gas emissions offsets by reducing fertilizer use was the subject of the top Bloomberg BNA Energy and Climate Report story for the week ending June 13. Taking spot Nos. 2 and 3 were stories on the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to require existing power plants to reduce carbon emissions. Rounding out the list were Warren Buffet's announcement on investing in renewables and how the EPA will protect confidential business information. 

1. Michigan Farmer Earns First Climate Offsets for Cutting Nitrogen Use in Corn Production

As covered in this story, the American Carbon Registry, a leading carbon offset program, issued a Michigan farmer the nation's first agricultural greenhouse gas emissions offsets, in what could become a model for using these offsets to comply with state carbon markets or to achieve corporate sustainability goals.

The nonprofit Climate Trust is purchasing the offsets generated by the farmer's project, which involved reducing the amount of nitrogen-based fertilizer used to grow corn, thereby cutting nitrous oxide emissions, a potent greenhouse gas.

The transaction was validated and verified using a methodology developed by the Electric Power Research Institute and Michigan State University.

2. EPA Air Official Says Agency Proposed Reasonable State Emissions Targets

As detailed in this story, Janet McCabe, the EPA's top air official, said the agency's proposed carbon standard for existing power plants sets “reasonable” emissions targets for states that are consistent with reductions already being achieved.

The state emissions targets proposed are “not the maximum” that the agency thinks states could achieve by 2030, Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for air and radiation, said at a meeting of the Ozone Transport Commission in Baltimore.

The proposed rule instead sets a “reasonable target” for states based on an analysis of emissions reductions that already have been achieved and reductions that could be achieved by states using key strategies, McCabe said.

The proposal, issued June 2, would establish emissions rate targets for each state, which could be achieved through improvements to existing power plants, demand reduction programs and increased use of natural gas and renewable fuels. The EPA anticipates the proposal would result in a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from the existing fleet of power plants by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. 

3. EPA Power Plant Proposal Could Lead to Global Approaches, McCarthy Says

According to remarks by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy covered in this story, the agency's proposed carbon rules for power plants is aimed at fostering domestic innovation by states and industry and providing leverage in international discussions toward a global solution to climate change.

Speaking during a panel discussion at a Goldman Sachs North American Energy Summit in New York, McCarthy said that although it remains unclear “how it's going to play out,” the Obama administration is interested in using the new EPA proposal to advance the international conversation on climate change.

McCarthy also said the U.S. has increasingly worked together with its closest neighbors, Canada and Mexico, to formulate emissions reduction strategies. After the U.S. adopted standards for light-duty vehicles, for example, Canada took similar action, she said, and conversations with Mexico are continuing. 

4. Buffett to Expand Investment in Energy, Renewables 'as Far as the Eye Can See'

Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which has struck deals to expand its utility business in Nevada and Western Canada, plans more investment in the industry, in part by betting on renewable power, Chairman Warren Buffett said, as detailed in this story.
 
“We've poured billions and billions and billions of dollars in retained earnings, and several billion of additional equity,” into the energy business, Buffett, 83, said June 9 at the Edison Electric Institute's annual convention in Las Vegas. “And we're going to keep doing that as far as the eye can see.”
 
Berkshire Hathaway Energy operates power grids in the U.K., natural gas pipelines that stretch from the Great Lakes to Texas and electric utilities in states including Oregon and Nevada. The business has committed $15 billion to renewable energy projects, like a solar farm in California that will be one of the world's largest when it is completed in 2015. The chairman said Berkshire could invest an additional $15 billion on such projects, aided by tax benefits as the U.S. strives to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.
 

5. Greenhouse Emissions to Protect Facility Data Under New Criteria

As covered in this story, greenhouse gas emissions data determined to be confidential business information will be protected by aggregating it under new criteria announced by the EPA.
 
The agency said its plans to publish the greenhouse gas emissions data collected as part of its mandatory reporting program at 40 C.F.R. Part 98 in aggregate to ensure that no one business's confidential data can be identified.
 
The data would be used to develop the EPA's annual Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks and as part of its Facility Level Information on GreenHouse gases Tool (FLIGHT), the Envirofacts website and other downloadable data files.
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