Gina McCarthy Photo Credit: David Banks/Bloomberg

Top Five Bloomberg BNA Energy and Climate Report Stories for the Week Ending Oct. 3

The top story for the week ending Oct. 3 covered remarks by the head of the Environmental Protection Agency on U.S. environmental challenges. An Industry official’s criticism of proposed rules for limiting carbon emissions from power plants took the number two spot, followed by the release of EPA data on greenhouse gases emitted by large stationary sources. The number four and five top stories, respectively, covered a hydraulic fracturing company’s commitment to reveal chemical usage, and a Canadian firm’s announcement on its use of carbon capture and storage technology. 

1. EPA Administrator Says Nation Must Prepare for Climate Change, Fight Nutrient Pollution

In remarks covered in this story, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said tackling nutrient pollution, shoring up water infrastructure and preparing communities for climate change and extreme weather events are among the most significant environmental challenges facing the country today. 

 “Toledo isn't going away,” McCarthy told attendees of the Water Environment Federation’s Annual Conference, ruing that nearly half a million people in Toledo, Ohio, couldn't drink water for two days in August because toxins from harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie made their way into the drinking water supplies. 

She also said climate change is bringing warmer temperatures, rising seas and harsher droughts and storms. “If we don't act by 2050, we could lose $100 billion in coastal communities,” she said. 

2. EPA’s Power Plant Rule Needs Redesign of Emissions Goals, Deadlines, Utility Says

The compliance deadlines and emissions targets for the EPA’s power plant rule are unrealistic, unattainable and should be redesigned, an official of American Electric Power—whose remarks are covered in this story—said. 

“As it stands right now, the rule is flawed,” Mark McCullough, AEP executive vice president, said. “It needs to be modified if it's going to be implemented in a rational way.” 

The Ohio-based company, which burns coal for 63 percent of its electricity generation, plans to retire about 6,000 megawatts of older coal-fired power plants over the next six years, he said.

3. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Increased in 2013 Due to More Coal Use, EPA Says

Greenhouse gas emissions from large industrial facilities increased by 20 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent between 2012 and 2013, a 0.6 percent increase, according to data released by the  EPA, as detailed in this story

The increase largely is due to greater use of coal for electricity generation, the EPA said. The increase comes despite methane emissions from petroleum and natural gas systems declining by 12 percent since 2011, including a 73 percent decrease in methane emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells.  

Nearly 8,000 large industrial facilities that are required to report their annual emissions to the EPA emitted 3.18 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2013, according the agency's data. That represents nearly half of total U.S. emissions, the EPA said. 

4. Baker Hughes Disclosing All Chemicals It Uses in Fracking, Claims No Trade Secrets

As covered in this story, drilling services company Baker Hughes Inc. has begun disclosing all the chemicals it uses in hydraulic fracturing operations.

The company will not use trade secret designations to shield chemicals from disclosure, effective Oct. 1, Melanie Kania, a company spokeswoman in Houston, told Bloomberg BNA. 

For each fracking job the company performs for oil and gas producers, Baker Hughes will disclose a single list of all the chemical constituents of its products used, while also specifying their maximum concentrations, Kania said. 

5. Canada to Start Commercial-Scale Carbon Capture Coal Power Plant in Global First

As covered in this story, Canada is poised to open the world's first commercial-scale, coal-fired power plant capable of capturing carbon dioxide emissions, a technology that allows the burning of fossil fuels without worsening global warming. 

SaskPower International Inc., Saskatchewan's state utility, said the C$1.35 billion ($1.2 billion) Boundary Dam power plant will cut emissions by 90 percent, or about 1 million metric tons of carbon annually, by trapping CO2 before it enters the atmosphere and pumping it underground, according to company spokesman Tyler J Hopson. 

Carbon capture and storage, or CCS, while operational in only a handful of countries, is expected to play a key role in meeting growing demand for power without contributing to climate change, according to the International Energy Agency.



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