The top five most read stories in Energy and Climate Report for the week of Jan. 27-31, listed below, cover ways President Barack Obama intends to address climate and energy issues, hefty fines in California over greenhouse gas reporting, the federal greenhouse gas reporting rule and a stormwater runoff calculator that accounts for climate change.
1. Obama's Intended Executive Actions Include Seven Measures on Energy, Environment
This Jan. 29 story, covers Obama's State of the Union address during which he highlighted the executive actions he intends to take this year, including seven actions dealing with energy and the environment. The actions, as outlined in a fact sheet, address the development of shale gas and alternative energy sources, advanced vehicle technologies, fuel efficiency standards for trucks, standards for power plants, climate adaptation, and sustaining energy production while protecting pristine federal lands. Congressional Republicans, however, charged that the president's plan of using executive orders will exceed his constitutional authority in an effort to bypass Congress.
2. California Fines Three Companies $1M for Violating Emissions Reporting Rule
This Jan. 28 story covers nearly $1 million in fines levied by the California Air Resources Board against three companies for late or inadequate reporting of their 2011 greenhouse gas emissions. Individually, the penalties are the largest yet levied for violations of the reporting rules, CARB said. Chevron U.S.A. Inc. will pay the highest fine, $365,500, for reporting incorrect information involving operations at its El Segundo Refinery in Los Angeles County. Houston, Tex.-based Chevron North America Exploration & Production Co. will pay $328,500 for late reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from its San Joaquin Valley oil fields and Southwest Gas Corp. of Las Vegas will pay $300,000 for failing to resolve its late report regarding natural gas supplied to California, CARB said.
3. Waste Industry Challenges Revised Global Warming Potentials in EPA Reporting Rule
As detailed in this Jan. 28 story, Waste Management Inc. and its affiliates in California, Michigan and South Carolina filed a lawsuit challenging an EPA rule that revised the global warming potentials industries will use to report their greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA issued a final rule in November 2013 to revise the global warming potentials that industries use to calculate their greenhouse gas emissions as part of the mandatory reporting rule. Global warming potential is a measure of a gas's warming effect on the atmosphere compared with carbon dioxide, which has a warming potential of 1. The EPA said the revised global warming potentials could increase the amount of greenhouse gases some facilities report. Additionally, some facilities previously exempt from reporting requirements may now meet reporting thresholds.
4. Obama Urged to Take Action on Climate Change if Congress Continues to Balk
This Jan. 27 story—a lead up to Obama's State of the Union address—covers remarks by advocates of greenhouse gas reductions who urged the president to turn up the pressure on Congress to pass climate change legislation while demonstrating his willingness to act alone in the face of congressional inaction. In last year's address, Obama called on Congress to move forward on a market-based approach to reduce carbon dioxide emissions but warned that if it was unwilling to act, he would use his authority to cut emissions and prepare local communities for more severe storms related to climate change. During the past year, Obama fulfilled much of that pledge, establishing timetables for the EPA to begin setting carbon dioxide limits for new and existing power plants, part of a broad Climate Action Plan he unveiled in June 2013.
5. EPA Updates Stormwater Calculator to Factor in Climate Change Impacts
An update by the EPA to its National Stormwater Calculator to account for how runoff may vary based on historical weather patterns and potential future climate change is covered in this Jan. 30 story. The calculator's stormwater estimates were previously based on local soil conditions, slope, land cover and historical rainfall records.The tool now includes future climate change scenarios from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to factor in changes in seasonal precipitation levels, the effects of more frequent high-intensity storms and changes in evaporation rates.The calculator was part of President Barack Obama's climate change plan outlined in June 2013.
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