The release of guidelines by industry to address public concerns over fracking was the top Energy and Climate Report story for the week ending July 11. Other top stories covered a briefing with senators by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy over carbon rules, the withdrawal by President Barack Obama of his nominee for a top Energy Department post, an EPA rule to curtail the use hydrofluorocarbons and a White House meeting with the insurance industry over climate adaptation.
1. Fracking Guidelines Issued by Industry to Ease Communities Widespread Fears
As covered in this story, the oil industry's largest lobbying group began a new effort to ease public fears about hydraulic fracturing after a legal setback in New York state and a voter push in Colorado to ban the drilling practice.
The American Petroleum Institute, a Washington-based group that includes Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp., released guidelines for improving community relations as “fracking” extends to more towns, raising concerns about pollution risks.
The suggestions will help “raise the bar for the industry,” David Miller, director of standards for the group that has guided the industry on well design and preventing spills since 1924, said in a conference call with reporters July 9. The effort will help oil and gas companies develop “lasting relationships” with communities where drilling occurs, he said.
2. McCarthy Meets With Senators on Power Plant Rules
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy met with Democratic senators July 8—as covered in this brief—to discuss the rollout of the agency's proposed carbon standards for existing power plants.
“My take was that it was more touching base on how the rollout had gone,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said of the meeting with members of the Senate Climate Change Clearinghouse, which he co-chairs. “Not only did she give a good report, she got a good report back from all of us in the way it was rolled out in our states from East to West and North to South.”
The meeting, attended by about 15 senators, was requested by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) to give an update on the regulations, which were proposed in June and would place first-time carbon dioxide emissions limits on existing fossil fuel-fired power plants.
3. Obama Withdraws Nominee Robinson to Serve as Undersecretary of Energy
This story covers the formal withdrawal by President Barack Obama of Elizabeth Robinson to be his nominee to serve as under secretary of energy at the Department of Energy.
Robinson initially was nominated by the president on July 18, 2013, to succeed Kristina Johnson, who resigned.
Earlier, in October 2013, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) announced that he had placed a hold on the nomination, citing concerns about Robinson's work at NASA, where she served as chief financial officer. Vitter said he wanted answers about Robinson's involvement with a stalled project in his district.
4. EPA Proposes to Prohibit Some Uses of HFCs With High Global Warming Potential
As detailed in this story, the EPA is proposing to limit the use of various hydrofluorocarbons that are currently listed as acceptable alternatives to ozone-depleting substances, an action taken under Obama's climate action plan.
The agency said the proposed rule, released July 10, would prohibit certain uses of chemicals that have high global warming potential. The proposed rule would change the status of several HFCs and HFC-containing blends that are currently listed as acceptable alternatives under the agency's significant new alternatives policy (SNAP) program.
The proposal would limit the use of HFCs and HFC blends in aerosol propellants, motor vehicle air conditioning systems for new vehicles, retail food refrigeration equipment, vending machines and foam blowing end-uses.
5. Obama Administration Looking for Ways to Work With Insurers on Extreme Weather
As covered in this story, the Obama administration is looking for ways to work with the insurance and re-insurance industries to make neighborhoods and businesses more resilient to extreme weather events.
During a recent meeting at the White House, administration and industry representatives talked about opportunities to share data to better measure, communicate and manage risks from extreme weather, the attendees said.
“Participants also discussed the importance of public education about uninsured risk and the need for more insurable investments that take climate risk into account,” the White House Council on Environmental Quality told Bloomberg BNA.
Insured losses from natural catastrophes in the U.S. totaled $12.8 billion in 2013, according to Munich Re, the world's biggest re-insurer. Losses were far below the 2000 to 2012 average loss of $29.4 billion, due in part to a quiet Atlantic hurricane season.
These costs are expected to climb, however, as climate change increases the number and strength of certain extreme weather events, including heat waves, floods and droughts.
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