The Week Ahead: EPA Set to Release Proposed Carbon Rule for Existing Power Plants


On June 2, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce a proposed rule to control carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants.

As part of President Barack Obama's climate change plan announced in June 2013, he directed the agency to propose emission guidelines under the Clean Air Act for states to use when issuing regulations to control carbon dioxide from existing power plants. The final guidelines are to be issued within one year.

As detailed in a May 29 Energy and Climate Report article, Republicans fear the proposed regulation will harm electric reliability, cost jobs and provide few discernible environmental benefits without corresponding actions from China and India. Moderate Democrats share similar concerns and believe it will complicate their election campaigns this fall.

Senate Nuclear, Climate Hearings on Agenda

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing June 4 on "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Implementation of the Fukushima Near-Term Task Force Recommendations and other Actions to Enhance and Maintain Nuclear Safety."

Witnesses include NRC Chairman Allison M. Macfarlane and NRC Commissioners Kristine L. Svinicki, George Apostolakis, William D. Magwood and William C. Ostendorff.

On June 3, the Subcommittee on Green Jobs and the New Economy will hold a hearing on "Farming, Fishing, Forestry and Hunting in an Era of Changing Climate."

Witnesses include Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; James Walls, executive director of the Lake County Resources Initiative; Clay Pope, state association executive director for the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts; Daniel Cohen, owner of the Atlantic Capes Fisheries; David R. Legates, geography professor at the University of Delaware; and David South, professor at Auburn University's School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences.  

UN to Hold Climate Talks

The United Nations will hold climate talks June 4-15 in Bonn where negotiators from more than 190 nations hope to make progress toward getting a global climate change deal finalized in Paris in late 2015.

As covered in a May 27 article, the meeting comes on the heels of an announcement by the World Meteorological Organization that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere topped 400 parts per million in the Northern Hemisphere for the entire month of April, marking the first time in modern times that such a level was reached for an entire month in an entire hemisphere.

Scientists say carbon dioxide levels are a leading cause of climate change, and the 400 ppm threshold is a highly symbolic number.

Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the WMO, which is a UN agency, said the new benchmark should “serve as yet another wakeup call.” 

G-7 Summit to Hold Meeting

The G-7 Summit will be held June 4-5 in Brussels where world leaders will discuss an array of issues, including how to bolster renewable energy production.

As covered in a May 12 article, representatives of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S, along with the European Union Commissioner for Energy, have been discussing alternatives to Russian gas, including beefing up renewable energy production, following actions in Ukraine which have put energy security on the agenda.

N.Y. Court to Hear Fracking Cases

The New York Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, will hear oral arguments June 3 in two landmark cases that could determine the future of hydraulic fracturing in New York (Norse Energy Corp. USA v. Dryden and Cooperstown Holstein Corp. v. Middlefield).

The court, as covered in an April 11 article, will determine whether state law preempts local governments from banning the natural gas drilling practice known as fracking. The decision will have a major impact on fracking because some 200 local governments in the state have already enacted anti-fracking ordinances.

RGGI to Hold Auction

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will hold its next quarterly carbon dioxide emission allowance auction June 4.

As covered in a March 18 article, the previous auction was RGGI's most successful when allowances sold for a record high price of $4 each. A total of $93.9 million was raised from the auction by the nine RGGI states—Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Other Climate, Energy Events

Resources for the Future will hold a seminar June 5 in Washington on "Making Sense of EPA’s Proposed Rule for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Existing Power Plants."

Jeffrey Holmstead, a partner at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP and the former EPA administrator for air and radiation, will be a featured speaker at the seminar, which will also be available via a webcast.

The Brookings Institution will hold an event June 3 in Washington on "The Economic Consequences of Delays in U.S. Climate Policy."

The event will cover new economic modeling conducted by Brookings scholars that compares the economic outcomes of modest climate policy action now with the potential consequences of more stringent policies later, including effects on consumption, investment and labor markets.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science will hold an event June 5-6 in Washington on "Climate Change Resilience: Governance and Reforms."

Among the featured speakers will be Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, who chairs the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force created by Obama. Donovan will give a presentation June 6 on "Perspectives on Resilience and Change."


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