The Week Ahead: House Subcommittee Expected to Hold Hearing on Power Plant Carbon Limits


The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power is expected to hold a hearing the week of Sept. 23 on the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule issued under the Clean Air Act to control carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants.

As detailed in an Energy and Climate Reportarticle, EPA proposed separate emission standards Sept. 20 for coal- and natural gas-fired units at power plants.

Subcommittee chair Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) said the hearing will focus on the proposed rule's mandate for the use of technology, such as carbon capture and storage, that opponents of the rule say is not viable.

Debt Ceiling to Address Keystone Pipeline

House Republicans are expected to consider in the week ahead adding policy riders to debt ceiling legislation that would require approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and prohibit EPA from issuing energy-related regulations estimated to cost more than $1 billion, if the Secretary of Energy determines that the regulations would have a signifitcant adverse effect on the economy.

As covered in a Sept. 18 article, the Keystone measure is expected to be similar to legislation (H.R. 3) that would elimate the need for a presidential permit for the northern segment of the project along a revised route through Nebraska.

In a related development, a Nebraska district court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Sept. 27 in a lawsuit challenging state legislation (LB 1161) that established a new process for selecting a route for the pipeline.

As detailed in an Aug. 14 article, the plaintiffsthree landowners assisted by the citizens group Bold Nebraskaare challenging the Legislature's decision to allow the governor to approve or deny the pipeline route (Thompson v. Heineman, Neb. Dist. Ct., No. CI 12-02060, 6/11/13).

LB 1161 was passed by the Legislature in April 2012. After receiving a favorable report on a new route from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) approved the route Jan. 22.

Senate Subcommittee to Hold Hearing

On Sept. 24, the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety will hold a hearing on "Black CarbonA Global Health Problem with Low-Cost Solutions."

Comments on actions to reduce short-lived greenhouse gas pollutants, including black carbon, by panelists at an Environmental and Energy Study Institute and UN Environment Program event, are covered in a Sept. 16 article

HFCs Expected to Be Discussed in White House Meeting

The reduction of the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons is expected to be discussed during a White House meeting Sept. 27 between President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohn Singh. 

As detailed in a Sept. 6 article, the phase-out of HFCs, which have a high global warming potential, also is expected to be on the agenda at an October meeting in Bangkok on the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

The anticipated phase-out of HFCs comes on the heels of a June agreement between U.S. and China to curtail use of the substances, which are used as refrigerants, in air conditioners and as sealants. HFCs do not deplete the ozone layer, but they have many times the global-warming potential of carbon dioxide.

IPCC to Meet

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will hold a meeting Sept. 23-26 in Stockholm to debate, among other issues, the first section of its Fifth Assessment Report, due in 2014, that focuses on the scientific basis of climate change.

IPCC assessment reports are meant to serve as an international summary of the current understanding of climate change, its effects, and possibilities for mitigation and adaptation.

ICAO Assembly to Be Held

The International Civil Aviation Organization's 38th Assembly Meeting, to be held Sept. 24-Oct. 4 in Montreal, is expected to include the approval of a carbon dioxide cap-and-trade framework that would apply only to portions of flights over territories of the European Union.

As detailed in a Sept. 5 article, the European Union earlier this year formally agreed to temporarily delay a plan to expand its Emissions Trading System to cover the full distance of flights arriving in and taking off from Europe after running into strong resistance from the U.S., China and Russia.

Other Energy, Climate Events

On Sept. 23, the United Nations will hold its inaugural "High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development" in New York. 

Also in New York, Climate Week NYCwill be held Sept. 23-30. The focus of the event will be "Our Low Carbon FutureLeadership, Opportunity and Security."

In Washington, the U.S. Energy Association will launch a report Sept. 24 on "The World Energy Trilemma 2013: The Case for Sustainable Energy Investment and Energy Sustainability Index 2013."