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Rule for Regulating Existing Power Plants under Fire

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee during a hearing on “EPA’s Proposed Carbon Pollution Standards for Existing Power Plants.” Debate about the proposed rule to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants has swirled since the rule’s release last month. Coal-heavy states and others have criticized both the…

Court Upholds Soot Standards

A federal court of appeals on Friday unanimously found that the Clean Air Act gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) substantial discretion in setting air quality standards. The ruling upheld the EPA’s tightened limits on soot, or fine particulate matter from coal plants, refineries, factories and vehicles. In the challenge brought by industry groups, the National Association of Manufacturers…

Federal Appeals Court Upholds EPA Mercury Rule

A federal appeals court upheld the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) requiring power plants install technology to cut emissions of mercury and other air pollutants. MATS was challenged by industry and several states that argued the EPA should have considered costs when determining whether it was “appropriate and necessary” to go forward with the standards. The…

Supreme Court Divided After Hearing on EPA Authority

In a hearing Monday, the Supreme Court questioned whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is correct in its interpretation that regulating greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles triggers the requirement to also implement permitting requirements for large stationary sources. At issue is the legality of EPA’s interpretation of the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) regulations. Industry groups argue that the PSD…

Supreme Court Will Hear Challenges to EPA Rule

The U.S. Supreme Court opted Tuesday to hear challenges raised by states and industry groups to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rules issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act. Six of nine petitions were granted review. The specific issue in the case deals with the GHG permitting program that the EPA implemented in January 2011 (commonly…

EPA Issues New Source Rules, Separates Requirements for Coal and Gas-Fired Plants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a long-awaited revised proposal for Clean Air Act standards to curb carbon pollution from new power plants. The rule sets separate standards for new gas-fired and coal-fired plants. It would require future coal-fired plants to limit emissions of carbon dioxide to 1,100 pounds per megawatt hour (MWh). The average U.S. coal-fired plant currently emits nearly…

Using the Clean Air Act to Regulate Carbon Emissions

In an attempt to address global changes in climate, the Obama administration set specific deadlines for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use the Clean Air Act to cut carbon dioxide pollution from new and existing power plants. Just weeks away from the deadline for release of proposed rules for new power plants (full disclosure: Duke scholars will…

McCarthy: Climate Change Is “Opportunity of a Lifetime”

In her first public speech, newly minted U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy vowed to curb climate-altering pollution, an effort that she said would spark business innovation, grow jobs and strengthen the economy. McCarthy, who was confirmed to lead the EPA in July after pushbacks from Republicans, spoke before an audience in her native…

U.S. Energy Production Linked to Earthquakes

As U.S. production of crude oil continues to grow, new studies in the journal Science say the very methods used to extract the resource could be behind some U.S. earthquakes. The studies find that the gas extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing can cause some small earthquakes and that the disposal of wastewater following this and other energy production methods can produce…

Obama Shares Plan for Action on Climate Change

In a speech at Georgetown University Tuesday, President Barack Obama outlined a long-awaited executive strategy—comprised mostly of initiatives already underway—to curb greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. “As a president, as a father and as an American, I’m here to say, ‘We need to act,’” Obama said. “I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet…

Obama Could Unveil Climate Strategy with Clean Air Act Tie Soon

The Obama administration could soon make an announcement detailing plans to address climate change, even in the face of continuing political barriers to progress on the issue. Unnamed administration officials pointed to July for the rollout, while an Administration aide was more vague. “In the coming weeks and months, you can expect to hear more from the president on this…

Obama Announces Leaders of His Energy, Environment Team

After weeks of speculation, President Barack Obama officially announced his selections to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on Monday. Gina McCarthy was chosen to lead the EPA, replacing Lisa Jackson, while Ernest Moniz will take over as energy secretary, replacing Steven Chu. Together, Obama said, they are charged with “making sure that we’re investing in…

Climate Change Resurfaces in President’s Second Inaugural Address

In his remarks at the 57th presidential inauguration, President Barack Obama discussed a topic Americans hadn’t heard much about since his November victory speech—climate change. In the nationally televised speech following his oath of office, Obama elevated the issue of climate change into the top tier of his second-term priorities, alongside gun control and immigration reform. “We will respond to the…

Climate Change under the Microscope in Report, Leaked IPCC Draft

As lawmakers in Washington, D.C., debate the so-called fiscal cliff—when U.S. federal tax increases and spending cuts are due to take effect at the end of 2012—new research in the journal Nature Climate Change says we are already at the edge of a climate cliff. It explores the cost and risk associated with surpassing critical emissions thresholds by 2020, and what would need to…

Scientific Papers Share Lessons Learned from the BP Oil Spill

A collection of papers now out in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) looks at the response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010, examining whether it was successful and how it could be improved. The release of the reports comes just days after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suspended BP from obtaining new U.S. contracts due to…