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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…

Climate Change, EPA Rules Focus of McCabe Confirmation Hearing

Climate change, extreme weather and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants were the focus of a confirmation hearing for Janet McCabe, President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. In the hearing—at which lawmakers took jabs at one another on the…

All-Night Senate Session Focuses on Climate Change

In the last 100 years, senators have held all-night sessions 35 times on everything from the Civil Rights Act to the Iraq War. This week, climate change made the list as number 36. The more than 14-hour session, which began Monday night, was organized by the Climate Action Task Force. Dubbed an avenue to voice concerns over the issue that has…

Budget Provides Blueprint for Climate, Energy Goals

President Barack Obama unveiled his 2015 budget proposal Tuesday, outlining his spending and policy priorities for the upcoming year. In it, President Obama earmarked funding for both his Climate Action Plan and Climate Resiliency Fund. The budget for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—the agency that released stricter fuel standards this week—represented a $309 million decrease from the current fiscal year budget. The nearly $8 billion…

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…

Carbon Markets Show Glimmers of Recovery in 2014

A year after the launch of its cap-and-trade program, California formally linked its emissions trading scheme with Quebec’s—enabling carbon allowances and offset credits to be exchanged between participants in the two jurisdictions. The linkage, which marks the first agreement in North America that allows for the trading of greenhouse gas emissions across borders, is designed to escalate…

Clean Air Rules Face Scrutiny as World’s Largest Emitter Develops Climate Plan

Oral arguments were held Tuesday to determine the legality of a rule that regulates air pollution crossing state lines. Before the U.S. Supreme Court was the issue of whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exceeded its authority by designing state limits for air pollution when it developed the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which was intended to take…

Report Warns of Sudden Climate Change Impacts

Hard-to-predict sudden changes to Earth’s environment are more worrisome than larger but more gradual impacts of climate change, according a panel of scientists advising the federal government. A 200-page report released Tuesday by the National Academy of Sciences repeatedly warns of potential climate “tipping points” beyond which “major and rapid changes occur.” And some of these changes—happening in years…

EPA Proposes Lower Biofuel Mandate

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday announced cuts to a federal mandate dictating how much ethanol must be blended into gasoline. The mandate—under the Renewable Fuel Standard—would have been scheduled to reach 18.15 billion gallons in 2014, up from 16.55 billion gallons this year. The EPA instead proposes to set the 2014 requirement at 15.21 billion gallons, equal…

Report: Current Efforts to Slow Global Warming Not Sufficient

Days before world leaders meet in Warsaw, Poland, for the latest United Nations Climate Change Conference, a new report warns that the opportunity to limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial levels is diminishing. The “Emissions Gap Report 2013,” compiled yearly by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), looks at how each nation is meeting its…

Impacts Far Reaching as U.S. Marks Sandy Anniversary

A year ago this week, Superstorm Sandy made a lasting mark on the northeast United States. Many areas continue to recover from the storm, the deadliest and most destructive of the 2012 hurricane season. The effects of Sandy’s destruction linger in many areas where it made landfall, but the storm has had wider-ranging impacts, including influencing how we predict and prepare for future…

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…

Leadership Change in the White House

Heather Zichal, President Barack Obama’s top energy and climate adviser, announced plans this week to step down. Zichal has advised the president since 2008 and assisted in the creation of his Climate Action Plan, unveiled in June, to cut carbon emissions from U.S. power plants and other sources. Although a replacement has not been named, some news outlets reported that Dan…

Energy, Climate Programs Affected by Federal Government Shutdown

Washington braced for a prolonged shutdown, the first in 17 years, this week after members of Congress failed to pass a budget. The closure has affected the workforce of many climate and energy programs. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for one, lost more than 90 percent of its employees, disrupting monitoring of air and water quality as well as potentially setting back efforts to…

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…