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States, Studies React to EPA Rule Release

On the coattails of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule for regulating carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, the White House issued a report on the health effects of climate change. The seven-page report outlines six major risks linked to rising temperatures—asthma, lung and heart illnesses; infectious disease; allergies; flooding-related hazards and heat stroke. But one week after release of the…

EPA Proposes Clean Air Measures for Gasoline, Finalizes MATS Rules

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday announced its proposed Tier 3 rules, which would reduce allowable amounts of sulfur in gasoline and help automobiles’ catalytic converters capture more pollutants. The new measures would reduce sulfur in gasoline by more than 60 percent—from the present average of 30 parts per million to 10 parts per million by 2017—an environmental benefit comparable to taking 33 million…

Details of Obama’s Plan to Reduce Dependence on Foreign Oil Emerge

The White House has released more details about the Energy Security Trust that President Barack Obama first mentioned in February’s State of the Union address. Obama introduced the plan—which aims to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil, improve vehicle fuel efficiency and protect consumers from gas price spikes—during a speech at Chicago’s Argonne National Laboratory. “By investing in our…

Fiscal Cliff Deal Reached, Clean Energy Not Forgotten

After months of negotiating, lawmakers in Washington, D.C., reached an agreement to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Featured in the measure is an extension of a renewable electricity production tax credit for wind, geothermal and some biomass projects, which gives credit for each kilowatt-hour of energy they produce. Highly contested prior to the bill’s passing was the credit’s impact on the wind industry. The credit, which offers 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of…

Climate Change a Focus for President in Second Term

In his first press conference since being re-elected, President Barack Obama acknowledged he’ll focus on climate change in his second term. “I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior, and carbon emissions,” Obama said at a televised news conference on Wednesday. “And as a consequence, I think we’ve got an obligation to…

Heated Discussion about Energy in Second Presidential Debate, but No Mention of Climate

Next to jobs and the economy, the National Journal reports, no other issue has dominated this year’s election as much as energy because it’s a proxy for many other things (subscription). “Energy has not been this big an issue in a presidential campaign since the tumultuous years of the 1970s,” when the Arab oil embargo raised gasoline prices and had…

Hurricane Isaac Disrupts Energy Production, Stirs Old Wounds

While Hurricane Isaac managed to leave Gulf oil platforms largely untouched, New Orleans’ strengthened levees were put to the test as the storm made landfall on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. More than 90 percent of all oil production and roughly 66 percent of all gas output was shut down as a precautionary measure as Isaac approached the Louisiana coast Tuesday. As…

U.S. Energy Department: Peak Travel Season Could Cost Drivers 6% More

Gasoline prices have edged off the pedal in recent days, but the Energy Information Administration this week released new data showing motorists will pay about a quarter more per gallon during peak travel season—April through September. Prices will top out at $4.01, on average, in May. The last time gasoline spiked to such levels was…

Record Temperatures May Bring More Than Just Early Spring Flowers

Washington, D.C.’s famed cherry blossoms—now celebrating their centennial—decided to spring one on visitors, peaking well before the arrival of most Cherry Blossom Festival–goers. Spring’s forward leap is also causing coupling confusion among flowers and pollinators. Above-average temperatures are responsible for these early blooms, marking this the fourth warmest winter on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric…

Oil, Gasoline Prices Hit All-Time Highs in 2011—and May Continue Rising

Average prices of oil and gasoline at the pump reached an all-time high in 2011, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data. Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, averaged $111 a barrel—the first time it broke $100 for a whole year. In some ways, these records snuck up on Americans, since there was no extreme…

Ending Oil Tax Breaks Could Pay For New Jobs—and Some May Be Green

President Obama unveiled a new job creation plan in a major speech to Congress last week and follow-up speeches this week, in which he called for an end to tax breaks for oil and gas companies to bring in an additional $32 billion over 10 years to pay for increased government spending. Earlier this year, Obama called…

Australia’s Ambitious Scheme Sets World’s Highest Price on Emissions

Australia, with the highest per capita greenhouse emissions of any large developed country, will soon take on one of the most ambitious schemes to tackle climate change, with a new carbon-trading system. The planned carbon tax will start in 2012 and apply first to the 500 worst polluting companies responsible for about 60 percent of the country’s emissions,…

Beleaguered EPA Must Take Charge of Greenhouse Gases, Supreme Court Rules

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court shot down a global warming lawsuit several states and environmental groups had brought against five of America’s biggest utilities, responsible for about one-tenth of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. The case was aimed at getting the court to rule greenhouse gas emissions a public nuisance and order the defendants…

Ethanol Tax Breaks Survive, but Vote May Have “Broken the Dam”

While a bill to slash $6 billion in annual tax breaks for ethanol fuel failed to pass the U.S. Senate, it was still hailed by some lawmakers and analysts as a major break from the past. It raises a philosophical quandary, says the Christian Science Monitor: “If Congress takes away a tax subsidy, should that count as…

OPEC Discord May Be “the Beginning of the End” of the Oil Cartel

With oil prices high, the International Energy Agency (IEA) last month made a rare plea for the world to produce more oil. So the latest meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), where they set their production quotas, was closely watched. After a rancorous meeting, most member countries refused to raise quotas. Before the…