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Tag archives for Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

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…

EIA: Carbon Emissions Decline

In 2012, energy-related carbon emissions in the United States declined 3.8 percent even as global carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4 percent, according the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The recorded 5.29 million metric tons of carbon dioxide amounted to the largest decline since 1994, continuing a downward trend that started in 2007. EIA attributed last year’s decrease to several factors, including a mild…

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…

Despite Dominance of Syria Debate, Environmental Policies Make Headway

Disagreements over the Syrian chemical weapons crisis didn’t stop leaders from reaching a consensus to phase down production and consumption of refrigerant greenhouse gases and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies at the G-20 Summit in Russia. The world’s top greenhouse gas emitters—the U.S. and China—agreed to set up a contact group to explore specific issues related to…

Reports: Ocean Acidification Heats Planet, Changes Ecosystems

Two new studies showcase the greater dangers of rising ocean temperatures. The first, in the journal Nature Climate Change, finds rising carbon dioxide levels that make oceans more acidic can also raise global temperatures. The authors find ocean acidification would lead certain marine organisms to emit less of the sulphur compounds that help with cloud…

EPA Finalizes Biofuel Mandate

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced final 2013 biofuel volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard. Issued Tuesday, the final rule lowers targets for biofuels production in 2014—requiring that 16.55 billion gallons of renewable fuels be blended into the U.S. fuel supply including 1.28 billion gallons from biomass-based diesel fuel and 2.75 billion gallons from advanced biofuels. These are the same quotas…

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…

Warming Leading to Record Temps, Melting

Last month was among the top five warmest Junes on record, according to new data released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The average global temperature, according to NOAA, was 60.54 degrees Fahrenheit—1.15 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average of 59.9 degrees Fahrenheit. June’s record…