New York City Unveils Plan to Carry Out Paris Climate Agreement

On October 3, 2017, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a city plan to align New York City with the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit the global temperature increase to no more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.  The 1.5°C Climate Action Plan proposes aggressive action across various sectors, including:

  • Recycling and Waste: The plan proposes a city-wide rollout of single-stream recycling by 2020, as well as an expansion of the city’s organics program by 2018 in order to increase organics separation and reduce the volume of organics in the waste stream.
  • Building Codes:  The plan also calls for implementation of long-term energy intensity requirements for existing buildings by 2030, and the tightening of energy intensity requirements for new buildings.
  • Energy Procurement:  The plan commits to purchasing 100% renewable electricity for municipal operations as soon as sufficient supply can be brought online.
  • Transportation:  The plan aims to increase the number of active cyclists in the city, expanding electric vehicle infrastructure, and other improvements to increase transportation sustainability.

While the plan is the first of its kind, it is unlikely to be the last.  In June, shortly after President Trump announced that the United States would pull out of the Paris Agreement, more than 380 mayors of cities nationwide committed to honor the Agreement.

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EIA Short-Term Energy Outlook Projects Rise in Energy-Sector Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have been trending downward since 2007, but the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that this may change next year.  In its most recent Short-Term Energy Outlook, EIA projects that energy-sector CO2 emissions will rise slightly in 2018.  According to EIA, energy-related CO2 emissions fell in 2015 and 2016, and projections suggest 2017 will likewise see a decline in these emissions.  The projections for 2018, however, do not square with the downward trend, and instead predict a slight rise in emissions by about 2.2%.  In its report, EIA states that the anticipated emissions increase is attributable to various factors, including: an increase in total power generation, an increase in energy-related CO2 emissions from petroleum, natural gas; and coal expected to total 111 million metric tons; a slight increase in coal’s forecast generation share; and a decrease in expected hydropower generation by 5 billion kilowatt-hours—too large a decline for wind, solar, and nuclear generation to offset.

Additional data, highlights, and visualizations from the report are available here.

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EPA Proposes to Repeal the Clean Power Plan

UPDATED 11.14.2017 The proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan has been published in the Federal Register, 82 Fed. Reg 48,035.  In addition, an extension of the comment deadline has been published in the Federal Register, 82 Fed. Reg. 51,787.  The new comment deadline is January 16, 2018. 

Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took the long anticipated step of proposing to repeal the Clean Power Plan promulgated by the Obama Administration.  EPA also issued a press release and a fact sheet describing the proposed repeal.  President Trump’s Executive Order on energy and environmental policy, issued at the end of March, specifically instructed the EPA Administrator to reconsider the Clean Power Plan.

In its announcement today, EPA states that the Clean Power Plan is inconsistent with Section 111 of the Clean Air Act because it sets carbon dioxide emission guidelines for existing power plants that, realistically, can be satisfied only if power generators engage in generation-shifting (such as replacing fossil fuel generation with renewable resources).  According to the proposed rule, the Clean Air Act only authorizes EPA to issue emission guidelines for existing sources that reflect the “best system of emission reduction” that can be applied to or at a single source.

EPA estimates that the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan could provide up to $33 billion in avoided compliance costs in 2030.  It also noted its disagreement with the Obama Administration’s analysis of the costs and benefits associated with the Clean Power Plan, and it has issued a Regulatory Impact Analysis setting forth its new cost-benefit technical analysis.

In today’s announcement, EPA states that it has not yet determined whether it will promulgate a different rule under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from electric utility generating units.  However, it is planning to issue an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the near future to solicit comments on systems of emission reductions that are applicable at and to an individual source.

Comments on EPA’s proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan will be due sixty days after the proposed rule’s publication in the Federal Register.

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EPA Seeks Comments on Draft Strategic Plan

EPA issued a notice in today’s Federal Register announcing that it has released a draft of its FY 2018-2022 Strategic Plan (Draft Plan) for public comment. EPA explains that it is required to revise its previous Strategic Plan under the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) Modernization Act of 2010.  The GPRA Modernization Act requires, among other things, that agency heads make available to the public their agency’s 4-year strategic plan. Pursuant to this Act, Trump’s agency heads will need to post their plans by Feb. 5, 2018.

In its Draft Plan, EPA lays out its three goals, and describes its corresponding objectives and measures under each of those goals. Its goals are to:

  • “Deliver real results to provide Americans with clean air, land, and water.”
  • “Rebalance the power between Washington and the states to create tangible environmental results for the American people;” and
  • “Administer the law, as Congress intended, to refocus the Agency on its statutory obligations under the law.”

EPA further states that it is “in the process of deploying a Lean management system[,] . . . a set of principles and tools designed to identify and eliminate waste from processes while maximizing customer value and return on taxpayer investment.”

Comments on the draft are due on October 31, 2017.

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DOE Proposes Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule

Last week, DOE proposed that FERC enact rules for FERC-approved Independent System Operators (ISOs) and Regional Transmission Operators (RTOs) to “ensure that certain reliability and resilience attributes of electric generation resources are fully valued.”  The DOE Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) focuses on power plants that can withstand major fuel supply disruptions, which it defines as resources “able to provide essential energy and ancillary reliability services and have a 90-day fuel supply on site in the event of supply disruptions caused by emergencies, extreme weather, or natural or man-made disasters.”

The NOPR cites to the recently issued DOE Staff Report on electric markets and reliability, noting that “the DOE Staff Report warns that premature retirement of fuel-secure resources imposes serious risks.”  According to the NOPR, wholesale pricing in RTOs and ISOs “does not adequately consider or accurately value” the resiliency benefits that these fuel-secure generation resources provide.  To address this issue, Secretary Perry directed FERC to issue a rule requiring its organized markets to develop and implement market rules that “accurately price” these resources.

This action was taken pursuant to section 403 of the Department of Energy Organization Act (42 U.S.C. § 7173), which states that FERC “shall consider and take final action on any proposal made by the Secretary [of Energy] . . . in an expeditious manner in accordance with such reasonable time limits as may be set by the Secretary for the completion of action by the Commission on any such proposal.”  Here, Secretary Perry has instructed FERC to take final action within 60 days after the notice is published in the Federal Register.  Any final rule, according to DOE’s proposal, will take affect within 30 days of its publication in the Federal Register, and each ISO and RTO subject to the rule will have to submit a compliance filing within 15 days of the effective date of such a rule.

On October 2, 2017, FERC solicited comments on the proposed rule.  Comments are due by October 23, 2017, and reply comments are due by November 7, 2017.

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