GHG Regulations on Schedule

Addressing the Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference February 10, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said that the agency is on track to issue its proposed CO2 emissions standards for existing power plants in June 2015. Administrator McCarthy said that the country will not have to choose between environmental protection and a strong economy, pointing to the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments and the fuel economy standards as examples where environmental efforts have increased economic activity and hastened job creation.

OK Haze Plan Approved

The Environmental Protection Agency approved February 10 Oklahoma’s plan to control regional haze pollution from two coal fired power plants in the state, withdrawing a federal plan to reduce haze. The Public Service Company of Oklahoma will retire one of the units and install additional controls at the other by April 16, 2016, while also requiring NO and SO2 limits for the remaining unit, which will be retired by the end of 2026.

Fracking with Diesel Guidance Released

The Environmental Protection Agency released its final guidance February 11 on fracking when diesel fuels are included in the fluid for an oil or natural gas well. The guidance instructs federal and state regulators on an extra layer of necessary permitting if a company does not avoid using diesel. Industry officials have indicated that they could avoid using the fuels for fracking, depending on how the agency defines diesel fuels; the definition is based on five Chemical Abstracts Service registry numbers.

Power Plant Emissions Stagnate

The Environmental Protection Agency released data February 14 demonstrating that NO and SO2 power plant emissions leveled out between 2012 and 2013, following years of significant and consistent reductions. Utilities emitted 3.2 million tons/SO2 in 2013, down from 3.3 million tons in 2012; emissions were 10.2 million tons in 2005 and 15.7 million tons in 1990. NO emissions increased slightly in 2013, measuring at 1.8 million tons instead of 1.7 million tons. CO2 emissions measured at 2.2 billion tons in 2013, a level that has been fairly consistent in recent years. Emissions have leveled out as plants have come into compliance with the Clean Air Interstate Rule and the acid rain program.

Methane Emissions Underestimated

According to a study published February 14 in Science, the Environmental Protection Agency has been significantly underestimating methane leakage. Leakages from natural gas lines and other sources may be 50 percent higher than current data indicate, and are likely to be tied to superemitters, spots that leak high methane concentrations.

TX GHG Permitting Authority

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed February 18 to approve revisions to a Texas air pollution implementation plan that would allow the state to begin issuing Title V and prevention of significant deterioration permits for greenhouse gas emissions. The state had previously refused to update its implementation plan to include GHGs, saying it would be inconsistent with state law; as a result, the agency has been the GHG permitting authority for the state.