Comments to Strategic Plan

In comments to the Environmental Protection Agency’s draft 2014-2018 Strategic Plan, the Association of Metropolitan Waster Agencies said January 3 that the agency should consider climate change across its entire regulatory spectrum, including when addressing provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act during the rule development, implementation, enforcement, and review phases.

SAB Science Review of GHG Regs Unnecessary

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board Work Group sent a memorandum to the board January 7 reversing a November 12 decision, saying instead that a review of carbon dioxide standards for new fossil fuel-fired power plants would not provide additional benefit to the proposed rule. The Work Group will complete its discussion of whether to review the adequacy of the standard’s science during a January 21 teleconference.

GHG Regs for New Power Plants Proposed

The Environmental Protection Agency published reproposed carbon dioxide standards for new power plants January 8. The proposal, initially released September 20, limits carbon dioxide emissions from future coal- and natural gas-fired power plants, requiring that new coal-fired plants capture about 30 to 60 percent of CO2 emissions. The proposed rule withdraws the April 2012 rule, which included a single standard for coal- and natural gas-fired plants, replacing it with separate standards of 1,100 pounds CO2/MWh for small gas plants and new coal plants, and 1,000 pounds CO2/MWh for new gas units. The new plant standards are not expected to result in significant emissions reductions directly because the power sector has been increasingly investing in cleaner, cheaper natural gas-fired units, but the standards will trigger a Clean Air Act requirement for the agency to issue similar guidelines for existing power plants, which are the largest source of GHG emissions in the country. The agency will hold a public hearing January 28, and will accept public comments on the proposed rule through March 10. Proposed guidelines for existing power plants are due June 1, with final guidelines scheduled for the following June.

CH4 Levels Cause Concern

The Environmental Protection Agency will meet with Texas state regulators this week to discuss complaints about methane levels in water sources near a Range Resources Corp. fracking operation. When the agency declared that a group of homes near the site did not have dangerous levels of CH4 in their water, it relied on tests conducted by the natural gas driller, but independent tests from Duke University researchers have found potentially explosive methane levels in some wells, and homeowners want the agency to re-open the case.