The Goal? No Coal!

The EPA has issued its long-awaiting proposed rule to curb carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units (EGUs). Although there has been a much-heralded ‘pause’ in global warming over the last 16 years, EPA is moving ahead to fulfill President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, in which he calls for a reduction in CO2 emissions from power plants, and to otherwise achieve his stated goal of bankrupting coal plants.

CO2 is the primary greenhouse gas (GHG), accounting for 82% of US GHG emissions and 75% of global GHG emissions. Electricity generation accounts for 32% of GHG emissions and fossil fuel-fired EGUs are by far the largest emitters of GHG. Continue reading “The Goal? No Coal!”

Green Completions Help the Environment and Industry

It is no secret that EPA and many environmental groups are worried about the level of emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and the cumulative effects of rising amounts of GHG on our environment. Many recent regulations have been issued by EPA and lawsuits filed by environmental groups to try and reduce those emissions from various industry categories. Oil and gas exploration and production activities have been specifically targeted for special scrutiny because that industry has been deemed to be a significant source of such emissions.

Methane is a potent GHG. In fact, EPA currently rates methane as having twenty-five times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Since natural gas is primarily methane, EPA has focused some of its recent efforts in rule-making to curtailing the release of natural gas/methane from natural gas well completion activities associated with hydraulically fracturing, or fracking. However, while additional regulation is usually burdensome to the point where the costs outweigh potential benefits, these regulations may actually create discernible savings and profits for industry. Continue reading “Green Completions Help the Environment and Industry”

The Keystone XL Pipeline Passes The President’s Red-Line On Climate

Avoiding a favorable decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline got a bit harder for the Obama Administration as the US State Department issued a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Pipeline in January. Overall, the Final Supplemental EIS supports the issuance of the necessary permits mainly because it establishes that the Pipeline meets and exceeds President Obama’s stated test for approval.

The Pipeline will stretch 875 miles and carry up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day originating in Western Canada to Steele City, Nebraska, where it will proceed through existing pipelines to refineries on the Gulf Coast. TransCanada first filed for the presidential permit (required because of the international aspect of the Pipeline) in 2008. The latest permit request includes a pipeline route that avoids the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills Region in Nebraska, which was a source of criticism of the previous application. Continue reading “The Keystone XL Pipeline Passes The President’s Red-Line On Climate”

There is a Growing Resistance to Climate Change Proposals

Although temperature data shows that there has been a sixteen (16) year pause in global warming, the Obama Administration continues its push for more regulation of greenhouse gases. In fact, President Obama has flatly stated that, for the balance of his term, his administration would continue to combat climate change as one of its “key priorities” and focus on “strategies … that are lowering … dangerous carbon pollution.” Speech, July 24, 2013. In addition to the ongoing ‘war on coal,’ the continuing decrease in amount of oil and gas production from federally-controlled lands, and the implementation of emission standards for fracking, the administration has proposed and/or implemented ideas to make good on its promise. Continue reading “There is a Growing Resistance to Climate Change Proposals”

An Inconvenient Irony

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, remains the target of many environmental groups and some governments who seek to prohibit or significantly curtail the practice. Fracking, however, has provided an abundance of cheap natural gas, which has played a major role in the dramatic decrease in the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted in the United States. The decrease in CO2 and the role fracking has played in it has created an interesting, and perhaps inconvenient, irony.

The combustion of fossil fuels (such as coal, oil, and natural gas) in the energy, transportation, and industrial sectors creates the vast majority of greenhouse gases (GHG). Coal combustion creates much more CO2 than the combustion of natural gas. CO2 is the most abundant of GHG and remains in the atmosphere much longer than other GHG, such as methane. Although methane and other GHG have a higher global warming potential, the large amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere has been a major focus of the climate change (formerly known as ‘global warming’) debate. Recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations and the Kyoto Protocol are examples of national and international efforts spurred by environmental groups seeking massive decreases in CO2 emissions. Continue reading “An Inconvenient Irony”

The Ever-Expanding Regulatory Burden

The number of regulations and pages in the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is already staggering and growing at a record pace. From 2002 to 2008, the number of total pages, by year, in the Federal Register was between a low of 71,269 pages in 2003 and a high of 79,435 pages in 2008. After a dip to 68,598 pages in 2009, the 2010 and 2011 totals were 81,405 and 81,247, respectively. While the number of pages of the Federal Register fluctuated in the 70,000 range until 2010 and 2011, the number of total pages in the Code of Federal Regulations has trended upward from 145,099 in 2002 to 169,301 in 2011. Collectively, federal agencies issued 3,573 final rules in 2010 and 3,807 in 2011, according to the National Archives and Records Administration’s Office of the Federal Register. Continue reading “The Ever-Expanding Regulatory Burden”

Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Cap and Trade

On March 10, 2009, EPA proposed a sweeping regulation to “require reporting of greenhouse gas emissions.” EPA-HQ- 2008-0508, p. 1. The list of potentially affected industries is lengthy, encompassing “all sectors of the economy.” Id. The proposed rule would require reporting of annual emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and several other ‘greenhouse gases’ (GHG). Id., at p. 19. EPA states that GHG from “human activities are … very likely influencing the earth’s climate.” Id., at p. 26. EPA estimated the compliance costs for the first year of reporting would be $168 million, with an annualized cost thereafter of $138 million. Id., at pp. 778-779. Continue reading “Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Cap and Trade”