26 July 2010

EPA rules may do what Senate can't, China plans carbon trading, Britons toss £1 bln, other green news

Top Stories

Utility Companies 'Just Exhausted' After Defeat on Cap-and-Trade Measure.reliability high.
Utilities spent hundreds of millions and countless hours lobbying for cap and trade to no avail. "'I don’t know what more you can do,' Izzo said. 'We are essentially volunteering to be the first to be regulated and people don't want to do it.' ... 'There’s a lot of capital sitting on the sidelines just waiting for more regulatory clarity,' said Lewis Hay, CEO of Juno-Beach, Florida-Based NextEra Energy Resources LLC." From Bloomberg. [As long as Congress is paralyzed, industry will hesitate on investment decisions. Industry likes predictable regulation, based on enduring legislation, rather than uncertainty. These comments suggest that these utilities regard some sort of GHG regulation as inevitable. That is why they are trying to get policies they can live with. They are especially unenthusiastic about "utility only" alternatives that have been suggested. Congress is easier for them to manipulate than the EPA. Now they have to go to plan B.]

Health Rules Could Cut Greenhouse Emissions.reliability high.
"A proposed rule on mercury ... could help the administration of President Barack Obama get near its short-term climate goal, even if the U.S. Congress fails this year or next to pass a bill tackling greenhouse gases directly. ... The agency has begun to take steps to regulate greenhouse gases from automobiles, power plants and factories. But its proposed rules on mainstream pollutants, those that can cause diseases, may limit carbon dioxide emissions the most. ... The rule, which the agency was required by U.S. courts to issue by November 2011, is likely to help push many of the oldest and dirtiest emitters of carbon into retirement." Story in The New York Times.

Carbon trading in pipeline.reliability medium.
China "is set to begin domestic carbon trading programs during its 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015) to help it meet its 2020 carbon intensity target. The decision was made at a closed-door meeting chaired by Xie Zhenhua, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), and attended by officials from related ministries, enterprises, environmental exchanges and think tanks, a participant told China Daily on Wednesday on condition of anonymity. 'The consensus that a domestic carbon-trading scheme is essential was reached, but a debate is still ongoing among experts and industries regarding what approach should be adopted,' the source said." See China Daily.

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

GM plans 'green' air-conditioning refrigerant for selected 2013 models.reliability medium.
"GM is planning to keep drivers and passengers of 2013 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac cars cool with a sustainable air-conditioning refrigerant that lingers in the atmosphere for only days instead of years. Honeywell has designed a new refrigerant, (HFO-1234yf), that lingers in the atmosphere for just 11 days and has a global warming potential (GWP) of only 4, a 99.7 percent improvement over current emissions. On average, the refrigerant used in current GM models, R-134a, has an atmospheric life of more than 13 years and a GWP of more than 1,400. ... The refrigerant will meet new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation requirements, which call for improved greenhouse gas and fuel economy in passenger cars and light-duty trucks by 2016." From CNET Car Tech blog. [Even though it's three years out, and required by regulations, might as well issue a press release and try to make a virtue of necessity.]

Government and Regulation

Pollution makes quarter of China water unusable: ministry.reliability high.
"Almost a quarter of China's surface water remains so polluted that it is unfit even for industrial use, while less than half of total supplies are drinkable, data from the environment watchdog showed on Monday. Inspectors from China's Ministry of Environmental Protection tested water samples from the country's major rivers and lakes in the first half of the year and declared just 49.3 percent to be safe for drinking, up from 48 percent last year, the ministry said in a notice posted on its website (www.mep.gov.cn)." Other pollution statistics. See Reuters story. [Gives a sense of the enormity of the challenge. One of the major pollutants is fertilizer runoff due to fertilizer overuse, which is probably due in turn to fertilizer subsidies. Everything is connected.]

Britain's 'litter epidemic' costs almost £1bn every year.reliability high.
"The Keep Britain Tidy survey of local authorities in England showed the cost of employing litter pickers and buying equipment to clear chewing gum rose by £100 million in the last year. The campaign group blamed the £858 bill, that will ultimately be passed onto council tax payers, on Britain's 'throwaway culture'. " More on litter costs. From The Telegraph. [Oil spills, focused in space, time and culpability, get all the attention. Litter is all of us everywhere. And note this is only the cost of collecting the litter that is picked up. Uncollected litter also imposes some costs through environmental degradation, harm to wildlife, etc. Please deposit £17.]