December 22, 2010

Embarrassed over BeingExposed for Shoddy Work on Boiler MACTs, EPA Takes Out Frustration on Economywith New Rules Targeting Refiners. Politico (12/21) reports, “The Obama administration is expected to rollout a major greenhouse gas policy for power plants and refineries as soon asWednesday, signaling it won’t back off its push to fight climate change in theface of mounting opposition on Capitol Hill. Under the schedule agreed to byEPA, states and environmental groups, the agency will issue a draft greenhousegas performance standard for power plants by July 2011 and a final rule by May2012. The agreement requires EPA to issue a draft limit for refineries by Dec.2011 and a final rule by Nov. 2012. The standards are part of a series ofclimate rules from the Obama administration that have faced fierce oppositionfrom industry groups and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. And while thepolicies won’t go final for more than a year, the political ramifications willcome immediately. GOP lawmakers slated to claim the gavels of powerful Housecommittees next year have already vowed to launch probes into a host of EPAregulations – including the administration’s suite of climate changerules – arguing that the regulations will further damage the alreadyailing economy. Starting Jan. 2, EPA will begin regulating large stationarysources of the heat-trapping emissions, but those requirements only apply tonew and upgraded facilities and will be determined on a case-by-case basis, soit’s unclear how deeply they will slash emissions. The forthcoming standardswould set industry-specific standards and could require some of the oldest,dirtiest facilities to clamp down on carbon dioxide.



Meanwhile, Refiners andAutomakers Stand Shoulder-to-Shoulder in Rendering Safety Assessment of E-15– The Stuff’s Junk, Plain and Simple.Wall Street Journal (12/22) reports, “Several major U.S. oilrefiners said Tuesday that they won’t sell gasoline containing 15% ethanoldespite recent government authorization for fuel makers to start distributingthe fuel blend. Valero Energy Corp., Marathon Oil Corp. and Tesoro Corp. saidthey would refuse to sell E15, a mix of 85% gasoline and 15% ethanol, at theirgas stations, because it could harm older automobiles or void their warranties.They and most other refiners now sell a mix of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline."While some government agencies may believe differently, Tesoro isn’tconvinced that E15 is ready for prime time," a Tesoro spokesman said. Thethree companies own or license their names to a combined 12,700 gas stations inthe U.S., about 7.8% of the total as of 2008, the latest figure available.Other refiners, including Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP PLC, declined to comment.Although ethanol advocates cite research saying E15 won’t damage vehicles, automakers hold that E15 could harm car and light truck engines and void theirwarranties. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, representing Ford MotorCo., General Motors Co., Toyota Motor Corp., and other auto companies, filed apetition with a U.S. appellate court in Washington on Monday challenging theEPA’s approval for the sale of gasoline containing 15% ethanol. "There’sno warranty protection from engine and equipment manufacturers for E15,"Mr. Day said. "We’re not going to sell a product we can’t guarantee."



Garbage In: PollCommissioned by Big Wind, Solar Attempts to Stoke Public Fear Over Natural Gas,60-Year-Old Energy Technology Needed to Produce It.Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Citizens Voice (12/22) reports, “Pennsylvanians are moreaware and more concerned about the natural gas extraction process of hydraulicfracturing than the national average, according to survey results releasedTuesday by a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that supports renewable energydevelopment. Knowledge and concern about the issue is varied throughout thestate, with residents in Western Pennsylvania more likely to know aboutfracking as an issue than those in the northeast and central parts of thestate, while Philadelphia-area residents are the most likely to say they are"very concerned" about fracking, according to the poll by the CivilSociety Institute. Kathryn Klaber, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition,said that the questions "were overwhelmingly structured in such a way togenerate predetermined outcomes" but added that it is "clear our industrymust continue to educate communities about the steps we’re taking each day to protect and strengthen theenvironment" while producing the gas.Chris Tucker, spokesman for Energy inDepth, characterized the survey as "garbage in, garbage out.""You’re used to seeing ‘push’ polls in this business, but rarely do yousee one where the respondent is picked up and thrown down a flight of stairs,"he said. "The entire questionnaire is set up in a way that forces peopleto choose between drinking water and natural gas, as if those are the only twooptions out there."



Garbage Out: Provision inCR that Would’ve Broken Existing Contracts with Offshore Producers, TripledMandatory Waiting Time for Review of Permits, Removed from Bill. Politico (12/21) reports, “A plan approved by the Senate and House tocontinue federal spending until March does not contain a controversialprovision tripling a 30-day mandatory federal review period for offshore oiland gas plans, likely the last chance the White House had to get such a mandatethrough Congress. Oil-state lawmakers in both parties fiercely opposed languageto extend to 90 days the amount of time federal offshore drilling regulatorscan take to review these drilling plans – which include environmental analyses,oil spill response strategies and other aspects of a larger blueprint that needto be approved before a company requests an actual permit to drill. The 90-dayreview period – which was pushed by the Obama administration – was included ina yearlong continuing spending resolution the House passed this month, as wellas an omnibus spending plan that would have run through fiscal year 2011. Thatdied late last week in the Senate. The slimmed down Senate-passed continuingresolution removed the 60-day review extension and a host of other unrelatedpolicy changes. "There were lots of things that came out," Sen. MaryLandrieu (D-La.) told POLITICO. "It needed to be a CR with as far policychanges as possible. Rightly it was just really stripped down to the bareessentials."



State of Alaska ReadiesLawsuit Against Feds for Designating the Whole Damned State a Critical Habitatfor the Polar Bear – Potentially Bringing Economy to Halt.Associated Press (12/21) reports, “Parnell argues that thecritical habitat designation in the oil-rich Arctic could result in hundreds ofmillions of dollars in lost economic activity and tax revenue for the state.Alaska officials and the state’s oil and gas industry representatives maintainpolar bears do not need the added protection of the ESA listing, which they saywill hurt offshore drilling efforts and possibly result in hundreds of millionsof dollars in lost economic activity and tax revenue. Already, there are statelaws, international agreements and the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act toprotect polar bears, Gov. Sean Parnell said Tuesday. "The polar bear isone of the most protected species in the world," he said. The state putthe federal agency on 60-days notice that it intends to sue unless the criticalhabitat designation is withdrawn or corrected. The ESA listing for polar bears,and the designation of critical habitat, will only result in increasedregulation and consultation, and likely more litigation, the governor said. Thestate also said that areas designated as critical habitat for polar bearsincludes expanses where there is little or no evidence they are crucial topolar bear conservation. Nearly 95 percent of the designated habitat is sea icein the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off Alaska’s northern coast.



Revolving Door: Cathy Zoi’sHusband – Formerly VP of Window Company that Benefited Handsomely fromCathy’s “Weatherization” Lucre – Takes New Job at NRDC. Politico’s MorningEnvironmentalist (12/22)reports, “Robin Roy is joining NRDC as the group’s director of clean energystrategy. He most recently served as vice president of policy and projects forSerious Materials, a manufacturer of energy-efficient building materials. Flashback: yet another senior Obama administration figure has managed tofind ways to cash in on the sector she’s supposed to be regulating. Meet CathyZoi, assistant secretary of energy for energy efficiency and renewable energy— and Green Entrepreneur on the taxpayer dime: A top Obama administrationofficial who’s helping lead a campaign for energy conservation has a majorfinancial interest in two companies that are poised to benefit from thegovernment’s spending.Cathy Zoi, the assistant secretary of energy for energyefficiency and renewable energy, owns between $250,000 and $500,000 worth ofstock in Landis+Gyr, a Swiss-based manufacturer of special electric meters thatare used to create an efficient “smart” grid of electricity use. Her husband,Robin Roy, owns options on at least 120,000 shares of Serious Materials, aleading manufacturer of energy-efficient windows that’s been singled out for praiseby President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. As an officer of thecompany, Roy receives options on an additional 2,500 shares every month andwill continue to do so until October 2012. Click here for more from Wash Examiner’s Mark Tapscott.



Don’t Call It a Comeback:Enviro Sweetheart Tom Perriello, Accidental Congressman from Charlottesville,Tells Folks He May Run for Senate. E&E News(12/22, subs. req’d) reports, “One Virginia Democratic strategist pointed outthat Perriello proved himself in one of the state’s most conservative regionsand wondered why he wouldn’t want to build on the support that he has earned inmore Democratic parts of the state like northern Virginia. Some of those closeto Perriello see him as a natural fit for the Senate given his congressionalbackground and an affinity for international issues that he gained during hispre-congressional career serving as a national security consultant, working inconflict zones such as Afghanistan, Darfur, Kosovo and Liberia. One way forPerriello to head to the Senate in 2012 would be for Sen. Jim Webb (R-Va.) toretire rather than seek a second term. Webb has yet to officially announce his2012 plans and some political observers wonder if he has the fire for anothersix years in the Senate. Asked if he would be interested in the Senate job ifWebb retires, Perriello said, "I haven’t ruled anything out." LisaGuthrie, executive director of Virginia League Conservation Voters, is onePerriello supporter who believes that the congressman has a future in higheroffice. "There’s a great deal of support for Tom Perriello," Guthriesaid.


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