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EPA Mercury and Air Toxics Rules for Power Plants: 20+ Years in the Making

As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency prepares to release new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), some people may be wondering about the history and timeline for these standards. One Senator recently claimed that EPA is “charging ahead” with them.

These standards, however, have been in development for over 20 years. These are standards that many plants are already meeting. Furthermore, 11 of the 15 largest coal utilities, roughly half of the nation’s coal fleet, have informed their shareholders that they are well positioned to meet them.

This post unwraps the history, standards, and timelines for compliance.

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EPA Mercury Rules: Keeping the Lights on While Removing Toxics from Our Air

Next week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to finalize new rules to reduce mercury and other toxic air emissions that will affect dozens of antiquated power plants currently operating without pollution controls.

These rules have stirred debate in some circles as to whether retrofitting or retiring outdated plants will cause shortfalls in electricity capacity. How will new EPA mercury rules influence the electricity system? This post updates earlier assessments by taking a close look at recent studies on the reliability of the electricity grid to answer that question.

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Weird Weather and the New Climate Reality

This post was written with Vinod Thomas, director general of the Asian Development Bank and former senior vice president, Independent Evaluation Group, World Bank. It was originally posted by the McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

Polling stations in Connecticut were commandeered to shelter residents still without power eight days after a freak October snowstorm. Two months earlier, residents of Bastrop County, Texas, lost a record 476 homes to a single wildfire. And corn farmers in Mississippi County, Mo., are still picking up the pieces after their land disappeared under the raging Mississippi River in May.

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Report Finds Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) Creates Jobs and Stimulates Economic Growth

A new report finds that the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) has had a positive economic impact on the region. According to the report by the Analysis Group, RGGI, a carbon dioxide cap-and-trade program for large power plants in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, has injected $1.6 billion into the region’s economy, and created 16,000 jobs since the program launched in 2009.

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Aqueduct and the Water-Food-Energy Nexus

This piece was coauthored by: Joe Rozza, P.E., BCEE, Global Water Resource Sustainability Manager, The Coca-Cola Company; Greg Koch, Managing Director, Global Water Stewardship, The Coca-Cola Company; Jonathan Boright, Research Scientist, ISciences LLC; Nicole Grohoski, Research Analyst, ISciences LLC

The Aqueduct project is an effort to measure and map water related risks being developed by the World Resources Institute with the support of an alliance founded by General Electric and Goldman Sachs. As part of this effort, the Aqueduct team convened its hydrological modeling partner ISciences and experts from The Coca-Cola Company to develop and analyze a set of maps for the Bonn2011 Nexus conference that illustrate the complex relationships between water, food, and energy worldwide (see below).

Why focus on the water-food-energy nexus? Like water, food and energy are basic necessities of life that help support robust economies and stable political systems. Agriculture and power generation, moreover, account for the majority of water withdrawals in most developed countries.

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With Federal Climate Policy Stuck in Neutral, California Moves Ahead

While there has been little progress on national climate policy this year, California has quietly continued to make strides in implementing its comprehensive greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction program. Last month, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted to finalize the regulations instituting California’s new greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program. This program is one key element of California’s comprehensive program to implement the Global Warming Solutions Act (or AB 32), which was signed into law in 2006 by Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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Top Ten Counties Losing Forests to Development In The U.S. South

Today, WRI releases a new map that identifies the hotspots where urban and suburban development are putting forests at risk in the southern United States. Areas experiencing the most forest loss to development between 2001 and 2006 (the most recent years for which data are available) were counties near Houston, Atlanta, Raleigh, and Charlotte. Counties around San Antonio, Jacksonville, and Birmingham round out the “top ten” (Table 1).

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U.S. on Thin Ice in Arctic

This post originally appeared in the National Journal Energy & Environment Expert Blog. The question was, "The summer of 2011 marked the second-lowest ice coverage on record for the Arctic Ocean...Is the U.S. prepared to face this century of change in the Arctic?"

With the climate problem growing more urgent every year, the United States is not well prepared for a changing Arctic, and its continued dependence on fossil fuels only makes the situation more serious. The recent climate science, as explored in WRI’s Climate Science 2009-2010: Major New Discoveries, shows that the Arctic is indeed changing rapidly, with implications for a very different world.

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