23 Responses to April 21 news: GOP mercury; DOE to grant up to $130M for renewables; Carol Browner joins CAP
Under pressure from industry, Congressional Republicans are urging the U.S. EPA to further delay long-overdue rules that would limit more than 80 air toxics emitted by coal-burning power plants, barely a month after the agency announced them.
At least one lawmaker, Rep. Edward Whitfield of Kentucky “” a state which gets more than 90 percent of its power from coal “” has said he will soon introduce legislation to postpone implementation of the regulations.
The rules in question are EPA’s air toxics standards to control mercury and other poisonous substances from power plants, as well as the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards that govern hazardous emissions from boilers and cement plants.
EPA released the nation’s first regulations for toxic power plant emissions on March 16. The boiler rules were announced in February 2011 and the cement standards in August 2010. All of the policies are mandated by the 1990 amendment to the Clean Air Act and originally set to be finalized in 2000.
According to EPA, the mercury and air toxics standards alone would prevent up to 17,000 premature deaths and 11,000 heart attacks each year.
The U.S. Department of Energy said today it will grant up to $130 million to renewable energy projects that can’t find funding from private investors.
The projects the DOE plans to fund are riskier than their solar and wind power counterparts, focusing on the research and development of technologies that are not yet commercially viable.
The funding will come from the Advanced Research Programs Agency “” Energy (ARPA-E). President Barack Obama created the agency in 2009 as part of the stimulus package. The agency has so far received $363 million in federal funding, with an additional $650 million requested by the President in his budget proposal for next fiscal year.
So far, six projects funded by ARPA-E have received around $100 million in funding from private investors.
Massachusetts is officially poised to have America’s first offshore wind farm, now that Cape Wind has won federal approval to begin construction. The news knocks Delaware, Rhode Island and New Jersey out of that heated title competition for now.
Maryland, for its part, took itself out of the Northeast wind war this month when lawmakers shelved a bill expected to unleash the state’s offshore wind industry over cost concerns. It is likely a temporary setback.
Supporters insist that Gov. Martin O’Malley’s wind bill will pass next year and offshore turbines will be added to the grid in due time.
In interviews with SolveClimate News, industry officials, environmental groups and the O’Malley administration all said they will work closely with lawmakers over the summer interim to address the uncertainties that held up the bill this session.
O’Malley, who was recently elected to his second term, has lobbied intensely to bring offshore wind to Maryland’s eastern coast in an effort to boost the state’s renewable energy profile and attract green manufacturing jobs.
New York City plans to build solar power plants on capped landfills and launch a loan program to help property owners pay for green energy efficiency upgrades.
The initiatives are part of an update to the city’s 4-year-old PlaNYC environmental road map.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to announce the update Thursday. His office released details Wednesday night.
The plan was launched Earth Day 2007. It aims to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2030. The city says emissions already have dropped 13 percent from 2005 levels.
Bloomberg’s administration says building solar plants on the surfaces of landfills could generate up to 50 megawatts of power.
The city also plans to use $40 million in federal stimulus funds to launch the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation to help property owners get financing for green improvements.
No idea why they got someone’s dad to narrate this video, but the information in it is pretty startling. According to this group, the American Security Project, costs racked up by climate change could include:
$9.3 billion a year in lost agriculture revenues in the Plains states
$3.6-$6.1 billion over 20 years in infrastructure costs in Alaska
$60 billion by 2100 in increased energy costs in the Southeast
$2.3-$12.1 million in lost revenue in the Northeast just from losses to the maple syrup trade
$200 billion in repairs if a catastrophic hurricane flooded lower Manhattan
Now, a lot of this is worst-case scenario, but this much is clear: Spending a little to address the impacts of climate change now could let us avoid costs, potentially enormous costs, down the line.
ASP also has a map on their site that lets you download a report (warning, it’s a PDF) on how much each state could save by addressing climate change — i.e. how much they stand to lose if they don’t.
Former White House climate and energy adviser Carol Browner is rejoining the Center for American Progress.
Browner was on the board of directors for the think tank before becoming President Barack Obama’s top environmental lieutenant during his unsuccessful push to enact climate change legislation. She left the White House last month.
Think Progress, operated by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, tweeted the news about Browner’s decision Tuesday afternoon. But they declined to provide further details until Wednesday.
“Carol Browner is an extraordinarily accomplished and talented advocate and with her years of experience in government and business, she will add a fresh perspective to all of CAP’s endeavors,” Daniel Weiss, a senior fellow and head of CAP’s climate program, told POLITICO.
Browner’s arrival adds to the roster of Democratic Party power players at the group.
CAP is headed by former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta, and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle is a senior fellow.
Browner, the EPA administrator during the Clinton administration, promised POLITICO in late March that she would soon be heard from again after a brief hiatus upon leaving the White House about a month ago.
“You’ll see,” she said. “I’ll reemerge.”
Here is the full CAP release:
Carol M. Browner Joins the Center for American Progress as Distinguished Senior Fellow
WASHINGTON, D.C.””John Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress, announced today that Carol M. Browner will join the Center as a Distinguished Senior Fellow.
Browner’s work for American Progress will focus on domestic and international policy development. She will also serve on CAP’s Executive Committee, which oversees strategic planning and management of the institution.
“Carol Browner is an extraordinary public servant and CAP will benefit tremendously from her vision and experience,” said John Podesta. He continued, “She understands the intersections of how policy interacts with politics and how government helps shape strong markets for investment and innovation. Having that sense of integration is key to understanding how to improve the lives of the American people, which is central to the mission of CAP.”
Most recently Browner served as an assistant to the president and director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, overseeing the coordination of environmental, energy, climate, transport, and related policy across the federal government. During her tenure the White House secured the largest investment ever in clean energy and established the national car policy that included both new automobile fuel efficiency standards and first ever greenhouse gas reductions.
In 1993, she was confirmed as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency where she served for eight years. As administrator she adopted the most stringent air pollution standards in our nation’s history, set for the first time, a fine particle clean air standard, spearheaded the reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act as well as the Food Quality Protection Act. She was known for working with both environmentalists and industry to set scientific-based public health protections while providing businesses important flexibilities in how to meet those standards. She worked across the agency to ensure a focus on protecting the most vulnerable, particularly children. These efforts earned her various accolades including being named “Mother of the Year” in 1997 by the National Mother’s Day Committee and Glamour magazine’s Woman of the Year in 1998.
From 2001-2008 she was a founding partner in the The Albright Group (now Albright Stonebridge Group), a global strategy firm. From 2003-2008 she served as a founding Board Member of CAP.
Browner received a B.A. and a law degree from the University of Florida in Gainesville. She headed the Department of Environmental Regulation in Florida from 1991-1993 where she launched the largest ecological restoration project ever attempted in the United States to restore the natural flow of water to the Everglades.
Founded in 2003, the Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all.