Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted June 12, 2015
For some time we’ve been talking about EPA’s bid to make the nation’s ozone standards more restrictive.
We’ve expressed puzzlement that the agency wants to impose more stringent standards when the existing ones are working – lowering ozone levels 18 percent between 2000 and 2013 according to EPA’s own data. We’ve noted the lack of scientific and public health justification for stricter standards while highlighting potential risks to the economy. If this week’s House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on ozone was any measure, the issue has the attention of many in Congress.
Top EPA official Janet McCabe was peppered with questions about economic impacts, the arguable wisdom of stricter standards when areas like Los Angeles don’t meet existing standards and EPA’s push for more stringent standards before the current standards are fully implemented in the states.
Posted June 11, 2015
Nowhere in the United States is there more to learn from EPA’s recent water/fracking study than in the state of New York.
Six months ago Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned hydraulic fracturing as too hazardous. Though the Cuomo administration conducted no original research of its own, the governor said no to fracking, no to jobs and economic growth – especially in the state’s struggling Southern Tier. He all but extinguished the hopes of many upstaters for a home-grown economic miracle – like the one occurring next door in Pennsylvania, thanks to fracking – one that would help save family farms, let children and grandchildren live and prosper where they were raised and help ensure economic security for thousands.
Yet, EPA’s five-year, multi-million-dollar study says the governor’s concerns are basically baseless, that safe hydraulic fracturing doesn’t threaten the nation’s drinking water.
Posted June 5, 2015
New York Post – Six months after Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned fracking as too hazardous, the federal government released a report Thursday saying there’s no evidence the drilling practice has caused widespread harm to drinking water in the United States.
“Based on available scientific information, we found out that hydraulic fracturing activities in United States are carried out in a way that has not had widespread systemic impact on drinking-water resources,” said Thomas Burke, deputy assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“It is a new lens, so we can all make better decisions about public health.”
The report, issued in draft form after three years of study, cautioned that safeguards are still needed because some drinking water has been contaminated.
“The number of documented impacts on groundwater resources is relatively low,” Burke said.
Posted June 4, 2015
After five years and millions of taxpayer dollars, EPA says what we in industry and others have said for some time: Safe hydraulic fracturing doesn’t threaten our drinking water. The salient quote from EPA’s draft report about fracking and associated operational components:
“We did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”
EPA’s findings discredit scaremongering used by fracking opponents and should help focus attention where industry is and has been focused – on continuous improvements in operational skill, guided by a set of rigorous best practices, and on technological advances.
EPA’s findings also effectively endorse the strong environmental stewardship that is being exercised by state regulators, who have been busy while EPA studied.
Posted June 4, 2015
CNBC – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a Thursday report that it found no evidence fracking has a “widespread” impact on drinking water.
The EPA report concluded that there are above and below ground mechanisms by which fracking have the potential to impact drinking water resources, but that the number of identified cases were “small” compared to the number of fracking wells.
“We did not find evidence that these mechanisms [of potentially affecting water] have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States,” the report said.
Posted June 3, 2015
The Hill: House Republicans have found reasons to agree with some parts of the Obama administration’s energy infrastructure proposal.
GOP leaders in the House Energy and Commerce Committee told Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz that they are largely in agreement on the need to improve pipelines, electric transmission lines, energy storage and other pieces of infrastructure.
Moniz testified at the hearing to promote the Quadrennial Energy Review, which the administration released in April to call for comprehensive infrastructure improvements worth billions of dollars.
“Many people are even asking — not surprisingly — is there enough common ground between our efforts and the Obama administration to enact meaningful energy legislation,” Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the energy and power subcommittee, said at the Tuesday hearing.
Posted June 2, 2015
With EPA last week proposing ethanol-use requirements for 2014, 2015 and 2016 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the ethanol industry no doubt will keep lobbying to foist increasing amounts of higher-ethanol blend fuels like E15 and E85 on the motoring public. This, despite studies that have shown E15 can harm engines and fuel systems in vehicles that weren’t designed to use it – potentially voiding manufacturers’ warranties – and historically small consumer demand for E85.
A subset of the argument for increased use of higher-ethanol blend fuels is the dismissing of concern that E15 also could damage existing service station infrastructure, including storage tanks, fuel lines and dispensers. Though service station owners and operators indicate otherwise, ethanol supporters say that a new National Renewable Energy Laborary (NREL) report – commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), a big ethanol advocate – found that E15 is compatible with existing equipment. It’s simply not true, and the report has some challenges. Let’s look at a few.
Posted May 29, 2015
With EPA already embarrassingly late in setting requirements for ethanol in the fuel supply for 2014 (due 18 months ago) and 2015 (due six months ago), the agency finally has proposals for those years and 2016 that would continue to drive ethanol use – though not at levels dictated by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
Top EPA official Janet McCabe called the proposals “ambitious, but responsible.” We’ll agree on the ambitious part – in that it takes a whole lot of something to thread the needle between marketplace realities and the flawed RFS – difficult for the nimblest of bureaucracies, much less a regulatory colossus like EPA.
Unfortunately, EPA comes up short, particularly for 2016. An RFS program that long ago went awry remains lost in the tall weeds of process over substance.
Posted May 28, 2015
If implemented, the stricter ozone standards could be the costliest regulation ever, potentially reducing U.S. GDP by $270 billion per year and $3.4 trillion from 2017 to 2040, according to a study by NERA Economic Consulting for the National Association of Manufacturers. The U.S. could see 2.9 million fewer jobs or job equivalents per year on average through 2040.
Yeah, that’s big.
Certainly, for those kinds of impacts Americans would expect them to be justified. But EPA’s proposal is starkly lacking in terms of the science and public health.
Posted May 27, 2015
With national ozone levels falling, some activists argue for stricter federal standards the best way they can – by pointing to the relatively few areas in the United States where ozone levels remain above the current standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb).
Yet, think about that. If an urban area like Los Angeles or Houston currently is out of attainment with the standard set at 75 ppb, how will lowering the national standard to 65 or 60 ppb – which EPA is considering – make a difference in those and other non-compliant areas? Good question.
The fact remains that the current standards are working. EPA data shows ozone levels declined 18 percent between 2008 and 2013.