A large section of the mighty West Antarctica ice sheet has begun falling apart and its continued melting now appears to be unstoppable, two groups of scientists reported on Monday. If the findings hold up, they suggest that the melting could destabilize neighboring parts of the ice sheet and a rise in sea level of 10 feet or more may be unavoidable in coming centuries. Global warming caused by the human-driven release of greenhouse gases has helped to destabilize the ice sheet, though other factors may also be involved, the scientists said.
The growth of coal-fired power generation is “unsustainable” without carbon capture and sequestration technology, the International Energy Agency said in a report released today. The report describes efforts to manage electric power production to achieve climate goals as bleak. IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said an autonomous body of 29 member countries saw coal use as a serious problem. In previous estimates, the group predicted coal demand would grow 2.3 percent per year on average through 2018.
Since the proposed rule was published in the Federal Register in January, close to 1 million comments have been filed, according to the rule’s online docket. Many of them make common arguments for or against the rules: that climate change is a serious issue that must be addressed by regulation, that carbon capture and storage (CCS) is an unproven technology that should not be considered the best system of emissions reduction, or that EPA may be overstepping its legal authority in setting different standards for coal and gas.
Supporters of state renewable energy mandates won a major legal victory last week as a federal judge upheld Colorado’s standard, rejecting claims that it violates the Constitution by discriminating against other energy sources. The ruling late Friday in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado is the first to address the constitutionality of a state renewable energy standard (RES), and supporters say it could set a legal precedent for the more than 30 other states that have adopted similar standards. Colorado’s RES requires that 30 percent of the electricity from investor-owned utilities come from renewable sources by 2020.
Projected increases in China’s coal consumption may render it “almost impossible” for the world to limit global temperature increases from greenhouse gases to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) unless the country acts quickly to cap and then reduce its dependency on the fossil fuel, a new study has found.
This process stands in stark contrast to action by the Senate Finance Committee, which last month passed a two-year extension of a large package of tax credits including the R&D incentives, renewable energy production tax credits, several biofuels tax credits and building energy efficiency incentives. The bill will cost $85 billion and is also currently unpaid for (Greenwire, April 3). The Senate is scheduled to begin consideration of that tax extenders package next week.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to consider President Obama’s pick to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission during a May 20 hearing. What are the senators preparing to ask Norman Bay and how contentious could the hearing become? During today’s The Cutting Edge, E&E Dailyreporter Hannah Northey gives a behind-the-scenes look at the questions surrounding Bay’s nomination and possible outcomes of his confirmation proceedings.
In the New Mexico of the 1950s, the two brothers grew up steeped in the beauty of the landscape, the economics of energy and the power of science. They skied, fly-fished, explored on the family’s 50,000-acre sheep ranch, watched oil towns go boom and bust, and talked of the nuclear weapons up the road at Los Alamos. Today the work of Robert and William Nordhaus is profoundly shaping how the United States and other nations take on global warming.
A federal appellate court rejected a broad industry challenge today to U.S. EPA’s air standard for fine particles, ruling that the agency acted reasonably and has “substantial discretion” when setting pollution limits. The National Association of Manufacturers, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other industry groups had sought to vacate EPA’s decision more than a year ago to tighten the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for fine particles, or soot, from 15 micrograms per cubic meter averaged over a year to 12 micrograms. The ruling by U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a Republican appointee who has previously criticized EPA air rules, said the petitioners “simply have not identified any way in which EPA jumped the rails of reasonableness in examining the science” that led to a more stringent standard.
A federal judge Friday denied a challenge to Colorado’s renewable-energy standard, filed by a free-market advocacy group. U.S. District Court Judge William Martinez dismissed the challenge of the Colorado law that requires larger utilities to get 30 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. Martinez ruled that the renewable-energy mandate does not violate the U.S. Constitution’s interstate commerce clause, as argued by the Washington, D.C.-based Energy and Environment Legal Institute. “Plaintiffs have failed to show that the market shift away from coal and hydrocarbon electricity generation substantially burdens interstate commerce,” Martinez said in the decision.