U.S. Makes Progress in Pollution Regulations, Set Back in Energy Efficiency

The bipartisan Shaheen-Portman bill, which would have raised energy efficiency standards for federal buildings and provided tax incentives for energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings, became pegged to the Keystone XL and coal plant issues during election-year political dealings, resulting in its defeat on May 12. See “Energy Bill Caught Up in Keystone XL Dispute” article from the Huffington Post at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/12/energy-bill-keystone_n_5308819.html or “Shaheen Energy Bill to Promote Energy Efficiency Failed” in the New York Times at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/13/us/politics/bill-to-encourage-energy-efficiency-fails-in-senate.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

On April 29th, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). About 1,000 power plants will now be required to adopt new restrictions on nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide. Information on the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) is available from the EPA at: http://www.epa.gov/airtransport/CSAPR/ and see also “Justices Back Rule Limiting Coal Pollution” (April 30) in the New York Times at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/30/us/politics/supreme-court-backs-epa-coal-pollution-rules.html. New coal plant carbon regulations, which are expected to spur carbon trading on the west coast, will be announced on June 2 but still face legal and political challenges from the Republicans, the Chamber of Commerce, utilities, coal companies, and others. See the EPA’s website at: http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/what-epa-doing#overview and http://www.c2es.org/publications/carbon-pollution-standards-existing-power-plants-issues-options/.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making headway in other areas, including taking the first step towards regulating the chemicals used in the fracking process. The EPA is considering filing information about the chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), but has not yet committed to forcing companies to submit data or to actively controlling chemical use. See “EPA Takes First Step Toward Regulating Fracking Chemicals” at Bloomberg News at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-09/epa-considers-requiring-disclosure-of-fracking-chemicals.html.

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