FactCheck.org: Muddying the Clean Water Act

Read the full story at FactCheck.org.

Kentucky Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell misrepresented cases involving the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Water Act.

  • Paul said a Mississippi man served “10 years” for “conspiracy to put dirt on his own land.” Robert Lucas was in fact convicted of numerous counts related to filling in protected wetlands on a 2,620-acre lot and selling housing units with deficient septic systems. He served about seven years.
  • In an op-ed, Paul and McConnell highlighted the case of Andy Johnson, “a farmer who built a stock pond on his eight-acre Wyoming farm” and is now threatened with fines by the EPA. Johnson actually damned a creek considered a tributary to larger, “navigable” rivers, which requires a permit.

Paul and McConnell, along with many other lawmakers, have expressed concern that the new Clean Water Rule finalized by the EPA on May 27 extends regulation of waters to even puddles and backyard ditches. There is disagreement on what the new rule actually accomplishes; EPA has said that it clarifies existing rules on which waterways are included under the Clean Water Act, and does not drastically expand jurisdiction.

Cap-and-Trade Support Linked to Revenue Use

Download the document. Published by the University of Michigan Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy.

The Obama Administration’s creation of the Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electric power sector has renewed interest in possible state or regional adoption of cap-and-trade programs to meet mandatory reduction targets. The latest version of the National Surveys on Energy and Environment (NSEE) sought to understand Americans’ awareness of existing cap-and-trade programs in their state, and to gauge their receptiveness to this policy option. The survey finds that a large percentage (71%) of Americans do not know whether their state had adopted a cap-and-trade program, and more than a third (38%) of Americans haven’t formed an opinion about whether or not their state should adopt such an approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. When provided with more details about various options on how revenues generated through allowance auctions from such a program might be used, more Americans express an opinion, and some options clearly rise to the top. In particular, support is highest amongst both Republicans and Democrats for a cap-and-trade program in which revenues are used to expand energy efficiency programs.

L.A. County’s plan to capture stormwater could be state model

Read the full story in the Los Angeles Times.

Amid a worsening drought, California water officials adopted new rules Tuesday aimed at capturing and reusing huge amounts of stormwater that have until now flowed down sewers and concrete rivers into the sea.

Federal clean water legislation has long required municipalities to limit the amount of pollution — including bacteria, trash and automotive fluids — that is flushed into oceans and waterways by storm runoff.

But only recently has California considered capturing this water as a way of augmenting its dwindling water reserves. The plan approved by the State Water Resources Control Board applies to Los Angeles County but is seen as a model for other parts of water-starved California.

Tallying the costs of stormwater pollution

The latest P2 Impact column is now available on GreenBiz. Patrick Bryan of the Fresno Metropolitan Flood Control District discusses the history of storm water management and the impact of the new storm water regulations in California.

Legislation reopens electronic recycling

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

Brian Younker hopes to reopen Orland Township’s drop-off recycling center as soon as Gov. Bruce Rauner signs a bill that boosts the amount of electronics that manufacturers are required to pay to recycle each year.

The legislature averted a recycling crisis by the House and Senate each unanimously passing House Bill 1455 in mid-May. It increases by about 13 million pounds what the manufacturing companies must pay for during the next three years — a short-term fix that’s expected to get recycling centers to take electronics again.

Which coal-fired plants can use carbon capture to meet EPA goals?

Read the full story in The Hill.

As reported in The Hill, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is entering the final stages of approval for its Clean Power Plan. On June 5, 2015, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) provided their projection of how the nation’s power plant mix will change due to the Clean Power 111(d) Plan. Might carbon dioxide capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) be an option for some of these plants?

The answer, according to a study from Carnegie Mellon University Scott Institute for Energy Innovation researchers Haibo Zhai, Yang Ou and Edward S. Rubin, is “yes.” Their study, published in the prestigious journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that CCUS is a viable technical and economic option for some coal plants, which would allow them to remain in operation under the emission limits of the Clean Power Plan. Because of the way the plan is designed, however, CCUS is not a mitigation “building block” for coal-fired plants since, while recognizing the potential viability of partial CCS at some plants, the EPA concluded that it was neither technically or economically feasible due to concerns about space limitations and high cost. In partial CCUS, some, as opposed to all, of the carbon dioxide emissions are captured.

Obama Administration Readies Big Push on Climate Change

Read the full story in the Wall Street Journal.

The Obama administration is planning a series of actions this summer to rein in greenhouse-gas emissions from wide swaths of the economy, including trucks, airplanes and power plants, kicking into high gear an ambitious climate agenda that the president sees as key to his legacy.