Regulation

Europe shouldn’t be afraid of leading the world on environmental regulation

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Nowhere else on the planet have 28 countries agreed to binding legislation on areas including hazardous chemicals, water quality, waste management and greenhouse gases, argues Hans Bruyninckx.

EPA Approves New Climate-Friendly Refrigerants

As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is increasing the options for refrigerants used in various kinds of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment in the United States that offer better climate protection without harming the ozone layer. This final action addresses refrigerants under the Climate Action Plan that calls on EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program to identify and approve additional climate-friendly chemicals.

“Today’s rule is an example of how we can turn the challenge of climate change into an opportunity to innovate our way to a better future,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “By working together, businesses and EPA are bringing new, climate-friendly refrigerants to market that better protect our health and the environment.”

Under the authority of the Clean Air Act, EPA’s SNAP Program evaluates substitute chemicals and technologies that are safe for the ozone layer. This final rule expands the list of SNAP-approved substitutes to include more low-global warming potential (GWP) alternatives that can replace both the ozone-depleting substances and high-GWP hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The approved substitutes have GWPs that range from 3 to 675 and can replace older compounds with GWPs between 1400 to 4000.

After receiving input from industry, environmental groups, and others, EPA is approving additional low-GWP

  • hydrocarbon refrigerants, subject to use conditions, in the following refrigeration and air conditioning applications:
  • Ethane in very low temperature refrigeration and in non-mechanical heat transfer;
  • Isobutane in retail food refrigeration (stand-alone commercial refrigerators and freezers) and in vending machines;
  • Propane in household refrigerators, freezers, or combination refrigerators and freezers, in vending machines, and in room air conditioning units;
  • The hydrocarbon blend R-441A in retail food refrigeration (stand-alone commercial refrigerators and freezers), in vending machines and in room air conditioning units; and
  • HFC-32 (difluoromethane) in room air conditioning units. HFC-32 has one-third the GWP of the conventional refrigerants currently being used in room air conditioning units.

These refrigerants are already in use in many of these applications in Europe and Asia.

In addition to adding these climate-friendly alternatives, EPA is also exempting all of these substances, except HFC-32, from the Clean Air Act venting prohibition, as current evidence suggests that their venting, release, or disposal does not pose a threat to the environment.

Learn more about EPA’s SNAP Program and this rule: http://www.epa.gov/ozone/snap/index.html

California building codes: to analyze the forest you need to understand the trees

Read the full post from ACEEE.

ACEEE is a strong supporter of analyzing energy efficiency programs in order to see what they have accomplished and to learn lessons so we can do even better. It was thus with interest that we reviewed “How Much Energy Do Building Energy Codes Really Save? Evidence from California” by Arik Levinson. In this paper Levinson conducts several analyses and concludes that “there is no evidence that homes constructed since California instituted its building energy codes use less electricity today than homes built before the codes came into effect.” On the surface his conclusions about the efficacy of building codes are very different from other recent analyses such as papers by Aroonruengsawat et al., Deason and Hobbs, and Jacobsen and Kotchen, so we took a deeper look.

California’s plastic bag ban suspended by ballot referendum

Read the full story from Yahoo News.

California’s first-in-the-nation statewide ban on plastic shopping bags was put on hold Tuesday when state election officials confirmed a trade group had turned in enough signatures to place the issue before voters in 2016.

The American Progressive Bag Alliance, which represents bag manufacturers, had about 50,000 more valid signatures than the 505,000 needed to qualify the referendum after a random sample of the signatures was tallied, said Bill Mabie, chief deputy for Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

Cataloguing Impacts of the Shale Boom: A Foundation for Local Governance

Read the full post from the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy.

The shale boom has stirred deep controversy across the United States.  With vast domestic deposits of natural gas and tight oil now both geologically and economically accessible, many stakeholders, from developers to landowners, are seeking to gain.  But others are sounding alarms over contaminated wells, methane flares, and toxic spills.  Federal and state authorities, with slow regulatory responses and minimal stake in local impacts, are often leaving local governments to navigate this controversy – and the many impacts of “fracking” – with constrained budgets and limited capacity.

With support from the Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund at Yale Law School, Yale Climate & Energy Institute, and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, a research team at the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy and the Land Use Law Center at Pace Law School is working to fill this governance gap through a project titled Addressing the Local Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing.  The team is building a suite of tools to empower local government decision-making on a range of shale-related local governance challenges.

U.S. EPA chief hints at softening carbon rule interim timeline

Read the full story at Planet Ark.

The Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday that it may ease an interim deadline for states to meet tougher carbon emission standards after regulators and electric utilities complained a lack of time may destabilize electricity supplies.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told an audience of state utility regulators meeting in Washington that she was giving them a “big hint” the agency may loosen the interim targets set in its proposed rule for existing power plants, under which each state would need to show an assigned average emission reduction between 2020 and 2029.

Sen. Peterson sponsors legislation to fight toxic algae in Ohio

Read the full story in The Highland County Press.

State Senator Bob Peterson (R–Sabina) this week introduced Senate Bill 1, which seeks to ramp up the state’s efforts to fight toxic algae and support clean drinking water.

Peterson jointly sponsored the measure with Senator Randy Gardner (R–Bowling Green).

The legislation would establish the Office of Harmful Algae Management and Response under the direction of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA). The new department would work with local governments and water treatment plants to coordinate support for Lake Erie and inland lakes with other state agencies.

The new effort would also update provisions to support agriculture’s role in working to reduce phosphorus in Lake Erie and inland lakes.