May 5, 2011 by Kirsten Engel

States' Proposal for Meeting Federal Climate Change Rules an Opportunity to Think Seriously about Regional RPS

States are seeking EPA approval to meet climate change-related standards through programs that the states themselves have pioneered. Greenwire reported last month that California, New York and Minnesota, as well as about a dozen power companies and advocacy groups, are urging U.S. EPA to let states meet the forthcoming New Source Performance Standards under the Clean Air Act through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, California’s forthcoming greenhouse gas cap and trade plan, as well as through clean or renewable portfolio standards (RPS).

This development could address an odd anomaly: while several major state-led programs to cap greenhouse gases are regional in nature (the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the Midwest Accord and the Western Climate Initiative), thus far the most powerful engine for the growth of renewable power – renewable portfolio standards, which require utilities to obtain a certain share of their energy from renewable sources – are primarily state-based. This should change. States would be better off employing the regional approach in their renewable energy incentive programs.

By mandating a certain percentage of renewable power in a utility’s energy portfolio, these laws enact a rate-payer subsidy for renewable power. RPSs have proven politically popular and extremely effective in growing …

May 4, 2011 by James Goodwin

Before the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, before the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and before the Upper Big Branch mine disaster, there was the TVA coal ash spill in Kingston, Tennessee. It was at Kingston, during the early morning hours on December 22, 2008, that an earthen dam holding back a 40-acre surface impoundment burst, releasing one billion gallons of inky sludge. The Kingston coal ash spill taught the American public about the catastrophic costs that can accompany so many types of large scale energy development; its aftermath continues to teach us that instituting the necessary reforms for protecting people and the environment against similar catastrophes in the future doesn’t come easy or quick.

Today marks the one-year anniversary since the EPA released its proposed rule for controlling the disposal of coal ash, a toxic byproduct of burning coal to produce energy that …

May 3, 2011 by Rena Steinzor

This great country of ours is quite fond of its enduring myths: poor kids are able to become rich kids by working hard, the family farm feeds us a nutritious bounty, and small business is the engine that makes our economy sing. When most of us hear that musical phrase—smaaaall business—we think of the local florist, ice cream shop, or shoemaker. How startling, then, to discover that according to the Small Business Administration (SBA) a petroleum refinery employing 1,500 workers is also “small,” although of course not nearly so beautiful.

A couple of weeks ago in this space, I explained the plan Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) had concocted to hold existing health and safety rules hostage by allowing the chief counsel of the SBA Office of Advocacy, an independent bureau within the SBA best known for its militant attacks on …

May 2, 2011 by William Andreen

During the past decade, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down two decisions that greatly reduced the extent of waters protected by the Clean Water Act (CWA). These cases upset the clearly articulated regulatory definition of “waters of the United States” that had been consistently applied and widely accepted as valid for many years.   Not only did the decisions threaten millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of headwaters with destruction and unregulated pollutant discharges, but the most significant of the two was issued by a badly fractured Court, producing a great deal of confusion over which waters are regulated and which ones are not.  

In the SWANCC case (2001), the Supreme Court held that CWA jurisdiction could not be based on the presence of migratory birds at isolated, non-navigable, intrastate ponds.  In the second case, Rapanos (2006), the Court addressed the CWA’s application to wetlands …

More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
May 31, 2011

OSHA Releases Self-Evaluation of its Role in Federal Response to BP Oil Spill

May 27, 2011

The New BOEMRE-NOAA MOU: A Good Start, But More is Needed

May 26, 2011

Administration's Regulatory 'Look-Back' Announcement Panders to Industry, Focuses Primarily on Eliminating Regs, Diverts Agencies from Crucial Work

May 25, 2011

Sunstein to Outline Regulatory Review Plans; Industry Yawns; Public Health and Safety Agencies Lose out from Diverted Resources

May 19, 2011

The McAteer Report: A Mine Safety Blockbuster

May 18, 2011

Lisa Jackson Steps Back (Again) on Boiler MACT: One of the Top 12 Rules Now in Indefinite Limbo. Delay Violates the CAA

May 13, 2011

Inventory Update Reporting Rule Delayed Following Five Industry Meetings at the White House and Some Specious Claims