Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Keystone XL Pipeline, Climate Envoy, European Emissions Market
The State Department released a report concluding that the Keystone XL pipeline would not substantially worsen carbon pollution, leaving an opening for President Obama to approve the politically divisive project, the New York Times reports. The department’s long-awaited environmental impact statement appears to indicate that the project could pass the criteria Mr. Obama set forth in a speech last summer when he said he would approve the 1,700-mile pipeline if it would not “significantly exacerbate” the problem of greenhouse gas emissions.
Environmentalists largely dismissed the findings of a long-awaited State Department review that concluded the project — which would send 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast — would have little impact on the rate of development of oil sands. The official decision is in the hands of Secretary of State John Kerry. Replacing the Keystone XL pipeline with oil-laden freight trains from Canada may result in an average of six additional rail-related deaths per year, according to the State Department’s report. The study spent several pages analyzing the potential human impact of various ways to transport oil, using historical injury and fatality statistics for railways and oil pipelines, Reuters reports.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as his special envoy for cities and climate change, in a bid to build momentum ahead of a planned U.N. summit meeting in September. Reuters reports Ban said Bloomberg will assist him in “consultations with mayors and related key stakeholders, in order to raise political will and mobilize action among cities as part of his long-term strategy to advance efforts on climate change.”
The European Parliament’s environment committee agreed to accelerate the adoption of a rescue plan for the bloc’s emissions market, which the European Commission wants to start as soon as possible. Carbon prices rose as much as 3.6 percent after the panel voted 43 to 13 to shorten the measure’s usual three-month scrutiny period in the Parliament. The recommendation now needs approval from all heads of the assembly’s other committees before it goes to a plenary, which can end the obligatory evaluation before an April deadline, according to Bloomberg News.
The European Parliament’s environment committee backed changes to a draft law on airline emissions that would end concessions on pollution from foreign flights four years sooner than the European Commission proposed. A plan in which European Union limits on carbon emissions from international flights apply only to the portion of trips within the bloc’s airspace would end in 2016 instead of 2020, Bloomberg New reports.
Military ships could face new pollution standards while operating in waters controlled by the United States, under a proposal from the EPA, The Hill reports. The Coast Guard and Navy would be the primary military branches affected by the pollution standards, which would only apply to pollution from military ships while operating in U.S. coastal and inland waters, as well as territorial seas. The pollution standards come out of the Clean Water Act that was passed in 1972.
The US Energy Information Administration released 2012 energy flow diagrams with data for total energy, petroleum, natural gas, coal and electricity. The diagrams show that: domestic production of fossil fuels was 62.3 quadrillion Btu, accounting for 59 percent of total U.S. energy supply; gross withdrawals of natural gas from shale gas wells totaled over 10.3 trillion cubic feet, which was 35 percent of total gross natural gas withdrawals; motor gasoline consumption totaled 8.7 million barrels per day, which was 47 percent of total U.S. petroleum consumption; and coal consumption by the electric power sector totaled 824 million short tons, which was 93 percent of total US coal consumption.
The House is expected to pass legislation that would restore the flow of water to farms, homes and businesses in California’s Central Valley, to help victims of what congressional Republicans say is a drought that is being made worse by the Obama administration, The Hill reports. HR 3964, sponsored by California’s entire Republican delegation, and seeks to restore a 1994 agreement that found a compromise between environmentalists and the water needs of homeowners and industry. The Obama administration upset that agreement in 2009 by requiring the diversion of water away from farmers and residents to help ensure enough water for salmon and Delta smelt.
The EPA reached an $11 million settlement for contamination at the Rockets, Fireworks and Flares Superfund site in Rialto, Calif. The settlement is with the estate of Harry Hescox, the late president of a defunct company known as Pyrotronics, which manufactures fireworks at the site Cleanup of the site is expected to total as much as $100 million and take several years to complete.
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