Highway agency finalizes contentious climate rule

Source: By Mike Lee, E&E News • Posted: Sunday, November 26th, 2023

The Federal Highway Administration announced a sweeping greenhouse gas rule that will require state and local transportation officials to set declining emissions targets for road projects funded with federal money. Climate advocates have been pushing the plan since President Joe Biden took office three years ago, but it’s opposed by rural states and Republicans in Congress who’ve tried to block the idea with legislation.

Polluting Industries Say the Cost of Cleaner Air Is Too High

Source: By Lydia DePillis, New York Times • Posted: Sunday, November 26th, 2023

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is about to announce new regulations governing soot — the particles that trucks, farms, factories, wildfires, power plants and dusty roads generate. By law, the agency isn’t supposed to consider the impact on polluting industries. In practice, it does — and those industries are warning of dire economic consequences. Under the Clean Air Act, every five years the E.P.A. re-examines the science around several harmful pollutants. Fine particulate matter is extremely dangerous when it percolates into human lungs, and the law has driven a vast decline in concentrations in areas like Los Angeles and the Ohio Valley.

US court rejects EPA’s decision to withhold small refinery biofuel waivers

Source: By Heather Timmons, Reuters • Posted: Sunday, November 26th, 2023

A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday said it struck down the Biden administration’s decision to deny small refiners “hardship waivers” that exempt them from nation’s biofuel mandates, in a win for the refining industry. In July, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied almost all outstanding petitions from oil refiners that argued the federal requirement that they blend ethanol and other biofuels into their fuel would cause them financial hardship. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found in favor of refineries that challenged the EPA’s decision, including Ergon, Calumet Shreveport and Placid.

Fifth Circuit Overturns EPA Denials on RFS Small-Refinery Exemption Requests

Source: By Todd Neeley, Progressive Farmer • Posted: Sunday, November 26th, 2023

“The EPA denied petitioners’ years-old petitions using a novel CAA interpretation and economic theory that the agency published in December 2021. We conclude that the denial was (1) impermissibly retroactive; (2) contrary to law; and (3) counter to the record evidence. We grant the petitions for review, vacate the challenged adjudications, deny a change of venue, and remand.”

White House stalls ethanol expansion in Midwest amid price concerns

Source: By Jarrett Renshaw and Stephanie Kelly, Reuters • Posted: Sunday, November 26th, 2023

The two sources familiar with the administration’s thinking, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the White House decided to delay action on the matter following the oil industry’s warnings in part because of concern that higher pump prices in certain states could hurt Biden’s re-election chances. White House and EPA officials declined to comment on the matter.

Deaths From Coal Pollution Have Dropped, but Emissions May Be Twice as Deadly

Source: By Cara Buckley, New York Times • Posted: Sunday, November 26th, 2023

Coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels, is far more harmful to human health than previously thought, according to a new report, which found that coal emissions are associated with double the mortality risk compared with fine airborne particles from other sources. The study also found that during that period the shuttering of coal plants in the United State, coupled with the installation of scrubbers in the smokestacks to “clean” coal exhaust, has had salubrious effects. Deaths attributable to coal plant emissions among Medicare recipients dropped from about 50,000 a year in 1999 to 1,600 in 2020, a decrease of more than 95 percent, the researchers found. The new study in Science adds to mounting evidence of the health benefits that come from moving away from the burning of fossil fuels, especially for vulnerable populations.

‘Not on course’: US emissions set for 3% decline in 2023

Source: By Benjamin Storrow, E&E News • Posted: Tuesday, November 21st, 2023

U.S. emissions are on track to fall by as much as 3 percent in 2023, according to a pair of recent analyses — reversing two years of flat or increasing output of planet-warming pollution. The projected drop is particularly notable as it comes during a year when the U.S. economy is set to expand by almost 2.5 percent — a sign that emissions are decoupling from economic growth. It also represents one of the largest annual emission declines of the last decade.

Wolf asks to withdraw Illinois pipeline request and refile

Source: By Jared Strong, Iowa Capital Dispatch • Posted: Tuesday, November 21st, 2023

Wolf Carbon Solutions moved to withdraw its carbon dioxide pipeline permit application in Illinois on Monday to address concerns identified by state regulators. Ferguson said Wolf will apply again early next year with the Illinois Commerce Commission for permission to build its pipeline system. About 90 miles of pipe in eastern Iowa would connect to two ethanol plants to transport their captured carbon dioxide to Illinois for underground sequestration. Wolf said in its motion to withdraw its application that it believes the application is “sufficient” but that “through a new application, it can address and moot many, if not all, of the concerns expressed.”

Biden still hasn’t named a pipeline chief. Is regulatory push in peril?

Source: By Carlos Anchondo, E&E News • Posted: Tuesday, November 21st, 2023

The absence of a Senate-confirmed administrator is occurring as developers are aiming to build thousands of miles of carbon dioxide pipelines across the Midwest and Great Plains — buoyed by the Biden administration’s support of carbon management technologies. The agency is planning to release a proposed rule on CO2 pipelines that aims to address issues discovered when investigating a February 2020 CO2 pipeline failure near Satartia, Miss., as well as “other gaps and concerns” raised by agency staff, the public and others, according to a spokesperson.

Ethanol to take 30 pct of U.S. corn crop in 2012: GAO

Source: By Tom Doggett, Reuters • Posted: Tuesday, November 21st, 2023

Almost a third of the U.S. corn crop will be used in five years to produce fuel ethanol, possibly raising animal feed costs for farmers and meat prices for consumers, a new government report warned on Monday. Assuming U.S. ethanol production continues to expand to the Energy Department’s projected 11.2 billion gallons by 2012, about 30 percent of the corn crop will be needed for the fuel supply, according to the Government Accountability Office.