Saturday, September 23, 2017

Federal Briefs

Joint Fed-Industry Effort to Develop Standards for Offshore Wind

The government and offshore organizations have launched a three-year project to develop a set of standards for the offshore wind sector.

The project is a collaboration between the Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Business Network for Offshore Wind and American Wind Energy Association.

Sub-working groups will address issues including updating AWEA’s 2012 offshore compliance recommended practices, floating offshore turbines, geotechnical data requirements and met-ocean requirements for U.S. waters.

More: Windpower Engineering & Development

Macron to Trump: No Renegotiation of Paris Agreement

French President Emmanuel Macron said during his speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday that the Paris Agreement on climate change will not be renegotiated.

His comments came following recent suggestions from the Trump administration that the U.S. would remain a signatory if new terms were reached.

Following his speech, Macron said the wording of the agreement could be enriched with new contributions, “but we won’t go back.”

More: Independent

Report: Renewables Crush Nuclear in 2016

Global nuclear power generation increased by 1.4% in 2016, compared with 30% for solar and 16% for wind, according to the 2017 World Nuclear Industry Status Report.

The report found the global increase was driven by a 23% increase in China.

The number of new nuclear projects dropped to a decade low, with only three new plants with a total 3 GW of capacity breaking ground in 2016. Two of the plants were in China, and one was in Pakistan but was built by a Chinese company.

More: pv magazine

Court Casts Doubt on BLM’s Coal Leasing Argument

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday questioned the U.S. government’s long-held position that blocking federal coal leasing won’t affect climate change because utilities can get coal that is mined elsewhere.

The Sierra Club and WildEarth Guardians sued to block four leases that would allow mining to continue at Black Thunder and North Antelope Rochelle mines, in Wyoming, which are the two biggest in the U.S. by production.

The ruling will require the Bureau of Land Management to provide more data to support its argument.

More: The Associated Press

Trump Administration Denies Shift in Paris Position

Miguel Arias Canete

One day after the European Union’s climate chief said the U.S. had signaled it is shifting its approach to the Paris Agreement, the Trump administration hit back with a denial.

Speaking from Montreal on Saturday, Miguel Arias Canete said in an interview that the U.S. signaled it wants to re-engage with the agreement from within, rather than withdrawing and attempting to renegotiate it.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday on “Face the Nation” that the Trump administration hasn’t changed its position that it may stay in the global pact if it could strike a compromise that’s “fair and balanced,”

More: Bloomberg Politics; The Washington Post

EPA to Reconsider Coal Ash Regulations

EPA said Thursday it will reconsider some provisions of the coal ash rule that took effect in 2015 with an eye toward giving states more leeway in how they tailor their permit programs to comply with the rule.

Utility Solid Waste Activities Group and AES Puerto Rico petitioned for changes to the rule that regulates how power plants manage and dispose of coal ash in waste pits.

USWAG argued in its petition that a new law enacted after the rules were put in place made them unduly burdensome.

More: Reuters

EPA Delays Rules on Water Pollution from Coal Plants

EPA said Wednesday it is postponing for two years portions of an Obama-era rule to curb water pollution from coal-fired power plants while it revisits some of the rule’s requirements.

The action applies to wastewater from scrubbers and water used to flush out the coal ash that settles at the bottom of the plant boilers. The rule, issued in November 2015, established deadlines for utilities to implement dry-handling of ash or to recycle water within the plant.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt tried to postpone the rule in April but was met with lawsuits from environmental groups saying the agency didn’t allow public notice or comment and lacked authority to suspend rules that were already legally adopted. That litigation is pending, and environmentalists say they will challenge EPA’s new move too.

More: The Associated Press

TVA Warns Workers About Dangers of Fly Ash

Tennessee Valley Authority posted signs this month at its Kingston Fossil Fuel plant warning workers that fly ash can damage their lungs after previously blocking such warnings.

After more than 5 million cubic yards of coal ash were released into the environment in 2008 when a dike failed at the plant, TVA blocked use of the label “hazardous waste” and references to hazardous materials on signs during the $1.2 billion cleanup that was completed in 2015.

More than two dozen of the clean-up workers are dead, and more than 70 are dying. Workers are suing in federal court the contractor TVA put in charge of the spill cleanup and worker safety.

More: Knoxville News Sentinel

SRP Asks Supreme Court to Rule on Immunity in SolarCity Case

Salt River Project filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday asking it to decide whether as a state-owned utility it is immune from antitrust lawsuits.

SolarCity sued the Arizona utility in March 2015 after it implemented a $50 demand charge on rooftop solar customers, claiming the plan was an anti-competitive action to bolster the utility’s revenues and its solar portfolio at the expense of its customers and the private sector.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s rejection of SRP’s claim that the state immunity doctrine extended to it, thus preventing the utility’s countersuit from halting SolarCity’s case.

More: Greentech Media

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