Posted by: Steven M. Taber | August 21, 2013

Environmental, Climate Change and Energy Stories We Are Following for the Week of August 19 – 23, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

IPCC Says It Is 95% Likely that humans cause climate change. 

According to leaked reports, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), which has been collecting data since 1988, will state that it is at least 95% likely that humans are the main cause of climate change largely from burning fossil fuels.  And the numbers are growing: in 2007 the certainty was 90% and in 2001 it was 66%. The official report will be released in September. http://bit.ly/1bMA6EY

DOJ Sues Dallas-based Luminant, Alleges Coal Burning Power Plants Did Not Have Permits.

On Friday, August 16, 2013, the U.S. DOJ filed suit against Luminant, a large Dallas-based power generator.  The suit alleges that 2 coal-fired power plants were changed without the right permits, according to the Dallas Morning News. Although the suit is under seal the DMN based its story on previous EPA violation notices. Luminant, for its part, says the allegations are “wholly without merit.” http://dallasne.ws/15QGx3T

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Energy Firms, Including Chevron, Sued in Louisiana Federal Court Over Oilfield Waste Disposal.

A lawsuit, originally filed in Louisiana state court by a group of Louisiana landowners alleging that their property was contaminated by Chevron USA and several other energy companies’ improper disposal of hazardous oilfield wastes was removed to federal court on Friday, August 16, 2013. The Plaintiffs, who own a combined 1,475 acres in Plaquemines Parish, claim that the defendants’ improper waste disposal practices breached a variety of leases and other land use contracts with the plaintiffs and seek relief under Louisiana’s “Act 312,” for environmental remediation. http://bit.ly/18HEJy1

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

3rd Circuit Holds That State Tort Claims Not Pre-Empted by Federal Clean Air Act.

A group of residents living near a power plant, filed against the owner based on the state tort actions of nuisance, negligence and trespass.  GenOn argued that those claims were pre-empted by the Clean Air Act under which it had an operating permit. The Court held that because of the savings clause in the Clean Air Act, the laws of the state from which the pollution was emitted were not pre-empted. http://bit.ly/1arAwm8

DC Circuit upholds EPA’s authority to set air emission standards for sewage sludge incinerators.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit holds that EPA has the authority to choose between section 129 of the Clean Air Act, which covers solid waste incinerators and 112, which covers hazardous air pollutants. Since 129 specifically addresses emissions from solid waste incinerators and 112 would only cover major sources of pollution, the “stringency of regulation” can also differ.  NACWA was successful in challenging how EPA estimated the emission levels of its best performing units, which the agency uses to set “maximum achievable control technologies” (MACT). The court agreed that “EPA has not adequately established that its estimations are reasonable,” and sent the rule back to the agency for further review, but kept the current standards in place. http://bit.ly/19Jh7hb

Thursday, August 22, 2013

3rd Circuit Decides EPA’s Attempt To Get Homer Generating Plant to Comply with PSD Requirements Is Too Late.

EPA and several States attempted to force the prior owners of the Homer City Generating Station to comply with Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) requirements more than 10 years after the owners had modified the plant.  The prior owners had admittedly failed to obtain both a preconstruction permit and to install certain pollution-control technology before making changes to the plant. Neither EPA nor the states prosecuted the owners at that time.  The 3rd Circuit in upholding the dismissal of EPA’s claims said that such a reading would “require us to distort plain statutory text to shore up what the EPA views as an incomplete remedial scheme.” http://bit.ly/14mhSbN

Friday, August 23, 2013

AK Steel Agrees to $1.65 Million Civil Penalty to Resolve Clean Air Act Violations.

AK Steel’s coke plant in Ashland, KY was alleged to have violated the plant’s Title V permit and the KY State Implementation Plan.  Although the facility is now closed, the settlement “holds AK Steel accountable for years of violations . . . as a result of this agree, state projects to reduce particulate matter emissions at the Ashland West Works will continue to improve air quality for area ressidents for many years to come.” http://1.usa.gov/16Di5qF

OK Attorney General Says He Will Seek En Banc Hearing on EPA Haze Rules Ruling.

In July, the 10th Circuit ruled that EPA has the authority to implement its own plan to limit sulfur dioxide emissions as part of the regional haze rule.  Oklahoma Gas & Electric has sued the EPA alleging that the EPA rule more stringent than the state’s proposed rule and that implementing those rules would usurp state authority.  OK Attorney General Scott Pruitt stated that he will seek an En Banc hearing of the three judge panel’s ruling. http://bit.ly/13WyDqc.  En Banc hearings are rarely granted, but the split (2-1) decision of the 3-judge panel makes another review more likely.

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