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North Dakota Sues Minnesota Over Coal Power Restrictions

January 23, 2012

North Dakota has filed suit against Minnesota in the US District Court for the District of Minnesota, claiming Minnesota's Next Generation Energy Act of 2007, which bars utilities from buying power from new plants that would raise carbon dioxide emissions, violates the U.S. Constitution by restricting trade between states and encroaching on Congress' power to regulate interstate power sales and carbon dioxide emissions.

Renewable or Not? How States Count Hydropower

January 23, 2012

Midwest Energy News recently published an interesting article discussing how different states treat hydroelectric power when it comes to renewable electricity standards. As the article explains, although hydropower is a renewable energy, it does not always count toward a state’s renewable electricity standard.

BLM Seeks Comments on Solar and Wind Energy Public Land Leases

January 20, 2012

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) on December 29, 2011, taking the first step toward establishing a competitive process for leasing public lands for solar and wind energy development. The ANPR asks for public comments to assist the BLM as it drafts a proposed rule that is meant to foster the growth of renewable energy by establishing an efficient competitive process for issuing right-of-way (ROW) leases for solar and wind energy development.

Assembly to Vote on Mining Bill

January 19, 2012

The Assembly is expected to debate and pass Assembly Bill 426 on January 26th. Supporters of the bill argue that the bill is needed due to the uncertainty of current permitting laws and rules implemented by the Department of Natural Resources, which they say discourage investment in mining. Moreover, proponents argue that the new law will provide jobs without harming the environment. Environmental groups oppose the legislation arguing that it will harm the environment.

Obama Halts Keystone XL Pipeline Project

January 19, 2012

President Obama announced Wednesday that he was rejecting TransCanada Corp.’s application for a permit to build and operate the Keystone XL pipeline.

First Data from Mandatory GHG Reporting Rule Released

January 18, 2012

Mandated by the FY2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act, the EPA launched the GHG Reporting Program in October 2009, requiring the reporting of GHG data from large emission sources across a range of industry sectors, as well as suppliers of products that would emit GHGs if released or combusted. The first data reported under that rule has now been released to the public in an easy to use database.

The EPA’s online data publication tool allows users to view and sort GHG data for calendar year 2010, the first year data was collected under the mandatory rule, from over 6,700 facilities in a variety of ways—including by facility, location, industrial sector, and the type of GHG emitted. For example, the data set includes information on 136 GHG emitters in the state of Wisconsin.

Wetlands Bill Would Provide Certainty in Permitting Process

January 17, 2012

One of several bills targeted at reducing uncertainty and increasing flexibility in Wisconsin’s regulatory system is Assembly Bill 463/Senate Bill 368, known as “the wetlands bill.” The bill, sponsored by Senator Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn) and Representative Jeff Mursau (R-Crivitz), makes significant changes to Wisconsin’s wetlands permitting process.

Wisconsin wetlands are currently subject to a myriad of different regulations. For example, some wetlands are subject to both state and federal regulations, while others are regulated only by the state. For non-federal wetlands, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) can issue an individual or general certification, and must take extra precautions if the wetland is or is near to an area of special natural resource interest (ASNRI). While the jurisdictional overlap is unavoidable, the multitude of permitting standards for non-federal wetlands results in an overly complex area of law.

The wetlands bill would require the DNR to follow specific procedures and timelines for issuing individual wetlands permits for the first time ever. The DNR will be able to focus on larger and more complex projects by increasing the use of general permits for smaller, less complex projects. The DNR would also be permitted to consider economic impacts and mitigation when making a permitting determination. Below is a discussion of the changes to Wisconsin’s wetland regulations contained in AB 463/SB368:

What if everything ran on gas? Exxon did the math!

January 13, 2012

You know that Nissan Leaf commercial where everything runs on gas? Every time I see it I wonder how much gas it would take to do certain things. Apparently Nissan and I are not the only people thinking about these things, as Exxon Mobile recently did the math, and figured out how many gallons of gas would it take to charge an iPhone.

Supreme Court Hears Wetlands Case Sackett v. EPA

January 9, 2012

The Clean Water Act turns 40 this year, but despite its age, its implementation continues to raise controversial issues. Today, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in an important wetlands case, Sackett v. EPA. The issue in the case is two-fold: 1. May petitioners seek pre-enforcement judicial review of an administrative compliance order pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 704; and 2. If not, does petitioner's inability to seek pre-enforcement judicial review of the administrative compliance order violate their rights under the Due Process Clause?

EPA and NHTSA Accepting Comments on Proposed 2017-2025 Fuel Standards

January 4, 2012

The public hearings and comment deadlines for the 2017 and Later Model Year Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards issued jointly by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are approaching. Public hearings will be held on January 17, 19, and 24, 2012, and public comments are due by February 13, 2012.

2012 Renewable Fuel Standards

January 3, 2012

The EPA finalized the 2012 percentage standards for four fuel categories that are part of the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS2) just in time for the new year.

The final 2012 overall volumes and standards are:

Biomass-based diesel: 1.0 billion gallons; 0.91 percent
Advanced biofuels: 2.0 billion gallons; 1.21 percent
Cellulosic biofuels: 8.65 million gallons; 0.006 percent
Total renewable fuels: 15.2 billion gallons; 9.23 percent

Court Delays CSAPR

January 2, 2012

On December 30th, a federal appeals court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency must delay implementation of the Cross State Air Pollution Rule pending the outcome of legal challenges to the case.

CSAPR to Take Effect January 1st

December 29, 2011

Though still in flux, the Cross State Air Pollution Rule is going into effect on January 1, 2012. This post provides a brief discussion of the rule’s history, its expansion, the status of proposed modifications to state emission budgets, and an update on the main legal challenge to the rule.

EPA’s Priorities for 2012

December 29, 2011

The EPA’s most recent Action Initiation List provides a hint as to EPA’s priorities for 2012. There are several notable items on the list including phase three of the EPA’s tailoring rule and amendments to the particulate matter standards.

CLE Event: Impact of New EPA Regulations on Electric Utilities

December 29, 2011

The State Bar’s Energy & Telecommunications Law and Environmental Law Sections and the Wisconsin Public Utility Institute (WPUI) at UW-Madison are sponsoring a CLE event focusing on Proposed Federal Regulations and Their Potential Impacts on Wisconsin's Electric Utilities, Their Ratepayers, and Reliability.

Keynote speakers will include Susan Hedman, EPA’s Administrator in its District 5 Chicago office, and Ellen Nowak, recently-appointed as a Commissioner of the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.

Revised Emission Standards for the Pulp and Paper Industry

December 28, 2011

The EPA is proposing amendments to the national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants for the pulp and paper industry.

As required by the Clean Air Act (CAA), the EPA must set industry air pollution standards that are up-to-date, ensuring that the standards reflect the newest available technology and provide protection for human health and the environment. As such, the EPA is proposing new National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) categorized under Subpart S. Subpart S controls hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions from the pulp and paper production areas of mills using the kraft, sulfite, semi-chemical, and soda pulp processes (MACT I) and HAP emissions from pulp and paper production areas of mills using mechanical, secondary fiber, and non-wood pulping, and papermaking systems at all mills (MACT III).

EPA Proposes to Designate Sheboygan County Nonattainment for 2008 Ozone Standard

December 27, 2011

The EPA is currently implementing the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone, 0.075 parts per million. On December 20th, the EPA published its proposed determinations in the Federal Register. The EPA intends to designate 43 areas as being in nonattainment of the 2008 ozone standard, including Sheboygan County, Wisconsin.

Public Response to Final Utility MACT Rule

December 22, 2011

Industry representatives and lawmakers say the EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS)/Utility MACT rule will force power plant shutdowns and raise electric rates, while health and environmental advocates hail the regulation as a long-overdue victory. GLLF provides a summary of the biggest stories from the Wisconsin and national media.

EPA Issues $9.6 Billion Utility MACT Regulations

December 21, 2011

The EPA has finalized the court-ordered Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) for power plants. Commonly called the Utility MACT (maximum achievable control technology) rules, they are the first ever standards limiting mercury, acid gases, and other toxic pollution from power plants. The standards were originally ordered to be completed by November 16, 2011, but the court-ordered deadline was extended by a month to accommodate the extended comment period and the volume of comments the EPA received on the proposed rule.

The EPA-projected total national annual cost of this rule is $9.6 billion. The EPA estimates that for every dollar spent to reduce pollution from power plants, the American public will see up to $9 in health benefits. The total health and economic benefits of this standard are estimated to be as much as $90 billion annually.

DNR Accepting Comments on Draft Watershed Plans & Impaired Waters List

December 20, 2011

The Department of Natural Resources is currently accepting comments on Wisconsin's proposed list of waters that do not meet water quality standards and a group of plans for maintaining or improving water quality in 24 of 330 watersheds across the state. An online web presentation is scheduled for January 5, and public comments will be accepted through February 20, 2012.

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