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Posts Tagged ‘greenhouse gases’

Forget Those Smokestacks; Transportation Now the #1 U.S. Source of Greenhouse Gas

Gap is widening as power plant operators shift to renewables and natural gas.

by on Dec.05, 2017

Even though automakers have been reducing emissions, transportation sources haven't kept up with gains by power plant generation.

They were once the symbol of American manufacturing might, though in recent decades industrial smokestacks – and power plants, in particular – have come to represent a major problem as the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

But that has seen a radical shift. For the first time in 40 years, power plants are no longer the single-largest source of global warming gases. That dubious honor now goes to the transportation sector, according to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

News Now!

That includes a broad mix of different sources within the transport sector, reports Bloomberg News, which analyzed the EIA data, including automobiles and trucks, as well as aircraft, trains and boats.


EPA Says Climate Change Real. Rejects Challenges

EPA's human health endangerment finding stands. Unknown, costly regulatory consequences for U.S. economy will ensue.

by on Jul.29, 2010

CO2 reduction is no walk in the park for auto makers or thus far unsuspecting consumers.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today denied ten petitions challenging its 2009 determination that climate change is real and is occurring due to emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities. This threatens human health and the environment.

The latest decision, which has wide-ranging and potentially huge negative consequences for the stumbling U.S. economy, confirms a previous EPA ruling that greenhouse gases (GHGs) threaten the public health and welfare of the American people.

Since virtually all vehicles for the near or longer term will burn fuels that cause large amounts of GHGs, more stringent fuel economy standards are inevitable. This will affect the types, sizes and cost of vehicles – in ways yet unknown — that you will be able to buy.

EPA’s Greenhouse Gas findings were initially issued in response to a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision that GHGs fit within the Clean Air Act definition of air pollutants. Prior to that, under Republican Administrations, the EPA did not take regulatory action to deal with the controversial problem.

Both the previous and today’s EPA position were not surprising given previous public statements of President Obama and his political appointees at EPA. (See EPA Finds Greenhouse Gases Threaten Health)

The petitions to reconsider EPA’s Endangerment Finding claimed that climate science cannot be trusted, and assert a conspiracy that invalidates the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

EPA has just said in a statement that after months of “serious consideration” of the petitions and of the state of climate change science, that it finds no evidence to support these claims.

In fact, EPA’s review shows that climate science is “credible, compelling, and growing stronger.”

Follow Our Emissions!

“The endangerment finding is based on years of science from the U.S. and around the world.  These petitions — based as they are on selectively edited, out-of-context data and a manufactured controversy — provide no evidence to undermine our determination.  Excess greenhouse gases are a threat to our health and welfare,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.


First Fuel Economy Rules Ordered for Big Trucks

BP's "spill baby, spill" has the Administration pushing for much tougher national regulations for all classes of vehicles.

by on May.21, 2010

The President’s proposal would also order more gains in fuel efficiency for cars and lighter trucks.

President Obama today ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to institute the first regulation to increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas pollution from medium- and heavy-duty trucks for model years 2014-2018.

He also called for national regulations on increasing fuel economy beyond the current ones, which stipulate that new light vehicles  must average at least 35.5 miles to a gallon of fuel by  2016 for combined city and highway driving.

The President’s proposal would order further, unspecified improvements in fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks made in 2017 and beyond. California still has the ability to impose its own regulations after that, and automakers are desperate to have a long-term national policy imposed. How this unfolds in Congress is uncertain, but the Administration called for action before the end of this year. ( See Administration Rolls Out New Fuel Economy Rules )

The Obama announcement comes as the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues to release the equivalent amount of oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez every day or two. No end to what is called the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history  is in sight.

It is estimated that trucks currently use more than two million barrels of oil every day, and average 6.1 miles per gallon. Trucks also emit 20% of the greenhouse gases related to transportation.

The President said in a White House Rose Garden photo opportunity that preliminary estimates indicate the potential for significant fuel efficiency gains of as much as 25% and greenhouse gas emissions reductions for large tractor-trailers, which represent half of all GHG emissions from the sector.


Milestones: Ten Million Flex-Fuel Vehicles in Brazil

U.S. ethanol policy is muddled when compared with Brazil’s.

by on Mar.08, 2010

It's said that using biomass, cheap farm waste, could radically alter the economics of ethanol. The lower cost could end taxpayer subsidies, though the farm lobby holds powerful sway in the "pay to play" Washington scene.

Brazil’s 10 millionth flex-fuel vehicle was built last week, ready to be fueled by sugarcane- derived ethanol from an industry that is not government subsidized.

In the U.S. taxpayers are subsidizing inefficient corn-derived ethanol to the tune of almost $4 billion annually ($0.45/gallon federal production subsidy, plus state and local incentives), and the farm lobby and agribusiness are pushing for more taxpayer feed to be put into the trough by way of increasing the amount of ethanol beyond the 10% that is legally required to be blended into fuel.

That might be OK, except that ethanol is roughly 33% less fuel efficient than gasoline; so it’s another cost increase in the middle of the Great Recession. And at current prices the higher blend of U.S. made ethanol, E85, which could really help limit oil imports from terrorist supporting regimes, is not competitive with gasoline.

Worse, protective tariffs effectively stop the importation of ethanol that makes economic sense, but not political sense in pay-for-play Washington. (Click Here)

The production subsidy for ethanol applies to both domestic and imported ethanol, but the United States charges importers of ethanol a tariff of 54 cents per gallon and an ad valorem tariff of 2.5% of the value of the imported ethanol. This means countries such as Brazil that can produce ethanol much more efficiently than the U.S. are effectively blocked from selling it here. This protectionist policy also applies to other global markets.

Alternative Views!

The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) represents the top producers of sugar and ethanol in the country’s South-Central region, especially the state of Sao Paulo, which accounts for about 50% of the country’s sugarcane harvest and 60% of total ethanol production.

In 2008, Brazil produced an estimated 565 million metric tons of sugarcane, which yielded 31.3 million tons of sugar and 25.7 billion liters (6.8 billion gallons) of ethanol, making it the number-one sugarcane grower and sugar producer in the world, and the second-largest ethanol producer on the planet, behind the United States.   (more…)

Volvo to offer Plug-in Hybrids across the Range

Swedish maker plans electrification of entire line by 2020.

by on Jan.22, 2010

The start of the hybridization of the entire line.

Volvo’s plan to offer a plug in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) on one of its larger car lines by 2012 is just the beginning of an ambitious program to spread the technology to its entire lineup by the end of the decade – if not sooner – according to insiders working on future products at the Swedish company.

The Volvo plan arises from CO2 emissions reductions dictated by stringent European Union regulations. These are twice as tough as the controversial CO2 reductions that are now being implemented in the U.S., which call for a 35.5 mpg fleet average in 2016.

Plans for exports of PHEVs and BEVs are still flexible, executives say.

At the lighter end of the line, starting with the C30 BEV, a pure battery electric vehicle, will also be offered in Europe at the same time.

Plans for exports of PHEVs and BEVs are still flexible, executives say, and are dependent on the price of fuel, as well as government taxation and subsidy policies governing the marketing of electric cars.

The vast engineering development, manufacturing and sales programs required for electrification are being undertaken against the background of a depressed, profitless global industry, where loss-making Volvo Car is being sold by its parent, Ford Motor Company, to the Chinese maker Geely.

Successful and, more importantly, profitable implementation of electrification now appears key to the survival of all auto companies given the current regulatory environment, which shows no signs of decreasing demands for more fuel efficient and therefore less CO2 belching vehicles. The fact is companies and customers no longer will control their own fates as things are now shaping up. Regulation will dictate a large part, if not all of the market,  and survival of companies will depend on how they can comply with an unprecedented amount of government direction.

Smaller companies such as Volvo face a larger challenge in surviving, arguably, if nimbleness as well as possible exemptions and/or company friendly regulation are not ultimately more decisive factors.

Viewed one way, the Volvo commitment to hybrids is a stunning reversal of the traditional disdain that European makers expressed about this  Japanese developed technology. All European, and for that matter U.S., automakers are well behind current developments in the ongoing hybridization of the auto industry,  which has been underway for more than a decade now.


EPA Finds Greenhouse Gases Threaten Health

Science “overwhelmingly” shows concentrations at unprecedented levels due to human activity.

by on Dec.07, 2009

CO2 redcution will be no walk in the park for U.S. consumers.

Meaningful CO2 reduction will be no walk in the park for U.S. consumers and businesses.

In a decision which has wide-ranging and potentially negative consequences for the stumbling U.S. economy, the Environmental Protection Agency officially ruled this morning that greenhouse gases (GHGs) threaten the public health and welfare of the American people.

The final ruling was not surprising given previous public statements of President Obama and his political appointees.

EPA also found that GHG emissions from on-road vehicles contribute to that threat.

Since virtually all vehicles for the near or longer term, will burn fuels that cause large amounts of GHGs, more stringent fuel economy standards are inevitable. This will affect the types, sizes and cost of vehicles –  in ways yet unknown — that  you will be able to buy.

EPA’s final findings were issued in response to a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision that GHGs fit within the Clean Air Act definition of air pollutants. Prior to that, under Republican Administrations, the EPA did not take regulatory action to deal with the controversial problem.

While the findings do not impose any emission reduction requirements, they clearly are part of the legal process needed to all allow EPA to finalize the GHG standards proposed earlier this year for new light-duty vehicles as part of the joint-rulemaking with the Department of Transportation.

EPA says on-road vehicles contribute more than 23% of total GHG emissions in the U.S. EPA’s proposed GHG standards for light-duty vehicles, a subset of all on-road vehicles, would reduce GHG emissions, it is claimed, by nearly 950 million metric tons and conserve 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of model year 2012-2016 vehicles.

Critical Thought!

Critical Thought!

The proposed national emissions program would require model year 2016 vehicles to meet an estimated combined average emission level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile. The overall light-duty vehicle fleet would reach 35.5 miles per gallon (mpg) in model year 2016, if, big if, all reductions were made through fuel economy improvements.


Nissan Leases First Fuel Cell SUV in North America

X-Trail prototype goes to Sacramento Coca-Cola.

by on Nov.24, 2009

Moon shot  technology at about the same cost thus far.

Moon shot technology and "zero emissions" at about the same cost thus far.

Nissan North America today announced the lease of an X-Trail fuel cell vehicle to Sacramento Coca-Cola Bottling Company.

This is Nissan’s first commercial FCV lease in North America, and it’s for one year, with an option for two additional years at an undisclosed rate.

The vehicle is based on the X-Trail sport utility, which is available in Mexico, Japan and Europe. It has a Nissan-developed fuel cell stack, lithium-ion batteries and a high-pressure hydrogen storage cylinder.

Performance is said to be close to that of a similarly sized internal combustion engine-based vehicle. Versions of this generation are capable of speeds in excess of 95 miles per hour, with a cruising range of up to 300 miles, according to Nissan.

Nissan has previously used FCVs in demonstration fleets in Japan and in California through the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP).

No Money Down!!

No Money Down!

“Sacramento already has the beginning of a hydrogen infrastructure in place, and Sacramento Coca-Cola has a track record of utilizing low emissions cars, so the two companies share a green philosophy as well as a common love of things ‘zero’,” said Eric Nozier, vice president, Corporate Planning, NNA.


Can Recycling and Land Reuse Practices Really Fight Climate Change?

New EPA report claims positive possibilities.

by on Sep.21, 2009


EPA also ruled earlier this year that greenhouse gases are a threat to public health and welfare.

Much progress can be made to reduce the nation’s greenhouse gases through recycling, waste reduction, smart growth, and by reusing formerly contaminated sites including “brownfields,” according to a report just issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA says, not without controversy,  that climate change is primarily the result of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and its effects will worsen over time in the absence of regulatory action. EPA also ruled earlier this year that greenhouse gases are a threat to public health and welfare.

“Opportunities to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions through Materials and Land Management Practices” claims that 42% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are influenced by materials management policies. These include the impacts from extracting raw materials, food processing, and manufacturing, transporting, and disposing of products.

Green News!

Green News!

EPA says another 16% to 20% of emissions are associated with land management policies. That includes emissions from passenger transportation, construction, and from lost vegetation when greenfields are cleared for development. In addition, the equivalent of 13% of U.S. emissions is absorbed by soil and vegetation and can also be protected or enhanced through land management policies.


Renewable Fuel Fight Over Agricultural Subsidies and Emissions Continues as EPA Works on Rules

Should taxpayers be subsidizing agribusiness to produce fuels?

by on Aug.07, 2009

EPA Adminstrator Jackson

At stake here, ultimately, is billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to agribusiness, and even the future of the whole bio-fuel industry in the U.S.

The EPA made public this morning an independent review of how it should calculate the life-cycle effects of renewable fuels on air pollution.

Normally this would be an arcane economic debate over methodologies, time periods, and at what rate to calculate/discount the value of gains over time. But at stake here, ultimately, is billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to agribusiness, and even the future of the whole bio-fuel industry in the U.S.

So a controversy has been growing among various self-interested factions since the EPA, under the Obama Administration, reversed its Bush-directed self and said greenhouse gases are a health problem, which will be addressed.

A contentious rulemaking process is now well underway.

From an automotive point of view there are two central issues. The first is how to decrease emissions and our dependence on imports of foreign oil from terrorist supporting countries. The second is a subset of the first: what if the biofuels we are using —  ethanol, biodiesel, natural gas — really cause more emissions than they save? That’s why how the EPA calculates the life cycle emissions effects is of such concern to subsidized businesses, the agricultural lobby and various clean air special interest groups.

The U.S. is already under Congressional mandate to use increasing amounts of renewable fuels. Under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, EPA is responsible for revising and implementing regulations to ensure that gasoline sold in the United States contains a minimum volume of renewables. The Renewable Fuel Standard program will increase the volume of renewable fuel required to be blended into gasoline from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022. (At one point the goal under President Bush was 35 billion/2017.)

The new RFS program regulations are being developed with what the EPA euphemistically says is a “collaboration with refiners, renewable fuel producers, and many other stakeholders.”

Translation: Big bucks are at stake here, and lobbying will be intense.


EPA Grants California’s Waiver Request for Separate Emissions Standards

Latest defeat for the auto industry could create administrative chaos and severely restrict your new vehicle choices.

by on Jun.30, 2009

EPA Adminstrator Jackson

The Obama appointee claimed the waiver is appropriate and consistent with previous interpretations of the Clean Air Act by EPA.

At least 13 other states and the District of Columbia have said that they intend to follow California in instituting tougher standards than previously called for under federal regulation. Since these areas comprise about 40% of new car sales, it is possible that California legislators and bureaucrats will determine the size and types of cars that you can buy after 2016.

The first California waiver request was made in December 2005 under the Bush Administration and was subsequently denied in March 2008. This previous decision was based on an interpretation of the Clean Air Act finding that California did not have a need for its greenhouse gas emission standards to meet “compelling and extraordinary conditions,” EPA said in a statement defending the reversal of this previous policy ruling.

Act Now!

Act Now!

“This decision puts the law and science first. After review of the scientific findings, and another comprehensive round of public engagement, I have decided this is the appropriate course under the law,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. The Obama appointee claimed the waiver is consistent with the Clean Air Act as it’s been used for the last 40 years. 

“More importantly, this decision reinforces the historic agreement on nationwide emissions standards developed by a broad coalition of industry, government and environmental stakeholders earlier this year,” she said.

While automakers dependent on government support and others observing the “bully pulpit” that the administration has used to shape the debate on automotive matters have been cowed into public silence, auto dealers, many them small business owners with Republican ties, are more vocal in their opposition.

“EPA’s decision to reverse its 2008 denial of California’s request for a pre-emption waiver is sadly a triumph of politics over good common sense,” said John McEleney, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association. “Moreover, with its action today, the Obama administration has effectively ceded the long-term setting of national fuel economy standards to unelected California regulators,” he added.

Just after taking office in late January, President Barack Obama directed EPA to assess the appropriateness of denying the waiver. EPA received a letter from California on January 21, 2009, raising several issues for Administrator Jackson to review regarding the denial.

Last month, President Obama announced a first-ever national policy aimed at both increasing fuel economy and reducing greenhouse gas pollution for all new cars and trucks sold in the United States. The new standards would cover model years 2012-2016. Cars and light trucks must average 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, about 40% higher than today. Congress in 2007 passed a 35 mpg requirement by 2020. The accelerated time table will add thousands upon thousands of dollars to the cost of a new car critics say.