- State climatologist: Data suggests warmer than normal summer on the way
The data predicts that this summer will be warmer than normal, Andresen says, but the amount of precipitation cannot be predicted. Many are concerned that another summer drought will occur, which he says is possible, but very unlikely.
- Chuck Leavell: Growing A Better America: Smart, Strong and Sustainable
"We're experiencing phenomenal growth in America, but as we go forward is that growth going to be rapid, rampant, and reckless or can it be smart, strong, and sustainable?"
- Michigan man translates environmental research for public via YouTube
Dozens of leading scientists advise Sinclair, he says, and have began inviting him to join their international research and data-gathering explorations. "They know that they're challenged by communication," he says, "and they know that's a skillset that just a lot of them don't have."
- Pure Michigan Focuses on Conservation, not Preservation
Celebrating its 75th anniversary, she says, the MUCC unites citizens to conserve, protect and enhance our natural resources through communication, education and advocacy. "We really want to protect peoples' rights to hunt and trap, we want to engage people," McDonough says, "and we want to help people foster a stewardship ethic."
- WMEAC and Grand Valley to Recognize Outstanding Women Environmentalists
The West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) and Grand Valley State University are presenting the second annual Women & Environment Symposium on Friday, Feb. 15 at the L.V. Eberhard Center in downtown Grand Rapids.
Anticipated Clean Air Mercury Rule will likely make coal-fired electric generation more expensive
"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I ended up where I intended to be." - Douglas Adams
In an earlier entry, I discussed how increased reliance on renewable energy can have the effect of reducing reliance on coal-fired energy production that in turn reduces the amount of mercury released from coal-fired power plants. But, tougher regulations concerning mercury may have the effect of creating a disincentive to use coal as a fuel source for power plants, thus creating a greater demand for alternative energy. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working on just these types of regulations.
In 1990, Congress amended the Clean Air Act to require EPA to regulate facilities that emit significant quantities of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), including mercury. After a period of study that the Clean Air Act required, EPA concluded that there was a link between mercury in fish and the environment and emissions from electric utility steam generating units (EGUs). In December 2000, just as the Clinton Administration was coming to a close, EPA issued a finding that mercury emissions from EGUs posed a significant threat to human health and the environment and added EGUs to the list of regulated sources.
In 2004, EPA promulgated new rules under a different section of the Clean Air Act and removed EGUs from the list of regulated sources for HAPs. EPA decided to "delist" EGUs, but failed to undertake the findings required by the Clean Air Act. This led to a lawsuit by a variety of states (including Michigan), Native American Tribes and other third parties, challenging EPA's delisting of EGUs. Ultimately, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed with the plaintiffs and vacated EPA's delisting rule.
Under the terms of a Consent Decree, EPA has until March 16, 2011 in which to prepare a notice of proposed rulemaking that would propose emission standards for gas- and coal-fired EGUs. EPA must have a final rule no later than November 16, 2011. This rule will establish maximum achievable control technology (MACT) for HAP emissions from EGUs (we environmental types just LOVE acronyms and initialisms - MACT and HAP are acronyms and EPA and EGU are initialisms).
EPA has already begun to collect the data in order to support its anticipated Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR) for utilities. The most likely technology used to reduce mercury emissions is flue gas desulfurization, known commonly as "scrubbers." EPA has estimated that the cost for scrubbers range from $116 million for large EGU boilers to $7.1 million for small scrubbers on industrial boilers. In all, controlling mercury emissions will not come cheaply.
No later than November 16, 2011, large electric utilities that use coal-fired boilers to generate steam for electricity will need to make hard choices about how to do business. Adding to this tougher operating climate for electric utilities is EPA's new "Transport Rule", which regulates sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from some states' electric utilities. While the anticipated CAMR is not designed to directly affect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, if utilities reduce their reliance on coal to generate electricity, choosing instead to use natural gas (which emits less than half the GHG emissions of coal-fired plants) or increase their reliance on alternative energy, GHG emissions will be reduced.
The author, Saulius Mikalonis, is an environmental attorney with over 25 years of experience in the Bloomfield Hills offices of Plunkett Cooney. He is also the author of The Green Blawg, in which he writes about environmental law issues for the non-lawyer. In addition to practicing law, Mr. Mikalonis is an adjunct professor at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Auburn Hills Campus, at which he teaches a course entitled "Sustainable Development Law & Policy" and a Board Member of the Detroit Regional Chapter of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).