US EPA sets new rules for clean air decisions

  • Spanish Market: Coal, Electricity, Emissions, Natural gas, Oil products
  • 09/12/20

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is changing how it evaluates the effectiveness of new clean air rules, a move critics say will hamper future efforts to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

The agency today finalized new rules around how it produces and uses cost-benefit analyses to justify its regulations. The purpose of the new regulation is to increase transparency around the EPA's rulemaking and thereby boost public confidence in the agency's actions, EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said.

"We will have better regulations that are better accepted from the entire American public," he said as he announced the rules during an event hosted by the Washington, DC-based Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

The new regulations require EPA to focus on the direct benefits in future rulemakings, while also providing the underlying data to justify new regulations. It also requires EPA in future rulemakings to distinguish between domestic and international benefits from emissions reductions.

Environmental groups criticized the regulations as an attempt to make it more difficult for the agency to produce tougher emission standards under the Clean Air Act, something president-elect Joe Biden has promised to do when he takes office.

"It is a massive favor to industry in the final days of this administration and it will cost lives and impact health in vulnerable communities, especially communities of color that traditionally bear the brunt of pollution impacts," League of Conservation Voters board chair and former EPA administrator Carol Browner said.

Wheeler cited the agency's mercury and air toxics standards (MATS) for coal- and oil-fired power plants as a "poster child" for why the change is needed. In that rule, the agency under president Barack Obama estimated benefits of $37bn-$90bn/yr as a result of co-benefits such as reductions in particulate matter emissions.

EPA has since lowered that estimate following a US Supreme Court decision that said the agency did not properly account for the costs to industry when it decided it should issue the MATS rule. The agency, which has kept the standards in place, now says the benefits amount to just $4mn-$6mn/yr, compared with industry compliance costs of $7.4bn-$9.6bn/yr, after accounting for only the direct benefits of lower mercury emissions.

Industry groups including the National Mining Association (NMA) and American Chemistry Council welcomed the EPA announcement, which they said will lead to better decisions from the agency.

"In the past, cost-benefit analysis was improperly used to target the coal industry through unjustifiable regulations that imposed tremendous compliance costs that significantly outweighed the environmental benefits," NMA president Rich Nolan said.

Environmental groups said they hope the Biden administration will move to rescind the regulations, and some have suggested that today's decision may be open to legal challenges.

Wheeler said that while any of his successors could repeal the new cost-benefit regulations. it would be difficult to do so "with a straight face."

"I would hope that they believe in transparency. That's what this regulation is all about," he said.


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17/06/24

Rains return to Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul state

Rains return to Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul state

Sao Paulo, 17 June (Argus) — Rainfall returned to Brazil's flood-hit Rio Grande do Sul state over the weekend and is likely to remain until Wednesday, according to meteorological firm Climatempo. Downpours started in late April brought havoc to the state, flooding rivers and lakes and hampering several logistics points. Several state and national highways are still damaged and the state's main airport is likely to remain closed until the end of the year. The weather had eased in the last few weeks, with lake and river levels dropping below flood levels since at least 9 June. But two new cold fronts brought rains to the state once again on 15 June, Climatempo said. Rains are likely to reach an accumulated 200-300mm (7.9-11.8in) from 15-19 June in the state's central-northern and northwestern regions, Climatempo said. Other areas will receive 80-150mm in the same span. Showers in the central-northern region of the state hit 50-60mm on 16 June alone, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Cai and Jacui rivers have reached above-flood levels once again, according to the state's civil defense. The Taquari River's levels are "above caution quotas," reaching 17m (55.7ft). Levels need to be below 5m to be considered normal. Civil defense authorities have also issued a flood warning for those that live close to the Sinos River, asking them to evacuate risky areas. Rio Grande do Sul is one of Brazil's main agricultural states. The US Department of Agriculture has cut the state's 2023-24 soybean production estimate because of the floods. The extreme weather has left at least 176 dead and over 422,000 people displaced, according to the civil defense's latest report published on 14 June. By Lucas Parolin Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

UK launches anti-dumping investigation: Base Oils


17/06/24
17/06/24

UK launches anti-dumping investigation: Base Oils

London, 17 June (Argus) — The UK Trade Remedies Authority (TRA) is investigating alleged dumping of lubricants in the UK market at unfair prices. The TRA will investigate whether imports of engine oils and hydraulic fluids from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Lithuania are being dumped in the UK and whether they are causing injury to the UK's lubricant blending industry. The investigation was spurred by an anti-dumping application by UK lubricants manufacturer Aztec Oils. "For too long, UK lubricant manufacturers have faced unfair competition from dumped products sold at unsustainable prices, which has had a severe impact on our industry", Aztec managing director Mark Lord told Argus today. "By ensuring fair trading practices, we can safeguard jobs, maintain high standards of product quality, and secure the long-term prosperity of the UK lubricant industry", Lord added. If the TRA determines a trade remedy is necessary, an Economic Interest Test (EIT) will be conducted to assess whether the implementation of a trade remedy is in the UK's economic interest, TRA said. UK imports of engine oils and hydraulic fluids from the UAE and Lithuania have increased over the past two years. Imports in February totalled 2,219t — standing 2,157t higher than in February 2022, according to Global Trade Tracker. European buyers have recently looked more towards importing Group I base oils, despite traditionally being a net exporter , as a result of refinery maintenance and shutdowns , curbing available supply. More limited availability has pushed European fob Group I domestic and export spot prices up, incentivising a move towards more competitively priced material. The Argus- assessed Group I SN 150 fob domestic and export spot price currently stands at parity ($1,110/t) with prices rising by 13pc and 31pc, respectively, since the start of the year. By Christian Hotten Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Iran rebukes G7 over nuclear warning: Update


17/06/24
17/06/24

Iran rebukes G7 over nuclear warning: Update

Adds quotes from IAEA director general Dubai, 17 June (Argus) — Iran's foreign ministry has called on the G7 to distance itself from "destructive policies of the past" after the group issued a statement condemning Tehran's recent nuclear programme escalation. "Unfortunately, some countries, driven by political motives and by resorting to baseless and unproven claims, attempt to continue their failed and ineffective policy of imposing and maintaining sanctions against the Iranian nation," the foreign ministry's spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said on 16 June. Kanaani advised the G7 "to learn from past experiences and distance itself from destructive past policies". His comments were in response to a joint statement from G7 leaders on 14 June warning Iran against advancing its nuclear enrichment programme. The leaders said they would be ready to enforce new measures if Tehran were to transfer ballistic missiles to Russia. The G7's reference to Iran comes on the heels of a new resolution passed by the board of governors of the UN's nuclear watchdog the IAEA . The resolution calls on Iran to step up co-operation and reverse its decision to restrict the agency access to nuclear facilities by de-designating inspectors. Kanaani said "any attempt to link the war in Ukraine to the bilateral co-operation between Iran and Russia is an act with only biased political goals", adding that some countries are "resorting to false claims to continue sanctions" against Iran. Tehran will continue its "constructive interaction and technical co-operation" with the IAEA, Kanaani said. But the agency's resolution is "politically biased", he said. Not an "anti-Iran" policy In an interview with the Russian daily newspaper Izvestia published today, IAEA director general Rafael Grossi refused claims of political bias. "We do co-operate with Iran. I don't deny this. This is important for inspection. My Iranian colleagues often say that Iran is the most inspected country in the world. Well, it is, and for good reason. But this is not enough," Grossi said, adding that the IAEA does not adhere to an "anti-Iran policy". Grossi also stressed the need for countries to return to diplomacy with Iran, while expressing concerns over the expansion of its nuclear programme. "Russia plays a very important role in this diplomacy, trying to keep the Iranian programme within a predictable and peaceful framework. But again, everything needs to be controlled," he said. The IAEA's new resolution and the reference to Iran in the G7 statement could be the start of a more concerted effort to raise pressure on Tehran over its nuclear programme. "What is happening right now is the process of accumulation of resolutions, so that when the day comes and the IAEA makes a referral to the UN Security Council, there will be enough resolutions to make a case for action at the security council level," a diplomatic source told Argus . Iran is enriching uranium to as high as 60pc purity. Near 90pc is considered to be weapons grade, according to the IAEA. By Bachar Halabi Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Japan’s Yatsushiro biomass plant starts operations


17/06/24
17/06/24

Japan’s Yatsushiro biomass plant starts operations

Tokyo, 17 June (Argus) — The 75MW Yatsushiro biomass power plant in south Japan's Kumamoto prefecture started commercial operations on 16 June. Yatsushiro is planning to generate around 480 GWh/yr and sell the electricity under Japan's feed-in-tariff scheme for 20 years. It burns 240,000 t/yr of wood pellets mainly imported from southeast Asia, including Vietnam, and 60,000 t/yr of wood chips that are domestically produced. The power plant was built by Japan's engineering firm IHI, which began construction in April 2022. IHI will also carry out regular maintenance and inspections. Chubu Electric Power own 49pc of Yatsushiro, along with 37pc held by Toho Gas and 14pc by energy joint venture Ene-Vision. Ene-Vision is 56.5pc owned by Japanese trading house Toyota Tsusho, 26.1pc by domestic farm machine and industrial engine manufacturer Yanmar, 8.7pc by engineering services firm Toyotsu Machinery and 8.7pc by Toho Gas. Another two biomass power plants are scheduled to become on line in Japan this summer, with Renova's 75MW Omaezaki venture in Shizuoka in July and the 50MW Ozu project in Ehime of Japanese upstream firm Japex and its partners in August. By Takeshi Maeda Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Japex takes control of Norway-focused upstream venture


17/06/24
17/06/24

Japex takes control of Norway-focused upstream venture

Tokyo, 17 June (Argus) — Japanese upstream firm Japex has acquired a majority stake in Longboat Japex from London-listed independent Longboat Energy to take full control of the Norwegian oil and gas joint venture. Japex spent $2.5mn to buy the 50.1pc stake, which will completed during July-September this year, Japex said. It bought a 49.9pc stake in Longboat Japex from Longboat Energy in May last year, with the UK firm last year looking to raise extra funds through asset sales, farm-down deals or issuing new equity. By Reina Maeda Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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