States say EPA CO2 rule is legally flawed

  • : Coal, Electricity, Emissions
  • 18/11/01

A US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal to cut power plant CO2 emissions falls well short of what is required by the Clean Air Act, supporters of more aggressive action say, offering a preview of legal arguments that are likely to be raised in litigation.

A group of 18 state attorneys general yesterday urged EPA to withdraw its proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan, saying it would not lead to any "meaningful" reductions of CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants and may also lead to higher levels of conventional pollutants.

"The proposed rule, if finalized, would be unlawful. EPA should abandon it and instead focus on implementing and strengthening the Clean Power Plan," the attorneys general said in comments on EPA's Affordable Clean Energy rule.

The group, which includes attorneys general from the District of Columbia and the top legal officials in seven cities and counties, says the proposal would "effectively rewrite the Clean Air Act" with how EPA proposes to set emissions limits for existing power plants. In addition, it fails to set a "best system of emission reduction" required by the law by ignoring a number of ways the states have already lowered power plant CO2, including through emissions trading and renewable energy mandates, the letter said.

"EPA's protestations now that it lacks information about the feasibility or mechanics of such approaches are plainly arbitrary and capricious," they said.

The group also cited a number of other flaws with the proposal, including EPA's own projection that it could lead to 1,400 premature deaths each year from higher SO2 and NOx emissions. Their arguments are echoed in separate comments filed by environmental regulators from many of the same states, as well as environmental groups.

The proposal, issued in August, would replace the Clean Power Plan, crafted by the administration of former president Barack Obama, with a less aggressive regulation EPA says will provide states with more flexibility and help keep coal-fired power plants on line. It would rely on on-site heat-rate improvements to cut CO2 emissions from coal units, rather than the broader suite of measures envisioned in the Clean Power Plan. The comment period on the proposal closed yesterday.

EPA's plan is supported by regulators in coal states including Kentucky and West Virginia, as well as industry groups, which say it will provide greater regulatory certainty than its predecessor.

The rule's "approach provides the necessary flexibility to states to set standards based upon what is reasonably achievable at each power plant upon consideration of costs, remaining useful life and other factors," the National Mining Association said in its comments.

EPA says the new rule could cover up to 600 coal-fired units at 300 power plants and would save the industry about $400mn/yr in compliance costs. The agency estimates its proposal will only reduce power plant CO2 emissions by 1.5pc from projected levels if the Clean Power Plan did not exist, leading to an overall reduction of 33-34pc from 2005 levels by 2030.

Power plant emissions last year were 28pc below 2005 levels, the result of an overall shift away from coal to lower cost natural gas and renewables.


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24/06/24

Power demand lifts Vietnam’s April-May coal imports

Power demand lifts Vietnam’s April-May coal imports

Singapore, 24 June (Argus) — Vietnam's coal imports in April-May rose from a year earlier on strong demand from utilities to cater for increased electricity consumption in households and industries. Imports reached 6.5mn t in May, up from 4.97mn t a year earlier, and from 5.9mn t in April, provisional customs data show. April imports were up by 66pc from a year earlier, according to the data. The imports reached 27.1mn t in January-May, up from an estimated 16.87mn t in the same period a year earlier. Vietnam could end up importing close to 65mn t of coal this year at the current average rate of 5.42mn t/month, according to Argus calculations based on the customs data. This could be the highest annual imports after the southeast Asian nation received about 55mn t of imported coal in 2020, and the imports could also be up from 2023's tally of 51.16mn t . Vietnamese customs data do not differentiate between coking and thermal coal. Trade data analytics platform Kpler estimates Vietnamese May coal imports at about 5.8mn t, which includes about 4.2mn t of thermal coal. The year-on-year increase in imports underscores an increase in coal-fired generation to cater for power demand during the dry season. This also underlines a wider trend in Asia where generators have been restocking for peak summer as heatwaves have spread in the region that could buoy power demand as well as coal burn at power plants, and support demand for imported coal. Electricity consumption in the country has increased because of continued economic recovery and an uptick in air-conditioning demand, utility EVN said. Power demand continues to grow, and the peak capacity of the national power system reached 49.53GW on 19 June, up from 45.53GW a year earlier, it said. Peak capacity might increase further to 52GW this month, it added. Authorities have directed EVN and state-owned coal producers to ensure stable supplies to meet the increased power consumption. Overall power generation reached 28.1TWh in May, up by 11pc from a year earlier, EVN data showed. Overall generation rose by 12pc from a year earlier to 124.25TWh in the January-May period. Coal-fired generation was at about 73.97TWh, accounting for nearly 59.5pc of the generation mix during the period. The coal-fired generation likely edged higher to 17.08TWh in May, up from 16.9TWh in April, according to Argus calculations based on EVN data. The share of hydropower and renewable energy during January-May stood at 15.4pc and 14.2pc, respectively. Vietnamese hydropower generation might edge higher in coming weeks with the onset of seasonal rains in parts of the country. The uptick in power consumption and coal demand during the first five months of the year was also supported by an increase in economic activity, with Vietnam's industrial production index rising by 8.9pc in May, up from 0.5pc a year earlier. Residential and services electricity consumption increased by about 18pc, while industrial power demand rose by 12pc from a year earlier, EVN said. The increase in receipts of seaborne coal also followed softness in international coal prices, especially for coal from Vietnam's preferred origins — Indonesia and Australia. Argus assessed Indonesian GAR 4,200 kcal/kg coal at $53.83/t fob Kalimantan on 21 June, down by 6.4pc from $57.50/t on 8 March, the highest level for 2024 so far. Argus assessed the Australian NAR 5,500 kcal/kg coal market at $87.61/t fob Newcastle on 21 June, down from $96.59/t fob Newcastle on 1 March — the highest value for the grade in the year to date. Vietnamese customs did not provide the origin breakdown of the coal imports. Power saving EVN has advised local authorities, businesses, commercial and residential consumers to ensure economical and efficient use of electricity. It has asked commercial units and households to reduce consumption, and advised them to not set air-conditioner temperatures below 26-27°C. Vietnamese authorities have asked power consumers to pay special attention to electricity usage during peak hours between 11:00am to 3:00pm local time (04:00-08:00 GMT) and 7:00pm to 11:00pm. By Saurabh Chaturvedi Vietnam's coal imports (mn t) Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Western Australia’s Strike plans gas-fired power plant


24/06/24
24/06/24

Western Australia’s Strike plans gas-fired power plant

Sydney, 24 June (Argus) — Australian independent Strike Energy plans to build and operate an 85MW peaking gas-fired power plant that could come on line by October 2026 near its South Erregulla operations in Western Australia (WA). Strike applied to the Australia Energy Market Operator (Aemo) for capacity credits and network access to develop the power plant. It is targeting a final investment decision in November this year subject to Aemo's decision. Gas supplies of around 1.3 PJ/yr (34.7mn m³/yr) would come from Strike's South Erregulla reserves . The power plant would be on land owned by Strike 280km north of Perth and around 15km of existing power transmission lines within the South West Interconnected System, the electricity network that covers Perth and the southwest region of WA. The WA system will need around 3.9GW of new flexible gas-fired power capacity by 2042 to firm increasing renewable generation as the state exits coal-fired power generation, the state government said last year. It plans to close the two remaining state-owned coal-fired power plants by 2030 , while the private-sector Bluewaters coal-fired power plant is expected to retire by 2030-31, according to Aemo. Aemo has identified a supply shortfall of 391MW emerging in 2027-28 because of a progressive coal-fired power phase-out and increasing electricity demand. The shortfall could reach as high as 2.88GW by 2033-34, highlighting the need for continued capacity investment particularly from 2027 onwards, Aemo said in its latest electricity statement of opportunities for WA's Wholesale Electricity Market, which is not connected to east Australia's National Electricity Market. Strike estimates total annual revenues of A$40mn-50mn ($26.6mn-33.2mn) for the gas-fired peaking plant over the first five years of operation, of which almost 40pc would come from payments under WA's capacity credit scheme. The plant would operate for over 25 years, with investment costs currently estimated between A$120mn-160mn. By Juan Weik Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

CPC to import Taiwan's first SAF for 2025 trial


24/06/24
24/06/24

CPC to import Taiwan's first SAF for 2025 trial

Singapore, 24 June (Argus) — Taiwan will supply its airlines with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for the first time in first-half 2025, as part of a pilot project to hasten carbon emissions reductions in aviation and meet its net zero goals. There are plans for state-owned refiner CPC to import and supply SAF to national airlines at Taoyuan International Airport and Taipei Songshan Airport during January-June 2025. The volumes and airlines have not been confirmed, said a company source. Taiwan's Civil Aviation Administration (CAA) also encourages Taiwanese airlines to target 5pc SAF use by 2030, given the International Civil Aviation Organisation's (ICAO) aim of achieving a 5pc cut in carbon dioxide emissions in international aviation by 2030 compared with a business as usual scenario. The CAA said it has been working with the relevant ministries, oil companies, airlines and airports to understand their needs regarding domestic supplies of SAF. It is also in the process of ensuring facility certification and implementing supporting measures in airlines and aircraft. The SAF used in trials next year must have been certified by an ICAO-authorised agency, including details such as oil pipelines, its import sources, oil storage tanks, vessels and tanker trucks transporting the oil. CPC is now settling certification work for each step of the import process. The SAF will also be certified by the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (Corsia), a global scheme to reduce international aviation emissions, which airlines can directly use it to reduce their carbon emissions. The CAA has strategies to decarbonise Taiwan's aviation sector. These are reducing fuel consumption through measures like optimising flight routes and encouraging airlines to replace old aircraft with new models. It also aims to step up energy conservation and carbon emissions reductions in airport operations and management, encourage airlines to use SAF and promote compliance with Corsia's emissions requirements. The CAA updated Taiwan's civil and general aviation regulations last year to include laws on carbon emissions reporting in compliance with Corsia. Taiwan's airlines this year reported their carbon emissions for the first time for the year 2023, which the administration is also currently reviewing. By Sarah Giam Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Japan's Hokuriku starts biomass co-firing test runs


24/06/21
24/06/21

Japan's Hokuriku starts biomass co-firing test runs

Tokyo, 21 June (Argus) — Japan's utility Hokuriku Electric Power started coal and wood pellet co-firing test runs in April, the company said today. Hokuriku has been conducting co-firing test runs using coal and imported wood pellets at the 700MW Tsuruga No.2 unit in Fukui prefecture since April, with the 700MW Nanao-Ohta No.2 unit in Ishikawa prefecture to follow suit. The company also plans to increase biomass co-combustion rates at these two major coal-fired power plants to 15pc by the April 2030-March 2031 fiscal year, which means a total of 210MW of capacity and 1.5mn MWh/yr of output based on biomass-fired generation. Hokuriku expects its increased biomass co-firing rates to reduce CO2 emissions by 1mn t/yr compared with emissions from coal-firing for the same output, although it did not disclose the volume of wood pellets that will be burned. The company has been co-firing with coal and domestically-produced wood chips at Tsuruga since 2007 and at Nanao-Ohta since 2010, but its total biomass ratio was under 1pc. By Takeshi Maeda Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Canadian greenwashing bill passes


24/06/20
24/06/20

Canadian greenwashing bill passes

Calgary, 20 June (Argus) — A proponent of a major carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in Canada removed most information from its website this week after a federal bill targeting "greenwashing" successfully made its way through Parliament. The Pathways Alliance, a group of six oil sands producers, removed material from its website in response to Bill C-59 after it passed its third and final reading in Canada's senate on 19 June, citing "uncertainty on how the new law will be interpreted and applied." Parts of the soon-to-be law will "create significant uncertainty for Canadian companies," according to a statement by Pathways which is the proponent of a massive C$16.5bn ($12bn) CCS project in Alberta's oil sands region. The Pathways companies proposed using the project and a host of other technologies to cut CO2 emissions by 10mn-22mn t/yr by 2030. Project details and projections are now gone from the Pathways website, social media and other public communications as the pending law will require companies to show proof when making representations about protecting, restoring or mitigating environmental, social and ecological causes or effects of climate change. Any claim "that is not based on adequate and proper substantiation in accordance with internationally recognized methodology" could result in penalties under the pending law. Offenders may face a maximum penalty of C$10mn for the first offense while subsequent offenses would be as much as C$15mn, or "triple the value of the benefit derived from the anti-competitive practice." Invite to 'resource-draining complaints' The bill does not single out oil and gas companies, but the industry includes the country's largest emitters and has long been in the cross-hairs of the liberal government. Alberta's premier Danielle Smith says the pending bill will have the unintended effect by stifling "many billions in investments in emissions technologies — the very technologies the world needs." Construction of the Pathways project is expected to begin as early as the fourth quarter 2025 with operations starting in 2029 or 2030. The main CO2 transportation pipeline will be 24-36-inches in diameter and stretch about 400km (249 miles). It will initially tap into 13 oil sands facilities from north of Fort McMurray to the Cold Lake region, where the CO2 will be stored underground. Pathways includes Canadian Natural Resources, Cenovus, Suncor, Imperial Oil, ConocoPhillips Canada and MEG Energy, which account for about 95pc of the province's roughly 3.3mn b/d of oil sands production. Some producers took down content as did industry lobby group the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), which highlighted the "significant" risk the legislation creates. "Buried deep into an omnibus bill and added at a late stage of committee review, these amendments have been put forward without consultation, clarity on guidelines, or the standards that must be met to achieve compliance," said CAPP president Lisa Baiton on Thursday. This "opens the floodgates for frivolous, resource-draining complaints." By Brett Holmes Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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