Repowering the Midwest

Learner: Exelon’s deal to acquire Integrys Energy raises anti-competitive concerns

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 30, 2014
Contact: Jill Geiger
312-795-3703

STATEMENT BY HOWARD A. LEARNER
Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center

Exelon’s announcement that it plans to buy Integrys Energy Services raises anti-competitive concerns for Northern Illinois consumers, according to the Environmental Law & Policy Center’s Executive Director Howard Learner.

“We have serious questions about whether Exelon’s purchase of Integrys Energy Services will reduce competition in the Northern Illinois retail electricity market, leading to higher utility bills and fewer renewable energy opportunities for consumers.”

“Exelon is the parent company of both Commonwealth Edison and Constellation Energy, which compete for retail electric consumers with Integrys Energy Services in Northern Illinois. If combined, these companies appear to control more than half of the retail electricity market in Northern Illinois.  This market concentration could become even greater as First Energy has publicly stated that it is scaling back its retail electricity business.”

“One of the promises of deregulation in Illinois was a competitive retail electricity services market that would benefit consumers.  We’re concerned that this new acquisition by Exelon appears to reduce competition and increase the concentration of market power.  We urge the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Illinois Commerce Commission and other federal and state agencies to carefully investigate, review and determine the potential anti-competitive impacts of Exelon’s announced new acquisition of Integrys Energy Services.”

Bending the Global Temperature Rise Arc

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Bending the Global Temperature Rise Arc

Howard Learner, Executive Director, ELPC

The OECD’s International Energy Agency (IEA) recent report focuses on the question of what to do about climate change realities.

IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven explains: “We recently passed a grim milestone with the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere topping 400 parts per million at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. This is uncharted territory in the history of humans. While it does not represent a tipping point per se, that milestone is symbolic of our failure to respond adequately, and to fulfill our own national and international pledges to limit average global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius over the long term.”

The science is clear that global climate change is occurring. That debate is over. How much can mitigation measures bend the arc on rising temperatures?

The IEA proposes four ways in its “4-for-2 degrees Celsius Scenario” strategy for countries to substantially reduce carbon pollution by 2020 that would make it possible in theory, at least, to eventually limit global temperature increases:

  • “Targeted energy efficiency measures in buildings, industry and transport account for nearly half the emissions reduction in 2020, with the additional investment required being more than offset by reduced spending on fuel bills.
  • Limiting the construction and use of the least-efficient coal-fired power plants delivers more than 20 percent of the emissions reduction and helps curb local air pollution. The share of power generation from renewables increases (from around 20 percent today to 27 percent in 2020), as does that from natural gas.
  • Actions to halve expected methane (a potent greenhouse gas) releases into the atmosphere from the upstream oil and gas industry in 2020 provide 18 percent of the savings.
  • Implementing a partial phase-out of fossil fuel consumption subsidies accounts for 12 percent of the reduction in emissions and supports efficiency efforts.”

Let’s focus first on energy efficiency because it’s the best, fastest and cheapest approach to reduce carbon pollution. Energy efficiency ties together several of the IEA’s climate change mitigation recommendations to transform our energy economy in ways that are less polluting and advance clean technological innovations.

The quiet revolution of energy efficiency technological improvements is flattening electricity demand in the United States. Refrigerators, air conditioners and many household appliances are more energy efficient, and, over time, people are replacing their older home equipment with newer, more efficient models. Commercial HVAC and lighting retrofits add more efficiency, and modern industrial pumps and motors use electricity more frugally. The emergence of high-efficiency LED lighting over the next five years is a game changer that can save businesses and people money, avoid waste and avoid pollution.

Policy advances and technological innovations are coming together. Federal and state appliance and equipment efficiency standards are saving people and businesses’ money while reducing pollution. Consumer-funded investments through utilities’ energy efficiency programs are achieving results. R&D labs are advancing technological innovations that drive more efficient devices and products to global consumer markets. Transferring and export these technology advances to developing countries can mitigate carbon pollution.

Energy efficiency is flattening demand in U.S. electricity markets, as shown by the recent PJM capacity market auction for 2016 in which prices dropped 60 percent over the prior year. That’s having a sharp economic impact on potential coal plant retirements, which is another one of the IEA’s policy goals.

The quiet revolution in energy efficiency and accelerating technological innovations can help to bend the temperature rise arc. Let’s advance the public policies which go hand-in-hand with energy efficiency technological improvements to achieve climate change mitigation solutions.

Tesla Unveils Superchargers in Normal, IL

June 26, 2013 — Tesla unveiled a new charging station that can charge up to four Tesla Model S vehicles at the Normal, IL, Uptown Station parking garage. This station is part of a nationwide charging station network that Tesla announced in May 2013 and that the company is fully funding. According to a company spokesperson, the aim of the network is to make chargers available on well-traveled routes, every 80-100 miles in between metro areas.

The Tesla Model S has an EPA-estimated range of 200+ miles, and “super-chargers” like those unveiled in Normal this week can re-charge the cars in about 40 minutes — or, if preferred, about 3 hours worth of driving in just 20 minutes. The direct-current, or DC, charge is much more powerful than typical 120- or 240-volt outlets found in most homes.

Read more about Tesla’s Superchargers.

Normal’s Uptown Station, like other super-charger locations, is strategically located near shopping and dining opportunities to encourage drivers to spend time and money at local businesses while their car is “at the pump.” While only the Tesla Model S can use these new chargers, there are more than 50 chargers in the Bloomington-Normal area — including 6 in the same parking structure — that can be used by any electric vehicle. According to the Bloomginton Pantagraph, there are more than 200 electric vehicles registered in the Twin Cities. Statewide, there are more than 500 Tesla owners.

To learn more about electric vehicles, visit ELPC’s dedicated website, www.PlugInChicagoMetro.org.

 

Op-ed in Des Moines Register: It’s Time for Iowa to Lead on Climate Change

Iowa View: It’s time for Iowa to lead on climate change

Written by GREGORY CARMICHAEL AND EUGENE TAKLE

Iowa seems to have become a state of extremes.

Last year, record early warmth prompted fruit blossoming in March and corn planting in early April, only to be severely challenged by late freezes and widespread drought. This year, a cold start to the planting season, followed by the wettest spring on record, has delayed planting and produced widespread soil erosion from extreme rainfall.

Last year along the Mississippi River, low water brought barge traffic to a standstill. This year, barges were halted when locks near St. Louis were overwhelmed by rising waters. In recent weeks, both central and eastern Iowa have had major flooding, which might have rivaled previous records if these patterns had persisted one more day.

While a recent arrival to our state might wonder if extreme weather is the norm and a longtime Iowan might question whether a new normal has arrived, all of us are likely asking, “What’s going to happen next?”

Unfortunately, climate science cannot tell us for sure what the next season or year will bring. It can, however, help us understand which way our future weather is trending. Using a mixture of modeling, historic records and field studies, climate scientists investigate how changes to atmospheric processes can affect long-term trends in our state.

These tools, along with years of extensive study, have shown us that heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide and methane and black carbon resulting from combustion of fossil fuels are relentlessly shifting our future toward more extreme events.

Though weather events and climate change are not always related, we know that the last few decades have brought shifts in weather patterns. What we once considered 500-year floods are now occurring much more frequently than expected. Extreme high temperatures are now, by conservative estimates, twice as likely to occur as extreme lows.

Iowa has experienced, first-hand, billion dollar losses due to extreme precipitation and drought. Unfortunately, these events are becoming much more commonplace. While some of these shifts have been caused by natural variations within the Earth’s climate system, we know that human activity is now a leading driver in creating more disruptive weather and climate.

Fortunately, Iowa is in a strong position to be a leader in reducing climate change losses and growing a more sustainable economy.

As one of the nation’s largest producers of wind power, we should ask our federal leaders to establish stronger policies promoting renewable energy. As a center of innovation, we can continue to develop effective flood control approaches that protect our communities, reduce runoff and improve water quality. Finally, as one of the largest agriculture-based economies in our country, we can push the envelope on developing drought-resistant crops and more sustainable land-management practices that protect our soil as well as the health of our waterways.

Though Iowa’s extremes have brought very real and sometimes painful losses to many communities and farms around our state, our suffering need not have been in vain. No matter what tomorrow’s weather brings, our state can become a model of sustainability and energy efficiency so that “as Iowa goes, so goes the nation.”

GREGORY CARMICHAEL is a professor of chemical and biochemical engineering and co-director of the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research at the University of Iowa. EUGENE TAKLE is director of the climate science program and a professor of atmospheric science and agricultural meteorology at Iowa State University.

Find this story online at:

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20130621/OPINION01/306210067/Iowa-View-It-s-time-for-Iowa-to-lead-on-climate-change?Opinion

Scavia and Nadelhoffer: The evidence of climate change is overwhelming

Two of ELPC’s Science Advisory Council members – Donald Scavia and Knute Nadelhoffer, both of the University of Michigan – penned an op-ed that ran in today’s Detroit News. The editorial focuses on President Obama’s nod to climate change during his Jan. 21 inaugural address and the need to “move on from old debates about whether human-caused climate change is occurring and start making decisions that minimize future climate change.” The link to this op-ed is no longer live on Detroit News’ website.

Kentucky Coal Plants’ Permits Sent Back to Drawing Board

On June 22, 2012, ELPC and our clients achieved significant successes in our effort to defeat two proposed coal gasification plants in Western Kentucky – the “Cash Creek” facility in Henderson County and the “NewGas” facility in Mehlenberg County.

ELPC and our clients had petitioned the U.S. EPA to object to the combined operating/construction permits issued to the plants by the Kentucky Department of Air Quality (KDAQ) under the Clean Air Act. The federal agency granted our petitions on multiple grounds, holding that KDAQ violated public participation requirements and issued permits that failed to take into account all forms of pollution, including those generated from the flare during malfunctions and shutdowns. Additionally, U.S. EPA found that Cash Creek’s permit was too vague regarding controls of particulate pollution from “material handling” (coal piles and roads).

U.S. EPA’s objections require KDAQ to correct the legal failures in the permits, reissue both permits in draft form, and provide a new opportunity for public comment on the revised permits.

Senate Passes Farm Bill with Funded Energy Title, House Should Act Quickly to Get Bill to President

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 21, 2012

Senate Passes Farm Bill with Funded Energy Title, House Should Act Quickly to Get Bill to President

 

WASHINGTON, DC – With a bipartisan vote of 64-35, the U.S. Senate today passed a Farm Bill that includes $800 million in mandatory funding to grow rural America’s clean, reliable, domestic energy from wind, solar and geothermal to biodigesters and homegrown biofuels.

 

“This Farm Bill support clean energy in America.  This Energy Title includes policies and funding to help agricultural producers of all sorts benefit from the growth of energy efficiency, wind, solar, geothermal and homegrown energy,” said Andy Olsen, Senior Policy Advocate with the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

 

The Energy Title passed by the Senate reduced mandatory funding by 23% from 2008 levels. Some rural energy programs were also eliminated.  However, the funding for core programs such as the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) and the Biorefinery Assistance Program will enable them to continue having a significant impact and benefit all agricultural sectors. Corn kernel ethanol is not included in the Energy Title.

 

“We urge the House to pass a bipartisan bill that preserves core Energy Title programs with mandatory funding for rural energy production, rural communities and rural jobs,” said Olsen.

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The Environmental Law & Policy Center is the Midwest’s leading environmental legal advocacy and eco-business innovation organization.                    

56 Ohio Scientists from 15 Colleges and Universities Urge Congress to Uphold MATS

June 18, 2012

The Honorable Sherrod Brown The Honorable Rob Portman
The Honorable Steve Austria The Honorable Steven C. LaTourette
The Honorable John A. Boehner The Honorable Robert E. Latta
The Honorable Steve Chabot The Honorable Jim Renacci
The Honorable Marcia L. Fudge The Honorable Tim Ryan
The Honorable Bob Gibbs The Honorable Jean Schmidt
The Honorable Bill Johnson The Honorable Steve Stivers
The Honorable Jim Jordan The Honorable Betty Sutton
The Honorable Marcy Kaptur The Honorable Pat Tiberi
The Honorable Dennis J. Kucinich The Honorable Michael Turner

Dear Ohio Senators and Representatives:

As university and college scientists and educators living and working in the Buckeye state, we applaud the rules adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency imposing limits on mercury emissions and other hazardous air toxics.  These federal rules help protect the air we breathe, the local fish we eat, and the wildlife and natural spaces we love from harmful pollution originating in Ohio and elsewhere.  Scientific studies clearly and definitively demonstrate that these emissions are hazardous to human health.  We are concerned that these rules will be overturned, weakened or delayed by the Congress in the coming weeks.  We urge you to vote against any action diminishing the U.S. EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS).

 

Mercury and the other air toxics covered by MATS are potent neurotoxins that impact the health of humans, wildlife, and ecosystems (e.g. services, provisioning, etc.).  Our children are most vulnerable to these impacts, with fetal exposures to mercury resulting in deleterious impacts to language, memory, visual-motor skills, and attention.  In adults, exposure to mercury can damage the nervous system, with newer research showing possible impacts on the immune and cardiovascular systems.  Most of mercury’s harms to human health come from consuming contaminated fish.  Once deposited on the surface waters of our state, mercury is converted to methylmercury where it is consumed and biomagnified ~1-million fold up the food chain.  Ecologically-relevant and sub-lethal concentrations of methylmercury can affect the growth, survival, and reproduction of fish, birds, and other animals.  Large sports fish, like the largemouth bass in the Little Miami River or the largemouth bass, crappie, and saugeye found in Charles Mill Lake, are most vulnerable to these effects.  Recreational anglers and their families, including tribal groups and others consuming these fish can accumulate harmful amounts of methylmercury.  There is also increasing and compelling evidence that mercury deposition can impact the terrestrial ecosystem, namely songbirds, bats, and other insectivores.

 

Ohio ranks third nationally in mercury air emissions from all sources, and second for mercury emissions from energy generating units.  While the Ohio EPA has taken some steps to reduce mercury exposures through its mercury product law, this effort falls short of addressing sources of mercury and other air toxics harming Ohio’s people and animals.  The U.S. EPA’s MATS rules provide an important path to protecting the air and water in our state by limiting the emissions from facilities in Ohio and other states.  The U.S. EPA estimates that the MATS rules will prevent up to 560 deaths in our state, and result in $1.9 to $4.6 billion of health benefits to Ohioans in 2016.

 

We, Ohio university and college scientists, urge you to maintain U.S. EPA’s MATS rules in the interests of ensuring public health, wildlife, natural beauty, and the economy of the state we call home.

Sincerely,

 

Chad Hammerschmidt
Associate Professor
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Wright State University

 

Atin Adhikari
Assistant Professor
Department of Environmental Health
University of Cincinnati
Wentworth Clapham
Professor
Department of Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences
Cleveland State University
 

Joseph Adler
Professor
Asian Studies and Religious Studies
Kenyon College

 

Scott Clark
Professor Emeritus
Department of Environmental Health
University of Cincinnati

 

Heather A. Allen
Professor
Chemistry
The Ohio State University

 

Susan Clayton
Whitmore-Williams Professor of Psychology
Psychology and Environmental Studies
The College of Wooster

 

C. Stuart Baxter
Associate Professor
Department of Environmental Health
University of Cincinnati

 

J. Mac Crawford
Associate Professor of Clinical Public Health
College of Public Health, Division of Environmental Health Sciences
The Ohio State University

 

Katlin Bowman
Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Wright State University

 

Scott Cummings
Professor
Department of Chemistry
Kenyon College

 

Hunt Brown
Senior Lecturer
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Wright State University

 

Ellen Currano
Assistant Professor
Geology and Environmental Earth Science
Miami University

 

Joseph Carlin
Professor and Assistant Chair
Department of Microbiology
Miami University

 

Jeffrey Dean
Chair and Professor
Department of Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences
Cleveland State University

 

Songlin Cheng
Associate Professor
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Wright State University

 

Matthew Elrod
Professor
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Oberlin Colleg

 

D.J. Ferguson
Assistant Professor
Microbiology
Miami University

 

Ramanitharan Kandiah
Assistant Professor
International Center for Water Resources Management
Central State University

 

Ernest Foulkes
Professor (retired)
Department of Environmental Health
University of Cincinnati

 

Karen Keptner
MS, OTR/L Occupational Therapist
Health Sciences and Health Professions
Cleveland State University

 

Enrique Gomezdelcampo
Associate Professor
Center for Environmental Programs and Department of Geology
Bowling Green State University

 

Sadik Khuder
Professor
Public Health and Preventive Medicine
University of Toledo

 

Terri Harford
Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences
Cleveland State University

 

Jaclyn Klaus
Graduate Student
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Wright State University

 

Earl Heithaus
Professor
Biology
Kenyon College

 

Mark Krekeler
Assistant Professor
Geology and Environmental Earth Science
Miami University-Hamilton

 

Shuk-mei Ho
Professor
Department of Environmental Health
University of Cincinnati

 

P. Larry Phelan
Professor
Entomology
The Ohio State University

 

Dennis Hubbard
Professor
Geology
Oberlin College

 

Bryan Mark
Associate Professor and Research Scientist
Byrd Polar Research Center
The Ohio State University

 

Allen Hunt
Professor
Physics Earth and Environmental Sciences
Wright State University

 

Dan Marsh
Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Wright State University

 

Harry Itagaki
Professor
Dept of Biology
Kenyon College

 

Robert Mauck
Associate Professor
Biology
Kenyon College

 

Amy Itescu
Associate To
Department of Environmental Health
University of Cincinnati

 

Carl McDaniel
Visiting Professor (Oberlin College);
Professor Emeritus, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
Environmental Studies
Oberlin College

 

Colleen McLean
Instructor
Geological and Environmental Sciences
Youngstown State University

 

Qinghua Sun
Associate Professor
College of Public Health
The Ohio State University

 

James Metzger
Professor and Associate Chair
Horticulture and Crop Science
The Ohio State University

 

Pheruza Tarapore
Research Assistant Professor
Department of Environmental Health
University of Cincinnati

 

Barbara Modney
Associate Professor
Department of Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences
Cleveland State University

 

Astrea Taylor
Graduate Student
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Wright State University

 

Mark Moritz
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
The Ohio State University

 

Rebecca Teed
Assistant Professor
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Wright State University

 

Lynette Phillips
Assistant Professor
Epidemiology
Kent State University

 

Jeffrey Thompson
Associate Professor
Department of Biology
Denison University

 

Alvaro Puga
Professor
Department of Environmental Health
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

 

Amy Townsend-Small
Assistant Professor
Department of Geology
University of Cincinnati

 

Jason Rech
Associate Professor
Geology and Environmental Earth Science
Miami University

 

Linda Weavers
John C. Geupel Professor
Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering
The Ohio State University

 

Ian Renne
Assistant Professor
Evolution and Ecology
Youngstown State University

 

Michael Weintraub
Associate Professor
Department of Environmental Sciences
University of Toledo

 

Ira Sasowsky
Professor of Geology and Environmental Science;
Director, Center for Environmental Studies

Department of Geology and Environmental Science
University of Akron

 

Mark Wilson
Lewis M. and Marian Senter Nixon Professor of the Natural Sciences
Geology
The College of Wooster

 

David Stradling
Professor
Department of History
University of Cincinnati

 

EPA Hearings on Carbon Pollution Standard Held in DC, Chicago

Today, the U.S. EPA held two public hearings on a proposed standard that would — for the first time — set national limits on greenhouse gas pollution from new power plants. The Chicago and D.C. hearings drew large crowds of concerned citizens, public health experts, attorneys, environmentalists and others who testified in support of the proposed “carbon standard.” Here are some interesting resources from today’s events: