On March 22, 2010, EPA signed a proposed rulemaking that would require petroleum and natural gas facilities emitting 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent or more to report GHG emissions including methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. The proposed rule amends the GHG Mandatory Reporting Rule that was issued on October 30, 2009, which excluded the petroleum and natural gas facilities from the reporting requirements pending further study.
California Supreme Court Rules that Air District Must Use Existing Conditions as the Baseline for Environmental Review
On March 15, the California Supreme Court in Communities for a Better Environment v. South Coast Air Quality Management District ruled that the South Coast Air Quality Management District violated the California Environmental Quality Act or CEQA when it failed to prepare an environmental impact report before approving a major refinery project in the Los Angeles area. (Read the case here.)
The closely-watched decision was important because it established that a project’s environmental impacts should be assessed by comparing the potential impacts to existing conditions, instead of the maximum permitted conditions. The court also found that even if a project proponent has a “vested right” to continue its operations at a certain level, CEQA requires the public agency to still consider the project’s true impacts.
Although not wholly unexpected, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. will not meet the renewable power mandates required under California Law this year, according to a March 1 article by the San Francisco Business Times. While PG&E will come close, it expects only 17 to 19 percent of its electricity will come from renewable sources in 2010 — just short of the 20 percent target required under the law. (Click here to read.)
Interestingly, PG&E gets at least 51 percent of its power from no-emissions hydroelectric and nuclear power sources, but unlike wind and solar power facilities those sources aren’t considered renewable under California law.
PG&E officials echo complaints heard throughout the industry that a weak climate for financing these projects and long permitting odysseys have prevented further development of wind, solar and biomass projects. Even so, the amount of renewable power coming from these generation sources have risen steadily in the past years.
A story from the New York Times, published March 3rd underscores what we have been saying for over a year: green leases — or commercial leases that draw on the benefits of sustainability — are attracting the attention of both tenants and investors.
The story, “Seeing the Investor Value in Being Green,” reports that a German real estate investment company, Jamestown Properties, has proclaimed that it will go “green” in its entire $4 billion portfolio of buildings here in the U.S. According to the New York Times, Jamestown will overhaul its existing properties by installing low-flow water fixtures and better lighting, by revamping heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, and even by adding bike-share stations to some of its buildings. Jamestown expects to spend between $3 million and $10 million to retrofit its properties, the Times reported. (Click here to read the article.)
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On February 28, the Los Angeles Times reported that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has recommended a “carbon surcharge” to help the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power seek new renewable energy sources. The proposed fee, which could amount to $2.50 per consumer, would help the utility pursue new solar, wind, biomass and geothermal sources, he said. The fee, according to Villaraigosa, would also make it easier for the utility to meet its mandated goal of using at least 20 percent renewable energy sources by the end of this year. So far, it appears the utility will not meet that goal by December 31, according to the Times. (To read click here.)
The proposal is controversial because some critics say that with Los Angeles facing a $484 million budget deficit this year and with the potential for layoffs and huge cuts to city services, it’s not a good time to charge consumers for new services — no matter how well intentioned. But Villaraigosa contends that a majority of citizens (64 percent) in a recent poll agree with the proposed surcharge and would welcome it.
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