Home | Contact ST  
Follow ST

Capital Report


September 2015 Issue

EPA Finalizes Clean Power Plan,
Gives States Until 2022 to Comply

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized the Clean Power Plan, a rule that will reduce carbon emissions in the U.S. 32 percent by 2030.

Among the critics of the new plan is the Industrial Energy Consumers of America (IECA), which says the new regulations on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions restrict consumer use of the lowest-cost energy sources while raising the cost of renewable energy.

IECA member companies are energy-intensive, trade-exposed (EITE) companies, which means that relatively small changes to the price of energy can have significant negative impacts to competitiveness.

Among the supporters of the Clean Power Plan is the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI): “This is the first time the government has regulated carbon emissions from the power sector, the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution at 31 percent of the total,” said EESI Executive Director Carol Werner. “If we are to have any chance of keeping global warming below 3.6 Fahrenheit, we need to tackle power plants, particularly coal plants.”
The EPA has given states until 2022 for their interim deadline to reduce emissions from power plants. “By giving states more time, EPA makes it easier for them to be ambitious and creative,” said Werner. “They can plan for the long haul and invest more in renewable energy and energy efficiency, rather than take the easy way out and put up natural gas plants. These are relatively cheap and fast to build, but do not do enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the long term.”

The Barack Obama Administration has seemingly recognized the risk of pushing states toward natural gas instead of renewables, and has accordingly increased its renewable energy targets under the EPA to 28 percent of a state’s total generating capacity in its final rules (up from 22 percent).

Conservation Act Amended
To Protect Oculina Reefs

NOAA announced the passage and publication of Amendment 8 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which came about partly because of the work of FAU Harbor Branch scientists John Reed and Stephanie Farrington. This amendment protects the newly discovered Oculina coral reefs north of Cape Canaveral, Florida, from bottom trawling.

In 2011, during a NOAA-funded research expedition, Reed and Farrington discovered that these deepwater coral reefs extended nearly up to St. Augustine, Florida. Prior to that it was thought that they ended at Cape Canaveral. A small portion (90 sq. mi.) of the Oculina reefs were made a marine protected area (Oculina Habitat Area of Particular Concern - OHAPC) in 1984 based on the research of scientists, including Reed, at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. This was the first marine protected area in the world to protect deepwater coral. The OHAPC was expanded to nearly 300 sq. mi. up to Canaveral in 2000, and now this new discovery nearly doubles the size.

“This is a major step forward in allowing these fragile reefs to recover from decades of destructive bottom trawling,” said Reed. “The Oculina coral banks are essential habitat for not only the coral, but to various grouper and snapper species, which use these reefs as spawning grounds.”

OPENS Act Passes
In Senate Committee

The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed the OPENS Act, which would open new areas of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to energy exploration and development, extend revenue sharing to participating coastal states, and lift the ban on U.S. oil exports.
“Oil and natural gas are not just reliable and affordable sources of energy today, but are also predicted to still provide about 80 percent of the energy the world needs through 2040,” said NOIA President Randall Luthi.

“We [the U.S.] could be a source of that energy, not only for the U.S., but for our allies around the world,” Luthi added.
The passing of the OPENS Act in committee is a result of the U.S. Senate Energy Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) seeing through a commitment to move forward on legislation to open new offshore areas to energy exploration and development, provide expanded revenue sharing to coastal energy-producing states, and repeal the ‘70s-era crude oil export ban, NOIA reported.

The offshore legislation, which includes bills introduced earlier this year by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Murkowski, would require offshore lease sales in the Eastern Gulf, Atlantic and Alaska.

Research Alliance to Map
North Atlantic Seabed

The Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance launched an expedition to map the North Atlantic Ocean seabed between Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Tromsø, Norway, aboard the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis S. St-Laurent.

This is the second project by the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance and the continuation of science collaboration between Canada, the U.S. and the European Union. It further demonstrates their commitment to the implementation of the Galway Statement, which unites the parties around a shared commitment to the stewardship of the Atlantic Ocean.
Members from Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Canadian Hydrographic Service, NOAA, INFOMAR (the Marine Institute of Ireland and Geological Survey of Ireland), and the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University will use deepwater multibeam echosounder technology to create high-resolution images of the seabed and gather information on the physical characteristics of the seafloor, such as depth, hardness and sediment cover, while also acquiring valuable oceanographic data.

The project will further understanding of the Atlantic Ocean’s dynamic environment through collaboration and shared resources. The information collected by the scientific team will contribute to the sustainable management of Atlantic Ocean resources, a more comprehensive suite of maps of the seabed floor, and an increased understanding of this complex ecosystem.


-back to top-