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US to limit emissions at new power plants
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Sept 20, 2013


Norway abandons carbon capture and storage plan
Oslo (AFP) Sept 20, 2013 - Norway said Friday it was abandoning its much-touted plans to capture carbon dioxide and store it underground to prevent emissions from escaping into the atmosphere.

The pilot project, launched in 2007 by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg amid much fanfare, has encountered numerous delays and cost overruns.

The plan was to capture and store CO2 emissions from the Mongstad oil refinery in western Norway and its adjoining gas plant as of 2014.

Stressing the importance of the project in the fight against global warming, Stoltenberg likened it in importance to a Moon landing.

But his government, currently in its final days in power after losing September 9 legislative elections, has now decided to bury the entire project.

Costs have escalated and the project had been delayed until 2020.

"At both the national and international level, the development of technologies to capture and store CO2 has taken longer, been more difficult and more costly than expected," Oil and Energy Minister Ola Borten Moe told reporters.

Applying the technology developed for Mongstad at other sites would also have been difficult, he said.

The Norwegian Office of the Auditor General this week criticised the government's inability to keep the cost of carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects in check.

The government has spent 7.4 billion kroner (924 million euros, $1.25 billion) between 2007 and 2012, including 1.2 billion kroner for Mongstad.

Environmentalists criticised Oslo's decision.

"This government is leaving office covered in shame," the head of environmental group Bellona Frederic Hauge said.

"This is eight years lost in the fight against climate change," he told TV2 Nyhetskanalen television.

France to cut fossil fuels by 30% by 2030: Hollande
Paris (AFP) Sept 20, 2013 - France will reduce use of fossil fuels by 30 percent by 2030 as part of a strategy to halve overall energy use by 2050, President Francois Hollande announced on Friday.

"Fossil fuels still account for more than 70 percent of our overall energy use," Hollande Hollande said, as he unveiled a two-day conference on the environment in Paris.

"Therefore I propose that we set a goal of reducing consumption of fossil energy by 30 percent by 2030."

He added: "We can make savings of 20 to 50 billion (euros, or $27 to 67 billion) in our energy bill by 2030."

Hollande said that easing dependence on imported fossil fuels was a core element of a plan "to reduce our overall energy consumption by 50 percent by 2050."

But, he said in reference to the 2050 target, "let's not be dogmatic about this -- if we are little bit off the mark, it won't be disastrous."

Hollande outlined several measures to help reach the goals.

They include "smart, carbon-less" cars, for which measures would be needed to encourage installation of electrical recharging points in French towns and cities, he said.

A quarter of all new cars bought by state organisations would be electric or hybrids, and all cars that the state bought for purely urban use would be electric.

Another proposal will be a reduction from 2014 from 10 percent to five percent in value-added tax (VAT) for work to improve energy efficiency in homes.

There would also be incentives for fuels made from biomass.

A draft law on "energy transition" will be put to parliament in the first half of 2014, he added.

On Thursday, the daily Le Monde reported that France would impose a tax of seven euros ($9.45) per tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) in 2014, providing revenue of 400 million euros ($550 million).

The US Environmental Protection Agency proposed Friday to limit carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants, in a bid to implement President Barack Obama's plan to fight climate change.

The move marks the "first milestone" of a major part of the Climate Action Plan announced in June by the US leader, the agency said in a statement.

"Climate change is one of the most significant public health challenges of our time," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said.

"By taking commonsense action to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, we can slow the effects of climate change and fulfill our obligation to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our children."

The plan foresees that new, large natural gas-fired turbines emit no more than 1,000 pounds (454 kilograms) of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour, while new, small natural gas-fired turbines would have to emit no more than 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide during that same timeframe.

New coal-fired units, meanwhile, would not be allowed to exceed 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour, with "the option to meet a somewhat tighter limit if they choose to average emissions over multiple years."

Together, natural gas and coal-fired power plants account for roughly a third of all US greenhouse gas emissions.

The average advanced coal plant currently emits about 1,800 pounds of carbon per hour, according to industry figures.

Mixed reaction from environmentalists, industry

The proposed new standards, which will undergo a 60-day public comment period, also seek to ensure that new power plants are built with clean technology to keep carbon pollution to a minimum, according to the EPA.

"These standards will also spark the innovation we need to build the next generation of power plants, helping grow a more sustainable clean energy economy," McCarthy said.

The proposal has been warmly received by environmental groups and a number of his fellow Democrats -- but decried by groups that represent industry interests.

"It sets achievable standards for new power plants that will spur innovation in clean coal technologies like carbon capture and sequestration," said Congressman Henry Waxman, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

"And the proposal will clean up the air and make the US a world leader in advanced pollution-control technology," he added.

World Resources Institute director Kevin Kennedy agreed that the EPA's announcement delivered "a strong signal that the administration will use its authority to tackle climate change."

And Rachel Cleetus, an economist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, cheered that "these rules pave the way for EPA to achieve truly significant emissions reductions from existing plants."

But she said more must still be done "to cut emissions, including putting a price on carbon" in order to reach Obama's emissions cuts targets.

Far less enthusiastic was the US Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than three million businesses.

The group said the new proposal would be "yet another major regulation that will hamper economic growth and job creation, and could lead to higher energy costs."

The powerful pro-business group said the regulation would end up "essentially outlawing the construction of new coal plants," the biggest power source in the US.

And the Edison Electric Institute, which represents power companies, said the EPA's plan "likely will affect the price of electricity for all Americans and our industry's ability to enhance the electric generation fleet and grid."

In June, Obama laid out a broad new plan to fight climate change, using executive powers to get around what he termed "flat Earth" science deniers who have blocked action in Congress.

Officials said at the time that the plan would allow the United States to meet a goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, a pledge Obama made at the inconclusive Copenhagen summit in 2009.

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