Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

* Musical science: Harmony. On March 22 EPA and DOT announced reconsideration of the mid-term evaluation of greenhouse gas emissions standards for model year 2022-2025 light duty vehicles. EPA regulates GHG. But DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets fuel economy standards. EPA finished its work and, in January, unilaterally set new fuel standards since that’s really the only way (right now) to control GHG. However, NHTSA’s evaluation was not ready and it pushed back. EPA’s GHG review is supposed to evaluate impact on fuel economy and “a national harmonized program.” EPA, naturally, wanted the solo part. Now a new choral directed yanked ‘em off stage, so to speak. A review will restart. EPA’s new Final Determination is due no later than April 1, 2018, likely to be arranged as a duet or maybe even an ensemble. You can be sure those engines will be purring with complex harmonies…

* DOE’s Electricity Advisory Committee meets this week in Arlington, VA. The agenda covers a range of issues critical for the critical changes that electricity planners say are required to transition the US from old-school power systems to an integrated system able to move almost as fast as the electrons themselves, and provide enough power for the transportation sector. The Internet of Things is a central agenda item – there are a lot of things that use electricity. Other topics focus on smart grids, power delivery, storage and presentation of MIT’s Utility of the Future Study.

* Colonialism. Energy agencies in California released a final Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative report last month. It’s a difficult read (mostly because it’s written in the docu-speak language) but it is chock full of important information. Transmission is a critical concern, such as a California “intertie” to wind projects in Wyoming and New Mexico! (What if Chicago, about equidistant, wants Wyoming’s wind power?) Meanwhile, while donor states get spiked and laced with oh-so-scenic generation and transmission infrastructure the report also tells of local prohibitions on renewable energy in San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Solano Counties, the CA end-points sucking up the energy produced 1000 miles away! What?

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