Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  An anti-pipeline website contains the following quote: “Every pipeline project proposed has been permitted by FERC. None have been denied.”  I asked FERC: Is that true?  Reply: “No.”  Follow up: How about some examples, then, to rebut that claim, to show that FERC doesn’t just rubber-stamp projects with powerful backers?  FERC: “…uh…well…one project recently…” But beyond this person’s individual “recollection,” (not research-based) FERC could/would not provide any list of projects disproving that website claim: “none have been denied,” most likely false (fake-news) but in the public forum it stands as true because FERC can’t, or won’t, demonstrate otherwise.  No wonder it’s hard to build a pipeline.
*  EPA made two significant announcements last week about refrigerants and related policies.  The first continued a move started last spring regarding controls on ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and EPA’s 2016 extension of those controls to HFCs which are NOT ozone depleting but can be significant global warming compounds, hence EPA’s effort to control.  A court had ruled that extension wasn’t legal since Congress has never included global warming compounds within Clean Air Act legislation.  EPA’s second notice was a “determination of acceptability” for 34 new substitutes in the refrigeration and air conditioning, foam blowing, fire suppression, cleaning solvents, and aerosols sectors – effective immediately.  A quick review shows the new compounds with an ODS of zero; global warming potentials range between 9 and about 1400 (with CO2 as the comparative unit of 1).
*  DOE’s Bioengineering Technology Office (BETO) last week that “sustainable aviation fuel made from recycled waste carbon gases” powered an international Virgin Atlantic flight from Orlando to London.  This culminated critical work between LanzaTech, based in Chicago, and DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Lab.  You gotta take your time and think about this.  LanzaTech takes waste gases containing carbon and uses bacteria to convert the carbon into fuels and chemicals.  The company’s core philosophy: “That waste carbon is an opportunity, not a liability and that carbon can be reused to provide sustainable benefits for all. Together we can create the carbon future we need.”  This is bigger than a couple of spoonfuls of fuel dripping out of some lab glassware.  LanzaTech produced 4000 gallons of alternate jet fuel at its Georgia facility.  The fuel has passed standard-setting review.  Stay tuned.

Tom Ewing
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