Tag Archive for 'Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)'

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  Price points.  French gas prices during the Yellow Vest chaos were about $1.53/liter on the day I checked; a US equivalent of $5.78/gallon.  Gas in my area dropped to $1.98/gallon, about 52¢/liter.  Around the same time, Yahoo! News reported that an Exxon, Hess, and NCOOC off-shore exploration project confirmed the discovery of 5 billion barrels of recoverable oil, with exploration continuing.  Estimated recovery cost: $35/barrel (in the ocean!).  In other words, cheap oil, just about forever.  I like how Hamlet said it: “There are more hydrocarbons recoverable on Earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”  Value is frequently judged by how much people will pay for something, and then they won’t.  Value is hard to assess with grand, singular cultural creations and monuments; you know, maybe like what’s the value of the Arc de Triomphe, damaged during the French protests?  Now it’s clear: The treasures of France are not worth $5.78/gallon.  If gas costs less, they stay.  If it costs more, the Arc and all that old stuff va être brûlé au sol!
*  On Friday, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced the availability of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for “the Construction and Operation Plan (COP) submitted by Vineyard Wind LLC (Vineyard Wind).” The Draft analyzes potential environmental impacts of the proposed Vineyard Wind project and reasonable alternatives. The Notice starts the public review and comment period and it presents the dates and locations of public hearings.  The project would install up to 100 wind turbine generators, each with a capacity of between 8 and 10 MW in an area approximately 12 nautical miles from the southeast corner of Martha’s Vineyard and a similar distance from the southwest side of Nantucket.  The comment period ends January 22, 2019.
*  Update: I asked the MA’s Governor’s office about The Commission on the Future of Transportation in the Commonwealth Report, noted last week to be late; it was due by December 1.  “No specific date can be conveyed today,” a staff person wrote back, “please feel free to check back with me next week.”  This really isn’t about one more state transportation report.  I mean, you could rebuild the Taj Mahal with state transportation reports printed and filed over the last decades.  There are two bigger issues: one, missed deadlines devalue the work.  “It’s just not that important” is the signal from the top, about issues supposedly undertaken in the public’s interest.  Second, although apparently not likely with this work, what about the people who need the report so they can make next-step decisions?  Isn’t their time worth anything?  A web page note would be thoughtful, e.g., “Sorry, the report’s delayed!  Late comments deserve a careful review!  Thanks for understanding!”  The message now? “Get over it, peons, you’re just so not worth it.”
Tom Ewing
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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  Pipeline fallout: The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation holds a hearing next week titled “Pipeline Safety in the Merrimack Valley: Incident Prevention and Response” in South Lawrence, MA. The focus is on September 13, 2018, natural gas pipeline explosions and fires in Lawrence and Andover, MA, that killed one person, injured over two dozen, and damaged over 100 structures, requiring extreme response efforts by federal, state, and local authorities.  MA Senators Markey and Warren asked for this hearing in the impacted communities.  Markey and Warren are pressing hard for answers about emergency planning, integrity management and the adequacy of emergency response (think money).  Witnesses include top corporate and state and federal governmental leadership.  Pipeline opponents are now citing the Lawrence explosion as a reason to stop separate projects.
*  The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) established a New York Bight Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force (TF) and BOEM has scheduled a TF meeting in New York at the end of the month.  The purpose is to discuss BOEM’s draft Wind Energy Areas that were developed based on information received from the Call for Information and Nominations issued earlier this year.  The TF includes Federal officials as well as elected state, local, and tribal officials, and/or designated member representatives as well as the New York and New Jersey Renewable Energy Intergovernmental Task Forces.  Actually, just about the whole east coast is involved: BOEM has also invited representatives from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Virginia, and Maryland.
*  Here’s a sobering thought from the Global CCS Institute: Right now, there are 18 large-scale CCS (carbon capture and storage) facilities operating around the world. “But it is not enough,” the Institute writes, “If we want to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius, we need thousands.”  Norway, the US, and Canada are CCS leaders.  The Institute poses two key questions: is the world ready to deploy CCS at the scale required? And if so, how does each country rank in its “readiness” to achieve this?  These issues are the focus of a webinar on November 27, taking a close look at the Institute’s most recent “Thought Leadership” reports; a series consisting of three CCS Indicator Reports and the CCS Readiness Index.  To participate, try this link; it’s a “gotowebinar” link.
Have a great Monday and a great Thanksgiving! 🦃
Tom Ewing
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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update


*  Colman Dock in Seattle is Washington State Ferries’ largest ferry terminal. and supports transportation across Puget Sound.  Key infrastructure, though, has deteriorated and Washington DOT has a major replacement project underway.  Marine habitat disturbance is inevitable and US DOT has a request for comments on WA DOT’s plans to avoid incidental wildlife “takes:” accidental or unavoidable deaths of animals including seals, whales, porpoises, and dolphins.  WA DOT’s preventative efforts are extensive.  Highest estimated “takes” are to California sea lions and harbor porpoises which could reach 1,254 and 3,997 animals, respectively.  There’s a lot of numbers theory here, however, which is why this extensive document deserves a close review, especially regarding the impact on the harbor porpoise as a percentage of its total estimated population.  Comments are due June 21.
*  The Federal Transit Administration announced a competitive funding program for almost $26 million to support comprehensive planning associated with new fixed guideway and core capacity improvement projects.  This work would support economic development, ridership, multimodal connectivity and accessibility, increased transit access for pedestrian and bicycle traffic and mixed-use development near transit stations.  FTA wants big picture stuff: projects covering an entire transit capital project corridor, as opposed to proposals for individual station areas or smaller corridor sections.  Also important: “engagement with the private sector.”  Proposals are due July 23.
*  In April, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) requested public comments on offshore wind energy development within the New York Bight.  Last week, BOEM announced it is extending the public comment period to July 30, a move taken at the request of interested parties.  Potential wind energy developments would affect commercial and recreational fisheries and, of course, maritime operations, not to mention future energy customers.  A check with the docket shows 14 comments received so far, but none are yet posted for review.  The New York Bight is an area of shallow waters between Long Island and the New Jersey coast.
Tom Ewing
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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  The Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program is a voluntary EPA program, started in 2016, through which oil and natural gas companies commit to reducing methane emissions.  (While this methane focus is new, the overall energy STAR program started in 1993.)  Just about every major natural gas company signed up to participate, representing about 66 percent of US natural gas customers, according to the American Gas Association.  But there’s a problem: apparently, the paperwork isn’t finished. In December 2016, EPA sought industry comments on the draft reporting documents that would establish a company’s control efforts.  Response: big fat zero.   Now, after one full calendar year (2017), participants are supposed to submit their data regarding last year’s reduction activities.  Last week, EPA started a new 30-day information request, again seeking industry comments on the draft reporting forms and what kind of changes might add value to this process and data set. Important work.  Methane is the primary component of natural gas and a potent greenhouse gas.  Comments are due by May 14.

*  In January, the Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee recommended to DOE about the need for consensus on a proposed rule for test procedures and energy efficiency standards for certain air conditioners and heat pumps.  Last week, DOE announced its intent to establish a negotiated rulemaking working group to, indeed, focus on such a proposed rule; a process DOE presents “as authorized by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) of 1975, as amended.”  DOE is recruiting working group volunteers. Applications/nominations are due by April 26.

*  The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced the Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) for the sale of commercial wind energy leases on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) offshore Massachusetts.  The offer is for two leases that were unsold during the Atlantic Wind Lease Sale-4 (ATLW–4) on January 29, 2015.  The new PSN contains information including areas available, proposed lease provisions and conditions and auction details.  BOEM set a 60-day public comment period, ending June 11.  Importantly, “the issuance of the proposed leases resulting from this sale would not constitute approval of project-specific plans to develop offshore wind energy.” Those plans would be subject to subsequent environmental and technical reviews prior to a decision by BOEM to approve the development.

Tom Ewing

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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  News from Michigan about two contaminants found in groundwater used for drinking water.  The report forced the anguished question: just how isolated or singular was MI’s struggle with lead, or is lead just one element in a witches brew with other poisons only awaiting discovery?  The contaminants are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), ubiquitous compounds used in everything from carpets to insect baits to dental floss.  Companies are phasing out production but exposure is widespread.  Some good news: recent data indicates declining levels in human blood.  Health effects?  No solid evidence about any one thing.  Last week Michigan DEQ set a drinking water criterion for the compounds: 0.07 μg/L (70 parts per trillion), based on an EPA health advisory.  With a standard in place, the state can now take legal action against polluters.
*  The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced draft guidelines for the use of a “Design Envelope” approach in Construction and Operations Plans (COPs) for offshore wind energy facilities.  BOEM says developers wanted this design approach, standard in some European countries for permitting processes.  The change gives flexibility in certain project-design decisions—e.g., which turbines to use—at a more commercially advantageous time in the development process.  BOEM writes this change results partly from the Administration’s regulatory streamlining work; it could reduce redundant environmental reviews while still maintaining appropriate safeguards.  The agency holds an introductory webinar end of January.
*  Department of Energy (DOE) and many other agencies started to make available their semiannual Unified Agendas of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Agenda), including Regulatory Plans.  The Agendas are a government-wide compilation of upcoming and ongoing regulatory activity, including a brief description of each rulemaking and a timetable for action. The Agendas also include a list of regulatory actions completed since publication of the last Agenda. One important rulemaking under development at DOE is called “Modifying the Energy Conservation Program to Implement a Market-Based Approach.”  Last November, DOE published a request for information on how this idea might work.  Comments are due in February.

Tom Ewing
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