States Target Greenhouse Gases-

States are taking steps to reduce America’s contributions to global warming in the face of federal inaction.

By Kathleen Murphy, Staff Writer

The Bush administration favors voluntary programs encouraging companies to track and reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases– like carbon dioxide and methane– that scientists believe are contributing to a rise in global temperatures.

With the United States producing a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gases, many states have taken matters into their own hands by regulating utility emissions or carbon dioxide from vehicles.

Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, said, “States are perceiving a vacuum in federal leadership and are moving forward on their own, sometimes in cautious ways, and with the notion they they’re going to experiment with some different approaches.”

States are perceiving a vacuum in federal leadership and are moving forward on their own.
Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center On Global Climate Change

California’s innovative law on curbing greenhouse gases requires state air regulators to start a program by 2009 to cut emissions from automotive vehicles. New York Gov. George Pataki promoted a similar plan in his State of the State address, and the U.S. Congress is considering a national limit on the release of carbon dioxide.

State action is building momentum for dealing with carbon dioxide on the national level, Claussen said.

In his State of the Union address, President Bush called for action on a “Clear Skies” initiative that promises reductions in three power-plant pollutants: mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide. But the plan doesn’t cover carbon dioxide, a gas emitted from transportation-related sources, such as cars and buses, that accounts for 32 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Three states—Massachusetts, Maine and Connecticut— sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in January, arguing that the Bush administration is jeopardizing the health of its residents and violating clean-air laws by failing to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. Thus far, no other states have plans to follow their lead.

In the absence of a mandatory national policy, many states have forged ahead to try to lower emissions.

In May 2002, New Hampshire became the first state to legislatively require fossil fuel plants to reduce emissions of four pollutants, including carbon dioxide.

Other states are undertaking educational campaigns to reduce greenhouse gases, turning methane gas from landfills into energy, promoting carpooling and natural gas vehicles. Oregon became the first state to use its Capitol to generate solar power last year.

There’s a growing expectation that a lot of the leadership on environmental energy is going to come at the state level.
Barry Rabe, University of Michigan professor

“Whether or not the federal government acts, state actions historically have influenced greenhouse gases,” said Barry Rabe, a professor of environmental policy at the University of Michigan and chief author of a study conducted by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. “There’s a growing expectation that a lot of the leadership on environmental energy is going to come at the state level.”

State approaches to greenhouse gases are varied:

# In December, New Jersey partnered with churches to promote the use of renewable energy.

# Massachusetts was the first state to establish a multi-pollutant cap that includes carbon monoxide for six power plants in April 2001.

# A Nebraska program uses crop rotation to increase the amount of farmland that absorbs carbon from the atmosphere.

# Wisconsin established mandatory reporting for large carbon dioxide generators.

Regional cooperation is proving increasingly possible. New England governors and the premiers of five eastern provinces of Canada reaffirmed goals in August 2002 to develop a common framework for reducing greenhouse gases.

Many states ramped up their “green” programs after President Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol, a 1997 climate treaty that has been ratified by most of the world’s industrial countries. Bush said the treaty, in which nations agreed to limit greenhouse gas emissions, would hurt the U.S. economy.

Contact Kathleen Murphy at [email protected];jsessionid=k0mvpokfy1?storyId=287775


Voluntary Pacts Reached to Curb Greenhouse Gases

By JENNIFER 8. LEE Washington Post

Administration officials announced several modest agreements with a number of industries today for voluntary controls on emissions of gases linked to global warming. The agreements, a result of aggressive meetings with industry executives, are an effort to stave off pending state and federal proposals for mandatory ceilings.

Environmental groups and Democrats have seized upon the limited curbs as evidence that voluntary policies will not produce substantive results.

The industry commitments ended up being less substantive than the White House first sought, which is a reason the announcement, originally scheduled for the White House last week, ended up taking place in the Department of Energy’s cafeteria with cabinet members, conservation groups and industry representatives said.

Some industries have promised to curb their output of heat-trapping gases, which include carbon dioxide, sulfur hexafluoride and perfluorocarbon. Among the 12 major industrial sectors that joined in the announcement are electrical utilities, petroleum, mining, steel, semiconductors and automobiles.

Critics note, however, that many of the announced emissions targets are pegged to "intensity," which is defined as the amount of such gases per unit of economic production, rather than the absolute volume emissions. Most emissions regulations are pegged to net output. In the case of the Kyoto Protocols, the international pact on global warming, they are pegged to actual reductions compared with 1990 levels.

"It’s an accounting trick in our view," said Dan Lashof, the science director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group. "Any pollution pegged to economic activity is unprecedented and unwarranted."

Opponents of regulation were also critical, but for another reason. They see the voluntary policies as precursors for mandatory ceilings.

"It’s incoherent," said Myron Ebell, a climate expert at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is an advocate for free markets. "It’s like saying, `We’re opposed to capital punishment, but don’t worry about the gallows we have built in the front yard.’ "

Utilities, which account for about 40 percent of United States emissions of heat-trapping gases, pledged to reduce their intensity by 3 percent to 5 percent. The chemical industry agreed to reduce intensity of the gases by 18 percent in 2012, as compared with 1990 levels. The automobile industry pledged reductions in the intensity of its manufacturing emission rates but not the vehicle emission rates by at least 10 percent by 2012 compared with 2002.

Last year, President Bush announced that he wanted to reduce the amount of such gases per unit of gross domestic product by 18 percent. Critics say using the overall economy as a measure of gas emissions is deceptive because the parts of the economy that are growing tend to be service sectors, where emissions are less of a problem.

Administration officials concede that the overall amount of greenhouse gas emissions is not likely to fall within the next decade.

"It’s not going to get smaller immediately," said Christie Whitman, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

But Mrs. Whitman said industries would get the capital to invest in more environment-friendly technologies. "As they develop the technology, they will in fact see an actual reduction," she said.

The agreements are part of the White House’s broader campaign to highlight President Bush’s environmental initiatives, an area where polls show him politically vulnerable.


Chevron to share technology
Officials hope greenhouse gas tracker can set industry standard

By Alan Zibel – Oakland Tribune BUSINESS WRITER

As a disparate group of industries pledged Wednesday to help curtail the growth of climate-changing gases, ChevronTexaco Corp. said one of its tools could help the oil industry advance that effort.

The San Ramon-based company is making public its proprietary computer system for estimating and managing greenhouse gas emissions at its operations around the world.

The company said it was releasing the system, based on the American Petroleum Institute’s standards, to promote a common method of collecting emissions data across the industry.

"If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it," Susann Nordrum, a senior ChevronTexaco engineer, said in an interview at the company’s technology center in Richmond.

Nordrum compared the process of developing ways to measure greenhouse gases to the accounting industry, where a set of common principles is used to govern how accounting firms evaluate a company’s financial statements.

"We’re going to need some kind of generally accepted accounting principles for greenhouse gases," Nordrum said.

Since July 2001, ChevronTexaco has been using its new system to monitor emissions from all of its worldwide operations, including refineries, gas stations and oil drilling operations, Nordrum said. The system, known internally as SANGEA, allows managers around the world to input data into a common database.

The company’s main emissions are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide from fuel consumption, burning of natural gas, accidental emissions and waste treatment, among other sources. The data is designed to be audited by an outside party.

"It sounds boring as hell, but in the global warming business, nobody’s really done this before," said Mike Shanahan, spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute.

The Bush administration’s plan for greenhouse gases calls for cutting the "carbon intensity" — the amount of greenhouse gases released as a percentage of economic growth — by 18 percent by 2012, or about 1.5 percent a year. That’s about the same rate of reduction in carbon intensity that has occurred during the past 12 years, according to a recent Energy Department analysis.

Environmentalists consider this kind of approach a sham and say governments need to set fixed, absolute targets for greenhouse gas reductions. They said there’s no assurance any reductions will be made.

"It is absolutely and unequivocally not a cut in global warming pollution," said John Coifman, spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "This really is Enron-style accounting."

Unlike competitors Royal Dutch/Shell Group and BP, ChevronTexaco has not set an absolute target for its global warming emissions. ChevronTexaco’s emissions reduction policy says the company is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions per unit of output, whether it be oil, chemicals or natural gas.

ChevronTexaco officials say measuring greenhouse gas emissions on a relative basis is a more realistic way of controlling those emissions while at the same time meeting growth in demand for energy. The company’s goal is, to the greatest extent possible, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per unit of output, said Georgia Callahan, general manager of global policy and strategy for ChevronTexaco’s health, environment and safety department.

"You’re doing this, and you’re also trying to meet global demand for energy," she said.

ChevronTexaco said its business units are planning to set formal targets for next year. The company also said it will let a third party verify its emissions inventory.

ChevronTexaco also is participating in the American Petroleum Institute’s pledge, announced Wednesday, to make U.S. oil refineries 10 percent more efficient by 2012.

"If you are more efficient, it’s basically a surrogate for reducing your greenhouse gas emissions," Callahan said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Alan Zibel may be reached at (925) 416-4805 or [email protected] .,1413,82~10834~1177732,00.html#

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