Category Archives: Climate Change

Draft Regulation on Reducing Carbon Emissions by Electricity-generating Plants in Virginia Approved Nov. 16, 2017, by Air Pollution Control Board

On November 16, 2017, the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board approved a draft regulation that would place a cap in 2020 on carbon emissions by the Commonwealth’s electricity generators; require by 2030 a 30-percent reduction in  that sector’s carbon emissions; and have Virginia join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Inititative (RGGI; online at  https://www.rggi.org/), a carbon-trading market between states.  After publication in the Virginia Register, the draft regulation will undergo a 60-day public-comment period before the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) writes a final version of the regulation, which would also require approval by the Air Pollution Control Board.

More information on this regulatory process is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewaction.cfm?actionid=4818;  and in the PDF of the Board’s November 16, 2017, meeting agenda, at http://www.townhall.virginia.gov/L/GetFile.cfm?File=C:\TownHall\docroot\Meeting\1\26694\Agenda_DEQ_26694_v1.pdf.

This regulation follows from Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Executive Directive 11, issued in May 2017, which instructed the DEQ to begin a process of regulating carbon emissions from electricity-generating plants.  For more on that directive, please see this Water Central News Grouper item.

Meanwhile, on November 11, 2017, at the 23rd United Nations Climate Change Convention in Bonn, Germany, Virginia became a member of the Under2 Coalition of sub-national governmental entitities that have committed to reducing carbon emissions.  Source: Virginia Becomes Latest US State To Commit To Action On Climate Change, Water Online, 11/17/17.  More information about the Under2 Coalition is available online at https://www.theclimategroup.org/project/under2-coalition.

News Media Articles on the Draft Regulation (listed most recent first)
Virginia’s move to join regional carbon market faces several challenges, Southeast Energy News, 11/28/17.
Virginia regulators approve carbon cap-and-trade plan, Associated Press, as published by Lynchburg News & Advance, 11/16/17.
Virginia Launches Plan to Join East Coast Carbon Market, Cut Emissions 30%, Inside Climate News, 11/16/17.
Virginia State Air Pollution Control Board approves draft rule that would regulate power plant carbon emissions, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/16/17.
Virginia Moves to Join RGGI Carbon-trading Market, POWER, 11/15/17.
Virginia DEQ unveils proposal to link with RGGI, ICIS/Reed Business Information, 11/13/17.
Virginia regulators set to unveil new climate plan after Northam victory, Utility Dive, 11/10/17.
After Northam win, Virginia set to unveil cap-and-trade plan, Washington Times, 11/10/17.

Environmental Justice Advisory Council Created by Va. Gov. Executive Order in October 2017; Establishment was a Recommendation of Work Group on Carbon-reduction Strategies

On October 31, 2017, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued Executive Order 73, establishing the Governor’s Advisory Council on Environmental Justice (EJAC).  The text of Executive Order 73 is available online (as a PDF) at http://governor.virginia.gov/media/9657/eo-73-establishment-of-an-advisory-council-on-environmental-justice.pdf.  (More information about environmental justice is available from the U.S. EPA online at https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice.)

Following is an excerpt from the Governor’s Office news release on the action:
“The EJAC…will provide advice and recommendations to the Executive Branch on ways in which environmental justice should be incorporated in decision-making.  Environmental Justice is the principle that no community or individual should bear disproportionate impacts from pollution.

“…The EJAC was one of the five recommendations from Governor McAuliffe’s Executive Order 57 work group, which was tasked with developing recommendations to reduce carbon pollution from Virginia’s power plants.  [Information on Executive Order 57, issued in June 2016, is available online at https://naturalresources.virginia.gov/initiatives/eo-57/.]

“The University of Virginia’s Institute for Environmental Negotiation will help to facilitate the work of the EJAC.  …Governor McAuliffe will appoint members to the EJAC who represent a variety of backgrounds and geographic regions of the Commonwealth.  The EJAC will annually draft a report containing specific recommendations in furtherance of environmental justice issues, including recommendations on proposed legislation, regulations, policies, and commencement of research initiatives.”

Source: Governor McAuliffe Announces Environmental Justice Advisory Council; Council will serve as the first coordinated forum to discuss environmental justice issues across the Commonwealth, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 10/31/17.

Climate Change Economic Costs Evaluated in GAO Report Published in September 2017

In September 2017, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) published “Climate Change: Information on Potential Economic Effects Could Help Guide Federal Efforts to Reduce Fiscal Exposure.”  The full report (45 pages), along with “Fact Facts” and “Highlights” documents, is available online at https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-720.

Following is an excerpt from the Highlights document:
“Over the last decade, extreme weather and fire events have cost the federal government over $350 billion, according to the Office of Management and Budget. These costs will likely rise as the climate changes, according to the U.S. Global Change Research Program.  …This report examines (1) methods used to estimate the potential economic effects of climate change in the United States, (2) what is known about these effects, and (3) the extent to which information about these effects could inform efforts to manage climate risks across the federal government.  GAO reviewed 2 national-scale studies available and 28 other studies; interviewed 26 experts knowledgeable about the strengths and limitations of the studies; compared federal efforts to manage climate risks with leading practices for risk management and economic analysis; and obtained expert views. …The two available national-scale studies that examine the economic effects of climate change across U.S. sectors suggested that potential economic effects could be significant and unevenly distributed across sectors and regions.  For example, for 2020 through 2039, one study estimated between $4 billion and $6 billion in annual coastal property damages from sea level rise and more frequent and intense storms.  Also, under this study, the Southeast likely faces greater effects than other regions because of coastal property damages.”

Below is Figure 2 from the study, showing the kinds of economic impacts that may occur as a result of climate change.

GAO Climate change impacts map

CO2 Trading Webinar Held October 20, 2017, by Georgetown Climate Center for Va. Regulatory Advisory Committee on Carbon Dioxide Trading Regulation

A public Webinar on “Modeling Results for Virginia Business-as-Usual and Cap Scenarios” will conducted October 20, 2017, 10 a.m., by the Georgetown Climate Center for the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board/Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Regulatory Advisory Committee on Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Trading Regulation.

Register with the Georgetown [University] Climate Center online at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/4584701090528236289, no later than October 19, 2017.

More information about the meeting is available from the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall, online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewMeeting.cfm?MeetingID=26734.

The Regulatory Advisory Committee was formed to advise the DEQ on the development of proposed regulatory amendments concerning CO2 trading.  Its formation followed Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Executive Directive 11 (May 2017) that instructed the DEQ to begin a process of developing regulations to reduce carbon emissions from electric power plants.  Executive Directive 11 is available online (as a PDF) at http://governor.virginia.gov/media/9155/ed-11-reducing-carbon-dioxide-emissions-from-electric-power-facilities-and-growing-virginias-clean-energy-economy.pdf.  A Notice of Intended Regulatory Action was published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on June 26, 2017.  The pertinent section of the Virginia Administrative Code is 9 VAC 5-140.   More information on this regulatory action is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewaction.cfm?actionid=4818.

Vibrio Bacteria and Potential Increases in Chesapeake Bay Temperatures Examined in Research Published in September 2017

In research published in September 2017, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists found that, depending on future levels of emissions, changing climate conditions might lead to an increase in Chesapeake Bay populations of three common species of Vibrio bacteria by the end of the 21st Century, with potentially significant economic and healthcare costs.

The research paper is “Projections of the future occurrence, distribution, and seasonality of three Vibrio species in the Chesapeake Bay under a high-emission climate change scenario,” by Barbara A. Muhling, et al.  It was published online on September 26, 2017, by GeoHealth (a journal of the American Geophyical Union) and is available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2017GH000089/full.

Following is an excerpt from NOAA’s news release on the research (Warming Climate Could Increase Bacterial Impacts on Chesapeake Bay Shellfish, Recreation, 9/26/17).

“Researchers have found that three common species of Vibrio bacteria in Chesapeake Bay could increase with changing climate conditions by the end of this century, resulting in significant economic and healthcare costs from illnesses caused by exposure to contaminated water and consumption of contaminated shellfish. …

“Vibrio bacteria occur naturally in the Chesapeake Bay and in coastal and estuarine waters around the world.  About a dozen Vibrio species can cause human illness, known as vibriosis.  Two of the most common species causing human illness in the United States, Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Vibrio vulnificus, occur in the Chesapeake Bay.  Their abundance varies with water temperature, salinity and other environmental factors.  A third species, Vibrio cholerae, also occurs in Chesapeake Bay but is not associated with cholera epidemics, although like other Vibrio species it can sometimes cause illness in people who eat contaminated shellfish, such as oysters.

“Researchers used four different global climate models and data from eight locations in and around the bay and its tributaries to project how warming temperatures and changing freshwater inputs might impact the three Vibrio bacteria in the bay and its oyster populations by the end of this century.  The findings showed substantial future increases in the occurrence, distribution, and length of the season for V. vulnificus and V. parahaemolyticus, and an increase in favorable habitat for V. cholerae, although this was confined to low salinity regions of the bay. …

“Laboratory experiments suggest that optimum temperatures for Vibrio species are between 37 and 39 degrees C, or 98.6 to 102.2 degrees F, much warmer than current conditions in the Chesapeake Bay.  All three Vibrio strains now occur more frequently and in higher abundances in warmer months of the year, when water temperatures are also warmer.  Each strain or species appears to have a distinct salinity range, meaning the Vibrios could potentially increase only when other environmental factors are or become favorable in a specific area in the bay. …

“Disease risk from Vibrios already exists in the Chesapeake Bay.  Environmental and resource managers are aware of it, as are many local residents and shellfish consumers.  Some measures designed to reduce the risk of Vibrio-related illness from harvested oysters are already in place.  For example, in warmer months, oysters must be refrigerated by a certain time of day after being harvested.  As temperatures continue to warm, these set times of day may need to be adjusted to ensure that oysters remain safe to eat.  The months of the year where these regulations are applied may also need to be extended.”

Related media article: Climate change brings heightened risks in Bay of contaminated water, shellfish, Bay Journal, 9/28/17.

Climate Change Adaptation in Miami Beach, Fla., is Focus of AWRA Webinars on Oct. 4 and Oct. 18, 2017

In October 2017, two one-hour Webinars on climate change adaptation in Miami Beach, Fla., will be presented by the the American Water Resources Association (AWRA; headquartered in Middleburg, Va.; main Web site: http://www.awra.org/).

October 4 – Miami Beach’s Aggressive Action Toward Climate Change Adaptation, Part 1.

October 18 – Adaptation Strategies for Miami Beach, Part 2: Green Infrastructure, Resilience, and Groundwater.

Both events begin at 1 p.m. Eastern Time.  Registration is free to AWRA members and $25 for non-members.  More information and registration is available online at http://www.awra.org/webinars/.  Descriptions of previous AWRA Webinars are also available at that site.

 

Pesticides, the Chesapeake Bay, and Climate Change Get Attention at Oct. 24, 2017, Conference in Reisterstown, Md.

The 11th Annual Pesticides and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Project Conference will be held October 24, 2017, in Reisterstown, Maryland (Baltimore County).  The conference is being organized by the Maryland Conservation Council.  This year’s theme is “Research, Practices & Policies: Protecting the Bay & Addressing Climate Change.”  According to the conference Web site, the meeting will “focus on cutting-edge trends in agriculture that simultaneously protect the Bay and address carbon sequestration — including the latest in science research and policy impacting on the watershed.” For more information, visit http://www.mdconservationcouncil.org/save-the-date-tues-oct-24th-pesticides-the-chesapeake-bay-watershed-project/; or e-mail the Council at  mdconservationcouncil@yahoo.com.

Some of the information in this post was provided by the Virginia Water Monitoring Council (VWMC).  For more information about the VWMC, please visit http://www.vwmc.vwrrc.vt.edu/.