The Future Of Energy And Environment Policies Under The Next Administration

October 17, 2016

While most of the analysts predict a Clinton victory and Democratic administration, here are some thoughts about what a Trump administration might look like when it comes to energy/environmental policy and what may change in a Clinton Administration. As I have written in other blog articles, nothing here represents writing in favor or against a candidate or policies, but instead addresses future issues facing the energy/environmental professional.

Should There Be a Trump Administration.

Energy: Donald Trump has been severely critical of current energy and environmental policy and has stated he will reverse many of President Obama’s initiatives. During a May 26 speech, Trump reflected a desire to achieve US energy independence by reducing federal regulations on the energy industry, increase investments in fossil fuel development and infrastructure to bring it to market (such as supporting the Keystone Pipeline), and reduce federal investment in renewable energy, as he has criticized both solar and wind power. Trump also supports increased use of nuclear power.

Environment: Trump has stated he would rescind a number of President Obama’s cornerstone environmental and energy achievements, such as the Clean Power Plan. Trump has also specifically pointed to the Clean Water Act as another regulation he would greatly weaken if he were elected. Reversing or weakening these and other EPA rules would require EPA rulemaking, requiring a public notice process. A Trump Justice Department could just not defend these and other environmental rules as they are challenged in court by industry. Neither approach would ensure success, as environmental and other groups would surely marshal forces in defense of the rules. Furthermore, courts could rule that these regulations are valid, legal, and necessary.

Climate Change: Trump has stated on the campaign trail that climate change has not been proven. In a recent speech, he was more neutral about the topic, but has expressed the feeling that this is not a high priority. He has expressed his intention to withdraw the US from the recent Paris Climate Agreement. With the Paris Agreement officially ratified, it would be difficult to withdraw, although Trump could likely do as little as possible to implement the Agreement, which has flexible objectives and no enforcement mechanism.

Should There Be a Clinton Administration.

Energy: To enable energy independence, Hillary Clinton has outlined a wide ranging list of investments by the federal government, such as clean energy, upgrading energy infrastructure, promoting responsible domestic drilling for oil and natural gas, and building on many of the core energy and environmental programs of the Obama Administration, such as the Clean Power Plan and Paris Climate Agreement. Clinton has spoken out in favor of natural gas development, citing it as a bridge fuel in the transition away from coal, including supports for fracking, although she has stated that deference should be given to localities who wish to ban it in their communities. Despite the “all of the above” approach in energy development, Clinton has stated policies that would discourage coal as an energy source, unless acceptable environmental levels are met. Clinton issued an infrastructure plan, prioritizing the development and repair of large-scale energy infrastructure across the country. Clinton would likely seek to continue the current Administration’s strong support for renewable energy development, call the US a future clean energy “superpower.” Clinton’s specific plan increases the percentage of renewable generation to 25% of total national energy mix by 2025.

Environment: Clinton supports the Clean Power Plan and wants to expand it in other industries in order to implement “smart” pollution and efficiency standards. Clinton has given no specifics, but states she supports additional policies to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate Change: A Clinton Administration has committed to continue to abide by the Paris Climate Agreement. The Democratic Party platform stated: “Democrats believe that carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases should be priced to reflect their negative externalities, and to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy.”

Control of Congress.

Remember that while the President wields considerable power through the EPA and DOE, control of Congress is certainly important, too, in “setting the tone”, promulgating new rules and funding existing agencies. Republican control of the Senate and perhaps the House is in play in the upcoming election. A Democratic control could dramatically change the policies of several related committees in the Senate and House.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, the current chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been a strong advocate of the “all of the above” approach to energy. She supports energy exploration on federal land, such as in her home state of Alaska. Senator Maria Cantwell is the ranking Democrat on this committee and would likely chair it if the Democrats take control of the Senate. She has billed herself as a champion of “smarter” energy policies to diversify energy sources and lower costs for consumers. Senator James Inhofe, the current chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is a noted climate change skeptic and strongly supports scaling back environmental regulations and promoting greater domestic energy production. If the Senate flips to Democratic control, Senator Tom Carper is expected to chair this committee.

CCES can help you evaluate your company’s energy use and environmental impacts and can perform the technical aspects to determine compliance with current rules and develop opportunities to reduce your energy usage and diversifying sources, saving you money and decreasing business risk. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

First-in-the-Nation Climate Change Lawsuit Filed

The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), a foundation specializing in environmental protection in New England through legal action, filed the first-in-the-nation lawsuit on Sept. 29, 2016 against ExxonMobil’s Everett, MA storage facility for its endangerment of communities in MA caused by its alleged disregard of future impacts of climate change. The lawsuit alleges violations of both the federal Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Now, before I go further, I want to make it clear that this article is written purely to inform readers of this lawsuit. I take no stand in favor or against it. To inform you that it is happening and may be the first of many civil lawsuits.

Earlier this year, a coalition of 17 attorneys general announced a campaign to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for allegedly deceiving customers, shareholders, and the public about climate risk. CLF is the first organization to file a civil lawsuit against such a firm for such an alleged deceit and not preparing for climate change impacts.

The lawsuit’s main allegation is that ExxonMobil has not adequately planned for the effects of climate change-influenced potential disasters, such as flooding of the Mystic River caused by sea level rise and extreme storms which could result in significant release of pollutants from the facility. The lawsuit claims that ExxonMobil has the obligation to study and reasonably prepare for such floods and adapt their processes to minimize releases caused by such future floods. The lawsuit is not attempting to require the facility to perform actions to reduce its actual greenhouse gas emissions.

Whatever the result of this and other lawsuits, one issue that will need to be resolved is the level of analysis of climate risk. It may not be proper for each property owner to develop its own estimate of potential sea level rise. Some type of standard or approved guidance is needed, whether it be FEMA flood maps or other information from the USEPA. Certainly, the facility, using any such standard properly, should therefore be exempt from such lawsuits in the future.

It will be interesting to see if this spurs on other citizen and/or government lawsuits on climate risk for many facilities around the country. Might litigants join forces and file a small number of such lawsuits, like tobacco litigation. This might spur reforms that at least will give a basis of how much (or little) a facility should do to address climate risk.

CCES has the experts to help your facility assess potential climate change impacts on your operations. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or

Is RGGI A Success?

When the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the cap and trade program for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from large power plants in 9 Northeast states, was first implemented, the states in the group participated with trepidation. They all wanted a program that would be effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, encourage investment and implementation of renewable and other clean energy options, result in funds that would be invested in energy research and implementation of more efficient options to the public, and examine whether a carbon trading system can actually work. But would RGGI work and be a “laboratory”, a model for other states or the federal government to mimic. There were modest goals and flexible plans to allow goals to be met with as little financial damage or inconvenience as possible. The hope was that they would have early success and perhaps make adjustments with revised, “tougher” goals after the first few years and that other groups of states or the federal government would expand its provisions and goals into a nationwide movement.

The RGGI organization recently released a new report “The Investment of RGGI Proceeds Through 2014” (

Its conclusions:

• GHG emissions have decreased by over 45% since 2005. This occurred while the regional Gross Domestic Product increased by about 8% in that time period, and despite a major recession. One can have energy reduction and environmental progress, while economic growth occurs.

• The total value of RGGI investments reached $1.37 billion through 2014, money that would likely not been invested in energy or other research.

• 58% of RGGI investment went to energy efficiency, with an expected lifetime energy savings of $3.62 billion.

• 13% of RGGI investments went to clean and renewable energy research and other initiative, with an expected lifetime energy savings of $836 million.

In addition, RGGI achieved its GHG emission reduction goal of 10% reduction from the mid-2000’s baseline several years early. RGGI will almost certainly be modified and extended with the hope of bringing in power plants in other states for the benefit of all.

CCES can help your company become more energy efficient, saving major energy costs, extending the life of your equipment, and providing a productive work environment, raising productivity. CCES can find you the government incentives out there and low-cost financing to make the numbers very powerful for your organization. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

Trend Toward Healthier Buildings

A new report issued by the US Green Building Council and Dodge Data & Analytics finds growing understanding and acceptance by building owners that buildings built or redesigned to improve the health of the occupants drives major business benefits.

“The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings 2016” ( finds that the design and construction industry in the US is moving toward wider adoption of building practices that prioritize the physical and mental well-being of tenants and occupants. The report found that 75% of US building owners surveyed want to invest in healthier buildings as a way to improve employee or tenant satisfaction.
Constructing healthier buildings for occupants was of interest to about two-thirds of US building owners, although, not surprisingly, this paled in comparison to the percentage of owners who were interested in cost savings (85%).

Asked what design options would result in a healthier building, the only option that a majority of US building owners recognized as effective is improved ventilation. A majority of building owners were not aware that the following are also effective options:

• proper site selection,

• improved daylighting,

• layout that encourages physical activity,

• usage of healthier product usage (such as cleaning solutions), and

• improved thermal and acoustical comfort.

This is at odds with the design community, who are aware of the effectiveness of these features. This indicates that more education of the real estate community is important.

Building owners, according to the survey, do recognize that such buildings will lead to improved employee satisfaction (79%), will result in the owners’ ability to increase leasing rates (73%), and achieve higher asset values (62%). However, about half of all building owners are unaware of whether any benefits to improve health have been achieved. Those that perform actions (measure light levels or air quality or perform employee/occupant surveys) are overwhelmingly satisfied that the upgrades have been successful in making tenants healthier, more satisfied, and more productive.

CCES has the experts to perform technical evaluations of how to upgrade your buildings to be healthier and to gain all the benefits that come with it (more desirable, greater asset value, etc). Contact us today at or 914-584-6720.

Cross-State Air Pollution Rule Affecting Power Plants Finalized

On September 7, 2016, the USEPA finalized an update to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) for the 2008 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) by issuing a final CSAPR Update. See The final rule has not yet been published in the Federal Register.

CSAPR was designed to address facilities that cause significant pollution that travels long distances impacting people in other states. States in which these facilities operate have not been motivated to regulate their emissions as it does not affect the health of their citizens. This federal rule achieves this. USEPA estimates that the rule will reduce summer (May – September) emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from power plants in 22 states, result in benefits totaling up to $880 million, and reduce ground-level ozone exposure for millions so people, reducing rates of asthma, cancer, and other diseases.

Beginning in May 2017, the new rule will affect 2,875 electric generating units at 886 coal, gas and oil power plants. The USEPA says affected power plants can achieve the required NOx emissions reductions using existing, cost-effective technology.

Under CSAPR, each of the 22 states hosting an affected electric generating unit must develop state implementation plans meeting minimum NOx emission requirements under the supervision of the USEPA which could issue a federal implementation plan for each state that fails to submit an approvable plan.

The power industry has come out against CSAPR since its inception, suing the USEPA. The US Supreme Court upheld the CSAPR in 2014. However, the US Court of Appeals, DC Circuit in July 2015 remanded parts of CSAPR to the USEPA for updating, and this is the final update. This update is based on downwind areas meeting the 2008 ozone NAAQS of 75 parts per billion, and not the subsequently updated standard of 70 ppb. The power industry is still not happy with the updated version and a legal challenge to CSAPR is likely.

CCES has the technical experts to help your company implement the technical requirements to comply with a variety of environmental and air quality rules. Our engineers can perform an emissions inventory and determine from a technical point of view how to maintain compliance or get in compliance with federal and state air rules. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

Fuel Economy Standards Tightened For Heavy, Medium-Duty Trucks – Phase 2

The USEPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration jointly issued a final rule with new fuel economy standards for heavy to medium trucks which had kept its fuel economy standards virtually unchanged for many years. While the USEPA had made more rigorous fuel economy standards for passenger cars (Corporate Average Fuel Economy or CAFÉ) and light-duty trucks, medium- and heavy-duty trucks have escaped such tightening of standards for a few decades. Phase 1 standards were issued beginning with model year 2014 heavy-duty trucks. The new Phase 2 standards ( will be phased in through 2027. The final rule’s impact is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from such trucks by about 10% or about 1 billion tons over the lives of the regulated vehicles, as well as save about 75 billion gallons of (mainly) diesel oil and 25% more fuel efficient.

The new rule covers vehicles, such as big rigs, passenger vans, truck trailers, school and passenger buses, and dump trucks. Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles currently account for approximately 25% of GHG emissions in the US transportation sector.

Phase 2 will provide significant GHG emission reductions and save fuel by:

• Accounting for ongoing technological advancements. Truck owners will be required to procure trucks containing certain fuel and emission reduction technology. While more expensive, the payback is estimated at about 2 years for tractors and trailers and about 3 years for heavy-duty pickups and vans.

• Containing first-time standards for trailers. Phase 2 standards include fuel efficiency and GHG emission standards for trailers used in combination with tractors. Although standards will not be finalized for all trailer types, the majority will be covered.

• Encouraging innovation while providing flexibility for manufacturers. For each category of trucks, performance targets will be set that allow manufacturers to achieve reductions through a mix of different technologies (such as any combination of advanced aerodynamics, engine improvements, waste heat recovery, etc.). Manufacturers will be free to choose any means of compliance.

CCES has the air quality experts to help your firm understand and provide the technical expertise to comply with a variety of air regulations. We can perform a complete emissions inventory of your facility and technical evaluation of compliance with federal and state air rules. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

USEPA Proposes Clean Energy Incentive Program

On June 30, 2016, the USEPA published a proposed rule laying out its Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP), found in the Federal Register, Vol. 81, No. 126. CEIP is a voluntary early action program within the federal Clean Power Plan of 2015 (CPP), regulating CO2 emissions from existing power plants. To provide greater compliance flexibility, including having a pool of allowances for subject power plants to buy to comply, the USEPA would like to have this available when CPP goes into effect in 2022.

Implementation of CPP has been hobbled by a stay put on it by the US Supreme Court in February 2016. While some have argued that all compliance deadlines must be postponed because of the stay, the USEPA is continuing efforts for full implementation of all aspects of the Plan, including the proposed CEIP program.

The publication contains proposed guidelines for states that wish to participate in CEIP, including procedures for states to distribute allowances or to issue emission reduction credits (ERCs) for approved energy efficiency (in low-income communities) and zero-emitting renewable energy projects (in all communities). The proposed rule lists solar, geothermal, hydro, and wind as eligible renewable projects; it does call for comments on whether it should expand the definition to include CHP and nuclear. An entity which has successfully implemented an approved project by 2020 may get matching ERCs from the USEPA and can sell or transfer the ERCs or allowances to subject power plants to comply with their CO2 emission reduction goals from CPP. The USEPA is limiting the pool to 300 million short tons of CO2 emission allowances to distribute, based on its estimation that this will be the level that subject power plants will reduce CO2 emissions as part of CPP. These allowances will be distributed to states based on its share of the estimated reduction.

The proposed rule contains administrative requirements for states that choose to participate in the CEIP and the requirements for energy projects to meet CEIP eligibility. In general, a renewable energy project will receive 2 ERCs for every 2 MWh of renewable power generated. This ratio doubles for projects in low-income communities. For a project to be eligible to obtain ERCs, it must be implemented in a state that is participating in CEIP, and has demonstrated that it is replacing electricity production from a subject power plant in 2020 and 2021.

CCES has the technical experts to help you plan, design, select, and fully implement an energy efficiency or renewable energy project and help you obtain ERCs under this program, when it comes into force. We can maximize not only the revenue you can make selling ERCs under this program, but also maximize the financial benefits of your projects for your bottom line, as well. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation discussion at or at 914-584-6720.

USEPA Issues Final Rule On Formaldehyde Emission Standards For Composite Wood Products

On July 27, 2016, the USEPA released a prepublication version of its final rule on Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products. This is important as the USEPA has classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen and many buildings looking to meet green standards take care to minimize indoor formaldehyde emissions. The authority for the rule comes from the TSCA. The USEPA’s rule relies heavily on the formaldehyde emissions rules set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The federal standards are identical to those set by CARB.

Formaldehyde emission standards
Hardwood plywood (with a veneer core or composite core) = 0.05 ppm
Particleboard = 0.09 ppm
Medium-density fireboard (MDF) = 0.11 ppm
Thin MDF = 0.13 ppm

When it goes into effect, this rule will affect manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers of products containing composite wood as listed above.
The USEPA’s final rule goes into effect one year after its publication in the Federal Register. At that point, fabricators, importers, distributors, and retailers of finished goods containing composite wood must begin to comply with new recordkeeping and labeling requirements. The final rule contains detailed requirements for recordkeeping, labeling, and testing of both composite wood and products containing composite wood.

Record-keeping and labeling. Fabricators, importers, distributors, and retailers of composite wood or products containing it will be required to “take reasonable precautions” to ensure their products comply with the emissions standards, defined as preparing or obtaining appropriate documentation, such as bills of lading or invoices, from suppliers of composite wood products that includes a written statement that the products are either compliant with the emissions standards or were produced prior to the rule taking effect. Companies must retain this documentation for at least 3 years.

In addition, importers must provide records (within 30 days of a request by the USEPA) identifying either the composite wood panel producer and date the composite wood products were produced or the supplier of the composite wood products (if different than the producer), component parts, or finished goods and the date of purchase.

Manufacturers of subject products must label each bundle containing finished goods with manufacturer’s name, date produced, and a statement that the material complies with the emission standard. Importers, distributors, and retailers must keep the label on each bundle and make information available to potential customers if requested.

Importer Certification. 2 years after final rule publication, importers will be required to certify that imported composite wood or products containing it comply with the standard.

Testing requirements. Beginning 7 years after publication of the final rule in the Federal Register, manufacturers of laminated products will be required to comply with third-party testing and certification requirements that apply to manufacturers of hardwood plywood panels. “Laminated products” are defined to include only those products with a wood or woody grass veneer, so testing requirements will not apply to synthetic laminates such as plastic or vinyl. The rule does contain certain exemptions for certain laminated products and for use of ultra-low emitting formaldehyde (“ULEF”) resins.

CCES can provide you with technical assistance to help you assess compliance with this and other environmental rules, and to perform a green building analysis. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

White House Issues Final Guidance On Climate Change Analyses in NEPA Reviews

On August 1, 2016, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released final guidance on how federal agencies should consider the direct and indirect impacts of climate change, including from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, in environmental reviews conducted under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). See This final guidance is not part of rulemaking and, therefore, is not binding regulation. However, some courts consider CEQ guidance when evaluating NEPA reviews. The guidance is effective immediately, and encourages agencies to use it for all new proposed agency actions for which NEPA review is required.

The final guidance confirms the importance of climate change and its effects and GHG emissions fall under NEPA’s perview. In performing such a review of a proposed project, it is fair to evaluate its GHG emissions and the potential effects of physical climate change impacts. The guidance does not give exact criteria that must be followed in terms of GHG emissions and climate change (a change from the draft guidance), but gives each federal agency the flexibility to use its preferred experts and methods to assess impacts and options. For example, the guidance does not contain a threshold level of GHG emissions that would require review or action, but allows the individual agencies to make that determination.

The guidance calls for a quantitative analysis of potential GHG emissions from a proposed project if appropriate and reliable tools or methodologies are currently available. Stating that GHG emissions are “negligible” or expressions like this are discouraged. A quantitative analysis is also required in discussions of alternatives to a proposed action. However, the guidance does not require the decision maker to select the alternative with the lowest level of GHG emissions. A balanced environmental approach is preferred.

The guidance also calls for agencies to consider how climate change impacts, such as increasing sea level, drought, heavy precipitation, etc. could affect a proposed action. Given that certain aspects of projects, such as development in floodplains or on or near a coastline, could be vulnerable to climate change, agencies should either reject such projects or identify opportunities for adaptation to these effects.

CCES has the technical experts to help your firm perform a quantitative evaluation of GHG emissions and assess potential climate change impacts on a potential project. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

Insulation: Another Way to Save Energy Costs

Pipe and building insulation are proven strategies to reduce energy usage and, therefore, costs. Don’t try this at home or at work, but imagine how hot a metal pipe in steam or hot water service is and then imagine the reduction in heat loss when it is properly insulated. That heat loss stays inside the pipe with the steam or hot water, making it more effective and necessitating less energy usage (fuel combustion) to produce that steam or hot water. Properly and completely insulating a bare surface in steam or hot water service can easily reduce heat losses by over 90% and therefore, reduce your need to produce steam or hot water significantly, saving you fuel costs, improving safety (workers not touching the hot pipes), and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and of toxics that may impact your plant and neighbors.

To illustrate the cost-effectiveness of insulating pipes in steam or hot water service, see this example. A facility produces and pumps steam at 350°F from an oil-fired boiler operating at an average efficiency of 80%. Oil is purchased at $2.50 per gallon. The 4-inch steam header is insulated with 2 inches of fiberglass pipe insulation. The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) has software to estimate the energy savings. Let us say that the insulation reduced heat loss from that bare pipe by 95%. Assuming the boiler is used only during the heating season, this can easily save the building $100-$150 per foot per year, for the avoided cost of oil not combusted to replace the lost heat. This figure can be much higher if the cost of oil rises or if the boiler is used for other purposes and is used all year. This also reduces greenhouse gas emissions significantly, too.

Savings can also occur for cold piping, too. Cold water – from electric chillers – transported through pipes can be insulated to save the use of these chillers, reducing electricity usage. While oil prices are relatively low these days, electricity prices are at all-time highs and projected to rise even more. Anything that can be done to reduce electric usage, will save you money.

August is the time of year many buildings – residences, offices, and industry – check their boilers and chillers to make sure they are maintained so they run reliably in the upcoming months. Part of your evaluation should be whether there are pipes that are uninsulated or with insulation that is cracking and damaged. Of course, look out for asbestos and, if present, make sure its removal is managed professionally and via the law. If you see such areas that are uninsulated, underinsulated, or insulated with damaged or cracked insulation, now is the time to re-insulate it properly. That extra time and cost for insulation will be paid for in savings this winter.

CCES has the experts to perform an energy audit of your building, and examine this and many other energy issues to help you save energy and other costs reliably and effectively. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at