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Natural Gas

EPA Cites Dwindling Reliability Fears To Rebut Utility MACT Extension Push

EPA air chief Gina McCarthy is downplaying calls to include special mechanisms to protect electric grid reliability in the agency's final utility air toxics rule beyond existing authority to grant case-by-case compliance extensions, citing a new Department of Energy (DOE) report that finds the rule will not cause major adverse reliability impacts.

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Industry Split Over EPA Plan To Develop Shale Gas Wastewater Standards

Petroleum industry groups appear sharply divided over EPA's plan to craft technology-based discharge standards for shale gas operations, with one major industry organization saying the plan could increase options for handling shale wastewater discharges while several other groups argue EPA lacks justification for issuing a national rule.

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Utility MACT Debate Shifts From Opposition To Solving Reliability Concerns

Many critics of EPA's imminent maximum achievable control technology (MACT) rule to cut power plants' air toxics appear to be shifting from outright opposition to the rule toward finding a way to implement it without harming electric grid reliability and supplies -- most likely by extending the rule's compliance deadlines.

Debate has shifted from “not whether, but how,” one industry source says. “We'd like to see some change from the fixed, three-year deadline” and that mechanism needs to be clearly articulated in the final rule, the source says.

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EPA Support Could Boost West Virginia Fracking Rules As Potential Model

EPA is offering tentative support to West Virginia's emergency rules aimed at ensuring natural gas development does not contaminate water supplies, a move that could elevate the rules as a model for other states pursuing hydraulic fracturing rules given EPA's prohibition on regulating fracking with underground injection control permits.

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GOP Seeks To End Fracking Study But Advisers Push To Weigh Kids' Risks

EPA children's health advisers are urging the agency to expand its pending two-year study of potential drinking water impacts from the natural gas extraction process hydraulic fracturing -- known as fracking -- to better take into account risks to children even as Republican lawmakers step up their calls for EPA to scrap the study altogether.

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EPA Utility Rules Prompt New Reliability Concern Over Plant Retrofits

Electricity reliability regulators say that the task of retrofitting hundreds of power plants to comply with EPA's pending air toxics and other rules for the sector “far surpasses” the challenge presented by plants retiring due to the rules -- highlighting a new area of concern as the agency moves to complete the air toxics measure.

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EPA Release Of Fracking Study Plans Could Quell Transparency Concerns

EPA has released several data quality documents outlining how it plans to quality check its massive two-year study into the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water, a move that could help to quell criticism from states and GOP lawmakers about a lack of transparency in how the agency plans to meet data quality requirements in the study.

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Utility Group's Internal Splits May Frustrate Bid For White House MACT Deal

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) is trying to strike a deal with the White House on EPA's pending air toxics rule for utilities under which EEI's members would agree not to sue over the rule if it reflects major changes the group is seeking, but internal divisions among members may frustrate EEI's ability to reach a deal, sources say.

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Agencies Face Calls To Better Coordinate On EPA Rules' Reliability Impacts

Grid operators, states and others are urging federal agencies to better coordinate their efforts to assess the potential adverse electric grid reliability impacts of EPA's utility sector air rules, including better analysis of how to preserve reliability and clearer details on agencies' statutory authority to address possible reliability impacts.

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FERC Official Seeks 'Hard' Evidence Of EPA Rules' Grid Reliability Impacts

A top Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) official is floating questions seeking “hard” evidence to try and resolve competing claims over the potential adverse electric grid reliability impacts from EPA's utility rules, ahead of a FERC reliability forum later this month where the agency's rules are expected to face close scrutiny.

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