Public Comment Period Extended for Power-Plant Rule
The comment period for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule to reduce power plants’ carbon emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 has been extended until Dec. 1. The EPA has held four public hearings around the country on the proposal, which also tasks each state with crafting an individualized plan to move to cleaner energy sources. A final rule will be issued by June 2015.
Advocates say the rule is necessary to help combat climate change because power plants are the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Critics say that the rule will force coal-fired power plants to shut down and will raise the cost of electricity.
Albuquerque Effort Engages Latinos in Clean Power Campaign
A new program of the Conservation Voters New Mexico Education Fund (CVNMEF), Juntos: Our Air, Our Water, seeks to engage Latino families in Albuquerque in a campaign to protect air and water in New Mexico from threats of contamination and to advocate for clean energy as a solution. The group is focused on encouraging the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) to reject a proposal from PNM, the state’s largest utility, which wants to invest in more coal from the San Juan Generating Station and more nuclear energy, while making only relatively small investments in renewable energy.
“Our goal is to form a new leadership base here at home in Albuquerque that represents the values of our community and our commitment to renewable energy, not only for our families but future generations,” explained Juntos Program Director Vicente García. “We have to protect our scarce water and the air we breathe from power companies that put their profits over our health and future. Our utility company continues to rely on coal-fired power plants that produce toxic air pollution that is harmful to our community and the waters we depend on, like the Río Grande.”
The American Lung Association’s “State of the Air 2014” report gives Bernalillo County a failing grade for ozone pollution. A recent poll conducted by Benenson Strategy Group for the League of Conservation Voters says that 79 percent of Latinos in New Mexico are concerned about pollution and its impacts on water, air and health.
About 8 percent of New Mexico’s energy comes from renewable sources like solar and wind. According to CVNMEF, in New Mexico, 84 percent of Latinos want to require that their utility increase its use of clean energy, while seven out of 10 believe that clean energy will increase jobs, reduce pollution and improve public health.
Wastewater Injection Directly Linked to Most Quakes in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico
Deep underground injection of methane-production wastewater is responsible for the dramatic increase in the number of earthquakes in Colorado and New Mexico since 2001, according to a new study in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. The authors, all scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, detail several lines of evidence directly linking the injection wells—widely used in hydraulic fracturing, as well as conventional drilling—to the slipping of earthquake faults.
The Ratón Basin, which stretches from southern Colorado into northern New Mexico, was seismically quiet until shortly after major fluid injection began in 1999. Since 2001, there have been 16 magnitude 3.8 earthquakes, including M 5.0 and 5.3, compared to only one in the previous 30 years. The increase is limited to the area of industrial activity and within 3.1 miles of wastewater-injection wells. Beginning in 2001, the production of methane expanded, with the number of high-volume wastewater-disposal wells increasing along with the injection rate. Since mid-2000, the total injection rate across the basin has ranged from 1.5 to 3.6 million barrels per month. In some drought-affected areas, drilling competes with farming for access to diminishing supplies of fresh water.
The evidence suggests that the earthquakes are not linked to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) occurring in the area. Another study, published last month in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says that tainted drinking water in areas where natural gas is produced is likely due to leaky wells rather than the fracking process used to release gas from rock.