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President Obama's 3 Major Energy Actions in August

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August has brought a flurry of executive action on energy. 

On Tuesday, President Obama announced new commitments to renewable energy and energy efficiency at the Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada. His latest announcement came on the heels of other major federal regulatory developments with oil and natural gas industry emissions standards, and the long-anticipated Clean Power Plan. 

Here’s a brief recap of President Obama’s major energy actions in the past month. 

Clean Power Plan

Unveiled earlier this month, the EPA's Clean Power Plan targets a 32 percent emissions reduction in the electric power sector — the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States — by 2030. The new rule — which is an increase from the initial proposal of 30 percent — is projected to cut carbon emissions by 870 million tons below 2005 levels. 

Among the plan's notable provisions are flexible compliance options for states and utilities, reliability protection provisions, and a compliance period that doesn’t begin until January 1, 2022. 

Oil and Natural Gas Industry Emissions Standards 

Last week, President Obama proposed new rules limiting methane and other emissions from the oil and natural gas industry. 

Currently, methane accounts for about 10 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The proposed rule — which is part of a broader plan to curb methane emissions 40-45 percent by 2025 — requires companies to adopt technology that helps locate, repair, and capture methane leaks at new and modified wells. The EPA estimates that the proposed regulations would cut methane emissions by 340,000-400,000 short tons in 2025. 

However, according to the American Petroleum Institute (API), companies have already reduced overall methane emissions 11 percent from natural gas systems — and 79 percent from hydraulically fractured wells — through existing regulations and industry investments in new technology. 

Executive Actions on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

On Tuesday, President Obama unveiled new executive actions and private sector investments for renewable energy and energy efficiency in the residential sector. Specifically, the White House's fact sheet pointed out that Direct Energy has provided 1,700 programmable thermostats to eligible low-income households to help them better manage their energy use. 

While much of the president's announcement focused on households, similar approaches can also help businesses save significant money, energy, and emissions. Last month, Direct Energy Business — in an innovative partnership with H-E-B and SolarCity — launched a groundbreaking, 2.1 megawatt rooftop solar installation at H-E-B's distribution center in Weslaco, Texas. The new array is projected to serve about half of the center’s electricity demands while providing significant energy savings and carbon emission reductions.

To learn about other recent policy and regulatory developments, check out our blog posts on the Clean Power Plan and PJM's Capacity Performance proposal

Posted: August 26, 2015