Solar Today March April 2014 : Page 10
advances | clean air law | news The D.C. Circuit: Court of Appeals for Clean Air Act Rules By ROBERT UKEILEY I Robert Ukeiley (ruk ei l e y@ i gc.org) i s a l a wy e r who r e pr e s en ts en v i ro n m en t a l n o n profits in Cl ean Ai r A ct l i t i g a t i o n a ff e ct in g ene rgy i ssu e s. h a v e pr e v i ously wr i tt en a bout en sur in g th a t f ai r-m inded , in t e ll e ctu a lly ho ne st ju d g e s a r e a ppo in t ed to th e U . S . Court of A pp ea ls for th e D i str i ct of Colum-b ia C i rcu i t (D.C. C i rcu i t). A ll Cl ean Ai r A ct c a s e s in volv-in g na t i o n w ide rul e s a utom a t i c a lly go to th a t court for r e v ie w. Th i s w i ll in clu de th e ine v i t a bl e l e g a l ch a ll en g e s to th e U . S . E n v i ro n m en t a l Prot e ct i o n A g en cy’s (EP A ) rul e s o n th e r e gul a t i o n of c a rbo n pollut i o n from ne w and e x i st in g pow e r pl an ts. W e r e c en tly got som e e xc e ll en t ne ws o n th i s fro n t. I n D e c e mb e r 2013 and J an u a ry 2014, th e U . S . Sena t e co n firm ed thr ee ne w ju d g e s to th e D.C. C i rcu i t. Sen -a t e Ma jor i ty L eade r H a rry R eid ch an g ed lo n g-st andin g proc ed ur a l rul e s to g e t i t d o ne , but i t w i ll l i k e ly prov e to b e a w i s e cho i c e . Th e ne w a ppo in t ee s a r e P a tr i c ia Ann Mi ll e tt, N ina P i ll a r d and Rob e rt L. W i lk in s (th e Ob a m a Ad m ini str a t i o n h ad ea rl ie r a ppo in t ed S r i S r ini v a s an , co n firm ed in Ma y 2013). Th i s m ean s th a t s e v en of th e 11 a ct i v e ju d g e s w e r e a ppo in t ed by Pr e s iden t Cl in to n or Pr e s iden t Ob a m a . W e a r e en sur ed th a t an y br a z en ly b ia s ed de c i s i o n s o n c a rbo n pollut i o n c an b e stopp ed by a proc ed ur e k n ow n a s “ en b an c” r e v ie w, wh i ch i s wh en a ll 11 a ct i v e ju d g e s c an de c ide a c a s e r a th e r th an th e mor e commo n proc ed ur e of h a v in g a thr ee -ju d g e p ane l de c ide c a s e s. R e c a ll th a t Ju d g e Br e tt K a v ana ugh, a Pr e s iden t G e org e W. Bush a ppo in t ee , r e c en tly struck d ow n th e Cl ean Ai r A ct Tr an sport Rul e , a de c i s i o n de vo id of an y r a t i o na l b a -s i s. I n th a t o ne de c i s i o n , K a v ana ugh t i pp ed th e sc a l e s in We are ensured that any brazenly biased decisions on carbon pollution can be stopped by a procedure known as “en banc” review… f a vor of hu nd r ed s of g i g a w a tts of foss i l fu e l pl an ts. Th e c a s e i s curr en tly o n r e v ie w in th e S upr e m e Court but e v en i f r e v e rs ed , K a v ana ugh’s b ad de c i s i o n w i ll h a v e c a us ed s e v e r a l y ea rs of de l a y in th e tr an s i t i o n to cl ean ene rgy. Th e r e c en t co n firm a t i o n s of th e Ob a m a a ppo in -t ee in cr ea s e s th e l i k e l i hoo d th a t w e wo n ’t s ee a s i m i l a r tr a g ed y wh en i t com e s to c a rbo n pollut i o n rul e s, oth e r i mport an t Cl ean Ai r A ct rul e s and th e propos ed w a t e r and sol id w a st e rul e s th a t a pply to foss i l fu e l pl an ts. Fuel Cell Runs on Biomass, Sunlight R metalate (POM) catalyst in solution, then expose it to heat or sunlight. esearchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a POM functions as both an oxidizer and a charge carrier, delivering electrons new type of low-temperature fuel cell that directly converts biomass to the anode. The electrons are then transported to the cathode, where they to electricity with assistance from a catalyst activated by solar or thermal are oxidized by oxygen through an external circuit to produce electricity. energy. The hybrid fuel cell can use a wide variety of biomass sources, The system can use soluble biomass, or organic mate-including starch, cellulose, lignin, switchgrass, powdered rials suspended in a liquid. In experiments, the fuel cell wood, algae and waste from poultry processing. The device operated for as long as 20 hours, indicating that the POM could generate power wherever significant quantities of catalyst can be reused without further treatment. The biomass are available. team reported a maximum power density of 0.72 mil-“We have developed a new method that can handle liwatts per square centimeter, nearly 100 times higher the biomass at room temperature, and the type of biomass than cellulose-based microbial fuel cells. Deng believes that can be used is not restricted — the process can handle the output can be increased five to 10 times when the nearly any type of biomass,” said Yulin Deng, a professor in process is optimized. “I believe this type of fuel cell could Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engi-have an energy output similar to that of methanol fuel neering and the Institute of Paper Science and Technology. cells in the future,” he said. Carbon-carbon bonds in biomass cannot easily be bro-The new solar-induced direct biomass-to-electricity ken down by conventional catalysts, Deng noted. Microbial hybrid fuel cell was described Feb. 7 in the journal Nature fuel cells yield limited power, need specific enzymes for Communications . In addition to Deng, the research team each form of fuel — and the process is often interrupted included Wei Liu, Wei Mu, Mengjie Liu, Xiaodan Zhang by impurities or temperature variations. and Hongli Cai, all from the School of Chemical and Bio-Deng’s team altered the chemistry to allow an outside Switchgrass can be fuel for molecular Engineering or the Institute of Paper Science energy source to activate the fuel cell’s oxidation-reduction a new low-temperature and Technology at Georgia Tech. reaction. They grind biomass and mix it with a polyoxo-solar-activated fuel cell. N U /I A NR 10 MARCH/APRIL 2014 SOLAR TODAY Copyright © 2014 American Solar Energy Society. All rights reserved.
The D.C. Circuit: Court of Appeals for Clean Air Act Rules
<br /> We are ensured that any brazenly biased decisions on carbon pollution can be stopped by a procedure known as “en banc” review…<br /> <br /> I have previously written about ensuring that fairminded, intellectually honest judges are appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit). All Clean Air Act cases involving nationwide rules automatically go to that court for review. This will include the inevitable legal challenges to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rules on the regulation of carbon pollution from new and existing power plants.<br /> <br /> We recently got some excellent news on this front. In December 2013 and January 2014, the U.S. Senate confirmed three new judges to the D.C. Circuit. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid changed long-standing procedural rules to get it done, but it will likely prove to be a wise choice. The new appointees are Patricia Ann Millett, Nina Pillard and Robert L. Wilkins (the Obama Administration had earlier appointed Sri Srinivasan, confirmed in May 2013).<br /> <br /> This means that seven of the 11 active judges were appointed by President Clinton or President Obama. We are ensured that any brazenly biased decisions on carbon pollution can be stopped by a procedure known as “en banc” review, which is when all 11 active judges can decide a case rather than the more common procedure of having a three-judge panel decide cases. Recall that Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a President George W. Bush appointee, recently struck down the Clean Air Act Transport Rule, a decision devoid of any rational basis. In that one decision, Kavanaugh tipped the scales in favor of hundreds of gigawatts of fossil fuel plants. The case is currently on review in the Supreme Court but even if reversed, Kavanaugh’s bad decision will have caused several years of delay in the transition to clean energy. The recent confirmations of the Obama appointee increases the likelihood that we won’t see a similar tragedy when it comes to carbon pollution rules, other important Clean Air Act rules and the proposed water and solid waste rules that apply to fossil fuel plants.<br /> <br /> Robert Ukeiley (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a lawyer who represents environmental nonprofits in Clean Air Act litigation affecting energy issues.