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Green Law Alert

April 07, 2010

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    Tighter Vehicle Emission Rules for 2012

    New federal emission standards set to take effect in 2012 are the most aggressive ever set in the U.S. and will require vehicle manufacturers to achieve an average of no more than 250 grams of CO2 emissions per mile for their fleet trucks and cars by the 2016 model year.  According to the Department of Transportation, that would mean a fleet average of 35.5 MPG if all of the emission reductions come from improvements in fuel economy.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration meanwhile has set fuel economy standards to gradually increase starting with the 2012 model year, reaching 34.1 MPG by 2016.

    New Federal Funding for Solar Technologies

    The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) through its Photovoltaic (PV) Incubator Program recently announced $12 million in funding to four companies for development of their early stage solar energy technologies. Each company will receive up to $3 million. The purpose of the PV Incubator Program is to create partnerships between NREL and firms that have developed early stage solar technologies and to assist them with moving into pilot and full-scale manufacturing facilities. Three of the projects are located in California and one is located in North Carolina. Two of the companies will develop a process for manufacturing cells (a low-cost C-Si solar cell and a high efficiency multijunction cell). The remaining companies will develop a low-cost compound-semiconductor photovoltaic module and a microcell-based CPV receiver.  Read More - NREL: News - DOE to Provide Up to $12 Million to Support Early Stage Solar Technologies

    South Carolina Turns to Clean Energy for Economic Growth

    South Carolina is focusing on clean energy industries including energy efficiency, renewable fuels and energy storage to help create jobs and boost the state economy.   In a highly competitive selection process, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) chose Clemson University's Restoration Institute to build and operate the world's largest test facility for wind turbine drive trains. The facility will help reduce the cost of energy from the next generation of wind turbines. The new turbines will generate up to 15 MWs of power, three to five times more power than the largest commercial turbines currently available.  DOE estimates that South Carolina could gain 10,000 to 20,000 new jobs related to the wind energy industry in the next 20 years.  The wind turbine drive train testing facility will be part of a larger campus patterned after Clemson's International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) in Greenville, which already has created more than 500 jobs and is educating graduate students for high-tech careers in automotive engineering. In February, Proterra announced that it plans to locate another 1,300 jobs there for its zero-emission bus research, development and assembly facility. 

    ARPA-E Expands To Grid Storage

    The Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) under the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) was created to stimulate the development of breakthrough energy technologies on an accelerated timetable. ARPA-E has awarded more than $250 million in grants to companies and academic institutions for a wide range of technologies, including electric vehicles and underground storage of carbon dioxide. DOE has announced that ARPA-E is now taking solicitations for grid storage technologies to complement wind and solar energy. ARPA-E is also setting up a program to fund development of air conditioners that are three times more energy efficient than current models.

    EPA To Focus on Large Scale Emissions

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that it will exempt facilities emitting less than 75,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually in 2011 and 2012 from regulations requiring pollution sources to obtain permits demonstrating their use of best available control technologies (BACT). The increase in the threshold level from previously announced 25,000 tons annually will exempt sources such as large office buildings, hospitals and schools but cover coal burning power plants.