California and federal agencies Jan. 24 announced they plan to jointly propose additional greenhouse gas emission standards for cars. The rules reduce the pressure on power plants and other stationary sources to curb their greenhouse gases. The U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Air Resources Board plan to jointly release standards for model year 2017-2025 cars and light-duty trucks by Sept. 1. This follows the state-federal cooperation on similar standards adopted last year for 2012-2016 vehicle models. \u201cPresident Obama\u2019s invitation last year to join with the federal agencies to develop new emission and fuel economy standards has resulted in a model of government cooperation to address the important issues of global climate change and urban pollution,\u201d stated Mary Nichols, CARB chair. Last April, DOT and EPA established greenhouse gas emission and fuel economy standards for model year 2012-2016 light-duty cars and trucks that mirrored those California adopted earlier in the decade. The state\u2019s regulations were blocked by the former Bush Administration. President Obama reversed the Bush Administration\u2019s actions and decided to adopt the California standards on a federal basis. In the fall of 2010, California signed on to dovetail efforts. The current standards require car makers to achieve a fleet average mileage standard of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. The standards being developed for model years beyond that time aim to further improve mileage efficiency. * * * * * From a greenhouse gas perspective, natural gas may not be as good of a substitute for coal as initially thought, according to recent changes in estimated emissions by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. In a technical report published last November, the EPA found that it underestimated emissions from a variety of natural gas industry operations and equipment, including wells when they are completed or worked over and compressors. In addition, the agency said it has previously underestimated methane emissions from petroleum equipment, like storage tanks and flares used to burn off gases. Overall, the report revised carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from the U.S. natural gas industry in 2006 upward by 57 percent from 201.8 million metric tons to 317.4 million metric tons. The biggest upward revision came in emissions from natural gas production operations, which were revised upward from 90.2 million metric tons to 198 million metric tons, or by 120 percent. The analysis found that emissions were some 8,850 times higher from unconventional gas well completions\u2014that is shale gas, coal bed methane, and deep water wells\u2014than from conventional well completions. In completions large amounts of gas are flared to bring down the well pressure before the top is hooked up to collection pipelines. As a result, according to an analysis published by ProPublica, instead of emitting half as much carbon dioxide equivalent as coal, natural gas\u2014from production to combustion\u2014may emit only about 25 percent less. The analysis cited a 2007 life cycle emissions analysis of coal and natural gas by a group of professors at Carnegie-Mellon University. * * * * * PNM and a group of New Mexico energy concerns filed notices in the New Mexico Court of Appeals Jan. 25 stating they plan to legally challenge the state\u2019s carbon cap-and-trade program adopted late last year. Meanwhile, New Mexico\u2019s new Republican governor Susana Martinez is seeking to repeal the rules, calling them a \u201ccap-and-tax\u201d policy that threatens jobs. The rules cover at least one major coal-fired power plant\u2014the San Juan Generating Station\u2014that PNM operates, but also supplies power to several Southern California municipal power agencies. Opposition to the rules is growing after New Mexico became the first state in the Western Climate Initiative to adopt a cap-and-trade program in November (Current, Nov. 5, 2010). California followed in December. By doing so, both states plan to join with three Canadian provinces that are part of the Western Climate Initiative\u2014British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec\u2014to create a multi-jurisdictional carbon cap-and-trade market. The Initiative includes the states of Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington, as well as the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.