Renewable energy interests are once again scrambling to extend a key tax incentive that will expire at the end of the year. In a letter sent to House and Senate leaders yesterday, the National Hydropower Association, American Biogas Council, Biomass Power Association and Energy Recovery Council called for lawmakers to take “immediate action” to extend tax breaks that will expire Dec. 31.
In the West, it can involve as many as nine federal agencies. States sometimes delegate their role to multiple agencies. Even counties can get involved in the deliberations. The upshot is that going through the legal hoops and keeping investment capital at the ready for several of the proposed lines has set back construction for years. Congress tried to solve this problem in 2005 and failed. In 2011, the Obama administration, which supports many of the projects, picked seven pending interstate AC and DC power lines, promising to push them through this bureaucratic mess by forming a “rapid response team for transmission.”
“Today, much of our energy infrastructure is aging, rooted in the past, and doesn’t really serve our current and future energy needs,” he told colleagues. A final product should focus on modernizing our infrastructure and reducing its vulnerabilities to extreme weather and attacks from those seeking to do us harm,” he said. “It should also facilitate the deployment of smarter electric grids that support more distributed and renewable energy generation.”
Attorneys general from Republican-led states met with energy executives at the West Virginia’s storied Greenbrier resort less than two weeks before they filed a lawsuit last year aimed at halting U.S. EPA’s rule for curbing greenhouse gases from power plants. The closed-door meetings took place last August at a four-day summit hosted by the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), according to an agendaobtained by a watchdog group using public records requests.
While Toyota Motor Corp.’s signature Prius is topping sales charts in its home country of Japan, sales in the United States have slumped significantly due to low gas prices. Sales of the electric-gasoline hybrid, marketed as environmentally friendly, were down 26 percent in 2016 through August. The newest version of the car gets 54 mpg, making it the most fuel-efficient Prius yet.
The explosive growth of wind and solar energy is occurring in a state that already ranks No. 1 nationally in the production of biorenewable fuels, holding the title of No. 1 producer of ethanol and No. 2 producer of biodiesel. Iowa also ranks in the top 10 states for hydropower potential from existing dam structures with projects underway at Red Rock Reservoir and under study for Saylorville Reservoir. When you add Iowa’s potential energy capacity from biomass fuels and biogas methane to energy, the state’s overall renewable energy capacity is staggering.
Climate change, Mr. Obama often says, is the greatest long-term threat facing the world, as well as a danger already manifesting itself as droughts, storms, heat waves and flooding. More than health care, more than righting a sinking economic ship, more than the historic first of an African-American president, he believes that his efforts to slow the warming of the planet will be the most consequential legacy of his presidency.
It may seem ironic that the pioneer of projects that could lead to the sharpest increase in emissions-free electricity in the United States started in Wyoming, the state that leads U.S. production of coal, ranks in the top 10 for natural gas production and pumps 2 percent of the nation’s oil. The project started with a 320,000-acre cattle ranch in Carbon County on Wyoming’s southern border. In 2006, Philip Anschutz, the ranch’s billionaire owner, put it up for sale. Then one of his top aides, Bill Miller, pointed out that the ranch is swept by some of the steadiest, most powerful land-based wind resources in the world.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the Senate will work toward a short-term spending bill to keep the government running when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. “The single biggest business we need to conduct here is to get the government funded through the end of the fiscal year,” he told reporters. “We’re going to work towards the Dec. 9 date at last year’s levels.”
Energy conferees will formally meet this morning for the first time, following weeks of wide-ranging staff discussions that have some members cautiously optimistic that a compromise between the House and Senate energy bills can be brokered before the end of the year. But it remains to be seen whether the push to enact the first major energy bill in nearly a decade can transcend the deep policy divides between the two chambers.