Two GOP senators are accusing the Interior Department of playing favorites by offering Atlantic waters for wind farms but not oil and gas development. At issue is a lease for developing commercial wind power in federal waters off the Delaware coast. The area in question is off limits to oil-and-gas drillers in President Obama’s five-year offshore drilling plan.
In his first White House speech since winning re-election, President Obama on Friday called on Congress to get to work on addressing the looming fiscal cliff and took some time to praise clean energy development as an important tool for growing the economy.
President Obama’s re-election all but ensures the reinstatement of the production tax credit that benefits the U.S. wind industry, the chief executive officer of Vestas Wind Systems A/S said yesterday. But employees at the Danish company won’t have much to cheer about, as the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer announced it would cut an additional 3,000 jobs by the end of next year on top of the 3,700 it already eliminated this year.
The 2012 election, especially President Obama’s victory, suggests the nation’s energy and environmental agenda will largely continue in the same direction — not great news for many Romney supporters. Perhaps, but the 2012 elections and especially President Obama’s victory suggest the nation’s energy and environmental agenda will largely continue in the same direction — not great news for backers of GOP Gov. Mitt Romney.
“This election was supposed to be about wealthy Big Oil-backed special interests spending unprecedented resources to wipe pro-environment candidates off the map,” said Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters. “But voters chose a different course.”
California voters Tuesday passed a ballot measure that would generate as much as $2.75 billion for clean energy projects and rejected one that would have hobbled a green power ally. With 81 percent of ballots counted, the Golden State by a vote of 60 to 40 percent approved Proposition 39, which changes how multi-state businesses are taxed. It is expected to generate $1.1 billion annually in new revenue, money for the general fund and green energy.
Energy policy observers agree that one Cabinet member is almost sure to leave: Energy Secretary Steven Chu. While commended for some advances — such as the agency’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy — Chu has faced criticism on nearly everything in the Energy Department’s portfolio.
Environmentalists scored a victory in the New Hampshire governor’s race last night but lost one of the biggest state energy fights of the year over a renewable ballot proposal in Michigan. Meanwhile, the governor’s race in Washington — which could determine the status of proposed Northwestern coal ports and renewable policies — remained too close to call as of press time.
Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems A/S said it hopes to auction as much as 20 percent of a stake in the company, and it plans to cut its staff by 3,000 people over two years. Chief Financial Officer Dag Andresen said the company’s leaders hope an investor will help keep the company afloat amid decreasing turbine prices.
Victories by President Obama and congressional wind energy supporters from both parties have energized an industry fighting to keep a vital tax break from expiring at the end of the year. The American Wind Energy Association is feeling good about its chances of winning an extension of the production tax credit, which will expire Dec. 31 unless Congress acts. Continuing the credit has been AWEA’s top goal this year, and yesterday’s elections have the industry optimistic about its chances.