The Obama administration is “absolutely” standing by its nomination of Ron Binz to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, despite bipartisan opposition on a key Senate committee currently vetting the nominee, a White House spokesman said today.
A year after a plan by President Obama to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants set off angry opposition, the administration will announce on Friday that it is not backing down from a confrontation with the coal industry and will press ahead with enacting the first federal carbon limits on the nation’s power companies. The proposed regulations, to be announced at the National Press Club by Gina McCarthy, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, are an aggressive move by Mr. Obama to bypass Congress on climate change with executive actions he promised in his inaugural address this year. The regulations are certain to be denounced by House Republicans and the industry as part of what they call the president’s “war on coal.”
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said today she’s “encouraged” by Ron Binz’s views on natural gas but hasn’t decided whether to support his nomination to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “I’m still collecting information and data from him, but I was encouraged by his testimony about his support for natural gas, his support for exports of natural gas and his understanding that natural gas is a cleaner fuel,” Landrieu said in an interview on Capitol Hill.
In its latest and largest energy-industry venture so far, Google is purchasing the output of a future North Texas wind farm. The new facility will produce roughly half the amount of Google’s current renewable power generation.
New research from a national environmental group finds that the cost of producing electricity from renewable resources like wind and solar is lower than that of conventional coal-fired generation when factoring for the adverse costs of climate change and human health impacts. That conclusion, derived from analysis on the “social cost of carbon,” is at the heart of a study published in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences by Laurie Johnson, chief economist of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate and Clean Air Program, Starla Yeh of NRDC’s Center for Market Innovation, and Chris Hope of the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
It is an audacious undertaking with wide and deep support in Germany: shut down the nation’s nuclear power plants, wean the country from coal and promote a wholesale shift to renewable energy sources. But the plan, backed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and opposition parties alike, is running into problems in execution that are forcing Germans to come face to face with the costs and complexities of sticking to their principles.
Sen. Ed Markey laid out an ambitious energy agenda in his first speech on the Senate floor this morning, pledging to introduce legislation setting a 25 percent target for “clean energy and energy efficiency improvements” in the country by 2025.
Two members of President Obama’s energy team today defended the administration’s climate change policies before a House Energy and Commerce subpanel that has repeatedly tried to roll back their authorities. U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz used their opening remarks to affirm the science of man-made climate change and to cast their efforts to mitigate CO2 emissions as a boon to the U.S. economy.
“The evidence is overwhelming, the science is clear, and the threat from climate change is real and urgent,” Moniz told the Subcommittee on Energy and Power.
Calling Binz “unacceptable” for allegedly “demonizing coal and gas,” Manchin voiced his opposition after ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) took similar positions. Binz “prioritizes renewables over reliability,” Manchin said. Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is working on scheduling a committee vote on Binz, said Keith Chu, a spokesman for the senator. Wyden respects members’ views but believes Binz’s “years of service in Colorado and views on respecting FERC’s role make him well-qualified to serve on the commission,” Chu said.
The top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee yesterday said she cannot support President Obama’s highly controversial pick to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, despite his efforts to respond to myriad attacks from libertarian and conservative groups. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said she could not support Ron Binz, a former Colorado regulator. “I don’t think I’m going to be able to support your nomination, and I say that reluctantly,” Murkowski said. “The process will move forward; I recognize we need a full commission.”