Months of negotiations over the Senate energy reform package yielded a surprise agreement yesterday to bring the measure back to the floor as early as next week, after lawmakers decided to put off fights on offshore drilling and money for Flint, Mich. Under a unanimous consent agreement last night, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will determine the timing for debate on amendments and the overall legislation.
Senators on Wednesday reached a deal to act on a comprehensive energy bill as soon as this week, breaking a three-month partisan standoff over the tainted water scandal in Flint, Mich.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska and chairwoman of the Senate Energy Committee, and Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington, the panel’s ranking Democrat, has broad bipartisan support and is expected to easily pass the Senate.
When discussing the clean energy revolution, the southern American states are rarely mentioned as progressive leaders. Texas in particular has a longstanding reputation for supporting the interests of the fossil fuel industry. Texas politicians fiercely deny the scientific validity of climate change and the state is home to the headquarters of some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, such as Exxon Mobile and ConocoPhillips.
For 17 years, Scott Pearce worked as a mechanic here in the Powder River Basin, a Saudi Arabia of Western coal deposits. But about a week ago, he became a casualty of the declining local economy, one of nearly 500 people laid off from the Black Thunder and North Antelope Rochelle mines. It was among the latest and worst rounds of job losses to hit Wyoming. Elsewhere, the American economy is posting steady gains and adding jobs. But here in the nation’s least populated state, the recession is returning.
The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy would take a hit under the plan. Appropriators are requesting $1.8 billion, $200 million below last year’s level and more than $1 billion below President Obama’s request. The office is key to the administration’s plans to address climate change through Mission Innovation, a global plan among 20 countries to double clean energy research and development spending in five years. DOE and many of EERE’s renewable, efficiency and sustainable transportation programs would help implement that plan in the United States. The administration called for a 60 percent increase in wind research and a 40 percent jump in geothermal programs, for example.
A bill designed to encourage wind energy projects in Nebraska is advancing to the final round of debate in the Unicameral perhaps as soon as today. Senator Al Davis of Hyannis says the bill will help wind energy move forward in the state by lifting regulations that have stifled or stopped development. “This is probably the most important piece of wind legislation that has come through the legislature,” Davis says. “It removes most of the regulatory barriers that have prevented wind development in the state. The companies are looking for locations. They want to go into a state where they can do business without a number of onerous regulations and rules that keep them out.”
A key Appropriations subcommittee chairman signaled yesterday that the Department of Energy’s Office of Science will be a top funding priority in the fiscal 2017 energy-water development spending bill expected on the Senate floor next week. Energy-Water Subcommittee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) declined to delve into the details of the bill ahead of this afternoon’s subcommittee markup but told E&E Daily yesterday that it would follow the course that he and ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) have set in recent years.
Colorado wind power is rising with 1,880 huge turbines erected across the prairie, twisting white blades as long as soccer fields, a cleaner source of energy replacing fossil fuels. It has reached the point where the wind turbines generated 67 percent of Xcel Energy’s Colorado-made electricity one morning in November and 54 percent for two 24-hour periods in October — feats unmatched around the nation, industry officials said Tuesday. Falling costs, a state mandate, a federal subsidy and sheer momentum are driving the shift to renewable energy.
Wind energy generated a record 191 megawatt-hours of electricity last year, enough for 17.5 million homes, an industry group said Tuesday. The American Wind Energy Association said wind produced 4.7 percent of the nation’s electricity in 2015. Coal generated 33 percent and natural gas slightly less than that, the association said. The association released the statistics at a Vestas Wind Systems turbine plant in Brighton, Colorado, near Denver.
After several steps by the federal government in just the past month to move states like New York and Hawaii closer to hosting offshore wind, North Carolina could be the next state to take strides toward completing the long regulatory process needed to install floating turbines off the state’s beaches. This summer, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management plans to propose ocean areas near the North Carolina coast that could be leased to potential offshore wind developers.