The White House yesterday spiked the ball in the end zone, cheering a new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory finding that the resurrection of key renewable energy incentives could curb more than a billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The study paints a rosy picture for the wind and solar industry in the United States, despite policy setbacks like the Supreme Court’s ruling this month to freeze the Obama administration’s signature climate change regulation, along with state slowdowns on renewable portfolio standards and incentives like net metering. “We’ve made unprecedented progress in deploying renewable energy,” Dan Utech, deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change, told reporters yesterday. “Meeting the Paris commitments will require scaling up low-carbon solutions, including wind and solar, at an unprecedented pace.”
The Supreme Court stay on the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan came as a shock to the White House. After all, the president had unveiled the plan in August 2015, calling it “the single most important step America has ever taken in the fight against global climate change.” But on Monday administration officials took advantage of a new report to argue that the recent five-year extensions of wind and solar tax credits will cushion the blow and serve as a “bridge” to the Clean Power Plan.
More than 200 lawmakers are jumping into the legal brawl over the Clean Power Plan, warning that U.S. EPA is trying to “usurp” them. Led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), 34 senators and 171 representatives today filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the throngs of states and industry groups looking to topple the Obama administration’s rule to slash power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions. The lawmakers are all Republicans with the exception of West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.
Bill Gates added clean energy and climate change to his agenda in 2010 with a TED talk on the need for “energy miracles,” during which he uncapped a jarful of blinking fireflies in place of the mosquitoes he liberated in a malaria talk the year before. He’s been ramping up his own commitments since then, and pledged last year to double his investments (to $2 billion) on a host of energy frontiers in the next five years – from new battery and solar technologies to a safer nuclear plant design to tethered, high-flying wind turbines that might harness the power of the jet stream.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) yesterday said it was unclear what effect the Supreme Court fight would have on the committee’s stalled bipartisan energy package (S. 2012) but said discussions are continuing on bringing the measure back to the floor. “My hope is that we’ll be able to come up with a path forward on energy quickly and move it on through,” she said yesterday in an interview.
As a throng of challengers file legal briefs criticizing the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan as overreaching and unconstitutional, one group is stepping forward with a simpler, but serious, allegation: U.S. EPA let lobbyists write the rule. The Energy & Environment Legal Institute told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday that EPA’s controversial climate rule should be sent back to the drawing board because the agency crafted provisions of the plan through “backdoor dealings” with environmental lobbyists.
Limiting U.S. carbon dioxide emissions would save thousands of people from premature death thanks to related benefits stemming from reductions in other air pollutants, according to a new study published today in the journal Nature Climate Change. The study found that putting the United States on a “clean energy” path could prevent up to 175,000 premature deaths.
Renewable energy tax credits extended last year would give a dramatic boost to clean energy generation through the early 2020s and make a “sizable” dent in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report from the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. While many prior studies have examined the general effects of solar and wind tax credits, few have examined the specific impact of the December 2015 extension, according to NREL’s Trieu Mai, co-author of the study. The researchers examined how two different natural gas price scenarios would affect renewable deployment and concluded the tax credits make a difference in both cases, at least through the early part of the next decade.
Eighteen states challenging the legality of U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan have halted planning discussions following the Supreme Court decision to stay the regulation, according to a review by E&E staff. Of the 47 states affected by the rule, nine are weighing whether to stop preparing or perhaps slow down now that they may have an extra year and a half to work out plans. The other 20 states — mostly supporters of the climate action — will press on with discussions about how to meet the carbon emissions limits for power plants, even though EPA can no longer legally require them to do so.
President Obama yesterday told governors of fossil fuel-heavy states that they should prepare for the nation’s energy mix to transition away from fossil fuels. Regardless of the next administration, Obama said that the trend lines would move away from carbon-heavy energy sources. He also cautioned states not to rely on carbon-capture technologies because they are still expensive.