U.S. EPA scored a major victory this week when the Supreme Court upheld its program for harmful coal plant emissions that cross state lines, but the agency still faces important policy questions — as well as litigation — as it moves to implement the regime. In a 6-2 ruling, the Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with the agency in a broad challenge from states and electric utilities to its Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, or CSAPR (Greenwire, April 29). The program encompasses 28 Eastern states, requiring upwind states to reduce emissions of harmful pollutants in order to help downwind states come into attainment with EPA’s air standards.
North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS) is under attack and it’s no surprise that the fight is led by fossil fuel power funded lobbyists. It’s the usual suspects: American Legislative Council Exchange (ALEC), John Locke Foundation and Americans for Prosperity (AFP)–all activist groups funded by fossil fuel and nuclear interests. These groups are leading a misinformation campaign to repeal the REPS, a state policy that drives clean energy development for North Carolina.
This year, AFP also launched a media blitz in Kansas, running TV and radio ads that attempted to tie the renewable energy standard to former governor Kathleen Sebelius, despite the fact that it was signed into law by her successor. The ads also attribute electricity rate hikes to the standards, which prompted former Senate President Dave Kerr, (R) to call them “provably false.” The Lawrence Journal-World notes that “a report by the Kansas Corporation Commission shows that the impact of the renewable energy standards is about one-fifth of one cent of the average 9.9 cents per kilowatt hour electricity cost.” It’s not a surprise Koch-funded groups continue to attack the successful and popular Kansas RPS law. Both Charles and David Koch are Kansas natives, and the state is home to Koch Industries, the brothers’ Wichita-based energy conglomerate.
House members voted 63-60 against advancing a bill that would gradually end the state’s renewable portfolio standard, which requires the state’s utility companies to get 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020. Its two main proponents, Rep. Dennis Hedke, R-Wichita, and Sen. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona, said the issue was effectively dead for the session. An outright repeal of the energy standards failed to pass the House earlier in the session.
House Democrats are attempting to revive an approach to mobilizing private financing for clean energy projects by establishing a national green bank. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee, led seven colleagues in introducing the bill, H.R. 4522. A similar idea was included in the greenhouse gas cap-and-trade bill that passed the House in 2009, but efforts to revive it have been largely dormant since then.
Mars Inc., the closely held maker of M&M’s candies and Uncle Ben’s rice, will partner withSumitomo Corporation of Americas on a 200-megawatt wind farm in Texas. Mars will receive all the renewable energy certificates from the 118-turbine wind farm to offset energy use at its entire U.S. operations, the McLean, Virginia-based company said in a statement. The “Mesquite Creek Wind” farm was developed by Sumitomo and BNB Renewable Energy Holdings and is scheduled to start running in the second quarter of 2015, the companies said in the statement yesterday.
New Mexico leaders say they’ve been told that the Obama administration is set to approve routing a contested power line project near an Army missile testing range, a move that they say will put the range’s mission at risk and weaken national security. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) issued a statement late yesterday saying his office has learned that the White House is set to announce that it will allow developers of the SunZia Southwest Transmission Line Project to route a roughly 35-mile section of the New Mexico-to-Arizona line through restricted airspace just north of the White Sands Missile Range.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc’s energy unit said on Thursday it will buy AltaLink, Canada’s regulated electricity transmission company, from SNC-Lavalin Group Inc for about $2.9 billion in cash. AltaLink will operate as a separate company under Berkshire Hathaway Energy with its current name and will continue to be headquartered in Calgary, the two companies said in separate statements.
Shifting the global economy from its long dependence on fossil fuels will not follow a smooth trajectory where corporations, financial markets and other stakeholders systematically and logically adjust to new realities, regulations and economic pressures. Rather, it will be the kind of “chaotic, messy, ugly and effective” transformation that characterized almost all past market upheavals, author and climate activist Paul Gilding told several hundred climate-conscious investors gathered here this week.
Former EPA senior policy counsel Sussman discusses agency’s challenges to meeting existing source rule deadline
With recent budget and personnel changes at U.S. EPA, does the agency have adequate resources in place to meet President Obama’s aggressive Climate Action Plan deadlines? During today’s OnPoint, Robert Sussman, former senior policy counsel at EPA, discusses the future of the existing source standard and subsequent state planning. Sussman also explains how this week’s Supreme Court ruling on EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule could foreshadow the court’s future consideration of Clean Air Act cases.