An influential federal judge splashed fuel last week on an already-raging argument over states’ clean energy mandates in a ruling that questioned the constitutionality of Michigan’s renewable portfolio standard. Writing for a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Richard Posner — seen by many as the most important conservative jurist outside the Supreme Court — said that by banning out-of-state renewables from counting toward its renewable portfolio standard, Michigan’s law “trips over an insurmountable constitutional objection.” “Michigan cannot, without violating the commerce clause,” he went on, “discriminate against out-of-state renewable energy.”
A gust of economic development dollars may be blowing into Northwest Iowa, thanks to MidAmerican Energy Co.’s plan to add 656 new wind turbines in the state. Iowa’s largest utility on May 8 announced the $1.9 billion initiative, which represents the largest economic development investment in state history
President Obama is set to provide details tomorrow of how he plans to deliver on his second-term promise of tackling man-made climate change. Obama announced in a video this weekend that he will lay out his climate agenda in a speech at Georgetown University and that it will seek to “reduce carbon pollution, prepare our country for the impacts of climate change and lead global efforts to fight it.”
The chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee sharply criticized members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today for rejecting a proposal that would have made it voluntary for utilities in the Pacific Northwest to pay for regional transmission projects under Order 1000, and vowed to take legislative action if the decision isn’t reversed. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) took issue with the commission’s 3-to-1 vote to approve a filing that ColumbiaGrid, a regional transmission planner, proposed to comply with Order 1000, a far-reaching rule the commission recently approved to revamp the way the grid is planned and paid for.
On the outskirts of Scunthorpe in northern England, workers at the large power station known as Keadby 1 are preparing to shut it down at the end of the summer, with the loss of about 40 jobs. Its owner, the British utility Scottish & Southern Energy, says fluctuations in global energy markets have made the natural gas power plant unprofitable despite a multi-million pound renovation, as demand for electricity has plummeted since the financial crisis.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) is leaving the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee after securing a spot on the powerful Appropriations Committee. The Appropriations panel slot opened up due to the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) earlier this month.
A Danish pension fund has pledged to invest $200 million in the Cape Wind project, a long-delayed, 468-megawatt wind farm off Cape Cod, Mass., that hopes to begin construction by the end of the year. While the investment by PensionDanmark represents less than 10 percent of the project’s estimated $2.6 billion price tag, project owner Jim Gordon called it a “milestone” in the Massachusetts wind project’s decadelong development.
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has recruited the president of the Union of Concerned Scientists to be his chief of staff. Kevin Knobloch has headed UCS for a decade, and in a statement today, he said it was a post he would leave only “for a call to public service of this order.”
In weather so warm that he removed his suit jacket, President Obama delivered a speech at Germany’s historic Brandenburg Gate this morning in which he called for “bold action” by every nation to fight the threat of climate change. “With a global middle class consuming more energy every day, this must now be an effort of all nations, not just some, for the grim alternative affects all nations: more severe storms, more famine and floods, new waves of refugees, coastlines that vanish, oceans that rise,” Obama said.
President Obama is preparing regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, senior officials said Wednesday. The move would be the most consequential climate policy step he could take and one likely to provoke legal challenges from Republicans and some industries. Electric power plants are the largest single source of global warming pollution in the country, responsible for nearly 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. With sweeping climate legislation effectively dead in Congress, the decision on existing power plants — which a 2007 Supreme Court decision gave to the executive branch — has been among the most closely watched of Mr. Obama’s second term.