Inside Congress’s $42B tax-break package

Source: By Bernie Becker, The • Posted: Sunday, December 14th, 2014

While there are plenty of narrowly-tailored incentives that critics call corporate pork, there are also broader preferences for both businesses and working families. The preferences most derided as corporate pork are often just a small percentage of the overall cost of the tax package. Here’s a partial list of some of the 50-plus tax breaks Congress is passing for this year, at a cost of some $42 billion.

Senate passes $1.1T funding bill

Source: By Rebecca Shabad and Alexander Bolton, The • Posted: Sunday, December 14th, 2014

The Senate voted 56-40 late Saturday evening to pass a $1.1 trillion spending package that funds most of the government through next September. The vote culminates a week of acrimonious sniping and sends the spending bill to President Obama’s desk for a signature.

More investors flock to climate-safe equities 

Source: Benjamin Hulac, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, December 12th, 2014

Wall Street traders may jump into and out of any stock to pursue quick profits, but long-term investing predicated on environmental, social and corporate governance concerns is becoming increasingly common, according to a new report from the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, or U.S. SIF. Known collectively by the abbreviations ESG or SRI investing — meaning sustainable, responsible and impacting investing — this strategy has ramped up significantly between 2012 and 2014, with $6.57 trillion of U.S.-domiciled assets at the start of the year now managed using the special criteria.

We’re still on a course leading to tragedy,’ Kerry tells U.N. delegates 

Source: Lisa Friedman, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, December 12th, 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry today addressed a crowded room of dignitaries, environmental activists and bleary-eyed negotiators gathered in this city to hash out a new international climate change deal and called for urgent action to avoid the most destructive impacts of rising temperatures. Kerry touted to the international community a landmark climate deal with China as well as the Obama administration’s power plant rules and the United States’ newest target for cutting carbon 26 to 28 percent by 2025. America, he argued, is now leading the global response to climate change, wants to see an ambitious international agreement signed in Paris next year, and is counting on governments to rise above a decadeslong battle over who should take responsibility.

Global group of Catholic bishops call for end to fossil fuels

Source: By Matt McGrath, BBC News • Posted: Friday, December 12th, 2014

Catholic bishops from around the world are calling for an end to fossil fuel use and increased efforts to secure a global climate treaty. Catholics, they say, should engage with the process leading to a proposed new deal to be signed in Paris next year. The statement is the first time that senior church figures from every continent have issued such a call.

DOE updates resource maps to reflect advances in turbine technology 

Source: Ariel Wittenberg, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, December 12th, 2014

The Department of Energy has drawn new maps of the country’s wind power capacity to keep up with advances in turbine technology. Updated maps released today show how taller wind turbines with higher nacelles and longer blades can harness significant amounts of wind power in areas where shorter turbines would be still.

Senate to consider $1.1T package today

Source: By Alexander Bolton, The • Posted: Friday, December 12th, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says the Senate on Friday will consider the $1.1 trillion government-funding bill approved by the House. The Senate voted Thursday night on a two-day stop-gap funding measure to keep the government operating beyond midnight. The leader also wants to pass a defense authorization bill, a package of tax extenders, a terrorism insurance bill and confirm a group of nominees before wrapping up the 113th Congress.

Belgian energy island may get go ahead in early 2015: ministry

Source: by Robert-Jan Bartunek, Reuters • Posted: Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Belgium will decide early next year whether to build a ring-shaped island off its coast to store wind energy, in one of the world’s first attempts to make the renewable source available on demand, the government said. Wind energy is often abundant in the large wind parks off the Belgian coast, but storing it for when there is little wind is an issue, along with not wasting it when there is a surplus. Using an idea borrowed from hydroelectric dams, the island would be emptied of water when there is a lot of wind, using energy from windmills. When there is an energy shortfall, a lock would be opened to let the sea water back in and at the same time power turbines and generate electricity.

FERC sets regional conferences on climate rule’s reliability impacts 

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Federal grid overseers today announced they will hold four technical conferences to delve into implementation and reliability concerns tied to U.S. EPA’s proposal to cut carbon emissions — a move that was quickly celebrated as a win by Republican lawmakers and regulators. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said it will convene the first meeting, the national overview technical conference, at its Washington, D.C., headquarters starting Feb. 19 to examine whether state regulators have the right tools to detect reliability or market issues and strategies for complying with EPA rules while coordinating with the markets that FERC oversees.

Senate Dems call on EPA to strengthen power plant rule 

Source: Daniel Bush, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, December 11th, 2014

A group of Senate Democrats today called on U.S. EPA to strengthen its proposed power plant rule to achieve a greater reduction in carbon emissions. In a letter to the agency, the group said the rule is “the single most significant step this country has ever taken to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.” But they insisted that an even more ambitious carbon reduction target would help the United States avoid the worst impacts of climate change.