U.S. EPA’s proposed rule for power plant carbon has seen an early salvo of legal attacks, with one lawsuit launched by Ohio-based Murray Energy Corp. in June and a second, led by West Virginia and backed by 11 others states, last week. But with the rule still unformed, do these opponents have a target to aim at? Probably not, according to legal experts contacted by ClimateWire. At least not yet. “I’d characterize the Murray case as coming too soon, and the West Virginia case as coming too late,” said Patrick Parenteau, a professor of environmental law at Vermont Law School.
John Norris, a Democratic member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, plans to step down Aug. 20 to take a position as minister-counselor for the Department of Agriculture in Rome, cutting short his five-year term at the agency. Norris, who spent more than three decades running high-profile political campaigns in his home state of Iowa, said during an interview that he will work with the United Nations’ food agriculture program at the department.
The political action committee of billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer today unveiled the second, wind-power-themed TV ad in a $2.6 million series of spots slamming Iowa Republican Senate nominee Joni Ernst for her endorsement of a conservative advocacy group’s pledge to oppose the elimination of tax credits.
Iowa is a leader in wind energy. We also need to be a leader in creating the infrastructure of transmission lines to share that energy with the rest of America. Infrastructure has always been the cornerstone of American progress, and wind energy is no exception. We are a state that exports food and fuel through many markets daily. The coupling of wind energy and transmission projects will encourage farm-to-market routes that allow millions of people to access lower priced electricity. Let’s send our extra electricity to market instead of wasting this important energy source. If we want the future of Iowa to be prosperous and want to continue to be a top wind energy producing and supplying state, we must invest in the future and install transmission lines.
A dozen states led by West Virginia and including Nebraska are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to block a proposed rule that would limit carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. An environmental lawyer called the states’ attempt to stop the rule “laughable.”
The states that filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia are Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming. West Virginia Atty. Gen. Patrick Morrisey said the EPA’s proposed rule will have “devastating effects on West Virginia’s jobs and its economy” by forcing some coal-fired plants to close. The plaintiffs said the EPA entered into a settlement agreement in 2011 with environmental groups and states allied with them to regulate existing coal-fired utilities under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. That section is the basis for the rules the Obama administration proposed in June.
A legal settlement between the Sierra Club and Mississippi Power Co. sets the stage for the utility to transition away from coal and expand renewable energy in the state. The agreement also leads the company’s sister utility in Alabama to close some additional coal-fired units, further shifting its parent, Southern Co., away from coal.
For the first time, some of the top 25 public relations companies in the world are saying publicly that they will not work with clients that deny climate change or that are trying to block regulations limiting carbon emissions. The statement came from companies including WPP, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, Weber Shandwick, Text100 and Finn Partners, representing a major change within the multibillion-dollar industry.
Kenya was supposed to be one of the easiest targets. It is considered a business-friendly country accustomed to working with foreign companies in conjunction with aid agencies for ambitious partnerships. Kenya’s power situation is also precarious—the failure of two transmission lines last year caused a nationwide blackout. But the Kinangop wind farm is proving politically nettlesome and symbolic of the larger challenges facing President Obama’s signature aid program in Africa. Though it was the smallest of the wind projects, Kinangop was scheduled to supply enough power for 150,000 homes by the middle of 2015. The land dispute with farmers has thrown all schedules into question.
Currently, 11 states with wind power are seeing 10% reductions in carbon emissions, plus three other states near the benchmark. The US government is targeting a 23% decline in emissions by 2030 from wind energy as part of its current goal. Iowa achieved 20% of its electricity coming from wind thanks to the state’s renewable energy standard. The short documentary Scaling Wind features Iowa Governor Terry Brandstand talking about how the Hawkeye state got its target.