The Supreme Court ruling late last month that upheld a U.S. EPA rule curbing air pollution that crosses state lines bolstered the agency’s confidence that its upcoming greenhouse gas regulations will withstand legal challenges, U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said today. That ruling “is one of the biggest wins our agency has ever had,” McCarthy told the Association of Climate Change Officers meeting in Washington, D.C.
A popular bill to extend dozens of expired business tax incentives — including several renewable electricity, energy efficiency and alternative fuels credits — cleared a key hurdle in the Senate yesterday even as it remained in danger of faltering amid bitter partisan fights that have nearly ground lawmaking to a halt. Senators overwhelmingly voted in favor of a procedural measure to formally take up the so-called tax extenders bill, but that 96-3 tally may not shield the legislation from tough hurdles ahead. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is again expected to block any amendments to the bill, a move sure to further enrage Republicans who say they are routinely shut out of the legislative process.
In a memo to President Bill Clinton, then-Energy Secretary Bill Richardson pulled no punches. “I think we need to turn this into a concerted campaign. I’m ready to hit the trail,” Richardson wrote. But Richardson wasn’t talking about heading off to Iowa or New Hampshire to secure votes for the president from the campaign stump. Instead, he was asking for White House support on his effort to win the backing of the developing world for a fight against climate change.
A large section of the mighty West Antarctica ice sheet has begun falling apart and its continued melting now appears to be unstoppable, two groups of scientists reported on Monday. If the findings hold up, they suggest that the melting could destabilize neighboring parts of the ice sheet and a rise in sea level of 10 feet or more may be unavoidable in coming centuries. Global warming caused by the human-driven release of greenhouse gases has helped to destabilize the ice sheet, though other factors may also be involved, the scientists said.
The growth of coal-fired power generation is “unsustainable” without carbon capture and sequestration technology, the International Energy Agency said in a report released today. The report describes efforts to manage electric power production to achieve climate goals as bleak. IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said an autonomous body of 29 member countries saw coal use as a serious problem. In previous estimates, the group predicted coal demand would grow 2.3 percent per year on average through 2018.
Since the proposed rule was published in the Federal Register in January, close to 1 million comments have been filed, according to the rule’s online docket. Many of them make common arguments for or against the rules: that climate change is a serious issue that must be addressed by regulation, that carbon capture and storage (CCS) is an unproven technology that should not be considered the best system of emissions reduction, or that EPA may be overstepping its legal authority in setting different standards for coal and gas.
Supporters of state renewable energy mandates won a major legal victory last week as a federal judge upheld Colorado’s standard, rejecting claims that it violates the Constitution by discriminating against other energy sources. The ruling late Friday in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado is the first to address the constitutionality of a state renewable energy standard (RES), and supporters say it could set a legal precedent for the more than 30 other states that have adopted similar standards. Colorado’s RES requires that 30 percent of the electricity from investor-owned utilities come from renewable sources by 2020.
Projected increases in China’s coal consumption may render it “almost impossible” for the world to limit global temperature increases from greenhouse gases to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) unless the country acts quickly to cap and then reduce its dependency on the fossil fuel, a new study has found.
This process stands in stark contrast to action by the Senate Finance Committee, which last month passed a two-year extension of a large package of tax credits including the R&D incentives, renewable energy production tax credits, several biofuels tax credits and building energy efficiency incentives. The bill will cost $85 billion and is also currently unpaid for (Greenwire, April 3). The Senate is scheduled to begin consideration of that tax extenders package next week.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to consider President Obama’s pick to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission during a May 20 hearing. What are the senators preparing to ask Norman Bay and how contentious could the hearing become? During today’s The Cutting Edge, E&E Dailyreporter Hannah Northey gives a behind-the-scenes look at the questions surrounding Bay’s nomination and possible outcomes of his confirmation proceedings.