A state judge has recommended that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission apply the federal “social cost of carbon” calculation to determine how new energy projects affect the environmental health and well-being of the state. In a nonbinding opinion handed down Friday, Judge LauraSue Schlatter declared the federal calculation “as reasonable and the best available measure to determine the environmental cost of CO2” when evaluating the impacts of energy projects in Minnesota.
Crafted by Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, and the panel’s top Democrat, Maria Cantwell of Washington, the bipartisan measure, S. 2012, seeks to upgrade the nation’s aging pipeline and power infrastructure, boost energy efficiency in federal buildings and streamline applications for exports of liquefied natural gas. It’s not as far-reaching as the energy packages that cleared Congress in 2005 and 2007 — which boasted hallmark programs such as the Renewable Fuel Standard — but its passage would be milestone for a Senate known for gridlock.
Iowa has been an early adopter in renewable energy, with its very visible results coming at the gas pump in ethanol and biofuels and the wind turbines that tower over many of our state’s highways. The Hawkeye State has a strong solar energy presence, too, often dwarfed by other energy sources. The end results of this investment are more jobs, economic development and a drastically reduced dependence on fossil fuels. Across the board, this is a win for Iowans.
And the governor raised the prospect of another potential veto during his radio show. Ricketts said he is taking “a good strong look” at a bill (LB824) that would remove some regulatory barriers to development of wind energy in Nebraska. “I’ve not decided on that bill,” the governor said.
Spending priorities for energy, nuclear and agriculture programs and scores of water projects will come into focus this week as fiscal 2017 funding bills work their ways through both the Senate and House. The first test of a Senate bipartisan truce to move ahead with the annual appropriations measures will come this week with planned action on the energy and water spending legislation. It is the first such bill to move to the floor in either chamber this year.
If last year’s landmark Paris climate agreement enters into force this year or early next year, it will likely do so without the help of one of its strongest supporters. That’s because the European Union, which carried the torch for international climate action for two decades before playing a leading role in brokering the agreement last year, is not to be found on the growing list of countries pledging early adoption ahead of next week’s signing ceremony in New York City.
The Senate’s nine-year drought in passing comprehensive energy reform legislation appears poised to end as soon as today. Senate leadership aides say the bipartisan package — S. 2012, which was passed by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee last summer — will resurface this afternoon. Last night, senators overwhelmingly voted to end debate on the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill. They will likely vote on final passage at around noon. The energy bill will return after that, aides said.
he Senate is due to take up the fiscal 2017 energy and water development spending bill tomorrow, after it completes work on separate energy policy legislation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced yesterday evening that he had a deal with Democrats to call up the spending bill tomorrow without needing a cloture vote. His announcement suggests that a fragile truce among party leaders to move ahead with appropriations bills, provided they follow the overall spending cap set in last year’s budget deal, is holding.
Rhone Resch is leaving his post as president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association after 12 years. The association will name an interim leader and begin a search for its next president after Resch’s departure May 31, it said in a statement.
The wind energy bill sponsored by Omaha Sen. John McCollister overcame a filibuster for the second time to pass on a 34-10 vote, and now awaits the governor’s OK. Many chose to support the change for economic reasons, not because of an environmental agenda. They said the measure eliminates an unnecessary impediment to wind energy developments, allowing Nebraska to become more competitive in the regional power market and potentially reducing energy costs and luring green-minded businesses to the state.