Only a few days before U.S. EPA announced its sweeping regulation to reduce power plants’ carbon pollution known as the Clean Power Plan, Administrator Gina McCarthy was scheduled to be in her office on a Saturday. McCarthy’s calendar, obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request, has her attending a meeting at noon that day titled “111D Prep.” Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act is what the agency argues grants EPA the legal standing to limit carbon emissions from new and existing power plants.
“On greenhouse gas emissions, California has always been an A student,” said Ashley Lawson, a senior carbon analyst at Thomson Reuters. “So to perform any better, you have to work really, really hard to go from an A to an A plus.” The rest of the country, which is replacing coal-fired power plants with less-polluting natural gas plants, “was able to go from a C to a B, with almost no effort at all,” she said
Attending the meeting is Gov. Jerry Brown of California, which has enacted the toughest greenhouse gas emissions standards in North America, as well as the mayors of Boston; Boulder, Colorado; New York City; Oslo, Norway; San Francisco; Stockholm; and Vancouver. Many belong to the new Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, whose members have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050 or sooner.
A federal judge Friday dismissed Oklahoma’s most recent challenge to President Obama’s proposed air standards for greenhouse gas emissions. Judge Claire Eagan for the Northern District of Oklahoma said the state failed to demonstrate that the court has jurisdiction over a rule that has yet to be finalized. The case was the latest attempt by Oklahoma to challenge the landmark standards, dubbed the Clean Power Plan, before they are finalized this summer.
“It’s always been a sort of energy hub for different technologies,” said Paul F. Curran, managing director of BQ Energy, a renewable-energy developer that is transforming the former steel mill into a green power plant. “We can put in more generation without having to build new infrastructure — big power lines and that type of thing — because the conventional Rust Belt power is retiring. So we can hop into the grid economically.”
The Illinois Commerce Commission will hold three public forums on Clean Line Energy’s proposed Grain Belt Express high-voltage transmission line later this month. The hearings are set in communities in the western, central and eastern portions of the state. The purpose is to hear from residents who would be directly affected by the proposed transmission line that will deliver wind energy from Kansas to several states in the east. As proposed, the line would run through Pike, Scott, Greene, Macoupin, Montgomery, Christian, Shelby, Cumberland and Clark counties in the state of Illinois.
Asserting independence from Portland carries its own risks. During tough negotiations over a package for statewide road and bridge work near the end of the legislative session last month, Ms. Brown said she would be amenable to repealing a measure she signed just three months earlier: a clean fuels carbon-reduction law.The law, which the oil industry and some Republicans abhor, is aimed at cutting climate-change gases by requiring a gradual reduction of carbon in fuels. Ms. Brown said that if there was another way to achieve the same end, a political compromise could be worth it.
Grassley Secures Inclusion of Wind Energy, Biodiesel, Cellulosic Ethanol, Education Provisions in Committee Tax Extenders Package
Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa secured the inclusion of tax incentives for wind energy, biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol in the bipartisan tax extenders bill the Finance Committee will consider on Tuesday. The bill also contains long-time Grassley-sponsored provisions on tax deductions for higher education tuition and school supplies bought by teachers. The inclusion of the wind energy provision was a particular victory for Grassley, as allies of non-renewable energy sources are highly critical of wind energy and work against it.
The Senate Finance Committee tomorrow will mark up a broad tax package that includes a number of expired energy incentives, as senators look to clear the decks on the annual extenders battle. As expected, the chairman’s mark released Friday contains two-year extensions of the 52 on-again, off-again tax breaks that spark the extenders ritual, including the particularly contentious renewable production tax credit. In addition, the bill would extend the option for renewable projects to choose between the PTC and the 30 percent investment tax credit through 2016, which is estimated to cost $10.4 billion over 10 years.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is adding the final touches and working through remaining negotiations on comprehensive energy legislation and could release the highly anticipated document as soon as today. Republican Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has said she plans to begin marking up the bill this week and report the language out of committee before Congress adjourns for the August recess. That schedule would ensure the bill is ready for floor action as soon as leadership has floor time available, said Robert Dillon, a spokesman for the senator.