Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) has barred state agencies from moving forward on U.S. EPA’s regulation to reduce carbon emissions from power plants unless it is deemed legal. Brownback, already a critic of the Clean Power Plan, signed S.B. 318 into law Friday suspending all work on the climate regulation.
Large U.S. utilities are taking advantage of government subsidies to buy and produce more renewable energy in anticipation of tougher new regulations on carbon emissions. Duke Energy Corp. , Southern Co. and the energy unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. are among the utility companies that are investing more in solar and wind farms and ramping up purchases of clean power, spurred by renewable-energy mandates in more than half the nation’s states and expected federal limits on greenhouse-gas emissions.
The Senate is planning to pass its $37.5 billion fiscal 2017 energy and water spending bill today, key appropriators said yesterday Lawmakers will first take a procedural vote on a controversial amendment by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) related to the Iran nuclear deal. Talk of the amendment has helped stall the broader spending measure.
Ahead of next month’s courtroom showdown over the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, lawyers last week previewed their arguments in a Chicago classroom. Industry attorney Tom Lorenzen and environmental lawyer Sean Donahue each appeared confident as they presented their opposing sides of the case at a debate hosted by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. Both attorneys are expected to represent their respective sides during oral arguments next month over U.S. EPA’s regulation to curb power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions.
Iowa has emerged as a national leader in the development of renewable energy, thanks to the willingness of energy customers, communities, business and environmental coalitions and state policymakers and elected officials to work together toward this goal. The visionary leadership of Sen. Chuck Grassley at the federal level and Govs. Tom Vilsack and Terry Branstad at the state level have helped put Iowa on the path to generating more than 40 percent of its annual energy needs from wind by the end of this decade.
Critics of the renewable energy production tax credit are crying foul over new Internal Revenue Service guidance allowing wind and other facilities an additional two years to qualify for the incentive after breaking ground. Last week’s IRS notice doubled the amount of time renewable energy production facilities have to qualify for the PTC after starting construction. The guidance extended the time from two years, a number set in 2013, to four or more years.
California leads in solar PV installations, as it continues to dominate the solar landscape. With the state having one of the top Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) of 50% by 2030, this will put further need to increase not only utility-scale solar energy, but also improved local solar forecasting to produce maximum results, as the state heads towards its clean energy goals.
The test of the precarious path will come when the Senate holds a cloture vote no later than tomorrow morning to dispose of a contentious Iran amendment that has held up the appropriations bill for the past few weeks. Sixty votes would be required to move ahead with the amendment, an unlikely threshold given solid opposition from the chamber’s 44 Democrats. Once the amendment is defeated, the Senate could move toward passage of the broader bill.
But with all of the opportunities that go along with the transformation of the grid, there also remain plenty of challenges. Some of the most pressing challenges highlighted Friday include state policy battles over how to deploy rooftop solar energy systems; local disputes over siting of transmission projects; cooperation among grid operators; and ensuring reliability of the power grid as older, less efficient coal plants are phased out.
Her priorities include safeguarding U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan, completing a review of fuel efficiency standards and making gains on methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said. “I still hold out the hope that Congress will become a real partner with any president when it comes to climate action,” Podesta said, “but the prospects of that, particularly I think in the House, are undeniably still some years off, and this is simply too important to wait for Congress to get with the program.”