Lawmakers return to the Capitol today with just five days left to avoid a government shutdown, as negotiations proceed on an omnibus spending bill and a tax package. Discussions stretched out over the weekend, but congressional aides gave no signs of a breakthrough on either appropriations or the tax extenders package. House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) told reporters last week he hoped to unveil the omnibus today. “Negotiations continue,” Rogers spokeswoman Jennifer Hing said in an email last night. “It is expected that there will be an agreement this week.”
A Q&A with Pennsylvania official who hopes to be among the first to comply with the Clean Power Plan
John Quigley is secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Under Gov. Tom Wolf (D), Quigley will craft Pennsylvania’s compliance path for the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, a sweeping regulation to reduce U.S. carbon emissions from the power sector 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Under the Clean Power Plan, U.S. EPA is requiring Pennsylvania to lower its emissions rate from power plants by 33 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Pennsylvania’s plan will have repercussions beyond the state’s borders. It is the top electricity exporter in the United States, according to DEP, and also is a major producer of both coal and natural gas.
Republican and Democratic negotiators closed in Friday on a major package of tax cuts for businesses and individuals that could exceed $700 billion in forgone revenues over a decade, and planned to work through the weekend in hopes that Congress can approve it before quitting for the year. The package would extend or make permanent around 50 temporary tax breaks that have expired or will soon lapse. By combining business breaks that are priorities of Republicans with tax credits for lower-income workers and families that are critical to Democrats, negotiators are seeking a balanced package that could transcend the partisanship that often paralyzes Congress.
“He clearly had a vision for the power company of the future, and wanted NRG to be that company, and took real steps toward that,” said Shayle Kann, who leads GTM Research, which focuses on clean energy industries. “And then Wall Street didn’t get convinced.”
A carbon tax proposal appears to have collected enough signatures to qualify for the ballot in Washington state in 2016. The proposed carbon tax would be used to lower other taxes.
Climate activists said they have gathered enough signatures to send the proposal to Washington’s Legislature and then to the 2016 ballot if lawmakers fail to enact the plan. Lawmakers failed to pass a cap-and-trade bill promoted by Gov. Jay Inslee (D) earlier this year
Just recently, we heard the excellent news that the PTC Elimination Act, a bill introduced by Reps. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) and Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), passed the 50 cosponsors mark. It is welcome news that opposition to the PTC continues to grow as evidenced by the tremendous amount of support that the bill has garnered in a short time. In the Senate, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) has introduced a similar measure that would set a termination date for the PTC. This is all cause for applause, and further highlights the growing number of legislators that will not stand by as another extension is put on the table – especially at the expense of their constituents.
Developers again petitioned state regulators this week in an effort to jump-start a stalled $2 billion project to carry wind energy from northwest Iowa to customers in Illinois via high-voltage transmission lines. Rock Island Clean Line, a subsidiary of Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners, filed a third request for bifurcation Monday. The motion would set a procedural schedule bifurcating — or separating into two decisions — the merits of the project and eminent domain, a process of condemning private land. The Iowa Utilities Board, from which Rock Island formally requested the franchise permit to build the line in November 2014, denied similar proposals in 2013 and last February. The board ruled that bifurcating would disproportionately benefit the developers while negatively affecting many others, particularly landowners.
A developer’s plan to build a wind energy line through the Midwest hit another snag this week, when Arkansas’ senators vowed to block a Department of Energy nominee until the agency answers their questions about the proposal. Republican Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton said they are placing a hold on the nomination of Victoria Wassmer, a longtime Obama administration official whom the president in July tapped for undersecretary for management and performance, a newly created post at DOE
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo yesterday started the process of making the state’s clean energy plan legally binding. Cuomo (D) sent a letter to Audrey Zibelman, chairwoman of the state’s Public Service Commission, directing her and the department to start drafting a clean energy standard. It is to include provisions that the state produce at least 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, called the “50 by 30” goal, according to the letter.
As nations wrangle in Paris this week over reducing their carbon dioxide emissions, companies have been eager to show that they, too, are getting with the program. Now, from Google, long a leader among corporations in green energy investing, comes new agreements to buy renewable energy to power its operations that, taken together, nearly double what it had already promised. “We’re really trying to lead this transition to a cleaner energy economy,” said Michael Terrell, principal for energy and infrastructure at Google, whose aim is to use 100 percent renewable energy. “It’s transforming anyone who touches the energy space. It’s not just about data centers or tech companies.”