As Capitol Hill Republicans prepare to make the case to their constituents over the August recess that President Obama’s Climate Action Plan will ruin the U.S. economy, four former U.S. EPA administrators from their party wrote in an editorial today that the plan would “ensure a strong economy along with a livable climate.” Former Administrators William Ruckelshaus, Lee Thomas, William Reilly and Christine Todd Whitman — who all served under Republican presidents — praised Obama in a New York Times op-ed piece for directing their former agency to regulate carbon dioxide from new and existing power plants under the Clean Air Act.
“There hasn’t been a lot of investment in the grid for the last two decades,” said Michael Goggin, a senior analyst at the American Wind Energy Association, a trade group. “We just don’t have a strong grid that’s built out in the parts of the country where there are a lot of wind resources.” The transmission grid was built a generation ago for coal, nuclear and hydropower plants without renewable energy in mind. It makes transmission from wind farms in rural areas difficult and costly.
A group of Democratic governors yesterday lent their support to President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, praising him in a letter for moving ahead with carbon dioxide reductions because “Congress has failed to take meaningful legislative action on this issue.” “While too many still refuse to acknowledge the overwhelming scientific consensus of human-caused climate change, the devastating impacts of climate change in our states are all too real,” said the 14 governors.
EACH of us took turns over the past 43 years running the Environmental Protection Agency. We served Republican presidents, but we have a message that transcends political affiliation: the United States must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change, at home and internationally.
The Interior Department raised $3.8 million in its first competitive auction for offshore wind development yesterday off the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, an encouraging sign for the nascent energy source, officials said. The agency’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management preliminarily awarded Deepwater Wind New England LLC a 25-year lease to build wind farms in a 257-square-mile wind energy area about 10 miles south of the Rhode Island shore.
Liberal activist groups today released model legislation they said was drawn up by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council to weaken state renewable energy policies. ALEC last year and earlier this year pushed several efforts to repeal state-level renewable portfolio standards in places like North Carolina and Kansas, but none was successful (Greenwire, June 3). Most state legislatures have adjourned for the year, and the group is rejiggering its efforts for a renewed push to limit renewable purchasing mandates when states reconvene next year, according to the documents.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today challenged her employees to take an active role in the “moral imperative” to address climate change. “I hope there are no climate change deniers in the Department of Interior,” she said.
The city of Boulder is set to adopt a goal of cutting its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. Meeting that new goal, which is expected to be adopted by the City Council next year, will require an “unprecedented level of action,” a city staff memo said.
The U.S. wind energy industry’s growth engine badly sputtered and then stalled in the first half of 2013, with only 1.6 megawatts of new wind power coming online between January and June, according to data released yesterday by the American Wind Energy Association. During the second quarter of the year, no new wind turbines were built anywhere in the country, AWEA said, a circumstance few would have predicted one year ago, when the industry was riding a wave of growth that resulted in 13,000 MW of new generation being added to the grid in 2012.
A Senate Finance subcommittee yesterday began its work to overhaul an array of tax incentives benefiting energy companies with a broad overview of what benefits exist today and continued partisan disagreement over how to account for the tax breaks enjoyed by various industries. Negotiations over comprehensive tax reform have been simmering on Capitol Hill for more than a year, but the effect that overhauling the tax code would have on energy companies has remained largely in the background. Tax reform could have massive implications across numerous sectors, from oil drillers to pipeline operators to wind farm developers to building retrofitters.