President Obama’s plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants over the next 15 years will force states to address climate change by pushing them to act more like California. The Clean Power Plan announced Monday poses significant challenges for states that rely on coal-fired power plants for much of their electricity, but complying with the rules will be a breeze for California. That’s because the state has practically eliminated coal from its energy portfolio and leads the nation with the toughest regulations to cut the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet.
Building Block 4, as it was referred to in the draft rule, was sharply criticized by the rule’s opponents as exceeding EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act because it reached far beyond the power plant “fence line” to assume carbon reductions. EPA’s decision to nix the provision was surely informed by the millions of public comments it received before finalizing the rule. But it also got a clear indication from the Supreme Court after issuing the draft rule that such a reading likely would not pass legal muster.
The final Clean Power Plan released today sets tougher targets than last year’s draft version because it assumes that renewable energy and regional approaches have even greater capacity for helping the power sector shed emissions, U.S. EPA air chief Janet McCabe said today. Speaking on a call with reporters an hour after the rule’s release, McCabe touted the changes the agency had made to make it easier for states to comply. These changes were many and varied.
President Barack Obama sought to clamp down Monday on power plant emissions with a federal plan that — if successful — would attempt to slow global warming by dramatically shifting the way Americans get and use electricity. Touting the plan at a White House ceremony, Obama described his unprecedented carbon dioxide limits as the biggest step ever taken by the U.S. on climate change. On that point, at least, his opponents agreed. They denounced his proposal as egregious federal overreach that would send power prices surging, and vowed lawsuits and legislation to try to stop it. “We’re the first generation to feel the impact of climate change, and we’re the last generation that can do something about it,” Obama said. He added, “We only get one planet. There’s no Plan B.”
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called on Sunday for a dramatic national shift to energy sources such as solar and wind, setting a goal of generating enough clean renewable energy to power every U.S. home within a decade after she takes office. Clinton, the front-runner for her party’s 2016 presidential nomination, also pledged to have more than half a billion solar panels installed nationwide within four years of taking office.
Setting ambitious goals for producing energy from the sun, wind and other renewable sources, Hillary Rodham Clinton seized on an issue Monday that increasingly resonates with Democratic voters and sets up a stark contrast with the Republican presidential field.
“Even when gas prices are high, there’s a strong correlation between truck purchases and economic activity,” Cooke said. Asked about separating the economic impacts of low gas prices and an improving national economy on car purchases, he said, “It’s hard to disentangle those effects a little bit,” adding that “certainly hybrids have been very well correlated to high gas prices.” From January through June, dealers have sold one-third fewer Chevrolet Volts compared to the same period of 2014. Sales for all Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius hybrid models were down across the board in the first half of 2015. The company has sold about 15 percent fewer Priuses than it did in the same period last year.
The U.S. wind industry is entering cautiously optimistic ground after a slow start to the year with its best second quarter ever and Senate approval of an on-again, off-again tax credit. Wind companies added about 1,660 megawatts of new power to the U.S. grid this quarter, according to the latest quarterly report released Wednesday by the trade group American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). In the first half of 2015, new installations of wind energy projects represented nearly 2,000 MW. That more than doubled the capacity installed in the same period last year, but still fell short of record 2012 growth.
Bill Fehrman, CEO of MidAmerican Energy, said Monday the company could get up to 57 percent of its energy from wind with its latest renewable energy project. And while wind’s growing presence in MidAmerican’s portfolio is encouraging, so is news that the Des Moines-based utility is looking to invest in solar projects in Iowa, with community solar gardens and utility-sized solar leading the possible options. “We’re not ready to announce a direction yet, but we’re in discussions with a variety of interested stakeholders around doing some sort of solar pilot project in the state,” Fehrman said.
Warren Buffett is lending his name and deep pockets to the battle against climate change. Berkshire Hathaway Energy on Monday joined a dozen major U.S. businesses at the White House in calling for robust action on global warming.
Berkshire joined Apple, Walmart, General Motors, Cargill, Bank of America and others to announce more than $140 billion in investments in low-carbon projects and other actions as they shift toward greater reliance on renewable energy.