With the launch of an investigation into Exxon Mobil Corp.’s climate stance by New York’s attorney general, talk of wide-ranging tobacco-style litigation against Exxon and other oil and gas companies has amplified. But if the Exxon inquiry does blow up into a battle against civil and criminal charges, the oil and gas major may have one big advantage that the tobacco industry, which for years denied that smoking was injurious to human health, did not: lessons from the tobacco industry’s flawed defensive tactics that led to a $206 billion settlement.
The Interior Department today announced plans to award two wind energy leases off the New Jersey coast for $1.9 million, a key step in developing a federal wind energy area with an estimated 3,400 megawatts of commercial potential. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s online auction lasted seven rounds and drew competitive bidding from three companies. RES America Developments Inc. submitted a winning bid of $881,000 for the rights to develop 160,000 acres in the southern half of a wind energy area about 8 miles from Atlantic City. US Wind Inc. submitted a winning bid of $1 million to develop 183,000 acres in the northern half.
For years, President Barack Obama chided Republicans and Democrats alike for treating the Keystone XL pipeline as a signal of whether the U.S. would seriously fight global warming. Now that he’s killed the project, Obama is holding it up as Exhibit A as he works to lock in his environmental legacy with a powerful international climate accord.
From New England to North Carolina, scattered insurgencies have formed in opposition to a spider web of pipelines up and down the Eastern Seaboard as the nation’s energy industry seeks to move pent-up natural gas supplies. Behind the pipeline boom: vast deposits of natural gas being drilled in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio and ready for shipment to U.S. and international markets. “Essentially, the takeaway is they’re re-plumbing the whole United States,” said Timothy R. Carr, a West Virginia University geologist.
The Obama administration has completed a yearslong environmental review of a 360-mile transmission line project across southern New Mexico and Arizona that is expected to promote renewables in the West. A notice announcing completion of the final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Southline Transmission Project conducted by the Bureau of Land Management was published in today’s Federal Register but under U.S. EPA’s section. Today’s notice begins a 30-day public review period running through Dec. 7.
Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City said this week that he would run millions of dollars in political television ads against four state attorneys general who are suing the Obama administration over regulations on power plant emissions. The ads, which Mr. Bloomberg’s advisers said would cost more than $10 million across the four states, signify a new venture for the billionaire philanthropist, who has already spent heavily from his personal fortune to try to limit the number of coal-burning power plants nationally.
The federal Energy Department released its final environmental report Wednesday on a proposed high-voltage, direct-current transmission line from the Oklahoma Panhandle to Tennessee. The 720-mile Plains and Eastern Clean Line project would take 4,000 megawatts of electricity from planned wind farms in the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles and ship it directly to utilities in the southeastern United States. A converter station in Arkansas would take 500 megawatts of renewable energy for utilities in that state.
The legal battle now includes 45 states: 27 states suing over the rule against 18 states backing U.S. EPA’s plans to cut power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions. In at least three of those states — Colorado, Maryland and Iowa — the governors are at odds with the attorneys general. It’s not uncommon for state attorneys general and governors to spar over contentious legal issues. Both positions are elected separately in most states, and in some the offices are occupied by officials from opposing parties. But the high stakes and high visibility of the Clean Power Plan have brought more scrutiny to the lawsuits — and more attention to in-state fighting — than usual.
Gov. John Hickenlooper said he will seek the state Supreme Court’s opinion on the legality of Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s lawsuit to stop implementation of the Clean Power Plan. “This notion of everyone suing all the time every time you disagree with a specific remedy, a specific statute, is part of what makes people so frustrated with government,” Hickenlooper, who supports the plan, said in a meeting with The Denver Post’s editorial board.
This sleepy coastal town of 10,000 people along California’s Central Coast is known for its fishing fleet, nearby Hearst Castle and Morro Rock, a craggy 581-foot-tall monolith that dominates the views to the ocean. But a few years from now, Morro Bay may be known for something else: a huge offshore wind farm. In a venture that could pit the state’s commitment to green energy against its famed coastal environmental movement, a Seattle company is proposing to build the first ocean wind farm off California’s coast.