The Senate on Wednesday passed the first broad energy bill since the George W. Bush administration, a bipartisan measure to better align the nation’s oil, gas and electricity systems with the changing ways that power is produced in the United States. The bill, approved 85 to 12, united Republicans and Democrats around a traditionally divisive issue — energy policy — largely by avoiding the hot-button topics of climate change and oil and gas exploration that have thwarted other measures.
The House Appropriations Committee approved an energy and water spending bill yesterday by voice vote after a meeting that erupted into a tense debate about the Flint, Mich., water crisis. The $37.4 billion energy and water measure would slash efficiency and renewable research programs below the White House request, increase fossil fuel spending and provide a funding boost for the controversial Yucca Mountain nuclear repository in Nevada, a Republican priority.
It also would block the administration from implementing its recent Clean Water Act jurisdictional rule and boost funding for the Army Corps of Engineers to a record $6.1 billion — $100 million more than fiscal 2016 enacted level and $1.5 billion over the president’s budget request.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said yesterday she was aiming for a quick conference with the House to produce a final energy bill that President Obama could sign before the August congressional recess. The Senate last night worked through the remaining amendments to the committee’s bipartisan energy package, S. 2012. It set the vote on final passage for this morning.
Climate change seems to rank very low in the presidential race, among issues,” said Stephen Adler, editor-in-chief of Reuters. “We did a poll that showed that only 29 percent of voters even wanted to know where their candidate stood on climate change.” Nonetheless, Gates said, finding a solution to climate change remains an urgent challenge, and the current pace of incremental improvements in existing fossil and renewable power plants is far too slow to avert dangerous warming while leaving many fundamental problems unsolved.
Global wind energy capacity will nearly double in the next five years, largely led by further market growth in China, but also as a stronger industry emerges in the United States, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) said on Tuesday. In its annual report on the status of the global wind industry, GWEC said cumulative wind energy capacity was 433 gigawatts (GW) at the end of 2015, a 17 percent rise from the year before.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is seeking input on “barriers” to energy storage in a move that could spur the technology, according to analysts. FERC requested a response from independent system operators and regional transmission operators this week on whether obstacles for electricity storage in wholesale markets create “unfair and unreasonable” rates. The language signals that FERC is supportive of more energy storage, according to Yayoi Sekine, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
A state judge has recommended that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission apply the federal “social cost of carbon” calculation to determine how new energy projects affect the environmental health and well-being of the state. In a nonbinding opinion handed down Friday, Judge LauraSue Schlatter declared the federal calculation “as reasonable and the best available measure to determine the environmental cost of CO2” when evaluating the impacts of energy projects in Minnesota.
Crafted by Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, and the panel’s top Democrat, Maria Cantwell of Washington, the bipartisan measure, S. 2012, seeks to upgrade the nation’s aging pipeline and power infrastructure, boost energy efficiency in federal buildings and streamline applications for exports of liquefied natural gas. It’s not as far-reaching as the energy packages that cleared Congress in 2005 and 2007 — which boasted hallmark programs such as the Renewable Fuel Standard — but its passage would be milestone for a Senate known for gridlock.
Iowa has been an early adopter in renewable energy, with its very visible results coming at the gas pump in ethanol and biofuels and the wind turbines that tower over many of our state’s highways. The Hawkeye State has a strong solar energy presence, too, often dwarfed by other energy sources. The end results of this investment are more jobs, economic development and a drastically reduced dependence on fossil fuels. Across the board, this is a win for Iowans.
And the governor raised the prospect of another potential veto during his radio show. Ricketts said he is taking “a good strong look” at a bill (LB824) that would remove some regulatory barriers to development of wind energy in Nebraska. “I’ve not decided on that bill,” the governor said.