The federal appeals court in Washington is set to hear arguments today in the legal fight over President Barack Obama’s plan to curtail greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the Clean Power Plan, which aims to slow climate change by reducing power-plant emissions by one-third.
The Commission on Presidential Debates last week released a list of three “topics” for tonight’s showdown at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., with two 15-minute segments allotted each to “America’s Direction,” “Achieving Prosperity” and “Securing America.” It did not offer any other information about the selected subject areas. The lack of an energy-specific heading doesn’t mean the candidates cannot raise those policies on their own — President Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney did so repeatedly in their first matchup in Denver in the 2012 election, sparring on tax benefits to the oil and gas industry and domestic production.
Schwarzenegger, and now his successor, Gov. Jerry Brown (D), have made a point of signing agreements with dozens of other state and provincial governments to reduce carbon emissions. Brown’s marquee international effort, the Under 2 MOU (memorandum of understanding), now has 135 signatories committed to limiting emissions to 2 tons per capita by 2050.
Yield-hungry investors in the offshore wind market are switching their sights to the United States as future support for the industry in Europe remains uncertain, leaving billions of euros looking for a new home. The shift in focus comes as three states on the U.S. east coast — Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York — are auctioning leases on hundreds of thousands of acres for offshore wind farms, drawing interest from leading European companies.
At the beginning of the year, the state had about 1 megawatt of solar power generation. But this year already, Enerparc Inc., an Oakland, California, firm, opened a 3.6-megawatt solar farm on 22 acres along Interstate 80 that generates power for customers of Lincoln Electric System. A rural public power district in Broken Bow will be buying power from four small solar gardens at ranches capable of producing 1.5 megawatts.
The state’s prominence in the industry can be seen in an array of statistics. Oklahoma currently ranks No. 4 in the nation in terms of installed wind power capacity, with potentially enough projects coming online by the end of the year to take the No. 3 spot from California, behind Texas (No. 1) and Iowa (No. 2).
Minneapolis-based electricity and natural gas company Xcel Energy is now seeking proposals to significantly grow its wind energy portfolio by adding enough new wind farms to power more than 750,000 homes, bringing up to 1,500 MW of new wind power to Xcel Energy customers.
After installing more wind and solar farms than anywhere else on the planet, China is ratcheting back the pace of growth in an industry that’s helped lower the costs of green energy worldwide. Installations of new wind and solar farms in China is expected to drop 11 percent in 2017 from a record high this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That would be the first decline in the history of the modern renewables business, now a little more than a decade old, for a nation that has provided about a third the investment for the industry.
The pitched battle over President Obama’s signature climate change policy, which is moving to the courts this week, carries considerable political, economic and historical stakes. Yet its legal fate, widely expected to be ultimately decided by the Supreme Court, could rest on a clerical error in an obscure provision of a 26-year-old law. That error, which left conflicting amendments on power plant regulation in the Clean Air Act, will be a major focus of oral arguments by opponents of Mr. Obama’s initiative when the case is heard on Tuesday in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
By all accounts, California is indeed on track to reach its 2020 target of reducing its emissions to 431 million metric tons (MMT) of carbon dioxide, the level that researchers estimate the state emitted in 1990. Emissions in 2014, the most recent year for which the state has released data, were 441.5 MMT, a decrease of about half a percentage point compared to 2013. Meanwhile, California’s economy since 2006 has jumped from the eighth- to the sixth-largest in the world. Yet the amount of greenhouse gas emissions it produces per person, as well as per dollar of gross domestic product, have fallen. Since 2001, state agencies have reported, its carbon emissions per unit of GDP have fallen 28 percent. Last year, the state was home to 68 percent of all clean technology investment nationwide and led in clean-tech patent registrations, as well, according to environmental advocacy group Next 10. And from 2007 to 2015, California outstripped the United States as a whole in job growth and personal income, according to an analysis released in June by Chapman University.