The Obama administration and several states are easing the offshore wind permitting process for Great Lakes wind developments, officials said today. The Department of Energy and Council on Environmental Quality spearheaded the effort to coordinate siting and permitting requirements — a mix of state and federal regulations — for offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes. Five of the eight Great Lakes states entered into a memorandum of understanding with DOE, CEQ and other federal agencies, in which they agreed to produce a permitting blueprint for wind development in the lakes to smooth the process without sacrificing environmental protection.
They’re still debating the pros and cons of renewable energy in Washington, D.C., but it’s a slam-dunk for the owners of the Phoenix Suns. Strategic marketing of renewable energy through sports brands may have reached a new zenith this month as the National Basketball Association’s Suns became the latest professional sports franchise to tie its brand to environmental stewardship and renewable energy.
The Texas electric grid is proudly isolated. While most other states operate on a pair of grids that serve the eastern and western halves of the country, Texas has evolved on its own, in order to keep federal regulators at bay.
The Senate turned back a proposal today to end oil and gas industry tax breaks and extend a passel of renewable energy credits, the latest twist in a political spectacle centered on a question worthy of Hamlet: What is a subsidy?
Supporters of the Treasury Department’s Section 1603 renewable energy program have gone to great lengths to explain the many differences between the popular grant-in-lieu-of-tax-credit effort and the controversial Department of Energy loan guarantee program that was responsible for the Solyndra debacle. But those efforts didn’t much matter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) today as he lumped the two programs together in a broadside against the Obama administration over stimulus spending and the unemployment rate.
The Obama administration today will announce an agreement with states to promote offshore wind power in the Great Lakes, according to an administration source. White House officials are scheduled to join the governors of Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania to announce a new agreement among federal and state regulators to streamline reviews of proposed wind farms.
Virginia has approved construction of a wind turbine in the Chesapeake Bay that could be the first installed in U.S. waters, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) announced yesterday.
“The United States is now going to be the low-cost industrialized country for energy,” he said. “We are going to have a cost advantage of maybe 80 percent in terms of energy, relative to other countries, and this is going to persist for some time.” And given the Obama administration’s biofuels mandate, demand for gasoline will fall at a higher rate in the United States especially once the ethanol blend is cheaper at the gas pump, which will spur the sale of cars that run on a blend, he said. This will feed back to further reduce oil dependence, he said.
The proposed standards, which now face a 60-day comment period before becoming final, are a logical reflection of today’s markets and the future of electricity generation, explained EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson as she announced the standards yesterday. The action is consistent with a move to cleaner-burning natural gas, “already the technology of choice,” said Jackson. The standards are the outcome of a court settlement reached between the agency and various environmental groups and states in 2010, which also mandates greenhouse gas standards from oil refineries.
U.S. EPA’s proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants is barely out of the gate, but Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has already vowed to kill it.