The great American road trip is back. It’s partly that gasoline this driving season is cheaper than it has been in 11 years, according to the AAA motor club, and that the reviving economy is making people more willing to part with their money. But there is more than that at play here. This may be a cultural shift, as Americans experiment with the notion that maybe money can, in fact, buy happiness, at least in the form of adventures and memories.
New York State is mounting a broad effort to reduce the cost of building a wind farm off the coast of Long Island, an ambitious push to generate clean power in U.S. waters. The state’s Energy Research and Development Authority plans to bid for a federal lease to develop a 81,000-acre (127-square-mile) site in the Atlantic Ocean. If it wins, New York would undertake initial site studies and pursue an agreement to sell the electricity. The state would then hold an auction of its own, selling development rights to the highest bidder.
With his hands in the air, professor Mark Z. Jacobson lets out an exasperated sigh. A Twitter dispute between him and a conservative commentator is playing out in front of his 6,000 followers. The back-and-forth stems from a paper Jacobson published last year in the journal Energy & Environmental Science outlining paths for all 50 states to run on renewable energy by 2050.
Two investors are betting they can make a profit from coal by burning hardly any of it. Daniel Kretinsky, 40, and Patrik Tkac, 43, are trying to capitalize on Europe’s rapid expansion into renewables by embracing the fuel, a mainstay of European energy before efforts to curb global warming, in its new role as a backup for when the wind dies down and the sun fails to shine.
Rooftop solar giant SolarCity said Thursday that federal and state tax incentives would go directly to consumers under the company’s new loan program that allows homeowners to buy solar panels instead of leasing them. Homeowners now have the option of purchasing solar panels through 10-year or 20-year loans from SolarCity. The program is available in California and 13 other states.
Iowa offers a glimpse of what a thriving, apolitical renewable energy sector looks like. Iowa — where support from the state capital came as early as the 1980s, many residents correlate the industry with green jobs, and opposition to wind turbines has not been as vocal as in some other states — offers a glimpse of what a thriving, apolitical renewable energy sector looks like. “In the national perspective, it has become left versus right,” John Boorman, vice president of the Iowa Wind Energy Association, says of renewable energy. “It has never been that here. It has always been about jobs and economic development.”
A courtroom brawl over the Obama administration’s signature climate change rule was expected to kick off Thursday — featuring a packed courthouse in Washington, D.C., long lines, throngs of reporters and a slew of heavy-hitting lawyers making their case before three federal judges. That didn’t happen. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit made waves last month by tossing out those plans. Instead of holding oral arguments before three randomly picked judges, the court rescheduled the arguments for September before the full court (Greenwire, May 17). For the dozens of lawyers involved in the behemoth lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, today is now just like any other.
Washington state yesterday released a new version of its proposal to cap carbon emissions from large sources. The plan was released in response to concerns about the state’s original proposal, including how the rule would mesh with the federal Clean Power Plan. The Department of Ecology scrapped that plan in February
The Obama administration is proposing to lease more than 81,000 acres off the New York coast for an offshore wind energy project. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced the proposal today, calling it a milestone in the administration’s effort to increase renewable energy development on public lands and in federal waters. The agency plans to conduct the lease sale by the end of the year. “This is another major step in broadening our nation’s energy portfolio, harnessing power near population centers on the East Coast,” she said. “Offshore wind power marks a new frontier in renewable energy development, creating the path for sustainable electricity generation, job creation and strengthening our nation’s economic competitiveness.”
A boom in solar and wind power jobs in the US led the way to a global increase in renewable energy employment to more than 8 million people in 2015, according to a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency. More than 769,000 people were employed in renewable energy in the US in 2015, dwarfing the 187,000 employed in the oil and gas sector and the 68,000 in coal mining. The gap is set to grow further, with jobs in solar and wind growing by more than 20% in 2015, while oil and gas jobs fell by 18% as the fossil fuel industry struggled with low prices.