Ohio could become the first state to soften standards for utilities’ energy efficiency and renewable energy use if a fast-tracked bill passes the House this week as expected. The state’s Senate Bill 310 would repeal requirements for power providers to source half their renewable energy in-state and would freeze annual increases in alternative energy integration for two years.
On the heels of an executive order that jump-starts efforts to address climate change, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has signaled he is willing to take further executive action to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels. Appearing on a recent Seattle-based television show, Inslee said he is willing to use executive authority to implement a low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS). The program would mandate that fuel producers reduce the carbon intensity of their fuel mix over time to clean up the transportation sector, which accounts for roughly 44 percent of Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions. “It is clear that it is both my role and my responsibility to act where legislators fail, and there’s been so far an abject failure to do any action to really deal with carbon pollution,” he said.
Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey and head of U.S. EPA under President George W. Bush, and Bob Inglis, former congressman from South Carolina, said they see the politics of climate change beginning to shift. “The two things that really drive Republicans are fiscal growth, economic growth and national security,” Whitman said at the Fortune Brainstorm Green Conference, a gathering of businesses, environmentalists and state and federal officials. “Climate change runs smack headlong into both of those.”
Norman Bay, President Obama’s pick to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, faced sharp criticism today from Republicans on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee bristling over enforcement complaints. But Bay also appeared to have found critical allies on the panel of 12 Democrats and 10 Republicans. Ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) asked Bay, a former New Mexico prosecutor, to address recent criticism that FERC’s Office of Enforcement — which Bay has led since 2009 — has handed out excessive fines.
The Obama administration’s nominee to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission faced congressional scrutiny on Tuesday for his role in the commission’s push to hold Wall Street firms and traders accountable for alleged manipulation of electricity prices. As FERC’s enforcement director, Norman Bay worked with former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff to put more muscle in the commission’s enforcement program, seeking substantial fines from financial firms such as J.P. Morgan Chase and Barclays
President Obama himself plans to roll out his administration’s proposal next month for curbing greenhouse gases from existing power plants, U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said today. The EPA chief confirmed in a Google+ hangout on the president’s climate agenda that Obama “indicated his intent” to announce the proposal himself — something that she said showed his commitment to it. Greens say some direct involvement from the president would guarantee the proposal gets the attention it needs to win public support and counter opposition messaging by industry groups that the rules will drive up energy costs and damage grid reliability.
“Wind has been doing great and has been a huge success story for Texas, and solar is the new huge success story that’s underway in Texas,” said Karen Hadden of the Texas-based Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition. “We’re going to see more and more of it, and the two work together beautifully.”
A hedge fund that decided to publicly fume over the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s investigation of its operations got louder yesterday ahead of the high-stakes Senate confirmation hearing for Norman Bay, whom President Obama tapped to lead the agency. Speaking at a Cato Institute event in Washington, D.C., yesterday, Kevin Gates, vice president of the Powhatan Energy Fund LLC, reiterated his company’s innocence despite an ongoing FERC investigation for allegedly gaming the energy markets.
Ohio is on the cusp of becoming the first state to significantly ease its renewable-energy standards, a milestone that would be noticed in statehouses across the country where similar debates are being waged. Proposals have gained traction in Kansas and several other states and have at least been introduced in a dozen or so others. But none has had as much success as Ohio’s Senate Bill 310, which haspassed the Senate and appears poised to pass the House as soon as this week.
Mr. Brown is at the forefront of governors across the country who are grappling with ways to deal with climate change through legislation and infrastructure changes, rather than waiting for coordinated efforts from the federal government. Governors from states including Maryland, New York and Washington are pushing for ways to combat what they say are dangerous threats to their state’s economic and environmental future, citing worries of rising sea levels, drought and snowmelt. Eight states so far have passed legislation calling for the reduction of carbon emissions in the coming decades, though none with plans as ambitious as California’s. Nine Northeastern states along with California have adopted cap-and-trade policies for the largest greenhouse-gas-emitting industries.