Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) decision to get involved in choosing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s next chairman is creating “dysfunction” at the agency and threatening its ability to function properly, a member of the commission said yesterday. John Norris, a Democratic member of FERC, during an interview yesterday expressed concerns that the commission, an arcane yet powerful agency that oversees the U.S. electric grid and natural gas infrastructure and pipelines, is being subjected to too much political pressure. “It’s concerning that an independent agency responsible for regulatory decisions has become so overly politicized,” Norris said.
U.S. EPA will publish its proposal to limit existing power plant carbon dioxide emissions tomorrow in the Federal Register, marking the opening of a 120-day public comment period. But as interest groups prepare comments for and against the proposal, and states continue to assess its impact, Capitol Hill remains deadlocked over how or whether to respond to the rule. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) have introduced legislation in their respective chambers to prevent EPA from implementing the rule unless several agencies certify it would have no negative economic impact.
Reining in U.S. power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions may be one of President Obama’s top priorities, but it’ll be his successor who’ll have to finish the job — or try to undo it. The proposal for curbing carbon emissions from existing power plants that U.S. EPA rolled out on June 2 set in motion events that won’t be wrapped up by the time a new president is sworn in January 2017. “The outcome of the 2016 presidential election will be extremely important to the future of these rules,” said Michael Gerrard, climate law director at Columbia Law School. “If the American people elect a Republican president who adheres to the current party position on climate regulation, it’s likely that EPA implementation of the rules will stop, and there will be an effort to repeal them.”
Nine Republican governors asked President Obama today to scrap U.S. EPA’s climate rule proposal for existing power plants, blasting it as an unprecedented infringement on state authority. The governors, whose states are major producers and consumers of fossil fuels, told Obama in a letter the June 2 proposal from U.S. EPA would “largely dictate to states the type of electricity generation they could build and operate.” The letter was signed by the governors of Alaska, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming.
John Kasich gave final approval Monday to sweeping budget review legislation that includes expanded tax cuts and credits and major new restrictions on new wind turbines in the state. Kasich, speaking at a signing ceremony held at a food bank in suburban Columbus, praised the tax cuts, as well as funding for issues such as mental health services.
The arcane but powerful Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will once again spark political conflagration this week as the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee casts its vote on Norman Bay, President Obama’s second contentious pick in recent months to lead the agency. The Senate committee Wednesday is scheduled to vote on Bay and the renomination of Cheryl LaFleur, the agency’s acting chairwoman whose term expires this month, as well as a bill fast-tracking the stalled Keystone XL pipelin
Billions of dollars in revenues from California’s carbon cap-and-trade auctions will help fund development of the state’s high-speed rail line and pay for public transit, affordable housing and communities located near jobs and transportation under a deal struck yesterday.
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) smooth glide to the majority leader’s post next week hit a small bump today in the form of Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) as greens slammed him for opposing an extension of the wind production tax credit (PTC). A dyed-in-the-wool conservative elected in the tea party wave of 2010, Labrador announced a long-shot candidacy to replace departing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) with a statement that vowed to tackle “immobility amongst the poor” and the power of “special interests” over policymaking.” Americans don’t believe their leaders in Washington are listening and now is the time to change that,” Labrador said. “We must restore the proper role of government to create space for free markets and civil society to prosper and flourish.
Renewable energy developers and wind industry groups yesterday voiced their support for a proposed $2 billion, 700-mile transmission line project in a series of letters to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. Called the Plains & Eastern Clean Line, the project would funnel 3,500 megawatts of the Oklahoma Panhandle’s wind wealth to energy buyers in Arkansas, Tennessee and population centers in other Southeastern states. It is being developed by the Houston-based company Clean Line Energy.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) is expected to sign a bill into law this weekend freezing his state’s renewable energy standard (RES) for two years, marking a victory for conservative state legislators and some industries that have opposed the policies. While the bill (S.B. 310) would not eliminate the RES, it would put the brakes on rules that mandate annual energy efficiency upgrades and encourage the growth of renewable energy. Provisions favoring in-state generation and a carve-out for solar energy would be permanently scrapped.