Senators were working yesterday afternoon to resolve the lone objection to an agreement to schedule votes on energy reform legislation and a separate measure to help Flint, Mich., cope with its drinking water crisis. Should talks bear fruit, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) told reporters, the energy bill, S. 2012, could return to the floor later this week or next week.
House and Senate Democrats introduced a bicameral resolution today to promote the goal of moving the country away from fossil fuels and to renewable energy. More than 100 House members and 30 senators — led by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Reps. John Delaney (D-Md.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) — are backing the sense-of-Congress resolution. It says that climate change will have a “devastating impact” on the U.S. economy and that the United States should strive to achieve 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz sought to stabilize support behind a key funding program for clean energy research yesterday as he appeared before increasingly skeptical Republican lawmakers. Moniz defended Mission Innovation, a 20-nation initiative set during the Paris climate agreement, against criticism about its goal to double clean energy investment in the United States over the next five years.
Renewable energy company SunEdison Inc. and the Maryland Climate Coalition have released poll results showing that Maryland residents overwhelmingly support legislation before the General Assembly that would increase the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS). Currently, Maryland’s RPS requires state electricity providers to source 20% of their energy from renewables by 2022, and it also includes a 2% by 2020 solar carve-out. The Clean Energy Jobs Act (S.B.921/H.B.1106) would raise the RPS to 25% from renewables by 2020, as well as 2.5% from solar by the same year.
The use of wind, solar, hydro and biomass power has jumped in Minnesota the past 10 years, and the state is poised to beat its goal for electricity generated by renewables, officials said Thursday. Minnesota generated 21 percent of its electricity from renewable energy in 2015, up from 6 percent a decade ago, the Minnesota Commerce Department said in a new report.
Two more high-profile federal judges with experience deciding environmental cases are reportedly being vetted by the White House for the Supreme Court vacancy. Judge Sri Srinivasan and Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit have been the subjects of FBI background checks, The New York Times reported. The two appeals court judges have been widely cited as potentially attractive picks for President Obama as his administration looks to circumvent staunch Republican opposition to any nominee before the November presidential election.
Senators from both parties huddled on the floor last night to plot a path forward for energy reform legislation and an aid package for Flint, Mich., after it appeared that at least one Republican senator wouldn’t agree to let both measures come up for a vote. Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) was refusing to agree to votes on the energy bill, S. 2012, and the separate Flint measure unless backers agreed to changes.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has vetoed a bill that would require state lawmakers to sign off on any plan to meet federal climate regulations for power plants. McAuliffe, who supports U.S. EPA’s rule, said yesterday on Twitter that the bill would “hamper his ability to implement the Clean Power Plan in a way that works for [Virginia].” The measure comes in the wake of uncertainty surrounding the Clean Power Plan since the Supreme Court issued a stay of the rule last month.
South Dakota’s tax structure would change for solar facilities in an attempt to encourage their construction, under a measure that received final approval Thursday from the Legislature.
The Senate voted 33-1 for the measure, HB 1177. The House of Representatives had earlier approved it 54-15. Its prime sponsor is Rep. Roger Solum, R-Watertown. The change could be a great economic development tool, said Sen. Ried Holien, R-Watertown.
South Dakota doesn’t have any solar production now.
Large-scale energy-storage systems, long considered the elusive link to integrating solar and wind power into electric grids, are slowly becoming a reality. U.S. homes and businesses — mainly utilities — installed storage systems with 221 megawatts of capacity in 2015, according to a study released Thursday by Boston-based GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association. That’s about enough to power a city the size of Cincinnati, Ohio, for an hour and is more than triple the 2014 total.