U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, said Wednesday he plans a trip to Iowa this month, hoping to make climate change an issue in the 2016 Iowa presidential caucuses. Whitehouse, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, is coming to Iowa at the invitation of state Sen. Robert Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, who has written a book about the impacts of climate change. Whitehouse plans stops in Des Moines and Shenandoah, and will also visit Omaha, Neb.
While Gov. Deval Patrick has made trips to Quebec for discussions about importing electricity from the Canadian region’s enormous hydroelectric facilities, Sullivan said that is not the only form of green energy in play. “It may very well be hydro, but it also could be on-shore wind, could be off-shore wind,” Sullivan said. There are a number of proposed wind farms seeking permits or in development in Maine and New Hampshire, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, including Oakfield Wind, a 150,000 kilowatt permitted project near the Canadian border in Maine and North Country Wind, a 180,000 project under development in New Hampshire, north of Mount Washington.
The House voted 229-183 to block U.S. EPA’s plans to limit power plant carbon emissions, striking at the heart of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. The measure by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) would prevent EPA from finalizing its proposal to require carbon capture and storage technology for all new coal-fired power plants and would make rules for existing power plants contingent on congressional approval. Ten Democrats crossed the aisle to vote for the bill, and Republican Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.), Chris Gibson (N.Y.) and Frank LoBiondo (N.J.) voted against it.
What’s happening in Kansas could be happening in your state. It’s not completely clear that the efforts to rollback the statewide renewable energy requirements there — and in 16 other states — will succeed. But it is obvious that, nationally, the tax preference given to renewables is fading. Here’s the parallel: Most free market planners are opposed to mandatory statutes that require utilities to offer certain amounts of green energy. Kansas has those, along with about 30 states — in some form or another. Meantime, the production tax credit given to wind energy expired at year-end 2013. While it could get resurrected in a tax compromise, it could also permanently die down.
A coalition of governors who advocate for wind energy want to work with the nation’s energy regulators to prepare the grid for more wind. Members of the Governors Wind Energy Coalition got the ball rolling earlier this month in a meeting with Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioners (FERC), discussing transmission development, grid modernization, regional cooperation, coordinated regional operations and other ways in which the parties can promote the deployment of wind energy. “The value of wind energy resources to our states’ economies cannot be unlocked unless they have access to a market,” South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, chairman of the Coalition, said in a statement. “Long-distance transmission is the critical link between these resources and the customers who want clean and less expensive energy.”
Two bird advocacy groups, fresh off a successful effort to block a wind turbine project at an Air National Guard base in northern Ohio, are raising concerns about an even larger proposed wind project at a nearby business park on the shores of Lake Erie that they say could harm bald eagles and other sensitive wildlife. But the owners of the Lake Erie Business Park in Port Clinton where the wind turbines would be sited say they have not finalized plans to build as many as five additional turbines to one already installed there last year, and that development is not imminent.
The head of the Bonneville Power Administration has named two top staff members, filling a pair of key vacancies at the head of the troubled agency. BPA Administrator Elliot Mainzer selected Greg Delwiche to serve as the agency’s deputy administrator and named Claudia Andrews as its chief operating officer. Andrews replaces former Chief Operating Officer Anita Decker, who resigned after being put on administrative leave last year.
The agency gave no explanation for its decision to extend the comment period from March 10. The proposal was published in the Federal Register on Jan. 8, months after its release. Some onlookers attributed that delay to last-minute concerns at EPA about the legality of a proposed mandate that all new coal-fired power plants use carbon capture and storage technology to limit emissions, but the agency put it down to a work backlog caused by October’s federal government shutdown. The proposal was published with no significant changes.
Plans to build the country’s first big wave energy project off the Oregon coast have been abandoned by developers who said the costs were too high to justify the project. The project, as envisioned, would have put a flotilla of 100 buoys that generate energy from the waves off the town of Reedsport, Ore. Each buoy would be as big as a school bus.
Searching for a reason major climate change legislation hasn’t passed Congress yet? You could do worse than start looking around Washington, D.C., with its endless think tanks, lobbying firms and trade groups, many of which have swung into action in the past to block such bills and stand ready to do so in the future.