Federal appellate judges today rejected a challenge to the controversial Cape Wind offshore wind farm project from Massachusetts residents. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the Federal Aviation Administration finding that the proposed 130-turbine farm would not pose a risk to aeronautical navigation over Nantucket Sound.
On Wednesday, the European Union proposed an end to binding national targets for renewable energy production after 2020. Instead, it substituted an overall European goal that is likely to be much harder to enforce. It also decided against proposing laws on environmental damage and safety during the extraction of shale gas by a controversial drilling process known as fracking. It opted instead for a series of minimum principles it said it would monitor.
For the better part of the last decade, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has gone out of his way—and dipped into federal funds—to help get a massive, cross-state transmission line built in his home state of Nevada. On Thursday Reid will attend the opening of the 235-mile line, which at the beginning of this year started carrying large amounts of electricity produced from renewable sources rather than coal, just as Reid envisioned seven years ago.
“Wind comprised the majority of the net generation increase supplied by renewables, adding 74%, or 66,717 GWh, of the increase, while solar saw tremendous percentage growth over the period,” according to an analysis by SNL Energy. The total increase equaled 90,329 Gigawatts.
The U.S. Department of Energy now says wind is the second-cheapest American power resource, behind natural gas. Wind energy is becoming economically feasible again. The Iowa Wind Energy Association calculates that nearly $10 billion has been invested in Iowa’s wind farms and manufacturing facilities. That figure might well double in the next three to five years.
And throughout the U.S., the breeze of good news has become a veritable gale. In 2012, the country’s wind energy capacity surpassed 60 GV (enough to power 15 million homes), no other country installed more wind energy than the U.S., and wind added more power to the national grid than any other source, including natural gas. It’s no wonder then that the price of wind power is hitting record lows: 4 cents per KW/hour, 50 percent less than in 2009. It’s no wonder also that the utility owned by Warren Buffett has invested $1 billion to purchase enough wind turbines in Iowa to generate 1,000 MW.
The Obama administration will continue to drive U.S. climate change policy for the foreseeable future, working around a deadlocked Congress incapable of meaningful action, former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D) said today. Ritter, who now directs the Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE) at Colorado State University, said at a Washington, D.C., briefing that executive agencies seemed poised to make the most of existing authority to draw down emissions even as members of Congress continue to argue over whether man-made climate change exists.
A group of the nation’s leading environmental organizations is breaking with the administration over its energy policy, arguing that the White House needs to apply a strict climate test to all of its energy decisions or risk undermining one of the president’s top second-term priorities. The rift — reflected in a letter sent to President Obama by 18 groups, including the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund and Earthjustice — signals that the administration is under pressure to confront the fossil-fuel industry or risk losing support from a critical part of its political base during an already difficult election year.
A senior White House adviser with strong ties to the environmental movement Friday blasted environmental groups for criticizing President Obama’s “all of the above” messaging on energy. John Podesta, a senior aide to President Clinton whose return to the White House earlier this month was cheered by environmentalists, said groups including the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters got it wrong last week when they called on Obama to stop expressing support for fossil fuel development Greenwire, Jan. 17).
The wind industry’s top lobbying group is losing one of its leading advocates at the beginning of a year expected to see an invigorated campaign to reinstate a key tax break.
Chris Chwastyk is resigning as vice president for federal legislative affairs at the American Wind Energy Association, where he has been a registered lobbyist since 2009. Chwastyk has led a team in charge of AWEA’s direct lobbying of lawmakers and congressional aides as well as overseeing its grass-roots and political action committee activity.