Vice President Joe Biden last night urged environmentalists to “keep the faith” on climate issues as he made a surprise appearance at the Green Inaugural Ball. President Obama is committed to tackling the issue during his second term, Biden said to roaring applause at the event, hosted by the National Wildlife Federation at Washington, D.C.’s Newseum.
President Obama prominently featured climate change — calling out skeptics and calling for America to lead a worldwide transition to new energy technologies — in his inaugural address today. While this second address on the steps of the Capitol was about 300 words shorter than his first, Obama spent a great deal more time today on energy and environmental issues in a speech meant as a call to action on the current challenges facing America.
It was heartening to see President Obama include an ample reference to the importance of climate-smart energy policies in his short inaugural address today. The speech is presumably a sketch of what’s to come in the State of the Union message and policy initiatives this year.
The inauguration is over, and a new Congress is getting organized this week. So time to get to work, right?
Not so fast, at least when it comes to the plethora of pending energy and environmental issues — from power plant rules to pipeline permits — that are awaiting action in President Obama’s second term and will draw intense scrutiny on Capitol Hill.
President Obama made addressing climate change the most prominent policy vow of his second Inaugural Address on Monday, setting in motion what Democrats say will be a deliberately paced but aggressive campaign built around the use of his executive powers to sidestep Congressional opposition. “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” Mr. Obama said, at the start of eight full sentences on the subject, more than he devoted to any other specific area. “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”
“We’ve got to make sure we’re building sources of energy for the future, not just thinking about next year, but 10 years from now, 20 years from now,” President Barack Obama said last fall during the second presidential debate, before a skeptical Mitt Romney. “That’s why we’ve invested in solar and wind power, biofuels and energy-efficient cars.”
These words sounded like celestial music to Spanish energy companies, and Obama’s reelection has been cause for celebration here. Spanish companies have been leading developers of solar and wind power, and have invested billions of dollars in the U.S. in recent years. With America’s push to develop the clean energy even further, there is an opportunity to greatly increase Spain’s output in these sectors, beyond regional partners like Latin America.
Japan is to start building its ambitious wind farm project off the Fukushima coast in July. The farm is expected to become the world’s largest and produce 1GW of power once completed in 2020. The power-generating facility will be built 16 kilometers off the coast of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was critically damaged by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
Last year was a banner year for the wind industry as developers raced to complete projects ahead of the then-looming expiration of a key tax incentive, according to new research released today. About 13,200 megawatts of new wind capacity was installed in 2012, with more than 40 percent of those installations coming in December, according to the analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a nonpartisan research firm that maintains a database of transactions and projects in wind, solar and other clean energy sectors. The record pace of installations was spurred by the potential expiration of the production tax credit (PTC), which Congress ultimately extended Jan. 1 as part of the broader “fiscal cliff” legislation.
A Google Inc.-backed project has hired the contracting firm that constructed the Hoover Dam to build the first part of an offshore transmission system off the coast of New Jersey. Bechtel Corp. is slated to start building the project in 2016. Project developer Atlantic Grid Development LLC’s entire plan would link 7,000 megawatts of offshore wind turbine capacity to shore. It would carry as much as 3,000 MW of power to 1 million households by 2019 (Greenwire, Jan. 15). Called the New Jersey Energy Link the system is slated to cost $1.8 billion, the developer said in a statement.
Wind, solar and other renewable sources are expected to account for about half the new electricity capacity installed worldwide over the next several years, but lingering uncertainty around U.S. energy policy is making the situation more difficult for domestic companies operating in those sectors, according to a report released today. The Pew Charitable Trusts’ report estimates that clean energy development will generate $1.9 trillion in revenue worldwide through 2018, with about $269 billion of that coming in the United States, said Dexter Gauntlett, an energy research analyst with Pike Research, which helped compile the report.