The global expansion of relatively inexpensive shale oil may threaten investment in renewable energy and global emissions goals and could pose other environmental risks, environmentalists warned in the wake of a report that found shale oil could make up 12 percent of oil production by 2035.
Proponents of renewable energy are bracing themselves for a Texas Legislature that no longer supports renewables, instead favoring cheap natural gas, tight budgets and tea party policies.
The big challenge: getting all the wind energy produced out here in far West Texas to the big cities that need the power. So the state is laying thousands of miles of transmission lines to get the job done. Construction is supposed to be completed by the end of the year. It can’t happen soon enough for Doug May. May’s the economic development director for Pecos County. The $6.8 billion the state is spending on new transmission lines will double the capacity to deliver wind power to Texas cities.
Advocates for wind energy urged state lawmakers Thursday to grant a sales tax exemption on wind turbines and other equipment to make Nebraska more competitive for new wind farms. Nebraska is falling behind neighboring states, they said, because it does not offer exemptions on the purchases of turbines, towers and other wind-farm equipment. That, a legislative panel was told, adds another $1.2 million a year in financing costs on a midsize wind farm and has forced investors to go elsewhere.
Developers of the Cape Wind project off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts told federal officials they are interested in a wind development area 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, Va. An Energy Management Inc. spokesman confirmed the company told the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement it may enter bidding to develop the 133-square-mile area. Sea Breeze Power Corp., Dominion Virginia Power and seven other energy companies have also expressed interest.
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) will unveil a plan today to tax carbon emissions at $20 a ton, raising potentially $1.2 trillion over 10 years for rebates and investments in clean energy and efficiency.
The Sanders-Boxer bill would cut U.S. carbon emissions 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2025, according to Sanders’ office. Upstream facilities like coal mines and oil refineries would pay the fee, which would increase 5.6 percent annually over a decade.
In his State of the Union message on Tuesday night, President Obama proposed the creation of an “Energy Security Trust” to find alternatives to dependence on oil for the nation’s transportation needs. The trust would be financed from revenue from oil and gas royalties that the federal government collects from companies that drill on federal land. As is customary in State of the Union speeches, Mr. Obama did not give much detail, but plenty of other voices were happy to fill in the blanks on Wednesday morning. The idea has obvious political appeal – using oil revenues to wean the country from oil – but it has a way to go before reaching fruition.
In the first State of the Union address of his new term, President Obama embraced a series of policy trade-offs that fall under the White House’s “all of the above” energy rubric, including the expansion of oil and gas drilling and actions to combat global warming by reinvesting in clean energy technology. The speech reflected positions that emerged quickly over the past year, as the president barnstormed outside the oil hub in Cushing, Okla., and shaped his energy message in preparation for a re-election campaign. His message to Congress again put the energy security gained from more U.S. oil and gas production on the same fleet of energy and environmental prescriptions as technologies designed to replace carbon-intensive fossil fuels.
“As wind generation capacity continues to be added in ERCOT and additional transmission lines are being completed to accommodate that generation, we continue to set new records,” said Kent Saathoff, ERCOT’s vice president of Grid Operations and System Planning. “While wind generation over the course of a day can change very quickly, improved tools help us predict those patterns and enable us to reliably use this resource to its fullest potential.”
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley plans to testify before a state Senate committee about a key part of his environmental agenda, an offshore wind energy bill that the panel has twice failed to pass. The governor is scheduled to testify Wednesday before the Senate Finance Committee. The senate’s president has moved a member of committee to another panel in order to get the votes needed to move the measure to the full Senate, where it has enough sponsors to pass this year.