U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy yesterday slammed what she called several attempts by Congress to undermine agency science. In a call with reporters, McCarthy singled out legislation to make the agency’s science more transparent, reform EPA’s scientific advisory board and stipulate that biomass energy is “carbon neutral.” “Congress is trying to legislate science,” the administrator said.
While energy experts have promoted natural gas as a “bridge fuel” that can help the world shift from coal and oil to more carbon-neutral alternatives, even the “bridge” will need to be dismantled to achieve a low-carbon energy economy, experts with the Carbon Tracker Initiative (CTI) say in a new analysis. When that happens, energy firms and investors with deep holdings in liquefied natural gas — the world’s only exportable form of gas — could be forced to shed as much as $283 billion in capital expenditures by 2025 as surplus gas loses value and LNG producers see their markets soften.
It is unfortunate that the Missouri Public Service Commission isn’t doing all it can to feed the growth. The commission recently rejected a Texas company’s plan for a $2.2 billion, 780-mile transmission line to carry electricity generated by wind farms from Kansas across Missouri to power grids in the East. The project was viewed as a step forward for renewable energy. The commission’s 3-2 vote was a setback. But it will not be the end of green energy expansion in Missouri and nationwide.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said today that lawmakers should resist the temptation to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to pay for unrelated legislative initiatives. “I’m very worried about any incursions into the SPR that are just meant to fund something else, whether it’s related to health care, whether it’s related to transportation,” she told E&ENews PM. “I’ve been pretty vocal and consistent in saying the SPR is our insurance policy out there. And you don’t sell the insurance policy for a one-term shot in the arm. It doesn’t make sense to me.”
China plans to build a safe and environmentally friendly smart-grid system by 2020 as it promotes the spread of clean energy. The nation will build long-distance transmission networks and active power distribution networks to fully use hydro power, wind and solar, according to a statement from the National Development and Reform Commission. Grid constraints threaten to temper China’s rush to develop renewable energy supplies. Already, some of the nation’s wind capacity has been idled because of issues with the grid. There’s also the matter of being able to get power from where it’s produced to where it’s needed most.
Researchers at IBM recently offered an inside glimpse into how the company’s energy team is developing software products and services for utilities looking to get ahead of the power grid’s transformation to a more distributed future. The company’s software offering is still very much under development but already has a name — Opus — reflecting more than 15 years of thinking, plotting and anticipation at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center here, within an hour’s drive of New York City.
But environmental cases produced the one noticeable blemish on the administration’s record for the year — a reversal from a year ago when the Justice Department largely prevailed in environmental cases but lost other closely watched decisions. On the last day of the term, the high court in a 5-4 vote said U.S. EPA should have considered the $9.6 billion price tag of its landmark Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants before moving forward with the regulations. The decision, by the court’s conservative wing, was considered narrow in scope because nearly 70 percent of the industry is already in compliance with the mercury rule and the court did not completely invalidate the regulations. But the decision was nevertheless a setback for the agency, which must now reconsider the regulation’s costs.
Facebook is building a massive data center in Texas to provide more computing capacity for the online social network’s 1.4 billion users to share tidbits of their lives with friends and family. The first phase of the $500 million project in Fort Worth, Texas will span about 500,000 square feet. It will be located on a nearly 111-acre site, leaving ample room for further expansion. Facebook Inc. initially expects to employ 40 people at the data center, which will rely solely on wind power to keep its computer servers running.
Last week’s Supreme Court decision on U.S. EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will have no bearing on the future of the agency’s flagship carbon rule, and may even be corrected through simple adjustments to the toxic emissions rule, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said this morning. McCarthy acknowledged that she was “disappointed” by the high court’s decision eight days ago remanding the 2011 mercury rule back to a lower court on the grounds that EPA should have considered cost sooner in its rulemaking process.
Siemens will on Thursday start an energy project to convert wind power into hydrogen for re-use as a general fuel or in natural gas pipelines. Siemens’ electrolysis plant in Mainz is based on Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) technology, which allows the capture and storage of electricity into hydrogen. It said the plant can process up to 6 megawatts of electricity, making it the biggest PEM installation of its kind worldwide and able to supply 2,000 fuel cell cars.