Pope Francis prodded a deeply divided Congress to take “courageous” steps to combat environmental damage, but his calls aren’t likely to spur the entrenched foes of the Obama administration’s green agenda. In his historic speech on Capitol Hill — the first by a pontiff to the U.S. Congress — Francis doubled down on his recent efforts to prompt bold global action to tackle climate change and other environmental problems, citing them as moral issues.
North Carolina lawmakers did not extend the state’s renewable energy tax credit in the budget they passed last week. The tax credit is set to expire at the end of this year. The Senate made revisions to the budget before it was passed, including cutting out a two-year extension of the renewable energy tax credit. The budget is now awaiting the governor’s approval.
The North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association had expressed concerns about that possibility before the budget was passed, saying losing the 35 percent investment tax credit would be squandering “one of our state’s greatest economic opportunities of this decade and the next.”
Tesla Motors Inc. and SolarCity Corp. consider themselves partners. On the issue of energy storage, however, they’re in an uncomfortable marriage. Tesla wants to expand the battery storage market and has launched a new arm to pursue that aim. When it opens its Gigafactory now under construction in Nevada, the electric vehicle company plans to dedicate up to a third of production for grid-connected storage systems that SolarCity and others will market.
But a position of SolarCity and other solar partners clashes with that vision. Solar companies have been pushing in California to protect net metering, the policy that allows those with rooftop photovoltaics to earn electricity bill credit for excess power sent to the grid. It’s a benefit available in some form in 44 states.
The Interior Department today announced it will hold a Nov. 9 auction for the rights to build wind farms in 344,000 acres of federal waters off New Jersey. If fully developed, the wind area that has been divided into two leasing areas could generate more than 3,400 megawatts of carbon-emission-free energy, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
The announcement comes months after Deepwater Wind began construction on the nation’s first offshore wind project in Rhode Island state waters. The $225 million, 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm will have five turbines and is scheduled to begin producing energy next year.
Washington state officials are developing new rules to limit the greenhouse gas emissions of the state’s largest polluters. The proposed regulation, announced Monday, would target about 35 industrial facilities responsible for 60 percent of the state’s emissions.
“This year’s record-setting drought and forest fires are sobering examples of what our future could look like if we fail to act now,” said Maia Bellon, the director of the Department of Ecology. “We can’t afford the cost of inaction.”
Companies including Goldman Sachs , Walmart and Starbucks joined an alliance on Wednesday that aims to get 100 percent of electricity from renewable sources to combat climate change. The green electricity campaign, RE100, said its membership had expanded to 36 companies from 12 at a launch a year ago in New York that included IKEA Group, Swiss RE and BT Group.
“And regardless of how urgent I think the science is, if I howl at the moon without being able to build a political consensus behind me, it’s not going to get done,” he said. “And in fact, we end up potentially marginalizing supporters or people who recognize there’s a need to act but also have some real interests at stake.”
The Interior Department’s long-awaited decision today not to list the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act was hailed as a conservation triumph by many officials and environmentalists but drew immediate threats of lawsuits and a congressional probe. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell made the announcement here at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge outside Denver, hailing an “epic conservation effort” that rescued the mottled-brown bird from the brink of extinction.
Billionaire Phil Anschutz’s plans to build a $5 billion wind farm in southeast Wyoming will no longer be stymied by the mating dance of the greater sage grouse. The U.S. Interior Department’s decision Tuesday not to designate the bird as an endangered species means Anschutz’s Power Company of Wyoming LLC may now proceed with the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind farm. It also opens the door to oil and natural gas development in the region.
California has made tremendous progress cleaning its once-notorious air pollution over the last generation, with Los Angeles smog easing in response to the state’s ever-stricter emissions standards. The Air Resources Board reported that Californians’ cancer risk from toxic air pollution has declined 76% over more than two decades, a trend the agency attributes to the state’s array of regulations targeting everything from diesel trucks to dry cleaners.