North Dakota may expand wind energy for neighbors

Source: By JOSH WOOD, ASSOCIATED PRESS • Posted: Thursday, June 19th, 2014

The new Environmental Protection Agency rules, under which North Dakota needs to cut emissions by only around 11 percent, should lead to increased demand for coal alternatives in nearby states, said Tom Vinson, senior director of federal regulatory affairs at the American Wind Energy Association, a national trade association. “Assuming that the transmission is sufficient, then North Dakota has potentially a major opportunity for exporting wind to help other states meet their compliance obligations — as well as using wind to meet your own obligation under the EPA rule,” he said. In 2013, 79 percent of North Dakota’s electricity generation came from coal, 16 percent came from wind and 5 percent came from hydroelectric sources, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Proposed South Dakota wind farm faces group opposition

Source: By Peter Harriman, Sioux Falls Argus Leader • Posted: Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Deep divisions over the proposed Hyperion oil refinery that split Union County several years ago may be on the point of being mirrored in southern Lincoln County, this time as it relates to a massive proposed wind farm. The planned Dakota Power Community Wind project could sprawl over more than 23,000 acres and generate as much as 1,000 megawatts from as many as 500 turbines. It has potential to give a shot in the arm to the state’s wind industry and create economic opportunities for investors and some landowners.

What will EPA’s proposed carbon standards cost? That — still — depends on who you ask

Source: Nathanael Massey, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, June 19th, 2014

the weeks and months preceding EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), a handful of institutes, environmental groups and industry associations released separate and sometimes dueling reports on the expected costs of regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The most widely cited of these — an estimate by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) issued in March, and another by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released some weeks later — painted highly divergent pictures of how the CPP’s costs may play out with the NRDC’s estimate predicting widespread societal benefit and the chamber’s foreseeing a steadily accumulating economic burden. So with EPA’s own estimate now before the public, is it time to shelve the prior reports? Not quite, say their authors. While already working to update their projections, both proponents and opponents of the CPP say the rationales that underpinned their past estimates still hold and may provide a basis to challenge the plan in the future.

4 former Republican EPA chiefs laud power plant rule in Senate hearing

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Four former Republican U.S. EPA administrators praised the agency’s climate change rule for existing power plants today in a Senate hearing room packed with coal miners expressing fear that the proposal would strangle their industry. The administrators told an Environment and Public Works subcommittee that current Administrator Gina McCarthy did what the Clean Air Act required in her proposal aimed at curbing the power sector’s greenhouse gases. The rule was printed in the Federal Register today, beginning a four-month public comment period.

Senate nominee vote ‘not the outcome’ Reid had hoped for

Source: By Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) didn’t get exactly what he wanted in the highly anticipated Senate committee vote yesterday on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s next chairman, but that’s not stopping him from cooperating to advance the agency’s nominees. Reid, who has repeatedly expressed his deepening interest in the powerful energy agency, had pushed hard for presidential nominee Norman Bay to be immediately installed as FERC’s next chairman. But the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee yesterday voted to approve Bay as a commissioner only after the White House agreed he would remain a commissioner for at least nine months before taking the agency’s helm.

Split Senate panel approves FERC nominees, bill to fast-track KXL

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, June 19th, 2014

ENR Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-La.) told reporters after the meeting that she has assurances from the White House that Bay will serve as a commissioner for nine months before ascending to chairman. During that time, LaFleur will continue to lead the agency. “The president as I understand is very happy to have both of his [nominees] moving forward,” she said, adding that President Obama has signaled he will elevate Bay to chairman after nine months. “It satisfies some of the concerns that I thought were legitimate.”

Koch brothers launch energy-focused super PAC

Source: Daniel Bush, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

A new political group backed by billionaire Republican donors Charles and David Koch plans to spend millions of dollars on energy-related issues in the midterm elections. The oil magnate Koch brothers unveiled the super political action committee, Freedom Partners Action Fund, at a closed-door conference with GOP donors over the weekend near Laguna Beach, Calif. Freedom Partners, run by a former Koch Industries lobbyist, plans to spend more than $13 million on anti-environmental messaging as part of a reported $290 million election-year effort to help elect conservative candidates.

Interior’s Mass. lease sale will be largest ever

Source: Phil Taylor, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

The Interior Department today will announce plans to auction more than 1,100 square miles of waters off the Massachusetts coast for offshore wind projects, the largest lease sale of its kind in U.S. history. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is scheduled to make the announcement this afternoon in Boston alongside Gov. Deval Patrick (D) and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management acting Director Walter Cruickshank.

Reid open to compromise on Bay nomination

Source: Hannah Northey and Elana Schor, E&E reporters • Posted: Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) today left the door open to delaying the ascension of Norman Bay, President Obama’s choice for chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Reid, whose interest in FERC runs deep, said in a brief interview that he would be inclined to support whatever solution Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-La.) advances to a bipartisan impasse over installing Bay immediately as chairman. When asked if that would extend to backing a delay in Bay’s move to the helm, however, Reid stopped short of full assent.

On eve of Senate panel vote, commissioner frets over agency’s politicization

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) decision to get involved in choosing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s next chairman is creating “dysfunction” at the agency and threatening its ability to function properly, a member of the commission said yesterday. John Norris, a Democratic member of FERC, during an interview yesterday expressed concerns that the commission, an arcane yet powerful agency that oversees the U.S. electric grid and natural gas infrastructure and pipelines, is being subjected to too much political pressure. “It’s concerning that an independent agency responsible for regulatory decisions has become so overly politicized,” Norris said.