On Monday, Baker announced three appointments in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs: Robert Hayden as commissioner of the Department of Public Utilities, Angela O’Connor as chairwoman of the DPU and Ron Gerwatowski as assistant secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Gerwatowski will serve under Secretary Matthew Beaton, a former Republican state representative.
Gov. Jay Inslee says Washington state has a moral obligation to address carbon pollution and used his State of the State address Tuesday to tout his recent proposal for a cap-and-trade program that requires the largest industrial polluters to pay for every ton of carbon they release. “We face many challenges, but it is the growing threat of carbon pollution that can permanently change the nature of Washington as we know it,” Inslee said in prepared remarks. Inslee said the state must meet a 2008 legislative mandate to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming. The requirement sets an overall limit on heat-trapping gases similar to a program that California launched nearly three years ago.
Vice President Joe Biden is preparing to host a Caribbean energy security summit in Washington, D.C., later this month, the White House announced yesterday. Biden will welcome Caribbean heads of government, members of the private sector and other officials Jan. 26 at the event, aimed at promoting “a cleaner and more sustainable energy future in the Caribbean through improved energy governance, greater access to finance, and donor coordination,” according to the White House.
The White House is on the verge of another exodus of top environment and energy staffers. Mike Boots, the acting chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, plans to leave the administration in March, a CEQ spokeswoman said. His departure will come a month after President Obama’s top environmental aide, John Podesta, is slated to step down.
A coalition of utilities behind a $2 billion power line project are buying a family-owned Minnesota dairy farm, potentially setting a precedent for other farms along the line’s route. Cedar Summit Farm, which the Minar family has farmed since 1926, announced “with a heavy heart” last week that it will close this Friday or earlier if it runs out of its signature cream-topped, organic milk.
Ohio’s renewable energy policies sparked tremendous investment in the industry, but recent moves by state lawmakers have slowed that growth and threaten its future, according to a report released Tuesday. Ohio was No. 13 in the country for new capacity and private investment in wind at the end of 2012, according to the Pew report. However, new investment halted in 2013 because of “uncertainty” created by legislative debate over Ohio’s renewable energy standards and the expiration of a federal production tax credit, according to the report.
California will spend $1 billion to combat climate change under a new budget proposal from Gov. Jerry Brown. But some argue it will reach $2 billion. The money in the Democrat’s draft fiscal 2015-16 budget comes from the state’s cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions, which requires some businesses to account for their greenhouse gas pollution. They buy allowances at auction, with the funds going into California’s coffers.
GOOD news! Oil prices have dropped through the floor. Or is it bad news? That depends entirely on whose news you’re talking about. For most of us, the most immediate impact of the price of a barrel of crude dipping below $50 is lower prices at the fuel pump. It wasn’t long ago that I paid more than $3.50 a gallon to gas up; during my visit to Texas over the holidays, I marveled at a gas-station receipt for $1.96 a gallon. I’m thinking of having it framed. Or maybe bronzed.
A proposed 145-acre, 20-megawatt project in Clarke County is being scuttled because Dominion Resources has shown little interest in buying its power. In New England, a pioneering offshore wind project, Cape Wind, is on the ropes because of the merger of two utilities and opposition by one of the Koch brothers. Cape Wind off Cape Cod might have been the nation’s first real offshore wind farm. It would run 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound with electric utilities buying the output.
With the Cape Wind project on the ropes, the industry’s future in Massachusetts may rest on a federal wind power auction later this month for a sprawling area off Martha’s Vineyard. Twelve companies have qualified to bid Jan. 29 as the federal government auctions four commercial leases for 742,000 acres of sea roughly 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. The power generated, if leased and used by the industry, could provide electricity for about 1.4 million homes, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said.