A Colorado turbine factory owned by Danish energy giant Vestas Wind Systems A/S was the backdrop for the U.S. wind energy sector’s annual report for 2015, a year marked by a 20 percent increase in wind energy employment. American wind power supported a record 88,000 jobs at the beginning of 2016, with major firms like Vestas, General Electric Co. and Siemens AG at the core of a U.S. supply chain that now extends across all 50 states and has helped revive rural economies from Texas to Maine.
During the discussion sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, former Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), ex-White House energy aide Heather Zichal, American Action Forum President Douglas Holtz-Eakin and API Vice President of Regulatory and Economic Policy Kyle Isakower signaled low expectations for a new president and the next Congress.
Appropriators in both chambers advanced energy and water spending bills yesterday, with senators choosing to avoid contentious policy riders, while members of the House incorporated thousands of special requests from members. This afternoon, the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee approved a $37.5 billion fiscal 2017 spending bill for the Department of Energy and the Army Corps of Engineers, which Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said was a $355 million increase over the current year.
Months of negotiations over the Senate energy reform package yielded a surprise agreement yesterday to bring the measure back to the floor as early as next week, after lawmakers decided to put off fights on offshore drilling and money for Flint, Mich. Under a unanimous consent agreement last night, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will determine the timing for debate on amendments and the overall legislation.
Senators on Wednesday reached a deal to act on a comprehensive energy bill as soon as this week, breaking a three-month partisan standoff over the tainted water scandal in Flint, Mich.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska and chairwoman of the Senate Energy Committee, and Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington, the panel’s ranking Democrat, has broad bipartisan support and is expected to easily pass the Senate.
When discussing the clean energy revolution, the southern American states are rarely mentioned as progressive leaders. Texas in particular has a longstanding reputation for supporting the interests of the fossil fuel industry. Texas politicians fiercely deny the scientific validity of climate change and the state is home to the headquarters of some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, such as Exxon Mobile and ConocoPhillips.
For 17 years, Scott Pearce worked as a mechanic here in the Powder River Basin, a Saudi Arabia of Western coal deposits. But about a week ago, he became a casualty of the declining local economy, one of nearly 500 people laid off from the Black Thunder and North Antelope Rochelle mines. It was among the latest and worst rounds of job losses to hit Wyoming. Elsewhere, the American economy is posting steady gains and adding jobs. But here in the nation’s least populated state, the recession is returning.
The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy would take a hit under the plan. Appropriators are requesting $1.8 billion, $200 million below last year’s level and more than $1 billion below President Obama’s request. The office is key to the administration’s plans to address climate change through Mission Innovation, a global plan among 20 countries to double clean energy research and development spending in five years. DOE and many of EERE’s renewable, efficiency and sustainable transportation programs would help implement that plan in the United States. The administration called for a 60 percent increase in wind research and a 40 percent jump in geothermal programs, for example.
A bill designed to encourage wind energy projects in Nebraska is advancing to the final round of debate in the Unicameral perhaps as soon as today. Senator Al Davis of Hyannis says the bill will help wind energy move forward in the state by lifting regulations that have stifled or stopped development. “This is probably the most important piece of wind legislation that has come through the legislature,” Davis says. “It removes most of the regulatory barriers that have prevented wind development in the state. The companies are looking for locations. They want to go into a state where they can do business without a number of onerous regulations and rules that keep them out.”
A key Appropriations subcommittee chairman signaled yesterday that the Department of Energy’s Office of Science will be a top funding priority in the fiscal 2017 energy-water development spending bill expected on the Senate floor next week. Energy-Water Subcommittee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) declined to delve into the details of the bill ahead of this afternoon’s subcommittee markup but told E&E Daily yesterday that it would follow the course that he and ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) have set in recent years.