In his second inaugural address, President Obama promised to take on climate change as a priority in his second term. “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” he said at the start of one of the longest passages devoted to a single subject in the speech. But the president did not detail exactly how he intended to act, given the hostility in Congress and industry to taxes on carbon dioxide emissions or any broad-gauged legislative effort to address the problem. Officials said that he would put some flesh on the bones of his promise in his State of the Union address next week and in his budget proposal.
The Interior Department today announced it has identified 23 solar, wind and geothermal power projects that it intends to move through federal permitting this year and next, continuing the Obama administration’s aggressive push to advance renewable energy development on federal land. If all 23 projects are approved by the Bureau of Land Management and built in the next 24 months, the 14 solar, six wind and three geothermal power projects would have the capacity to produce 5,300 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power about 1.6 million homes.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) is positioned to see his plan to build offshore wind turbines in the Atlantic Ocean win approval from state lawmakers. But the small-scale project — O’Malley’s third attempt to pass offshore wind legislation — will be able to generate only half the energy of a power plant and has developers casting doubts on the future of the project. Developers say they may not be able to acquire needed financing for the costly project after the legislative process resulted in a reduced project size and a scaled-back subsidy from Maryland households.
Despite a slowdown in growth and investments, China still installed more wind turbines than any other nation last year, according to a report issued today by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. China installed 15.9 gigawatts of onshore wind turbines in 2012 — equal to more than one-third of all new capacity worldwide, the report says. This was the fourth successive year China has led the field since overtaking the United States in 2009. The United States, which hit a record of adding 13.2 GW last year, installed 14 percent fewer wind turbines than China.
The developer of a wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island today announced an agreement with environmentalists to protect the critically endangered north Atlantic right whale. The pact between Deepwater Wind LLC and the Conservation Law Foundation will delay construction of the Block Island Wind Farm by about a month to avoid disturbing the whales, which have been seen feeding in Rhode Island Sound throughout April.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, unveiled a sweeping “energy blueprint” today that could serve as a starting point for a series of smaller, bipartisan energy bills this year. The document, dubbed “Energy 2020,” lays out the senator’s platform, which includes opening more federal land and waters for oil and gas production, curbing carbon emissions, fast-tracking exports of domestic gas, and creating a “trust fund” for clean energy.
Technological advances in electricity generation, fuel switching, and rising consumer awareness about demand-side management and energy efficiency has led to a measurable drop in U.S. energy demand and carbon emissions since 2007, according to new research findings from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Carbon County, Wyo., might seem an unlikely site for the United States’ largest future renewable energy project. Since the county’s founding in the mid-1800s, its economy, like that of much of the rest of the state, has been based on the rich fossil fuel deposits that lie below Wyoming’s mountains and high plains. But coal and gas aren’t the only resources Carbon County enjoys in abundance. It’s also one of the windiest spots in the country.
The era of the comprehensive energy bill is over, at least for now, but Congress may still be able to pass smaller bills aimed at fully exploiting the benefits of natural gas, shoring up renewable energy and further reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said last night. “You’re going to see a big push, in the Senate in particular, to promote what I call a low-carbon economy,” Wyden said at a reception in Washington
Energy Secretary Steven Chu will step down soon, possibly by the end of the month, he said in a statement on Friday, ending a four-year tenure in which he concentrated on fostering research and development of clean energy technologies, and opponents pilloried him over stimulus loans that went bad.