The White House yesterday threatened to veto the lower chamber’s comprehensive energy bill, warning that the language would undermine ongoing environmental reviews of critical energy infrastructure and stifle efforts to expand efficiency. The House energy package, H.R. 8, would ax critical mandates needed to wean federal buildings off of fossil fuels by 2030, unnecessarily tinker with complex energy markets, and undermine the current federal review process for gas pipelines and hydropower projects, the White House said.
The fate of key renewable energy tax credits remains up in the air, as House and Senate leaders continue negotiations on an extenders package they hope to pass before the end of the year. Aides and lobbyists said yesterday that multiyear extensions of the production tax credit of 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour and the 30 percent investment tax credit remain under discussion, although the duration of the extensions is tied up in broader conversations over making some of the dozens of expired credits permanent. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters yesterday that discussions continue but predicted a deal would be struck.
The University of Maine is opening a first-of-its-kind “miniature ocean” today that can demonstrate how everything from floating wind turbines to coastal cities may react to “some of the worst storms possible anywhere on Earth.” The impetus for the $13.8 million project — which involves a massive wave pool tied to a rotating wind machine — is to accelerate the development of renewable ocean energy technologies like offshore wind and tidal devices, said Habib Dagher, director of the university’s Advanced Structures & Composites Center in Orono, Maine, which will operate the new Harold Alfond W² Ocean Engineering Lab. It also can prepare local communities for more intense storms associated with climate change by simulating future conditions, he said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo is reportedly planning to order state regulators to mandate that 50% of all electricity in New York come from renewable sources. Two nuclear power plants will probably be shut down at some point, so the electricity they generate will need to be placed, and it only seems sensible to replace it with clean, renewable electricity, given the cost of new nuclear power. (One of the nuclear plants has also been losing about $60 million a year.)
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders calls climate change the greatest threat to national security. Front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton promises to install more than 500 million solar panels across the country. On the Republican side, Jeb Bush would phase out tax credits for solar power. Rival Marco Rubio wants to cut the federal gas tax by 80 percent.
The $95 billion package would extend more than 50 tax credits, exemptions and deductions through 2016. Support for these so-called tax extenders is bipartisan. Among the biggest breaks for businesses are a tax credit for research and development; an exemption that allows financial companies such as banks and investment firms to shield foreign profits from being taxed by the U.S.; and several provisions that allow businesses to write off capital investments more quickly. There is also a generous tax credit for using wind farms and other renewable energy sources to produce electricity.
President Obama and the leaders of China, India, Saudi Arabia and more than a dozen other nations will pledge a $20 billion doubling of clean energy spending while deep-pocket investors put up billions of their own in assistance. The deal among 19 countries and 28 corporate heavyweights, first reported by E&E, is spearheaded by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. It will be announced as 140 world leaders and thousands of diplomats, celebrities and activists from around the world convene in this heavily guarded airfield on the outskirts of Paris to launch landmark U.N. climate change negotiations toward a new global accord.
But here’s the catch: Even if every coal-fired plant shuts down, land misuse still accounts for an estimated 30 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. The soils in the United States, like those of nations around the world, have lost calamitous amounts of carbon. This is where Iowa’s new climate narrative has emerged as a great story for the nation and other countries heading to Paris. Despite the fact that the United Nations General Assembly declared 2015 to be “the international year of soils,” a global soil carbon sequestration campaign — one that recognizes direct links between climate mitigation, regenerative agriculture and food security — rarely ranks at the top of any high level accords, or even conversations.
“Howard is on a search to find where he can have the most impact,” said William B. Eimicke, a professor at Columbia University who taught Mr. Buffett, and now teaches a class jointly with him. “This is an actualization of where he’s been focused.” For Mr. Buffett, the hope is that i(x) will essentially become a baby Berkshire Hathaway with a conscience. “We’re looking at the long-term horizon and investments that are doing more than avoiding bad, but are actually trying to improve the world,” Mr. Buffett said. “It’s about taking the potential for capitalism to the next level.”
U.S. negotiators must make clear to the international community that the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s domestic climate agenda is “unlikely to survive” court challenges, two attorneys general who are opposing the rule said. In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) said they expected their many legal arguments against the Clean Power Plan — including that it gives U.S. EPA too much authority over the nation’s energy policy — to win in court.