Californians approve of their governor and U.S. senators, but support for President Obama has slid and residents are deeply unhappy with Congress, a new poll shows. Golden State residents gave Gov. Jerry Brown (D) a record-high job approval rating in the survey from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). A total 58 percent of adults and 60 percent of likely voters favored the way the governor has handled his job.
North Carolina Environment and Natural Resources Secretary John Skvarla told U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a letter obtained by Greenwire that her agency’s authority to regulate existing power plant emissions under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act is limited, if it exists at all.
Regardless of their political persuasion, Kansans vigorously support the use of renewable energy, a recent survey found. The survey’s findings come as the Kansas Legislature is mulling a bill that would repeal Kansas’ Renewable Portfolio Standard.
“We think it’s a good thing to get low-cost wind power out of western Kansas,” said John Hickey, president of the Sierra Club’s Missouri chapter. Opponents say they are not against wind power. They just think Eastern states should produce their own. They point to a letter released in 2010 in which governors of 10 Eastern states said they opposed a national transmission corridor to bring wind energy from the Great Plains because they had plans to produce their own renewable energy.
The wind energy industry in Kansas will see strong growth this year, according to the American Wind Energy Association. About 700 megawatts of new wind farms are now under construction in Kansas, with more likely to be added this year, according to the U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2013 Market Report.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today said Norman Bay, the agency’s enforcement director, will avoid any potential conflicts if confirmed by the Senate as the commission’s new chairman. “Norman will abide by the advice and counsel of the designated agency Ethics Officer on issues concerning the possibility that he might need to recuse himself,” FERC spokesman Craig Cano said in an email. The issue of recusal has surfaced because Bay is at the helm of a number of ongoing investigations that will be either approved or rejected by the commission, sources said.
Business groups representing manufacturing, mining, agriculture and utility interests today launched a multimillion-dollar coalition to fight U.S. EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations and advocate for regulatory reforms. The Partnership for a Better Energy Future comprises 78 stakeholders concerned about the economic impact of President Obama’s climate plan, which they say will ripple out to touch all sectors of industry. The rules limiting carbon emissions from new and existing power plants are just the start, they warned.
Wind energy construction in the United States is at an all-time high, but the industry warned Thursday that the start of new projects this year is uncertain as Congress considers whether to extend a two-decade-old tax credit that has expired. The American Wind Industry Association said more than 12,000 megawatts of wind power generation, a record, was under construction at the end of 2013, including 1,050 megawatts in Iowa. In the Hawkeye State, 16 projects are under construction. Most are small projects, with the exception of four by MidAmerican Energy Co., which announced last May it would boost wind generation, consisting of up to 656 new turbines, by the end of 2015. Iowa generates 25 percent of its electricity by wind power, the highest percentage in the United States.
Looking forward, the industry hopes to persuade Congress to reinstate the PTC sometime this year, likely along with a package of “tax extenders” that would replace dozens of other expired, temporary tax credits. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who is expected to soon become chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has said he would like to move quickly on such a package, but House Republicans have shown little such enthusiasm. AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan said that while the path forward and legislative vehicle for extending the tax credits was not concrete yet, he and other leaders of renewable groups plan to meet with Wyden in the next week or so and ideally would like the PTC extended by midyear if not sooner.
President Obama last night nominated Norman Bay, director of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Enforcement, to serve as the agency’s next chairman. Bay, a former U.S. attorney from New Mexico with a lengthy career overseeing high-profile legal cases, has overseen stepped-up FERC investigations into Wall Street giants including Deutsche Bank, Barclays and JPMorgan Chase & Co., which last year was fined a record $410 million for gaming the energy markets.