News

Ore. passes bill to boost renewables, exit from coal

Source: Debra Kahn, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, March 4th, 2016

Oregon lawmakers Wednesday approved a bill to raise the state’s share of renewable energy to 50 percent and quit its reliance on coal-fired power. S.B. 1547, sponsored by state Sen. Lee Beyer (D), passed the state Senate 17-12 on a party line vote. It now heads to Gov. Kate Brown (D), who is expected to sign it. It passed the state House 38-20 on Tuesday. Originally put forth by the state’s two largest utilities and a cadre of environmental groups, the bill would instruct the utilities — Pacific Power and Portland General Electric — to exit their out-of-state coal contracts by 2030. It would also raise the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2040 from the current target of 25 percent by 2025.

Solar energy is poised for an unforgettable year

Source: By Chris Mooney, Washington Post • Posted: Friday, March 4th, 2016

New statistics just released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration suggest that in the coming year, the booming solar sector will add more new electricity-generating capacity than any other — including natural gas and wind.

Roberts’ refusal to halt rule means no ‘open season’ on EPA

Source: Robin Bravender, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, March 4th, 2016

Chief Justice John Roberts signaled today that the Supreme Court won’t intervene to block every major environmental rule that comes before it. Roberts took swift action to rebuff a request from 20 states to put a major U.S. EPA mercury rule on hold. The states’ request, led by Michigan, was widely seen as an attempt to test the court’s willingness to freeze controversial EPA regulations after the justices recently agreed to halt the agency’s Clean Power Plan.

Chief Justice Rejects Effort to Block E.P.A. Limit on Power Plants

Source: By ADAM LIPTAK and CORAL DAVENPORT, New York Times • Posted: Friday, March 4th, 2016

“This is a pretty strong way of sending a signal that the fact that the court granted a stay of the Clean Power Plan was highly extraordinary, and they don’t want to be inundated with these,” said Jeffrey Holmstead, a lawyer with the firm Bracewell and a deputy administrator of the E.P.A. in the George W. Bush administration. “I think this is Justice Roberts’s effort to say that the Clean Power Plan is an extraordinary situation.”

Comments on Wash. draft rule reveal variety of concerns

Source: Debra Kahn, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Public comments about a Washington state proposal to control greenhouse gases may give a clue to the changes that state officials will make to the regulations that it withdrew last week. Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) Department of Ecology received a wide variety of feedback from private companies, utilities and environmental groups between proposing its Clean Air Rule on Jan. 5 and withdrawing it Friday. Agency staff suggested that the comments influenced their decision to replace the draft rule with a new one in the spring.

New BLM mitigation aims to promote development in energy zones

Source: Scott Streater, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

The Obama administration has taken a major step toward developing commercial-scale solar projects in specially designated zones in Arizona, Colorado and Nevada. The Bureau of Land Management today announced that it has completed regional mitigation strategies for four formally designated solar energy zones (SEZs) covering 25,000 acres for the Dry Lake Valley North SEZ in southeast Nevada and 8,500 acres for three other SEZs in Arizona. In addition, BLM unveiled a draft regional mitigation strategy for three SEZs covering about 33,200 acres of federal lands in the solar-resource-rich San Luis Valley in southern Colorado.

Years of work remain on tardy toxics reviews — EPA official

Source: Sean Reilly, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

The standoff is among the latest in a long-running series of court clashes over EPA’s handling of the air toxics review mandates set by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. The law sets out 189 pollutants to be regulated; after establishing emissions standards for major sources based on what is known as “maximum achievable control technology,” the agency is then supposed to follow up with another review within eight years to determine both whether the technology has improved and whether any “residual risk” remains to public health, according to court filings.

Offshore Wind Projects in US See Renewed Interest

Source: By Philip Marcelo, Associated Press • Posted: Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

The offshore wind industry has high hopes for establishing a permanent beachhead in the U.S. after years of disappointment. Business leaders and politicians who gathered for an industry conference in Boston earlier this week said wealthy investment firms and seasoned European offshore wind companies are increasingly committing to projects along the East Coast. That, they said, is evidence a domestic industry dreamed about for nearly two decades is finally on its way.

‘Don’t sweat it’ on Clean Power Plan — McCarthy

Source: Christa Marshall, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy today said the recent Supreme Court decision to stay the Clean Power Plan “in no way” signals it is not legally defensible and will not “in the end win.” “It will continue, it will survive, it will be litigated on its merits as we know everything EPA does is. So if this is the first time you’ve been involved in looking at EPA in terms of the courts, don’t sweat it. … We do really well, and we’re going to do great here,” she told a packed room at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, summit in suburban Maryland.

Warren Buffett discounts climate exposure, likens risks to Y2K

Source: Benjamin Hulac, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

Billionaire Warren Buffett this weekend told his company’s shareholders that they shouldn’t worry about the firm’s exposure to climate change. In a letter to Berkshire Hathaway Inc., one of the world’s biggest insurers and a significant insurer of catastrophic damage, Buffett wrote that personal concerns about climate change should not be confused with business risks. “As a citizen, you may understandably find climate change keeping you up nights,” Buffett said, suggesting that investors move if they live in a low-lying region. “But when you are thinking only as a shareholder of a major insurer, climate change should not be on your list of worries.”