Sweeping pollution limits at the center of President Barack Obama’s climate change plan are facing increased scrutiny in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling that showed that the justices aren’t afraid to thwart perceived overreach by Obama or his Environmental Protection Agency. The high court’s ruling undermined Obama administration regulations targeting mercury and other hazardous air pollutants — a different set of regulations from the greenhouse gas limits that Obama is counting on to slow the effects of global warming. Still, the court’s willingness to rein in the EPA emboldened opponents of Obama’s climate change agenda, who said the court had finally woken up to what they call the haphazard and costly nature of the environmental regulations that Obama has put forth.
The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the Obama administration unlawfully failed to consider compliance costs before it issued its landmark power plant emission limits for mercury and other hazardous pollutants. More than 20 Republican-led states and various industry groups challenged U.S. EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, or MATS. The rules were finalized in December 2011 and are already in effect, requiring coal-burning power plants to reduce emissions of hazardous substances like mercury, lead and arsenic by installing control technologies or retiring plants.
New York made a bold declaration about clean energy yesterday with a state energy plan that promises a host of policy efforts aimed at scrubbing the state of fossil fuels and advancing a future heavy on distributed generation and renewable energy. The much-anticipated document from Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) lays out targets under the state’s fast-moving “reforming the energy vision” (REV) for electricity and complementary programs for other areas. Taken together, the promised targets under those programs listed in the document would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
As co-chairman of the American Energy Innovation Council, Gates and several other prominent CEOs called on the U.S. government to roughly triple the R&D budget to ensure future economic competitiveness, national security and environmental protection, compared with the current $5 billion annual investment that is about half of what the nation spends on potato chips and tortilla chips
Appropriations have become a warzone in recent years for environmental measures – seeking cuts to the federal government’s ability to conduct programs related to climate change or renewable energy, including climate change monitoring, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency measures and renewable energy technologies.
Solar and wind firms know well that a favorite federal tax incentive could expire at the end of 2016. Instead of waiting to see if it happens, they’re investing now. Companies are rushing to build solar and wind projects before 2017, when the federal investment tax credit for renewable energy is chopped from 30 to 10 percent, renewables financiers said at a conference this week. The question is whether this sets up a cliff in investment for 2017, or more of a slope. That was a subject of debate at the Renewable Energy Financing Forum here.
They didn’t know it at the time, but the members of Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission set off a solar tsunami last year when they approved rules for a community solar program in Xcel Energy Inc.’s service area. Yesterday, the PUC opened a hearing on Xcel’s plea to retroactively put limits on the program, and on the consequences of doing so for Minnesota’s nascent solar industry.
The City of Grand Island has signed a long-term agreement to purchase about 36 megawatts of power from Invenergy’s Prairie Breeze III Wind Energy Center, which is to begin to be built in Antelope County yet this year. This is the Grand Island’s first direct renewable energy purchase. A portion of the output from Prairie Breeze III may be purchased from Grand Island by two other Nebraska municipalities that have interest in project participation — Neligh and Nebraska City.
The California energy storage market got a boost this week with two new developments. The San Francisco Bay Area startup Advanced Microgrid Solutions announced Monday that it has signed a deal with Shell Energy North America to install up to 20 megawatts of batteries at Shell sites throughout California.
Weeks before U.S. EPA issues its final Clean Power Plan rule, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said the landmark environmental regulation must undergo an extreme makeover or his state won’t comply. Pence issued his demands in a letter to President Obama yesterday. In doing so, Indiana joins Oklahoma in vowing to refuse compliance with the Obama administration’s plan to slash carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.