Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse today said the Republican takeover of the Senate may actually help pass legislation putting a price on carbon emissions. The Rhode Island Democrat said his new bill to place a $42-per-metric-ton levy on carbon from fossil fuels production and imports may have “significant opportunities” to become law, precisely because Republicans will gain the majority next year.
Hundreds of environmental groups and clean energy firms are urging Congress to renew the production tax credit and other incentives that expired at the end of last year. The letter sent by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy and more than 450 other organizations comes amid continuing debate on Capitol Hill over how to handle the several dozen lapsed tax breaks collectively known as “extenders.”
At the heart of the scuffle was a hedge fund, Powhatan Energy Fund LLC, that publicly fumed over FERC’s investigation of it over accusations that it gamed the energy markets. Kevin and Rich Gates, identical twins who manage the fund in Pennsylvania, warned that FERC’s foray into investigations under the direction of Bay — best known as the director of FERC’s Office of Enforcement since 2009 — was too ambitious and misplaced at times. Separately, William Scherman, FERC’s former general counsel and a partner with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal saying the Gateses’ experience with FERC was just the “tip of the iceberg.” Scherman, notably, has been critical of FERC for not clarifying what constitutes market manipulation.
President Obama is charging into his term’s fourth quarter in a climate sprint. In the last week, he talked about cutting gasoline subsidies in Asia, urged young Australians to pressure skeptical politicians and accepted a knotty adaptation report for U.S. cities. Those efforts came amid major announcements on a pact with China to control greenhouse gases and a $3 billion proposal to strengthen poor countries against climate impacts. Together, it signals the maneuvering of an administration that’s trying to take a lead role in upcoming international climate negotiations. It also marks a challenge to the rising Republican majority in Congress.
Hoping to block the release of information about bird kills from wind turbines, a Portland, Ore., energy company is suing the Interior Department. PacifiCorp, which operates at least 13 wind energy facilities across three states, is trying to stop the Obama administration from releasing data about birds found dead at its facilities. The Associated Press requested the information from the Interior Department in March 2013 under the Freedom of Information Act.
The carbon pricing bill Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse will release later today is virtually assured to attract support only from the chamber’s Democrats. But backers of the Rhode Island Democrat’s approach — a carbon “fee” levied on emitters with revenue returned to the public — said they hope it will help pave the way for the most elusive of legislative achievements: a bipartisan climate change bill.
White House senior adviser John Podesta said today that he expects the administration to add to its climate change legacy in its final two years in office despite Republican control of Congress. Podesta spoke on a call this afternoon to discuss the recommendations of the White House’s State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, which were released yesterday.
U.S. EPA won’t tighten its greenhouse gas rulemakings to meet President Obama’s new climate commitments, Administrator Gina McCarthy said today. Speaking at a Christian Science Monitor-sponsored event, she said emissions targets that Obama unveiled in Beijing last week wouldn’t force EPA to revamp its proposal for power plants. The draft adheres to the Clean Air Act, she said, and is based on an assessment of the best system of emissions reduction for the sources it covers.
Under the Obama administration’s proposed rule for power-sector carbon emissions, states are given wide latitude in charting their paths to compliance. The plan’s flexibility is one of its cardinal selling points — although U.S. EPA may set state-specific targets, it’s up to the states themselves to decide how to get there. As a result, the process could result in as many different approaches to carbon reduction as there are states covered under the rule. But weighing in on the Clean Power Plan (CPP) in the journal Science last week, a group of the nation’s leading carbon economists had this advice for states: If you want to reduce emissions cheaply, you’ll need to work together
The Interior Department has approved the first transmission line in federal waters to serve an offshore wind farm. Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management approved Deepwater Wind LLC to build a 9-mile subsea cable connecting Block Island to the Rhode Island mainland, a project that will support the company’s 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm, the agency announced today.