What we don’t stop and ponder enough, though, is that the country is changing how it uses energy. It’s certainly not enough to silence all environmental concerns. But nonetheless, the progress, when you sample it, is really impressive. Such is the takeaway from a new report out by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which has just released its 2015 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, prepared for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. Looking back over recent years, the report shows that on any number of metrics, progress in clean energy has really been immense.
President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget includes a request of $170.9m to fund offshore activities by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management including renewables development. “BOEM’s priorities fully support the Administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy for safely and responsibly expanding domestic energy production and advancing renewable energy for our clean energy future by using the best available science to inform our decision making,” said BOEM director Abigail Ross Hopper.
It is not the first time the US president has moved to make the tax credits permanent, but to date he has had little success convincing Congress to go along. Most recently, lawmakers managed only a one-year extension to the end of 2014. Speaking about the extension, Rob Gramlich, senior vice-president of government and public affairs at the American Wind Energy Association, said: “In releasing its proposed budget today, the White House clearly understands the benefits of wind having a long-term, stable tax policy in place. This has been a consistent part of the president’s budget proposals
A bill in the Oregon Legislature this session would require electric companies to stop delivering coal-fired power to Oregon customers by 2025. The replacement power would have to come from sources that are 90 percent cleaner than coal plants.
The Colorado Senate on Tuesday advanced a measure that would roll back a rural renewable-energy standard backed by Democrats in 2013. The bill could face its final vote in the Republican-controlled Senate as early as Wednesday, when the measure is likely to move to the House. But the legislation faces a bumpy road in the Democratic-controlled House.
On Tuesday, the Democrat approved the repeal of the Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. The Republican-led Legislature passed the repeal overwhelmingly last month. The portfolio required generating 25 percent of electricity with alternative power sources by 2025. With alternative power’s broad definition in state law, some coal-burning technologies qualify.
The United States, like most developed countries, does not subsidize the consumption of energy or put price controls on fossil fuels, although environmentalists point out that oil companies receive tax breaks for exploration. A debate has begun about whether to raise gasoline taxes now to repair roads and bridges, as well as to damp demand for cheap fuel.
“To hell with the politics,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last week. “At this point, we must concern ourselves with the cumulative chilling effects of these short-term measures and this policy uncertainty.” On clean energy, Obama proposed spending $7.4 billion between the Energy and Defense departments, a $900 million increase, and he seeks to permanently extend tax credits for wind and solar energy producers. “[The low-carbon economy] is obviously key in the President’s Climate Action Plan, essentially addressing the mitigation focus,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said yesterday in a briefing. Altogether, the budget asks for $29.9 billion for DOE next year, a $2.5 billion increase over current levels. Not all of its action on climate is dependent on Congress.
Mario Hurtado, with Clean Line Energy said, “Oklahoma has more than ten-times the amount of wind energy we’d need to supply all of its electricity needs, so it makes sense to be able to export some of that energy because it’s really very cost competitive, and, as you do that, you’re basically providing more jobs and more income for the folks that own the land where those wind farms are gonna be built, and the folks that work building those wind farms and the construction area and then the guys that are gonna be doing the operations and maintenance of all those wind farms.”
The Department of Energy has recently completed interagency work on its Quadrennial Energy Review, which will focus on infrastructure needs, and plans to release the document by the end of this month, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said today. Among other areas, the review will focus on the needs of the electric grid to improve security and reliability as well as problems associated with methane emissions from natural gas pipelines and storage facilities, Moniz said.