The oil and gas industry is hunkering down to weather the final stretch of the Obama administration. Industry groups and their backers had hoped President Obama would use his trip last week to Alaska to say something about the need for more oil and gas drilling in the United States. Instead, Obama kept his focus on global warming, leaving oil interests in a familiar position: left out and on the defensive.
Again today, we applaud MidAmerican for its investments in the economic future of our state, its commitment to our environment through support of clean, renewable energy and its contributions to the goal of energy independence for our nation. Without question, the renewable fuels industry is key to the future of Iowa (the state also ranks first in the nation for production of ethanol and second for production of biodiesel), but the industry is good for the long-term economic, strategic and security interests of America, too.
But in Wyoming, one of the breeziest states in the country, no new wind capacity has been added since 2010. Moreover, no new additions are expected in the near term, as projects already on the planning board work their way through a lengthy permitting process. The main constraint facing the industry in the state remains transmission, analysts said.
The state has been at the forefront of global efforts to battle greenhouse gases, enacting mandates to force sharp reductions in emissions over the next 35 years. Its environmental record was applauded by Mr. Obama last week, and Pope Francis invited Gov. Jerry Brown to discuss the fight against global warming in the Vatican this summer. But a centerpiece of California’s long-term campaign against emissions — legislation requiring a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use by Jan. 1, 2030 — has set off a fierce battle here, pitting not only a well-financed oil industry against environmentalists, but Democrat against Democrat. The bill easily passed the Senate, but it is faltering in the Assembly because of opposition by moderate Democrats, many representing economically suffering districts in central California. A vote is expected early next week.
Gov. Jerry Brown has made climate change the centerpiece of his final tenure by laying out the most aggressive benchmark in North America, which would reduce California’s carbon footprint and boost the state’s renewable energy use to 50 percent in 15 years. Securing legislation requiring that standard in the world’s eighth-largest economy would be a timely win for Brown before international leaders meet in Paris in November for the United Nations climate change conference. Brown is likely to attend the conference, but he has not said so officially. But first, the Democratic governor has to break through a logjam in his own party in the final week of the legislative session.
House Republicans on a key environment subcommittee will take aim at U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan this week as critics continue their assault on the controversial regulation. GOP lawmakers on the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Environment are expected to slam the agency’s rule at a hearing Friday titled “How EPA’s Power Plan Will Shut Down Power Plants.”
Ambitious plans to build a twenty kilometer (12.4 miles) tall space elevator tower have been announced by a Canadian space technology firm. Although this distance is a mere fraction of that reached in space missions, Thoth Technology says its ThothX Tower will make a major cost reduction in space flights by helping navigate the difficult first 50 kilometers (31 miles) of travel that traditionally requires rockets. The latter are inefficient, particularly regarding fuel consumption. In addition to needing to carry sufficient fuel to get a payload into orbit, they need extra fuel in order to carry the required fuel to reach that point in the first place.
The wind energy industry announced a plan today aimed at reducing by a third the number of bats killed by turbines. The plan, developed by the American Wind Energy Association and backed strongly by bat advocates, would reduce the speed of turbines during bats’ fall migration, preventing up to 100,000 bat deaths annually with only minor losses in electricity generation. The new operating protocol has been adopted by 17 of AWEA’s member companies that last year owned about 60 percent of the nation’s installed wind capacity.
Hawaii ranked first among U.S. states in solar power per capita last year and has helped drive a recent boom in solar development across the nation, a new report shows. The Aloha State, Arizona and Nevada topped a list of the 10 states with the most installed solar capacity per resident in 2014, according to a study released today by the green group Environment America. California, New Jersey, New Mexico, Vermont, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Colorado rounded out the list of solar states, which combined to produce 86 percent of the nation’s solar capacity last year. Overall, solar power tripled between 2012 and 2014, the report found.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) formally came out against the Obama administration’s new rule to regulate carbon emissions from power plants yesterday, announcing that his state will seek an administrative stay on U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The governor, who is also pursuing the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, called EPA’s rule “yet another example of the Obama administration inappropriately reaching far beyond its legal authority to implement more onerous and more burdensome regulations on businesses and state governments alike.”