Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says the Senate on Friday will consider the $1.1 trillion government-funding bill approved by the House. The Senate voted Thursday night on a two-day stop-gap funding measure to keep the government operating beyond midnight. The leader also wants to pass a defense authorization bill, a package of tax extenders, a terrorism insurance bill and confirm a group of nominees before wrapping up the 113th Congress.
Belgium will decide early next year whether to build a ring-shaped island off its coast to store wind energy, in one of the world’s first attempts to make the renewable source available on demand, the government said. Wind energy is often abundant in the large wind parks off the Belgian coast, but storing it for when there is little wind is an issue, along with not wasting it when there is a surplus. Using an idea borrowed from hydroelectric dams, the island would be emptied of water when there is a lot of wind, using energy from windmills. When there is an energy shortfall, a lock would be opened to let the sea water back in and at the same time power turbines and generate electricity.
Federal grid overseers today announced they will hold four technical conferences to delve into implementation and reliability concerns tied to U.S. EPA’s proposal to cut carbon emissions — a move that was quickly celebrated as a win by Republican lawmakers and regulators. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said it will convene the first meeting, the national overview technical conference, at its Washington, D.C., headquarters starting Feb. 19 to examine whether state regulators have the right tools to detect reliability or market issues and strategies for complying with EPA rules while coordinating with the markets that FERC oversees.
A group of Senate Democrats today called on U.S. EPA to strengthen its proposed power plant rule to achieve a greater reduction in carbon emissions. In a letter to the agency, the group said the rule is “the single most significant step this country has ever taken to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.” But they insisted that an even more ambitious carbon reduction target would help the United States avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
As conservative state legislators rally against U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan, the head of a group representing air agencies tasked with writing plans for cutting greenhouse gas emissions is imploring them not to tie their states’ hands with laws that restrict options for complying with the draft rule. Twenty-seven states have told EPA they don’t believe it has legal authority to regulate “beyond the fence line,” or require emissions reductions outside power plants, said Paul Bailey, senior vice president of federal affairs and policy for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity
President Obama and House Democrats mobilized Wednesday against a bill to permanently extend three separate incentives for charitable donations, giving the measure a difficult path to becoming law. The White House threatened to veto the measure on Wednesday, complaining that its $11 billion cost wasn’t offset one day after hinting about its opposition. Meanwhile, House Democratic leaders urged rank-and-file members to vote against the plan, which has the support of the tax-writing chairmen in both chambers. The measure would indefinitely restore tax breaks for land preservation, contributions from certain retirement accounts and food donations, all of which expired at the end of 2013.
Aides said yesterday that they expected the Senate to be in session at least through tomorrow, and potentially through the weekend, to complete work on the spending and defense bills as well as a package of temporary tax incentives, known as extenders. If the Senate is unable to consider the spending measure today, aides said, a one- or two-day CR could be passed relatively quickly to prevent a shutdown while debate in the upper chamber continues.
The PREPARE Act authorizes DOE to enter into regional cooperative agreements with States, providing technical assistance and working closely with key stakeholders, to develop strategies and plans that address the unique energy needs of the region. Serving as a long-term strategic partner, DOE can act as convener, independent facilitator, and technical expert on emerging energy issues.
Three Michigan townships called a special joint meeting set for Thursday night to consider how to continue their two-year blockade of a proposed 39-turbine project after the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld a lower-court ruling invalidating their restrictive ordinances. The three-judge panel ruled that Clinton County’s zoning ordinance passed in 2011 trumped Dallas, Essex and Bengal townships’ police-power ordinances restricting height, setback, noise or other elements of the wind farm. The judges said the townships could have passed zoning ordinances but chose not to.
A carbon tax in Oregon would have minimal effects on jobs and the economy, paving the way for the state’s Legislature to pursue carbon pricing in 2015, according to an analysis by researchers at Portland State University’s Northwest Economic Research Center (NERC).That, in turn, could be a first step in joining or linking to California’s existing cap-and-trade system and perhaps British Columbia’s revenue-neutral carbon tax, as well. The state and Canadian province, along with Washington, have already committed to regional carbon pricing under the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy.