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.”
Finland’s government proposed setting a November 2017 deadline for granting subsidies to wind power plants as applications exceeded a previously set capacity limit. The decision, if approved by the parliament, would mean the end of the existing feed-in tariff system in Finland, and follows a decision by Britain to scrap all new subsidies for onshore wind from next April. “The present system can no longer be considered a sufficiently cost-effective and market-oriented incentive system,” Finland’s Ministry of Employment and Economy said in a statement.
Global warming is going to reshuffle ocean ecosystems on a scale not seen for millions of years. Marine biologists can’t yet say what these new habitats are going to be like. “If you put a bunch of species in a blender, you’re not entirely sure what’s going to come out,” said Malin L. Pinsky, a marine biologist at Rutgers University. The most ambitious effort yet to map the future of ocean life was published Monday by the journal Nature Climate Change. An international team of scientists analyzed the current ranges of nearly 13,000 species of fish, invertebrates and other marine organisms.
The new waterfront terminal in New Bedford was supposed to be teeming with activity by now, a staging ground for a massive wind farm in Nantucket Sound. But with a cancellation of a lease by Cape Wind, the 28-acre site has instead remained largely idle this summer. Efforts by the quasi-public Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to hire a company to position the property for cargo shipping are also taking longer than anticipated.