President Obama hosted a casual off-the-record meeting with a diverse group of energy and climate change experts at the White House on Thursday evening, officials and participants said Friday. The session appeared to mark an early stage of the “national conversation” on how to deal with climate change that Mr. Obama promised to lead shortly after he was re-elected in November.
President Obama met Thursday night with more than a dozen executives and “thought leaders” to discuss energy policies, including natural gas, renewables, research and development, and efficiency, the White House said today. The meeting comes ahead of a planned trip by Obama to Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois to discuss energy policy.
Changing weather patterns and a slightly shifting political landscape have spurred a renewed interest in climate change action among congressional Democrats but not with the Republicans who once expressed concern about the issue. GOP senators including John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska still say that man-made climate change exists and deserves a response — a position that sets them apart from many in their caucus who say warming is not occurring or is driven only by natural causes. But they don’t talk much about the issue anymore, nor do they propose mandatory programs to deal with it.
An energy company is hoping to test out a way to store energy generated by wind turbines. Wyoming-based Winhyne Energy Group hopes to install a hydraulic pump system to the towers of its planned nine-turbine wind project. The pumps would store pressure as the turbines rotate, which would be used to turn a hydraulic motor and spin a generator. If the energy isn’t immediately needed, it would be stored by compressing nitrogen into a pipeline system.
“The PTC has clearly proven its effectiveness in driving dramatic growth in construction and manufacturing jobs,” AWEA spokesman Peter Kelley said in an emailed statement. “It is not surprising that these known opponents of clean energy challenge the numbers of a leading economic and energy consulting firm — they did the same thing with the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates — and there are obvious and glaring flaws in their claims.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) is pushing a plan to hire an outside group to advise the state on how it can reduce its carbon emissions while still increasing its energy output. “This is not some kind of hypothetical, far-off-in-the-distant-future thing that seven generations from now they can worry about,” Inslee told the state House Environment Committee. “It’s right here, and it’s right now.”
A South Dakota legislative conference committee agreed Thursday on an economic development proposal that could help the state’s wind industry catch up to its potential. Taxes on wind farm construction in South Dakota are currently the highest in the region —up to ten times higher than in Iowa, Minnesota or North Dakota.
Gov. Dave Heineman slammed the Revenue Committee on Thursday for advancing a bill to make wind energy projects eligible for state business tax incentives. The governor called the committee’s priorities “misguided” and said Nebraska citizens bear the burden for special-interest tax breaks. “It is very disappointing that the Legislature’s Revenue Committee has decided to provide out-of-state wind energy developers a tax break, but the Revenue Committee refuses to provide much-needed tax relief to Nebraska families, Nebraska seniors, Nebraska veterans and Nebraska small-business owners,” Heineman said.
A bill that was expected to bring a $300 million wind farm to northeast Nebraska failed to advance from a legislative committee on Wednesday. While the idea might get a second chance later, it blew some cold air on the idea of more tax incentives for wind energy in Nebraska, which has lagged behind neighboring states in development of wind farms.
Midwest Energy News talked with AWEA CEO Rob Gramlich on his recent swing through Chicago to prepare for that global wind industry gathering.