President Obama is preparing regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, senior officials said Wednesday. The move would be the most consequential climate policy step he could take and one likely to provoke legal challenges from Republicans and some industries. Electric power plants are the largest single source of global warming pollution in the country, responsible for nearly 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. With sweeping climate legislation effectively dead in Congress, the decision on existing power plants — which a 2007 Supreme Court decision gave to the executive branch — has been among the most closely watched of Mr. Obama’s second term.
At the intersection of clean power and information technology, a new breed of digital start-ups is harnessing the power of the Internet to make smarter, more efficient use of energy and other resources. Proponents call it “cleanweb,” and they say the sector is poised to bring about huge leaps in efficiency, saving money and cutting planet-warming carbon emissions. As its backers define it, cleanweb is any software or Internet application that makes it easier to use resources — like textiles or cars or electricity — more efficiently.
The Bureau of Land Management’s plan to route a transmission line from New Mexico to Arizona and through a pristine valley renowned for its biological diversity has sparked an intense debate among elected leaders, residents and conservation groups over the merits of the project and its potential environmental impacts.
The Energy Department will step up its focus on state and local needs to support a transition to a low-carbon economy, especially in developing the Quadrennial Energy Review, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said yesterday during a House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing. “We are going to be developing the Quadrennial Review process with a much more regional, local focus,” Moniz said.
A federal judge has sentenced a California man to two years in prison for his role in defrauding investors by promoting non-existent wind farm projects in Wyoming and South Dakota.
Every few hours trains packed with coal pass through the sagebrush-covered landscape here in southern Montana, some on their way north to Canadian ports for shipment to Japan and South Korea. If the mining company Cloud Peak Energy has its way, many more trains will cross the prairie to far larger proposed export terminals in Washington State. It’s part of a push by the nation’s coal industry, hobbled by plummeting demand as Americans turn to cleaner natural gas, to vastly expand what it sends to Asia and Europe. But the aggressive effort to rescue the $40 billion industry is running into fierce opposition from environmental groups, who say pollution caused by burning coal should not be exported.
A federal appeals court today upheld the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s handling of a legal dispute involving transmission agreements inked in the 1970s in New York and New Jersey. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that FERC was correct to approve a settlement in 2010 between grid operators in the Midwest and utilities on the East Coast that ended years of litigation over changes to transmission agreements as they entered into an open access regime the agency created.
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz plans to visit the embattled nuclear waste site in Hanford, Wash., next week, he told a congressional subcommittee today during a wide-ranging hearing. Moniz called the site, where leaks have been discovered in six tanks storing radioactive sludge, one of the “most challenging” in the Department of Energy’s portfolio of Cold War-era facilities that need to be cleaned up, a job he called a “legal and moral imperative.”
“First of all, the rise in CO2 emissions in the last half-century is clearly tracked to our global increased energy use,” Moniz told Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) during a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power. … Secondly, I know how to count,” Moniz added. “I can count how many CO2 molecules have gone out from fossil fuel combustion, and I know how many additional CO2 molecules are in the atmosphere.”
Exelon Corp. is scrapping expansion plans at nuclear plants in Illinois and Pennsylvania because of waning demand for electricity and competition with subsidized wind generators. The country’s largest owner of nuclear reactors today announced it would sideline plans to add capacity to its LaSalle nuclear plant 75 miles southwest of Chicago and its Limerick plant 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.