A month into the legislative session, Republican lawmakers are sending a message with a concerted push to repeal contentious measures approved by Democrats in prior years. The effort is led by the new GOP majority in the state Senate, where lawmakers last week voted to cut renewable-energy mandates on utility companies and approved two measures to loosen restrictions on firearms. A bill scheduled Monday for a Senate committee would repeal provisions in state law written by Democrats two years ago related to remedies for employment discrimination.
Eight years after a historic act of bipartisanship to address climate change, whirling wind turbines dot Minnesota’s landscape, and solar panels glisten on urban rooftops. The state’s utilities are ahead of schedule in meeting a mandate to provide 25 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2025. The mandate was part of a 2007 energy initiative under former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. But the state is falling short of the promise made in a second law the same year, the Next Generation Energy Act, which Pawlenty signed after nearly unanimous legislative approval. It created a goal to reduce Minnesota’s share of the heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions that scientists overwhelmingly agree are driving climate change.
Commissioners in El Paso County, Colo., unanimously approved a wind farm yesterday just minutes before midnight, nearly 15 hours after beginning a meeting on the controversial project. A stream of local residents voiced their support and opposition to the project. Many in the Greater Colorado Springs area raised concerns about property values, views and health effects that could arise from NextEra Energy Resources’ plan to alter the route of a 29-mile aboveground power line across the plains.
Plans to build Arkansas’ first wind farm have sparked interest and excitement in town and across the state, though some wind power experts cautioned against overselling the project. Representatives of Dragonfly Industries International, a Texas wind energy company, told city officials last month they hope to build dozens of turbines on more than 300 acres of rural land about a mile west of Elm Springs at a cost of at least $100 million, according to City Council and Planning Commission minutes. Power could flow to tens of thousands of homes with the farm’s expected capacity of 80 megawatts.
Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton this week will take the first significant step on the long road toward a new comprehensive energy bill, which would be the most ambitious overhaul to policies affecting pipelines, transmission and energy efficiency in more than eight years.
Following its decision to scrap nearly $1 billion in funding for the FutureGen 2.0 carbon capture project in Illinois, the Department of Energy today warned other projects could face similar troubles. Chris Smith, DOE’s fossil energy chief, today said he decided to pull the plug on FutureGen, which involved retrofitting a coal plant with capture technology, because of a fall legal deadline to spend the money.
The government of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) offered an early glimpse of a proposed rule to curb carbon in state transportation fuels yesterday, readying the way for public debate on what has already become a divisive issue. In form, the proposed standard looks much like those already in place in Oregon and California. It aims to cut the carbon content of fuel sold and burned in-state by 10 percent over 10 years and would be operated through a system of auctions between clean power generators, which produce credits, and fuel sellers, which must purchase them.
A majority of Senate Republicans opposed every climate change and clean-energy-related amendment to the Keystone XL bill that passed last week, according to a scorecard released today by the League of Conversation Voters. During the monthlong debate on the pipeline project, 37 GOP senators earned a score of zero for opposing amendments to the bill that acknowledged climate change is real and significantly affected by human activity, along with other proposals that promoted renewable energy sources and protected public lands, the LCV study found.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) appears to be one of the few Republican governors who is not calling for EPA to scrap its proposed rule setting greenhouse gas (GHG) standards for existing power plants, with the governor endorsing a shift away from coal generation and the state’s formal comments largely focusing on specific concerns with the plan.
Industry proponents argue that EPA “ignored” the crucial role that interstate transmission projects will play in meeting the GHG rule’s targets as states turn to natural gas and renewables to comply, requiring major new transmission upgrades under the rule. To address their concerns, WIRES, a group that represents transmission owners, investors, and customers, late last year filed comments on EPA’s proposed rule that urged the agency to extend the planned 2020 interim compliance deadlines to account for the infrastructure upgrades that will be needed.