Drought improves slightly in U.S., intensifies in the West

Source: Elizabeth Harball, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, August 19th, 2013

The overall area of U.S. land suffering from “exceptional” drought continued to shrink for the sixth straight week, according to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor maps, although dryness is set to persist and even grow in several areas of concern. By the end of last month, areas of “severe to extreme” drought had shrunk by 9 percent from the month before, covering around 20 percent of the contiguous United States, compared with the 38 percent seen in 2012.

Wind Energy Bustling in SD

Source: by Ben Cathey,KELOLAND • Posted: Monday, August 19th, 2013

Wind energy is expanding just as fast as the turbines can go up. Just last week, the U.S. Department of Energy named South Dakota one of its four “Wind All-Stars.”

Wind leads energy growth in Iowa

Source: Written by Perry Beeman, Des Moines Register • Posted: Monday, August 19th, 2013

Iowa is among several states now getting more than 20 percent of its power from wind, a key reason wind energy was the fastest-growing power-generation sector for the first time in 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy reported Tuesday. Wind accounted for 43 percent of all new electricity generation last year, after a $25 billion run of new projects, the department reported.

Lesser-known Koch brother pours money into super PACs

Source: E&E • Posted: Friday, August 16th, 2013

Billionaire William Koch, brother to Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries Inc., was once known as the politically moderate member of his family. But as the Obama administration attempts to tackle climate change, Koch has changed his tune. Koch, the owner of Oxbow Carbon LLC, has denounced global warming and alternative energy investments. His brothers are known for their backing of politically active nonprofits, but he’s chosen a different route: giving millions of dollars from his firms’ corporate treasuries to super PACs, a result of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision.

Conservatives spotlight FERC, nomination as key to Obama’s climate plans

Source: Katherine Ling, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, August 16th, 2013

A conservative think tank has set its sights on elevating the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and its importance to President Obama’s Climate Action Plan ahead of a nomination hearing for its next chairman. The Institute for Energy Research is boosting efforts to educate policymakers on and off Capitol Hill about what FERC does and how that could affect the U.S. energy supply and consumption in favor of renewables and to the detriment of fossil fuels, especially coal, an IER spokesman said.

Proposed 6-year phaseout of PTC slowly gains traction on Hill

Source: Katherine Ling, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, August 16th, 2013

Legislation that would phase out tax incentives for the wind industry over the next six years is emerging as a possible compromise measure. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) introduced the bill, H.R. 2987, the day before Congress left for its August recess. The measure would extend 100 percent of the PTC through 2014, then ratchet down the credit by 10 percentage points a year until hitting 60 percent in 2018, after which it would expire in 2020.

How NASA’s Robert Simmon makes climate science beautiful

Source: Stephanie Paige Ogburn, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, August 16th, 2013

When NASA designer Robert Simmon bought one of the first iPhones in 2007, what he saw when he turned it on startled him. The image on the phone’s startup screen was one he had designed. Known as the “Blue Marble,” it displayed a beautiful picture of the Earth from space, composed of many satellite images taken of our home planet.

Intermittent Nature of Green Power Is Challenge for Utilities

Source: By DIANE CARDWELL, New York Times • Posted: Friday, August 16th, 2013

The 21 turbines at the Kingdom Community Wind farm in Vermont soar above Lowell Mountain, a testament in steel and fiberglass to the state’s growing use of green energy. Except when they aren’t allowed to spin at their fastest. That has been the case several times in the farm’s short existence, including during the record July heat wave when it could have produced enough much-needed energy to fuel a small town. Instead, the grid system operator held it at times to just one-third of what it could have produced.

Xcel Energy moves to buy another wind farm

Source: E&E • Posted: Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Xcel Energy Inc. yesterday announced plans to purchase another wind farm currently under development in North Dakota, making it the fourth wind power project the utility has bought within the past month.

On the road, CEQ’s Sutley plays up health risks of carbon emissions

Source: John McArdle, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, August 15th, 2013

In promoting President Obama’s new Climate Action Plan during an event in Rhode Island this morning, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley warned that carbon emissions are as much a public health issue as an environmental one. Joined by two local children with asthma whose outdoor activities are limited during the summer, Sutley told the audience that “as their experiences demonstrate, climate change poses a very real threat to public health — both now and in the future,” according to excerpts provided by the White House.