The era of the comprehensive energy bill is over, at least for now, but Congress may still be able to pass smaller bills aimed at fully exploiting the benefits of natural gas, shoring up renewable energy and further reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said last night. “You’re going to see a big push, in the Senate in particular, to promote what I call a low-carbon economy,” Wyden said at a reception in Washington
Energy Secretary Steven Chu will step down soon, possibly by the end of the month, he said in a statement on Friday, ending a four-year tenure in which he concentrated on fostering research and development of clean energy technologies, and opponents pilloried him over stimulus loans that went bad.
Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) is pitching a clean energy “Race to the Top” program that would spur states to compete for federal dollars to boost renewable energy and efficiency. Former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) has teamed up with former Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) on an eagerly anticipated Bipartisan Policy Center paper outlining an array of energy recommendations. Former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D) is directing a think tank at Colorado State University. And former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) has valuable experience with nuclear waste management, which makes up a significant piece of the Department of Energy’s portfolio and earned her a shout-out in Chu’s resignation letter.
The U.S. wind power sector recorded its strongest annual growth in 2012 despite strong political head winds in Washington, D.C., that threatened to end federal subsidies for the country’s largest renewable energy resource. The American Wind Energy Association reported Wednesday that developers installed more than 13,000 megawatts of generation capacity over the 12 months that ended in December, leveraging an estimated $25 billion in private-sector investment. Thirteen thousand megawatts is the equivalent of 13 large nuclear power plants.
Who will help President Barack Obama meet his ambitious promises to tackle climate change? Eco-celebrities and tree-climbing protesters need not apply. This is a job for wonks. The president’s top climate appointees and the outside advisers best positioned to shape his agenda are a team replete with heavy hitters — including green-minded business leaders, buttoned-down environmental lobbyists and bureaucrats who have spent years wrestling with the minutiae of regulations.
The Nebraska breeze could blow in about $690 million in annual income and 14,000 new jobs in the next 17 years. According to John Crabtree, media director at the Center for Rural Affairs, choosing to invest in energy diversification and wind energy development would bring real economic opportunities to rural Nebraska. “If we do this, for once we would be supporting a development that wasn’t focused on Lincoln and Omaha,” he said. “This wouldn’t be happening in urban centers, it would be out here.”
Delaware Sen. Tom Carper (D) today said that he believes the United States could see construction of its first couple of offshore wind farms in 2013 but that lawmakers must extend key tax incentives to keep the nascent industry afloat. Carper, who co-sponsored a measure with former Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) last Congress that would extend the investment tax credit to the first 3,000 megawatts of offshore wind projects that go into service, said he’ll be pushing his plan again as lawmakers discuss comprehensive tax reform.
In what shaped up to be a record wind for American wind, Illinois was fifth in the nation for new wind installations in 2012, the American Wind Energy Association said Wednesday. The state installed 491 turbines, or about 820 MW of capacity, and is fourth in the nation for wind power installed.
The last three months of 2012 saw a record number of wind projects come online, even as construction of new wind farms ground to a halt amid uncertainty over whether a key tax break would be extended, the industry said in a report released yesterday. Wind was the No. 1 source of new generation installed last year, surpassing even natural gas, with 13,124 megawatts brought online, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s fourth-quarter report. The bulk of installations — 8,380 MW — came online between October and December, more than doubling the previous three-month installation record in the fourth quarter of 2009.
A potentially bruising battle for the top Democratic slot on the House Natural Resources Committee is looming. Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) confirmation yesterday as secretary of State could trigger a shakeup at the Natural Resources panel, since current ranking member Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has announced he will run for Kerry’s vacant Senate seat.