Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, unveiled a sweeping “energy blueprint” today that could serve as a starting point for a series of smaller, bipartisan energy bills this year. The document, dubbed “Energy 2020,” lays out the senator’s platform, which includes opening more federal land and waters for oil and gas production, curbing carbon emissions, fast-tracking exports of domestic gas, and creating a “trust fund” for clean energy.
Technological advances in electricity generation, fuel switching, and rising consumer awareness about demand-side management and energy efficiency has led to a measurable drop in U.S. energy demand and carbon emissions since 2007, according to new research findings from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Carbon County, Wyo., might seem an unlikely site for the United States’ largest future renewable energy project. Since the county’s founding in the mid-1800s, its economy, like that of much of the rest of the state, has been based on the rich fossil fuel deposits that lie below Wyoming’s mountains and high plains. But coal and gas aren’t the only resources Carbon County enjoys in abundance. It’s also one of the windiest spots in the country.
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.