The Obama administration has taken a major step toward developing commercial-scale solar projects in specially designated zones in Arizona, Colorado and Nevada. The Bureau of Land Management today announced that it has completed regional mitigation strategies for four formally designated solar energy zones (SEZs) covering 25,000 acres for the Dry Lake Valley North SEZ in southeast Nevada and 8,500 acres for three other SEZs in Arizona. In addition, BLM unveiled a draft regional mitigation strategy for three SEZs covering about 33,200 acres of federal lands in the solar-resource-rich San Luis Valley in southern Colorado.
The standoff is among the latest in a long-running series of court clashes over EPA’s handling of the air toxics review mandates set by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. The law sets out 189 pollutants to be regulated; after establishing emissions standards for major sources based on what is known as “maximum achievable control technology,” the agency is then supposed to follow up with another review within eight years to determine both whether the technology has improved and whether any “residual risk” remains to public health, according to court filings.
The offshore wind industry has high hopes for establishing a permanent beachhead in the U.S. after years of disappointment. Business leaders and politicians who gathered for an industry conference in Boston earlier this week said wealthy investment firms and seasoned European offshore wind companies are increasingly committing to projects along the East Coast. That, they said, is evidence a domestic industry dreamed about for nearly two decades is finally on its way.
U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy today said the recent Supreme Court decision to stay the Clean Power Plan “in no way” signals it is not legally defensible and will not “in the end win.” “It will continue, it will survive, it will be litigated on its merits as we know everything EPA does is. So if this is the first time you’ve been involved in looking at EPA in terms of the courts, don’t sweat it. … We do really well, and we’re going to do great here,” she told a packed room at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, summit in suburban Maryland.
Billionaire Warren Buffett this weekend told his company’s shareholders that they shouldn’t worry about the firm’s exposure to climate change. In a letter to Berkshire Hathaway Inc., one of the world’s biggest insurers and a significant insurer of catastrophic damage, Buffett wrote that personal concerns about climate change should not be confused with business risks. “As a citizen, you may understandably find climate change keeping you up nights,” Buffett said, suggesting that investors move if they live in a low-lying region. “But when you are thinking only as a shareholder of a major insurer, climate change should not be on your list of worries.”
U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey plans to introduce legislation “soon” to extend a federal tax credit that will spur wind-farm development in coastal waters. The Massachusetts Democrat is seeking to extend the investment tax credit until 2025, he said at the U.S. Offshore Wind Leadership Conference in Boston Monday. The policy grants a 30 percent credit for the costs of developing renewable-energy projects.
Two sun-drenched U.S. states have lately come to very different conclusions on a controversial solar power incentive essential to the industry’s growth. In California, regulators voted in January to preserve so-called net metering, which requires utilities to purchase surplus power generated by customers with rooftop solar panels. But neighboring Nevada scrapped the policy – prompting solar companies to flee the state. The decisions foreshadow an intensifying national debate over public support that the rooftop solar industry says it can’t live without.
“Without net metering, it just doesn’t work,” said Lyndon Rive, chief executive of top U.S. residential solar installer SolarCity Corp.
A top House appropriator said today that the Obama administration’s bid to double spending on clean energy research over five years may come at the expense of power sources favored by the Republican majority. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who leads the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, told Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz he was “disappointed” the Mission Innovation proposal included in the fiscal 2017 budget request “favors” the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
Calling climate change “bullshit” and seeking to abolish U.S. EPA, Donald Trump is stoking populist passions and leading the race for the Republican presidential nomination, including yesterday’s near sweep of the Super Tuesday primaries. But on Capitol Hill, Republicans have been far less eager to hop on board the bombastic billionaire’s bandwagon, although most say they eventually could. They are also raising serious questions as to whether Trump’s bold proposals on energy and environmental issues could be implemented if he won the White House.
Washington air regulators last week withdrew their plan to cap large greenhouse gas emitters, promising to present a new proposal in the spring that some observers hope will be more akin to other carbon regulations in the United States. The now-defunct proposal by Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) Department of Ecology would have subjected emitters of more than 100,000 tons per year of carbon to a 5 percent reduction every three years. About 70 facilities were targeted, including refineries, landfills and aerospace manufacturers.