For too long, our energy policies have benefitted the entrenched interests of big oil, gas and coal companies over clean energy industries like wind and solar. The tax subsidies for these fossil fuel industries are permanent pieces of the tax code that never expire. Meanwhile, the government spending bill that became law last December will begin phasing down the tax credits for wind power in 10 months. By the end of 2019 they will be completely gone. And the tax credits for solar will phase out by the end of 2021.
Congressional Republicans and legal scholars will take aim this week at the wiggle room federal judges generally give agencies during disputes about administration actions. Republican lawmakers in both chambers have scheduled hearings this week on the so-called Chevron doctrine, referring to an opinion holding that if Congress has been silent or ambiguous about how to tackle an issue, the courts should defer to an agency’s reasonable interpretation of the law.
A New York startup is pushing into the distributed wind energy market in Kansas and other Midwestern states, backed by significant international dollars and the opportunity for landowners to use third-party financing to tap into wind energy. United Wind’s WindLease program, which has just been launched in Kansas by a company consultant located in Topeka, eliminates the substantial initial investment farmers and property owners would have to make to purchase a wind turbine, said CEO and co-founder Russell Tencer.
As many as 13 million people in the continental United States may be at risk from flooding due to sea-level rise by the year 2100, according to a study out today. Thirty-one counties could each see more than 100,000 people affected by 6 feet of sea-level rise, the study led by the University of Georgia found. The southeastern United States is likely to be hardest hit, representing 70 percent of the U.S. population that’s at risk, according to the data.
A majority of Americans think this past winter was warmer than usual, and more people are attributing the atypical temperatures to climate change, according to a new poll. The Gallup Poll found 63 percent of Americans thought their local winter was warmer than usual and 34 percent attributed that warmth to climate change.
Senators have spent weeks trying to untangle the Flint issue from the broader bipartisan energy bill, S. 2012, in the hopes of getting an agreement that would allow for votes on roughly three dozen amendments and final passage. While efforts continue on finding a compromise, Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) last week said Senate leaders may move forward with a plan to force the energy bill back on the floor.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds recently celebrated Iowa’s distinction as the first and only state to generate more than 30 percent of its energy from wind, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. “We are proud of Iowa’s leadership in wind energy,” Branstad, who chairs the Governors’ Wind and Solar Energy Coalition, said. “With potential to jump above 40 percent in the next five years, we are committed to building an even greener Iowa future that will provide our Iowa families with cleaner, renewable energy and job opportunities.”
Lamenting changes to Minnesota’s way of life, Gov. Mark Dayton this week recommitted his administration to promoting clean energy and climate policies in his final two years in office. In a 40-minute State of the State address, the two-term Democrat said thousands of Minnesotans have “made their interests clear” on how the state should respond to the growing threat of climate change. Rising temperatures, he noted, have manifested themselves in a variety of ways — from shorter winters to more erratic growing seasons for the state’s 75,000 farmers.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed a bill Friday that raises the state’s renewable energy mandate to 50 percent and ends its reliance on coal-fired power. Originally put forth by the state’s two largest utilities and a cadre of environmental groups, S.B. 1547 requires utilities — Pacific Power and Portland General Electric Co. — to exit out-of-state coal contracts by 2030. It also raises the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2040 from the current target of 25 percent by 2025.
The United States has seen its warmest winter on record this year, with the temperature 4.6 degrees Fahrenheit above average. From December through February, the average temperature for the Lower 48 was 36.8 F, trumping the 1999-2000 record of 36.5 F, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.