After installing more wind and solar farms than anywhere else on the planet, China is ratcheting back the pace of growth in an industry that’s helped lower the costs of green energy worldwide. Installations of new wind and solar farms in China is expected to drop 11 percent in 2017 from a record high this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That would be the first decline in the history of the modern renewables business, now a little more than a decade old, for a nation that has provided about a third the investment for the industry.
The pitched battle over President Obama’s signature climate change policy, which is moving to the courts this week, carries considerable political, economic and historical stakes. Yet its legal fate, widely expected to be ultimately decided by the Supreme Court, could rest on a clerical error in an obscure provision of a 26-year-old law. That error, which left conflicting amendments on power plant regulation in the Clean Air Act, will be a major focus of oral arguments by opponents of Mr. Obama’s initiative when the case is heard on Tuesday in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
By all accounts, California is indeed on track to reach its 2020 target of reducing its emissions to 431 million metric tons (MMT) of carbon dioxide, the level that researchers estimate the state emitted in 1990. Emissions in 2014, the most recent year for which the state has released data, were 441.5 MMT, a decrease of about half a percentage point compared to 2013. Meanwhile, California’s economy since 2006 has jumped from the eighth- to the sixth-largest in the world. Yet the amount of greenhouse gas emissions it produces per person, as well as per dollar of gross domestic product, have fallen. Since 2001, state agencies have reported, its carbon emissions per unit of GDP have fallen 28 percent. Last year, the state was home to 68 percent of all clean technology investment nationwide and led in clean-tech patent registrations, as well, according to environmental advocacy group Next 10. And from 2007 to 2015, California outstripped the United States as a whole in job growth and personal income, according to an analysis released in June by Chapman University.
Professional line-standers will stake out positions long before sunrise Tuesday outside the federal courthouse where judges could decide the fate of the biggest climate change regulation ever attempted in America. The spots are coveted by lobbyists, utility chiefs and others who have spent the last several years following every twist and turn of U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan.
The federal court hearing the challenges to President Obama’s carbon rule for power plants will “struggle” most over the issue of whether the Clean Air Act allows U.S. EPA to regulate beyond the fence line, a law expert today predicted. Ann Carlson, a professor of environmental law at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a conference call with reporters the fence line argument is challengers’ strongest legal weapon against the Clean Power Plan.
Kevin Poloncarz has been talking aloud to himself all summer. On the ferry from his Marin County home to his San Francisco office, the Paul Hastings LLP attorney repeats talking points, hones inflection and perfects phrasing for a very big day in court. “If you’ve ever been to San Francisco, you know that someone talking aloud to him- or herself on the streets is not a strange sight, so, for the most part, no one tends to pay me any mind,” he says.
In a surprise twist to the legal battle over the Clean Power Plan, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit expanded the panel of judges that will hear arguments next week. Judge Cornelia Pillard, who has sat out previous decisions on the litigation, will hear arguments Tuesday, according to an order issued Thursday morning. All the court’s active judges — except President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Chief Judge Merrick Garland — will participate in the en banc arguments, the D.C. Circuit order says.
More offshore wind action: Deepwater Wind opening New Bedford office, OffshoreMW survey boat arriving
Action in the offshore wind industry continued to pop Tuesday, as Deepwater Wind announced a downtown New Bedford office and a survey boat for OffshoreMW was expected to arrive at the Marine Commerce Terminal. Rhode Island-based Deepwater Wind and New Jersey-based OffshoreMW are two of the three companies seeking to develop large-scale wind turbine farms in leased federal waters about 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. The third is Denmark-based DONG Energy, known in Massachusetts as Bay State Wind.
“These governors are leading. They’re attuned to economic development needs and deployment challenges in their states, and they’re looking to the federal agencies to help rather than hinder.” A bipartisan coalition of 20 US governors has called on President Barack Obama to take further steps to boost the development of onshore and offshore wind In a letter sent by the Governors’ Wind & Solar Energy Coalition, they asked the Obama administration to consider having the Coast Guard keep working on its Atlantic Coast Port Access Route Study with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the states.
Gulf Island Fabrication Inc. has for decades built hulking platforms to extract oil and natural gas from the seabed. With the collapse of offshore drilling, the company has turned to helping harvest another energy resource: wind. Gulf Island built all five turbine foundations for the first U.S. offshore wind farm, which is expected to go into service in November. Oil and gas services companies worked on almost every facet of Deepwater Wind LLC’s 30-megawatt project in Rhode Island, supplying engineers, deckhands, construction vessels and decades of expertise building massive structures at sea.