The Senate is planning to pass its $37.5 billion fiscal 2017 energy and water spending bill today, key appropriators said yesterday Lawmakers will first take a procedural vote on a controversial amendment by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) related to the Iran nuclear deal. Talk of the amendment has helped stall the broader spending measure.
Ahead of next month’s courtroom showdown over the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, lawyers last week previewed their arguments in a Chicago classroom. Industry attorney Tom Lorenzen and environmental lawyer Sean Donahue each appeared confident as they presented their opposing sides of the case at a debate hosted by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. Both attorneys are expected to represent their respective sides during oral arguments next month over U.S. EPA’s regulation to curb power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions.
Iowa has emerged as a national leader in the development of renewable energy, thanks to the willingness of energy customers, communities, business and environmental coalitions and state policymakers and elected officials to work together toward this goal. The visionary leadership of Sen. Chuck Grassley at the federal level and Govs. Tom Vilsack and Terry Branstad at the state level have helped put Iowa on the path to generating more than 40 percent of its annual energy needs from wind by the end of this decade.
Critics of the renewable energy production tax credit are crying foul over new Internal Revenue Service guidance allowing wind and other facilities an additional two years to qualify for the incentive after breaking ground. Last week’s IRS notice doubled the amount of time renewable energy production facilities have to qualify for the PTC after starting construction. The guidance extended the time from two years, a number set in 2013, to four or more years.
California leads in solar PV installations, as it continues to dominate the solar landscape. With the state having one of the top Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) of 50% by 2030, this will put further need to increase not only utility-scale solar energy, but also improved local solar forecasting to produce maximum results, as the state heads towards its clean energy goals.
The test of the precarious path will come when the Senate holds a cloture vote no later than tomorrow morning to dispose of a contentious Iran amendment that has held up the appropriations bill for the past few weeks. Sixty votes would be required to move ahead with the amendment, an unlikely threshold given solid opposition from the chamber’s 44 Democrats. Once the amendment is defeated, the Senate could move toward passage of the broader bill.
But with all of the opportunities that go along with the transformation of the grid, there also remain plenty of challenges. Some of the most pressing challenges highlighted Friday include state policy battles over how to deploy rooftop solar energy systems; local disputes over siting of transmission projects; cooperation among grid operators; and ensuring reliability of the power grid as older, less efficient coal plants are phased out.
Her priorities include safeguarding U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan, completing a review of fuel efficiency standards and making gains on methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said. “I still hold out the hope that Congress will become a real partner with any president when it comes to climate action,” Podesta said, “but the prospects of that, particularly I think in the House, are undeniably still some years off, and this is simply too important to wait for Congress to get with the program.”
A bid to get the fiscal 2017 appropriations process back on track in the Senate by reviving the energy and water spending bill will likely come up short this evening. Senate Democrats plan to once again band together against a procedural vote to wind down debate on the $37.5 billion bill because of a proposed amendment related to Iran. Before last week’s recess, the Senate voted 52-43 against invoking cloture, leaving the energy and water bill short of the 60 votes needed to move toward final passage.
Investigations and potential future litigation against Exxon Mobil Corp. over its alleged past misinformation about global warming are just the beginning of a new era of climate change legal pursuits, several attorneys predicted this week. New legal maneuvers could feature the government, consumers, investors and insurance companies as plaintiffs, said the attorneys, who spoke at the Climate Action 2016 summit in Washington, D.C.