President Obama’s pick to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Norman Bay, appears to have garnered some heavy-hitting support on a Senate panel critical to his confirmation this month. But challenges — and tough questions — loom, as a company targeted for investigation by FERC raises objections over Bay’s leadership as the head of the agency’s enforcement office. On one hand, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), the new chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, appears to have warmed to the former New Mexico prosecutor. The Senate panel is slated to consider Obama’s nomination of Bay to lead FERC on May 20, alongside the president’s nomination of Cheryl LaFleur, the agency’s acting chairwoman, to another five-year term.
The effects of human-induced climate change are being felt in every corner of the United States, scientists reported Tuesday, with water growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, heat waves becoming more common and more severe, wildfires growing worse, and forests dying under assault from heat-loving insects. Such sweeping changes have been caused by an average warming of less than 2 degrees Fahrenheit over most land areas of the country in the past century, the scientists found. If greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane continue to escalate at a rapid pace, they said, the warming could conceivably exceed 10 degrees by the end of this century.
SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. is selling its Alberta-based AltaLink power transmission company to Berkshire Hathaway Energy for $2.92 billion, the Canadian construction giant said.
AltaLink is the largest regulated electricity transmission company in Alberta. Under the terms of the sale, which still needs Canadian government approval, it will continue to be based out of Calgary and will function as a separate unit of Berkshire Hathaway Energy. The companies also said they will pursue joint transmission and distribution-development projects in Canada as well as the United States.
Must a president do more than invoke “national security” to block plans by Chinese businessmen to build dozens of wind turbines in the United States? That was the question faced by a panel of appellate judges this morning that considered a long-running dispute involving several proposed wind farms near a military installation in Oregon, an obscure government agency tasked with monitoring foreign business activity and President Obama, who personally intervened to block the projects.
“Political realities,” not denial of human-caused climate change, have prevented Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and many other Republican lawmakers from taking a stand on the issue, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Friday. “As I talk to individual members of Congress from both sides of the political aisle, I would say that there is less debate on climate change, but we have a circumstance where it’s not a popular topic in some parts of the country for people to bring up,” Jewell said during a question-and-answer session with attendees of the National Wildlife Federation’s annual meeting here. Following a speech during which she named climate change as one of her top concerns as Interior secretary, Jewell offered McCain as an example of a politician who she believes has shifted his tone on the issue in response to his constituency.
In the final hours before it recessed for the year, the Kansas House of Representatives narrowly defeated another attempt by conservative lawmakers to effectively pull the plug on the state’s renewable energy mandate. The House voted 63-60 on Friday afternoon to block a measure that would have capped the renewable standard for utilities at 15 percent of retail load instead of 20 percent and done away with the requirement altogether in 2021. The legislative proposal was cast by Republican backers as a compromise after the same chamber voted down a bill that would have repealed the green energy mandate altogether.
Despite relentless legislative attacks funded by the Koch Brothers and other fossil fuel special interest groups, state renewable electricity standards are holding their own and continue to drive investments in clean energy resources. And as long as legislators remain committed to well-informed policies that represent the will of the people instead of a few powerful special interests, renewable energy can continue to look forward to a bright future in the U.S.
Would you vote for a politician who works to raise your electric bills, kill jobs, discourage economic growth and investment, waste energy, and degrade the air you breathe? Ohioans may get the chance to cast such votes, or do the opposite, this year. That will depend on whether the Republican-controlled General Assembly passes a bill gutting the state law that sets sensible, effective standards for clean energy and energy efficiency. A Senate vote could come this week. How lawmakers vote on Senate Bill 310 may offer a useful reminder before the November election of whom they really work for: the constituents who put them in office, or the special-interest groups — in this instance electric utilities, fossil-fuel producers, and big industrial power users — that bankroll their campaigns.
The White House and federal agencies are planning a public outreach blitz today to coincide with the release of a high-profile scientific review of the effects climate change is already having on the United States. The president will give interviews to broadcast meteorologists at the White House to discuss the National Climate Assessment, and members of his Cabinet will make appearances inside and outside the Beltway to drive home the report’s point that climate change is already occurring and warrants aggressive action.
In the final days of the recently concluded Maryland General Assembly session, lawmakers voted to delay all wind projects of a certain height within 46 miles of the base until June 2015 — effectively killing plans for the Great Bay Wind Center. Now Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) must decide whether to veto the legislation, as environmental groups are demanding, or allow it to become law. Activists warn that the measure could scare away wind developers and taint O’Malley’s reputation as a dedicated environmentalist as he contemplates a run for the White House. “You’ve shown national-caliber leadership in getting policies in place,” Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune wrote in an April 11 letter, “but without construction of actual projects, Maryland residents won’t get the benefits they deserve.”