Using an obscure law that allows Congress to review regulations before they take effect, the Senate voted to reverse the Stream Protection Rule, which seeks to protect the nation’s waterways from debris generated by a practice called surface mining. The Interior Department had said the rule would protect 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests by keeping coal mining debris away from nearby waters.
Fears that a new Trump administration could roll back advances clean energy may be seriously overblown. Such assumptions are belied by data released in the most recent update from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Of the over 26 gigawatts of new energy capacity added throughout the United States last year, the vast majority of it came from renewables, the FERC found.
Buckle-Up, Uncertainty Paves a Bumpy Road Ahead: Environmental Regulation Under the Trump Administration
While regulated industry can expect the Clean Power Plan to disappear, EPA remains legally required to develop a new rule in its place. EPA is not expected to rescind the underlying finding that GHGs are a pollutant requiring EPA regulation. Any such rule developed under the Trump Administration is expected to be far less burdensome on regulated industry. Any future rule could also be impacted by the anticipated withdrawal from the Paris Agreement for international reductions in carbon emissions. Withdrawal would remove EPA’s ability to rely on other nations’ climate action to justify its own regulatory authority under CAA Section 115, an often cited alternative for regulating GHGs.
The Maryland General Assembly voted today to override Gov. Hogan’s veto and restore the Clean Energy Jobs Act. American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) CEO Tom Kiernan hailed the override: “Making the Clean Energy Jobs Act law is the right decision for Maryland. Renewable energy legislation is pro-growth, pro-business, and means access to more jobs in Maryland.” said Tom Kiernan, AWEA CEO. “From the Free State’s population-hubs to majestic shores, this ensures more low-cost, homegrown American wind power reaches homeowners and businesses.”
The Maryland legislature overrode Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a renewable energy-related bill from last session, a measure Hogan has dubbed the “sunshine tax.” The bill raises Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard goal that electricity suppliers reach a level of 25 percent renewable energy by 2020, from 20 percent by 2022. Hogan vetoed the bill last May. The House of Delegates voted 88-51 to restore the bill on Tuesday, Jan. 31, and the Senate on Thursday, Feb. 2, voted 32-13 for the override.
“The signs I’m seeing now are extremely disappointing,” McCarthy said Monday in her first interview since leaving Washington, D.C. Chief among her concerns are statements from President Trump’s EPA transition team suggesting that the agency’s staff may be cut by two-thirds, that political appointees will have to sign off on research, and that industry will have undue influence over scientific inquiries.
Senate Republicans pressed forward on Thursday with the confirmation of President Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, suspending the Environment and Public Works Committee’s rules to approve the cabinet pick despite a Democratic boycott. The 11-0 vote sends the nomination to the full Senate, where Mr. Pruitt will most likely be approved next week.
Negotiations to create an 11-state regional electric grid that would include Utah have stagnated, with key players deadlocked over individual states’ authority. Utah’s largest utility company, Rocky Mountain Power, has put the proposal on hold while it waits to see how much authority California will retain over the grid’s operations, said Gary Hoogeveen, senior vice president.
The New Mexico Legislature will consider increasing by more than four-fold the amount of renewable energy from sources such as wind and solar that utilities would have to provide their customers by the year 2040. Two Democratic lawmakers introduced bills Wednesday that would gradually increase the share of renewable energy to 80 percent of power supplies by 2040, under the state’s investor-owned utilities.
As state legislatures kick off new legislative sessions around the country, clean-energy policies will likely remain on the agenda in a number of states. Unprecedented business support for climate action and clean energy investments will be a key factor for legislatures hoping to attract the attention of businesses interested in seizing fast-emerging clean energy opportunities. More than 720 companies and investors (and counting) are calling on President Trump to support the Paris Climate Agreement and state and federal low-carbon policies.