Under fierce attack from the political right, and with even some Democrats questioning its competence, the Environmental Protection Agency is facing a tumultuous election year — with rising regulatory responsibilities, falling budgets and its very existence at stake.
The Lancaster County Board should heed the request of a local coalition that it take another look at the super-strict noise limits it approved last year for wind turbines. As John Hansen, president of the Nebraska Farmers Union, told the board last week, the regulations “make it next to impossible to develop wind energy in our county.”
Doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix to 36 percent by 2030 could save the world economy up to $4.2 trillion a year, research by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) showed on Wednesday. Renewable sources, such as wind and solar, accounted for around 18 percent of global energy consumption in 2014. Under existing national policies, the share of renewables is forecast to reach 21 percent by 2030.
Announcing government support for clean-energy projects, President Obama hailed a Spanish company, saying its new solar technology would supply tens of thousands of American homes with renewable power, while spurring local employment. “It’s good news,” Mr. Obama said in 2010, “that we’ve attracted a company to our shores to build a plant and create jobs right here in America.” Since then, the Spanish company, Abengoa, has built two American plants, in Arizona and California, supplying electricity to more than 160,000 homes. It is the world leader in a technology known as solar thermal, with operations from Algeria to Latin America.
An area off the coast of New York designated for offshore wind farms has the potential to generate almost as much electricity as a nuclear power plant. The site has more than 81,000 acres (127 square-miles), enough for turbines with as much as 900 megawatts of capacity, according to Willett Kempton, a professor at the University of Delaware who studies offshore wind. That estimate, based on developers using 6- or 8-megawatt turbines, is about 30 percent bigger than earlier proposals for the wind energy area.
U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan, if upheld by the courts, could force more coal plant retirements than initially expected in the nation’s midsection, according to the most recent modeling by the region’s grid operator. In its most recent report discussed at a committee meeting yesterday, the Carmel, Ind.-based Midcontinent Independent System Operator looked at various greenhouse gas reduction scenarios and how they would affect the coal fleet across the 15 states where it operates.
“The new figures confirm last year’s surprising but welcome news: we now have seen two straight years of greenhouse gas emissions decoupling from economic growth,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol in a press release. “Coming just a few months after the landmark COP21 agreement in Paris, this is yet another boost to the global fight against climate change.”
Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland and Chief Justice John Roberts haven’t always agreed. Take the case of the “hapless toad.”
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R) has called for more funding for clean coal research and a new emphasis on renewables, a shift from a previous strategy focused on fossil fuels. He unveiled his updated energy strategy in Cheyenne amid a downturn in coal. Mead made his trademark call for more research into other economic uses for coal. He also called for more wind turbine manufacturing in the state. An initiative to expand foreign markets for natural gas and coal was dropped from the original 2013 version.
Missouri lawmakers are pushing legislation to prohibit the state from planning for the Obama administration’s climate change regulation until a Supreme Court stay on implementing the rule is lifted. Two separate bills are working their way through the state Legislature: One, which advanced this week, would suspend U.S. EPA Clean Power Plan activities imposing greenhouse gas standards for power plants until litigation is resolved. The other would halt activity only while the Supreme Court stay is in place.