“The shift to a cleaner-energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way,” Mr. Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address, previewing Monday’s announcement. “But a low-carbon, clean-energy economy can be an engine of growth for decades to come. America will build that engine. America will build the future, a future that’s cleaner, more prosperous and full of good jobs.” While the administration was still completing crucial elements of the plan, it was already clear that the economic stakes are enormous. The new regulations could eventually shutter hundreds of coal-fired power plants. Critics wasted little time arguing that the president’s unilateral plan abuses his power in a way that will cost jobs and raise energy prices for consumers.
President Obama raised the curtain this weekend on U.S. EPA’s new proposal for existing power plants’ carbon dioxide by making a public health plea, especially for children suffering from asthma and other respiratory illnesses. “Often, these illnesses are aggravated by air pollution — pollution from the same sources that release carbon and contribute to climate change,” the president said in a message taped Friday during a surprise visit to Washington, D.C.’s Children’s Hospital. “And for the sake of all our kids, we’ve got to do more to reduce it,” he said. The message was released Saturday ahead of this morning’s unveiling of the draft rule, which would limit emissions from the sector responsible for 40 percent of U.S. CO2.
Several bills introduced in the House yesterday aim to promote renewable energy development or address climate change, although it’s unlikely that any will be taken up soon in the GOP-controlled lower chamber. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) offered a pair of bills yesterday to extend clean energy tax breaks and reintroduced legislation to implement a cap-and-dividend program that has struggled to gain traction. Separately, a bipartisan pair sought to expand a tax credit for small-scale wind projects, although Congress remains stuck on broader tax debates amid procedural spats in both chambers. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.) say their bill would help align a tax credit for distributed wind systems with the prevailing definition used by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Eight states will offer buyer incentives, promote workplace charging and foster effective marketing, among other steps to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) on their roads by 2025, under an implementation plan released today. By that point, the plan calls for 15 percent of all new vehicles sales in the participating states to be ZEVs. To lead by example, those states will require at least 25 percent of their own light-duty car and truck fleets to fall in the zero-emission category.
The furor yesterday over a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study on U.S. EPA’s upcoming proposal for existing power plant greenhouse gases has set the stage for what is likely to be a bitter struggle over the rule. The business group’s Center for 21st Century Energy — which has joined with the National Association of Manufacturers and others to oppose regulations they deem burdensome to industry — released a report yesterday arguing that the rule EPA will propose Monday would be an economic disaster, driving up power costs and slashing employment in all regions of the country, but falling hardest on the regions most dependent on coal (Greenwire, May 28).
A German wind energy company has chosen Estherville as the location for its North American headquarters, a local economic development group said today. The firm, windtest, will open the location this summer, the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corp. said in a statement. Based in Grevenbroich, Germany, windtest established the North American arm of the company, windtest north-america inc., earlier this year. The company will initially employ about five people with plans to hire up to 10 during the next few years, according to Iowa Lakes Corridor Development.
Gov. John Kasich plans to sign a controversial pullback on renewable-energy rules that passed the Ohio House yesterday. “After a lot of hard work, we’ve got a solid plan to examine the progress Ohio has made while also holding onto that progress,” Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said in a statement. He said the bill is a compromise between those who want to eliminate the energy rules and those who want no change. “It’s not what everyone wanted, which probably means we came down at the right spot,” he said. The bill passed the House 53-38, overcoming opposition from nearly all Democrats and some Republicans who said the measure will lead to job losses and an increase in air pollution.
A deal has been struck in the months-long battle over the path of a New Mexico-to-Arizona transmission line near an Army missile testing range, with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel agreeing to drop objections to the project if sections near the range are buried underground. Backers of the 515-mile-long SunZia Southwest Transmission Project must also sign a legally binding “hold harmless agreement,” according to the one-page letter Hagel sent to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. Sources say the agreement aims to protect the Army from liability if an errant missile strikes one of the high-tower lines running just north of New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range.
American Electric Power proposes a rate cut for most residential customers, and a trial-like regulatory hearing process that is required to implement it begins next week.
A typical household bill would be 12.6 percent less than under current rates, based on forecasts of market conditions next year, when the plan would take effect. Little has been said or written about the proposal, largely because it is free of the rate increases and other controversial elements that were in the company’s 2008 and 2011 plans.
The Obama administration is slowly taking the first steps to revise potentially large sections of a congressionally designated 6,000-mile-long energy corridor as mandated by a nearly 2-year-old legal settlement with environmental groups that claimed the original corridor unnecessarily tore through sensitive landscapes and fails to advance renewable energy development. But it could be years before any substantive revisions are made to dozens of contested sections of the “West-wide Energy Corridor” that stretches across 11 Western states and nearly 3 million acres of public land, including federal wildlife refuges and key habitat for greater sage grouse. That’s due mostly to a lack of federal funding that has prevented the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and the Department of Energy from even starting a base-line corridor study that was supposed to be completed in July.