Six months after announcing that Harvard University would not divest its endowment’s holdings from the fossil fuel industry, its president, Drew Faust, unveiled several new initiatives Monday to strengthen the university’s commitment to environmental sustainability and renewable energy. Harvard says its endowment will be the first of a US university to sign on to a United Nations-supported organization, Principles for Responsible Investment. The principles do not require Harvard to sell specific funds, but rather provide the university’s fund managers with a method for considering environmental and social factors, from water scarcity to human rights.
Legislation intended to quickly add muscle into Massachusetts’ greenhouse gas emissions reduction program is drawing fire from both power producers and clean energy advocates because it would lock the state into long-term hydropower contracts with Canadian utilities and hinder the state’s homegrown clean energy sector. Massachusetts’ H. 3968, co-sponsored by Democratic Rep. Mark Cusack and Sen. Barry Finegold, would require that by the end of 2014 all of the commonwealth’s electricity distributors solicit proposals for an estimated 2,400 megawatts of new generation from clean energy resources, including hydropower, solar and wind.
House Democrats are reaching for an old financing model to support new sources of energy.Modeled off a successful World War II-era program, a bill introduced yesterday would direct the Treasury Department to issue $50 billion of “clean energy victory bonds,” the proceeds of which would offset the extension of a handful of clean energy tax breaks. California Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Doris Matsui were the lead co-sponsors of the bill, which attracted 16 other Democratic co-sponsors.
Gov. Martin O’Malley says he still has misgivings about a bill to set a 13-month moratorium on the development of tall wind turbines within 56 miles of the U.S. Naval Air Station Patuxent River base in southern Maryland. O’Malley wouldn’t say Monday if he would veto legislation that has been sent to his desk. But the governor, who is a strong supporter of wind energy, says, “I have yet to conclude that windmills are quite the threat to Naval air radar that those advocating for this ban have concluded.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is nudging the Defense Department to drop objections to a massive New Mexico-to-Arizona transmission line project near an Army missile testing range and to work with the Interior Department to devise a plan to get the power line built.
In its just-released annual report on global clean energy investment, the Pew Charitable Trusts finds an 11 percent drop in investments in 2013. What contributed to the global decline, and what are the expectations for activity in the clean energy sector moving forward? During today’s OnPoint, Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s Clean Energy Program, discusses the impact of policy uncertainty in the United States and Europe. She also weighs in on how the natural gas boom could be affecting clean energy investments.
Environmental groups say it’s unlikely other Southeastern states will copy the Alabama Legislature’s attempts to stop two wind projects planned for the state’s northeast corner. Two local bills that would regulate the location, design and operation of wind turbines in Etowah and Cherokee counties have made it to the governor’s desk. A statewide bill (S.B. 12) passed the Senate and hung in the balance in the House last week before the Legislature finished Thursday. Texas-based Pioneer Green Energy wants to build turbines along the mountainous Shinbone Ridge in the two counties.
Kansas lawmakers on Thursday passed a compromise plan that would preserve net metering in the state, handing another defeat to a conservative group seeking to repeal the state’s renewable energy laws. As originally introduced, the bill effectively would have put an end to the practice of giving customers credit, or rolling back their meters, to reflect electricity they generate on their property and feed into the local utility’s grid. However, renewable energy activists and the state’s largest utility forged a compromise that would preserve the policy, although in a diminished form. The state’s House of Representative approved the latest version in a 112-12 vote on Thursday. It now must be signed by Gov. Sam Brownback.
The American Wind Energy Association has hired a senior aide to Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) as its newest lobbyist, the group announced yesterday. James Reilly, who has been Carper’s chief of staff since 2007, is joining AWEA to become senior vice president for federal legislative affairs, where he will oversee lobbying Capitol Hill, grass-roots activism and the group’s political action committee. The industry’s top federal policy goal this year is securing a renewal of the production tax credit (PTC), which expired at the end of last year. A two-year extension was included in a tax extenders bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee last week, but its prospects in the full Senate and House remain unclear
U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy today said the power plant climate rule now being reviewed by the White House will give states broad latitude to determine how to bring down their carbon dioxide emissions, but that it will require provable emissions reductions. Speaking at a forum hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center, McCarthy said her agency’s proposed guidance for existing power plants will take full advantage of the flexibility provided by the Clean Air Act to let states craft their own implementation plans. It will allow states to comply using existing policies, she added.