Senate Dems call on EPA to strengthen power plant rule 

Source: Daniel Bush, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, December 11th, 2014

A group of Senate Democrats today called on U.S. EPA to strengthen its proposed power plant rule to achieve a greater reduction in carbon emissions. In a letter to the agency, the group said the rule is “the single most significant step this country has ever taken to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.” But they insisted that an even more ambitious carbon reduction target would help the United States avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Regulators ask state lawmakers for leeway to comply with EPA’s Clean Power Plan 

Source: Emily Holden and Scott Detrow, E&E reporters • Posted: Thursday, December 11th, 2014

As conservative state legislators rally against U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan, the head of a group representing air agencies tasked with writing plans for cutting greenhouse gas emissions is imploring them not to tie their states’ hands with laws that restrict options for complying with the draft rule. Twenty-seven states have told EPA they don’t believe it has legal authority to regulate “beyond the fence line,” or require emissions reductions outside power plants, said Paul Bailey, senior vice president of federal affairs and policy for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity

Prospects dim in push for tax breaks

Source: By Bernie Becker, The • Posted: Thursday, December 11th, 2014

President Obama and House Democrats mobilized Wednesday against a bill to permanently extend three separate incentives for charitable donations, giving the measure a difficult path to becoming law. The White House threatened to veto the measure on Wednesday, complaining that its $11 billion cost wasn’t offset one day after hinting about its opposition. Meanwhile, House Democratic leaders urged rank-and-file members to vote against the plan, which has the support of the tax-writing chairmen in both chambers. The measure would indefinitely restore tax breaks for land preservation, contributions from certain retirement accounts and food donations, all of which expired at the end of 2013.

House set to vote today on $1T CRomnibus; Senate vote expected soon 

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Aides said yesterday that they expected the Senate to be in session at least through tomorrow, and potentially through the weekend, to complete work on the spending and defense bills as well as a package of temporary tax incentives, known as extenders. If the Senate is unable to consider the spending measure today, aides said, a one- or two-day CR could be passed relatively quickly to prevent a shutdown while debate in the upper chamber continues.

Promoting Regional Energy Partnerships for Advancing Resilient Energy Systems Act (PREPARE Act)

Governors' Wind Energy Coalition • Posted: Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

The PREPARE Act authorizes DOE to enter into regional cooperative agreements with States, providing technical assistance and working closely with key stakeholders, to develop strategies and plans that address the unique energy needs of the region. Serving as a long-term strategic partner, DOE can act as convener, independent facilitator, and technical expert on emerging energy issues.

Mich. appeals court knocks down towns’ turbine ban 

Source: Steven Reed, Lansing State Journa • Posted: Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Three Michigan townships called a special joint meeting set for Thursday night to consider how to continue their two-year blockade of a proposed 39-turbine project after the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld a lower-court ruling invalidating their restrictive ordinances. The three-judge panel ruled that Clinton County’s zoning ordinance passed in 2011 trumped Dallas, Essex and Bengal townships’ police-power ordinances restricting height, setback, noise or other elements of the wind farm. The judges said the townships could have passed zoning ordinances but chose not to.

Legislature-commissioned report finds carbon tax feasible for Ore. 

Source: Nathanael Massey, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

A carbon tax in Oregon would have minimal effects on jobs and the economy, paving the way for the state’s Legislature to pursue carbon pricing in 2015, according to an analysis by researchers at Portland State University’s Northwest Economic Research Center (NERC).That, in turn, could be a first step in joining or linking to California’s existing cap-and-trade system and perhaps British Columbia’s revenue-neutral carbon tax, as well. The state and Canadian province, along with Washington, have already committed to regional carbon pricing under the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy.

ALEC model pushes states to veto EPA’s Clean Power Plan 

Source: Scott Detrow, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

If members of an influential conservative group get their way, state legislatures across the country will soon pass measures giving themselves veto power over how their states comply with U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). The American Legislative Exchange Council’s energy subcommittee approved a model bill last week that would block states’ plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, unless both chambers of the state legislature give the proposals their blessing.

In North Dakota, wind energy closes the gap on coal

Source: By David Rupkalvis Minot Daily News • Posted: Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

While coal-powered mines will probably be the No. 1 source for producing electricity in North Dakota, wind energy is slowly closing the gap. At Basin Electric Cooperative, the co-op members asked Basin to produce 10 percent of its energy through renewable resources, primarily wind and hydro power. Within a few years, the company reached that threshold and has since surpassed it, the Minot Daily News reported.

$1T spending deal averts government shutdown 

Source: Nick Juliano, Manuel Quiñones and Annie Snider, E&E reporters • Posted: Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Of the three main energy and environmental policymaking agencies, only DOE would see a budget increase. Its energy programs would grow $22 million to $10.2 billion next year, with increases across its most significant offices. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s budget authority would grow nearly $25 million compared to fiscal 2014, to $1.93 billion for this fiscal year; Nuclear Energy would receive $914 million, a $24 million increase from last year; and Fossil Energy would add nearly $9 million, securing $571 million in the bill.