News

Obama admin retools sprawling Western ‘energy corridor’

Source: Scott Streater, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, May 29th, 2014

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.

Interior begins NEPA review of Ore. floating turbine farm

Source: Phil Taylor, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, May 29th, 2014

The Interior Department today announced it has kicked off its review of a Seattle company’s plans to build what would be the nation’s first offshore floating wind farm. The agency’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said it will accept public comments on Principle Power Inc.’s plans to install five 6-megawatt floating wind turbines in deep waters about 18 miles off the coast of Coos Bay, Ore. The environmental assessment will review impacts associated with both the issuance of a commercial lease, and construction and operation of the 30 MW project. Potentially affected resources include invertebrates, fish, birds, bats and marine mammals, as well as commercial and sport fishing and vessel traffic, BOEM said.

EPA power plant rule could lead to drastic cuts in traditional air pollutants — study

Source: Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, May 29th, 2014

A new study finds that allowing more flexible compliance with U.S. EPA’s upcoming power plant rule wouldn’t only lead to less greenhouse gas emissions — it would lead to cleaner air and healthier ecosystems, too. Researchers from Harvard University and Syracuse University modeled three different possible scenarios for the June 2 proposal, which seeks to limit greenhouse gas emissions from the country’s existing power plants for the first time. They measured reductions in four different pollutants: fine particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and mercury.

Dueling experts weigh in on upcoming EPA power plant proposal

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, May 29th, 2014

With U.S. EPA set to release its greenhouse gas proposal for existing power plants Monday, a leading environmental group and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce painted very different pictures today of the rule’s potential impacts. The Natural Resources Defense Council, which released its own proposal for the rule in 2012, lauded the coming rule as a boon to energy efficiency and public health, and a game-changing moment in U.S. climate change politics.

Former FERC, NARUC members join pro-nuclear group

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

A campaign promoting nuclear energy as a weapon against climate change announced the enlistment today of former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Vicky Bailey and former National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners President David Wright. Financed partially by Exelon Corp., Nuclear Matters has also lined up former White House climate adviser Carol Browner, former Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and former Commerce Secretary and Obama chief of staff Bill Daley.

Court ruling on demand response breeds uncertainty

Source: Rod Kuckro, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Officials at PJM Interconnection are reviewing a Friday federal appeals court ruling that invalidated a 2011 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission order providing incentives for electricity users to consume less power, a practice known as demand response. FERC has no jurisdiction over demand response, the court said. The court ruling strikes a blow to the Obama administration’s energy efficiency efforts and injects a large degree of uncertainty into how the rapidly expanding demand-response industry will play a role in the nation’s electricity markets.

Interior eyeing Long Island waters for next competitive lease

Source: Phil Taylor, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

The Interior Department this morning announced it will explore whether 127 square miles of federal waters south of New York’s Long Island are suitable for commercial wind leasing, the latest step in the Obama administration’s bold offshore wind agenda.The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said it will complete a National Environmental Policy Act review to determine whether wind development about 10 miles south of Long Beach, N.Y., would conflict with a potential offshore liquefied natural gas facility or commercial or recreational fishing in the area.

Turbines Popping Up on New York Roofs, Along With Questions of Efficiency

Source: By MATT A.V. CHABAN, New York Times • Posted: Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

A dozen construction workers gathered around a flatbed truck in Long Island City, Queens, one recent Tuesday, marveling at the final piece of a new 15-story apartment building they had just finished assembling. As a mobile crane hoisted the 20-foot-long black contraption over Pearson Street, many of the workers used their phones to film its ascent. What looked like a huge carbon-fiber strand of DNA strung around a 10-foot mast was the last of three wind turbines being installed atop thePearson Court Square, a 197-unit luxury apartment building. In an industry, a city and a society obsessed with being green, wind turbines remain scarce — only two apartment buildings in New York City harvest the skies for energy, with limited yields.

White House releases sweeping regulatory agenda

Source: Amanda Peterka and Jean Chemnick, E&E reporters • Posted: Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

The White House on Friday released its latest regulatory agenda, a sweeping plan that includes rules on power plants, renewable fuels, ozone pollution, Clean Water Act jurisdiction and disclosure of payments by oil and gas companies. The spring issue of the biannual “Unified Agenda of Federal and Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions” details both short- and long-term plans for every agency in the government. The most notable goals include timelines for the release of greenhouse gas emission standards, proposed 2015 renewable fuel standard targets, a controversial stream protection rule, crude-by-rail safety standards, and methane and hydraulic fracturing regulations.

Wind power sees itself on fast track to benefit from new EPA rules

Source: Daniel Cusick, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Some of the nation’s top greenhouse gas-emitting states — including Texas, Illinois and California — are better positioned to meet new U.S. EPA regulations targeting utility-sector carbon dioxide emissions because they are early and aggressive adopters of wind power, according to a new analysis by the American Wind Energy Association. In a white paper released this morning, AWEA notes that wind energy produced in the United States in 2013 resulted in a reduction of nearly 127 million tons of carbon dioxide, or roughly the equivalent of taking 20 million cars off the road, according to the Washington, D.C.-based trade group