New England could be a model for tackling carbon emissions as the Obama administration pushes for national reductions in greenhouses gases, said a U.S. EPA official. Curt Spalding, EPA administrator for Region 1 in New England, praised the nine Northeastern states for the progress they had made in reducing emissions. They have seen their gross domestic product grow 22 percent and have reduced emissions by 20 percent since 1999, he said.
“I hear some states are considering all options including that one,” he said. “We have not even begun to consider how we will respond to a final rule. Instead, we will continue to work through the process to encourage EPA to modify the rule to accurately follow the Clean Air Act and not dramatically expand federal control over state implementation approach.” He reiterated in the email that Texas would challenge what he called EPA’s “overreach” in the rule. “However, it is much too early to suggest that would be through suing EPA,” he said. “We are still working through the administrative process to encourage EPA to improve the rule.”
Texas has invested about $7 billion in a sprawling wind power network that spans nearly 4,000 miles. Wind power generates more than 12,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity for the state, according to the Texas’ Public Utilities Commission. The state ranks first in the country for total MW of wind power capacity. Earlier this year, the state smashed a U.S. record for the most power generated from air power. A combination of public subsidies, new federal carbon regulations and private investment has made Texas “one of the fastest growing hubs in the world for wind energy,” said Matthew Senicola, registered representative of JHS Capital Advisors.
Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, is the lead author of a new paper published in the journal Energy that outlines how the Golden State can meet all of its energy demands with wind turbines, solar panels, tidal generators, hydroelectric dams, and geothermal power stations by midcentury. And zero fossil fuels or nuclear power. Previously, Jacobson has outlined how to do the same, in broader strokes, for the entire world.
The largest proposed onshore wind farm in the United States cleared a key regulatory hurdle after state regulators voted unanimously to approve the nearly $5 billion project. The Industrial Siting Council voted 7-0 to approve Power Company of Wyoming’s proposal to build up to 1,000 turbines in Carbon County. The council is responsible for permitting large-scale industrial projects in Wyoming. Chokecherry and Sierra Madre, as the project is known, could produce up to 3,000 megawatts of electricity, or 10 million megawatts hours annually.
A massive proposed wind power project on federal and private lands in southeast Wyoming has reached a critical regulatory milestone, with the state this week approving the final permit necessary to build up to 1,000 turbines in what would become one of the world’s largest onshore wind farms. The seven-member Wyoming Industrial Siting Council, which must approve all wind projects in the state larger than 30 turbines, voted unanimously after two days of public hearings to authorize the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind project. If built, it would have the capacity to produce up to 3,000 megawatts of electricity, making it the biggest power-producing wind farm in North America.
A leading bird conservancy group has submitted a detailed plan to the Fish and Wildlife Service that includes revisions to its hotly debated eagle “take” rule that allows wind and other energy projects to injure, kill or disturb bald eagles for up to 30 years. The American Bird Conservancy’s 18-point plan, outlined in a formal comment letter sent yesterday to Fish and Wildlife, also calls for adopting mandatory conditions for siting wind projects instead of the current voluntary guidelines that the group says in the letter are “hindering FWS’ ability to do its important job of protecting our nation’s public trust resources, including its ecologically-important native birds and bats.”
The GreenChoice program let homes and businesses pay slightly more for their power and buy directly from wind farms, hoping to finance and encourage development. It worked so well that, by 2009, it was in trouble, and the program was scaled back. Texans in Austin and beyond were demanding more wind energy than power lines could carry, and clogged transmission infrastructure sent prices skyrocketing. When GreenChoice premiered, consumers opting for wind energy could lock into a ten-year fixed price just six cents per kilowatt-hour more than the standard cost at the time. By 2009 the difference had risen to $2.05, due largely to transmission overload.
U.S. EPA’s proposed rule for power plant carbon has seen an early salvo of legal attacks, with one lawsuit launched by Ohio-based Murray Energy Corp. in June and a second, led by West Virginia and backed by 11 others states, last week. But with the rule still unformed, do these opponents have a target to aim at? Probably not, according to legal experts contacted by ClimateWire. At least not yet. “I’d characterize the Murray case as coming too soon, and the West Virginia case as coming too late,” said Patrick Parenteau, a professor of environmental law at Vermont Law School.
John Norris, a Democratic member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, plans to step down Aug. 20 to take a position as minister-counselor for the Department of Agriculture in Rome, cutting short his five-year term at the agency. Norris, who spent more than three decades running high-profile political campaigns in his home state of Iowa, said during an interview that he will work with the United Nations’ food agriculture program at the department.