A Republican sweep of the Senate this week has put President Obama’s climate agenda in the cross hairs, with EPA’s proposed rule on power plant carbon emissions as an obvious early target. While control of the Senate may not give Republicans the ability to quash the rule outright, it does indicate that that U.S. EPA and the president will face pushback every step of the way between now and the rule’s completion, according to legal experts who spoke this week on the election’s outcome and its implications for the Clean Power Plan.
Wind power’s Achilles heel, for the time being, is that it’s not yet sustainable on its own — without tax credits, it collapses. According to the American Wind Energy Association, capacity and construction drop a full 84 percent when the wind production tax credit (PTC) isn’t available. In a letter addressed to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the groups warn that Democrats will try to extend the PTC during the lame-duck session. Forget that doing so will save jobs and promote clean energy, they argue: cooperating would be tantamount to endorsing climate action. “Rejecting efforts to extend the PTC is a meaningful way for this Congress to oppose the president’s climate plan,” the letter reads. “A vote for extending the PTC is a vote for the president and the majority leader’s agenda.”
Google — which is already carbon neutral and now trying to power itself with “100 percent renewable energy” — has the longest history here. It has three PPA deals in the U.S. wind sector (in Iowa, Oklahoma, and Texas), and two more in Sweden. Microsoft, meanwhile, currently has two PPA deals with wind installments located near its data centers in Texas and Illinois. The agreements provide 285 megawatts of power to help drive both Bing searches and also its other online platforms, according to Brian Janous, the company’s director of energy strategy.
How could political shifts in Washington following this week’s midterm elections impact President Obama’s aggressive climate action agenda? During today’s OnPoint, Roger Martella, a partner at Sidley Austin LLP and the former general counsel at U.S. EPA, discusses the legislative and legal battles ahead for EPA’s Clean Power Plan and Clean Air Act regulations. Martella also explains why he believes the existing source standard will not survive in court.
Coal retirements, the shale gas bonanza, post-Fukushima nuclear curtailments, the rising adoption of distributed generation, and emerging price parity for solar PV and wind – the dynamic changes impacting electricity grids worldwide are many. Now, with prolonged droughts affecting leading global economies, like Brazil and California (the world’s seventh and eighth largest economies by gross domestic product [GDP], respectively), a slow decline in the prominence of hydropower is in the mix.
Former White House Council on Environmental Quality chief Nancy Sutley is joining the board of a California nonprofit tasked with coordinating research on oceans. The Ocean Science Trust, an Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit, was established by state legislation in 2000 to advise policymakers on ocean and coastal management.
A mixed bag of electoral victories in Washington state and Oregon on Tuesday night opened some room for the ambitious climate agendas of the states’ green-minded governors. But failure to tip the Washington Senate left environmentalists just shy of the across-the-board victory many had hoped for. Democrats in Oregon had previously dominated both chambers of the state Legislature but had seen several key environmental measures stalled by the defection of a single Democratic state senator, Betsy Johnson, across the aisle. By netting an additional seat Tuesday, Democrats now have the space they need to work around Johnson’s vote and move forward with measures on local coal traffic, carbon pricing and renewable energy.
The American Energy Alliance and 66 other groups sent a letter today to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) arguing that allowing the PTC to be extended this year would sacrifice leverage in upcoming tax reform negotiations and hand Democrats a win. “Rejecting efforts to extend the PTC is a meaningful way for this Congress to oppose the president’s climate plan,” the groups write. “A vote for extending the PTC is a vote for the president and the majority leader’s agenda.”
Sixty-six right-leaning groups are urging congressional Republicans not to revive or extend the wind production tax credit as part of a tax extenders package. The groups — including the American Energy Alliance, Heritage Action for America and Americans for Prosperity — call the PTC an important part of President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s “attack on affordable energy from natural gas, coal, and nuclear.”
President Obama today said there was room for agreement with Republican leaders on several issues after the GOP’s landslide victory last night, but he warned that he wouldn’t wait to act on parts of his agenda during his last two years in office. Speaking at the White House, Obama outlined possible areas of compromise, including tax reform, efforts to make college more affordable and a longtime Democratic goal to raise the minimum wage.