President-elect Donald J. Trump’s choice of a fossil-fuel advocate and climate-change denier to head the Environmental Protection Agency comes at a moment when the American energy market has already shifted away from the most polluting fossil fuels, driven more by investors and economics than by federal regulations. Those market forces could make Mr. Trump’s promise to create at least half a million energy jobs a year in the nation’s coal mines and oil shale fields all but impossible.
The UK’s wind energy industry has surpassed another milestone, generating more than 10,000 megawatts (MW) for the first time from its fleet of onshore and offshore wind turbines. The news comes from the UK’s wind energy trade body, RenewableUK, which reported that the record of 10,104 MW was achieved between 2pm and 2:30pm on Wednesday, providing 23% of Britain’s total electricity demand at the time.
Construction is underway on 81 wind farm projects in 25 states, several of which are in Nebraska. The biggest is the Prairie Grande near O’Neill, which is expected to have 200 new turbines. “When we look at where we’re constructing these wind farms, that’s about 33 billion dollars in new investments. We see that money going to both rustbelt states and to the rural areas in this country,” Hirner said
The biggest wild card in wind’s future may be federal tax credits. A utility like Berkshire’s MidAmerican can lower its tax liability through production credits for 10 years for each project. The federal government offers a tax credit of 2.3¢ for every kilowatt-hour produced. MidAmerican’s new Iowa project alone, once finished, will generate over $29 million a year in tax credits for Berkshire. And Berkshire can use its credits for its entire company, which made $28 billion in operating income in 2015. Buffett freely admits that without the tax credit his desire to get into wind energy would have been greatly diminished.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said on Friday he doubted whether Donald Trump could undo much of the current administration’s record on the environment because so many green policies have firmly taken hold. Trump, who will take over as president on Jan. 20, has said he does not believe in global warming and will name a climate change skeptic, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, to head the Environmental Protection Agency.
President-elect Donald J. Trump’s transition team has circulated an unusual 74-point questionnaire at the Department of Energy that requests the names of all employees and contractors who have attended climate change policy conferences, as well as emails and documents associated with the conferences. In question after question, the document peppers Energy Department managers with pointed queries about climate science research, clean energy programs and the employees who work for those programs. More broadly, the questionnaire hints at a significant shift of emphasis at the agency toward nuclear power, and a push to commercialize the research of the Energy Department’s laboratories, long considered the crown jewels of federal science.
The League of Conservation Voters gave McMorris Rodgers a zero score in the group’s 100-point National Environmental Scorecard reflecting votes in 2015. Her lifetime pro-environment score is 4 percent with the group, which bases its findings on lawmakers’ votes on the group’s top issues including energy, global warming, public health, public lands and wildlife conservation, and spending for environmental programs. The average U.S. House score in the group’s ratings for all House members was 41 percent.
While there may be some uncertainty as to how renewable energy policy may play out in Washington over the next few years, ongoing developments at the state level demonstrate the persistent strength of policy leadership being demonstrated across the country. Just last week, Illinois legislators locked in the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) – by 2025, at least 25 percent of the state’s electricity needs will be met with renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
Commercial fishing companies, trade groups and seaport communities in four states have asked a court to stop the federal government from auctioning off the rights to develop a huge offshore wind farm in the Atlantic Ocean between New York and New Jersey. The petition, filed Thursday in federal court in Washington, D.C., said the plan to build as many as 194 turbines in a 127-square-mile section would hurt fishermen who now cruise the area looking for scallops and squid and others who harvest fish species including summer flounder, mackerel, black sea bass and monkfish.
One of the biggest wind energy projects under development in the U.S. got closer Thursday to securing a federal permit to kill a limited number of eagles without facing the prospect of a penalty. A final plan released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would help ensure the Chokecherry-Sierra Madre wind farm in south-central Wyoming does not kill too many bald and golden eagles with its hundreds of spinning turbine blades.