Aggressive cuts to Obama-era green rules to start soon -U.S. EPA head

Source: By Richard Valdmanis, Reuters • Posted: Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration will begin rolling back Obama-era environmental regulations in an “aggressive way” as soon as next week, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency said on Saturday – adding he understood why some Americans want to see his agency eliminated completely. “I think there are some regulations that in the near-term need to be rolled back in a very aggressive way. And I think maybe next week you may be hearing about some of those,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told the Conservative Political Action summit in Washington DC.

Trump eyeing 24% cut to EPA budget — source

Source: Robin Bravender, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

The Trump administration is pushing for a 24 percent overall cut to U.S. EPA’s budget, according to a source informed about the administration’s plans. The White House today sent its budget blueprint to federal agencies, which includes cuts for most non-defense entities. The EPA outline, the source said, would trim nearly $2 billion from EPA’s current budget of about $8.1 billion.

Corporate Tax Reform: What The Power Industry Needs To Know

Source: By Paul Maxwell, Forbes • Posted: Monday, February 27th, 2017

Renewable resource owners and investors in particular would be affected by the proposed tax reform due to most renewable plants’ heavy reliance on Federal Tax Credits and the accelerated depreciation of tax benefits in the capital structure. Currently, an entity with significant income tax exposure will often participate in a renewable project as a tax-equity investor to absorb these tax benefits in lieu of cash. With a reduction of the income tax rate to 20%, the value of investing in renewables for these tax-equity investors is significantly depressed. This could lead to a reduction in tax-equity supply and therefore an increase in tax-equity cost and cost of capital. This is somewhat offset by the full deductibility of capital investment (e.g., 100% depreciation in year 1), but again, that value is discounted by the reduction in the tax rate.

Lamar Smith takes on the clean energy agenda

Source: By James Osborne, Houston Chronicle • Posted: Monday, February 27th, 2017

Building the new energy economy,” the U.S. Energy Department still proclaims on its Twitter feed. But with Barack Obama out of the White House, a coalition of conservative politicians led by San Antonio Congressman Lamar Smith, the powerful chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, is pressing to overhaul a system they say allows the government, rather than the market, to decide the future of the country’s energy industry in a bid to create a new low-carbon economy. Instead, Smith’s coalition of Republican politicians wants to cut funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy research. They’re questioning a program from the George W. Bush era that backs loans for advanced energy projects that can’t find financing in the private secto

California lawmakers release environmental bills in attempt to thwart Trump

Source: By Rory Carroll, Reuters • Posted: Monday, February 27th, 2017

Democratic state senators in California on Thursday unveiled a series of bills designed to freeze in place Obama administration-era environmental regulations in the event the Trump administration moves to weaken them. The bills, collectively known as the “Preserve California” package, aim to make existing federal clean air, water, and endangered species laws enforceable under state law and protect federal lands in the state from being sold to oil companies.

Exxon’s New Chief Endorses Carbon Tax to Combat Climate Change

Source: By Joe Carroll, Bloomberg • Posted: Monday, February 27th, 2017

In his first blog post since succeeding Rex Tillerson, the new head of Exxon Mobil Corp. focused on climate change, calling for a carbon tax to discourage use of polluting fuels. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods said a revenue-neutral carbon tax “would promote greater energy efficiency and the use of today’s lower-carbon options, avoid further burdening the economy, and also provide incentives for markets to develop additional low-carbon energy solutions for the future.”

Wind Reference from Buffett’s 2016 letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders

Source: By Steve Jordan, Omaha World Herald • Posted: Monday, February 27th, 2017

Both Berkshire Hathaway Energy and BNSF Railway have been leaders in pursuing planet-friendly technology. In wind generation, no state comes close to rivaling Iowa, where last year the megawatt-hours we generated from wind equaled 55 percent of all megawatt-hours sold to our Iowa retail customers. New wind projects that are underway will take that figure to 89 percent by 2020.

Coal Industry Casts Itself as a Clean Energy Player

Source: By CLIFFORD KRAUSS, New York Times • Posted: Monday, February 27th, 2017

Seeking to shore up their struggling industry, the coal producers are voicing greater concern about greenhouse gas emissions. Their goal is to frame a new image for coal as a contributor, not an obstacle, to a clean-energy future — an image intended to foster their legislative agenda. Executives of the three companies — Cloud Peak Energy, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal — are going so far as to make common cause with some of their harshest critics, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Clean Air Task Force. Together, they are lobbying for a tax bill to expand government subsidies to reduce the environmental impact of coal burning.

Shell Looks Beyond Dutch Waters for Offshore Wind Investments

Source: By Jess Shankleman, Bloomberg • Posted: Friday, February 24th, 2017

Royal Dutch Shell Plc may contract to build offshore wind farms in the U.K. and across Europe, after winning a bid to build one of the cheapest projects on record last year, Shell U.K. chair Sinead Lynch, said in an interview. Europe’s biggest oil supplier is exploring opportunities across Europe for offshore wind, Lynch said at a press event on Wednesday at a Shell service station outside London, where she was opening the company’s first U.K. hydrogen refueling station.

White House to eject its environmental advisers from their longtime main headquarters on Friday

Source: By Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post • Posted: Friday, February 24th, 2017

The White House on Friday will move its Council on Environmental Quality out of its main headquarters at 722 Jackson Place, a red brick townhouse it has occupied since it was established more than four decades ago. Although some White House CEQ staffers will remain in adjoining townhouses, the shift means the council will lose its main conference room. While the influence of CEQ waxes and wanes depending on which president is in office, it traditionally plays a key role in executing the White House’s overall environmental agenda and coordinating key decisions among different agencies.