Declaring himself an “island boy,” President Obama met with Pacific and Caribbean leaders today and announced $30 million toward a risk insurance program aimed at shielding vulnerable countries from climate change-related disasters. Departing Paris after two days of shoring up support for a new global climate agreement, Obama said France’s decision to host nearly 200 countries just two weeks after deadly terrorist attacks showed a “remarkable display of resolve.” He hit back against those who criticized spending time on climate change at a time when national security threats loom large.
New wind turbines and solar panels worldwide will provide more energy over the next five years than U.S. shale-oil production has over the past five, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The leading renewable-energy technologies will add the equivalent of 6.2 million barrels of oil a day to the global energy mix, exceeding the 5.7 million barrels a day pumped from U.S. shale oil wells since 2010, analysts including Brian Lee and Jaakko Kooroshy said in a research report Monday.
A large Texas wind farm will come under Greek ownership under terms announced by the project’s primary developer, while an existing wind project in Minnesota will shift ownership from one Qatari firm to another, pending approval by U.S. regulators. The 380-megawatt Fluvanna Wind Energy Project, to be built in Scurry County, Texas, about 70 miles south of Lubbock, gained new financial security as developer Tri Global Energy LLC announced it had sold the project to Terna Energy SA of Athens, Greece, for an undisclosed sum.
But many political leaders gathering there — including governors, mayors, and provincial cabinet secretaries — are pushing for more aggressive cuts. By the dozen, they are signing a voluntary agreement committing their jurisdictions to faster and deeper reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases than their national governments have promised. “We are not moving fast enough,” Gov. Jerry Brown of California, who is helping to lead the effort, said in an interview. “We’ve got to do more.” All of which raises a provocative question: What would a truly ambitious plan to tackle climate change look like?
The White House yesterday threatened to veto the lower chamber’s comprehensive energy bill, warning that the language would undermine ongoing environmental reviews of critical energy infrastructure and stifle efforts to expand efficiency. The House energy package, H.R. 8, would ax critical mandates needed to wean federal buildings off of fossil fuels by 2030, unnecessarily tinker with complex energy markets, and undermine the current federal review process for gas pipelines and hydropower projects, the White House said.
The fate of key renewable energy tax credits remains up in the air, as House and Senate leaders continue negotiations on an extenders package they hope to pass before the end of the year. Aides and lobbyists said yesterday that multiyear extensions of the production tax credit of 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour and the 30 percent investment tax credit remain under discussion, although the duration of the extensions is tied up in broader conversations over making some of the dozens of expired credits permanent. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters yesterday that discussions continue but predicted a deal would be struck.
The University of Maine is opening a first-of-its-kind “miniature ocean” today that can demonstrate how everything from floating wind turbines to coastal cities may react to “some of the worst storms possible anywhere on Earth.” The impetus for the $13.8 million project — which involves a massive wave pool tied to a rotating wind machine — is to accelerate the development of renewable ocean energy technologies like offshore wind and tidal devices, said Habib Dagher, director of the university’s Advanced Structures & Composites Center in Orono, Maine, which will operate the new Harold Alfond W² Ocean Engineering Lab. It also can prepare local communities for more intense storms associated with climate change by simulating future conditions, he said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo is reportedly planning to order state regulators to mandate that 50% of all electricity in New York come from renewable sources. Two nuclear power plants will probably be shut down at some point, so the electricity they generate will need to be placed, and it only seems sensible to replace it with clean, renewable electricity, given the cost of new nuclear power. (One of the nuclear plants has also been losing about $60 million a year.)
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders calls climate change the greatest threat to national security. Front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton promises to install more than 500 million solar panels across the country. On the Republican side, Jeb Bush would phase out tax credits for solar power. Rival Marco Rubio wants to cut the federal gas tax by 80 percent.
The $95 billion package would extend more than 50 tax credits, exemptions and deductions through 2016. Support for these so-called tax extenders is bipartisan. Among the biggest breaks for businesses are a tax credit for research and development; an exemption that allows financial companies such as banks and investment firms to shield foreign profits from being taxed by the U.S.; and several provisions that allow businesses to write off capital investments more quickly. There is also a generous tax credit for using wind farms and other renewable energy sources to produce electricity.