The furor yesterday over a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study on U.S. EPA’s upcoming proposal for existing power plant greenhouse gases has set the stage for what is likely to be a bitter struggle over the rule. The business group’s Center for 21st Century Energy — which has joined with the National Association of Manufacturers and others to oppose regulations they deem burdensome to industry — released a report yesterday arguing that the rule EPA will propose Monday would be an economic disaster, driving up power costs and slashing employment in all regions of the country, but falling hardest on the regions most dependent on coal (Greenwire, May 28).
A German wind energy company has chosen Estherville as the location for its North American headquarters, a local economic development group said today. The firm, windtest, will open the location this summer, the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corp. said in a statement. Based in Grevenbroich, Germany, windtest established the North American arm of the company, windtest north-america inc., earlier this year. The company will initially employ about five people with plans to hire up to 10 during the next few years, according to Iowa Lakes Corridor Development.
Gov. John Kasich plans to sign a controversial pullback on renewable-energy rules that passed the Ohio House yesterday. “After a lot of hard work, we’ve got a solid plan to examine the progress Ohio has made while also holding onto that progress,” Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said in a statement. He said the bill is a compromise between those who want to eliminate the energy rules and those who want no change. “It’s not what everyone wanted, which probably means we came down at the right spot,” he said. The bill passed the House 53-38, overcoming opposition from nearly all Democrats and some Republicans who said the measure will lead to job losses and an increase in air pollution.
A deal has been struck in the months-long battle over the path of a New Mexico-to-Arizona transmission line near an Army missile testing range, with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel agreeing to drop objections to the project if sections near the range are buried underground. Backers of the 515-mile-long SunZia Southwest Transmission Project must also sign a legally binding “hold harmless agreement,” according to the one-page letter Hagel sent to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. Sources say the agreement aims to protect the Army from liability if an errant missile strikes one of the high-tower lines running just north of New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range.
American Electric Power proposes a rate cut for most residential customers, and a trial-like regulatory hearing process that is required to implement it begins next week.
A typical household bill would be 12.6 percent less than under current rates, based on forecasts of market conditions next year, when the plan would take effect. Little has been said or written about the proposal, largely because it is free of the rate increases and other controversial elements that were in the company’s 2008 and 2011 plans.
The Obama administration is slowly taking the first steps to revise potentially large sections of a congressionally designated 6,000-mile-long energy corridor as mandated by a nearly 2-year-old legal settlement with environmental groups that claimed the original corridor unnecessarily tore through sensitive landscapes and fails to advance renewable energy development. But it could be years before any substantive revisions are made to dozens of contested sections of the “West-wide Energy Corridor” that stretches across 11 Western states and nearly 3 million acres of public land, including federal wildlife refuges and key habitat for greater sage grouse. That’s due mostly to a lack of federal funding that has prevented the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and the Department of Energy from even starting a base-line corridor study that was supposed to be completed in July.
The Interior Department today announced it has kicked off its review of a Seattle company’s plans to build what would be the nation’s first offshore floating wind farm. The agency’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said it will accept public comments on Principle Power Inc.’s plans to install five 6-megawatt floating wind turbines in deep waters about 18 miles off the coast of Coos Bay, Ore. The environmental assessment will review impacts associated with both the issuance of a commercial lease, and construction and operation of the 30 MW project. Potentially affected resources include invertebrates, fish, birds, bats and marine mammals, as well as commercial and sport fishing and vessel traffic, BOEM said.
A new study finds that allowing more flexible compliance with U.S. EPA’s upcoming power plant rule wouldn’t only lead to less greenhouse gas emissions — it would lead to cleaner air and healthier ecosystems, too. Researchers from Harvard University and Syracuse University modeled three different possible scenarios for the June 2 proposal, which seeks to limit greenhouse gas emissions from the country’s existing power plants for the first time. They measured reductions in four different pollutants: fine particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and mercury.
With U.S. EPA set to release its greenhouse gas proposal for existing power plants Monday, a leading environmental group and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce painted very different pictures today of the rule’s potential impacts. The Natural Resources Defense Council, which released its own proposal for the rule in 2012, lauded the coming rule as a boon to energy efficiency and public health, and a game-changing moment in U.S. climate change politics.
A campaign promoting nuclear energy as a weapon against climate change announced the enlistment today of former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Vicky Bailey and former National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners President David Wright. Financed partially by Exelon Corp., Nuclear Matters has also lined up former White House climate adviser Carol Browner, former Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and former Commerce Secretary and Obama chief of staff Bill Daley.