A landmark Supreme Court opinion issued yesterday underscored the government’s power to regulate an evolving electric grid. In a 6-2 opinion, the high court sided with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by reviving the agency’s contentious “demand-response” rule aimed at encouraging energy conservation. A majority of the justices found that FERC did indeed have the authority to issue a regulation requiring that power users be paid for committing to scale back electricity use at times of peak demand.
The Senate may begin debating bipartisan energy legislation as early as this week, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). The chamber is slated to vote on a motion to proceed to a House-passed bill that would impose new screening requirements on Iraqi and Syrian refugees. The legislation — which stems from mounting fears over domestic attacks from the Islamic State group — easily passed the House in November, but it’s unclear whether supporters can muster 60 votes to clear the procedural hurdle in the Senate.
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) preached a message of fiscal restraint in his State of the State speech last week, warning that global vicissitudes can affect state coffers and that economic recessions are unpredictable and will unquestionably occur again. But he saved the finale for climate change, vowing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through 2050 and continue spreading his message of climate evangelism worldwide. While he didn’t break new ground, observers said he set a steady course for the coming year.
Opponents of the Obama’s administration Clean Power Plan downplayed a federal court decision yesterday that failed to block the rule while a legal challenge proceeds, saying they still expect to eventually halt the proposal for curbing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
The Obama administration has chalked up a series of early wins in the behemoth lawsuit challenging its signature climate rule. The latest: scoring a panel of judges that’s widely seen as favorable to the government. “They did get lucky,” said James Rubin, a partner at Dorsey & Whitney LLP and former Justice Department attorney. “It could have been a lot worse.”
The New York State Public Service Commission approved a 10-year, $5 billion Clean Energy Fund in a move to ramp up state efforts to promote a clean energy economy, address climate change and push down energy costs for residents, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced today. The fund will seek to attract third-party investments to support the state’s goal to transition 50 percent of its electricity needs to renewable sources by 2030.
Clark’s departure is now the second since Philip Moeller, who had been the commission’s other Republican member, stepped down in October to work for the Edison Electric Institute. FERC is designed to be a five-member commission. But if the White House doesn’t fill the GOP slots before Clark leaves, the top U.S. regulator of interstate electricity and natural gas will be down to three Democratic members.
Industry opponents of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan vowed Thursday to go to the Supreme Court to challenge a federal appeals court’s refusal to block the climate change regulations. The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied requests by 27 states and numerous trade groups for a stay that would have barred U.S. EPA from implementing the carbon regulations for the electricity sector.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton signed a pledge yesterday from billionaire Tom Steyer’s political action committee to achieve 50 percent clean energy in the United States by 2030. NextGen Climate has been pushing candidates for president in both political parties to sign the “50by30” pledge to move away from fossil fuels.
Critics are concerned that a proposed bill to defund a transmission authority in Kansas is a back-door attempt to block wind distribution. A bill moving promptly through the Kansas legislature appears to some observers as a back-door effort to interfere with the development of wind energy in the state. SB 318, which was introduced at the urging of the conservative political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, terminates funding for the Kansas Electric Transmission Authority. The authority was created in 2005 to advocate and plan for the development of more transmission infrastructure.