Emily Heaton says clean energy from the 12-foot tall miscanthus she grows at an Iowa State University farm can help cut the carbon that’s warming the planet. “I should be able to start my truck or turn on my lights at home, and it makes the air cleaner,” said Heaton, a 37-year-old agronomy professor who is researching how to use perennial grasses to cost-effectively generate electricity and fuel.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called last week for a convention of states to amend the U.S. Constitution and roll back what he called overreach by the executive branch and the Supreme Court. Abbott, a Republican, cited U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan and the Endangered Species Act as prime examples of “government run amok.” His “Texas Plan” proposed nine changes to the Constitution that he said would put power back into the hands of the people.
SolarCity Corp. released a statement Wednesday that it plans to cut 550 jobs in Nevada and shift operations to more “business-friendly” states after regulators approved higher utility fees for rooftop solar. That chunk of workforce includes a Las Vegas training facility and nearly all of SolarCity’s Nevada workers, though, company spokeswoman Chandler Sherman said, “We will keep some staff in the state to service existing customers.” This is SolarCity’s first major layoff.
The U.S. has enough installed solar energy capacity to power 4.6 million homes. Solar energy accounted for 32 percent of total new power generation in 2014, exceeding coal and wind energy but lagging behind natural gas. In just nine years, the installed cost of solar energy has fallen by more than 73 percent – setting up the industry for explosive growth.
Environmentalists are seizing on TransCanada Corp.’s twin legal challenges against President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal pending before Congress. The company, which is hoping to build the pipeline from Alberta into the United States to largely carry oil sands crude, accused the White House of flouting the Constitution and international norms. And many supporters of the project in Congress are rallying to its side.
Environmentalists and officials at Oregon’s two largest utility companies have reached an agreement that could radically change the state’s electric supply in an agreement that looks to double renewable energy by 2040 and eliminate its dependance on coal by 2035. The groups plan to introduce the bill in the 2016 legislative session. If the bill is enacted, environmentalists have agreed to drop ballot measures that would require additional changes.
The state of Washington yesterday proposed its first-ever limits on carbon dioxide emissions from large facilities. The plan calls for capping CO2 from emitters of 100,000 or more metric tons of the heat-trapping gas and requiring a 5 percent reduction every three years. Entities would be allowed to trade pollution allowances to meet the limits, both within the state and through other carbon markets, including California and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the Northeast.
The White House plans to release the president’s fiscal 2017 budget request, the administration’s final blueprint of priorities, on Feb. 9. The budget will come later than the traditional release date of the first Monday in February, narrowly missing the statutory deadline for the White House to deliver the document to Capitol Hill. It will also emerge two days after the Super Bowl — and on the same day the political world will be paying attention to the New Hampshire presidential primary.
U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said she has no “plan B” in case the courts block the agency’s Clean Power Plan during litigation as challengers have requested. Speaking at a Council on Foreign Relations event in Washington, McCarthy expressed faith in the legal underpinnings of the rule and said her focus was instead on working with states to craft compliance plans due in September.
State renewable energy standards netted $7.4 billion in environmental benefits in 2013 while spurring the creation of roughly 200,000 new energy-sector jobs, a new analysis from the Energy Department finds. Among other things, the joint study released yesterday by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that renewable portfolio standards (RPSes) have spurred $2.2 billion in benefits through reduced greenhouse gas emissions alone and reduced water withdrawals by 830 billion gallons in 2013.