As the clock winds down to tonight’s public comment witching hour, supporters and opponents of U.S. EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas rule for power plants jockeyed for attention. There were already 1.6 million public comments submitted on the proposal last week, but many combatants in the war over EPA climate policy held their fire until after Thanksgiving, releasing statements hours before the public comment period closes at midnight tonight.
The tax-writing committees are trying to renew a bundle of expired tax breaks such as the deductions for state and local sales taxes and the research and experimentation credit. Some, like tax credits for renewable energy projects such as wind farms, are a hard sell for GOP conservatives but are eagerly sought by Midwestern Republicans such as Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa. The House has passed legislation that would make several of the tax breaks permanent; the Senate’s approach has been to extend them only for 2014 and 2015. Negotiators appeared close to an agreement last week only to have the White House put it on ice with a veto threat. The administration said an emerging plan by House Republicans and top Senate Democrats was tilted too far in favor of businesses.
The Supreme Court could still overturn much of Mr. Obama’s environmental legacy, although the justices so far have upheld the regulations in three significant cases. More challenges are expected, the most recent of which was taken up by the court on Tuesday. The act, however, was designed by lawmakers in a Democratic Congress to give the Environmental Protection Agency, which was created at the same time, great flexibility in its interpretation of the law.
While mitigating global climate change is an international issue, regulating pollution, which clouds communities neighborhood by neighborhood, is a local one. In an effort to quantify the economic benefits that would come from lowering particulate emissions and subsequently improving public health, a recent study published in the journal Climatic Change compared a variety of regulations for the transportation, building operation and power plant sectors. By implementing greenhouse-gas-slashing strategies, the researchers found, the United States could save $6 billion to $14 billion annually by 2020, depending on how policymakers achieve the reductions, or $40 to $93 per metric ton of reduced carbon dioxide emissions
The Obama administration on Wednesday announced a long-delayed environmental regulation to curb emissions of ozone, a smog-causing pollutant linked to asthma, heart disease and premature death. The sweeping regulation, which are aimed at smog caused by power plants and factories across the country, particularly in the Midwest, is the latest in a series of Environmental Protection Agency controls on air pollution that wafts from smokestacks and tailpipes. Such regulations, released under the authority of the Clean Air Act, have become a hallmark of President Obama’s administration. Environmentalists and public health advocates have praised the E.P.A. rules as a powerful environmental legacy. Republicans, manufacturers and the fossil fuel industry have sharply criticized them as an example of costly government overreach. The National Association of Manufacturers has called the proposal “the most expensive regulation ever.”
One day earlier this month, McKenna was making rounds with a visitor when he pulled the SUV into a farm where Leighton Yoder and his family raise Jersey cows and operate a small dairy. McKenna wasn’t there to talk about milk, but another farm product Yoder has been nurturing. “How’s the power?” asks McKenna from inside the Jeep. “It’s real good,” answers Yoder. “We’ve got strong sun and wind today. I figure I’m making more than 20,000 watts out there.”
The Illinois Commerce Commission has approved plans to build an electricity line designed to bring wind energy from Iowa to the state. The panel unanimously OK’d the Rock Island Clean Line proposal Tuesday, ending a two-year review of the project, The (Moline) Dispatch and Sauk Valley media reported. “The ICC approval is a great step forward for the Rock Island Clean Line project and brings Illinois one step closer to creating a cleaner energy future,” said Michael Skelly, president of Clean Line Energy Partners LLC.
A 500-mile transmission line designed to move wind-generated electric power from Iowa to Grundy County, Ill. can move forward, Illinois regulators decided Tuesday. The Illinois Commerce Commission voted 5-0 to allow Clean Line Energy Partners to build and operate the first merchant-owned electric transmission line in the state. The proposed $2 billion “Rock Island Clean Line” has the potential to dramatically cut electricity prices in Illinois and help the state meet its goals of deriving 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2025.
The apparent collapse last week of wide-ranging tax discussions just as congressional negotiators were on the cusp of a deal leaves hanging in the balance a framework that would have phased out a key energy incentive over the next several years. Bipartisan negotiators believed yesterday they were about to solidify a nearly $450 billion deal to make permanent 10 tax breaks for businesses and individuals, temporarily extend dozens of additional incentives through next year, and phase out the production tax credit (PTC) through at least 2017 (E&ENews PM, Nov. 25). But the Obama administration objected to the package’s tilt toward business credits and lack of permanent incentives for low-income workers and parents, issuing an eleventh-hour veto threat that largely scuttled the negotiations, sources familiar with the process said today.
China must invest $145 billion per year in technologies to increase its use of renewable energy to meet the goals laid out in the recent U.S.-China climate deal, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency. An annual additional injection of $54 billion above business as usual would enable the share of renewable energy in China’s energy mix to hit 26 percent, according to the report from IRENA with support from the China National Renewable Energy Centre. The report is part of IRENA’s goal to double the share of renewable energy in the world’s energy mix by 2030.