Lamenting changes to Minnesota’s way of life, Gov. Mark Dayton this week recommitted his administration to promoting clean energy and climate policies in his final two years in office. In a 40-minute State of the State address, the two-term Democrat said thousands of Minnesotans have “made their interests clear” on how the state should respond to the growing threat of climate change. Rising temperatures, he noted, have manifested themselves in a variety of ways — from shorter winters to more erratic growing seasons for the state’s 75,000 farmers.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed a bill Friday that raises the state’s renewable energy mandate to 50 percent and ends its reliance on coal-fired power. Originally put forth by the state’s two largest utilities and a cadre of environmental groups, S.B. 1547 requires utilities — Pacific Power and Portland General Electric Co. — to exit out-of-state coal contracts by 2030. It also raises the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2040 from the current target of 25 percent by 2025.
The United States has seen its warmest winter on record this year, with the temperature 4.6 degrees Fahrenheit above average. From December through February, the average temperature for the Lower 48 was 36.8 F, trumping the 1999-2000 record of 36.5 F, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Corporate shareholders this year filed more resolutions specific to climate change with U.S. companies than ever before, according to a new report on stockholder engagement. The study by a coalition of investment analysts found that 94 such proposals — covering issues from urging greenhouse gas emissions mitigation efforts to demanding the use of more renewable energy — accounted for about 40 percent of all active resolutions related to the environment or social issues.
Many Americans feel we’re operating in an overly polarized political atmosphere, where it’s nearly impossible to get anything done that is perceived to benefit one side over another. It’s unfortunate that job creation, economic stimulation and clean energy growth sometimes get caught in this gridlock. However, there are critical steps we can take to ensure a better energy future for all Americans, regardless of political leanings. Modernizing America’s poorly functioning electric grid is one of them.
Two of the nation’s grid organizations are continuing to analyze U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan, despite a Supreme Court stay of the rule that has many of the states they operate in suspending official planning work. Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) — which spread across the middle section of the United States — said during a joint meeting yesterday that they would keep up their individual number-crunching. They also will work together to send the same message to states looking to ensure against power outages and price hikes as they shift away from coal and toward lower-carbon electricity sources under the rule.
Federal climate regulations may be a hot political issue in conservative, coal-heavy states across the nation, but so far the issue has not yet emerged as a voting wedge in many of the 12 gubernatorial races taking place this cycle. Rather, said Jennifer Duffy, senior editor for The Cook Political Report, it’s an issue that “will come up on the laundry list of things the candidates talk about or are asked about.” Montana is the exception. Here in a state that sits on about a quarter of the nation’s coal reserves and receives tens of millions of dollars in revenue from the industry each year, the Clean Power Plan is a major political flashpoint
The director of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality confirmed Wesnesday that her state is pausing preparations for U.S. EPA’s rule limiting carbon emissions from power plants. “We want to continue to follow what’s being done, but we will not be taking steps to be doing any implementation of a rule that the courts have found to be put in a position of a stay,” Director Becky Keogh said after a Senate hearing yesterday in Washington, D.C.
A top Democratic appropriator Wednesday said President Obama’s plan to double clean energy research spending as part of his broader climate plan “is going to be a most difficult task,” considering current budget constraints. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz that what we “are responsible for right now … we cannot do based on this president’s budget” because there is little likelihood of having sufficient money to fund it.
Renewable energy and energy efficiency will get the United States past its climate targets, even without the Obama administration’s signature carbon policy, an energy agency official said yesterday. “Renewable power, energy efficiency — they are moving forward, with the Clean Power Plan and without the Clean Power Plan,” said David Friedman, principal deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).