The explosive growth of wind and solar energy is occurring in a state that already ranks No. 1 nationally in the production of biorenewable fuels, holding the title of No. 1 producer of ethanol and No. 2 producer of biodiesel. Iowa also ranks in the top 10 states for hydropower potential from existing dam structures with projects underway at Red Rock Reservoir and under study for Saylorville Reservoir. When you add Iowa’s potential energy capacity from biomass fuels and biogas methane to energy, the state’s overall renewable energy capacity is staggering.
Climate change, Mr. Obama often says, is the greatest long-term threat facing the world, as well as a danger already manifesting itself as droughts, storms, heat waves and flooding. More than health care, more than righting a sinking economic ship, more than the historic first of an African-American president, he believes that his efforts to slow the warming of the planet will be the most consequential legacy of his presidency.
It may seem ironic that the pioneer of projects that could lead to the sharpest increase in emissions-free electricity in the United States started in Wyoming, the state that leads U.S. production of coal, ranks in the top 10 for natural gas production and pumps 2 percent of the nation’s oil. The project started with a 320,000-acre cattle ranch in Carbon County on Wyoming’s southern border. In 2006, Philip Anschutz, the ranch’s billionaire owner, put it up for sale. Then one of his top aides, Bill Miller, pointed out that the ranch is swept by some of the steadiest, most powerful land-based wind resources in the world.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the Senate will work toward a short-term spending bill to keep the government running when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. “The single biggest business we need to conduct here is to get the government funded through the end of the fiscal year,” he told reporters. “We’re going to work towards the Dec. 9 date at last year’s levels.”
Energy conferees will formally meet this morning for the first time, following weeks of wide-ranging staff discussions that have some members cautiously optimistic that a compromise between the House and Senate energy bills can be brokered before the end of the year. But it remains to be seen whether the push to enact the first major energy bill in nearly a decade can transcend the deep policy divides between the two chambers.
California will spend $900 million in revenues raised by its cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions and hold back $462 million for later under a deal reached yesterday by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and Senate and Assembly leaders. Funds will go to local transit and rail; rebates for electric and other clean cars; efforts attacking short-lived climate pollutants; paying for solar, insulation and other energy upgrades on homes of low-income residents; and adding green spaces to low-income neighborhoods.
When a gigantic crane ship mounted the final blade on the final turbine of the Block Island Wind Farm, Deepwater Wind definitively answered one question that had dogged the Providence company and like-minded developers for years. Yes, an offshore wind farm can be built in the United States. But with that milestone a couple of weeks ago comes more questions whose answers will determine whether history looks back at the test project as a success or a failure:
The most impressive place for clean energy isn’t some coastal state, like California or New York. It’s right here in Iowa, home to some of the nation’s mightiest wind energy, writes Daniel Gross, a longtime Slate contributor and editor for The Daily Beast and Newsweek.
The Bureau of Land Management faces a problem and wants to shake up the rules around wind farm approvals. The problem is straight-forward on its face, but difficult to reconcile logically: Why are so few new large-scale wind projects being built? Despite the fact that nearly everyone – environmentalists, government regulators, and business interests –wants to build more wind farms, precious few are making it over the goal line.
The largest planned wind energy project in U.S. history cleared a key hurdle late last month as Iowa regulators ruled that MidAmerican Energy Co. could proceed with a $3.6 billion mega-wind farm to be built over the next three years. The 2,000-megawatt Wind XI project, to be built at a half-dozen sites across Iowa, would become the largest operating wind farm in the United States if completed on schedule by 2019. It is one of a small number of proposals currently in the development pipeline that call for generating wind energy at the scale of a baseload coal or nuclear plant.