The House voted 229-183 to block U.S. EPA’s plans to limit power plant carbon emissions, striking at the heart of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. The measure by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) would prevent EPA from finalizing its proposal to require carbon capture and storage technology for all new coal-fired power plants and would make rules for existing power plants contingent on congressional approval. Ten Democrats crossed the aisle to vote for the bill, and Republican Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.), Chris Gibson (N.Y.) and Frank LoBiondo (N.J.) voted against it.
What’s happening in Kansas could be happening in your state. It’s not completely clear that the efforts to rollback the statewide renewable energy requirements there — and in 16 other states — will succeed. But it is obvious that, nationally, the tax preference given to renewables is fading. Here’s the parallel: Most free market planners are opposed to mandatory statutes that require utilities to offer certain amounts of green energy. Kansas has those, along with about 30 states — in some form or another. Meantime, the production tax credit given to wind energy expired at year-end 2013. While it could get resurrected in a tax compromise, it could also permanently die down.
A coalition of governors who advocate for wind energy want to work with the nation’s energy regulators to prepare the grid for more wind. Members of the Governors Wind Energy Coalition got the ball rolling earlier this month in a meeting with Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioners (FERC), discussing transmission development, grid modernization, regional cooperation, coordinated regional operations and other ways in which the parties can promote the deployment of wind energy. “The value of wind energy resources to our states’ economies cannot be unlocked unless they have access to a market,” South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, chairman of the Coalition, said in a statement. “Long-distance transmission is the critical link between these resources and the customers who want clean and less expensive energy.”
Two bird advocacy groups, fresh off a successful effort to block a wind turbine project at an Air National Guard base in northern Ohio, are raising concerns about an even larger proposed wind project at a nearby business park on the shores of Lake Erie that they say could harm bald eagles and other sensitive wildlife. But the owners of the Lake Erie Business Park in Port Clinton where the wind turbines would be sited say they have not finalized plans to build as many as five additional turbines to one already installed there last year, and that development is not imminent.
The head of the Bonneville Power Administration has named two top staff members, filling a pair of key vacancies at the head of the troubled agency. BPA Administrator Elliot Mainzer selected Greg Delwiche to serve as the agency’s deputy administrator and named Claudia Andrews as its chief operating officer. Andrews replaces former Chief Operating Officer Anita Decker, who resigned after being put on administrative leave last year.
The agency gave no explanation for its decision to extend the comment period from March 10. The proposal was published in the Federal Register on Jan. 8, months after its release. Some onlookers attributed that delay to last-minute concerns at EPA about the legality of a proposed mandate that all new coal-fired power plants use carbon capture and storage technology to limit emissions, but the agency put it down to a work backlog caused by October’s federal government shutdown. The proposal was published with no significant changes.
Plans to build the country’s first big wave energy project off the Oregon coast have been abandoned by developers who said the costs were too high to justify the project. The project, as envisioned, would have put a flotilla of 100 buoys that generate energy from the waves off the town of Reedsport, Ore. Each buoy would be as big as a school bus.
Searching for a reason major climate change legislation hasn’t passed Congress yet? You could do worse than start looking around Washington, D.C., with its endless think tanks, lobbying firms and trade groups, many of which have swung into action in the past to block such bills and stand ready to do so in the future.
The National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA), representing state and local air officials, is crafting a template for how states could craft plans for complying with EPA’s pending climate rule for existing utilities, which may help address states’ concerns over the burden in meeting the rule’s tight timeline for writing the plans. One state source says the model will help state air agencies as they grapple with questions like “what the heck do I have to do” and “what are the choices I need to make or can make” as they scramble to meet an aggressive deadline set by President Obama to get state implementation plans (SIPs) for compliance submitted to EPA by June 2016, just one year after the agency has been directed to finalize the utility new source performance standards (NSPS).
Iowa received about 27 percent of its energy from wind generation last year, placing it first in the nation, ahead of South Dakota at 26 percent, a new report today shows. The American Wind Energy Association said Iowa generated enough wind last year to power 1.4 million homes, second only to Texas, which generated enough wind energy to power 3.3 million homes. Iowa has 5,117 megawatts of installed wind energy capacity, with 1,055 megawatts under construction.