In a major victory for the Obama administration, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the smog from coal plants that drifts across state lines from 28 Midwestern and Appalachian states to the East Coast. The 6-to-2 ruling bolsters the centerpiece of President Obama’s environmental agenda: a series of new regulations aimed at cutting pollution from coal-fired power plants. Republicans and the coal industry have criticized the regulations, which use the Clean Air Act as their legal authority, as a “war on coal.” The industry has waged an aggressive legal battle to undo the rules.
U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy today struck back at EPA critics in a forceful address to scientists that defended agency actions on climate change, air quality issues and safe drinking water. With science as our North Star, EPA has steered America away from health risks and toward healthier communities and a higher overall quality of life,” she told the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington. “That’s why it’s worrisome that our science seems to be under constant assault by a small — but vocal — group of critics.”
Her involvement highlights growing industry-backed calls for state and regional market fixes to protect nuclear reactors in the absence of a national price on carbon emissions. Industry behemoths are pushing federal regulators to enact reforms in Eastern and Midwestern markets that they say would strengthen the reliability of electricity supplies and shore up their bottom lines (EnergyWire, April 21). But unlike Exelon, which partially blames production tax credits for wind for hurting nuclear’s bottom line, Browner said she supports the wind industry’s tax incentives. Exelon’s opposition to wind PTCs has drawn the ire of wind advocates and the attention of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The developer of an offshore New Jersey wind farm says it will sue the state after regulators this week rejected for a second time the company’s proposal to build a 25-megawatt project. At issue is a pilot wind farm off the coast of Atlantic City that is in the running for an Energy Department phase two $47 million grant and would be the first wind project built in the state. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities last week rejected a motion to reconsider the project.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has hired Danish firm K2 Management to build a global installation database for offshore wind.
NREL wants easily accessible data on installation times, correlation effects, implications and processes involved in developing offshore wind so the industry can develop in the United States with best practices, avoiding delays and cost overruns, the Danish consultancy said.
Right about now, offshore wind developers across the United States have started holding their breath. Next month, the Department of Energy will announce three competition winners that could blaze a path for offshore wind’s future in the United States, where, despite the best efforts of a few determined mavericks, no utility-scale offshore wind farms have yet been built. When announced in December 2012, the DOE competition involved seven offshore wind demonstration projects that were awarded an initial $4 million to get off the ground. Each has spent the past year scrambling to prove it is one of three that merit an additional $47 million to transform their ambition to “get steel into the water” into reality.
As Congress returns to Washington, D.C., next week, what is the future of energy efficiency and tax credit measures in the Senate? During today’s premiere episode of The Cutting Edge, E&E Daily reporter Nick Juliano discusses the Senate’s plans to consider the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill and a tax extenders package that includes energy tax credits. Juliano also highlights the stories capturing his interest heading into Congress’ next work period.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) has joined those opposed to routing a multistate transmission line project near an Army missile testing range, imploring Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to find another route or require the project proponents to bury the section of the line near the range. Martinez this week sent a two-page letter to Jewell and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arguing that the proposed route for the 515-mile-long SunZia Southwest Transmission Line project will compromise the mission of the White Sands Missile Range in eastern New Mexico.
Environmentalists and the nuclear industry are beginning a push to preserve old nuclear reactors whose economic viability is threatened by cheap natural gas and rising production of wind energy. They argue that while natural gas and wind are helpful as sources of electricity with little or no production of greenhouse gases, national climate goals will be unreachable if zero-carbon nuclear reactors are phased out. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, an independent nonprofit group based in Washington that was formerly known as the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, plans to release on Monday a research paper that charts the decline of the industry.
The chief executive of Michigan’s second-largest utility believes it’s likely that the state will raise its renewable energy requirement next year when the existing green power law expires. “I would expect that to happen,” John Russell of Jackson, Mich.-based CMS Energy Corp. told analysts and investors yesterday morning on a conference call. “There’s a lot of interest in renewable energy, and we like to build renewable energy. “We’ve built one wind park, we’re building another,” he said. “It’s going very well, and the costs are coming down.”