Nearly half the Senate voted last night for an amendment to the nonbinding fiscal 2016 budget resolution that calls on Congress to address carbon emissions. The amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was defeated with a vote of 49-50. In language tailored to the underlying resolution, it calls for policies “protecting Americans from the impacts of human-induced climate change, which include action on policies that reduce emissions by the amounts that the scientific community says are needed to avert catastrophic climate change.”
A California wind farm is attracting the ire of environmentalists for delays in replacing outdated wind turbines that can be deadly to endangered birds. In 2005, Altamont Winds Inc. cut a deal with Alameda County to phase out 25 percent of its old turbines by 2013. The company then secured a two-year extension and now is requesting three more years to complete the project.
Oil company BP said on Monday it has stopped supporting conservative political group ALEC, becoming the latest corporation to end its membership in a group critics say works to deny the existence of climate change. “We have determined that we can effectively pursue policy matters of current interest to BP without renewing our membership in ALEC,” a spokesman said. BP was the second large oil company to drop support of the group after Occidental Petroleum cut ties last year.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced an amendment today to the fiscal 2016 budget resolution that would allow states to opt out of U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The amendment, which the Kentucky Republican introduced on behalf of Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who is up for re-election, tracks roughly with a draft Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) is preparing to introduce in the House (E&E Daily, March 24). Both measures would exempt states from complying with the existing power plant carbon rule and bar EPA from imposing a federal implementation plan if the state claims the rule will create a hardship.
Utah’s political leaders are unequivocal about their position on U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan — they’re not fans. The draft rule embodies federal overreach, is riddled with procedural and legal weaknesses, and gives Utah “deep anxieties” about the impact the regulation could have on the coal-dependent state’s economy, according to Jeffrey Barrett, deputy director for Republican Gov. Gary Herbert’s Office of Energy Development. Utah wants to see the proposal retracted or significantly revised.”However, knowing that we will likely find ourselves having to comply with some form of carbon regulation in the near term, we are determined not to be caught flat-footed,” Barrett said.
For those who love downplaying or discounting renewable energy as something on the fringe of mainstream economic interests, General Motors’ recent decision to back construction of a Mexican wind farm should come as a wake-up call. About 75% of the energy generated by the project, which gets under way next quarter, will supply GM’s Toluca Complex manufacturing operation. The rest will go two other nearby facilities, the San Luis Potosi and Ramos Arizpe complexes.
If a Texas Republican has his way, the state will end its renewable portfolio standard (RPS), undo the billion-dollar competitive renewable energy zones (CREZ) initiative and relinquish its status as the No. 1 state for wind energy generation. Introduced by Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, S.B.931, “relating to the goal for renewable energy and [CREZ],” would end Texas’ RPS at the end of the year while undoing the massive, $7 billion-plus CREZ project that unlocked bottlenecked wind areas through the building of transmission lines.
An Oklahoma oil and gas company has filed a lawsuit against the developers of a nearby wind farm, saying the company was not given adequate notice of construction. Newfield Exploration Mid-Continent Inc. operates dozens of oil and gas wells along a 315-square-mile area where Apex Clean Energy Inc. had planned its 298-megawatt Kingfisher Wind Project in northern Canadian County and southern Kingfisher County.
Cheryl LaFleur will give up her gavel next month after a short, tumultuous run at the helm of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In her 17 months as chairwoman, grass-roots grumbling over natural gas infrastructure erupted into protests with demonstrators disrupting commission meetings and blocking doors to the agency’s Washington, D.C., headquarters. U.S. EPA’s draft Clean Power Plan sparked a politically charged debate over whether FERC will safeguard the grid. A fight brewed over a capacity auction in LaFleur’s native New England with a loud call for her resignation.
Offshore wind energy may be coming to the Aloha State in a big way. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on Friday announced that a Texas-based company submitted an unsolicited request to lease ocean property near Hawaii’s Oahu Island in January, with an aim to develop a 408-megawatt offshore wind energy project at an estimated cost of $1.9 billion.