The opening of an investigation of Exxon Mobil by the New York attorney general’s office into the company’s record on climate change may well spur legal inquiries into other oil companies, according to legal and climate experts, although successful prosecutions are far from assured. Many oil companies have funded lobbying efforts and research on climate change, so prosecutors would most likely be able to search through vast amounts of material. The industry has also resisted pressure for years from environmental groups to warn investors of the risks that stricter limits on carbon emissions could have on their businesses, although that appears to be changing.
The New York attorney general has begun an investigation of Exxon Mobil to determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate changeor to investors about how such risks might hurt the oil business. According to people with knowledge of the investigation, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a subpoena Wednesday evening to Exxon Mobil, demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents. The investigation focuses on whether statements the company made to investors about climate risks as recently as this year were consistent with the company’s own long-running scientific research.
Carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. electricity production are the lowest in 20 years, according to an analysis released today by the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club credited falling CO2 levels to large reductions in coal use driven by the retirement or the proposed retirement of nearly one-third of the nation’s fleet of coal-fired power plants since 2010.
A federal judge in Nevada has thrown out the Obama administration’s approval of what was projected to be the Silver State’s largest wind power project, ruling that the Interior Department did not properly evaluate potential impacts to golden eagles and Mojave Desert tortoises.
The world’s largest wind turbine maker Vestas Wind Systems expects an extension of a production tax credit (PTC) for wind farms developers in the United States to be approved before the end of year, its chief financial officer said. “The first approval of the PTC passed greatly in favour of wind. The final outcome is likely to come at the same time as last year, in December,” Marika Fredriksson told Reuters by phone.
Nearly every state has taken a side in the court battle that will determine the fate of President Obama’s signature climate change policy. Yesterday, 18 states led by New York and several cities asked a federal court to allow them to defend U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan, a rule to cut greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. That pits them against 26 other states and a wide range of industry groups that have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to strike down the rule.
“I can’t recall a Clean Air Act rule, or other EPA rule, that had 44 states in the mix,” said Joe Stanko, an attorney at Hunton & Williams.
A legal battle is brewing in Washington over President Barack Obama’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, setting states economically dependent on fossil fuels against those already suffering from longer droughts, stronger storms and higher seas. A coalition of 18 states filed motions Wednesday seeking to defend the Clean Power Plan, responding to lawsuits filed last month against the Environmental Protection Agency. Led by New York and California, they are joined by municipalities and urban counties largely led by Democrats, including New York City, Chicago and South Miami. Twenty-five mostly Republican states, led by Texas and West Virginia, oppose the new carbon-cutting rules as an “unlawful power grab” they claim will kill jobs and drive up electricity costs. Also suing the EPA are several utilities, the National Mining Association and Murray Energy Corp., the nation’s largest privately owned coal company.
The backers of a controversial California wind farm blamed for killing thousands of birds over the past three decades have announced they are shutting down the facility, earning cautious praise and plenty of skepticism from conservation groups and federal regulators. The Altamont Winds project located in one of the nation’s heaviest winter bird migration corridors, Altamont Pass, shut off all 828 wind turbines last weekend. The 83-megawatt wind farm and others in the area are required to shut down from Nov. 1 to Feb. 15, 2016, during the height of the bird migration season.
IN less than a month, delegates from more than 190 countries will convene in Paris to finalize a sweeping agreement intended to constrain human influence on the climate. But any post-meeting celebration will be tempered by two sobering scientific realities that will weaken the effectiveness of even the most ambitious emissions reduction plans that are being discussed.
A startup that wants to build a 25 megawatt wind farm near Greycliff in Sweet Grass County claims it’s been frustrated at every turn by resistance from NorthWestern Energy and the state’s all-Republican Public Service Commission. Tuesday morning Greycliff Wind Energy appealed to the PSC to throw out an existing state rule that it says the electric utility has used to stymie the efforts of wind power developers.