Despite the fact that lawyers were given a narrow question to answer, yesterday’s oral arguments to the Supreme Court touched on all aspects of the ongoing challenge to U.S. EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions through construction permits for large-emitting facilities. It also included a reference to bubblegum, a nod to a tobacco industry case and questions about EPA’s upcoming standards for new and existing power plants.
Houston, Texas-based energy transmission company Clean Line Energy Partners and its subsidiary, Rock Island Clean Line, announced here last week a pact whereby Sabre Industries would be the preferred supplier of massive power poles for the proposed Rock Island high voltage direct current (HVDC) power line from O’Brien County in NW Iowa to the 765 kV AC Commonwealth Edison substation in Grundy County, Ill
The next big Texas energy boom does not involve tight gas formations in the Barnett Shale, or deepwater oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico. While fossil resources continue to draw high interest from energy developers and investors in the Lone Star State, Texas’ hottest energy prospect is wind power in West Texas and the Panhandle. That’s where a new surge of wind farm development, estimated at 7,500 megawatts of new generation over the next three years, should convert once-sleepy places like Amarillo, Plainview and Lubbock into renewable energy boomtowns.
One of the most consistent arguments made in favor of renewable energy is that it will create jobs — lots of jobs. But as offshore wind development picks up steam in the United States, the role labor unions will play in manufacturing and deploying the 8,000 or so components in each turbine remains uncertain. While major unions have aided the industry by advocating for legislation supporting offshore wind, other local labor groups have hesitated, especially as much of the initial manufacturing will take place overseas.
The industry case against U.S. EPA’s climate rules doesn’t disqualify the agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases, but it could lead to a redefinition of how the agency uses the Clean Air Act, said legal experts. If the justices rule in favor of the petitioners — a coalition of industry groups, business association, and conservative states — EPA will need to re-examine if and how it will control greenhouse gases from new and modified facilities other than power plants that emit tons of climate-warming gases. This includes steel mills, cement kilns, chemical factories and major sources outside of the electric sector.
A divided Supreme Court appeared to search today for a middle ground in the challenge from industry and a dozen states to a U.S. EPA crackdown on heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions. A dozen states and industry groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Chemistry Council want the court to overturn EPA’s inclusion of greenhouse gases in an air permitting programs for emissions from power plants and other industrial sites. During unusually long arguments, the justices frequently fractured along ideological lines, with the liberal wing asking pointed questions of the challengers and conservatives taking issue with EPA.
The Supreme Court today declined to review the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of a tariff system for the cost of new transmission lines for renewable sources in the Midwest. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator, or MISO, in 2010 asked FERC to approve tariffs to upgrade and install transmission lines for connecting renewable energy sources called “multi value projects,” or MVPs, to the existing grid.
President Obama’s use of executive power to tackle global warming goes on trial Monday when the Supreme Court hears arguments in a challenge from industry and a dozen states to a U.S. EPA effort to curb industrial emissions of greenhouse gases. Returning from a month off, the justices have scheduled unusually long arguments in a case focused on whether EPA lawfully included greenhouse gases in the permitting process for power plants and other large pollution sources.
“Although it will help the entire marketplace, frankly a lot of these changes are designed to help facilitate renewable and intermittent generation along with the newer technologies for faster frequency response or storage,” Moeller said. “I think the key takeaway is that this commission has been very amenable to trying to integrate intermittent resources.”
California’s Senate majority leader yesterday proposed a carbon tax for transportation fuel to replace part of the state’s landmark cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases but immediately ran into opposition from fellow top Democrats and environmental groups. State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D) pitched it as part of a broader tax reform movement that he hopes to institute, possibly in time for next year, when the state’s emissions trading program expands from utilities, refineries and other industrial emitters to covering carbon-based transportation fuels, as well.