Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton this week will take the first significant step on the long road toward a new comprehensive energy bill, which would be the most ambitious overhaul to policies affecting pipelines, transmission and energy efficiency in more than eight years.
Following its decision to scrap nearly $1 billion in funding for the FutureGen 2.0 carbon capture project in Illinois, the Department of Energy today warned other projects could face similar troubles. Chris Smith, DOE’s fossil energy chief, today said he decided to pull the plug on FutureGen, which involved retrofitting a coal plant with capture technology, because of a fall legal deadline to spend the money.
The government of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) offered an early glimpse of a proposed rule to curb carbon in state transportation fuels yesterday, readying the way for public debate on what has already become a divisive issue. In form, the proposed standard looks much like those already in place in Oregon and California. It aims to cut the carbon content of fuel sold and burned in-state by 10 percent over 10 years and would be operated through a system of auctions between clean power generators, which produce credits, and fuel sellers, which must purchase them.
A majority of Senate Republicans opposed every climate change and clean-energy-related amendment to the Keystone XL bill that passed last week, according to a scorecard released today by the League of Conversation Voters. During the monthlong debate on the pipeline project, 37 GOP senators earned a score of zero for opposing amendments to the bill that acknowledged climate change is real and significantly affected by human activity, along with other proposals that promoted renewable energy sources and protected public lands, the LCV study found.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) appears to be one of the few Republican governors who is not calling for EPA to scrap its proposed rule setting greenhouse gas (GHG) standards for existing power plants, with the governor endorsing a shift away from coal generation and the state’s formal comments largely focusing on specific concerns with the plan.
Industry proponents argue that EPA “ignored” the crucial role that interstate transmission projects will play in meeting the GHG rule’s targets as states turn to natural gas and renewables to comply, requiring major new transmission upgrades under the rule. To address their concerns, WIRES, a group that represents transmission owners, investors, and customers, late last year filed comments on EPA’s proposed rule that urged the agency to extend the planned 2020 interim compliance deadlines to account for the infrastructure upgrades that will be needed.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) plan to submit their recommendations in the spring, ahead of the EPA rules’ expected finalization this summer, AWEA President Tom Kiernan said today. “We do see wind and solar and other renewables as, I would say, a central part for … most states to comply with the Clean Power Plan in a cost-effective way,” Kiernan said.
“I think we have to get over the pipeline in order to get to those other things,” Ashford, who unseated eight-term Rep. Lee Terry (R) last year, said during an interview this week.
Those other things, he said, include developing policies that protect the environment and promote renewable energy while recognizing the importance of fossil fuels. “Wind energy. We worked in Nebraska on expanding wind energy,” Ashford said. “We’re the third-windiest state.” He went on, “Anything to do with energy efficiency and credits to businesses to make facilities more energy-efficient, to use more energy-efficient products.”
Mining and electric utility trade associations are among the 11 partisan interests opposed to Minnesota in a case that experts say could help define the power of states to regulate carbon-free electrical generation. The clash is happening in Minnesota’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling in April invalidating a part of the state’s Next Generation Energy Act. The ruling threw out Minnesota’s broad ban against utilities signing deals to import coal-generated electricity on grounds that it’s a trade barrier under the U.S. Constitution’s Interstate Commerce Clause.
Colorado has been at the forefront of renewable energy since 2004, when then-Congressman Mark Udall, a Democrat, and Republican House Speaker Lola Spradley teamed up to push a ballot measure that required utilities with more than 40,000 customers to generate 10 percent of their electricity from wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and some hydroelectric sources by 2015. The current standard was 2 percent. Voters approved Amendment 37 and that same year put Democrats in charge of the legislature for the first time since 1962. Various renewable-energy bills followed, including one in 2007 that increased the standards.