In a decision with far-reaching implications for the future of natural gas drilling in New York State, its highest court ruled on Monday that towns can use zoning ordinances to ban hydraulic fracturing, the controversial extraction method known as fracking. Since the issue arose about six years ago, there has been a statewide moratorium on fracking, and the State Health Department is currently studying its potential health effects. But in recent years some towns, worried that the state would eventually allow the practice, have taken matters into their own hands by banning fracking within their borders. Among them, two towns — Dryden, in Tompkins County, and Middlefield, in Otsego County — amended their zoning laws in 2011 to prohibit fracking, on the basis that it would threaten the health, environment and character of the communities.
Nearly 80,000 acres in Maryland will be auctioned for offshore wind development in August, federal and state officials announced today. Located about 10 nautical miles from Ocean City, Md., the Maryland Wind Energy Area will be auctioned Aug. 19 as two leases. The north area covers 32,737 acres, while the south area comprises 46,970 acres. If fully developed, the area would generate enough electricity to power 300,000 homes.
Rebecca Wagner was unanimously picked by members of an advisory group at the California Independent System Operator Corp. to lead an efforts to develop a governance structure for an energy imbalance market, or EIM, which will pool energy resources in parts of Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Wagner, who’s a member of the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, would lead the advisory group, dubbed the Energy Imbalance Market Transitional Committee, made up of nine representatives nominated by regional industry stakeholders, as well as PacifiCorp and NV Energy — two companies that will take part in the market. NV Energy, notably, is the biggest authority in the state with its subsidiaries providing power to 85 percent of Nevada.
U.S. EPA will give commenters in four cities an additional day at the end of this month to make statements for or against its proposal for existing power plants. The agency had planned one-day hearings in Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., for the last week of July, but it announced today that each session will now run for two days. The hearings in Atlanta, Denver and Washington will be held on July 29 and 30, and the one in Pittsburgh will run on July 31 and Aug. 1.
The Energy Department today announced a $150 million conditional loan guarantee for the Cape Wind project, a strong signal that the almost 15-year quest to build the first commercial offshore wind farm may soon cross the finish line. “The Department’s loan guarantees have assisted the launch of new industries in the U.S., and today’s announcement of a conditional commitment to the Cape Wind project demonstrates our intent to help build a strong U.S. offshore wind industry,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement. The project would generate 360 megawatts of electricity — a tiny step toward the White House goal to deploy 54 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030.
Global adoption of renewable energy shows no signs of slowing over the next 15 years, with nearly two-thirds of an expected $7.7 trillion in new investment going toward non-fossil power generation, according to new projections by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. In particular, major additions of solar and wind energy will continue to displace coal as a primary source of power generation across many of the world’s largest economies, while shale gas will remain a key factor in U.S. energy markets at least through 2024, BNEF said in the latest “2030 Market Outlook,” released this morning.
Nine states have joined to support Murray Energy Corp.’s litigation against U.S. EPA’s rulemaking to control greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. Filed last month in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Murray’s complaint accuses EPA of running afoul of the Clean Air Act’s plain language. “The ‘specific prohibition’ against EPA’s proposed rule is in the very statutory provision the agency cites as its authority,” says the brief from Alabama, Alaska, Kentucky, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.
The Interior Department plans to survey beachgoers from Massachusetts to South Carolina about how wind turbines in the Atlantic Ocean would affect their travel and recreation plans. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has contracted with the University of Delaware to ask about 1,400 visitors to East Coast beaches whether turbines on the horizon would make them more or less likely to return. The results could aid BOEM as it auctions and develops federal waters for wind farms from New York to Virginia and beyond.
An audience gathered here earlier this month to hear the first bits of intelligence on new proposed federal limits on power plant emissions. Travis Kavulla was ready. He and Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Ralph Cavanagh stole the show on the second day of the Western Conference of Public Service Commissioners. Kavulla grabbing the spotlight with a spirited attack on U.S. EPA’s 1-day-old rule, which he called “infantilizing” to states in its emphasis on “building blocks” like improving efficiency at fossil-fueled power plants and switching to other less-emitting power sources.
“They get to be the children in this great game of federalism and put the building blocks together however they want,” he said.
The power department in Los Angeles could be required to implement the country’s most aggressive carbon emissions reduction program. A Los Angeles city councilman on Friday introduced a measure calling on the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) by 2030 to cut its carbon emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels, a move that the Sierra Club said would be the first of its kind in the nation for any utility. The language on the LADWP plan was part of a larger motion that would have the city — including Los Angeles International Airport and the Port of Los Angeles — shrink greenhouse gas pollution 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.