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.
Political considerations also could complicate the push for a tax extenders package. Such legislation typically carries a hefty price tag that rankles budget-conscious members, and some of the specific provisions — in particular the PTC — are facing increasingly intense opposition from outside conservative groups aligned with fossil fuel interests. Congress most recently passed an extenders bill in the lame-duck session following the 2012 election. However, at that time it was able to hitch a ride on the larger “fiscal cliff” legislation to prevent an across-the-board increase in individuals’ taxes. The lack of a similarly significant “must-pass” bill this time around further complicates the prospect for extenders, but many of the breaks enjoy broad backing from lawmakers, and advocates say they are staying optimistic.
Last week, a new analysis was released that explored the technical, environmental, and economic implications of raising California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) from 33 percent by 2020 to 50 percent by 2030. I’m excited to report that although the study illuminates the challenges of installing unprecedented amounts of renewables on the grid, it is technically possible. Moreover, California has tools in hand today to scale up renewables, and is developing programs and policies that will continue to lower the cost and technical challenges of doing so.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission plans to probe recent wintry wallops that triggered both unprecedented natural gas price spikes in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic in recent weeks and the agency’s first-ever order for a private pipeline to ship propane into the Midwest.