The Obama administration will continue to drive U.S. climate change policy for the foreseeable future, working around a deadlocked Congress incapable of meaningful action, former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D) said today. Ritter, who now directs the Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE) at Colorado State University, said at a Washington, D.C., briefing that executive agencies seemed poised to make the most of existing authority to draw down emissions even as members of Congress continue to argue over whether man-made climate change exists.
A group of the nation’s leading environmental organizations is breaking with the administration over its energy policy, arguing that the White House needs to apply a strict climate test to all of its energy decisions or risk undermining one of the president’s top second-term priorities. The rift — reflected in a letter sent to President Obama by 18 groups, including the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund and Earthjustice — signals that the administration is under pressure to confront the fossil-fuel industry or risk losing support from a critical part of its political base during an already difficult election year.
A senior White House adviser with strong ties to the environmental movement Friday blasted environmental groups for criticizing President Obama’s “all of the above” messaging on energy. John Podesta, a senior aide to President Clinton whose return to the White House earlier this month was cheered by environmentalists, said groups including the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters got it wrong last week when they called on Obama to stop expressing support for fossil fuel development Greenwire, Jan. 17).
The wind industry’s top lobbying group is losing one of its leading advocates at the beginning of a year expected to see an invigorated campaign to reinstate a key tax break.
Chris Chwastyk is resigning as vice president for federal legislative affairs at the American Wind Energy Association, where he has been a registered lobbyist since 2009. Chwastyk has led a team in charge of AWEA’s direct lobbying of lawmakers and congressional aides as well as overseeing its grass-roots and political action committee activity.
The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) administers most of the electricity generation in the Pacific Northwest region, defined as Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana west of the Continental Divide. Hydroelectric produces two-thirds of our electricity. Because of this, the Pacific Northwest is the lowest carbon-emitting region in America. Over the last few years, wind has expanded dramatically, up to about 7% of production. Nuclear, gas and coal together produce the other 30%.
Opponents of U.S. EPA’s carbon regulations are praising Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning for the lawsuit he filed this week to stop the agency’s new power plants proposal. The Republican filed the suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska and alleges that EPA’s proposal violates the 2005 Energy Policy Act, which bars the agency from requiring the use of pollution-control technology based on its being demonstrated by government-backed projects.
The University of Iowa opens a series of events in Des Moines with a talk by P. Barry Butler, UI executive vice president and provost, on wind energy, which has emerged as a vital part of Iowa’s energy economy.
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has brought in a raft of new staff members — including some of his former colleagues and old friends — to help him run the Department of Energy. He’s also overhauling DOE’s organizational chart in a bid to make the department a bigger policy player in President Obama’s second term. A top priority for Moniz this year is the “Quadrennial Energy Review,” a high-profile report that will be part of Obama’s climate agenda and is intended to serve as a road map for federal energy policy across agencies.
Environmentalists are tired of “all of the above.” A coalition of 18 environmental groups yesterday called on President Obama to stop touting an “all of the above” energy strategy — a shorthand expression that lawmakers from both parties often employ to show support for traditional and renewable fuel sources.
Stressing the project’s potential benefits for the local economy, Maine regulators have approved the terms of a pilot offshore wind development spearheaded by the University of Maine, a significant step forward for the industry in the state’s deep but windy waters. Maine Aqua Ventus 1 GP LLC, a consortium including the University of Maine and two partner companies, Emera Inc. and Cianbro Corp., plans to construct two 6-megawatt floating wind turbines 12 miles off the coast of Maine at a cost of $120 million. Last June, the group installed the first grid-connected offshore turbine in the United States, a 1:8-scale prototype of its floating wind technology.