The 2016 Republican platform that party leaders adopted here yesterday envisions a reorganization of U.S. EPA into an independent commission, with primary regulatory authority over the environment handed to state governments. The 66-page document, formally approved on the first day of the Republican National Convention, echoes many familiar GOP themes on energy from recent years, including opening more public lands to production, easing federal regulations and reforming key environmental statutes.
“The issue is, how do we decarbonize the electricity sector, while keeping the lights on, keeping costs low and avoiding unintended consequences that could make emissions increase?” said Jan Mazurek, who runs the clean power campaign at the environmental advocacy group ClimateWorks. Addressing those challenges will require a more subtle approach than just attaching more renewables to the grid.
Matt Mead, the governor of Wyoming, the nation’s leading coal-producing state, fiercely opposes President Obama’s climate change regulations, which could shutter hundreds of coal plants and deeply wound his state, one of 27 that are suing to block the plan. Nevertheless, Mr. Mead, a Republican, has ordered his top environmental officials to prepare to comply with the president’s effort, known as the Clean Power Plan — to prepare for a future in which Mr. Obama’s climate change rules prevail and the country’s coal market is nearly frozen. Wyoming is one of at least 20 states that are moving forward with efforts to comply with the rules or to analyze alternative plans. Several of these states are also suing to stop the rules, according to experts who track state climate change policy.
U.S. automakers can still hit aggressive fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions targets, contrary to some concerns from the industry, state and federal agencies said yesterday. A draft report by U.S. EPA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the California Air Resources Board shows that manufacturers are on track to reach an average fuel economy ranging between 50 and 52.6 mpg across their fleets by 2025.
The White House is renewing its efforts to deploy solar power, bring more people into solar jobs and finance clean energy projects with a funding mechanism that has proved controversial in the past. As part of the Clean Energy Savings for All Initiative, which does not require new congressional appropriations, the departments of Energy, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, and Veterans Affairs and U.S. EPA are backing new initiatives to reach a goal of bringing 1 gigawatt of solar to low- and moderate-income families by decade’s end.
As a native Texan, summer brings to mind many activities, like swimming, outdoor concerts and family barbecues. It also makes me think of the hot summer sun. But this year, as millions of Texans are cranking up the AC to stave off heat, I can rest a little easier knowing that our state’s electricity is increasingly being powered by cleaner, less polluting resources. That’s because market forces are leading to coal’s rapid decline, resulting in a cleaner electric grid in the Lone Star State. According to a new analysis from the Brattle Group and the Texas Clean Energy Coalition, natural gas and renewable energy — such as that from wind turbines and solar panels — are on the rise in Texas.
Solar energy may finally be rising out of the darkness in Illinois. “The (solar) market is beginning to ripen here in the Midwest. The industry has been strong for a number of years on the east and west coasts,” said Jason Hawksworth, founder of Hawk Energy Solutions in Washington. Hawk Energy, a company that designs, builds and provides financial information on solar projects, recently collaborated with Ruyle Mechanical Services, a business in Downtown Peoria, on the installation of a solar system on the company’s roof. The solar system is expected to yield a $22,000 profit in five years along with covering the system’s $62,500 cost.
Eleven House Republicans who are trying to change their party’s attitude on climate change appear to be skipping the GOP convention beginning here today. Several also say they won’t vote for presumed presidential nominee Donald Trump. The decision signals a sense of foreboding about Trump’s candidacy by some of the party’s most visible supporters of tackling global warming. The group of lawmakers are working on a package of bills to cut greenhouse gas emissions by promoting clean energy and other programs that they believe could appeal to some conservatives.
Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley is planning to introduce multiple bills in coming months to move the U.S. power mix to 100 percent renewable sources by midcentury. The plan is backed by environmentalists like 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben. Merkley made the announcement last week at the Netroots Nation conference in St. Louis on a panel with billionaire green activist Tom Steyer, which focused on Merkley’s “Keep It in the Ground Act.”
In a rare moment of bipartisan agreement on renewable energy, Republican and Democratic members of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee spoke in favor of a bill intended to streamline the permitting process for developers of renewable energy projects on federal land. By “shortcutting the tedious and costly environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act,” the bill, the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act of 2015, H.R. 2663, would help renewable projects that are “hampered by bureaucratic red tape,” Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Chairman Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., said at a July 13 hearing held by the subcommittee.