Republicans in the House and Senate today began a formal probe of U.S. EPA’s communications with the Natural Resources Defense Council on the Obama administration’s proposed emissions regulations for power plants as well as restrictions on a prospective copper and gold mine in southwestern Alaska.
The last 15 years have seen U.S. power transmission investment jump from $2.7 billion in 1997 to $14.1 billion in 2012, reversing a three-decade-long decline. Major investors and privately held companies have thrown cash into power infrastructure largely to improve reliability, improve connectivity to renewable sources and adjust to population shifts, according to a snapshotof the sector by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“Order 1000 is really probably the largest policy action that the commission’s taken in the four years since I’ve been on it, and it really contemplated that the nation’s going to need a lot of new transmission investment and set up a structure that required that that transmission be planned and cost-allocated on a regional basis. We’ve been operating as if Order 1000 was going to be approved, so we’ve been continuing to take up compliance filings of the different regions, but now that we have the clarity of the court order, I think that will help the implementation step.”
A coalition of states and cities today announced plans to fight a lawsuit aimed at killing U.S. EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas rule for existing power plants. The city of New York, the District of Columbia and 11 states filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit filed last month by “coal producing regions” that seek to invalidate a 2010 settlement agreement between EPA and state and environmental plaintiffs that set a path for the agency to propose emissions rules for new and existing power plants, according to the New York state attorney general’s office. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed the motion to intervene today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on behalf of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia and New York City.
GE Digital Energy has announced that in order to support the public’s demand for wind energy, it is providing a synchronous condenser technology for First Wind’s Oakfield wind farm in northern Maine. While the integration of wind energy continues to have broad public policy support, GE explains, consumers are playing a larger role to ensure their electricity provider is using higher levels of renewable power to meet their clean energy expectations.
A longtime senior official for the National Wildlife Federation has been selected to lead the Wind Energy Foundation, a nonprofit industry-funded group that promotes public awareness of wind as a clean energy source and supports research. John Kostyack, who for more than 20 years supported NWF’s work on climate change, energy and endangered species, will become WEF’s executive director beginning Sept. 15.
President Obama yesterday announced his intention to nominate Colette Honorable, a top state utility regulator and a rumored favorite for months, to serve as a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Honorable is currently slated to serve as president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners through November. If confirmed by the Senate, Honorable would replace FERC Commissioner John Norris, who resigned earlier this month to take a position with the Department of Agriculture in Rome after accusing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) of blocking his bid for the chairmanship.
Runaway growth in the emission of greenhouse gases is swamping all political efforts to deal with the problem, raising the risk of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” over the coming decades, according to a draft of a major new United Nations report. Global warming is already cutting grain production by several percentage points, the report found, and that could grow much worse if emissions continue unchecked. Higher seas, devastating heat waves, torrential rain and other climate extremes are also being felt around the world as a result of human-produced emissions, the draft report said, and those problems are likely to intensify unless the gases are brought under control.
A group of Oklahoma residents have filed a class action lawsuit against a wind energy company. The group says they believe the wind turbines that are planned to be built in their community will have adverse effects on their health and property values. According to the Oklahoma Wind Action Association, there are plans for several wind farms in Kingfisher and Canadian counties.
To sidestep that requirement, President Obama’s climate negotiators are devising what they call a “politically binding” deal that would “name and shame” countries into cutting their emissions. The deal is likely to face strong objections from Republicans on Capitol Hill and from poor countries around the world, but negotiators say it may be the only realistic path. “If you want a deal that includes all the major emitters, including the U.S., you cannot realistically pursue a legally binding treaty at this time,” said Paul Bledsoe, a top climate change official in the Clinton administration who works closely with the Obama White House on international climate change policy.