The move has drawn opposition from both Democratic and Republican leaders in nearly every affected state and mobilized the environmental community. From California to New York, lawmakers are considering ways to block the proposal, which would open vast new stretches of federal waters in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as in the Arctic and eastern Gulf of Mexico, to oil and gas exploration and extraction. They are considering laws to block the construction of pipelines or infrastructure in state-controlled waters that are needed to support drilling projects. Attorneys general have vowed to sue over Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke's proposal at the earliest possible moment, and state agencies plan to object to any lease sales using their joint authority under federal law over coastal waters.
The Trump administration broke the law when it missed a deadline last year in implementing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ozone pollution rule, a federal court ruled. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was supposed to announce by Oct. 1 which areas of the country were in compliance with the 2015 Obama administration rule.Pruitt later announced findings for areas that comply, but not for areas that do not. Judge Haywood Stirling Gilliam Jr. of the federal District Court for the District of Northern California said Monday that Pruitt broke the law, and ordered him to publish the findings for almost all of the rest of the country by April 30.
But for pipeline opponents in the Cornhusker State, the view from the ground is far from hopeless. Last November, in a perplexing three-to-two vote, the Nebraska Public Service Commission (NPSC) rejected TransCanada’s preferred route. Instead the commission okayed the company’s alternate choice, a path that differs from the original 63 miles in northeast Nebraska. Those 63 miles could make all the difference: a new route means new easements and likely a host of pricey new lawsuits. The decision was such a blow that the company requested the NPSC modify the wording of its decision. But the commission unanimously rejected the motion, a ruling that landowner attorney Brian Jorde called the “worst decision possible for TransCanada.”
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke recently falsely claimed that wind turbines kill 750,000 birds each year. In actuality, wind turbines kill a little more than 350,000 birds annually — which is far fewer than cars, house cats, or plate-glass windows put to death. What’s the biggest threat to our flying friends? According to the Audubon Society, it’s climate change. The Acoustic Lighthouse generates a high-pitched sound that prompts birds to slow down. Birds hit the brakes by pointing their tail feathers down, which makes their body shift upright, causing them look ahead instead of at the ground. “All that’s missing is the brake-screeching sound,” Swaddle said.
This might be the future of wind repowering in the United States. In a first-of-its-kind project, the owner of a pioneering Illinois wind farm will bring down an aging fleet of 15-year-old turbines in a process akin to trees being logged in a forest. The Mendota Hills site, in operation since 2003, was the first utility-scale wind farm in Illinois. The project owner, Dallas-based Leeward Renewable Energy, is replacing sixty-three 850-kilowatt Gamesa turbines with twenty-nine 2.6-megawatt turbines from Siemens Gamesa. The new project will increase power capacity at the site from just over 50 megawatts to 76 megawatts.In an interview, CEO Greg Wolf told Greentech Media that Leeward is exploring repowering opportunities across its portfolio. Seventeen of the company’s 19 wind farms are beyond their 10-year Production Tax Credit (PTC) period. Mendota Hills is the oldest operating wind farm in its portfolio.
Big oil and big corn are touting opposing studies released this week on proposed biofuels policy reforms under consideration by the Trump administration, part of an ongoing clash between the two sides over the future of the program.Valero Energy Corp , a major oil refiner, funded a study by Charles River Associates that supports placing a cap on the price of biofuel blending credits under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) - a change meant to help refiners that complain the RFS now costs them a fortune.A rival report from Iowa State University, also released this week, said such a cap on credits would backfire by eroding U.S. demand for corn-based ethanol and potentially lowering corn prices, already under pressure from a supply glut. The corn industry did not directly fund the Iowa State study, but does provide funding to the university.The studies are meant to inform the administration's deliberations on how, and if, to reform the RFS - which has become a major point of tension between two of President Donald Trump's most important constituencies.
The Maryland General Assemblywill evaluate two very different proposals for the future of energy and climate policy in our state. One, The 100% Clean Renewable Energy and Equity Act, will fundamentally change the trajectory for wind and solar development, strengthen our economy and build a solid pathway to using only clean renewable electricity by 2035. The other, The Clean Energy and Jobs Act (CEJA), will accelerate the current Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) mechanisms to reach a target of 50 percent renewable electricity by 2030.
Canada's National Energy Board has approved Hydro-Quebec's application to construct an international transmission line to New Hampshire as part of the disputed Northern Pass transmission project. In January, Massachusetts selected Northern Pass to help the state meet its clean energy goals, but the project was rejected unanimously by the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee the following month. Massachusetts has since indicated that it will select Central Maine Power's New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) transmission line to replace Northern Pass if it doesn't secure a permit from New Hampshire in the next three weeks. Both projects involve partnerships with Hydro-Quebec to deliver clean energy from Canada to the U.S.
If you live in a city or county that sues oil companies over climate change, prepare for a blowback. ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel giants are taking legal action against such local governments, seeking to undermine a key part of their finances — their relationship with lenders. Exxon’s target is several California cities and counties that have filed state lawsuits, claiming the oil and coal industries worked for decades to cover up their role in climate change and the consequences. The local governments want the industries to pay for damage and adaptation costs resulting from climate change, including sea-level rise and more extreme storms.Exxon responded last month by petitioning a state court in Tarrant County, Texas — near the company’s headquarters in Irving — to subpoena California officials and lawyers involved with the lawsuits. In a novel legal tactic, Exxon alleges the local government officials are defrauding buyers of municipal bonds by not disclosing to lenders the climate risks they have claimed in their lawsuits.
A tax credit that’s helped motivate many fiscally conscious Iowa farmers to install solar panels would see an early demise under a sweeping tax reform bill that cleared a major legislative hurdle. Iowa is the only state in the Midwest and one of just a dozen nationally that still offers a state solar tax credit. The Iowa Legislature created the 15 percent tax credit in 2012. Since then it’s provided a total of $21.6 million in incentives for nearly 4,000 projects.