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EPA to scrap clean power plan: What it means locally

ABC News | Posted on October 10, 2017

Kilbert says regardless of today's announcement, coal is being phased out by a lot of power companies, and it all comes down to money, "Coal irrespective of any environmental regulations is phasing out because of cheap natural gas along with solar and wind and other alternative energy sources." In spite of today's announcement, experts say abandoning the clean power plan probably won't change the long-term outlook for coal.

Wind Energy's Expansion in Nebraska Creates Sharp New Divide

US News and World Report | Posted on October 10, 2017

Many of Nebraska's neighbors are national leaders in wind energy, and advocates say the state could easily join them.But as wind energy has grown in Nebraska, so has a fervent resistance from mostly rural landowners and lawmakers who view the turbines as noisy, heavily subsidized eyesores that lead to lower property values.The pushback was clear last year, when Lancaster and Gage counties approved noise restrictions that effectively halted several proposed wind farms. At the state level, a Nebraska lawmaker is trying to temporarily stop commercial wind projects in the Sandhills.Wind energy advocates say much of the resistance is based on unfounded fears and resistance to change."I wouldn't want to contradict someone's personal experiences, but I do think some of the concerns are from emotional fears rather than actual reality," said David Bracht, director of the Nebraska Energy Office.Nebraska ranks fourth nationally in wind energy potential but 18th in the amount of electricity that it can produce with existing turbines, according to the American Wind Energy Association.The state had 744 turbines as of last year, compared to 3,976 in Iowa, 2,795 in Kansas, 1,913 in Colorado and 1,005 in coal-friendly Wyoming. South Dakota and Missouri had fewer turbines. Iowa ranks second nationally in the amount of installed wind capacity, behind Texas. Kansas ranks fifth.Wind energy growth has been sluggish in Nebraska in part because of state regulations. For example, until 2009, wind developers had no legal assurances that Nebraska's public power districts wouldn't seize their assets through eminent domain if they produced too much power.

John Block: Renewable Fuels

OFW Law | Posted on October 10, 2017

At this time when farmers are suffering with low prices for corn and soybeans, the EPA is making a move that could cut the biodiesel mandate by as much as 315 million gallons. This is not good news for the biodiesel or ethanol businesses. It’s not good news for corn and soybean farmers. We thought the Renewable Fuels Standard and biofuels mandates were all settled for next year, but I guess we were wrong. Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, said, “There is no rationale for further lowering either the 2018 advanced biofuel volume requirement or the total renewable fuel volume.”

EPA Action would Break President’s Promises on Protecting the RFS

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on October 9, 2017

Efforts underway from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to scale back the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) would break repeated promises by President Donald Trump to protect the RFS. As part of a Notice of Data Availability (NODA) published by the agency on Oct. 4, EPA signaled that it is contemplating reducing proposed RFS volumes, including volumes that were finalized a year ago.

Trump takes first step toward scrapping Obama's global warming policy

Minnesota Star Tribune | Posted on October 5, 2017

The Trump administration will repeal the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s effort to fight climate change, and will ask the public to recommend ways it could be replaced, according to an internal Environmental Protection Agency document. The draft proposal represents the administration’s first substantive step toward rolling back the plan, which was designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector, after months of presidential tweets and condemnations of Obama’s efforts to reduce climate-warming pollution.

Maryland Suing EPA on Power Plant Pollution in Other States

Insurance Journal | Posted on October 5, 2017

Maryland is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to act on a petition requiring power plants in five upwind states to reduce pollution, the state’s attorney general and an official in Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration said. The Hogan administration says 70 percent of Maryland’s ozone problem originates in upwind states.

Court nixes Trump admin's 'unlawful' delay of Methane BLM rule

E & E News | Posted on October 5, 2017

The Trump administration acted unlawfully when it froze Obama-era restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas industry, a federal court ruled.  According to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the Interior Department misused a provision of the Administrative Procedure Act when it stalled key provisions of a rule aimed at reducing methane venting and flaring on public and tribal lands.Just today, BLM unveiled a separate proposal to delay the standards until January 2019. However, the district court's order means that the rule will take effect now.The court's decision revives the standards, meaning any oil and gas companies not already in compliance will have to scramble to catch up.Secretary Ryan Zinke sidelined key provisions of the 2016 Bureau of Land Management regulation in June, indefinitely delaying deadlines for measuring flared gas, upgrading equipment and controlling leaks.Zinke's move followed a failed effort to kill the rule via the Congressional Review Act. Separately, the agency has launched a formal process to roll back the measure.According to the district court, BLM's approach to freezing parts of the rule violates federal law. The agency relied on APA Section 705, which allows for postponing the effective date of regulations that are facing litigation. But the BLM methane rule took effect in January, with various compliance deadlines spaced out over time.

Growth of green energy sector surges in Minnesota

Minnesota Star Tribune | Posted on October 5, 2017

Minnesota's fast-growing clean-energy economy, rooted in wind, solar, conservation, technology and even software, is a change for a state that historically imported its energy.

Rick Perry manages to unite oil, gas, wind and solar — against him

The Washington Post | Posted on October 4, 2017

On Monday, a coalition of 11 energy lobbying groups asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to delay issuing and enforcing a new rule issued by the Energy Department. Energy Secretary Perry had asked for FERC to streamline the rulemaking process but the groups want time to weigh in during the traditional comment period. The coalition attracted some strange bedfellows, including renewable-energy lobbyists such as the American Wind Energy Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association and oil and gas heavyweights such as the Natural Gas Supply Association and the American Petroleum Institute.  “This is the first time we've filed a motion in conjunction with API,” said Gil Jenkins, a spokesman for the American Council on Renewable Energy, one of the groups in the coalition.“So, it's unprecedented,” Jenkins added. “Just as this very action taken by DOE.”Here's the backrgound. On Friday, Perry, issued a sweeping proposal to redefine how coal and nuclear power plants are compensated for the electricity they provide to the power grid.In a letter and proposed regulation, Perry asked FERC to consider issuing new rules to ensure that nuclear and coal-fired plants are compensated not only for the electricity they provide to homes and businesses, but for the reliability they add to the grid.

Minnesota once again leads the Midwest in annual energy efficiency ranking

Midwest Energy News | Posted on October 2, 2017

Minnesota is the only Midwest state ranked in the top 10 of the annual American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. The state’s ninth place standing, announced this week, topped Michigan and Illinois (tied for 11th); Iowa (19th); Wisconsin (24th); Ohio (31st) and Indiana (40th). South Dakota and North Dakota rounded out the bottom.Last year Minnesota ranked 10th on the scorecard and was, once again, the only Midwest state to make the Top 10.