Advocates say a little-known provision of the Clean Power Plan could become a powerful tool to advance environmental justice. TheClean Energy Incentive Program is aimed at “removing barriers to investment in energy efficiency and solar measures in low‐income communities," plus sparking "zero-emitting" renewable energy development, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describes it. At a hearing in Chicago, people from across the country called on the agency to use the relatively modest program to help atone for a long history of disproportionate impacts of fossil fuels on low-income, black, Latino, Appalachian and Native American residents. The CEIP essentially creates a pool of carbon emissions allowances and Emissions Rate Credits that could be awarded to developers of renewable energy or energy efficiency programs, then sold on the market. The credits/allowances are considered to be equivalent to 300 short tons of carbon dioxide nationwide.
Colorado has become ground zero for a fight being waged around the world by people opposing fracking for a variety of health and environmental reasons. Two ballot initiatives are pushing for enough signatures to make the November ballot. Initiative 75 would allow local governments to regulate fracking sites in their jurisdiction. The effort is a direct response to a May decision by the Colorado Supreme Court, ruling that voter-approved bans on fracking in Fort Collins and Longmont were unlawful. Initiative 78 would require the energy industry to institute 2,500-foot setbacks between wellheads and schools, homes, and water sources. Energy companies claim that this restriction would severely impede their ability to work in the state. Proponents say it would protect people from the most direct impacts of gas development.
A vote by New York utility regulators approving nearly half a billion dollars in annual subsidies over the next two years for a trio of ailing nuclear plants was a victory for Exelon Corp., which owns two of the plants and is in talks with Entergy Corp. to buy the third. Now the polarizing debate moves back to Chicago-based Exelon's home state, where the clock continues to tick on a similar measure to aid a pair of nuclear plants ticketed for closure each of the next two years. Exelon announced plans to shut the Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear plants in mid-2017 and -2018, respectively, at the expiration of their commitments to run. The company has said the plants -- and jobs and taxes they provide -- can still be spared. But doing so requires assurances that they won't continue to sustain millions of dollars in annual losses.
California's landmark cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions and proposed amendments to extend that system will be used to comply with U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan, the state said. The Golden State is the first in the country to publish a draft blueprint for fulfilling the federal agency's mandate, aimed at cutting existing power plant emissions, said Stanley Young, spokesman for the California Air Resources Board. ARB's draft plan comes as a court weighs the validity of EPA's Clean Power Plan. The Supreme Court in February put EPA's rule on hold, pending an opinion on its legality from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and perhaps until the Supreme Court ultimately decides the case. That could take years. California is developing a compliance plan regardless. After the Supreme Court's action, ARB Chairwoman Mary Nichols said that "California will not slow down our drive for clean air, renewable energy, and the good jobs that come from investing in green technologies."
The Texas company planning a crude oil pipeline that will cut across Iowa received the final federal permit approvals needed to proceed with construction. Documents posted by the Iowa Utilities Board show the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved 60 river crossings in Iowa for Dakota Access, a decision pipeline opponents hoped to stop.The company, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, plans construction of a $3.8 billion, 1,168-mile project that's already begun in Illinois, North Dakota and South Dakota. Some preliminary work had also begun in Iowa but the final permits were needed for workers to complete large stretches of pipeline, including sections that cross major rivers.
For a glimpse of what New York’s just-announced clean energy standard could mean to the state’s economy, look West. New York’s plan to get 50 percent of its energy from renewables by 2030, matches the renewable standard set by California in 2015. It will make New York a major leader for clean energy (only tiny Vermont and Hawaii have higher standards than New York and California), setting an example for other states. Clean energy, quite simply, is a tremendous economic catalyst. Smart clean energy policies, we know from California and other states, create jobs and drive economic growth. New York already has had a taste of what clean energy can mean to the state’s economy. More than 85,000 New Yorkers work in clean energy in every county of the state.
Eastern Kentucky faces population loss and other challenges that complicate efforts to diversify its coal-dependent economy as the industry continues to bleed jobs. Coal jobs in the region dropped by 6.1 percent from April through June, according to a report from the state Energy and Environment Cabinet. That was far less than the 21.6 percent decline in the first three months of 2016. Still, that was little cause for celebration in a place where the steep drop in coal jobs and production have hurt other businesses and revenue for local governments.
A federal court should take into account a case involving U.S. EPA's retroactive veto of a water permit for a mining project as it considers the legality of the Clean Power Plan, an opponent to the rule argued. The Competitive Enterprise Institute told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that the dissent in the water permit case "strongly supports" its arguments that EPA failed to adequately consider the costs and benefits of its power plant rule. In the mining case, Arch Coal Inc. and its subsidiary, Mingo Logan Coal Co., had sought to overturn EPA's 2011 veto of the water permit for the controversial Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County, W.Va. Last week, the D.C. Circuit upheld the agency's withdrawal of the permit, finding that the agency adequately explained its decision and that the action fell under the "broad veto power" provided under the Clean Water Act.
With the least stringent regulations of any state with shale production, critics are calling on Virginia to clear up confusion over local fracking bans and complete two reviews of its oil and gas regulations, one of which has been pending since 2004. An in-state regulatory review, underway since 2013, is approaching its final stage but has no deadline. It’s being conducted by a Gas & Oil Regulatory Advisory Panel revved up after Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe took office in early 2014. Recommendations from that review depend on a last round of public comments and final approval by McAuliffe.
The U.S. biodiesel production industry has a distinct "feast or famine" pattern in terms of profitability. The industry made very large profits in 2011 and 2013, but losses in most years previous to 2011 and losses again in 2014 and 2015. The feast or famine pattern has been closely tied to expiration of the $1 per gallon biodiesel tax credit in the face of binding RFS biodiesel mandates. The biodiesel tax credit is once again scheduled to expire at the end of 2016. The key is that blenders face a binding RFS biodiesel mandate and it is rational to effectively purchase the biodiesel at a discount in the current year, due to the tax credit, in order to meet mandates in later years. Once the tax credit expires, the incentive to push up prices, profits, and production disappears and the biodiesel industry returns to a norm of losses. This cycle, of course, depends on blenders perceiving there substantial uncertainty whether the tax credit will be reinstated or not for the following year.