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Oregon Supreme Court approves tax to fund state EV rebates

Utility Dive | Posted on August 8, 2018

The Oregon Supreme Court approved the use of a privilege tax to fund the state's Clean Vehicle Rebate Program on Sunday, after AAA Oregon/Idaho and Trucking Associations Inc. challenged the tax in November 2017, saying it violated Oregon's Constitution. The program is integral to Democratic Gov. Katie Brown's 2017 initiative to address greenhouse gases and climate change. One of the goals of the initiative is to have 50,000 or more registered and operating electric vehicles (EVs) in the state by 2020, according to Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) air quality planner Rachel Sakata.  The clean vehicle program offers both a standard rebate option and a "charge ahead" option for qualifying low-to-middle income (LMI) customers. The standard rebate is $2500 towards a purchase or lease of a new EV with a battery capacity of 10 KWh or more, and $1500 with a battery capacity of less than 10 KWh. Charge-ahead rebates are worth $2500-$5000. 

FERC denies rehearing on Northern Pass pipeline, overruling New York decision

Utility Dive | Posted on August 8, 2018

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday rejected requests to review its decision allowing construction of the 99-mile Northern Access Pipeline, overruling a New York decision to deny water quality permits to the project. New York waived its authority to award permits to the pipeline by not issuing a decision within one year, FERC ruled, denying an appeal from the state and environmental groups. Commissioner Richard Glick dissented on the 4-1 decision. The decision could hint at how FERC will rule on the Constitution pipeline, a 124-mile pipeline that similarly was denied water permits by New York. FERC in that case initially declined to overrule the New York decision, but could change course in its ruling on a requested rehearing for the project

Court tosses construction permits for Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Utility Dive | Posted on August 8, 2018

A federal appeals court on Monday threw out construction certificates for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, likely halting work on the $6 billion project planned by major Southeastern utilities. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the project last year, but the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that certification was based on a faulty right-of-way permit awarded by the National Park Service for where the pipeline would cross the Blue Ridge Parkway, a road in Virginia that is part of the National Park system. Continued construction of the line would "violate FERC's certificate of public convenience and necessity," the court warned, and environmental groups pushed FERC to issue a stop-work order for the entire line, as it did last week for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Developers said they would push NPS to "promptly reissue the permit" to cross the Parkway.

Massachusetts Lawmakers Pass Bill that Opens New Prospects for Microgrids

Microgrid Knowledge | Posted on August 8, 2018

Energy insiders see the emergence of new microgrid opportunities in Massachusetts from clean energy legislation passed last week and now awaiting the signature of Gov. Charlie Baker.An Act to Advance Clean Energy (H.4857) won unanimous Senate support and near-unanimous House support, with only one nay vote. The legislation opens up prospects for microgrids via several pro-distributed energy initiatives.“HR 4857 is a positive for microgrids, storage, combined heat and power, and cogenerated district energy,” said Jack Griffin, vice president and general manager of Boston-based SourceOne.

Degrading plastics revealed as source of greenhouse gases

Science Daily | Posted on August 2, 2018

Researchers have found that several greenhouse gases are emitted as common plastics degrade in the environment. Their study reports the unexpected discovery of the universal production of greenhouse gases methane and ethylene by the most common plastics when exposed to sunlight.

Biodiesel Challenges Waivers in Court

DTN | Posted on August 1, 2018

Biofuel, petroleum and environmental interests have filed legal briefs in a broader lawsuit challenging the EPA on its implementation of the 2018 Renewable Fuel Standard volumes, according to documents filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington. Petroleum, biodiesel and environmental interest groups are attacking the 2018 volumes rule on a number of fronts.Those include a challenge to EPA's granting of small-refinery waivers; an agency decision not to consider a petition to change the RFS point of obligation from refiners and importers of gasoline and diesel to ethanol blenders; the process used to set volumes for advanced biofuels, including biodiesel; and the agency's alleged lack of consideration for how the volumes could affect endangered species.EPA also faces separate lawsuits by biofuel and agriculture interest groups on the agency's granting of small-refinery waivers. 

America spends over $20bn per year on fossil fuel subsidies.

The Guardian | Posted on July 31, 2018

Imagine that instead of taxing cigarettes, America subsidized the tobacco industry in order to make each pack of smokes cheaper.A report from Oil Change International (OCI) investigated American energy industry subsidies and found that in 2015–2016, the federal government provided $14.7bn per year to the oil, gas, and coal industries, on top of $5.8bn of state-level incentives (globally, the figure is around $500bn). And the report only accounted for production subsides, excluding consumption subsidies (support to consumers to lower the cost of fossil fuel use – another $14.5bn annually) as well as the costs of carbon and other fossil fuel pollutants.At a time when we need to transition away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible, the federal and state governments are giving the industry tens of billions of dollars to make the production of their dirty, dangerous products more profitable.

Pennsylvanians who live near fracking are more likely to be depressed

Environmental Health News | Posted on July 31, 2018

eople who live near unconventional natural gas operations such as fracking are more likely to experience depression, according to a new study.They found that people living near fracking-related operations are more likely to be depressed than the general population, and that stress and depression went up among people living closest to more and bigger natural gas wells.

Administration predicts ‘moderate’ impacts from new Keystone XL route

The Hill | Posted on July 31, 2018

The Trump administration released a new environmental review for a portion of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, predicting some “moderate” impacts from its construction and operation. In its 300 page draft report, the State Department found that some of the biggest impacts from the project’s new route in Nebraska include injuries to wetlands and vegetation, but says much of the impact would be temporary. Monday’s release is just the latest development in a years-long, contentious fight over the Keystone pipeline. Keystone XL once was at the center of environment and energy policy in the United States, and President Trump acted swiftly after his 2017 inauguration to approve it, fulfilling a campaign promise. The report was required because of the Nebraska Public Service Commission’s vote in November 2017 to allow TransCanada Corp. to build the controversial pipeline only on an alternative route, not the one that it had preferred and that the Trump administration had initially approved earlier that year.

Local governments take up effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, combat climate change

Wisconsin State Journal | Posted on July 31, 2018

Local municipalities are taking up the reins to combat global climate change as scientists around the world continue to sound alarm bells warning of the possibly irreversible effects of using greenhouse-gas emitting sources of energy.The Middleton City Council passed a resolution this month setting goalposts for utilizing renewable energy sources in 100 percent of energy consumption city-wide — for the city government’s operations but also for community residents and companies.Middleton’s plan is just one in the region either laid out or in the works.Dane County, which boasts 100 percent renewable electricity use for government functions, hopes to complete and roll out an expanded sustainability plan in the spring. In March 2017, the Madison City Council passed a resolution to develop a plan laying out goals for zero-carbon emissions energy use in city operations and methods to reach those goals.