St. Louis became the 47th American city to set a goal of getting all of its electricity from clean, noncarbon sources with a vote by local lawmakers Friday — a significant watershed given its long-standing ties to the fossil fuel industry. The unanimous vote by the Board of Aldermen commits the city to transition to solar, wind and other renewable energy sources by 2035. The city will assemble a group — made up of workers, environmentalists, business people, utility representatives and others — to draw up a plan by December 2018 for reaching the benchmark.
You know that a proposed oil and gas lease is really, truly an awful idea when even Governor Gary Herbert, Utah’s normally pro–fossil fuel development leader, is against it. This summer, Herbert wrote to federal officials, asking them to defer planned oil and gas lease sales near Dinosaur National Monument and Zion National Park. While the Bureau of Land Management did eventually decide to delay two planned lease sales near Dinosaur National Monument and defer the auctions on another three parcels near the entrance to Zion, conservation groups and some former National Park Service officials remain on high alert. They warn that the Trump administration’s rush toward “energy dominance” and its promise to increase oil, gas, and coal extraction on federal lands threatens dozens of protected sites across the country.In North Dakota, federal officials are considering auctioning a 120-acre parcel adjacent to Teddy Roosevelt National Park for oil and gas exploration, a site that is already ringed with the oil infrastructure that popped up on the prairie during the Bakken boom. In New Mexico, new oil and gas development might be coming soon to the desert lands surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park. According to the National Parks Conservation Association, the government is also considering offering new oil and gas leases at sites near Hovenweep National Monument, on the Utah-Colorado border; near the Fort Laramie National Historic Site in Wyoming; near Capitol Reef National Park in Utah; and in proximity to New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Bill Seitz, a charismatic Republican, took to the floor of the Ohio House to make a case for gutting a 2008 law designed to speed the adoption of solar and wind as significant sources of electricity in the state. The law, he warned, "is like something out of the 5-Year Plan playbook of Joseph Stalin." Adopting a corny Russian accent, he said, "Vee vill have 25,000 trucks on the Volga by 1944!'" Nine years before, Seitz and his colleagues, Republicans and Democrats alike, had voted overwhelmingly for the measure he now compared to the work of a Communist dictator. It made Ohio the 25th state to embrace requirements and inducements to lure utilities away from coal, a major contributor of the gases fueling global climate change. Studies suggested the law would help create green energy jobs and boost the Ohio economy—and it has.Now, Seitz said, it was obsolete. Natural gas, rapidly displacing coal, was the resource Ohio ought to foster, he said. He also argued the law gives an unfair advantage to wind and solar when the state's last nuclear plant is fighting for its life. Most important, Seitz insisted, the government had no business telling anyone what kind of energy to buy. By the time he was done, he had secured a veto-proof majority to undo key parts of the law.
A Trump administration plan to subsidize coal and nuclear energy would cost US taxpayers about $10.6bn a year and prop up some of the oldest and dirtiest power plants in the country, a new analysis has found. The Department of Energy has proposed that coal and nuclear plants be compensated not only for the electricity they produce but also for the reliability they provide to the grid. The new rule would provide payments to facilities that store fuel on-site for 90 days or more because they are “indispensable for our economic and national security”. Just a handful of companies, operating about 90 plants on the eastern seaboard and the midwest, would benefit from the subsidies, the report found.
Nine U.S. senators from states that have oil refineries sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging changes to the country’s biofuels policy and asking for a meeting to discuss the issue. The letter reflects growing tensions between refiners that oppose the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard - a law requiring them to blend increasing amounts of ethanol into the nation’s fuel each year - and the Midwest corn lobby that supports it.
A Vermont legislative panel has approved a proposal that sets more strict sound limits for wind turbines.Vermont Public Radio reports the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules voted 5-2 Thursday to keep nighttime sound levels no greater than 30 decibels inside a home.The vote did not please either side of the argument for tight sound standards. Public health advocates say the new rule is not strict enough, while business and clean energy supporters say the limits will make it difficult for future wind development.The Public Utility Commission created the proposal, and they say the 30 decibel standard will protect public health. The commission says the new rule will not completely rule out utility-scale wind energy.
Nine U.S. senators from states that have oil refineries sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Thursday urging changes to the country’s biofuels policy and asking for a meeting to discuss the issue. The letter reflects growing tensions between refiners that oppose the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard - a law requiring them to blend increasing amounts of ethanol into the nation’s fuel each year - and the Midwest corn lobby that supports it.The Trump administration bowed to rising pressure from Midwest lawmakers last week, assuring them in letters and phone calls that it would ditch proposals, supported by the refining industry, to overhaul the biofuels policy.The senators said that decision could cost jobs.“If your administration does not make adjustments or reforms on matters related to the Renewable Fuel Standard, it will result in a loss of jobs around the country, particularly in our states,” according to the letter, which was signed by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey and six others.
A bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers introduced a bill last week that aims to clear up confusion over tax collections for small-scale distributed generation projects. HB 5143 would reinstate a tax exemption for “alternative energy personal property” that was in place for 10 years under the Michigan Next Energy Authority Act of 2002. That law — signed by former Republican Gov. John Engler — granted the exemption to 13 different kinds of small-scale renewable energy systems meant to offset any portion of a property’s energy use. The latest bill was introduced by Republican Rep. Tom Barrett and has two Democrat and four Republican co-sponsors, including House Energy Policy Chairman Gary Glenn, who has said he favors incentives for solar energy over mandates. It has been referred to the House Tax Policy Committee.While it applies to all types of properties, advocates say the bill is meant to provide clarity particularly for residential property owners with solar panels. Over the past several years, Michigan has seen a patchwork of communities that assess solar installations because they are improvements and boost the value of the property.
A leaked draft of a five-year plan reveals how the DOI will prioritize “energy dominance” over conservation. In the next five years, millions of acres of America’s public lands and waters, including some national monuments and relatively pristine coastal regions, could be auctioned off for oil and gas development, with little thought for environmental consequences. The Department of the Interior’s strategic vision states that the DOI is committed to achieving “American energy dominance” through the exploitation of “vast amounts” of untapped energy reserves on public lands. Alarmingly, the policy blueprint—a 50-page document—does not once mention climate change or climate science.
Tesla has begun making good on its promise to help Puerto Ricorebuild its energy grid after a devastating hurricane caused massive damage on the island. On Tuesday, Tesla announced via Twitter that Hospital del Nino in Puerto Rico is "first of many" solar and storage projects going live.