Clean Energy Initiative

Field Hearing Slams EPA Regulations, Wind Industry Giving Money on Both Sides of the Aisle, Sports Industry Going Green

The House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold a field hearing in southwest Virginia today, an area known for its reliance on the coal industry. The panel will attack EPA greenhouse gas regulations on new power plants. Republicans have been outspokenly critical about the regulations, which they claim essentially bans all new coal plants from being built and kills coal industry jobs.

Alpha Natural Resources President Paul Vining will testify that these actions not only represent the EPA's alleged "War on Coal" but also a greater attack on "affordable electricity, a significant building block of American prosperity," as well, and that consumers and small businesses will pay the price in the future with these new regulations. Top utility executive and Romney campaign advisor Thomas Farrell, the Chairman, President, and CEO of Dominion, will also testify that the single standard for all power plants is an inappropriate step for the EPA, and that it "threatens fuel diversity, which is critical for providing reliable, affordable electricity." Holding this field hearing in Virginia is a sure affirmation to anyone following the 2012 election that the state will play a pivotal role in the final outcome.

The wind industry is covering all of their political bases in an attempt to get production tax credits back on track by donating money to a wide range of politicians on both sides of the spectrum. The American Wind Energy Association's PAC is just one of the players in the political game surrounding the tax credits. AWEA's PAC has given out more than $55,000 in the second quarter, with 62 percent going to Democratic candidates and the remaining 38 percent to Republican candidates. This is a remarkable turnaround from the more than 60 percent given to Republicans in the first quarter, but proof that AWEA has thrown caution to the wind and sought to hedge their bets to get the vital production tax credits back for their industry.

The sports industry is looking to go green as highlighted by the hearing today of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. The council will discuss the sports industry's sustainability practices this Thursday to show the great savings available by reducing gas and electricity consumption. The Seattle Mariners have found great success in loweing energy costs of Safeco Field, and our own Washington Nationals boast the first LEED Silver Certified major professional stadium.

U.S. Flounders at Bottom of New Energy Efficiency Ratings

A new study shows that the United States is ranked ninth in energy efficiency efforts out of twelve countries that make up 63 percent of the world's energy consumption. Ahead of only Brazil, Canada, and Russia, the United States is getting beaten out by China and the world leader in efficiency ranking, the United Kingdom, among others. According to the Los Angeles Times, advocates of greener lifestyles have been calling for more eco-friendly cars and alternative energy projects, but America still uses nearly five times the oil per capita compared to Brazil and China. Only Canada uses more. The report shows that the U.S. Transportation sector has also lagged behind other countries in developing public transportation systems, and is ranked dead last in that category. The study, plublished by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, shows the dire need for progress after the failures of the last decade to provide just that.

House Energy & Commerce Hearing Attacks DOE Loan Guarantee Program, Renewable Sources Get Linked to Grid in California

The Energy Department's loan guarantee program, which is unfortunately and incorrectly infamous for its connection to failed solar company Solyndra, is under attack yet again from the Republicans at a hearing today by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The hearing, on the GOP's "No More Solyndras" bill, will attempt to reform and phase out the loan guarantee program that Republicans allege has become wasteful and unsuccessful. DOE spokespeople will state that the overall success of the program should not be overshadowed by a single instance like Solyndra, and that the inherent risk in investing in new technology has been well worth the rewards in both innovation and job creation here in the United States. Other bills on government efforts towards energy efficiency will also make the discussion.

California has found success bringing renewable-generated energy to the electricity grid as a result of a new power link which will bring much increased capacity to the region. San Diego Gas & Electric activated a $1.9 billion transmission line which will add a whopping 800 megawatts of power to the regional grid, which was straining under outages at a nearby nuclear power station. The new line connects two solar power projects, and while it is always difficult to get renewable energy to the grid structure, the task was recently achieved by California utilities like San Diego Gas & Electric, signaling a step forward for renewable development.

Former Republican Congress Member Begins Climate Initiative With Bold Predictions

Bob Inglis, a former Republican Member of Congress from South Carolina, has formed the Energy & Enterprise Initiative at George Mason University.   It’s an effort to advocate for the elimination of all subsidies for all fuels and the attachment of all costs to all fuels which Inglis says is the free-enterprise fix to energy and climate. If you correct the market distortions and make all fuels accountable for all of their costs, that will drive innovation and as a result reduce CO2 emissions.
Inglis thinks Congress will address Climate but not until 2015, 2016.   "After the next midterm. Either a new Republican president will, under market pressure, say to the country that we need a grand bargain to bring down rates and broaden the base, and a great way to do that is to shift off of taxing income and toward taxing CO2. Or it’s a second term for President Obama and the same market pressure pushing Congress and the president to do something.", Inglis stated.

Ethanol Big Topic in Upcoming Energy Hearings, Regulatory Groups Meet to Discuss EPA Air Standards

A hearing of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee today will discuss the Renewable Fuel Standard, the "E15" blend, and other federal mandates relating to biofuels. Criticism of implementing such mandates is expected, especially provisions from the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Another panel will be held tomorrow on fraudulent RIN's, biodiesel credits companies can buy in order to satisfy the mandates, by a separate Energy and Commerce panel.

The biofuel issue is an important one for energy independence though, argues Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen. "Without ethanol and... the RFS, our 2011 rate of oil import dependence would have been 52 percent, rather than... 45 percent," he claimed. He will testify that increased ethanol production has been paramount to the advancement towards energy independence and self-sufficiency.

Three regulatory groups, the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, and the National Association of State Energy Officials, will hold a conference today to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency air pollution rules that have been under attack by the Republicans for some time now. Gina McCarthy and White House Council on Environmental Quality Deputy Director Gary Guzy will be among the panelists. The EPA's rules on curbing smog-forming, particulate and toxic emissions from power plants as well as new greenhouse gas performance standards will be main topics of discussion.

Invite: Wed, July 25 - The DOD and Next Generation Energy Technology

The Obama Administration’s push for next generation energy technology at the Department of Defense has ignited a congressional debate on the role of DOD in the promotion of clean technology.  On July 25th we will host Jon Powers, Federal Environmental Executive for the White House Council on Environmental Quality to help us take a more in-depth look at this debate.  He will lead the following panelists from the government and the private sector in a spirited debate on the impact of the DOD's investment in next generation energy technology.  

Dr. Jeff Marqusee - Executive Director of the Strategic Environmental Research & Development Program and Director of the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program, Department of Defense 

Jeff Weiss - Co-founder and CFO of Distributedl Sun, a company which develops, finances, constructs, owns and operates commercial scale solar energy systems in the USA  

Dr. Holmes Hummel - Senior Policy Advisor for Policy and International Affairs at Department of Energy  

"The Department of Defense and Next Generation Energy Technology" discussion will take place on Wednesday, July 25th, Noon, at the NDN event space, 729 15th Street NW, Washington, DC.  Lunch will be served at noon and the program will begin at 1215pm.  

This panel is the eleventh in our "Clean Energy Solution Series" to showcase the leaders, companies, ideas and policies hastening our transition to a cleaner, safer and more distributed energy paradigm.   

Please RSVP today!  Feel free to invite others you think might be interested. 

"Clean Coal" Still Struggling to Catch On, Pulls Plug on Ice Sculpture Plans

The current "clean coal" dream is not looking like a reality any time soon. The last two administrations have been pushing this solution to satisfy both ends of the spectrum, but it is not seeing the success anticipated. The goal was to use the cheap but relatively dirty coal to generate power, but capture the toxic emissions through new technology, thus making coal "clean." The technology is expensive, though, and and there are currently no limits on carbon emissions. As a result, without new regulations there is no incentive to use this technology or shift to cleaner sources of energy. And some predict it could take billions in government investment before it can become a valuable practice commercially.

The well-known climate change group has changed its plans after receiving feedback on a protest activity planned for Washington D.C. The group hoped to melt a giant ice sculpture reading "HOAX?" in the sweltering heat that has plagued the nation and its capital for more than a week. However, criticism from people in West Virginia and elsewhere caused president Bill McKibben to rethink his plan after they claimed the melting ice would cause people to disrespect their plight. Instead, McKibben is donating the funds raised for the project to heat and drought relief, and admitted his mistake in a blog he wrote on Saturday.

Smart Grid Could Help with Power Outages, EPA Under Attack Again in Farm Bill, Ohio Rules on Fracking Waste Solution

The heat-driven storms, which pounded the United States east coast last weekend with little warning, knocked out power to 3 million homes and businesses. Many were without power for over 48 hours and even now, six days later, over a million are still in the dark.  Are we doomed to experience blackouts every time a big storm comes along or can all this smart grid technology find a way keep the lights from going out? 

Many in the busines say new technology may help restore power more quickly, but that we are stuck with our line-and-pole distribution system for decades to come. One solution is to make power locally produced. The idea is to combine small-scale power generation with bigger batteries inside the home as a way of weaning your house off the electric grid. That scenario could be a more reliable and quieter back-up system than a firing up a diesel generator when the lights go out, according to Bob Gohn, vice president of research for Boulder-based Pike Research.

A five-year bipartisan farm bill draft was released Thursday that attacked the much-maligned Environmental Protection Agency. Introduced by Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and ranking member Collin Peterson (D-MN), the bill passed previously in the House in March 2011 but failed in the Senate. The EPA under this bill would be prohibited from issuing permits under the Clean Water Act for certain pesticides already covered under the agency's Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

The Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission has ruled that Patriot Water Treatment company of Warren, Ohio cannot dump fracking waste into the nearby Mahoning River, and that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was wrong to bar the local sewage treatmant plants from accepting treated fracking waste from companies dumping wastes into the river. However, the city of Warren does not have the authority to accept fracking waste without permission from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. This department, though, does not allow disposal of fracking waste anywhere but in a disposal well. While the Ohio EPA gave tentative approval of Patriot and Warren forming a business partnership back in 2011 to treat the water from fracking, they reversed course later when they violated a law putting gas and oil waste regulations under the control of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Keystone Pipeline Looms Large for American Energy

The Sunday Washington Post had an in-deph story on Alberta Canada’s oil sands — a black, gooey mixture of sand, oil and water.  This source of oil is the font of the proposed Keystone pipeline and anyone involved in energy is aware that Keystone has become a political pawn this election year. As the Post stated "It is also a sort of Rorschach test of how Americans view energy issues: Are we energy rich or energy poor? How do energy policies affect job creation, tax revenue and U.S. manufacturing competitiveness? How pressing are ¬climate-change concerns, and how do we balance them with economic priorities?"

According to a recent Washington Post poll, the American public is firmly behind the pipeline, seeing potential jobs and limited environmental downside. Nearly six in 10 saying the U.S. government should approve the project with 83 percent who think it will create jobs. Aolmost half believe it will not cause significant damage to the environment.  However, a congressional Research Service report released May 15 estimated that Canada’s oil sands produced 14 to 20 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than the average barrel of U.S. imported crude oil — or comparable to low-quality Venezuelan crudes.  Initial environmental impact studies show huge potential damage to the environment.  Meanwhile, the Canadians are perplexed and wonder why their oil sands are vilified while Americans seem to have no problems getting oil from countries such as Saudia Arabia or Venezuela with poor human rights and no loyalty to United States.

EPA's McCarthy Speaks on GHG Regulations, API Continues to Push Keystone XL, New Trackside Battery Can Save Power for Subway

Gina McCarthy went before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power this morning.  McCarthy, the Environmental Protection Agency’s top air pollution regulator, spoke about the agency’s greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations.  This hearing is three days after a federal appeals court cast aside industry and state challenges to EPA’s climate rules.  The court decision, a major win for the Obama administration, prompted GOP calls for Congress to end regulations that they say will harm the economy.  A GOP memo says it will explore issues including “regulatory burdens associated with implementation of GHG regulations” and “potential impacts on energy costs, and energy-intensive and trade exposed industries,”.   “Greenhouse gas pollution, through its contribution to global climate change, presents a significant threat to Americans’ health and to the environment upon which our economy and security depends,” McCarthy’s prepared testimony states.  “The history of the Clean Air Act since 1970 makes clear that clean air and a healthy economy have gone hand in hand,” she told  the panel. 

The American Petroleum Institute is trying a new tack following Keystone being left off the transportation bill by directly asking President Obama to approve it. "It's unfortunate that we missed another opportunity to expedite the building of Keystone XL," API President and CEO Jack Gerard said. "We appreciate the efforts of KXL supporters on the Hill for continuing to highlight this shovel-ready project. Congress has taken the lead on Keystone because the president continues to stand in the way. He should have approved this pipeline last year."

A battery used by the Southeast Pennsyvania Transit Authority's subway will operate to save power used by the system by turning train motors into generators upon slowing down. The energy created is then absorbed and later released during acceleration or when necessary to maintain efficient current levels. In essence, it regulates the supply and demand of electricity across the track system by absorbing or giving back energy based on signals received. The storage capabilities of the battery as well as the ability to regulate and balance the grid are what makes the project profitable and sustainable, according to the development company.

Syndicate content