Wind is blowing up in the Commonwealth! A report from Environment Massachusetts shows that offshore wind could help power the state’s electricity needs 19 times over – and major generators are already working to make it happen. Among them is ML Strategies client Deepwater Wind, which has identified New Bedford, Fall River and Somerset as possible sites where it will assemble wind turbine foundations for its Revolution Wind project.
Following Senate action last week on the pipeline safety bill, there is new hope for the Senate bipartisan energy bill with a potential compromise on legislation to address the Flint water crisis. If the compromise holds, the energy measure could move as soon as next week, as could a short-term Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization which is reported to be a potential vehicle for a provision to address the non-solar technologies left out of the Investment Tax Credit extension in last December’s omnibus bill.
Energy Secretary Moniz returns to Capitol Hill this week for a hearing on the DOE’s FY17 budget before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. The budget request includes $2.3 billion in increased mandatory funding. Secretary Moniz also testified before the House Appropriations Committee last week. On the election front, presidential debates are scheduled this week in Miami, with the Democrats debating March 9 and the Republicans March 10. Leading up to the debates, more than 20 Florida mayors have asked that the debates include a discussion of climate change and how the candidates would address sea-level rise, a major concern for the Sunshine State. For more on the week in Washington, read this week’s update from ML Strategies!
The bipartisan energy bill, which Congress has focused on since the start of the new year, has been put on hold following a disagreement over federal aid to address the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The energy bill was debated on the Senate floor the past two weeks before coming to a halt last Thursday when senators could not agree on the size and scope of an aid package offered by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Gary Peters (D-MI) to help Flint, Michigan.
Meanwhile, President Obama released his fiscal year 2017 budget request on February 9, which includes $32.5 billion for the Department of Energy. The request calls on the agency to increase clean energy efforts and spending, including $7.7 billion for clean energy across several agencies, about 76 percent of which would go to the DOE for vehicle and building efficiency programs, weatherization, and ARPA-E. Also on February 9, the Supreme Court stayed the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan until all legal challenges are complete, thereby reversing the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s January 21 decision. Lawsuits over the rule will continue at least into 2017, and the Supreme Court is expected to be the final arbiter of the regulation. For more on these developments and the latest from D.C., read this week’s update from ML Strategies.
Congress has spent a significant chunk of the new year focused on a bipartisan energy bill, which, if passed, would be the first broad bipartisan energy package in nearly ten years. The Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 (S. 2012), which cleared, 18-4, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last summer, includes, among other things, language to increase energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy infrastructure, and grid security, as well as to impose deadlines on the Department of Energy to make final decisions on natural gas exports, permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and expedite the licensing process for hydropower projects.
The Clean Power Plan, meanwhile, continues to come under fire, as 29 states and state agencies as well as numerous industry groups filed petitions January 26 with the Supreme Court asking the court to reverse the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s January 21 decision not to stay the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. In state news, the California Public Utilities Commission extended January 29 the state’s net metering program for another four years. Existing solar owners will maintain the right to sell excess power back to the grid for four years and new owners will be able to participate in the program after paying a one-time fee. For more on the latest energy happenings, read this week’s update from ML Strategies.
Congress is officially back in session, and several important energy-related issues loom on the horizon, including TSCA reform and a tax extenders package that could potentially impact renewable energy tax credits. President Obama, meanwhile, wrapped up a trip to the Arctic last week, announcing several funding initiatives designed to encourage energy efficiency in Alaska and elsewhere.
With Congress out of session over the past few weeks, President Obama continued to make climate change and clean energy a key part of his agenda. In addition to visits to New Orleans and Alaska focused on climate change, the president also announced a number of key initiatives designed to incentivize and reward innovators in the clean technology sector. Continue Reading Obama Administration Expands Clean Energy Funding
While the potential Iran nuclear deal, the budget, and spending bills dominate Congress’ attention leading up to the Memorial Day recess, committees in both chambers have not forgotten about energy policy, with several hearings on the docket. Meanwhile, the Obama Administration used last week’s Earth Day celebration to reveal part one of the Quadrennial Energy Review along with several energy and environment executive actions. Read more in the latest Energy and Environment Update from ML Strategies.
On March 19th, President Obama, continuing to push his climate change agenda over his final two years, signed an executive order requiring that by 2025 the federal government decrease its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 40 percent. The announcement was coupled with pledges from several private sector partners to cut their own GHG output. Meanwhile, in the last week the House and Senate moved on their budgets and the Department of Interior issued its fracking rule. Read more in the latest Energy and Environment Update from ML Strategies.
Congress returns from the Presidents’ Day recess, and energy and climate issues will heat up again this work period as Congress sends the Keystone XL pipeline legislation to President Obama, committees consider fiscal year 2016 spending requests, Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) prepare to introduce a broad energy efficiency package, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee holds a workshop on the Clean Power Plan, all in the midst of a calendar filled with several other issues.
Energy and environment debates are heated in Washington this week, as the Senate continues negotiations over the Keystone XL pipeline and Congressional tax reform debates get underway. Lawmakers have already introduced more than 20 amendments to the controversial pipeline legislation, and others have already floated several avenues for reaching common ground on a tax reform agreement in the coming months. Outside of Congress, many other developments have grabbed headlines in energy circles, including the approval of the giant SunZia Southwest Transmission Project, the announcement of US-India climate cooperation, and the replacement of outgoing OMB Director John Podesta.
Get the inside scoop on these and other pressing issues in this week’s Energy and the Environment update from ML Strategies, available in its entirety here.