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FirstEnergy won’t say what it’s done with Ohio grid modernization money

| Posted on July 31, 2018

Ohio regulators let FirstEnergy collect $168 million a year from ratepayers with virtually no strings attached for how it is spent.Ohio ratepayers have paid FirstEnergy’s utilities roughly a quarter of a billion dollars since January 2017 under a distribution modernization rider. The mandate for consumers to pay the rider is currently on appeal before the Supreme Court of Ohio. Meanwhile, FirstEnergy’s utilities have been collecting the $168 million per year, and regulators could renew the charge for another two years after 2019.“To date, FirstEnergy has stymied the efforts of the state-designated advocate of its consumers to discover information about its subsidy charges,” Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Bruce Weston and assistant counsel Zachary Woltz said in a July 13 brief.  

Russian Hackers Reach U.S. Utility Control Rooms, Homeland Security Officials Say

Wall Street Journal | Posted on July 26, 2018

Hackers working for Russia claimed “hundreds of victims” last year in a giant and long-running campaign that put them inside the control rooms of U.S. electric utilities where they could have caused blackouts, federal officials said. They said the campaign likely is continuing.

Indiana cancellation of efficiency program took heavy toll, study says

Energy News Network | Posted on July 26, 2018

A report released by an Indiana watchdog group confirms what many consumer and energy efficiency advocates had long feared: that the rollback of Indiana’s energy efficiency mandate in 2014 has had serious costs. An analysis commissioned by the Citizens Action Coalition found ratepayers and utilities have missed out on almost $150 million in savings that would have accrued between 2015 to 2019. It also concluded that the legislation meant to replace the canceled program has done little to fill the gap.

Mountaintop Mining Is Destroying More Land for Less Coal, Study Finds

Inside Climate News | Posted on July 26, 2018

Using satellite images, researchers tracked the scars spreading across Appalachia. They found 3 times more land being stripped per ton of coal than in the 1980s.

EPA to keep pursuing biofuel changes under new leadership: Wheeler

Reuters | Posted on July 26, 2018

 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s acting administrator said he would follow up the work of his predecessor to overhaul the nation’s biofuel policy, including pursuing changes strongly opposed by the powerful corn lobby like counting ethanol exports toward annual biofuels quotas. The biofuel industry had been hoping that Andrew Wheeler would drop some of former Administrator Scott Pruitt’s overhaul efforts, which were aimed at helping the oil industry, and instead prioritize the interests of farmers in the U.S. heartland to expand domestic markets for corn-based fuel.

Poet to develop new 80 MMgy ethanol plant in Indiana

Ethanol Producer | Posted on July 26, 2018

On July 23, Poet LLC received an approval from the Shelbyville, Indiana, planning commission that will allow it to proceed with the development of an 80 MMgy ethanol plant at a site approximately 5 miles northwest of the city.

How the oil industry learned to love Massachusetts v. EPA

E & E News | Posted on July 25, 2018

The oil industry will lose a powerful legal weapon if a more conservative Supreme Court reverses a landmark 2007 climate change decision. Retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy was the key vote in the 5-4 ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA, which gave EPA power to police greenhouse gas emissions and set the stage for Obama-era policies to limit climate change.The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and other conservative groups hope the Supreme Court might reconsider the case when Kennedy's replacement is on the bench. At least two conservative justices — Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas — have called for it to be overturned.But Massachusetts serves as the linchpin for a high court precedent embraced by oil companies as they fight climate lawsuits from cities and counties.In American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that corporations cannot be sued for greenhouse gas emissions because EPA regulates those through the Clean Air Act — power that came through Massachusetts.

gas companies for their role in spurring climate change

The Baltimore Sun | Posted on July 25, 2018

Baltimore’s top lawyer filed a lawsuit Friday against more than two dozen oil and gas companies that do business in the city, seeking to hold them financially responsible for their contributions to global climate change.City Solicitor Andre M. Davis said the city will argue that the companies violated state laws, including a consumer protection statute, by concealing and disputing links between fossil fuel emissions and climate change.

New York's Global Warming Suit Against Oil Companies Tossed

Bloomberg | Posted on July 25, 2018

A U.S. judge threw out New York’s lawsuit seeking to hold five of the world’s biggest oil companies financially responsible for contributing to climate change. U.S. District Judge John Keenan dismissed the city’s claims against Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and ConocoPhillips, ruling that the federal Clean Air Act controls carbon dioxide emissions and blocks suits such as New York’s. The problem of climate change is for Congress and the Executive Branch to address, he said.

EPA hasn’t told the whole story of the benefits of biofuels

The Hill | Posted on July 24, 2018

America’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has been in place for more than a decade, undeniably improving the nation’s energy security and environmental health by diversifying our energy choices. It also has boosted rural economies by expanding markets for agriculture — something that farmers need now more than ever. Growing America’s agricultural and energy production brings additional benefits for global food security. Too often, those benefits are overlooked or misunderstood. A recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report released to Congress on the environmental and resource conservation impacts of biofuel production deliberately misses the mark because of what it excludes. The EPA authors note that their report excludes any consideration of biofuels’ reductions of greenhouse gas emissions or the additional environmental benefits of displacing fossil fuels. How can that be excluded if the report is about environmental and resource conservation impacts of biofuels? In fact, those are major advantages of the biofuels industry and the primary measures of environmental success for the RFS. The EPA continues to recognize those same benefits in its other publications.