In November, the Keystone Pipeline spilled hundreds of thousands of barrels of highly-polluting tar sands oil, leaving a visible stain across a swath of South Dakota farmland. It came at an inopportune time: four days before a Nebraska commission was set to vote to approve an extension of that pipeline, the Keystone XL, which would move 830,000 extra barrels of oil per day through the Midwest to refineries in Texas and Illinois. The pipeline operator, TransCanada, won approval for the Keystone XL over the concerns of local Native American tribes, landowners, and environmental groups, in part because the three-person commission approving the extension was not allowed to consider the spill in its deliberations due to the Major Oil Pipeline Siting Act, passed in 2011, which prevents “safety considerations, including the risk or impact of spills or leaks” to be included when approving or denying route permits for new pipelines.
A new study finds rising production costs, not cheap natural gas, was the lead factor that drove thousands of coal mines across Appalachia to close. The analysis, published last week by the nonpartisan, environmental think tank, Resources for the Future, scrutinized the impact that natural gas prices, stagnant electricity demand and rising costs had on the ability of coal mines to stay in business. The researchers created a model that allowed them to study different factors that affected the profitability of coal mines using public data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Energy Information Administration and information reported by public coal companies in their annual reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
A divided Lacon City Council tentatively agreed Monday night.to lease 20 acres of city-owned farmland for 35 years to a solar energy developer that has never addressed or met with the council. The panel voted 3-2, with one abstaining, to move forward toward finalizing an agreement with Minnesota-based Solar Energy Ventures in a contract expected to come up for a final vote next month.The company would pay the city $1,300 an acre per year for the 2 megawatt installation, for a total of about $1.3 million over the life of the contract, said Acting Mayor John Wabel,
Work continues on a Champaign County zoning ordinance by the Zoning Board of Appeals that would regulate solar farms. A rural Ludlow Township site is one of two that a Washington, D.C-based company hopes to turn into a community solar farm. The zoning board will determine such things as the adequate separation of the solar farm from neighboring dwellings; a road use agreement for construction, (“Although with one of these small farms, that can be waived if the highway commissioner is not necessary,” Hall said); and the noise level, something that Hall said shouldn’t be a problem with this development.
Hawaii's state capital has nearly three times as much solar PV per capita as the next leading city, San Diego, California.
An agency that leads sustainable energy efforts for cities and counties along the state’s Redwood Coast chose a consortium of companies -- including Energias de Portugal SA’s EDPR Offshore North America LLC and Principle Power Inc. -- to build a floating wind farm that may generate as much as 150 megawatts of power.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry is considering a request from utility First Energy for an emergency order to save nuclear and coal power plants in the regions where it operates. The Energy Department confirmed the request by the utility company for an emergency must-run order under section 202 of the Federal Power Act, which gives Perry the authority to direct the "temporary" continued use of power plants in circumstances that include war, energy shortages or sudden surges in demand.
A federal judge dismissed Exxon Mobil Corp.’s attempt to stop the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts from investigating its alleged fraud regarding what company officials knew about climate change and when. The country’s largest oil company argued that probes by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) violated its free speech rights and were improperly motivated by political bias, among other claims.Exxon wanted Judge Valerie Caproni in the District Court for the Southern District of New York to stop the attorneys general from issuing subpoenas or other demands for records or dispositions.But in a big loss for Exxon, Caproni, whom former President Obama nominated to the bench, said the company’s allegations were “implausible,” and dismissed its case.
Ethanol and oil are fighting over market share today, as the highway of tomorrow looks very different. “You're going to be looking at maybe less liquid fuel being used than we are today, whether it's electric vehicles coming on or fuel efficiency getting better, cars with better gas mileage,” said Troy Bredenkamp, Executive Director of Renewable Fuels Nebraska. Oil state senators like Ted Cruz say the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is broken, and he has said jobs at oil refineries are at stake.“These are blue–collar, working–class jobs, the kind that are the backbone of our economy, the kind that keep refineries going,” Cruz said in a speech on the Senate floor.But corn growers fear one proposed solution would immediately cut ethanol consumption by a billion gallons a year.“That would literally destroy the Midwest,” said Jan tenBensel, chair of the Nebraska Ethanol Board.
The Renewable Fuels Association strongly opposes the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed settlement agreement with Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) that would allow the bankrupt refiner to unjustifiably waive the vast majority of its Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs), it said in comments filed today with the U.S. Department of Justice. The proposed PES settlement agreement, which covers the refiner’s RVOs for January 2016-April 2018, should be rejected “because the terms are patently unfair, unreasonable, and inconsistent with the purposes of the RFS program,” RFA wrote. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Delaware has to approve PES’ proposed settlement agreement on April 4. As numerous independent reporters have concluded, the true causes of PES’ financial woes are: rerouting of lower-cost domestic crude oil supplies to Gulf coast refineries, antiquated technology, mismanagement, and lifting of the crude oil export ban.As RFA noted, “By allowing PES to retire only 138 million RINs for its pre-effective date obligation of more than 500 RINs, DOJ and EPA have effectively waived approximately three-quarters of PES’s RVOs for this period….Exacerbating its noncompliance, PES reportedly had been also selling roughly 40 million RINs in the fall of 2017, even as the March 2018 RVO compliance deadline approached. This is a classic case of a regulated entity being allowed to have its cake and sell it, too—while PES seeks to escape from its financial responsibilities under the RFS program, it embraces that same program for the limited purpose of profiting from it,” RFA added.