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EPA nominee promises to stick to RFS

The Progressive Farmer | Posted on January 19, 2017

A Scott Pruitt-led U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would place an emphasis on following the letter of the law including the Renewable Fuel Standard and providing clarity on a federal definition of navigable waters, in what the nominee told a Senate committee Wednesday would be a return to cooperative federalism with the states. Though agriculture interests were alarmed by the total maximum daily load, or TMDL, implemented in the Chesapeake Bay by basin states and led by the Obama EPA, Pruitt told members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee the nutrients-reduction effort in the region is an example of how cooperative federalism should work. That is, states in the region put together and implemented a nutrients-reduction plan that has, in fact, reduced nutrients flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. At one point during the hearing Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., pressed Pruitt to agree climate change is caused by human activity. When asked by Democratic senators whether he agrees with President-elect Donald Trump's opinion that climate change is a hoax, Pruitt answered no. Pruitt questioned whether there is consensus on climate science, but Pruitt also said EPA has an important role regulating emissions. Pruitt's answer still wasn't enough for Sanders who declared he would not vote for Pruitt's confirmation. In his prepared statement to the committee, Pruitt said he would return the agency back to its core mission established by Congress.

A Life-Cycle Analysis of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Corn-Based Ethanol

USDA | Posted on January 17, 2017

To reflect the full range of recently published literature relating to the contribution of international landuse change to the current GHG profile of corn ethanol, ICF adopted a composite approach that averaged the results of three recently published studies (CARB, 2015; Dunn et al., 2015; and GTAP, 2013) and four scenarios developed from their results that allow for alternative sets of emissions factors and the increased use of double cropping (Babcock and Iqbal, 2014). These seven results are shown in Figure 3-4. Dunn et al. (2015) quantify two emissions related to international land-use change distinguished by the use of the Winrock and the Woods Hole emissions factors (EFs). ICF developed four scenarios from the results of the most recently published GTAP study (GTAP 2013) to account for the use of ARB EFs and Winrock EFs as well as increased double cropping (denoted “Adjusted” in Figure 3-4). Across these seven results, the average emissions impact is 8.61 g CO2e/MJ. This value converts to 9,082 g CO2e/MMBtu, which is the value ICF used as the contribution of international land-use change to corn ethanol’s current GHG profile

Wyoming Bill Would All But Outlaw Clean Energy by Preventing Utilities From Using It

Inside Climate News | Posted on January 17, 2017

While many U.S. states have mandates and incentives to get more of their electricity from renewable energy, Republican legislators in Wyoming are proposing to cut the state off from its most abundant, clean resource—wind—and ensuring its continued dependence on coal. A new measure submitted to the Wyoming legislature this week would forbid utilities from providing any electricity to the state that comes from large-scale wind or solar energy projects by 2019. It's an unprecedented attack on clean energy in Wyoming, and possibly the nation. And it comes at a time when such resources are becoming cheaper and increasingly in demand as the world seeks to transition to clean energy to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

Grid Modernization Created Over 100,000 American Jobs in 2016

Green Tech Media | Posted on January 17, 2017

Grid modernization investments are creating a construction boom across America -- largely driven by the deployment of solar. According to the Department of Energy's latest report on jobs in the energy sector, employment in the electric power sector rose 13 percent in 2016 as utilities and developers built new power plants, replaced aging equipment, and invested in new technologies to manage an increasingly complicated distribution grid.  There are now 860,869 people employed in the electric power sector, an increase of more than 101,000 jobs from 2015. Workers in the construction industry building solar, natural gas and wind power plants accounted for most of the increase, reported DOE. The coming year will likely bring a 7 percent bump in employment across power generation.

Bright spots and opportunities for solar in Wisconsin

Midwest Energy News | Posted on January 17, 2017

Wisconsin has stood out nationwide for state officials’ hostility toward solar and other renewable energy sources, as codified in decisions by the Public Service Commission as well as moves by Gov. Scott Walker and state legislators. But there are also numerous bright spots in Wisconsin’s clean energy landscape, including leadership by rural electric cooperatives in renewable development. 

Wisconsin's Public Service Commission also cut climate topics from site

Wisconsin Sentinel | Posted on January 17, 2017

In addition to the Department of Natural Resources, a second state agency has scrubbed information on global warming from its website. For years, the Public Service Commission featured material devoted to climate change, including strategies designed to reduce Wisconsin's reliance on coal. Then, sometime after May 1, the agency eliminated its global warming web page. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel discovered the change when reviewing archived web pages of the DNR and the PSC. The agencies are the most influential in state government on the subject of climate change because of their role in regulating coal-fired power plants. Coal emissions from power plants are the state’s largest sources of carbon emissions.

Report ranks Iowa as top state for corporate access to clean energy

Midwest Energy News | Posted on January 14, 2017

According to a new report, companies looking for easy access to renewable energy should consider moving to Iowa. That state, followed by Illinois, topped a ranking released by the nation’s retail and tech sectors urging state governments to lower barriers to the further development of renewable energy. Ohio came in 8th. The report, assembled by Clean Edge on behalf of the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the Information Technology Industry Council, comes just as state legislatures across the country are convening for their 2017 sessions. The report was quite clear about its intentions: to urge changes in state laws and regulations regarding renewable energy, and especially corporate access to it.

Maryland Governor Announces $7.5M To Create Green Energy Institute

Business Facilities | Posted on January 12, 2017

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s environmental agenda for the coming legislative session includes allocation of $7.5 million to the University of Maryland to create a green energy research center. The goal of the Green Energy Institute — a collaboration between the University of Maryland Energy Research Center (UMERC) at the A. James Clark School of Engineering and the Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC) — will be to develop and attract private investment and commercialize clean energy innovations and deployment solutions in Maryland.

New Report Shows the Effects of Ohio Resuming Its Renewable Energy Standards

Cleveland Scene | Posted on January 12, 2017

Ohio's renewable energy standards are again in play, following Gov. John Kasich's veto of a Statehouse-approved continuation of the freeze on those standards. And thanks to Kasich's decision, we can now get back to discussing what lies ahead for the state's energy production and, inevitably, business development. 
A new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory outlines, generally, how the benefits of renewable portfolio standards (RPS) outweigh the costs. Ohio is back on the list of 29 states that currently enforce an RPS, and, even if standards remain the same from this point on, the U.S. will use renewable energy sources for 26 percent of electricity generation by 2030 and 40 percent by 2050. If more states join the RPS trend — and if standards strengthen — the ratio becomes bolder.
In Ohio, after two years of the RPS being "frozen," 2017 will show us how state law impacts energy production and consumption.

640 companies to Trump: Don't disrupt clean energy progress

Mashable | Posted on January 12, 2017

A total of 640 businesses and investors sent a letter to President-elect Trump and Congress on Tuesday, strongly urging continued investment in the clean energy sector. The letter, coordinated by the nonprofit group Ceres, which works with investors and companies to promote sustainability, contains big tech names like Adobe, SalesForce, eBay, HP, SolarCity, Symantec and Tesla.