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Energy News

Study shows California thriving with clean technology

Sacremento Business Journal | Posted on June 30, 2016

California is getting cleaner while also growing its economy dramatically, according to findings in a new study.  The eighth annual California Green Innovation Index shows the state has grown its economy, as measured by gross domestic product, while being less carbon intensive.

Senators urge 'strong' RFS for 2017

Agri-Pulse | Posted on June 30, 2016

A bipartisan group of 39 senators is calling on the EPA to produce a strong Renewable Fuel Standard when it releases its final rule setting 2017 blending requirements for ethanol and other biofuels later this year. In a letter to EPA chief Gina McCarthy, the senators, led by Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, said the final rule should support U.S. jobs, reduce the environmental impact on the transportation and energy sectors and reduce dependence on foreign oil. The lawmakers said that when Congress adopted the RFS in 2005, and expanded it in 2007, “it intended to put in place a stable, forward-looking policy to drive innovation and investments in biorefining capacity and distribution infrastructure to bring biofuels to American consumers.”  The policy has spurred the growth of the renewable industry and the development of new types of biofuels, they said. However, the senators said EPA has undermined those gains in recent years by relying on concerns that the distribution infrastructure needed to transport renewable fuels is lacking. As a result, “biofuel investment has fallen and projects are moving overseas,” the senators wrote. The oil industry uses the distribution infrastructure argument in opposition to higher blending levels, but biofuels producers disagree. 

Court rejects greens’ challenges to natural gas exports

The Hill | Posted on June 29, 2016

A federal appeals court rejected environmentalists’ challenges to two liquefied natural gas export projects.  The Sierra Club and its allies faulted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) decisions to approve projects in Texas and Louisiana. They said FERC’s environmental reviews failed to account for the impacts of increased natural gas drilling and the cumulative impacts of multiple natural gas export facilities. But the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit disagreed, saying FERC’s environmental reviews didn’t have to account for those factors. “The commission’s NEPA analysis did not have to address the indirect effects of the anticipated export of natural gas,” the court wrote regarding the Freeport LNG project in Texas. “That is because the Department of Energy, not the commission, has sole authority to license the export of any natural gas going through the Freeport facilities.”  It used similar reasoning in the case regarding the Sabine Pass facility in Louisiana. The court’s argument stems from the fact that while FERC is responsible for approving the facilities themselves, the Energy Department has the separate task of considering applications to export natural gas. Therefore, any impacts from exports, like increased gas drilling and increased pollution, are the department's responsibility.

TransCanada formally seeks NAFTA damages in Keystone XL rejection

Reuters | Posted on June 28, 2016

TransCanada Corp is formally requesting arbitration over U.S. President Barack Obama's rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, seeking $15 billion in damages.  TransCanada submitted a notice for an arbitration claim in January and had then tried to negotiate with the U.S. government to "reach an amicable settlement," the company said in files posted on the pipeline's website.

Rhode Island: Renewable energy gets a boost in Assembly session

Providence Journal | Posted on June 28, 2016

 As the General Assembly session wound down this month, the discussion around state energy issues focused on two controversial proposals.  The first — legislation aimed at blocking a plan for a large fossil fuel-burning power plant in Burrillville — was killed by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, but only after it won broad support in the House of Representatives.  The second — a provision inserted into the House budget bill that would have shifted some interconnection costs for renewable energy projects from private developers to electric ratepayers — was removed after a group of legislators alleged that it was aimed only at benefiting one politically connected wind power company.

Washington Governor Asks Union Pacific To Halt Oil Trains

Oregon Public Broadcasting | Posted on June 28, 2016

ov. Jay Inslee asked the Union Pacific Railroad on Friday to halt oil train shipments through Washington until the company does more walking inspections of its railroad track. Inslee joins Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who has repeatedly called for a moratorium on oil train traffic.

State will appeal ruling against Minnesota's clean energy law

Star Tribune | Posted on June 28, 2016

Minnesota will appeal a federal appellate court’s decision last week that Minnesota’s 2007 clean energy law illegally regulates out-of-state utilities.  Gov. Mark Dayton announced the appeal of a decision by a three-judge panel of the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The state is asking for a “rehearing.” Usually, that would entail an “en banc” review by the entire Eighth Circuit bench, which has more than 12 judges. Such court petitions aren’t easy to get accepted. In a win for North Dakota, the three-judge Eighth Circuit panel upheld a lower-court ruling that Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act interfered with federal law. The state law takes aim at coal, restricting electricity from power plants that increase greenhouse gases. However, North Dakota claimed the law hampered its ability to sell coal-based electricity into Minnesota and therefore to build new coal power plants.

Oakland council votes to block coal-shipping plan

SFGate | Posted on June 28, 2016

The Oakland City Council voted unanimously Monday to block the handling and storage of coal in Oakland, effectively halting a developer’s controversial plan to ship coal from the port. The new ordinance, which requires a second vote to be made final, would thwart Oakland developer Phil Tagami’s plan to export coal from a terminal near the east end of the Bay Bridge. It’s become the focus of a heated political debate, infuriating environmentalists and labor leaders but garnering support from some West Oakland residents who say it would create vital jobs.

Obama's New Clean Energy Goal For North America: 50 Percent By 2025

NPR | Posted on June 28, 2016

President Obama and his counterparts from Canada and Mexico are preparing to unveil an ambitious new goal for generating carbon-free power when they meet this week in Ottawa.  The three leaders are expected to set a target for North America to get 50 percent of its electricity from nonpolluting sources by 2025. That's up from about 37 percent last year.  Aides acknowledge that's a "stretch goal," requiring commitments over and above what the three countries agreed to as part of the Paris climate agreement.

Crude Oil Prices and US Crop Exports

Iowa State CARD | Posted on June 27, 2016

As the biofuel industry has developed, there has been a lot of discussion about the linkages between the energy and agricultural markets. The growth of the ethanol and biodiesel sectors bolstered the connection among the oil, gas, and crop markets. As crop-based biofuels compete in the energy market, crop prices are directly impacted not only by the relative standing of biofuels in the fuel hierarchy, but also by general shifts in energy supplies and demands. However, there is another distinct way energy markets can impact crop markets—many US international trade partners are reliant on the energy sector as a major source of income. Thus, energy market swings can translate into significant income movements for those countries, influencing their ability to purchase US agricultural products. In this article, we examine the robustness of treating a key energy commodity—crude oil—as an indicator for income for those oil-reliant countries and investigate how that affects their demand for US crop exports.