The Interior Department finalized a rule today designed to slash the volume of natural gas that's vented and flared each year into the atmosphere from roughly 100,000 wells on federal and tribal lands. The Methane and Waste Prevention Rule's goal is twofold: Reduce releases of methane, a greenhouse gas that's more than 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and ensure that taxpayers get a fair return on the use of federal lands by capturing flared gas that is not subjected to royalty payments. Interior says the new rule — which replaces 30-year-old regulations — is projected to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by as much as 35 percent.
Members of the Clean Jobs Coalition who have negotiated together for many months over a massive Illinois energy bill have broken ranks after the bill’s introduction Tuesday, with some still supporting the bill, some opposing it, some hoping for pieces to be spun off and others remaining silent. The schism within the coalition comes largely over the bill’s inclusion of demand charge rates — which are ardently opposed by solar developers and consumer groups — as well as over supports for coal plants that were introduced late in the game. Looming over the whole debate is also the subsidy for two nuclear plants pegged at up to $265 million a year. Renewable energy companies and environmental and community groups potentially have much to gain from the bill, as it “fixes” the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, significantly increases energy efficiency investments in northern Illinois and provides almost a billion dollars worth of programs for low-income consumers.
The U.S. Department of Energy has issued a so-called presidential permit giving federal approval for Minnesota Power's plan to bring electricity into Minnesota from northern Manitoba hydroelectric dams. The permit approves the cross-border aspects of the Great Northern Transmission Line, in the works since 2012, and Minnesota Power officials declared it the last major regulatory hurdle before construction can begin on the power line early next year.State regulators in February approved the route for the 500-kilovolt line. Electricity generated by a new dam in northern Manitoba will start moving to Minnesota Power customers in 2020.
Oil production in North Dakota continued its slide in September, dropping about 1 percent from the previous month at a rate state officials projected in their most recent forecast for the next biennium. September oil production was averaging 971,658 barrels per day, according to preliminary numbers from the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources. This was a drop of 10,353 barrels from the August figure of 982,011 barrels per day.
flight by Alaska Airlines on Monday marked the first commercial flight fueled at least in part with a new fuel from wood waste. The flight carried passengers from Seattle, Wash., to Reagan National Airport just outside of Washington, D.C. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was on hand to greet the passengers as a way to highlight the new biofuel, which came from wood waste off private lands in Montana, Oregon and Washington. The biofuel could potentially provide a sustainable bio-products industry in the Pacific Northwest utilizing wood harvest left-overs that would otherwise go to waste
A Rice University energy expert sees long-term growth for oil, gas and even coal—just not in the developed world. Speaking to the American Petroleum Institute’s Acadiana Chapter, Rice Center for Energy Studies Senior Director Kenneth B. Medlock III said energy growth may be most brisk over the next 20 years in the portions of the world that hunger for the quality of life enjoyed in developed countries like the United States, Canada and Japan.
The EPA has rejected a request by the oil industry and ruled in favor of renewable fuels. Oil refiners had petitioned the EPA to allow them to change the point of obligation, which means refiners would shift the responsibility for blending ethanol into gasoline to wholesalers and retailers. Tom Buis, with Growth Energy, said the agency rejected the request on Thursday, which is good news for ethanol, “Our goal has been to give consumers more choice at the pump with E-15. If the oil industry request had been approved, it would have made it harder to get E-15 at the pump.” The agency is set to release new blending requirements at the end of this month, and Buis is optimistic the agency will allow the highest blending levels allowed by law.
A group of young Americans suing the federal government to demand increased efforts on climate change won a notable battle, as a federal court rejected the government’s request to dismiss the case. The ruling paves the way for the 21 plaintiffs—who range in age from 9 to 20—to take their case to trial in federal court. A ruling in their favor could be a landmark decision on climate change, though it would almost certainly be appealed to a Supreme Court that is set to become more conservative in the wake of Donald Trump’s win.
Federal regulators made final a rule Thursday overhauling how wind and solar power companies lease public land. The rule from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) creates a competitive bidding process for the first time for renewable energy on federal land for oil, gas and coal companies use. It also gives incentives for companies to put their wind turbines or solar panels in areas that do not conflict with wildlife, among other changes. The rule is the first significant overhaul of wind and solar standards for federal land. Renewable energy was practically non-existent on federal land before 2009. The Obama administration sees the Thursday rule as a way to continue the industry’s growth.
A controversial solar-energy ballot initiative fell short of the 60 percent voter approval it needed Tuesday, concluding for now one of the most-expensive constitutional amendment campaigns in Florida history. Opponents who argued the amendment would hinder the development of alternative energy in Florida, celebrated the defeat of the measure, known as Amendment One, as most counties continued posting results. Powered by the utility money, Consumers for Smart Solar spent over 25 million dollars to get the measure on the ballot and to advertise and campaign for the amendment, which it said would protect consumers. But critics contended the measure could lead to "discriminatory charges" against rooftop solar users, as the ballot language said that people who haven't installed solar on their property "are not required to subsidize the costs of backup power and electric grid access to those who do."