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Energy News

Trump takes first step toward scrapping Obama's global warming policy

Minnesota Star Tribune | Posted on October 5, 2017

The Trump administration will repeal the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s effort to fight climate change, and will ask the public to recommend ways it could be replaced, according to an internal Environmental Protection Agency document. The draft proposal represents the administration’s first substantive step toward rolling back the plan, which was designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector, after months of presidential tweets and condemnations of Obama’s efforts to reduce climate-warming pollution.

Maryland Suing EPA on Power Plant Pollution in Other States

Insurance Journal | Posted on October 5, 2017

Maryland is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to act on a petition requiring power plants in five upwind states to reduce pollution, the state’s attorney general and an official in Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration said. The Hogan administration says 70 percent of Maryland’s ozone problem originates in upwind states.

Court nixes Trump admin's 'unlawful' delay of Methane BLM rule

E & E News | Posted on October 5, 2017

The Trump administration acted unlawfully when it froze Obama-era restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas industry, a federal court ruled.  According to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the Interior Department misused a provision of the Administrative Procedure Act when it stalled key provisions of a rule aimed at reducing methane venting and flaring on public and tribal lands.Just today, BLM unveiled a separate proposal to delay the standards until January 2019. However, the district court's order means that the rule will take effect now.The court's decision revives the standards, meaning any oil and gas companies not already in compliance will have to scramble to catch up.Secretary Ryan Zinke sidelined key provisions of the 2016 Bureau of Land Management regulation in June, indefinitely delaying deadlines for measuring flared gas, upgrading equipment and controlling leaks.Zinke's move followed a failed effort to kill the rule via the Congressional Review Act. Separately, the agency has launched a formal process to roll back the measure.According to the district court, BLM's approach to freezing parts of the rule violates federal law. The agency relied on APA Section 705, which allows for postponing the effective date of regulations that are facing litigation. But the BLM methane rule took effect in January, with various compliance deadlines spaced out over time.

Growth of green energy sector surges in Minnesota

Minnesota Star Tribune | Posted on October 5, 2017

Minnesota's fast-growing clean-energy economy, rooted in wind, solar, conservation, technology and even software, is a change for a state that historically imported its energy.

Rick Perry manages to unite oil, gas, wind and solar — against him

The Washington Post | Posted on October 4, 2017

On Monday, a coalition of 11 energy lobbying groups asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to delay issuing and enforcing a new rule issued by the Energy Department. Energy Secretary Perry had asked for FERC to streamline the rulemaking process but the groups want time to weigh in during the traditional comment period. The coalition attracted some strange bedfellows, including renewable-energy lobbyists such as the American Wind Energy Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association and oil and gas heavyweights such as the Natural Gas Supply Association and the American Petroleum Institute.  “This is the first time we've filed a motion in conjunction with API,” said Gil Jenkins, a spokesman for the American Council on Renewable Energy, one of the groups in the coalition.“So, it's unprecedented,” Jenkins added. “Just as this very action taken by DOE.”Here's the backrgound. On Friday, Perry, issued a sweeping proposal to redefine how coal and nuclear power plants are compensated for the electricity they provide to the power grid.In a letter and proposed regulation, Perry asked FERC to consider issuing new rules to ensure that nuclear and coal-fired plants are compensated not only for the electricity they provide to homes and businesses, but for the reliability they add to the grid.

Minnesota once again leads the Midwest in annual energy efficiency ranking

Midwest Energy News | Posted on October 2, 2017

Minnesota is the only Midwest state ranked in the top 10 of the annual American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. The state’s ninth place standing, announced this week, topped Michigan and Illinois (tied for 11th); Iowa (19th); Wisconsin (24th); Ohio (31st) and Indiana (40th). South Dakota and North Dakota rounded out the bottom.Last year Minnesota ranked 10th on the scorecard and was, once again, the only Midwest state to make the Top 10.

EPA Pressed on RFS Changes

DTN | Posted on October 2, 2017

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering a major change to the Renewable Fuel Standard that could include offering biofuel credits attached to gallons of ethanol exported from the United States. Already this week, the U.S. biofuels industry took a punch to the gut when the EPA announced it was considering more cuts in some biofuel volumes in addition to cuts already proposed in the Renewable Fuel Standard.Now, another media outlet, citing anonymous sources, reported the agency is considering a proposal from Valero Energy to leave renewable identification numbers, or RINs, attached to U.S. ethanol gallons produced in the United States and exported. Currently, RINs are removed from exported gallons.Valero said in Aug. 31 public comments to EPA on the RFS that keeping RINs attached to exports would help ease pressure on the RINs market.When contacted by DTN an EPA spokesman said, "EPA is currently seeking input from all stakeholders involved. Nothing has been finalized at this time."

The future of wind turbines could be bladeless

CNBC | Posted on October 2, 2017

The design of Vortex's generators offers a potentially revolutionary shift from today's traditional designs, blades and all. One key facet of the Vortex design is that it uses less material than conventional turbines, meaning less maintenance as well as less noise. Vortex is not the only business looking to develop new ideas and technology in the field of wind energy. Kite Power Systems, for example, is a U.K.-based business that wants to use kites to harness wind energy. Earlier this year, CNBC spoke to researchers in the U.S. looking to develop vast wind turbines taller than the Eiffel Tower.According to Vortex co-founder David Suriol, the business is targeting the residential market. "My vision, and I think it's the vision of the team, is to change the landscape," he said.Looking at the bigger picture, the executive director of RenewableUK predicted a bright future when it came to both renewables in general and wind.

Feds move forward on asking states to track car emissions

Chicago Tribune | Posted on October 2, 2017

Federal officials moved forward with requirements that states track vehicle emissions on federal highways after months of delays that prompted California and seven other states to sue. But they might repeal the new rules next year anyway, rendering this week's decision moot. The rules require state transportation departments to track on-road emissions of greenhouse gas emissions by looking at gas purchased and miles traveled on federal highways. States must then set emissions targets, with the goal of reducing them over time. Emissions from cars, trucks and other vehicles make up roughly 27 percent of the nation's total greenhouse emissions.In the short term, the rules will move forward. But federal officials will also undertake a fresh review of whether they're necessary or could be made better.

Maryland sues EPA to get 36 coal-fired plants to increase pollution controls

Utility Dive | Posted on September 28, 2017

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced yesterday that his state will sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over its decision not to require 36 coal-fired power plant units in five upwind states to run their existing air pollution controls more frequently. In July, Maryland officials indicated they were considering a lawsuit, after the EPA rejected a request to broaden the roster of states in the region responsible for helping address cross-state pollution. EPA allowed itself a six-month extension to act on the petition, which expired in mid July. Maryland estimates that, on some days, up to 70% of its ozone problem originates from emissions in upwind states.