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.
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.
North Dakota's Public Service Commission has approved a proposed $153 million wind farm and associated electric transmission line in Oliver and Morton counties.
Officials with Exelon have notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of plans to close the Clinton Nuclear Plant in 2017, marking the first of several procedural notifications Exelon will make in the coming months to inform regulators, grid operators and state agencies of the plant's retirement. The notification is required by federal law. The planned closure of the Quad Cities plant in 2018 also was formally documented with the NRC. Decisions on capital improvements and planning for an outage to refuel the Clinton plant in 2017 are being weighed in light of the pending closure. The decision to retire the plant could be reversed if a compromise is reached in Springfield on energy legislation, but with lawmakers mainly focused on budget issues, the future of nuclear power has not been a priority in legislative talks.
A federal judge has struck down the Obama administration's rules for hydraulic fracturing on public lands, a victory for oil and gas producers and state regulators who opposed the rules as an egregious overreach. The ruling, which the White House vowed to appeal, halts the administration's efforts to address what it sees as safety concerns in the industry and reverses what producers had seen as a first step toward full federal regulation of all fracking activity. The U.S. Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lacked Congressional authority to set fracking regulations for federal and Indian lands, U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl in Wyoming ruled. BLM's rules, issued in their final form in March 2015, would have required companies to provide data on chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing and to take steps to prevent leakage from oil and gas wells on federally owned land.
A state Senate committee approved new restrictions on North Carolina wind farms near military bases and low-level flight corridors. The measure, which needs approval by the full Senate and House, would allow the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to recommend whether permits for wind farms should be allowed or denied, based on the farms’ expected impact on military bases.
A Raleigh judge dismissed a legal challenge Wednesday to the Amazon Wind Farm, clearing the way for the largest wind farm in the Southeast to continue with construction along the North Carolina coast. The 104-turbine wind farm is a private energy project commissioned by Amazon to power the online retailing giant’s data centers in Virginia. The $400-million wind farm spans an area of 34 square miles and is being built by Spanish developer Iberdrola Renewables.
The worst oil bust since the 1980s is putting Texas and other oil producing states on the hook for thousands of newly abandoned drilling sites at a time when they have little money to plug wells and seal off environmental hazards. As U.S. rig counts plunge to historic lows, and with at least 60 oil producers declaring bankruptcy since 2014, energy-producing states are confronting both holes in their budgets and potentially leaking ones in the ground. In Texas alone, the roughly $165 million price tag of plugging nearly 10,000 abandoned wells is double the entire budget of the agency that regulates the industry.
The appropriations bill, as written, would exempt the military from Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which prohibits federal agencies from making bulk purchases of synthetic fuels with a larger greenhouse gas footprint than traditional petroleum. However, especially in the advanced biofuels industry, the military's use of biofuels has been a long standing source of encouragement for new technologies. These technologies, says NFU, that are held out of transportation fuel markets by the exploitative practices of Big Oil. Johnson concluded, “Section 526 is an important aspect of the Energy Independence and Security Act, one that has tremendous implications for family farmers’ ability to protect food security in a changing climate. I encourage lawmakers to carefully weigh the benefits of biofuels as they consider this provision.”
New York has an ambitious goal of getting 50 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2030. To get there, the state will need to expand grid infrastructure to deliver renewable power from rural areas to load centers. But the state won't always have to build new infrastructure -- it can do more with what it has. The New York Power Authority and New York State Electric & Gas have just finished the first project that shows what is possible using existing infrastructure. NYPA completed a $120 million transmission upgrade, called the Marcy South Series Compensation Project, that will move up to 440 megawatts of additional capacity from upstate, where there are abundant wind and hydro resources, to downstate cities.