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In North Carolina, bill to raise electric vehicle registration fees stalls

Energy News Network | Posted on May 8, 2019

Meanwhile, a bill that would fine drivers for blocking charging stations advances in the House. Some North Carolina state lawmakers want to fine drivers of gasoline-powered cars for blocking charging plugs for electric vehicles. Others want to hike annual registration fees for plug-in cars to become the highest in the country.“On one side, you’ve got something good for [electric vehicles], on the other — really just the worst,” said freshman Sen. Wiley Nickel, a Democrat from Cary, who authored a bill (S511) to outlaw blocking charging stations and has fought against raising electric vehicle fees.

Trump to Ease Drilling Rules Sparked by 2010 Gulf Oil Spill

Bloomberg | Posted on May 8, 2019

The Trump administration is poised to relax offshore drilling requirements imposed in response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 people in 2010 and unleashed the worst oil spill in U.S. history. The Interior Department will unveil its final plan Thursday to ease some of the mandates, following industry complaints they are unwieldy and expensive, said two people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named before a formal announcement. The White House Office of Management and Budget said it had completed a review of the drafted regulation on Monday, clearing it for a final release.

Pipeline Protesters Could Face 10 Years in Prison Under Bill OK’d by Texas House

Texas Observer | Posted on May 7, 2019

Two industry-backed bills in the Texas Legislature would charge environmental activists who allegedly engage in civil disobedience at oil and gas sites with a felony.

EPA has received DOE input for 2018 small refinery waivers

Reuters | Posted on May 2, 2019

The Department of Energy has given the Environmental Protection Agency its scoring results for the 40 outstanding 2018 applications made by small refineries for waivers from U.S. biofuel laws. The recommendations from the Energy Department are a crucial step in the EPA’s process for weighing the exemption requests, which can save refineries millions of dollars in regulatory costs and have become the center of a bitter dispute between the rival oil and corn industries. The U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is designed to help American farmers by requiring oil refiners to blend certain volumes of biofuels into their fuel each year or purchase credits from those that do. But small refineries with a production capacity of 75,000 barrels per day or less can secure waivers if they prove that compliance would cause them financial harm. Under President Donald Trump, the EPA has vastly expanded the number of waivers granted to refineries, angering Midwest farmers and their legislative backers who say the policy destroys demand for corn-based ethanol and other biofuels at a time they are already struggling.For 2017, the EPA granted 35 exemptions to small refineries, without denying any applications, up from seven exemptions issued in the last year of the Obama administration

EIA: Renewables to top coal generation for first time in April/May By Robert Walton

Utility Dive | Posted on May 1, 2019

Data in the U.S. Energy Information Administration's latest Short Term Energy Outlook forecasts renewable energy resources, including hydroelectricity, will generate more electricity in April and May than coal-fired plants. According to the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis, this would be the first time renewable generation has surpassed coal. While there are seasonal factors at play, the group said it represents "signs of a tipping point" in the country's generation mix.According to the EIA, all renewables will produce 18% of U.S. electricity in 2019, and almost 20% in 2020. The agency also forecasts that wind generation will surpass hydro "to become the leading source of renewable electricity in both years."

Hawaii Moves Closer to Its Goal of Carbon Neutrality

Forbes | Posted on May 1, 2019

In March 2019, just two months after utility Hawaii Electric (HECO) submitted seven large solar plus battery storage projects for review, the Hawaiian Public Utilities Commission (HPUC) approved six projects priced at $0.10/kWh or lower, making it the largest and lowest cost portfolio of renewables developed at one time in the state. The projects will contribute 247 MW of solar energy and 998 MWh of energy storage. The entire capacity of all six projects will be in 4-hour duration batteries. Unlike projects in most US states, the bulk of solar projects deployed in Hawaii are rooftop solar, not utility-scale. These projects will greatly increase the capacity of utility-scale solar on the archipelago, more than tripling the current output and moving the island closer to its goal of carbon neutrality by 2045.

EPA stalls biofuel waiver transparency plan after White House blowback: sources

Reuters | Posted on May 1, 2019

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has suspended work on its plan to publish the names of refineries securing exemptions from federal biofuels law after receiving blowback from the White House and parts of the oil industry, according to four sources familiar with the matter.

America's renewable energy set to surpass coal for the first month ever

CNN | Posted on May 1, 2019

America's clean energy revolution is on the verge of a tipping point.The renewable energy sector is projected to generate more electricity than coal during the month of April, according to a recent report published by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. That's never happened before.Coal, long the king of the power sector, has already been dethroned by natural gas, a much cleaner burning fossil fuel. Now, coal is facing intensifying pressure from wind and solar power."Five years ago this never would have been close to happening," Dennis Wamstead, research analyst at IEEFA, said in an interview. "The transition that's going on in the electric sector in the United States has been phenomenal."

Oil and renewable industries locked in tug of war over Trump's ethanol plan

Washington Examiner | Posted on May 1, 2019

The deadline for comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed plan to allow year-round sales of 15% ethanol fuel closes at midnight, but neither side in the fight — that is, the oil and renewable fuel industries — wants the plan to move ahead as drafted. E15 fuel is restricted for use during the summer months because of its high vapor pressure, which can exacerbate smog levels. But the summer months are the largest season for fuel sales, and a prime opportunity for corn farmers to sell more of their product into the gasoline supply.

Pennsylvania commits to Paris Agreement climate goals; state’s plan calls for 80 percent carbon cuts by 2050

NPR | Posted on May 1, 2019

Pennsylvania joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bi-partisan group of two dozen states committed to goals outlined in the 2015 U.N. Paris Climate Agreement. Gov. Tom Wolf announced the move at an event in Harrisburg while releasing the state’s latest Climate Action Plan, which includes 100 ways to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050. The cuts are based on 2005 emissions levels. The Paris Agreement committed countries to reduce carbon emissions in order to prevent global average temperatures from rising beyond 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. President Trump has said he will withdraw the U.S. from the accord.“In the absence of leadership from the federal government and the wholesale dismantling of national climate and environmental policies,” Wolf said, “I am proud to join with states that are leading the way toward new climate solutions.”Pennsylvania becomes the 24th state to join the bipartisan group.