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Iowa Legislature Considers Sunshine Tax on Local Private Solar Power Systems

KIOW | Posted on March 25, 2019

Iowa’s largest investor-owned utility wants to make local owners of private solar power systems pay more for generating their own electricity, while opponents warn that could cause Iowa to lose its standing as a leader in promoting renewables. House Study Bill 185 would add a yearly “sunshine tax” on private solar generators, a move MidAmerican Energy says creates more fairness for all customers who use its electric grid. But Lee Tesdell, who has solar installed at his farm, says if the bill passes, the potential savings from solar would be greatly reduced, discouraging Iowans from using it.

Missouri approves wind energy transmission line. Landowners vow to fight back.

The Kansas City Star | Posted on March 25, 2019

After years of rejection, court battles and delays, a four-state transmission line that would connect western Kansas wind farms to the eastern power grid gained approval from the Missouri state agency that regulates public utilities. With the Grain Belt Express projected to cross properties of 570 Missouri landowners, the Missouri Landowners Alliance and Eastern Missouri Landowners Alliance said they plan to appeal the Public Service Commission’s order to the Missouri Court of Appeals, according to the opposition’s attorney Paul Agathen.Though far from the last step, Wednesday’s unanimous vote by the five PSC commissioners in favor of granting the Grain Belt Express a certificate of conveniency and need -- giving it the ability to acquire property through eminent domain -- is the furthest the project has come in its quest to stretch a transmission line more than 200 miles through eight northern Missouri counties.

Starving whale killed by swallowing 40kg plastic, activists say

The Telegraph | Posted on March 25, 2019

A starving whale with 40 kilos (88 pounds) of plastic trash in its stomach has died after being washed ashore in the Philippines, activists said Monday, calling it one of the worst cases of poisoning they have seen. Environmental groups have tagged the Philippines as one of the world's biggest ocean polluters due to its reliance on single-use plastic.That sort of pollution, which is also widespread in other southeast Asian nations, regularly kills wildlife like whales and turtles that ingest the waste.

Virginia Governor approves law requiring Dominion to excavate all coal ash

Utility Dive | Posted on March 25, 2019

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, D, on Wednesday signed into law a bipartisan bill that would require Dominion Energy to excavate all the coal ash at their coal plants in the state, over 27 million cubic yards. The bill, first introduced in January, will also require that at least a quarter of the waste be recycled. The remaining ash would have to be moved into fully lined basins to prevent further groundwater contamination. Dominion Energy had originally indicated its preference for a "cap in place" closure, the favored method of most utilities, but an analysis released by Dominion in November found that it would be more cost effective to recycle a portion of the ash and sell it to interested bidders than initially reported.

About 2.6 Billion Gallons of Biofuels Now Exempted From RFS Requirements

DTN | Posted on March 21, 2019

The EPA granted five additional 2017 small-refinery exemptions (SREs) to the Renewable Fuel Standard on Thursday, raising the agency total for that year to 34, according to an update posted to EPA's online dashboard. The dashboard also indicates it has two more waiver requests pending for that year. Ethanol industry interests, farmers and federal lawmakers were hopeful the agency would change the way it considered waivers under new Administrator Andrew Wheeler. The 2017 waiver requests were made during former Administrator Scott Pruitt's tenure.Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, said during a news conference that the agency's latest actions would serve as a "bellwether" for how the EPA would handle waiver requests going forward and Thursday's decision would be an "important indication" of where Wheeler stands.

Oregon House approves 10-year ban on ‘fracking’

AP News | Posted on March 20, 2019

The Oregon House approved a 10-year ban on fracking to explore for oil and natural gas. Lawmakers voted 42-12 on Monday to prohibit the process, which injects high-pressure liquids into underground rock to extract oil and gas. The measure now goes to the Senate for consideration.There are currently no fracking operations in Oregon. But developers say there’s potential for coalbed methane extraction in the Willamette Valley, which this bill would also block.

Farm, biofuels groups upset by more refinery waivers on Ag Day

The Fence Post | Posted on March 20, 2019

Corn and biofuels groups are upset that the Environmental Protection Agency chose March 14, which was National Agriculture Day, to grant five additional Renewable Fuel Standard Small Refinery Exemptions for the 2017 compliance year, waiving 366 million gallons of biofuels from RFS compliance. "EPA's decision today brings the total waivers from 2016 and 2017 RFS obligations to 53, amounting to 2.61 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons. In years prior to 2016, SREs totaled less than 300 million gallons per year," the National Corn Growers Association said."This action continues to chip away at the RFS and corn demand, hurting America's corn farmers.NCGA has called for EPA to account for these lost volumes and disclose which refineries receive these waivers and why the waivers are justified.

Solar Jobs By State 2018

The Solar Foundation | Posted on March 20, 2019

The National Solar Jobs 2018 tracks solar employment nationwide and state by state. Below is complete information on solar jobs for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico in 2018.

Small Refinery Exemptions and Biomass-Based Diesel Demand Destruction

Farm Doc Daily | Posted on March 18, 2019

The market impact of small refinery exemptions (SREs) granted under the RFS remains a highly contentious issue.  From a regulatory standpoint, there is no doubt that SREs opened a backdoor mechanism for the EPA to reduce the statutorily-mandated RFS volumes. However, there is sharp disagreement about the impact of SREs on the physical consumption of biofuels, particularly for ethanol.  The ethanol industry has argued vociferously that there has been substantial destruction of demand in the physical ethanol market due to the SREs.  However, a series of farmdoc daily articles in recent months showed that the physical use of ethanol declined little if any due to SREs.  This is not really all that surprising because ethanol prices generally have been low relative to gasoline, which means that ethanol is a price competitive component in E10 gasoline blends and the RFS conventional ethanol mandate is non-binding (up to the E10 blend wall).  The situation is much different for biomass-based diesel (BBD), because BBD prices are substantially higher than diesel prices, and consequently, the BBD mandate is highly binding.  In this case, the demand for biomass-based diesel in the physical market should be reduced by SREs.  The purpose of this article is to investigate the magnitude of BBD demand destruction in the physical market due to SREs.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam vetoes attempts to pull state from regional carbon-cutting initiatives

Energy News Network | Posted on March 18, 2019

By issuing a pair of vetoes Thursday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam sent a message to the Legislature and beyond that he is intent on sticking with an aggressive carbon-cutting agenda.One bill he struck down, HB 2611, would have prohibited Virginia from entering a regional program to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from power plants unless authorized by two-thirds of the General Assembly.The other, HB 2269, would have prevented the state from joining a separate regional compact designed to slice emissions from vehicles and other transportation sources unless approved by two-thirds of the General Assembly.