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News roundup: Maryland wind wins reprieve, Wyden brings extenders back to the table, White House takes on 111(d)

News roundup: Maryland wind wins reprieve, Wyden brings extenders back to the table, White House takes on 111(d)

The weekend was a busy one, with news out of Maryland that Governor O’Malley vetoed a wind moratorium bill, rumors from Senate Finance that extenders legislation could be making a second round this week, and the Obama administration’s push for new rules for power plant carbon emissions.

In what is viewed as a victory for Maryland clean energy, Governor Martin O’Malley vetoed a bill Friday that would have likely struck down the possibility of a proposed wind farm in Somerset County. Washington Post:

  • Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) on Friday vetoed a bill that would have delayed — and likely derailed — a proposed wind farm in Somerset County, saying the legislation would send “a chilling message” to the clean-energy industry if it became law.
  • Proponents of the wind farm project had urged O’Malley to overturn the legislation, arguing that it could scare away wind developers… O’Malley, who has used his veto power sparingly,… said in a letter to legislative leaders that the project’s developers had “played by the rules” and that there are other safeguards against the risks cited by opponents of the project.
  • “The real threat to Pax River is not an array of wind turbines on the lower Eastern Shore, but rising sea levels caused by climate change,” O’Malley wrote. “If this moratorium were to take effect, it would send a chilling message to clean energy investors, developers, manufacturers, construction firms, engineers and sustainable businesses that the state can change the rules in the eleventh hour.”

Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden has said he will bring the EXPIRE Act back to the table if Republicans will submit a list of proposed amendments in advance. Bloomberg BNA:

  • An energy tax incentive bill, which failed to clear a procedural vote in the Senate May 15, may be revived by the Senate Finance Committee May 20, according to committee chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). As covered in a May 15 Energy and Climate Report article, Wyden said he would advance the EXPIRE Act of 2014 (H.R. 3474) on condition that Republicans forward a list of amendments they want to bring up.
  • H.R. 3474, which would retroactively extend until 2015 more than $20 billion in energy tax credits, failed to obtain the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture and shut off debate to proceed to further consideration of the measure. The vote was 53-40.
  • Largest among the energy tax credits in the $84 billion bill was a $13.4 billion extension of the production tax credit, which provides 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour for the production of electricity from wind and other renewable sources… Another possibility is the Senate will try again to reach a deal on the legislation during a lame duck session of Congress after the November elections.

The EPA is planning to release landmark regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in the first week of June. Bloomberg:

  • U.S. President Barack Obama plans to personally unveil proposed carbon-emissions rules for power plants, elevating climate change policy as a top tier issue for his final two years in office, according to two people familiar with White House strategy.
  • Obama is preparing to make the announcement with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, who said this week the rules are on track to be proposed by June 2, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the schedule is still being planned.
  • After relegating climate change to the back burner during his first term, Obama would be taking an unusual step of announcing regulatory proposals before they are finalized by the federal government and years before they would be implemented. His direct engagement is intended to demonstrate to environmental advocates and business interests that he’s committed to stricter emissions standards.
  • “There’s no question that President Obama views this as a legacy issue and he wants to be very directly involved,” said Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, a non-profit advocacy group in Washington. “It sends the signal that this is going to remain a high profile issue for probably the rest of the president’s term.”

Sources:

John Wagner and Jenna Johnson, “Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley vetoes bill delaying wind farm projects.” Washington Post. 16 May 2014.

Regina Cline, “The Week Ahead: Senate May Try to Revive Production Tax Credit, Include Climate Change in Reauthorization for Water Projects.” Bloomberg BNA. 16 May 2014.

Lisa Lerer and Julianna Goldman, “Obama Said to Put Personal Push Behind EPA Emission Rules.” Bloomberg. 15 May 2014.

 

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