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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: State of the Union, ETS Waivers, Tidal Permit, Cal ISO Plan


Manufacturers should get incentives
to make energy-efficiency improvements to their plants, President Obama said in last night’s State of the Union address. He called on Congress to draft a bill creating such incentives, which he said would save companies $100 billion over a decade. In the speech, Obama also said he was directing his administration to open up more than 75 percent of potential offshore oil and gas reserves; requiring companies drilling for gas on public gas to disclose the chemicals they use; and directing agencies to allow enough “clean energy” on public lands to power three million homes. He also said the Department of Defense is about to make one of the largest clean energy commitments in history – one that the Washington Post pegged at 1 gigawatt. President Obama has praised the European Union’s sanctions against Iranian oil, the Hill reported. Iran reacted to the EU’s sanctions by again threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, a vital passage for oil shipping. The U.S. passed its own sanctions against Iran last month.

The president has announced plans to nominate Adam E. Sieminski, the chief energy economist at Deutsche Bank, to be administrator of the Energy Information Administration; Tony Clark, immediate past president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, to be a commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and James J. Jones, the Acting Assistant Administrator for Toxic Substances in the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, to take on that role permanently.

FERC has issued its first pilot project license for a tidal energy project. Verdant Power’s Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy Project is a 1,050 tidal plant in New York’s East River. The pilot license is good for 10 years, and its terms stipulate that the project must be removed and the site restored before the license term expires.

Countries opposing the EU’s inclusion of airlines in its Emissions Trading Scheme should consider seeking waivers through emission reduction, the union’s Indian ambassador Joao Cravinho said, according to Reuters. Cravinho said EU law allows room for exemptions for equivalent measures, and the nature of these exemptions has not yet been explored.

The California Independent System Operator has released a five-year strategic plan and electricity road map. The ISO envisages wind and solar generation quadrupling between now and 2020, while increases in electric vehicle charging, advances in energy storage and smarg grid developments also dramatically reshape the grid and market operations.

On Monday U.S. District Court judge Lawrence O’Neill denied the California Air Resources Board’s motion to stay his December 29 decision, blocking the state from enforcing regulations on carbon output from vehicle fuels. ARB is also appealing his original ruling, Green Car Congress reported.

Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Dan Boren (D-OK) on Tuesday introduced HR 3811, which if passed would allow Congress to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, the Hill reported. President Obama rejected the pipeline January 18, but Republicans have questioned whether the decision ought to rest with the executive branch.

Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection has recommended the legislature review the state’s statutory take-back program for mercury-containing vehicle switches, thermostats and compact fluorescent lights, after calculating that it cost more than $2.5 million to remove more than 400 pounds of mercury from the environment in the last 10 years. The DEP is recommending that legislation be implemented to sunset out certain product categories, Waste & Recycling News reports.

The Big Island of Hawaii has formally approved a bill banning stores from distributing disposable plastic shopping bags, according to Waste & Recycling News. Hawaii County mayor Bill Kenoi signed the legislation, which was passed in December, and which takes effect January 17 of next year.

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