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Discussion

Put Energy Tax Preferences on a Level Playing Field

Author(s): Senator Brian Schatz (D - HI)
United States Senator, State of Hawaii
Member, Senate Appropriations Committee
Date: June 20, 2016 at 10:00 AM

My legislation is based on a very simple idea. And that idea is that there ought to be a level playing field between fossil fuels and clean energy. Right now, fossil fuels subsidies in the tax code, for the most part, are permanent and the clean energy tax credits, for the most part, are temporary. Now, there is a good reason to make tax credits, subsidies, and incentives temporary in the tax code; from a policy standpoint, that requires legislators to reevaluate how a policy is working over time and to make modifications. But when you make a tax incentive… [more]

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Expanding Energy Education to Prepare for the Renewable Energy Transition

Author(s): Jennie Stephens
Associate Professor of Sustainability Science and Policy
University of Vermont
Date: June 6, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Energy systems are in transition from predominantly centralized fossil-fuel and nuclear-based infrastructures to more efficient and heterogeneous renewable-based configurations that include a diversity of different kinds of decentralized, distributed energy. This energy transition is much more than a technological substitution; this transition also includes major social innovations including institutional and cultural changes related to expectations for how individuals, households, communities and organizations use and manage energy. The renewable energy transition also has huge potential to redistribute the political “power” associated with huge multi-national conventional energy companies. This political potential of the local, distributed, abundant, and renewable characteristics of renewable-based energy… [more]

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EPA’s Methane Rule

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: June 1, 2016 at 8:00 AM

In May, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released regulations designed to curb methane (CH4) emissions from new, modified and reconstructed oil and natural gas sources. As part of the Obama administration’s effort to combat climate change, the rule attempts to reduce methane emissions by as much as 45% from 2012 levels by 2025. According to the EPA, methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted by humans on a pound for pound basis. Although the atmospheric lifetime of CH4 is much shorter than carbon dioxide (CO2), methane is at least 25 times more potent at trapping heat in the… [more]

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Will Congress Reconcile Energy Bills Around Efficiency?

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: May 31, 2016 at 10:00 AM

The Senate recently passed the bi-partisan Energy Policy Modernization Act (S.2012), co-authored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), by a vote of 85-12. In 2015, the House passed its own comprehensive energy bill, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015 (H.R.8). The bills will shortly head to a Conference committee whose efforts to reconcile different language, in areas like energy efficiency, could face a difficult challenge. The White House strongly opposes H.R.8, stating that it “undermines successful initiatives designed to modernize the Nation’s energy infrastructure and increase our energy efficiency.” According to analysis by… [more]

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Should Energy Companies Disclose Their Climate Risk?

Author(s): Sharon Reishus
President
Reishus Consulting, LLC
Date: May 23, 2016 at 11:00 AM

The New York Attorney General has been investigating Exxon Mobil for failing to disclose to its investors the risk that climate change may have on the value of the company’s assets, including its extensive oil reserves, which some claim must remain in the ground if necessary future reductions in carbon emissions are to be achieved. As the controversy around Exxon Mobil’s carbon-related financial reporting continues, other entities are moving forward to address so-called climate change or “carbon asset” risk. In fact, the institutional investment fund CalPERS now requires that companies it chooses to invest in have at least one member… [more]

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Discussion

Energy R&D and Terrorism

Author(s): Michael S. Lubell
Professor of Physics
City College of the City University of New York
Date: May 12, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Substituting solar, wind and safe nuclear energy for fossil fuels is a big plus for safeguarding the global environment. But it is also a vital step in fighting terrorism. For many decades, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC as the international cartel is commonly known, successfully regulated world oil supplies and thereby the price of a barrel of oil on the international market. By doing so it filled the national treasuries of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela and nine her nations across the globe, giving them an outsized role on the stage of world affairs, where their interests… [more]

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Should Policymakers Reconsider the Role of Biomass?

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: May 2, 2016 at 11:00 AM

The Senate recently passed the bipartisan Energy Policy Modernization Act (S.2012) cosponsored by Senators Murkowski and Cantwell. One aspect of the bill that is creating controversy revolves around provisions characterizing biomass as a renewable, carbon-neutral energy source. This new, definitive characterization has sparked significant disagreement. Proponents argue that the carbon emitted from biomass is part of a closed-loop system through which plant regrowth captures CO2 emissions. The Biomass Thermal Energy Council expressed its support of the carbon-neutral designation in the legislation, indicating that the bill puts “clean, highly efficient energy from biomass on a better footing to contribute to our… [more]

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We Need to Study the Value of Pumped Storage

Author(s): Nate Sandvig
President
Clean Energy Development, LLC
Date: April 25, 2016 at 1:30 PM

Pumped storage hydro (PSH) has provided the U.S. with greater capacity for energy storage and grid reliability since the 1920s, although not to its full potential. The capabilities of PSH could be realized as a result of freshly passed energy legislation in the Senate. If S.2012 is signed into law, it would direct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to “identify and determine the market, procurement, and cost recovery mechanisms that would encourage development of PSH; and properly compensate those assets for the full range of services provided to the power grid.” The Department of Energy (DOE) agrees, and recently recognized… [more]

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Should We Continue Tax Credits for Carbon Capture?

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: April 18, 2016 at 11:30 AM

As a party to the Paris Climate Agreement, the United States affirmed its continued commitment to significantly reducing carbon emissions by 2025. According to the Department of Energy and the International Energy Agency, achieving large CO2 reductions will require an “all of the above approach” with new and innovative energy technologies playing a primary role in any successful CO2 mitigation strategy. One technology receiving bipartisan support from a number of policymakers is carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). In February Representative Mike Conaway (R-TX 11th Dist.) introduced a bill, which would expand and create a permanent tax credit for CCS. Senator… [more]

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The Future Is Here – Do We Embrace It or Not?

Author(s): Scott Sklar
President
The Stella Group, LTD
Date: April 11, 2016 at 2:30 PM

Over 20 states are reviewing their net-metering rules for solar energy and at least 10 are conducting value of distributed generation studies. But is this just delaying the inevitable — that states must embrace policies that promote energy saving technologies rather than sustain their traditional grids? And are solar energy systems the only culprit? In fact, energy conservation technologies have already significantly impacted baseload demand patterns. According to the Department of Energy (DOE), light-emitting diode (LED) installations increased in all applications between 2012 and 2014, more than quadrupling to 215 million units overall. Energy Star notes “In 2014…American families and… [more]

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