President Barack Obama has directed the U.S. federal government to undertake a Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), with the first multi-agency report scheduled for Jan. 31, 2015.
Unlike the long-standing Quadrennial Defense Review, a legislatively mandated report of U.S. Department of Defense priorities and strategy, the QER is an executive order that creates a task force that essentially includes all executive departments and agencies with any effect on energy policy, production or consumption.
According to the White House, the initial focus for the QER will be the U.S. energy grid. The executive order says the nation’s infrastructure for transporting, transmitting and delivering energy is increasingly challenged by transformations in energy supply, markets and patterns of end use. Moreover, issues such as aging, capacity, the impacts of climate change, and cyber and physical threats are to be addressed in the first QER report.
The presidential memorandum establishing the QER casts a wide net. In addition to mandated federal input, the QER task force is instructed to seek the views of state and local governments; nongovernmental, environmental, faith-based, labor and other social organizations; and academic and nonprofit sectors.
Obama says the interagency QER task force will develop an integrated review of energy policy that builds on his energy security blueprint of March 2011 and last June’s Climate Action Plan.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has released a statement regarding the directive.
“We welcome the next Quadrennial Energy Review and the process to engage multiple agencies and stakeholders,” says Rob Gramlich, AWEA’s senior vice president for public policy. “So much has changed in the last four years – including an over 40 percent drop in the cost of wind energy – that it is time to review the nation’s energy strategy and find ways to make the nation’s considerable clean, affordable and homegrown energy available to all Americans.”
EWEA Blasts ‘Weak’
Climate, Energy Plan
The European Commission has announced details of its newly proposed 2030 EU energy and climate framework, which seeks a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below the 1990 level and would set a renewables target of “at least” 27% by 2030. However, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) argues that the latter goal is too weak.
EWEA says the commission is ignoring the European Parliament, which voted in favor of a binding 30% renewables target for 2030 in committee in January. The association argues that the commission’s own figures show that setting a 30% goal would create over 560,000 more jobs in Europe and boost economic growth while saving billions on imported fossil fuel and health costs. An even higher target would have an even greater impact, the group continues.
In a press release, the European Commission says, “Driven by a more market-oriented approach with enabling conditions for emerging technologies, an EU-wide binding target for renewable energy of at least 27 percent in 2030 comes with significant benefits in terms of energy trade balances, reliance on indigenous energy sources, jobs and growth.
“An EU-level target for renewable energy is necessary to drive continued investment in the sector. However, it would not be translated into national targets through EU legislation, thus leaving flexibility for Member States to transform the energy system in a way that is adapted to national preferences and circumstances.”
Thomas Becker, CEO of EWEA, has made clear his disapproval of the commission’s plans.
“The previously far-sighted and ambitious European Commission is a shadow of its former self, hiding behind the U.K. and other backward-looking Member States and lobbies,” he says. “By effectively advocating repatriation of energy policy to Member States, [Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso] appears to have forgotten his previous calls for ‘more European integration’ on energy policy.”
“The Heads of State now need to show leadership and agree on an ambitious 2030 climate and energy framework that benefits Europe and allows its world-leading wind energy sector to make Europe more prosperous and secure,” Barroso adds.
According to the commission, the framework will be debated at the highest level, in particular in the European Council and European Parliament. The former is expected to consider the plan at its spring meeting in March.
Enviros Urge Obama
To Scrap Policy
Eighteen environmental, environmental justice and public health advocacy groups have sent a letter to President Barack Obama, calling on his administration to embrace clean energy and climate action and abandon its “all of the above” energy policy.
“We believe that continued reliance on an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy would be fundamentally at odds with your goal of cutting carbon pollution and would undermine our nation’s capacity to respond to the threat of climate disruption,” say the groups in the letter.
“With record-high atmospheric carbon concentrations and the rising threat of extreme heat, drought, wildfires and super storms, America’s energy policies must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, not simply reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” the letter continues.
Ultimately, the coalition says the energy policy is “a compromise that future generations can’t afford.”
The groups include the Sierra Club, Environment America, American Rivers, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Energy Action Coalition, Environmental Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth, League of Conservation Voters, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Native American Rights Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oceana, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Population Connection, and Voices for Progress.
A new poll shows the proposed Ohio Clean Energy Initiative, which would provide $13 billion over 10 years for cleantech projects, enjoys strong support from the state’s residents. According to the group Yes for Ohio’s Energy Future, the ballot initiative needs 385,247 signatures by July 4 to go before voters in November.
The poll of 884 Ohio voters conducted by Public Policy Polling shows 64% of respondents were likely to vote for the initiative versus 29% who were unlikely, with 7% saying they were unsure. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4%.
If passed, the initiative would create a constitutional amendment to allocate funds from state general obligation bonds for energy-related public infrastructure projects using wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, biomass, smart grid and other technologies.
Project proposals for funding will be reviewed by the independent reviewers at the Ohio Energy Initiative Commission, which is accepting a limited number of early project proposals under a fast start program.
Clean Energy Plan
Former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, who founded and directs the Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE) at Colorado State University, has released a report offering more than 200 ideas on how President Barack Obama could help curb climate change with a clean energy economy.
The CNEE says the report was developed over eight months with the help of more than 100 CEOs, energy experts, academicians and thought leaders who participated in a series of roundtables last year. Ritter notes that not every participant agreed with all of the ideas, but the report reflects the recommendations that received the strongest support.
“The president has led the nation on clean energy and climate change since he took office, including the initiatives in the climate action plan he announced last June,” Ritter says. “In the face of congressional inaction, the new recommendations are intended to help the administration continue to lead.”
Ritter presented the report and briefed members of Obama’s cabinet and senior policy staff at the White House in January. Among its many recommendations, the report urges the president and his administration to do the following:
- Carefully compare the full lifecycle benefits and costs of each energy resource as Obama’s national energy policy is implemented. According to the CNEE, the report points out that additional opportunities exist to distinguish carbon-rich and low-carbon resources consistent with the president’s goals for minimizing the greenhouse gas emissions most responsible for climate change.
- Direct the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to review and improve how it counts “green jobs” and to resume reporting the number of those jobs in the economy. The CNEE says the BLS suspended its reporting on green jobs last year after it was criticized for its methodology.
- Direct the Environmental Protection Agency to issue clear preliminary guidance to states as early as possible in the regulatory process to encourage early adoption of new energy efficiency and renewable energy measures, as well as to explain how they will be credited in state implementation plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil-fuel power plants.
- Direct the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to review and, if necessary, improve its methods for projecting the growth of renewable energy technologies in years ahead. According to the CNEE, the EIA has been criticized for underestimating renewable energy’s contribution to the nation’s energy mix.
- Direct federal agencies to work with the nation’s electric utilities and utility regulators to update regulations that are getting in the way of clean energy technologies. The CNEE says utility executives told it that outdated regulations are making it difficult to accommodate new energy resources and technologies such as wind energy and rooftop solar systems.
- Request that the Internal Revenue Service use its existing authorities where possible to issue rulings and interpretations of the tax code that increase incentives for private investors to capitalize clean energy technologies. “The idea is not to make the tax system more complex,” Ritter says. “It’s to make it more fair by offering clean energy the same investment tools and tax benefits now given to fossil fuels.”
- Issue even more aggressive goals for the government’s use of third-party financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements in federal operations.
- More clearly define the president’s criteria for “responsible” natural gas production and require that oil and gas companies use best-available production practices on federal lands.
Quadrennial Review For Energy
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