Energy

The solar PV industry provides great opportunity for creating jobs, saving energy and putting money back into local economies. However, it faces many hurdles to growth, including limited understanding of its economic and environmental benefits, project costs and the absence of best practice standards. This article discusses these impediments and progress to address them.

Due to advances in technology and drilling techniques, most notably hydraulic fracturing, vast reserves of untapped natural gas in shale formations are commercially viable, resulting in a significant increase in natural gas production over the last decade. However, this increase in production has raised concerns over environmental impacts such as water pollution, seismic activity, and air quality. This article provides an overview of some of these concerns and how state legislatures are addressing these issues. 

Experts discussed the legal arguments for and against the Clean Power Plan, or CPP, during a recent eCademy webcast, “What's Next? Legal Perspectives on the Clean Power Plan,” presented by CSG and the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies. 

Following the release of the final rule addressing greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants through Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed implementation of the Clean Power Plan pending judicial review. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit took another unexpected step by rescheduling oral arguments on challenges to the Clean Power Plan to September. During this eCademy session, presented by CSG and the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies, attorneys discussed legal arguments for and against the Clean Power Plan, what state officials should watch for during oral arguments, and the impact of the rescheduled argument timeline.

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 established a national program for the safe, permanent disposal of highly radioactive waste.  In 2002, Congress approved a site at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain; however, that project was stalled and defunded in 2010. Consequently, there currently is no disposal facility in the United States for spent fuel rods from 99 operating commercial nuclear reactors across the country. This webinar, the first in a two-part series, explores the status of nuclear waste management in the United States, with a focus on how the lack of a disposal facility affects electricity customers, the communities that are home to nuclear power plants, and the utilities that own and operate the plants. The series will continue with Part 2, Searching for Solutions,” on July 26 at 2 p.m. EDT.

The legal challenge to the Clean Power Plan is one of the most important environmental lawsuits in recent memory. The case will address whether EPA acted in accordance with the Clean Air Act in finalizing its rule that requires states to set carbon emissions limits on existing power plants. The U.S. Supreme Court stayed implementation of the rule in February and sent the case back to the D.C. Circuit, where a three-judge panel was scheduled to hear oral arguments on the already briefed issues on June 2nd. However, the court, on its own volition, issued an unexpected order late on May 16, 2016, pushing oral arguments back to September 27th and notifying the parties that the arguments will now be held before the entire court, instead of a three-judge panel.

Nuclear energy has provided commercial electricity generation in the United States since 1957, when a plant in Shippingport, Penn., came online. Between 1966 and 1977, 75 nuclear reactors were built in the U.S. However, a combination of escalating costs and increasing safety and environmental concerns halted almost all construction of new nuclear reactors in the U.S. after 1978. While the future of nuclear energy is uncertain, the construction of the first new reactors in decades and the continuing need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is leading to an increased interest in nuclear energy.

In a unanimous opinion in Hughes v. Talen Energy Marketing the Supreme Court held that Maryland’s program which guarantees a power plant generator a contractual rate rather than the “clearing price” wholesale rate set at a federally-approved capacity auction is preempted by the Federal Power Act (FPA).

The State and Local Legal Center filed an amicus brief arguing that Maryland’s program should not be preempted. At least one other state, New Jersey, has implemented a similar program.  

CSG Midwest

The nation’s leader in wind energy and use has hit yet another milestone. Iowa is now getting more than 30 percent of its electricity from this renewable source — the only U.S. state that has reached this threshold. According to Gov. Terry Branstad, the state has the potential to reach 40 percent within the next five years....

The Environmental Protection Agency’s final Clean Power Plan, or CPP, is the first regulation that seeks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. A top issue for states in 2016 will be determining how to comply.

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