In Absence of Federal Legislation or EPA Rules, Courts may Address Climate Change

Two federal circuit courts recently allowed mass tort cases based on damages from climate change to proceed. In these two cases, the Second and Fifth Circuits agreed that public nuisance claims based on the effects of climate change could be considered by courts in the absence of federal legislation or rules from EPA. In Connecticut v. American Electric Power (September 21), …

CBO Chief Addresses Congress on the Costs of Cap-and-Trade

On Wednesday, the head of the Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, answered questions from a Senate energy panel regarding the costs of the cap-and-trade bill passed by the House of Representatives in June (known as Waxman-Markey).  CBO estimates the bill would slow US GDP by 0.25 to 0.75 in 2020 but Mr. Elmendorf noted that costs of climate change were not …

European Union Adopts Strategic Energy Technology Plan

The European Commission announced plans to spend $73 billion on renewable energy technologies over the next ten years.  Europe has clearly decided to go all out in the white-hot competition to lead the world in solar, wind, nuclear, and other non-carbon based energy technologies. According to one EU official: “We know that low-carbon technology will one day …

US Chamber Responds to Climate Change Defectors

Chamber President Tom Donohue claims the majority of the Chamber’s members support its position on climate change and that businesses leaving the organization over this issue do not understand its position.  Apple Inc., the latest business to withdraw from the Chamber over this issue, wrote that it “would prefer the Chamber take a more progressive stance on this critical issue …

New “Solar Shingles” May Make Solar Energy Cheaper, More Accessible

Dow Chemical recently introduced its “Powerhouse” line of solar shingles. The solar shingles use thin-film solar technology but can be installed by roofers without any specialized tools or training.  Dow believes the shingles compare favorably to mounted solar panels in terms of aesthetics and will be considerably cheaper than existing solar shingle products. According to Reuters, Powerhouse shingles will cost 10-15% less per …

Renewable Energy Projects Running Into Water Problems

Renewable energy developers using technologies that consume large amounts of water are finding it more difficult to obtain the necessary water rights and approvals for their projects. This article in the NY Times discusses this issue and quotes one expert predicting that “water could become the real throttle on renewable energy.”

Proposed Rule Would Require BACT for Greenhouse Gases

On Wednesday, EPA proposed a rule that would subject GHG-emitting facilities to its NSR program, including the requirement of best available control technology.  The applicability threshold in the new rule is 25,000 tons/year of CO2 equivalent. Here is EPA’s press release and here is a helpful fact sheet.

Representative Giffords Introduces “Solar Roadmap” Bill

U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, of Arizona’s 8th District, recently introduced legislation that would require the Department of Energy to develop a long-term plan for the research and implementation of solar energy technology.  Today, the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science and Technology passed the bill with bipartisan support.