Solar for Low-income Communities and More! EPA’s Clean Energy Incentive Program

Southeastern states may soon have an added incentive for developing energy efficiency and renewable energy resources that directly benefit low-income communities and utility customers. These potential new incentives come in the form of draft federal regulatory language, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working to finalize as part of the entire rulemaking process for the Clean Power Plan (CPP).

This program, known as the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP), is an early-action, voluntary piece of the larger CPP aimed at ensuring communities who suffered the negative effects of fossil-fuel energy generation and economically disadvantaged communities see real benefits from increased clean energy development. Although utilities, state agencies, industry, and the general public have all weighed in on pieces of the CEIP in previous CPP related comment period, the current EPA document open for comment will become the official design details for the CEIP. Comments can be sent directly to EPA (info on how to do that here) and are due by 11:59pm, Monday, August 29th.

How are the White House’s transportation initiatives measuring up?

Three years ago, the Obama Administration outlined their goals for “Building a 21st – Century Transportation Sector” in their Climate Action Plan. The goal of the plan included increasing fuel economy standards and expanding advanced transportation technologies. We’ve come a long way in those few short years. The Administration has dramatically increased fuel economy standards for our cars, which aims to achieve a 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) fleetwide average by 2025. Through this initiative alone, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) over the lifetimes of the vehicles sold (MY 2012-2025) will be cut, save families more than $1.7 trillion in fuel costs, and further reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Just last week, new rules to dramatically improve the fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks and buses and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions were also finalized.

National Park Service Performs Major Disservice for Anti-Wind Power Activists

Thanks to NPS’s new sound level mapping, it is fairly clear that a 35 decibel sound limit isn’t just discriminatory to wind farms, it’s likely impossible to achieve under already-existing conditions in significant portions of the country. By enacting sound level regulations that are below existing, ambient sound levels, anti-wind energy activists are obviously attempting to ban wind farms.

Coal’s Decline and New Possibilities

With Peabody Energy’s bankruptcy, it’s important to remind ourselves why coal’s decline and our transition to renewable energy is so important for our health and environment and also to start the conversation about what happens next.

EPA Moves Forward As Harvard Recognizes Billions of “Hidden” Clean Power Plan Benefits

Despite the setback delivered by the Supreme Court’s stay, action around the Clean Power Plan has not disappeared. Instead, the Environmental Protection Agency’s historic regulation is on the verge of another public input period and is also the focus of a recent Harvard study.

What’s more, EPA has a new proposal out and an upcoming public comment period related to the voluntary early-action piece of the Clean Power Plan, known as the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP). After hearing from stakeholders during a previous public comment period that ended in mid-December 2015, EPA has made some significant changes to the proposed CEIP. Most importantly, EPA has expanded the range of projects eligible for CEIP participation to include solar projects implemented to serve low-income communities.

How EPA’s Haze Rule Can Help Keep Our Air Clear

The Environmental Protection Agency is currently taking comments on updates to the Regional Haze Rule. Click here and let EPA know that you want a stronger Regional Haze Rule to protect air quality in national parks and wilderness areas in the Southeast – including our nation’s most visited national park- The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

If our air isn’t clean, our communities can’t be healthy.

I grew up just outside Gatlinburg, Tennessee, the gateway community to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where my dad worked as the chief scientist. Growing up in the Smokies, clean air was essential to the health of the national park, visitors and local residents, and the economy. But on some summer days growing up, although you were in one of our nation’s crown jewel national parks, it was unhealthy to go on a hike, and you couldn’t see the next ridgeline, due to air pollution. Much of that pollution was coming from old, outdated coal-fired power plants nearby.

We weren’t alone – national parks and other special places around the country suffer from high rates of air pollution worse on some days than the pollution in our biggest cities. Why are our parks and communities suffering from this pollution?

Eyes on the Prize: EPA Moves Forward on Clean Energy Despite Paused Clean Power Plan

As April came to an end, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent a strong signal that it wasn’t going to let the current political and legal battle keep it from moving some of the voluntary parts of the Clean Power Plan forward.

EPA sent a proposal related to the voluntary early-action incentive program, known as the Clean Energy Incentive Program, to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review – the next step in the policy-making process. EPA recognizes that technological innovation in the clean energy sector is driving development of clean energy resources and if EPA wants to keep pace with the growing science, it must continuing moving forward. Utilities and regulators should take a cue from EPA and continue to work together to reduce the overall carbon footprint of the Southeast’s electricity sector – or risk being left behind.

Big Errors in Measuring Carbon Emissions from Power Plants

What’s the single largest source of CO2 emissions in the Southeast? A 10 million ton data discrepancy! What? Huh? Why is a data discrepancy a blog? (UPDATE: Please see responses to reader suggestions at at the end, as well as in the comments.) President Obama’s Clean Power Plan will eventually regulate the emission of carbon [...]

Another Option in the Toolbox for National Climate Action is Being Targeted by Industry

If climate change deniers see it as a threat to their efforts to stymie climate action, then you know it’s a powerful tool. Clean Air Act Section 115 is the latest EPA statute targeted by those working to keep America from becoming a true leader in the global effort to reduce carbon emissions and stave off some of the worst impacts of climate change.

In early February 2016, Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa) introduced legislation that would repeal Section 115, but provides no basis, at least in the text of the bill, for why the Section is improper. In his accompanying statement, Rep. Perry makes the worn-out argument of EPA overreach as well as the seemingly baseless claim that any action under Section 115 would “threaten the reliability and viability of our nation’s energy sector.”

Section 115, previously enacted by Congress as part of the larger statute, gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to compel states to reduce air emissions that “contribute to health or welfare problems in other countries” as long as those countries are also enacting regulations to limit said air emissions.

SACE Testimony shows why Clean Power Plan means jobs for Tennessee

Earlier today, I testified before the Tennessee Legislature’s Government Operations Joint Committee on the importance of the Clean Power Plan and its significance for Tennessee. As you can see by the line up, I was the sole representative of the clean energy advocacy community on this panel: Paul Bailey – American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity [...]