Keeping an Eye on U.S. Environmental Sustainability: An Energy and Climate Policy Update

NASC Logo— Edited by Jovita A. Tolbert, National Alliance for Sustainable Communities

New Method to Measure Cost-Effectiveness of Residential Building Energy Codes Introduced. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently released a new methodology for evaluating homeowner savings through residential energy codes. The new approach is based on a life-cycle analysis that balances initial costs with the longer-term savings energy codes make possible. This methodology will aid the adoption of cost-effective, energy-saving codes for residential buildings, and help families save money over the lifetime of their home. Learn more here.

Carbon Capture and Sequestration. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Bobby Rush (D-IL) have requested that House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) call a hearing on the potential for carbon capture and sequestration. Learn more here.

Wind Industry Prepares to Downsize. The U.S. wind industry is calling on Congress to extend production tax credits for wind, which expire at the end of the year. Factories are already reducing their workloads without certainty of the credit, and no new projects are expected next year. The Production Tax Credit for the industry is just one of about 100 extenders that Congress must deal with before the end of the year. Learn more here.

Highway-Transportation Negotiations. Once again House-Senate negotiations seem to have stalled over extending the Highway-Transportation bill. The Senate recently delivered a revised conference measure to the House which is absent of provisions such as the Keystone XL pipeline and BP-related coastal restoration funding. In response, it initially appeared House Republicans might walk away from highway bill talks. However, with the bill  set to expire at the end of this month, Congress seems to be pushing to get the bill passed. Get the inside scoop here.

Update: On Friday, June 29th, Congress passed a long overdue surface transportation authorization bill that will keep current transit funding and fuel taxes intact. Get the inside scoop here or here.

Black & Veatch’s Electric Utility Industry Survey Results. Interestingly, results revealed that while utilities prefer nuclear, natural gas, and hydroelectric, solar is gaining support. Solar was the top renewable fuel in all areas of the country. Additionally, a number of survey respondents noted they are beginning to lay the groundwork for distributed power generation and storage. Get the whole story here.

National Ocean Policy Meets Resistance. Doc Hastings (R-WA) has promised to attach a rider to every appropriations bill which would bar the use of funds to implement President Obama’s National Ocean Policy. The administration’s plan calls for coordination among federal agencies that enforce the 140 laws affecting the nation’s oceans, coastlines, and Great Lakes — including things such as permitting for energy development. Hastings says the policy will usher in ocean zoning. Learn more here.

Full Sanctions Against Iran. The White House determined there’s enough spare oil capacity to move ahead with sanctions against Iran. A total of about 700,000 fewer barrels of oil a day are being exported out of Iran, from about 2.5 million barrels of oil a day.

The Return of Energy Taxes? A recent Senate Finance Committee hearing didn’t examine individual expiring tax credits that benefit renewable energy. Instead, the committee focused on overhauling the entire tax code. Committee members argued an overhaul of the tax code would alleviate the need for specific energy tax breaks and credits by leveling the playing field for all companies. Nonetheless, supporters of a wind-energy production tax credit extension are still looking for a way to get the extension up for a vote.

Source: Congressional Quarterly