The House Appropriations Committee approved July 15 a fiscal year 2015 spending bill for the Interior Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, and related agencies after Republicans opposed Democratic attempts to remove 24 legislative riders. The measure would increase Interior Department funding for oil and gas permitting and inspections on Bureau of Land Management land, as well as funding for fighting and preventing wildfires. The package would reduce the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by $717 million, about nine percent. The overall bill would amount to $30.2 billion, a $162 million increase from the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. The riders are designed to halt some agency initiatives, including greenhouse gas regulations, a new definition of Clean Water Act jurisdiction, revised water pollution rules for surface coal mining, and the possibility of an Endangered Species Act listing next year of the greater sage grouse.
On Thursday, July 17, Mintz Levin will be hosting the Cleantech Open Northeast “2014 NYC Business Clinic: Go-to-Market Strategy.” The event consists of a business clinic and mentoring session for current Cleantech Open semifinalists and alumni as well as a panel and networking session that will be open to the general public. Mintz Levin’s Evan Bienstock will be moderating the evening panel, discussing go-to-market strategy, team building, and intellectual property.
During the past several years, Europe has installed about 2,000 offshore turbines (6,500 MW of offshore wind generation capacity), with capacity doubling since 2010. Offshore wind provides almost 1% of total power in Western Europe, about five times what solar generates in the U.S. Growth isn’t limited to Europe: China has installed 428 MW since 2007 and Japan has deployed floating turbines near Fukushima. And yet the only operating offshore wind project in the United States is a small 1/8 scale demonstration turbine in Maine. Is the rest of the world leaving the U.S.’s offshore wind industry behind for good?
The Department of Energy recently announced a $4 billion loan guarantee program for renewable energy projects. Targeted areas include waste to energy, grid integration and storage, drop-in biofuels, energy efficiency improvements, and enhancement of existing facilities (such as repowering). The DOE’s Loan Programs Office has specifically identified technology areas that are poised for commercial-scale development and that can be easily replicated.
Further details on the loan guarantee program can be found below:
With legislative efforts to reform or repeal the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) on hold after the Environmental Protection Agency proposed paring back required blended levels of biofuel (renewable volume obligations or RVOs), all eyes are on the EPA as to what those closely guarded final volume levels will be.
The rule, already several months overdue, had most recently been targeted for a June release, but that deadline slipped by without the rule even going to the Office of Management and Budget for final review. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy testified last week that the agency wants to “get this right” and hopes “to get that out soon.” Even if the EPA sends the rule to OMB in July, as is now expected, OMB likely will review it for 30-60 days before the final rule is promulgated.
Mintz Levin would like to congratulate our client, Admirals Bank, on partnering with SunPower Corp., the second largest U.S. solar-panel maker, to establish an innovative solar power loan funding program. Together, SunPower and Admirals Bank have launched a $200 million loan program to facilitate residential photovoltaic (PV) installations over the next two years.
Under the program, homeowners will be able to apply for loans of up to $60,000 to assist with the installation of SunPower systems in their homes. The program is available in all fifty states and the District of Columbia.
The Supreme Court partially upheld and partially rejected June 23 a set of Environmental Protection Agency greenhouse gas regulations for major pollution sources, following a legal challenge from the utility industry. The 5-4 ruling does not impact the agency’s June 2 proposed CO2 standards for existing power plants, nor does it limit the agency’s overall ability to regulate greenhouse gases. The court ruled that the agency cannot require Title V and Prevention of Significant Deterioration pre-construction stationary source air permits based solely on the release of GHGs, but that emission sources that already need those permits should have to use the best available technology to control their emissions. While reading his decision, Justice Antonin Scalia said that though he believes the agency overstepped its statutory boundaries when crafting its tailoring rule, the court’s ruling should impact a very small percentage of regulated entities. Furthermore, the court found today that its 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA that the Clean Air Act’s use of the term “air pollutant,” which it recognizes to be an imprecise term, includes GHGs does not preclude the agency from taking a more narrow approach elsewhere.
Mintz Levin is proud to have hosted the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DoE) 2014 National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition. For the third consecutive year, Mintz Levin hosted the first day of the two-day competition at its Washington, D.C. office. During the first day, Chair of our Energy Technology team, Tom Burton, and President of Washington D.C.’s ML Strategies, David Leiter, delivered the opening remarks welcoming the competition’s keynote speaker, John MacWilliams, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Energy. After a number of panels and investor connection sessions throughout the day covering topics ranging from the role of incubators to federal funding programs, Mintz Levin held a reception for investors, strategic partners and participating start-ups. Continue Reading
Early this week, the Department of Energy awarded $20 million in funding to ten new projects aimed to advance hydrogen production and delivery technologies. The selected projects will in some way aid the widespread commercialization of various fuel cell technologies, most notably including fuel cell electric vehicles.
The Department of Energy funding was allocated to six hydrogen production R&D projects and four hydrogen delivery R&D projects. The selected hydrogen production technologies range from the development of a reactor for hydrogen production from bio-derived liquids to various solutions for direct water splitting. Awardees include the University of Hawaii, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the University of Colorado.
With most of the energy sector’s attention focused this month on what the Environmental Protection Agency is doing with its proposed 111(d) rule regulating carbon emissions, less was said about what the agency did not do: release the long-awaited 2014 volume obligations for the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). Legislative efforts to repeal or reform the RFS have subsided since the agency released a draft rule substantially reducing the amount of biofuels required to be blended into the nation’s gasoline. The agency has not sent the final rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review, and it seems unlikely that the agency will finalize a rule before the 2013 obligations expire at the end of the month. As a result, the agency announced June 6 that it would extend the compliance demonstration deadline and the associated deadline for submission of attest engagement reports for the 2013 RFS. The new deadlines are September 30, 2014, and January 30, 2015, respectively. The agency understood that at the very least, because the RFS allows obligated parties to carry forward up to 20 percent of their credits, it had to inform obligated parties of their obligations for 2014 before requiring them to demonstrate compliance with the 2013 RFS requirements.