Congress and most state legislatures have or are developing renewable energy policies with a single objective: get more renewables. Our new study, Wind and Ethanol: Economies and Diseconomies of Scale, finds that this single minded focus ignores the potential economic benefits from locally owned and more modestly scaled facilities. The focus should on better renewable energy projects not simply more.
In Nebraska, cows are helping to produce ethanol. A 28,000-cow feedlot in Mead, Nebraska, is powering the neighboring Genesis Ethanol Plant, owned by E3 Biofuels LLC. The cows are providing 300,000 tons of manure per year, which is turned into methane via anaerobic digestion and accounts for 100% of the thermal energy needed to distill 25 million gallons of ethanol each year.
This column by David Morris and Peter Barnes argues for a three pronged strategy on climate protection. First, a comprehensive emission cap. Second, a carbon auction for suppliers of carbon fuels. And lastly, a universal and equal distribution of revenues from that sale. Three keys to an effective and equitable strategy to reduce global warming.
In late April 2007, a new policy was put in place in Massachusetts that requires certain developers to "quantify the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated by proposed projects and identify measures to avoid, minimize, or mitigate such emissions" The policy applies to developments requiring an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that need an air quality permit, receive state funding or generate a significant number of new vehicle trips.
London Mayor Ken Livingstone wants to further reduce the City’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by making motorists take financial responsibility for their own emissions. The first approach set to begin in February 2008 is the establishment of a Low Emissions Zone. The second approach still under debate would modify the current congestion fee by establishing an Emissions Influenced Charging Structure.
On May 7th, Washington’s Governor signed a new law that effectively reverses a January 2007 Washington Supreme Court decision. The State Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Seattle municipal utility could not purchase carbon offsets with ratepayer money. This case originated from ratepayers that were protesting Seattle City Light’s purchases of carbon offsets to counter the utility’s greenhouse gas emissions.
In mid-May, Los Angeles’ Mayor announced a new climate change action plan that calls for the LA municipal utility to increase its renewable energy portfolio to reach 35 percent by 2020. This in combination with about 50 other proposed actions will work to reduce GHG emissions in the city of angels to 35 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
This year offers a rare historical opportunity for our nation to marry energy and agricultural policy objectives. The new 110th Congress will be revisiting the 2005 energy bill and reauthorizing the 2002 farm bill, giving congressional leaders the chance to link increased rural prosperity and energy security. Two reports released today will be useful guides.