OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Wind industry floats tax phaseout plan

The Truman National Security Project’s Operation Free campaign, which has worked closely with AWEA to secure an extension, supported the plan.

“Operation Free is proud to support the policy proposal announced by the American Wind Energy Association today, which would provide the long-term business certainty needed for the wind industry to continue to thrive,” Truman Project Executive Director Mike Breen said in a Wednesday statement.

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And for her part, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — the ranking member on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources — has suggested such a five-year phaseout.

Read the full letter and phaseout plan here.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out these stories that ran on E2-Wire on Wednesday . . .

– Berman foreign aid reforms tackle climate change
– Sens.-elect Heinrich, Hirono to join Energy committee
– GOP’s Solyndra point man says Romney dropped ball
– Environmental group names new executive director
– Sen. Coons predicts GOP support for bill to boost renewable-energy investment
– NOAA chief Lubchenco to depart in early 2013
– Sen. Lugar shakes up gas-export battle
– Interior Secretary Salazar ‘thinking hard’ about second term


NEWS BITES:

Senate’s post-Sandy bill: Take climate into account

The Senate’s $60 billion bill to fund recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy calls for federal agencies to consider climate change risks when paying for rebuilding projects (although it doesn't contain the phrase "climate change").

From the bill text (available here) released Wednesday:

In carrying out activities funded by this title that involve repairing, rebuilding, or restoring infrastructure and restoring land, project sponsors shall consider, where appropriate, the increased risks and vulnerabilities associated with future extreme weather events, sea level rise and coastal flooding.

It similarly says that federal agencies, in partnership with state and local governments, should “inform” recovery and rebuilding plans “to reduce vulnerabilities from and build long-term resiliency to future extreme weather events, sea level rise, and coastal flooding.”

In addition, it makes money available for “regional projections and assessments of future risks and vulnerabilities.”

The Hill’s Erik Wasson has much more on the bill and where it’s heading here.

DOE seeks to speed offshore wind development

The Energy Department (DOE) on Wednesday announced funding for wind projects off the coast of seven states, part of a federal effort to speed along the fledgling offshore wind industry.

“The Energy Department investment announced today will help speed the deployment of stronger, more efficient offshore wind power technologies and showcase innovative technologies – helping to further lower costs and drive greater performance. These projects will also help clear hurdles to installing utility-scale turbines in U.S. waters, connecting to the power grid and navigating new siting and permitting processes,” the department announced.

Initially the projects will receive up to $4 million for engineering, design and permitting aid. DOE will then select up to three projects for additional aid to help with siting, construction and installation, which is aimed at getting them into commercial operation by 2017.

The department hopes to award the selected projects up to $47 million each over four years, but the cash is subject to congressional appropriations, DOE said in a summary of the funding.

Click here for much more info.

Enviros see new Senate Energy Committee allies

Green groups offered high praise for the newest Democratic members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Reps. Martin Heinrich (N.M.) and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) got the committee nods Wednesday. They will join the upper chamber in January after winning their respective Senate contests.

“Martin Heinrich and Mazie Hirono have spent their careers fighting for strong environmental policies, and we’re thrilled that they’ve been named to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee,” the League of Conservation Voters said in a Wednesday statement.

Heinrich was the darling of green groups during the 2012 campaign. Environmentalists coordinated spending and messaging early in the New Mexico race, helping to get Heinrich out ahead of former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.).

“Hailing from the West, Heinrich's voice in support of conservation will be particularly important in protecting our public lands,” Trey Pollard, spokesman with the Sierra Club, told The Hill.

While Hirono is not a member of the House committees that deal with energy the most — the House Energy and Commerce Committee and House Natural Resources Committee — coming from Hawaii, Hirono will be “a natural fit” on the Senate committee, Joshua Saks, legislative director with the National Wildlife Federation, told The Hill.

“No state is more threatened by climate change and sea level, and since they are an island they import most of their energy and get the rest from innovative biofuels. So she and her state know the issues and we think she'll be great,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) heads to Comedy Central: No, the retiring Energy Committee chairman is not taking a post-Senate job with the network.

But Bingaman will be a guest on "The Colbert Report" tonight.

Report: Oversight lacking at federal hard-rock mineral sites

The federal government is unsure how many hard-rock minerals, such as gold and copper, are mined from public lands because companies that operate the mines pay no royalties, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Wednesday.

Currently, mining companies only pay the federal government to make a claim on the land, and then pay an annual fee to maintain the site.

Whatever firms dredge from the mine is theirs to sell. But unlike coal, natural-gas and oil drilling on federal lands, companies do not pay royalties on hard-rock minerals.

Read the report here.


Please send tips and comments to Ben Geman, ben.geman@thehill.com, and Zack Colman, zcolman@thehill.com.

Follow E2 on Twitter: @E2Wire, @Ben_Geman, @zcolman

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