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White House Hosts Climate Infrastructure Roundtable

As part of Obama’s Build America Investment Initiative, the White House hosted around 90 industry individuals at a roundtable this week. 

This diverse group of people that included investors, local and state planning and transportation officials, policy experts and reps from the federal government and nonprofits, focused their discussions on how to better design infrastructure projects to be more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

The roundtable event coincided with the administration’s release of a Federal Guide to Infrastructure Planning and Design. The guide ‘incorporates programs and opportunities from eight federal agencies and lays out a new set of principles to inform the work of local and State governments, public and private utilities, planners and other stakeholders around the country,’ according to a statement from an administration official.

Spring Legislative Sessions Bring About Changes to Energy Standards
Recent years have shown a trend toward state general assemblies working on legislation that will either weaken or eliminate state renewable energy standards.  The 2014-2015 spring session appears to be following in the same vein.

Currently, 29 states along with the District of Columbia, have Renewable Energy Standards (RES), while eight other states have voluntary goals on their books.  Last year, 12 of those states attempted to pass a total of 27 pieces of anti-renewable energy laws.  Only one succeeded.  Ohio now has the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency requirements frozen for two years.

A few high profile attempts at repealing or weakening RES this year include those in Kansas and Texas.  Last year, an attempt to repeal Kansas’ RPS, which called for 20% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020, failed by a slim margin.  This is igniting other attempts this year to repeal the 20% goal or freeze it at 10% this year and then sunset it next year.

While Kansas is still debating, Texas’s efforts to repeal RPS legislation have crossed the first hurtle, being approved by the Senate.  The legislation is pending with the House, despite the fact that the state has seen investments of more than $26 billion in wind energy.

Advocates are claiming a victory in North Carolina after their general assembly failed to pass legislation that would repeal the current Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, which requires utilities to meet 12.5% of their electricity supply with renewable energy by 2021.