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Thanks to Congress, 2014 will bring uncertainty for the wind industry

Wind turbines -- made in America
Shutterstock

The U.S. House of Representatives has already gone on vacation back to their districts and the Senate effectively adjourned for 2013 last Friday, meaning that the one-year extension of the Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) will expire on Jan. 1, 2014.

The PTC is a $0.022 per kilowatt-hour tax credit on the power that new wind farms in the United States generate for the first 10 years of their operation. These farms have to be “under construction” in 2013 to receive the credit, which is different than how it worked over the law’s prior 20-year history.

In January of 2013, with the legislative fix to the “fiscal cliff,” Congress changed this language from “in production” to “under construction” -- meaning that there is a lot less a farm has to do to qualify for that tax credit. It does not have to be producing power yet, it merely has to have started physical construction or committed 5 percent of the project’s costs by the end of the year to be eligible for the credit. If that change had not been made at the beginning of 2013, a very small number of wind projects would have actually gotten underway, because it takes 18 to 24 months to develop and manufacture most wind energy projects. If Congress had not changed the language in its extension in January 2013, most investors would not have even tried to get projects under way in less than a year.

With the change, though, the industry kept moving. “There’s a race to the start line as opposed to the finish line this time around,” said Mark Albenze, CEO of Wind Americas at Siemens Energy.

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On clean energy, Obama thinks we should Sweden the deal

President Barack Obama and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt participate in a joint press conference at Rosenbad in Stockholm, Sweden, Sept. 4, 2013.
Pete Souza
President Obama and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt participate in a joint press conference.

During a press conference with Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Wednesday afternoon Stockholm time, President Obama was asked what the United States could learn from Sweden. His first thought was sustainable energy development:

What I know about Sweden, I think, offers us some good lessons. No. 1, the work you have done on energy I think is something the United States can and will learn from. Because every country in the world right now has to recognize if we are going to continue to grow and improve our standard of living while maintaining a sustainable planet, we are going to have to change our patterns of energy use. And Sweden I think is far ahead of many other countries.

So what can the U.S. learn from Sweden?

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16 of your favorite things that climate change is totally screwing up

Well, this sucks.
Shutterstock
Well, this sucks.

When people talk about “climate impacts,” the images that usually come to mind are broiling heat waves, drought-parched creek beds, dangerous storm surges, the slowly but surely rising sea. These things can seem distant and unlikely to affect most people’s day-to-day lives, but there is growing evidence that the reality of climate change will strike close to home.

Below is a list of things that will be negatively affected by climate change that may not immediately come to mind when someone says “the greenhouse effect”:

Ruined-by-Climate-Change-051-555x132

Climate change endangers clean water, quality barley, and ample hops. A study from 2009 suggested that the quality of Saaz hops from the Czech Republic has been falling since 1954 due to warmer temperatures. This is true for hops-growing regions across Europe. Smaller brewers like Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing Company understand the seriousness of the problem, as the company’s sustainability director said in 2011, “If you drink beer now, the issue of climate change is impacting you right now. … Craft brewers -- the emphasis there is on craft. We make something, and it’s a deeply agricultural product.”

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Like father, like daughter: Climate denier Liz Cheney to run for Senate in Wyoming

Dick Cheney and Liz Cheney
Gerald Ford Foundation
Dick and Liz Cheney.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter Elizabeth (Liz) Cheney has announced she will run for U.S. Senate in Wyoming. This could mean a brutal primary with the current sitting Sen. Mike Enzi. Enzi is no climate warrior, even though the state faces a doubling or tripling of wildfires if we don’t slash carbon pollution soon.

So how would Cheney address “the global threat of our time,” climate change? Well, her social media strategy on climate echoes Sarah Palin’s — take a picture of snow and make fun of it.

This spring, she implied that such a photo was evidence that global warming was not happening, despite the fact that the first half of 2013 was the seventh-hottest on record, according to NOAA.

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Free-market fans hate climate science, heart conspiracy theories

refuse-to-believe-in-climate-change-300x210Why do a determined minority — often in positions of power -- refuse to accept that climate change is happening despite the overwhelming scientific evidence?

A new study may provide a clue. Researchers at the University of Western Australia found that people who expressed faith in free-market ideology were also likely to reject scientific consensus that climate change is happening and that burning fossil fuels helps to cause it.

Free-market philosophy makes the case that the market operates best when the government gets out of the way, but otherwise has no obvious connection to denying climate science. However, this scientific denial is not just limited to climate change: