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Prime Power - July 2, 2024


Supreme Court Overturns Chevron Doctrine: Last Friday, the Supreme Court overturned the so-called Chevron doctrine, which, for 40 years, has provided judicial deference to federal agencies and their technical experts to craft regulations. The breadth of the impact of this decision is difficult to gauge.  Offering the potential to challenge rules aimed at reducing emissions, protecting endangered species, and ensuring clean water, to tamping down workplace health and safety oversight, this decision is likely to reach into the lives of all Americans. The Court has set a bar for clarity of Congressional intent in law writing that may be difficult to achieve, particularly in the intensely divisive atmosphere now pervading the Capitol.  

House Appropriations Subcommittee Advances Energy Funding Bill: Last Wednesday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water released their FY2025 funding bill, with a 1.7% increase above FY24 levels, and a 0.2% decrease below the President’s request. The Subcommittee proposed a $59 billion budget, with no cuts for the DOE Office of Science or Nuclear Security Administration. The bill does, however, cut funding for DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy programs by $1.5 billion, affecting solar energy, hydrogen fuel cells, electric vehicles, weatherization assistance, and other programs aimed at developing cleaner energy sources and addressing climate change.

House Appropriations Subcommittee Advances EPA and Interior Funding Bill: Last Friday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies advanced their FY2025 funding proposal, sending a topline of nearly $38.5 billion to the full committee. That figure is $72 million below FY24 levels and $4.4 billion below the President’s budget request.  The bill would eliminate several restrictions aimed at natural resource conservation and require the Interior Secretary to conduct a number of lease sales for the production of oil and gas, while cutting the EPA’s budget by 20%.  The legislation fully funds Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and prioritizes funding to Tribes. Subcommittee Ranking Member Chellie Pingree (D-ME) saying it would “cripple environmental protections and undermine climate change policies.”

Supreme Court Blocks EPA’s “Good Neighbor” Rule: Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court stayed the EPA’s “Good Neighbor” rule, putting on hold EPA’s ability to regulate emissions across state lines. The Court’s decision, coming on a 5-4 vote, will prevent the EPA from applying rules to power plants in 11 states while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ponders the plan’s merits in a separate proceeding.

California Finalizes Offshore Wind Development Program: Last Tuesday, the California Energy Commission released its state offshore wind development strategic plan, including prospective areas of the Pacific Ocean for development and potential for floating turbines. The state will need a significant amount of offshore wind to reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2045; The California Energy Commission previously adopted a goal for California to reach 2 to 5 gigawatts of installed offshore wind power by the end of the decade.

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