Energy Battles Turning Political in 2012!

Remember last week’s post about the 2012 outlook for renewable energy?

Since then, Senate Democrats have given a letter to Democratic and GOP leaders urging an extension of the 1603 renewable energy incentives program, calling the program vital. House Democrats sent a similar letter to their chamber’s Republican and Democratic leaders calling for extension of the Treasury grant program. The program is set to expire at the end of 2011.

Today’s thehill.com story, “Energy battles set to rage into 2012,” says the new year could bring some major energy and environmental battles. According to thehill, here are the major issues we should watch for (in no order):

Solyndra: House Republicans are expected to investigate the Obama administration’s $535 million loan guarantee to failed solar firm Solyndra. There are 185,000 pages (so far) of documents alleging that the loan was based on political motivations. Even if allegations prove false, it could be a political nightmare for the 2012 elections.

Nuclear safety: The aftermath of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi disaster prompted the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to develop more stringent safety standards. These standards are to be implemented within five years. It took 10 years for the NRC to impose new regulations after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Keystone pipeline: The TransCanada Corp.’s project, the Keystond pipeline, connects Canada’s oil sands projects with Gulf Coast refineries. Environmental groups strongly oppose the project and are pressuring Obama to act. Several government agencies support the plan as a jobs creation opportunity. Again, it’s an election year in the US. 

Green-energy tax credits and funding: Look for renewable energy companies and their Capitol Hill allies to try to preserve and extend incentives for renewable projects. Some expire at the end of 2011, but the production tax credit for wind power projects (and some other renewables) expire at the end of 2012.

EPA regulations:
EPA continues to craft greenhouse-gas regulations for power plants and refineries, and is expected to implement other Clean Air Act rules that many Republicans and some Democrats oppose. Others think the regulations are not strict enough.

Offshore drilling: The Interior Department has a 2012-2017 leasing plan for offshore oil-and-gas that some politicians call too passive. Environmentalists have mounted a growing opposition to selling leases in fragile areas like the Arctic seas.

It’s going to be an interesting 2012 in renewable energy …