Tag Archives: coal

Obama sets rule to protect streams near coal mines

The Obama administration this week set final rules designed to reduce the environmental impact of coal mining on the nation’s streams, a long-anticipated move that met quick resistance from Republicans who vowed to overturn it under President-elect Donald Trump.

The Interior Department said the new rule will protect 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests, preventing debris from coal mining from being dumped into nearby waters. The rule would maintain a buffer zone that blocks coal mining within 100 feet of streams, but would impose stricter guidelines for exceptions to the 100-foot rule.

Interior officials said the rule would cause only modest job losses in coal country, but Republicans and some coal-state Democrats denounced it as a job-killer being imposed during President Barack Obama’s final days in office.

Coal already is struggling under steep competition from cheaper and cleaner-burning natural gas, as well as regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas pollution that contributes to climate change.

U.S. coal production has fallen to its lowest level in nearly 30 years, and several coal companies have filed for bankruptcy protection in recent months, including three of the country’s biggest coal producers, Alpha Natural Resources, Arch Coal and Peabody Energy.

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, called the new rule a final, futile attempt by Obama to kill coal jobs and continue what he called Obama’s “war” on coal.

Bishop said he looks forward to working with Trump’s team “to overturn this unparalleled executive overreach and implement policies that protect communities forsaken by this administration,” while House Speaker Paul Ryan vowed that “our unified Republican government will act to provide coal country with relief.”

Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota also criticized the rule, which can be rejected by a majority vote in Congress.

Manchin called the rule “alarming in its scope and potential impacts” and said he will “pursue legislation to ensure it does not harm our coal mining communities and economies.”

Hal Quinn, president of the National Mining Association, a lobbying group that represents coal producers, called the rule a “post-election midnight regulation” that is “a win for bureaucracy and extreme environmental groups and a loss for everyday Americans.”

Quinn and other opponents said the rule appears to support the environmental movement’s “keep it in the ground” efforts to reduce extraction and use of fossil fuels such as coal and oil that contribute to global warming. He argued that locking away coal reserves will put tens of thousands of Americans out of work and raise energy costs for millions of Americans.

The Sierra Club, not surprisingly, disagreed, calling the rule “a long overdue step toward guaranteeing every community in America is protected from the toxic water pollution caused by surface coal mining.” The organization said the mining dumps dangerous heavy metals such as mercury, selenium and arsenic into local waterways and “puts the health of families living near coalfields at risk.”

An Interior official projected that fewer than 300 jobs would be lost after the regulation takes effect next month.

The rule would require companies to restore streams and return mined areas to conditions similar to those before mining took place. Companies also would have to replant native trees and vegetation.

The administration said the rule updates requirements in place since 1983. The biggest impact will be felt in states such as West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

Searching for clues, answers in Trump Country

Judy Pennington voted for Barack Obama in 2008, decades after her grandfather dug up and sold coal from his property. Elliott County, Kentucky, had followed the rest of the country into a deep recession, and Pennington “thought somebody young could bring new ideas in for the country.”

“But we didn’t get new ideas. We didn’t get anything,” she says.

On Nov. 8, Pennington was one of the voters who helped the county shift from voting for Democrats since its founding in 1869 to choosing Republican Donald Trump in 2016. Seventy percent backed Trump in a county Barack Obama won twice.

In interviews with The Associated Press, Elliott County residents provided clues to the results that handed Trump the presidency: They felt left behind the nation’s recovery, disappointed in Obama and infuriated by Clinton’s vow to put coal miners “out of business.” They like the way Trump talks and they like what they heard him say: That he’ll create jobs, and correct what they see as the wrongs of NAFTA and corrupt government. The New York City businessman made the sale with these rural voters who still reject congressional and state Republicans when there are other choices.

“If Trump was able to win in Elliott County, that really underscores how his message resonated across the country,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky’s longest-serving U.S. senator — who has never been able to win Elliott County in his 31-year Senate career. “He ended up being able to do what most of us thought was impossible, which was to appeal to significant numbers of white working-class voters, many of them, I suppose, never had voted for any Republican before.”

In theory, Pennington and her neighbors could be the best-represented Americans in Washington next year.

They are Trump’s base — nearly all-white and working class. Despite vexing McConnell with its “resistance,” the county by definition has as its advocate the most powerful man in the Senate. The House of Representatives and the White House are also Republican.

But what residents of the county’s hollows want from those soon to be in power is rooted in its coal-infused past. The aftermaths of the Civil War and the Great Depression hit hard here, offset by the New Deal’s government-supported projects, organized labor, agriculture and the coal industry — now more a cultural influence than the economic engine it was for generations.

That’s why Clinton’s remark at a town hall event in West Virginia — “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” stung — even after she apologized, said U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, a Republican who represents the county.

“The super PACs did an excellent job of playing that quote over and over and over, and that’s all anyone could think about after a while,” said state Rep. Rocky Adkins, a Democrat who represents Elliott in the state House. “That tells people, ‘That person is against me. That person is not for my family.”

Over the last decade while most of the country pulled itself out of the recession, Elliott County did not. AK Steel, one of the largest employers in the region, idled its plant in nearby Ashland. The Big Sandy power plant in Louisa, which once propped up the eastern Kentucky economy with its massive coal purchases, started using natural gas. Now one of the county’s largest employers is a state prison just outside of town, and many of the county’s residents have to travel out of state to find work. Unemployment in Elliott County stands at 11 percent, more than twice the national rate of 4.9 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Median household income is just north of $28,000, a bit more than half of the national median.

More than 85 percent of registered voters in Elliott County are Democrats. Republicans make up 8 percent.

In the 2016 election, Elliott went with other parts of the state to elect Trump and send Rogers, who was unopposed, back to Washington. But it’s still a rebel county in some ways. Trump was the only Republican to win a contested race in Elliott County. Jim Gray, a gay, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, beat Republican Sen. Rand Paul by more than 12 percentage points in the county, while Paul won re-election. And though 17 incumbent Democrats lost their state House seats and handed Republicans control for the first time in 96 years, Elliott County re-elected Adkins with more than 85 percent of the vote.

With Trump, Pennington said she finally found a candidate she believed spoke directly to her.

“He talked and talked like the other candidates would have liked to have said, but they never did. He was just plainspoken,” she said.

For Phillip Justice, Trump fits snugly into his worldview. The 54-year-old retired state worker and small business owner sees injustice everywhere, whether it is who starts for the local high school basketball team or his son’s ability to get a college scholarship.

“I’m tired of putting in my 8, 10 hours a day and being dependable, and you go home and your neighbor has got as much or more that don’t do nothing,” he said. “I look for (Trump) to say, ‘Hey, you people that are on the draw, you are going to go to work and earn your check.’”

Justice is not a Republican voter, although he votes for Republicans.

Eugene Dickerson, an Elliott County native who owns a coal mine in West Virginia, has been voting for Republican candidates since 2000. He said Trump’s surprising surge there could be attributed to the county’s conservative mindset, abetted by its abundance of churches, that unites people around issues like abortion and gay marriage.

“I think appointment of Supreme Court really was the driving force behind Donald Trump carrying Elliott County,” he said.

Others see Trump as someone who represents their interests.

“I’m not expecting (Trump) to be a pastor,” Justice said. “But I’m not expecting him to be a dictator.”

NASA: New Mexico Methane ‘hot spot’ linked to fossil fuel industry

A NASA study in New Mexico finds that roughly 50 percent of San Juan Basin methane emissions come from more than 250 very large polluters that were detected by intensive  aerial surveys and ground crews.

The  study of methane emissions generated by the oil and gas industry in the New Mexico’s San Juan Basin is a major step forward in understanding the causes of New Mexico’s methane “hot spot.” It follows up on a 2014 satellite-based study that initially found the “hot spot” and sought to identify its specific causes.

According to the study’s authors, this finding confirms researchers’ earlier speculation that most of the basin’s methane emissions are related to natural gas extraction and coal mining.

The study did not determine the source of the remaining 50 percent of emissions.

Given the more than 20,000 gas wells, myriad storage tanks, thousands of miles of pipelines and several gas processing plants in the area, NASA’s finding that the oil and gas industry is primarily responsible for the “hot spot” is not surprising, according to the Western Environmental Law Center.

WELC, in a news release, said researchers found only one large source of methane not related to oil and gas operations: venting from the San Juan coal mine.

Despite identifying the source of the emissions, one of the authors’ key conclusions is not supported by the evidence, according to WELC. The report says that the small number of large methane sources, “suggests that mitigation of field-wide emissions such as those estimated for Four Corners will be less costly because it only requires identifying and fixing a few emitters.”

WELC said, “The other 50 percent of methane emissions in the region cannot be ignored and mitigating field-wide emissions will require the oil and gas industry to cut emissions from all sources, large and small, if we are to eliminate New Mexico’s ‘hot spot.’ New comprehensive oil and gas methane standards from the EPA and the Bureau of Land Management are currently in the works and, once completed, will require the industry to cut its methane emissions from all sources.”

Trump vows to “free up coal” and cancel Paris climate accord

Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump unveiled an “America first” energy plan he said would unleash unfettered production of oil, coal, natural gas and other energy sources to push the United States toward energy independence.

But the speech, delivered at the annual Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, North Dakota, went far beyond energy, as Trump laid out, in his most detail to date, a populist general election pitch against likely rival Hillary Clinton.

“She’s declared war on the American worker,” Trump said of Clinton, reading from prepared remarks in a stadium packed with thousands.

Trump delivered the policy address just hours after The Associated Press determined he had won the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican presidential nomination. He focused on coal, in particular, to help make his case against Clinton, his likely Democratic opponent in the general election.

In March, Clinton said, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” She has since walked back the remark, calling it “a misstatement” and outlining a plan to help displaced coal workers.

Trump said he would do everything he could “free up the coal” and bring back thousands of coal jobs lost amid steep competition from cheaper natural gas and regulations designed to cut air pollution and reduce greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

“They love it,” Trump said of those who work in coal mines. “We’re going to bring it back and we’re going to help those people because that’s what they want to do.”

The comment marked a shift from a remark Trump made in a 1990 interview with Playboy Magazine, when he compared his career in real estate to “the story of the coal miner’s son.”

“The coal miner gets black-lung disease. His son gets it, then his son. If I had been the son of a coal miner, I would have left the damn mines,” he told Playboy. “But most people don’t have the imagination — or whatever — to leave their mine.”

Asked about the Playboy comment, Trump responded in an email. “I never had the imagination to leave the real estate industry, until I recently decided to make America great again,” he said. “We tend to follow up our father’s footsteps, and that’s the lifestyle we want, even if it’s tougher than other alternatives. … Being a coal miner is really tough, but that’s what they love and unlike Hillary Clinton, I am going to make sure they have they have their jobs for many years to come.”

Trump also promised to cancel the Paris climate agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax money to a United Nations fund to mitigate effects of climate change worldwide.

He is among many Republicans who reject mainstream climate science. He has called climate change a “con job” and a “hoax” and suggested it is a Chinese plot “to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

He accused President Barack Obama of doing “everything he can to get in the way of American energy.”

Trump’s comments were out of step with an ongoing oil boom that has raised U.S. production to record level and cut gas prices to about $2.30 per gallon. The United States has been the world’s top producer of petroleum and natural gas for the last four years, according to the Energy Department.

Since Obama took office in 2009, U.S. onshore crude oil production has increased by nearly 90 percent.

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said Trump’s “so-called energy plan” was “an unmitigated disaster. It’s clear that Donald Trump would bankrupt our air, water and climate just like he’s bankrupted his businesses.”

Brune called Trump a climate-change denier and said “his fossil fuel comeback plan is a dirty fantasy disconnected from economic realities and our moral imperative to transition to clean energy. There are open pools of oil in North Dakota right now that are deeper than Trump’s understanding of energy issues.”

North Dakota is at the heart of America’s oil boom and now is the second largest oil-producing state after Texas, thanks largely to huge reserves in the oil-rich Bakken region and advances in fracking and other drilling technology.

Despite his political position on climate, there is evidence Trump the businessman is moving to hedge his bets.

Earlier this month, one of Trump’s companies specifically cited sea level rise and increased storminess fueled by global warming in paperwork seeking permission to build a nearly two-mile-long stone wall to fortify the shoreline at one of his golf courses in Ireland.

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Associated Press writers Steve Peoples, Michael Biesecker, Erica Werner and Julie Pace in Washington contributed to this report.

 

EPA chief: US quickly phasing out coal for clean energy

The top official at the Environmental Protection Agency said this month the ongoing legal fight over regulating carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants won’t delay the nation’s accelerating shift to cleaner sources of energy.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy spoke at Climate Action 2016, a conference in Washington on efforts to curb global warming. Seeking to reassure her international audience, McCarthy said the United States will absolutely meet its obligations to cut carbon emissions as agreed to in the landmark climate treaty signed in Paris last December.

“Over the last decade the U.S. has reduced more carbon pollution than any other nation in the world, and we are going to continue that pace,” McCarthy said. “While people are really worried that momentum may wane, that is not the case.”

More than two dozen states, including Wisconsin, have sued to stop President Barack Obama’s carbon emissions-cutting Clean Power Plan. The Supreme Court has barred implementation of the new rules until that legal case is resolved.

McCarthy said she is confident the high court will eventually uphold the new regulations, but she added that market forces are already phasing out burning coal to generate electricity as emissions-free wind turbines and solar panels plummet in cost.

“The market right now is saying that coal isn’t competitive,” McCarthy said. “It’s saying it louder and clearer every day.”

Wind turbines and solar panels accounted for more than two-thirds of all new electric generation capacity added to the nation’s grid in 2015, according to a recent analysis by the Energy Department. The remaining third was largely new power plants fueled by natural gas, which has become cheap and plentiful as a result of hydraulic fracturing.

It was the second straight year that U.S. investment in renewable energy projects has outpaced that of fossil fuels. Robust growth is once again predicted for this year.

Wind now ranks as the lowest-cost option for generating electricity, even before federal green-energy tax incentives are factored in.

McCarthy said electric utilities and investors are receiving a strong message that the economic and social costs of relying on dirty fossil fuels will only increase. Public opinion on the issue is also changing quickly, she said.

“You can keep talking to the climate deniers, if you can find them,” McCarthy said. “But I think most people, including in the states that are suing us on the Clean Power Plan, want climate action, and they want us to regulate the fossil industry for carbon pollution.”

Settlement reached over mercury from coal plant

Clean Wisconsin, Sierra Club, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Wisconsin Public Service announced March 21 a settlement in a legal dispute over how much mercury can be emitted from a coal-fired power plant in Rothschild.

“The Weston coal plant emits toxic pollution, including mercury, which can cause neurological and developmental problems, especially in children,” Elizabeth Wheeler, senior staff attorney at Clean Wisconsin, said in a news release issued March 21. “It’s critical that a protective mercury limit is in place for Weston 4 to protect public health.”

Wisconsin law requires that newer coal-fired power plants such as Weston 4  limit mercury emissions to the maximum degree achievable. Testing of Weston 4’s equipment showed the plant could reduce mercury to 0.8 pounds per trillion British thermal units (lbs/tBTU), but WPS contested the limit, hoping for a far less stringent requirement.

Wheeler said, “Given all its health impacts, weak mercury limitations are not an option. While it has been a long road to this agreement, today’s settlement upholds the DNR’s more stringent limit.”

Mercury is a neurotoxin that can affect the brain, liver and kidneys and cause developmental disorders in children.

The EPA estimates more than 10,000 children born each year in Wisconsin are prenatally exposed to elevated levels of mercury, an exposure that puts them at risk of having lower IQs and reduced memory.

Also, according to Clean Wisconsin, every inland body of water in Wisconsin is under a fish consumption advisory due to mercury pollution.

“We support the DNR’s efforts to maintain protective permit limits,” Wheeler said. “Coal plants are Wisconsin’s No. 1 source of mercury pollution, and until they can be replaced with clean energy sources, their toxic emissions must be controlled.”

More about mercury & coal

Clean Wisconsin’s Enviropedia.

Landmark anti-coal bill becomes law in Oregon

Oregon is the first state to eradicate coal from its power supply through legislation and now boasts some of the most stringent demands for renewable energy among its state peers.

The new law will wipe out coal-generated energy in phases through 2030 and requires utilities to provide half of customers’ power with renewable sources by 2040, doubling the state’s previous standard.

“Oregon is known to be a leader in clean-energy programs, investing in energy efficiency and recognizing the risk of climate change,” said Gov. Kate Brown, who signed the measure surrounded by students at a Portland elementary school that’s powered by solar panels.

oregon gov. kate brown
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. — PHOTO: Courtesy

Environmental experts and advocates say the law’s coal phase-out component is precedent-setting for lawmakers considering similar moves in their own states, although Hawaii and Vermont have long-standing histories of running coal-free.

The renewables portion thrusts Oregon to the top ranks of a handful of other states that have renewable mandates of 50 percent or more. Hawaii, for instance, has a 100-percent requirement by 2045 while Massachusetts has 1-percent annual increase indefinitely, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

 

Coal, climate and politics

Coal and renewables are among the key talking points that drive the national debate over climate change, which is a top agenda item for Democrats and the party’s presidential campaigns this year. Oregon’s new law also aligns with some of President Obama’s statements on the topic over the years.

“We’ve got to accelerate the transition away from old, dirtier energy sources. Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future — especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels,” Obama said during his final State of the Union address in January.

But Democrats’ efforts for tighter regulations on the energy industry are at odds with Republicans who are trying to block Obama’s Clean Power Plan in court.

Even for progressive Oregon, the new anti-coal law — a negotiated deal between the state’s utilities and environmentalists — wasn’t an easy pass.

Oregon GOP lawmakers, the minority party in both statehouse chambers, went to great lengths to stop the measure with tactics that slowed down the entire legislative process. The GOP raised concerns about cost increases to consumers’ energy bills and questioned whether the environmental benefits were overstated.

“Today, Gov. Brown gave her stamp of approval to a new renewable energy mandate that will cost residential electricity customers in Oregon $190 more each year until 2040,” Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli, among the law’s most outspoken opponents, said Friday.

He argued the law “lines the pockets of the green energy industry at the expense of working Oregonians who get nothing in return.”

Interior Dept. halts new coal leases

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced on Jan. 15 that the Interior Department will launch a comprehensive review to identify and evaluate potential reforms to the federal coal program to ensure it provides a :fair return to taxpayers and reflect its impacts on the environment, while continuing to help meet our energy needs.”

This means a halt to new coal leases. The Interior Department referred to the halt as a “pause.”

The announcement follows President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, in which he spoke of improving management fossil fuel resources and moving the country toward a clean energy economy.

The review will examine concerns about the federal coal program that have been raised by the Government Accountability Office, the Interior Department’s Inspector General, members of Congress and the public.

The review, according to Jewell, will take a careful look at issues such as how, when, and where to lease; how to account for the environmental and public health impacts of federal coal production; and how to ensure American taxpayers are earning a fair return for the use of their public resources.

“Even as our nation transitions to cleaner energy sources, building on smart policies and progress already underway, we know that coal will continue to be an important domestic energy source in the years ahead,” said Jewell in a news release. “We haven’t undertaken a comprehensive review of the program in more than 30 years, and we have an obligation to current and future generations to ensure the federal coal program delivers a fair return to American taxpayers and takes into account its impacts on climate change.”

Consistent with the practice during two reviews of the federal coal program that occurred during the 1970s and 1980s, the Interior Department will institute a pause on issuing new coal leases while the review is underway.

The pause does not apply to existing coal production activities.

Also, the department said there “will be limited, commonsense exceptions to the pause, including for metallurgical coal (typically used in steel production), small lease modifications and emergency leasing, including where there is a demonstrated safety need or insufficient reserves.”

In addition, pending leases that have already completed an environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act and received a final Record of Decision or Decision Order by a federal agency will be allowed to complete the final procedural steps to secure a lease.

During and after the pause, companies can continue to mine the large amount of coal reserves already under lease, estimated to be enough to sustain current levels of production from federal land for approximately 20 years.

“Given serious concerns raised about the federal coal program, we’re taking the prudent step to hit pause on approving significant new leases so that decisions about those leases can benefit from the recommendations that come out of the review,” said Jewell. “During this time, companies can continue production activities on the large reserves of recoverable coal they have under lease, and we’ll make accommodations in the event of emergency circumstances to ensure this pause will have no material impact on the nation’s ability to meet its power generation needs. We are undertaking this effort with full consideration of the importance of maintaining reliable and affordable energy for American families and businesses, as well other federal programs and policies.”

The action builds on Jewell’s call last March for an open and honest conversation about modernizing the federal coal program.

Also, the secretary on Jan. 15 said the Interior Department will undertake a series of good government reforms to improve transparency and administration of the federal coal program. These reforms include establishing a publicly available database to account for the carbon emitted from fossil fuels developed on public lands, requiring Bureau of Land Management offices to publicly post online pending requests to lease coal or reduce royalties, and facilitating the capture of waste mine methane.

The full review is expected to take approximately three years.

Reaction to the announcement:

“This measure signifies a key step towards sunsetting a practice that has led to immense environmental destruction, human and health impacts, and is one of the greatest sources of carbon emissions worldwide,” says Amanda Starbuck, climate and energy program director at Rainforest Action Network.

Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said, “The Sierra Club applauds President Obama and Secretary Jewell for their leadership in reforming the federal coal leasing program and putting an immediate stop to all new and modified coal leasing. This program is broken, outdated, and does not consider the threat of climate change in our communities, and thanks to the Obama Administration’s leadership, we can proudly say that big coal’s destructive reach over our public lands is coming to an end.”

House passes bill that would undermine stream protections

The House of Representatives on Jan. 12 passed the STREAM Act. The measure would undercut an effort long in the works by the Obama administration to update environmental standards for coal mining, especially the mountaintop removal mining that has been destroying streams in Appalachia for more than 30 years.

The Obama administration is proposing a set of improvements in its Stream Protection Rule, but the House vote places these needed regulatory improvements at risk.  

The U.S. Office of Surface Mining is in the final stages of the Stream Protection Rule, but the advancement of H.R. 1644 would require procedural hurdles that would delay implementation for at least three years. 

Chris Espinosa, a policy expert with the Earthjustice environmental advocacy group, said in a news release, This stream protection rule, which the Obama administration has waited so long to introduce, is a positive step forward in protecting water quality in streams impacted by the devastating practice of mountaintop removal mining. This rule better protects communities and ecosystems that are reliant on streams in the Appalachian Mountains.”

“The people of Appalachia need stronger protection, not more delay. Congress should not undermine important safeguards as a giveaway to coal industry polluters.”

A state by state look at renewable energy requirements

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have requirements that utilities get a certain amount of their electricity from renewable sources. Nine additional states have goals for renewable energy, while a dozen others have no targets.

A state-by-state look at renewable energy policies.

WISCONSIN

State law sets a target of 10 percent of all electricity coming from renewable sources this year. Requirements vary for each utility, but the amount of renewable energy must be at least 6 percentage points above its 2001-2003 average.

ALABAMA

No renewable energy standard.

ALASKA

A bill passed in 2010 sets a goal, but not a requirement, for Alaska to receive half its electricity from renewable and alternative energy sources by 2025.

ARIZONA

Public utilities must get 6 percent of their electricity from renewable sources in 2016, gradually rising annually to 15 percent by 2025.

ARKANSAS

No renewable energy standard.

CALIFORNIA

Utilities must get one-third of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. That requirement rises to 40 percent by 2024, 45 percent by 2027 and half of all electricity by 2030.

COLORADO

Utility companies currently must get 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources, rising to 30 percent by 2020. The standards are lower for electric cooperatives and municipal suppliers, topping out at 10 or 20 percent by 2020 depending on their size.

CONNECTICUT

Utilities must get 21 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources in 2016, gradually rising annually to 27 percent by 2020.

DELAWARE

Utilities must derive 13 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources this year, gradually rising annually until reaching 25 percent in 2025.

FLORIDA

No renewable energy standard.

GEORGIA

No renewable energy standard.

HAWAII

Utility companies must provide 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources this year. That requirement rises to 30 percent in 2020, 40 percent in 2030 and 70 percent in 2040. By 2045, all electricity must come from renewable sources.

IDAHO

No renewable energy standard.

ILLINOIS

Utilities are required to get at least 10 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources this year, gradually rising annually to 25 percent by 2025.

INDIANA

Public utilities can receive regulatory approval for larger earnings if they agree to obtain at least 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025. As much as 30 percent of that target can come from clean-burning coal facilities, nuclear power and natural gas generators that displace coal-fired plants.

IOWA

The state adopted the nation’s first renewable energy law in 1983, requiring investor-owned utilities to have 105 megawatts of generating capacity from renewable sources. Utilities have far exceeded that threshold.

KANSAS

A state law had required at least 20 percent of a utility’s peak demand for electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020. But an amendment passed this year made that a voluntary goal.

KENTUCKY

No renewable energy standard.

LOUISIANA

No renewable energy standard.

MAINE

At least 40 percent of total retail electricity sales must come from renewable energy sources by 2017.

MARYLAND

Utilities must comply with a gradually increasing standard that requires at least 20 percent of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2022.

MASSACHUSETTS

Utilities must derive 11 percent of their electricity from renewable sources in 2016, gradually rising to 15 percent by 2020 and growing by an additional 1 percent annually thereafter.

MICHIGAN

Utilities must get 10 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources as of this year.

MINNESOTA

Most utilities must provide 17 percent of their electricity from renewable sources in 2016, rising to 21.5 percent in 2020 and 26.5 percent in 2025. The state’s largest utility faces a higher standard of 25 percent from renewable sources by 2016 and 31.5 percent by 2020.

MISSISSIPPI

No renewable energy standard.

MISSOURI

Investor-owned utilities currently must get 5 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, rising to 10 percent in 2018 and 15 percent beginning in 2021.

MONTANA

Public utilities must get at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources as of this year.

NEBRASKA

No renewable energy standard.

NEVADA

Utilities currently must derive 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources. That requirement rises to 22 percent in 2020 and 25 percent in 2025.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Utilities must get 16.7 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources in 2016, gradually rising annually to 24.8 percent in 2025.

NEW JERSEY

Utilities must get more than 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020.

NEW MEXICO

Public utilities currently must provide at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, rising to 20 percent by 2020. Rural electric cooperatives face a lesser standard of 5 percent renewable sources this year, rising to 10 percent by 2020.

NEW YORK

Utilities must get 29 percent of their electricity from renewable sources as of this year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has set a goal of renewable sources comprising half of all electricity by 2030.

NORTH CAROLINA

Utilities currently must provide 6 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, rising to 10 percent in 2018. For investor-owned utilities, that rises to 12.5 percent in 2021.

NORTH DAKOTA

State law sets a voluntary goal of supplying 10 percent of electricity from renewable sources by this year.

OHIO

A state law had required utilities to get 25 percent of their electricity from alternative sources by 2025, with half of that coming from renewable sources and half from improved technologies such as clean-burning coal or nuclear facilities. But a 2014 law put a hold on the gradual implementation of those standards, meaning the renewable energy portion of that requirement will remain at 2.5 percent in 2016.

OKLAHOMA

State law sets a goal, but not a requirement, for 15 percent of electrical generating capacity to come from renewable sources as of this year.

OREGON

Large utilities currently must get 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, rising to 20 percent in 2020 and 25 percent in 2025. Smaller utilities face a renewable requirement of either 10 percent or 5 percent by 2025, depending on their size.

PENNSYLVANIA

Utilities currently must get 13.7 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, gradually rising annually to 18 percent by 2021. A portion of that can come from clean-burning coal facilities.

RHODE ISLAND

The state Public Utilities Commission delayed a scheduled increase this year in its renewable energy standards, citing a potentially inadequate supply. That held the requirement at 8.5 percent – instead of 10 percent – of electricity coming from renewable sources.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Utilities may choose to participate in an energy program that includes at least 2 percent of their electricity coming from in-state renewable energy facilities by 2021.

SOUTH DAKOTA

State law sets a voluntary goal of 10 percent of electricity coming from renewable sources and conservation efforts as of this year.

TENNESSEE

No renewable energy standard.

TEXAS

In 1999, the state set a target of having 5,880 megawatts of generating capacity from renewable energy by this year, with a goal of 10,000 megawatts by 2025. That long-range goal already has been exceeded.

UTAH

State law sets a target for utilities to provide about 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025, if it is cost-effective to do so.

VERMONT

A law enacted this year converted Vermont’s renewable energy targets to requirements, meaning utilities will have to get 55 percent of their electricity from renewable sources in 2017. That will rise periodically until it reaches 75 percent in 2032.

VIRGINIA

Investor-owned utilities have a voluntary 2016 state goal for their renewable energy to equal 7 percent of their electricity sales in 2007. That goal rises to 12 percent in 2022 and 15 percent in 2025.

WASHINGTON

Large utilities must obtain at least 9 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2016 and 15 percent by 2020.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Utilities must provide an amount of electricity from renewable sources that increases each year, reaching 20 percent in 2020.

WEST VIRGINIA

Lawmakers this year repealed a 2009 law that had set a goal for large investor-owned utilities to get 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources in 2015 and 25 percent by 2025. The repealed law had included certain coal and natural gas facilities in its description of renewable sources.

WYOMING

No renewable energy standard.