Friday, February 26, 2021

Sen. Yaw Bill Would Load Up Renewable Energy Projects, Makers Of Energy Efficiency Products, Biomass, Coal Waste Plants, Alternative Fuels, Even High-Efficiency Locomotives With Bonds To Make Them Less Competitive

On February 26, Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, introduced
Senate Bill 284 that imposes new bonding requirements on solar electric generation, biomass, coal waste and other renewable energy projects of any type included in the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards.

Also covered by the new bonding requirement are--

-- Alternative Fuels, Energy Efficiency, Energy Conservation Product Makers: “A facility that manufactures or produces products, including component parts, that provide alternative energy or alternative fuels, improve energy efficiency or conserve energy.”

-- Alternative Energy R&D Facilities: “A facility used for the research and development of technology to provide alternative energy sources or alternative fuels”

-- Transportation Systems For Alternative Fuels & High-Efficiency Locomotives: “A project for the development or enhancement of rail transportation systems that deliver alternative fuels or high-efficiency locomotives.”

“While wind and solar may use renewable energy sources to generate electricity, the components they utilize to do so are not. Often, they include rare earth metals and other hazardous materials which pose environmental or public health hazard if not handled appropriately,” Sen. Yaw said in his co-sponsor memo.

“Wind and solar facilities have a finite life span, and many across the United States are coming to the end of their useful life. Establishing reasonable bonding amounts will help to address challenges as to how to properly decommission a site or handle associated waste,” he saide.

“The amount of the bond shall be reasonably proportionate to the costs related to potential hazardous liabilities, site decommissioning and reclamation, and proper recycling or disposal of the wind and solar facilities.”

There was no explanation of why any energy efficiency product, which could range from an LED light bulb, to a thermostat to thousands of other products, would be covered.

There was no explanation of why any company that produces alternative energy or alternative fuels should be covered, which could include businesses ranging from biofuel distributors and blenders, to compressed natural gas cylinder makers, battery makers and hundreds of component parts.

There was no explanation of why research and development facilities for alternative energy sources or fuels would be covered, which could include dozens of colleges and universities across the state.

There was no explanation of why high-efficiency locomotives were covered, which could significantly impact Erie’s major employer-- Webtec-- and other Pennsylvania companies.

The bill was referred to the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee that Sen. Yaw Chairs.

Flawed Premise

Rare earth minerals are not toxic in products themselves, obviously.  We use iPhones, tablets and other electronic products everyday with these materials in them.  Mining, processing and recycling rare earth minerals can pose risks to workers and the environment.

Interestingly, Penn State and others are actively researching how rare earth minerals can be extracted from coal, which could help revive that industry and help mine reclamation efforts. Read more here.

Sen. Yaw, said, “This is not a new concept as coal, natural gas, solid waste and a host of other industries are required to post financial guarantees for their activities. This requirement would not apply to homes and businesses which host solar facilities that generate electricity for their own use.”

Simply not true.  Coal, natural gas, solid waste and a host of other industries are NOT required to post a bond for things like hazardous liabilities, proper recycling and disposal of their facilities themselves.

Coal, natural gas, solid waste and other industries produce air and water pollution and waste as part of their operations that must be safely managed.  It is these waste, air and water pollution controls that are bonded in case the public has to clean them up, NOT the industrial facility itself.

Obviously, solar and wind energy facilities do NOT produce air pollution and waste in their operation like coal, natural gas and other industries do.

Second, no other electric generation or industrial-type product has a requirement they be recycled, let alone have a bonding requirement.

Third, if “hazardous liabilities” and “recycling” costs are to be covered for solar, wind and renewable energy facilities, they should also be covered for coal, natural gas, waste and other industrial facilities because they are NOT covered now.

Fourth, a bonding requirement will make what has rapidly become the cheapest form of electricity generation-- renewables, which are now beating out coal and in many places natural gas, more expensive. Read more here.

Part Of Larger Effort To Kill Solar

Requiring bonds for solar projects alone would kill $2 billion worth of private solar investment just waiting to happen in Pennsylvania, according to information presented at a hearing by the House Consumer Affairs Committee last year.  Read more here.

In another approach to kill solar energy projects last year, House Republicans introduced and moved House Bill 2197 (Dush-R- Clearfield) that would add solar panels to the state’s broken Electronic Waste Recycling Program to require manufacturers to support recycling programs that collect solar panels.  Read more here.

The issue of recycling solar panels has been brought up frequently by Republicans who oppose renewable energy and addressing climate change.

Related Articles This Week:

-- Sen. Yaw Introduces Bill To Preempt Local Governments From Requiring New Buildings Use Climate-Friendly Energy Sources 

-- Sen. Yaw Introduces Bill To Control Overuse Of Fertilizer On Turf; 11th Year For Consideration

Senate Republican 2021 Environmental & Energy Agenda

-- PA Senate Republican Caucus Files Lawsuit Against Delaware River Basin Commission Over Shale Gas Drilling Moratorium 

-- Republicans On Senate Environmental Committee Approve Letter Urging IRRC To Disapprove Reg. Reducing Carbon Pollution From Power Plants

-- Senate Republican Bills Kill Regulations By Doing Nothing, Shield Violators From Enforcement

-- Senate Republicans Want To Mandate Private Contractor Permit Reviews, Eliminating DEP’s Review On Behalf Of The Public 

[Posted: February 26, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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