California has been a bit of a rabble-rouser in the world of energy these days.
The Golden State on Tuesday submitted another petition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from industrial machines in the construction, mining, and agricultural industries, Reuters reported.
The petition adds an additional complication to the battle that the California is already fighting with the EPA about the state's ability to set its own vehicle-emissions standards above and beyond the ones recently outlined in the Energy Independence and Security Act (see President Signs Energy Bill and Looking for Answers from the EPA) .
And officials from California, Connecticut, Oregon, New Jersey and Massachusetts will also sign the new petition, based on the reasoning that greenhouse gases from industrial machinery emit as much carbon dioxide as 40 million cars. "This is a serious problem that the EPA has failed to address," California Attorney General Jerry Brown told Reuters.
The Golden State has positioned itself as a pioneer in the clean-energy sphere, but has been meeting resistance from the EPA in recent months and is embroiled in a lawsuit with the agency (see EPA Rejects California Vehicle-Emission Standards).
But now it looks like another state could be challenging California's cleantech title.
The U.S. Department of Energy announced on Tuesday that it had signed an agreement with the state of Hawaii to ramp up the state's use of clean energy to 70 percent of Hawaii's energy by 2030. That's an astronomical number when considering that most states have been satisfied with -- and even struggling to meet -- goals of 20 or 25 percent.
"Hawaii's success will serve as an integrated model and demonstration test bed for the United States and other island communities globally, many of which are just beginning to transition to a clean-energy community," said Alexander Karsner, the DOE's assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, in a written statement.
According to the DOE, Hawaii relies on fossil fuels to supply 90 percent of its energy, yet is blessed with abundant natural resources like sun, wind and geothermal capabilities.
And Robert Wilder, CEO and founder of Wildershares and manager of the WilderHill Clean Energy Index, said that powering the state with coal never made any sense in the first place. In addition to its potential to pollute Hawaii's natural beauty, coal isn't native to the state and must be shipped there, while harnessing wind or solar power is far more economical given Hawaii's high energy and fuel prices.
Wilder did, however, raise his eyebrows at the 70-percent figure. "Basically, to reach 70 percent means not only are you growing new wind and solar, but also possibly shutting down some of the really dirty stations," he explained.
While a system of relying on clean energy seems endemic to Hawaii, Wilder, a former denizen of the state, says that legislation often doesn't move as quickly there as it does in California, and officials will have to work hard to reach the goal of 70 percent clean energy.
"It's simply a matter of will," Wilder said. "It's just, how strong is the political power? If the chips fell where they would naturally fall, Hawaii would be mostly renewable energy."
And what about the recent developments in California?
"It's pretty easy to predict that the EPA is not following the course you'd think they would by their name," Wilder said.
"When push comes to shove, I think they have been more of a hindrance than a help. And that will probably change next January."