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Blog posts November 2011

Energy Update, November 18, 2011

In the States

AZ – Governor Jan Brewer has taken the final steps to withdraw Arizona from the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), the regional cap-and-trade agreement entered into by her predecessor, former Governor Janet Napolitano.  The director of the State’s Department of Environmental Quality, Henry Darwin, said that rather than subscribe to the cap-and-trade program, Arizona will join North America 2050, a group of states that will consider greenhouse gas emissions issues, but let each member State decide what emissions reduction policies make sense economically and environmentally.  Governor Brewer’s administration has also begun to eliminate rules that would have required reductions in carbon dioxide emissions in autos starting next year.  In both cases, administration officials cited new and proposed federal environmental regulations that they believe lessen the need for States to take separate action on climate and pollution issues.  Brewer withdraws Arizona from climate initiativeArizona Daily Sun

ME – Governor Paul LePage has said that he would like to halve the percentage of homes reliant on heating oil in Maine from 80 percent to 40 percent by the end of his current term in 2014.  The Governor’s plan involves increasing access to natural gas in urban areas where the population is dense enough to make installing pipelines cost-effective, and wood pellets in more rural areas.  While some lawmakers and experts think that the goal is ambitious, most agree with the idea of diversifying fuel sources for home heating.  LePage wants heating oil use cut in half by 2014Bangor Daily News

A group of 15 Governors has sent a letter to the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committee leadership urging them to fund the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2012 at the same level as FFY 2011.  The letter said that the encroaching cold weather coupled with higher oil and propane costs make such funding timely and critical.  Under the temporary appropriations bill that funds the government through December 16, LIHEAP is cut by more than half, from $4.7 billion to $2 billion.  Signatories of the letter include Governors Hickenlooper (CO), Malloy (CT), Markell (DE), Quinn (IL), LePage (ME), O’Malley (MD), Patrick (MA), Dayton (MN), Lynch (NH), Cuomo (NY), Perdue (NC), Chafee (RI), Shumlin (RI), Tomblin (WV), and deJongh (VI).  Gov. Patrick calls on Congress to fund winter fuel assistanceMilford Daily News and Letter to Congress [pdf]Fifteen Governors

Governors Hickenlooper of Colorado, Fallin of Oklahoma, Corbett of Pennsylvania, and Mead of Wyoming have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to encourage the production of affordable natural gas-powered vehicles for their fleets and for public consumption.  The MOU announces the States’ intentions to issue a joint request for proposal (RFP) “that aggregates annual State fleet vehicle procurements” in order to boost demand for the vehicles and help incentivize their design and manufacture.  The Governors also wrote that they will solicit support from other Governors prior to the issuance of the RFP.  Wyoming Governor Matt Mead’s policy director, Shawn Reese, said that “by working with other states and Wyoming’s cities, towns and counties, we can show automakers in Detroit that there is a large enough market for replacement vehicles for them to manufacture natural gas fleets that can be sold back to the public at prices comparable to traditional vehicles.”  Wyoming Gov. Mead joins multistate effort to push for affordable natural gas vehiclesWyoming Star-Tribune and Memorandum of Understanding [pdf]Four Governors

The Governors Wind Energy Coalition, a bipartisan group of 23 Governors, has written Congress urging them to extend the production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy that is set to expire at the end of 2012, specifically endorsing H.R. 3307, the American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act.  The Governors note that wind energy projects are beginning to slow down due to uncertainty over whether they will be eligible for the credits in coming years, and expect that if the credits are not renewed, “there will be negative impacts on the high-tech manufacturing jobs that the industry has brought to or created in our states.”  Governors urge prompt extension of wind energy tax exemptionREVE and Letter to Congress [pdf]Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition

Federal News

President Barack Obama’s administration has announced that the decision on whether to allow construction of the 1700-mile Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will be delayed until after the 2012 election.  The State Department, which has the authority to issue or deny permits on the project, says that it will review alternative routes that would avoid certain environmentally vulnerable areas, delaying the decision until early 2013.  Prior to the announcement of the delay, TransCanada, the company that would build the pipeline, suggested changing the route to avoid crossing an aquifer in Nebraska.  President Obama and the State Department had come under pressure from environmental groups who generally oppose the project, Nebraska state officials who oppose the proposed route of the pipeline because of the potential impact of a spill on environmentally sensitive areas of that state, and oil companies, labor unions, and the Canadian government who support the pipeline because of its economic and job creation potential.  U.S. delays decision on pipeline until after electionNew York Times and Keystone pipeline builder proposes changing Nebraska RouteLos Angeles Times

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Energy Update, November 4, 2011

In the States

NE – Governor Dave Heineman has called a special session of the legislature for the purpose of considering legislation on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.  Thus far, at least three bills have been introduced to strengthen regulatory requirements for construction of the pipeline within the State.  Governor Heineman, State lawmakers, and residents living in affected areas are concerned about the safety of the pipeline, especially as it crosses an aquifer that serves 1.5 million people and that is vulnerable to contaminants such as oil, should a leak occur.  One of the proposed bills would give oversight of the project to the State’s Public Service Commission, while another would prohibit pipeline developers from taking land through eminent domain without a permit.  In another proposed bill, a panel would be convened to recommend whether to approve or deny a pipeline proposal and report to the State’s Governor, who would have the final say on whether a pipeline route would be acceptable.  Neb. bill would give Governor pipeline authorityBloomberg BusinessWeek

Federal News

President Barack Obama has announced that he will personally decide whether to issue a federal permit for the 1700-mile Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.  The proposed permit for the controversial pipeline has been under review by the State Department for three years.  President Obama said that he will review a report from the State Department in the next several months and make a decision based on economic and public health concerns.  Unions and industry groups who support the pipeline say that the $7 billion investment would create thousands of jobs while environmentalists say that the pipeline would go through environmentally sensitive areas and that creating usable oil from tar sands creates more greenhouse gases than other types of oil.  Obama to make decision on controversial oil pipelineWashington Post

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