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Blog posts February 2011

Energy Update, February 25, 2011

February 25, 2011

In the States

MD – Governor Martin O’Malley recently proposed legislation that would require utilities in the State to purchase wind energy generated off the coast of Ocean City.  The Governor’s plan calls the development of an offshore wind farm that would provide enough energy to power half the homes in Baltimore and could create as many as 2,000 construction and manufacturing jobs.  Legislators generally approve of the plan, but are concerned about potential additional costs to ratepayers, which are expected to average $1.44 per month.  The U.S. Interior Department, which is attempting to streamline offshore wind development, has said the required leases could be issued by the end of the year.  Environmental groups back O’Malley’s offshore wind planWashington Post

WY – Governor Matt Mead has filed three petitions in the U.S. Circuit Court against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), claiming that the federal agency moved too quickly in imposing a federal plan to regulate greenhouse gases.  The suit was filed, at least in part, because of what Governor Mead called “unreasonable deadlines” the EPA gave the State to revise it’s permitting system to comply with federal requirements; while the EPA often gives States three years to revise their rules, Wyoming was given only nine days.  Wyoming joins Peabody Energy, the National Mining Association, and the State of Texas in suing the U.S. EPA over the regulations.  Wyo. Joins Texas in suing EPA over rollout of greenhouse gas regulationsNew York Times

National News

The U.S. EPA has made several changes to a rule on industrial boilers and incinerators that will cost industry half as much for compliance as originally estimated.  Operators of the boilers and incinerators will collectively pay $1.8 billion less per year because of exemptions for clean-fuel burning plants and greatly reduced compliance requirements for smaller boilers.  The EPA, responding to opposition in Congress and an executive order from President Barack Obama requiring a review of regulations that could slow job growth, said that 2,200 jobs would be created through the updated regulations, which are intended to reduce mercury and other emissions.  While acknowledging the changes included in the proposed rule made sense boiler and incinerator operator groups would like to see further modifications that would mitigate the fiscal impacts on manufacturers, universities, and industrial energy providers after additional public comments are filed.  EPA trims costs to control toxic air pollutionWashington Post

 

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Energy Update, February 11, 2011

February 11, 2011

In the States

MO – The Missouri legislature has passed legislation that keeps the voter-approved requirement that 15% of Missouri’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2021, but eliminates the requirement that utilities purchase energy from producers located in the state or directly from sources outside Missouri.  Governor Jay Nixon has not commented on whether he will sign or veto the measure, which would allow utilities to instead purchase renewable energy “credits” rather than require them to obtain energy from renewable projects.  Proponents of the bill say that loosening restrictions gives utilities greater flexibility to meet the renewable standard, while opponents say the legislation will result in the same rates for electricity, but none of the environmental or economic benefits from requiring the utilities to obtain a portion of their power generation from renewable sources.  Missouri General Assembly kills two rules on renewable energy sourcesKansas City Star

NH – Governor John Lynch has written a letter in opposition to a bill in the New Hampshire State House that would end the State’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the Northeast’s cap-and-trade system.  The bill, which was introduced in the House Committee on Science, Technology, and Energy, says that the permits required by RGGI have “increased consumer costs for electricity, fuel, and food.”  Governor Lynch wrote that prices would not fall after withdrawing from the program since rates are set regionally, but that the State would lose all income from the sale of the permits, about $12 million per year.  New Hampshire Governor backs Northeast’s carbon dioxide marketBloomberg and Governor Lynch opposes RGGI repealOffice of Governor John Lynch

WI – Legislators will not take up a bill proposed by Governor Scott Walker that would have increased property setback requirements where wind turbines are built.  However, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules is holding a hearing on a rule that would allow property owners to build wind turbines only 1,250 feet from their property line, as previously proposed by the State’s Public Service Commission.  This rule could either move forward or be blocked by a vote of the legislature.  Governor Walker’s bill proposed that turbines be set back by at least 1,800 feet and he has said he wants “to see the wind industry, like every other industry, be effective here in the state of Wisconsin,” but that promoting this industry must also be balanced with property rights.  Legislature won’t take up Walker’s wind-siting billMilwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Some States, facing record deficits for the past few years, are seeking to ensure that no revenue is lost due to technological and environmental advances.  Since owners of electric cars use the same roads as gas-powered cars, but do not pay a gas tax that funds those roads, lawmakers in Oregon and Washington have introduced legislation that would charge drivers of electric vehicles either a flat fee or a mileage tax in order to make up for this lost revenue.  Oregon’s bill would impose a per-mile tax of 0.6 cents or about $90 per 15,000 miles driven (about the equivalent of the gas taxes paid for a hybrid), while the bill in Washington would impose a flat fee of $100 when registering an electric car with the State.  Proposal would charge drivers of electric carsRegister-Guard and Electric car owners might face $100 State feeSeattle Times

National News

In an effort to support President Obama’s stated goal of deriving 80% of electricity from renewable sources by 2035, the Departments of Energy and Interior released a joint plan to spur quick development of offshore wind farms, which includes up to $50.5 million of funding incentives.  The funding will be allocated over the next five years and split into three separate initiatives: developing better tools to study and implement offshore wind systems; improving the design of drivetrains inside wind turbines; and removing barriers to the marketplace.  The plan also identifies 911 square nautical miles off the coasts of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia that will undergo early environmental reviews to expedite the process of approving offshore wind development.  U.S. selects zones in four States to accelerate offshore wind energyBloomberg and Salazar, Chu announce major offshore wind initiativesEERE News

Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Lisa Jackson testified for more than two hours before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power, in part to defend her agency’s actions in regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.  Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY), who is sponsoring a draft bill that would revoke the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases, said that "Congress intends to reassert itself in the statutory and regulatory process at EPA and specifically the Clean Air Act."  Administrator Jackson said that the Clean Air Act and scientific evidence of global climate change compelled her agency to move forward with regulating greenhouse gases and that the proposed legislation “would eliminate portions of the landmark law that all American children and adults rely on to protect them from harmful air pollution." Global warming heats up Republican attacks on EPAWashington Post

 

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