Blog posts March 2011
In the States
AR – In delivering the keynote address to a wind power workshop in Little Rock, Governor Mike Beebe said that States’ investments in wind energy would create jobs, improve the environment, and strengthen national security and made a case for States to increase wind energy production. Governor Beebe said that while Arkansas may not be the ideal candidate for wind farms compared to the rest of the country, it can still be involved through manufacturing wind power products. Mike Beebe: Wind energy important to Arkansas jobs, economy – Arkansas Business
UT – After consulting with academic, industrial, environmental, and governmental experts, as well as receiving public input, Governor Gary Herbert issued a 10-year energy plan for Utah. Among the goals Governor Herbert set in the plan are “a balanced use of fossil fuels and alternatives and renewable resources” that also balances economic and environmental interests, promotes energy efficiency, and increases partnerships with universities and communities to “address future energy challenges and opportunities.” The Governor’s plan also calls for seriously debating the use of nuclear energy in the State as a way to provide baseload energy capacity. Gov. Gary Herbert’s energy plan includes nuclear – Deseret News and Energy Initiatives and Imperatives: Utah’s 10-Year Strategic Energy Plan [pdf] – Governor Gary Herbert
WY – Governor Matt Mead applauded the leasing of federal land to mining companies for the extraction of up to 750 million tons of coal during a news conference with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The leases are estimated to be worth between $13.4 billion and $21.3 billion in revenue, with roughly half this amount going to the State. More than a dozen similar leases will be granted over the next three years. Governor Mead said “We need the energy. We need the jobs that come with the energy.” Federal lands in Wyoming opened to coal mining – New York Times
The nuclear crisis in Japan that followed the devastating earthquake and tsunami has brought renewed scrutiny of the use and expansion of nuclear energy industry in the United States. For example, spent fuel located in the Japanese plant overheated, causing some government officials here in the U.S. to renew calls for the opening of Yucca Mountain, the federally designated nuclear waste storage facility, or another similar site. Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakley and Senate President Therese Murray wrote in a letter to federal Energy Department officials that "the events in Japan show that a breach can occur," and called for a central nuclear repository. Former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and current member of a panel advising the Obama on nuclear waste storage, Richard Meserve, said that "There may be some things about the vulnerability of spent fuel pools that will be learned as a result of the Japanese accident that will cause us to rethink what we do in the U.S." Storage of nuclear waster gets new scrutiny – Wall Street Journal
Additionally, the push for more nuclear power may face new obstacles due to the issues raised by the current nuclear crisis in Japan. While President Barack Obama has not backed down from seeking $36 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear plants, and his Energy Department says that nuclear is a “low-cost, carbon-free” fuel that will spur job growth and protect the environment, the industry, its backers, and pro-environment groups are preparing for a long battle over the future role of nuclear power in the United States. Lobbyists’ long effort to revive nuclear industry faces new test – New York Times
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson has proposed rules that would drastically cut the amount of toxic emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants. The plan to reduce mercury, acid gas, sulfur dioxide, and 81 other pollutants has been delayed for 20 years, and if approved, would still not take effect for five more years. Affected plants would need to utilize a variety of methods to reduce the emissions, which are expected to cost a total of $10.9 billion per year nationwide, or about $3 – $4 per month per electric bill. EPA estimates that as many as 17,000 deaths, an additional 11,000 heart attacks, and 120,000 cases of asthma per year would be prevented every year under the new rules. EPA proposes toxic emissions rules for power plants – New York Times
In the States
OR – In a speech to an audience of 700 at a luncheon in Portland, Governor John Kitzhaber provided his vision for the future of Oregon, including some new energy policies and projects. One of these is the “Cool Schools” project, which would utilize energy savings bonds to weatherize older schools and increase their energy efficiency and replace inefficient boilers with new biomass-burning models. The bonds would be repaid with energy cost savings realized by the schools over time. Governor Kitzhaber’s allies in the legislature are confident that the measure will receive bipartisan support. Kitzhaber: Oregon needs sweeping changes – Portland Business Journal and Oregon hashes out green schools plan – Sustainable Industries
State of the State Addresses
Nearly all of this year’s State of the State addresses have now been delivered. Most Governors did not propose new energy policies during their addresses and about half did not even mention energy at all. In almost every case, any mention of energy came in the context of jobs or the economy.
Florida Governor Rick Scott and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn praised companies that produce energy or manufacture energy-producing parts that moved to or started operations in their States. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said that her State is “helping to power our nation with the extraction of oil and gas and by harnessing the wind,” while Texas Governor Rick Perry said that while energy is an important part of his State’s economy, its “strength is built on a much broader base” than just energy.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear praised the development of fossil fuels in their Commonwealths while Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley promoted offshore wind energy. Governor Corbett spoke about the need to develop the Marcellus Shale – and keep that development free of new taxes – in order to create new jobs. Governor Beshear said that coal has allowed Kentucky to grow a manufacturing sector and that he would “fight” the federal government to ensure the continued mining and use of coal. Governor O’Malley asked his legislature to pass the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act, saying that it would create thousands of manufacturing and servicing jobs through offshore wind farms.
Links to all of the Governors’ addresses can be found at the State of the State Speeches Calendar on Stateline.org
The Obama Administration is considering opening a portion of the strategic oil reserves (SPR) in the event that oil supplies are disrupted as a result of an ongoing conflict in Libya. Selling some of the reserves could lead to lower crude oil prices – and gasoline prices – in the short term, which have been rising quickly in recent weeks. Three House Democrats have written to the President asking him to “consider utilizing the SPR now” in order to “counter supply disruptions and combat crippling price hikes in the short term.” Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman agreed that it “would make sense for the President to begin selling oil from the SPR.” The Administration has said that any decision it makes will not be due to simply to the price of oil – though that may be part of it – but also whether the flow of oil is significantly interrupted, an issue that may be offset by an increase in supply from Saudi Arabia in response to the shortage from Libya. Democratic lawmakers urge Obama to tap oil reserve – Washington Post