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Blog posts August 2011

Energy Update, August 26, 2011

August 26, 2011

In the States

WY – Governor Matt Mead, in a speech to the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, said that he rejects the notion that environmental protection and energy development are mutually exclusive.  The Governor said that “we need a global approach to environmental concerns” and that the U.S. already has many controls in place to protect the environment.  And while Governor Mead also made the point that energy development is a national security issue, he cited a study showing that $160 million in revenue per year was lost by oil and gas companies doing business in the State due to requirements for environmental studies and permits.  Mead says Wyo. can have energy and conservation – Wyoming Business Report

A bipartisan coalition of Governors from 24 States recently sent a letter to President Obama urging him to focus on wind energy development.  The letter, which was signed by the coalition’s chair, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, and Vice Chair, Terry Branstad of Iowa, said that the production tax credit and investment tax credit programs for renewable energy should be extended for seven years.  It also called for the creation of a state-federal task force, greater state collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), accelerated development of offshore wind power, identification of transmission priorities, and a release of U.S. DOE renewable energy information.  24 Governors urge White House to focus on wind power development – SustainableBusiness.com and Letter to President Obama – Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition

Federal News

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has cut its estimate of how much recoverable natural gas is available in the Marcellus Shale by nearly 80 percent.  Earlier this year, the EIA, which is responsible for estimating oil and gas deposits underground, said it believed 410 trillion cubic feet of the fuel was available in the rock formation that stretches from New York to Virginia.  But the agency revised that number to 84 trillion as a result of a new U.S. Geological Survey study that relied on the expertise of geologists whom the EIA considers to be “the experts on this matter.”  The large discrepancies between the estimates have caused some business leaders and members of Congress to question the accuracy of such studies.  A 2002 study by the Geological Survey estimated that two trillion cubic feet could be extracted from the Marcellus Shale, but that was before advancements in extraction technology made much more natural gas available for extraction.  Geologists sharply cut estimate of shale gas – New York Times

The U.S. Interior Department has opened an area off the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island to leasing for wind farm developments.  Energy companies are now submitting proposals to the Interior Department, which will use the proposals to conduct coordinated reviews of the proposals and streamline the leasing process.  Environmental reviews would still need to be conducted on the proposed developments.  Similar areas were designated for offshore wind farms earlier this year off the coasts of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey, and leasing is expected to begin as early as next year.  In contrast, it took 10 years to obtain permits for the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts.  U.S. seeks offshore wind bids in Rhode Island, Massachusetts – San Francisco Chronicle

 

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Energy Update, August 12, 2011

August 12, 2011

In the States

IL – Governor Pat Quinn has signed a bill into law that paves the way for a coal gasification facility to be built in southern Illinois just miles from where coal will be mined for its operation.  The facility will convert coal into synthetic natural gas and remove and store more than 90% of carbon emissions.  At the bill signing, Governor Quinn said that the plant will “help revive the coal industry in southern Illinois while ensuring that Illinois remains a leader in the development of state-of-the-art clean energy facilities.”  The new law should also help to stabilize the price of the resulting natural gas, provide other consumer protections, and create over 1,600 jobs, 550 of which will be permanent.  Governor Quinn also recently signed other energy legislation, including a bill to study the potential for offshore wind energy in Lake Michigan, and another bill to allow counties to establish districts for wind farms.  Governor Quinn signs law to advance clean energy projectDecatur Tribune and Southern Illinois coal-gasification plant will bring hundreds of jobsEvansville Courier-Press and Quinn signs bill to study offshore wind energyChicago Tribune

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill into law that will change the way power plants are built, the oversight of smaller energy development projects, and the manner by which energy efficiency projects are paid for by homeowners and businesses.  The new law reinstates a process for approving new power plants that had expired in 2003. Governor Cuomo said this streamlined process will provide a “faster, easier, more expeditious, and more predictable” way to approve new plants.  This approval process will apply to all fuel types, traditional as well as renewable.  The new law also creates a seven-person board to oversee development of all power plants over 25 megawatts in size; a previous law only required State oversight of plants over 60 megawatts in size, leaving local communities to oversee those projects, which can include wind farms and battery storage facilities.  Under the new law, homeowners and businesses will also be able to finance energy-efficiency projects through additional payments on utility bills.  The law has the support of the power industry, environmental groups, and consumer groups.  Gov. Cuomo approves power plant siting billIthaca Journal

PA – As the debate over whether to impose a tax or fee on gas retrieved from the Marcellus shale continues, Governor Tom Corbett has offered a potential solution to the question of what to do with the potential revenues, which may impact lawmakers’ decisions on the matter.  Governor Corbett has suggested using some of the revenues to cap the more than 100,000 abandoned shallow wells, some of which date back to the mid-1800s, and which can lead to a range of consequences, including the leaking of new wells the explosion of nearby buildings.  Currently no funding exists to properly cap the aging wells, many of which do not currently have a known or fiscally solvent owner.  The proposal has been endorsed by both drilling companies and the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.  Corbett: Shale gas fee could cap wellsPittsburgh Tribune-Review

National News

The Obama administration has unveiled new rules that will, for the first time, require heavy-duty trucks and buses, including tractor trailers, to comply with fuel efficiency and emissions control guidelines that will cut fuel use 23% below 2010 levels by 2018.  U.S. officials estimate that the new regulations will increase the cost of a new tractor trailer by over $6,000, but will save the owner an estimated $73,000 over the life of the vehicle in reduced fuel costs.  The new regulations were issued jointly by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and were welcomed by engine manufacturers, the trucking industry, and environmental groups, who all appear to agree that the rules allow sufficient time for full compliance while effectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions and save money on fuel.  Fuel efficiency rules set for heavy-duty trucks and busesWashington Post

The U.S. Army is aiming for a target of 25% of its electricity use to come from renewable sources by 2025.  In an effort to achieve this goal, the Army will spend as much as $7.1 billion through a task force that will work with developers to build renewable energy power plants that will produce about 10 megawatts each at bases in the U.S.  Army Secretary John McHugh said that the renewable energy goal is “the right thing to do for the environment in this era of diminishing resources and the right thing to do for federal taxpayers.”  Army forms unit to manage development of renewable power plantsBloomberg

 

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