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Blog posts May 2012

Energy Update, May 18, 2012

May 18, 2012

In the States

OK – Governor Mary Fallin has signed a bill into law that directs State agencies and educational institutions to reduce energy use 20 percent by 2020, a measure expected to save the State as much as $500 million over 10 years.  Citing a national study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy that ranked Oklahoma as the fourth worst state in energy efficiency, Governor Fallin said, “We can do better…and today marks that new day that we are going to do better.”  The Governor added, “Not only have we been wasting our precious natural resources of energy, but we've also been wasting hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.  That's money that we could be using for ... essential government services, such as education, health and human services, public safety, and transportation.”  Oklahoma law directs state agencies, colleges to save energyThe Oklahoman

VT – Governor Peter Shumlin has signed a bill into law that bans the practice of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, as well as the importation of hydraulic fracturing wastewater and storage of hydraulic fracturing waste in Vermont.  Governor Shumlin said that although there is currently no drilling taking place in Vermont for the purpose of hydraulic fracturing, the ban would “ensure we do not inject chemicals into groundwater in a desperate pursuit for energy.”  Those opposing the new law, including the American Petroleum Institute, have raised concerns that the law may be unconstitutional under the interstate commerce and supremacy clauses because it bans the importation of hydraulic fracturing materials.  The Vermont Attorney General’s Office, however, issued a letter to legislators after reviewing the bill that concluded the risk of the law being found unconstitutional was low.  Vermont governor signs bill banning hydraulic fracturingBurlington Free Press

WY – Governor Matt Mead has filed formal comments with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in opposition to a proposal that would reduce the amount of land available for oil shale research and development in Wyoming.  The BLM recently proposed reducing available acreage for such development from the 2 million acres approved by the previous Bush administration to 460,000 acres in three states – Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming – with about 175,000 acres located in Wyoming.  The BLM maintains this is action is necessary to protect sage grouse areas, areas of critical environmental concern, and potential wilderness lands.  In his comments, Governor Mead argued that instead of imposing a blanket exclusion in these areas, the BLM should allow local resource management plans to determine where oil shale development occurs.  Some environmental groups, including Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, disagree and argue that it isn’t feasible to transform oil shale into transportation fuel. The BLM is expected to issue a final determination in the fall.  Wyo. Gov opposes BLM's oil shale leasing cutsBloomberg BusinessWeek

Regional News

The U.S. Interior Department is allowing a project to move forward that could lead to the construction of an underwater electricity transmission line from Virginia to New Jersey, making it easier to transfer power produced by offshore wind farms onto land.  Because the Department determined that no competitors have offered proposals, the project has saved at least a year’s worth of time by bypassing an auction process.  Construction of the 380-mile long line, which could begin as early as 2014, would eventually allow the transmission of 7,000 megawatts of electricity, powering about 2 million homes.  While today there is no commercial wind power produced offshore the U.S., the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts may begin producing electricity by 2014.  Investors, including Google, have pledged up to $5 billion for a network of transmission lines for offshore wind farms over the next decade.  Google-backed offshore wind project moves forward; underwater line would run from NJ to VAWashington Post

National News

The U.S. Interior Department has issued a proposed rule that would require disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing on Federal or Indian lands.  The rule would also add new testing of oil and gas well construction and require management plans for water used in the fracking process.  Environmental groups praised the rule, but would like to see disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing prior to drilling rather than after the fact, as proposed in the rule.  The oil and gas industry is wary of Federal government oversight of the drilling process and generally believes states are in the best position to regulate hydraulic fracturing.  Obama administration tightens fracking rulesCNNMoney

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Energy Update, May 4, 2012

May 4, 2012

In the States

CA – Governor Jerry Brown has signed an executive order requiring the State to cut energy use, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as purchase environmentally friendly products when economically feasible.  Starting in 2020, half of all buildings constructed by the government will be zero net energy.  Then in 2025, all new State buildings will be zero net energy.  Buildings over 10,000 square feet will be required to produce energy onsite using solar or wind, and obtain LEED Silver certification or higher.  By 2015, State agencies will be required to lower emissions and water use 10 percent below 2010 levels, and by 2020 they must cut 20 percent of emissions and water use.  Governor Brown said that the order will save the State money through energy savings and also create green jobs.  California Governor issues sweeping order to green governmentSustainableBusiness.com

Regional News

Governors Butch Otter of Idaho, Gary Herbert of Utah, and Matt Mead of Wyoming met in Salt Lake City, and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval participated by phone, to discuss issues common to states, including federal management of public lands and energy production.  "We want to have the Western states, Democrats and Republicans alike, to have as strong a voice in this country as possible," said Governor Mead.  Governor Hickenlooper of Colorado was scheduled to join the conference, but was unable to participate due to legislation that required his attention.  Governor Otter made the point that Western states fare better on federal regulatory issues when they weigh in, saying "When we have rules and regulations promulgated by a federal agency without that input, there is a problem."  Western governors discuss public lands, energyDaily Herald and Governors: Mountain West needs unified voice on land, energy and waterSalt Lake Tribune

National News

TransCanada, the company whose bid to build the Keystone XL pipeline was rejected last year by President Barack Obama, has reapplied for permits with the federal government.  The new route that the company is proposing would bypass the environmentally sensitive areas in Nebraska that were the cause of some of the opposition.  Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman has signed a bill that would allow the project to be reviewed at the State level prior to any prior to any federal action.  Some opponents claim that the new route would still cover an aquifer that supplies water to eight states, but the company contends that more than three years of environmental reviews, the longest process for any such pipeline in history.  Energy co. reapplies for Keystone XL oil pipelineCBS News

 

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