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Blog posts July 2013

Energy Update, June 28

In the States

IL – Governor Pat Quinn signed into law legislation that regulates hydraulic fracturing, which is commonly known as “fracking,” the process by which the flow of oil and gas is improved by creating rock fissures and fractures through the pumping of pressurized water, sand, and chemicals down well bores. The new law requires companies to disclose chemicals they used during the process and to also test water in the surrounding area for contamination before and after drilling. Fracking, which was largely unregulated in the State before the new law, has been criticized by several environmental groups, which cite the potential negative effects of an “oil boom on the environment and public health.” Governor Quinn said the new legislation will bring jobs to Illinois and encourage the industry to invest in the State. “I applaud the many environmental advocates and representatives from government, labor, and industry who worked with us to make Illinois a national model for transparency, environmental safety, and economic development.” Gov. Quinn sings bill to regulated frackingThe Chicago Tribune

 MS – Governor Phil Bryant and a group of bipartisan governors wrote to President Barack Obama opposing a proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Rule they believe will close existing and prevent the building of future coal plans. The proposed regulations require a decrease in the amount of greenhouse gas emitted by coal, oil, and natural gas electric-generating plants. According to the Energy Information Administration, there are 606 coal plants across the United States that provide 43% of the nation’s electric power. Other Governors that have written to the President on this topic of concern include Steve Beshear of Kentucky, Bob McDonnell of Virginia, Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota, Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia, Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, and Mike Pence of Indiana. “I urge you to consider an alternative approach intended to address (greenhouse gas) emissions in a way that will not harm Mississippi’s economy or endanger the affordable electricity supply the residents of my state need to live and prosper,” Governor Bryant said in his letter. Bryant, 6 other Governors wants EPA emissions proposal axedThe Jackson Clarion-Ledger

 NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo asked federal prosecutors to review a report by the Moreland Commission, which found “breathtaking waste and inefficiency” in its review of the state-owned Long Island Power Authority’s (LIPA) relationship with Navigant Consulting in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The Commission also determined that LIPA was “woefully unprepared” to manage threats from major storms. Created by Governor Cuomo through an executive order, the 10-member Moreland panel, which derives its name and authority from the State’s Moreland Act, is tasked with reviewing utility companies’ actions before and after the hurricane, examining their preparation and management, and providing recommendations for reform and modernization. The report found “questionable billing practices and a troubling ‘revolving door’ relationship” between the two organizations. The New York State Legislature recently passed legislation to break up the utility, which will soon be operated by a New Jersey-based private utility. NY Governor to request federal prove of Long Island utilityReuters

 Across the Nation

President Obama outlined his plan for the nation’s energy future this week. The proposal calls for a reduction of 17% in greenhouse gases by 2020 compared to 2005 levels, more regulation and pollution controls over coal- and gas-fired utilities, and stern emissions requirements for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Additionally, the plan promises $8 billion in loan guarantees for fossil fuel projects and sets several goals, including the establishment of fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles and the development of a methane gas strategy. Republicans and some more conservative Democrats voiced  their concerns over the President’s strategy to bypass Congress, especially by directing the EPA to issue regulations on carbon dioxide emissions from existing plants by 2015. Senator Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia said it was clear that the President “has declared a war on coal” while Senator Mary Landrieu (D) of Louisiana said she was concerned about “overzealous regulations” and their effects on the economy. Environmentalists praised the President’s plan, citing a positive turn in national energy policy and in the climate change debate. On climate change, Obama bypasses Congress with ambitious planThe Washington Post

 The House Appropriations Committee approved a $30.4 billion fiscal year 2014 spending bill for energy and water programs while its Senate counterpart passed a draft spending bill that  is $4.4 billion higher.. The House bill, which is $2.9 billion lower than the 2013 enacted level, also makes cuts to renewable energy projects supported by the President and congressional Democrats by almost $1 billion. House Republicans plan to pass all 12 annual spending bills under the $967 billion cap included in the sequestration law. According to policy experts and staff, given the differences between the Senate and House spending plans, there is little hope of an overall congressional budget deal. “It is our job to make do with what we have not with what we hope to have,” Energy subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said. House panel approved 2014 Energy spending billThe Hill

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