Viohl & Associates

A Government Relations Firm

header photo

Blog posts April 2014

Energy Update, April 25

In the States

DE – Citing a report by the Environment American Research and Policy Center, the State’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control said Wilmington, Delaware’s largest city, is ranked third in solar power per capita. The recently released report highlighted Delaware’s solar power infrastructure as well as its creative approach to financing. Wilmington, the report states, increased its solar 14-fold from 2008 to 2013, to roughly 7 megawatts from 500 kilowatts. "Encouraging solar power is the right thing to do for the environment and our economy," said Governor Jack Markell. Report: Wilmington a top solar cityThe News Journal

ME – Governor Paul LePage recently vetoed a bill that would have imposed a new tax on residential and commercial properties. The revenue from the new tax, a levy of 0.011 cents per kilowatt-hour on electricity bills, would have reestablished a solar energy rebate program under Efficiency Maine, a trust dedicated to promoting the efficient and cost-effective use of energy. “This is a particularly painful time to impose an additional tax on electricity,” said Governor LePage. “This bill would impose the tax on thousands of hardworking families just to provide the few who have the means to purchase a $20,000 solar system with a rebate of an estimated $2,000.” LePage vetoes solar energy bill, two othersThe Bangor Daily News

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo released a new plan to encourage consumers and utilities to use technology and other innovative approached to curb energy costs. Called Reforming Energy Vision (REV), the plan calls for rewarding consumers who utilize smart appliances or other technology to reduce demand. Additionally, REV encourages utility companies to establish and work within “more distributed” systems to generate electricity from interconnected energy sources. "By introducing and embracing information technology and clean energy solutions,” said Governor Cuomo, “Millions of New Yorkers will benefit from a 21st century power grid, enabling them to better manage and reduce their energy costs while protecting and preserving the environment." Cuomo unveils plan to reduce power usageThe Poughkeepsie Journal

OH – State regulators and geologists in Ohio have discovered a link between hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, and a series of recent minor earthquakes. According to a report issued by the State, recent injections of sand and water into a well “may have increased pressure on an unknown microfault in the area,” triggering minor tremors. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources now will require companies that seek fracking permits within areas of fault lines to install a network of seismic monitors before beginning to drill. Ohio finds link between fracking and sudden burst of earthquakesThe Los Angeles Times and Ohio acknowledges connection between hydraulic fracturing and Youngstown quakesThe Cleveland Plain Dealer


The State Department announced it is extending its deadline to review the proposed 1,200 mile Keystone XL pipeline. The State Department cited the ongoing Nebraska Supreme Court case over which route the proposed pipeline project should take as its reason to delay. The legal process could postpone any decision on the project until well after this fall’s congressional elections. The State Department also said it needs to continue reviewing the approximately 2.5 million public comments submitted on the project. "The permit process will conclude once factors that have a significant impact on determining the national interest of the proposed project have been evaluated and appropriately reflected in the decision documents," the State Department wrote in a statement. U.S. further delays final decision on Keystone XL pipelineReuters and Administration again delays Keystone pipeline decisionThe USA Today

The Obama Administration recently announced a $15 million program to help state and local governments build solar panels to combat climate change. Announced during what the White House Called a “solar summit,” the Administration hopes the program will encourage the use of solar power and increase the use of renewable sources. Titled the Solar Market Pathways program, the new plan will help support businesses find “low-cost financing for solar power” and help federally-subsidized housing have at least “100 megawatts of installed renewable energy.” "As part of the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, solar energy is helping families and businesses throughout the U.S. access affordable, clean renewable power,” Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said. Obama puts $15M into solar powerThe Hill

Go Back

Energy Update, April 11

In the States

AZ – Governor Jan Brewer recently signed legislation into law that eliminates the State’s sales tax on energy sold to manufacturers. Governor Brewer made the repeal of the tax, which is known as the Transaction Privilege Tax, a priority during her State of the State speech earlier this year. Hoping the repeal will help to bring more jobs to Arizona, Governor Brewer said ““In the past five years, we have worked relentlessly to position Arizona as a premier location in which to start or grow a business – and we’ve been successful because we’ve listened to what companies want and need to thrive.” Gov. Brewer signs tax reform legislation to attract business, bolster economic competitivenessExplorer News and Legislature signs off on bill to give tax breaks to manufacturersThe Ahwatukee Foothills News

 OH – An Ohio State Senator recently introduced a measure to stop the State’s mandated scheduled increases in energy efficiency and renewables standards, which require the State’s utilities and power plants to purchase a certain percentage of power from renewable sources and meet annual energy efficiency targets . Annual energy efficiency and renewable benchmarks were set in a 2008 law and are scheduled to continue until 2025. SB 310 would freeze the standards at 2014 levels, or 2.5 percent for renewable energy and 4.2 percent for energy efficiency. If adopted into law, the bill would also create a committee to analyze the necessity of such standards and to submit recommendations to the General Assembly after reviewing the issue. Some State legislators are worried the standards are causing Ohioans to pay higher prices for electricity while opponents of the measure say the bill would hurt businesses. According to one cosponsor of the bill, “"It is essential that we act to protect all Ohioans' electricity bills from continuing to rise and therefore maintain the status quo while we carefully review the best way to move forward." Ohio may freeze energy standardsThe Cincinnati Enquirer and ‘Clean’ energy bill sparks plugs, pansThe Columbus Dispatch


According to estimates by Wood Mackenzie, an energy research and consulting firm, oil production in the Bakken and Three Forks formation, which are located in parts of North Dakota and Montana, will rise to an average of 1.1 million barrels per day later this year. The firm predicts production will again rise to 1.7 million barrels per day in 2020. Last year, North Dakota alone almost produced 860,000 barrels per day, making it the second biggest oil producer behind Texas in the United States. The expected lifetime of the Bakken and Three Forks formation, which also extend into parts of Canada, is estimated to be somewhere between 25 and 30 years. “Today, the Bakken produces more crude oil than any other unconventional play in the world,” Wood Mackenzie said in a statement. Report: Bakken oil output to soar as spending hits $15BAP


The Interior Department recently released its plan to standardize oil and gas permits on federal lands, hoping to bring certainty to the energy sector and its oil and natural gas developers. The Department said its future policies on this topic will focus on four areas when determining the impact on resources: geospatial assessments, landscape-level strategies, mitigation programs, and monitoring and evaluating projects in process. “This strategy outlines the key principles and actions we need to take to successfully shift from a reactive, project-by-project approach to more predictable and effective management of the lands and resources that we manage on behalf of the American public,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said in a statement. Interior moves to standardize oil and gas permits on federal landsThe Hill

According to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, energy use in the United States increased in 2013 to 97.4 quadrillion British thermal units (BTU), or an increase of 2.3 quadrillions over 2012. Energy efficiency, however, also increased over 2012 figures. And while the economy has grown about 6 percent since 2007, prior to the recent recession, total energy use remains below the record level of 101.5 quads set that year. The United States also imported a net of 12.7 quadrillion BTUs in 2013, or the least amount of energy imported in 28 years. “Growth in the production of oil and natural gas displaced imports and supported increased petroleum product exports, driving most of the decline,” the Energy Information Administration said in a statement. U.S. used more energy in 2013 than the year before, but efficiency is up tooNational Geographic and US energy imports hit two-decade lowThe Hill

Go Back

Energy Update, March 28

In the States

MI – The Michigan State Senate passed a measure to lower the severance tax for oil and natural gas drilling projects that use carbon dioxide. The bill will soon await Governor Rick Snyder’s signature, after the State House approves other changes made to the bill. The legislation hopes to better capture so-called “stranded-oil” – oil that is at the bottom of wells – by injecting carbon dioxide to force the oil to the surface. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, such methods can result in oil extraction of 30 to 60 percent while conventional drilling methods only extract 20 to 40 percent of oil in wells. "The bottom line is that this is about energy security, environmental protection, and Michigan's economy," said state Rep. Aric Nesbitt, the sponsor the bill. Tax cuts for oil drilling pass SenateThe Traverse City Record-Eagle

 WA – Governor Jay Inslee met with Secretary Ernie Moniz of the U.S. Department of Energy to discuss the federal government’s plan to cleanup millions of gallons of radioactive nuclear waste at the 586-square-mile Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington State. The Hanford site produced plutonium for the United State’s nuclear program, beginning in 1943 until it closed in 1989. Following the meeting and unimpressed by the federal government’s proposed action, Governor Inslee said the State may pursue legal action and seek to demonstrate how the federal government is in violation of a consent decree governing the Hanford cleanup, a project that, according to the State, is years behind schedule. "I and others have called for a comprehensive plan that will lead to an effective cleanup plan,” said Governor Inslee. “We have eagerly awaited an acceptable plan to protect the public health, the environment of our state and Columbia River." State orders DOE to pump leaking Hanford tankThe Tri-City Herald and Inslee orders more aggressive actions on Hanford KREM


Former governors and U.S. Senators Evan Bayh (D) of Indiana and Judd Gregg (R) of New Hampshire will serve as co-chairs of a newly launched initiative called Nuclear Matters, which will seek to raise awareness of the benefits of nuclear energy and showcase the risks of closing power plants. The organization, according to news reports, will focus on public education and may propose future policy changes and solutions. Nuclear Matters plans to engage stakeholders, including businesses and other organizations, via state-based events beginning in as many as 11 states, ranging from Arizona and Maryland to New Jersey and Michigan. “As America contemplates its energy future,” said Senator Bayh, “we must change course to ensure that nuclear energy stays in the mix because it is critical to maintaining a diverse, reliable, and clean energy supply for our nation.” Former senators go nuclearThe Hill

 North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D) unveiled legislation that offers substantial loan and tax credit incentives to companies to invest in clean-coal and carbon capture and storage technology. Under the Senator’s bill, which is titled Advanced Clean Coal Technology Investment in Our Nation (ACCTION), coal-fired plans would be eligible for up to $2 billion in federal loan guarantees and tax credits based on the amount of carbon they capture. The bill also seeks to create a cost sharing program between the federal government and industry to update research and programs for carbon capture technology. "North Dakotans rely on coal for about 80 percent of our electricity, and I’m committed to making sure this affordable, abundant energy source is available for North Dakotans for decades to come," Senator Heitkamp said in a statement. Sen. Heitkamp wants to invest in coalThe Bismarck Tribune and Sen. Heitkamp pushes coal-friendly legislationThe Hill

 The U.S. Department of Energy has conditionally approved an energy facility in Oregon to export liquefied natural gas (LNG). The Jordan Cove Energy Project, which is located in Coos Bay, Oregon, will be able to export LNG at a rate of 800 million standard cubic feet per day for 20 years. Before becoming operational, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission must approve Jordan Cove’s LNG export application. “This announcement is exactly what Coos Bay, North Bend, and America need: new jobs and new investment,” Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said in a statement. Department of Energy OKs Jordan Cove export permitThe Umpqua Post

Go Back

3 blog posts

Contact Us

Hall of the States

444 N. Capitol Street NW

Washington, DC 20009

Phone: 202-624-1478