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Blog posts May 2014

Energy Update, May 23

May 27, 2014

In the States

MD – Governor Martin O’Malley vetoed legislation that would have delayed a planned wind farm project, even though several Southern Maryland lawmakers and U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer raised concerns that the proposed wind farm will “compromise radar that tests the stealth capabilities of fighter jets” at a local naval air station. The measure, which passed the State Legislature with a veto-proof majority, would have imposed a 15-month ban on land-based wind projects across a region of the State. The bill was vetoed because it would, according to Governor O’Malley, “send a chilling message to clean energy investors, developers, manufacturers, construction firms, engineers, and sustainable businesses that the State can change the rules in the eleventh hour.” House Speaker Michael Busch is exploring with his chamber’s members whether to call a special session to override the veto. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley vetoes bill delaying wind farm projectsThe Washington Post and Gov. O’Malley vetoes wind project delayThe Baltimore Sun

OK – The Oklahoma State Legislature recently passed a bill that maintains the State’s tax incentive for oil and gas production, but also slightly increases the rate tax rate use for the incentive.. The new law increases the percent tax rate from 1 percent to 2 percent for horizontally drilled oil and gas wells for the first three years of a well’s production. The same rate is applied to vertical production.  After three years, the rate increases to 7 percent. If the State Legislature didn’t act, the effective tax rate would have returned to 7 percent in July 2015. The new rate will be in effect for three years. Governor Mary Fallin is expected to sign the bill soon. House Speaker Jeff Hickman, who authored the bill in the House, said “It's important that these wells are drilled in Oklahoma. It's important that these jobs be created in Oklahoma. Oklahoma Legislature vote for drilling tax incentiveThe Associated Press

Federal and National

According to a new report by Environmental Entrepreneurs, an affiliate of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Louisiana, for the first time, is ranked as one of the nation’s top green energy job creators in 2014. The top 10 list includes Idaho, which leads the nation in green jobs created thus far this year, followed by Texas, California, and Arizona, among other States. Louisiana, which ranked 10th, was propelled to the top ten placement thanks to an investment worth $20 million from IntegriCo Composites, which will begin manufacturing railroad ties and other transportation materials from recycled plastics in the State later this summer. Report ranks Louisiana among top states for green energy jobsThe Times-Picayune

Senate Republicans recently blocked a bipartisan energy-efficiency bill by a vote of 55-36, five short of the needed 60 votes to end debate and to move the bill to final passage. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) had promised his Republican colleagues a vote on a separate bill relating to the Keystone XL pipeline had they agreed to advance the energy-efficiency bill, which was cosponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), without offering other amendments. "Today's failure to move forward on a bipartisan energy efficiency bill is yet another disappointing example of Washington's dysfunction," Senator Portman said. U.S. Senate Republicans block energy bill, forfeit Keystone voteReuters and Energy-efficiency bill dies in U.S. Senate after partisan feudBloombergBusinessweek

Representative John Delaney, a Maryland Democrat, is seeking input from his colleagues on a draft bill that would allow States to impose an excise tax on carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants as an option to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s forthcoming carbon emissions rules. "Until Congress acts, these regulations are the only way to begin to respond to climate change before the effects are irreversible. My legislation is designed to give states the option to use an even more efficient method," Congressman Delaney said in a statement. Dem bill would allow state carbon taxesThe Hill

 

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Energy Update, May 9

May 12, 2014

In the States

HI – Governor Neil Abercrombie joined members of the State’s Public Utilities Commission to announce their decision to order Hawaiian Electric Company, the largest utility in the State, to utilize and accommodate for more solar power and other renewable energy. According to one of the PUC commissioners, the company has four months to submit its plans to the State, focused on allowing for more use of photovoltaic panels and connecting the State’s individuals islands’ energy grids. "These are not recommendations," Abercrombie said. "These are decisions and orders for action plans that have to be put forward to the PUC's satisfaction within the next 120 days." Hawaii wants Hawaiian Electric to develop plansThe Associated Press

WA – Governor Jay Inslee signed an executive order to create a 21-member task force to design a “market-based” carbon-reduction plan. The Governor called for a study of potential new clean-fuel standards and also instructed the State’s agencies to encourage the use of clean-energy technologies and phase-out electricity produced by coal-fired power plants. The Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce will include representatives of environmental, agricultural, and labor groups in addition to the State’s utility companies and the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional administrator. “This is the right time to act because the facts are clear and they are compelling,” said Governor Inslee. “Climate change is already upon us because of carbon pollution.” Inslee orders a move towards limits on carbon emissionsThe Seattle Times

Regional

The Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition sent a letter to Gina McCarthy, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expressing its support for the inclusion of wind energy as a measure States could use to comply with the EPA’s expected updates to rules governing emissions from existing power plants. The letter states that “there are now more than 60,000 megawatts of installed wind energy capacity in 39 States with an additional 12,000 megawatts under construction.” The Coalition is led by Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota, who is currently serving as chairman, and Governor Jay Inslee of Washington. A copy of the letter can be found here.

Federal

Following a series of deadly derailments, the Department of Transpiration (DOT) released new rules regarding the shipment of crude oil by rail. The DOT order requires railroads to “notify local emergency responders whenever oil shipments (travel) through their States.” The order applies to companies whose trains carry more than one million gallons of crude – about 35 tank cars – extracted from the Bakken region of North Dakota. Some officials reacted skeptically to the DOT’s new order, including Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who said she’s “concerned that calls for action without clear guidelines won’t actually do much to improve safety.” The Department is also working on updating out-of-date standards for certain tank cars. U.S. issues safety alert for oil trainsThe New York Times

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of three offshore wind demonstration projects that will each be eligible to receive grants of up to $47 million over the next four years in an effort to develop an “innovative, grid-connected system in federal and state waters by 2017.” The three projects are located off the coasts of Atlantic City (New Jersey), Coos Bay (Oregon), and Virginia Beach (Virginia). The federal government believes these projects will help to “lower costs and drive greater performance.” All three demonstration projects selected will feature 5 or 6 megawatt direct-drive wind turbines. The Virginia Beach and Atlantic City projects will employ what is called a twisted jacket foundation at the base of the wind turbine while the Coos Bay project will test a “semi-submersible floating foundation” in deep water. DOE driving offshore wind deploymentsFierceEnergy

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