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Energy Update: January 12, 2024

In the States


FL: At a town hall in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Republican presidential candidate Governor Ron DeSantis discussed the contentious issue of eminent domain in energy pipeline projects, like the Keystone XL oil pipeline. DeSantis emphasized his opposition to "expansive" use of eminent domain while acknowledging its legitimacy for public purposes. He differentiated between projects that serve the public, like highways and energy pipelines, and those that primarily benefit private entities. Although DeSantis did not specifically address the carbon dioxide pipeline projects currently debated in Iowa, his comments are relevant given the ongoing controversy. In Iowa, eminent domain's role in two pending pipeline projects and one failed project has sparked debate. The Iowa Utilities Board is set to decide on the Summit Carbon Solutions project's use of eminent domain for land easements. Moreover, DeSantis highlighted the need for the U.S. to boost domestic production of "reliable energy," including oil, gasoline, and biofuels, without directly commenting on federal tax credits for carbon dioxide pipelines. He criticized President Joe Biden's energy policies and the shift to renewable energy sources, expressing concerns over potential energy shortages and dependence on foreign energy. DeSantis advocated for energy independence as crucial for both consumer costs and national security. Ron DeSantis says eminent domain needed in energy pipeline projects during Iowa town hall—Des Moines Register 


IL: Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a groundbreaking law that ends a three-decade moratorium on the development of nuclear reactors, paving the way for smaller reactors (producing less than 300 megawatts) to be deployed starting January 2026. Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris), who championed the proposal, highlighted the pivotal role of nuclear power in Illinois' renewable energy mix, saying, "Illinois has a long, successful and safe history of nuclear energy generation." This legislation is particularly focused on the potential of small, modular reactors, which could power individual manufacturing plants. Despite challenges, as seen in the cancellation of a similar NuScale project in Oregon, proponents like Rezin remain optimistic about future advancements. This law, now more comprehensive than its predecessor, includes a risk assessment study and establishes state agency oversight. It represents a significant step in Illinois' energy strategy, particularly as the state aims to shut down coal-fired power plants by 2045, highlighting a commitment to diverse, sustainable energy sources and the evolution of nuclear technology. Pritzker Signs Law Lifting Moratorium on Nuclear Reactors—US News 


MD: Governor Wes Moore’s administration unveiled an ambitious climate plan that includes the goal of achieving 100% clean energy by 2035 and zero net emissions by 2045. Maryland Environment Secretary Serena McIlwain emphasized the collaborative nature of this plan, which involves citizens, public officials, nonprofits, and businesses, to lead the transition to a green economy. The strategy involves moving away from coal-fired power plants and investing heavily in solar, wind, and battery-powered infrastructure. It also includes incentives for building retrofits for energy efficiency and promoting electric water heaters and appliances in homes. Additionally, the state plans to electrify its government vehicle fleet. Maryland has already made significant progress, reducing its climate emissions by 30% from 2006 to 2020. The administration expects the new policies to generate substantial public health and personal income benefits, totaling around $3.7 billion. The plan, costing about $1 billion annually, will be implemented through incentives, decarbonization projects, green revenue bonds, and a strengthened cap and invest program for emissions. The revenue generated will be allocated to the Strategic Energy Investment fund, supporting various pollution reduction initiatives. New Maryland climate plan will try to achieve zero emissions by 2045—WYPR 


NV: Nevada, under Governor Joe Lombardo, has entered into a new agreement with Denmark, represented by its U.S. ambassador Jesper Møller Sørensen, to collaborate on renewable energy projects. The first joint venture involves developing a renewable energy-powered industrial park in Lincoln County, north of Las Vegas. This park, expected to attract $260 million in investments and create 150 jobs, will utilize invasive pinyon-pine and western juniper trees, which are abundant and flammable but lack commercial lumber value, as biofuel feedstock. Gov. Lombardo highlighted the dual benefits of this project: generating clean energy and maintaining healthy forests. The industrial park's business model is inspired by a similar project in Skive, Denmark, with Møller Sørensen emphasizing the partnership's potential to drive economic growth, job creation, and environmental benefits. Nevada forges pact with Denmark to explore renewable energy projects—News 3 LV


National: In a crucial year leading up to the 2024 elections, the Biden administration is gearing up for a major push on climate action, aiming to finalize key climate regulations and distribute billions for clean energy, amidst a potential presidential rematch with Donald Trump. This urgency is driven by the risk of Republican nullification of late-year rules if they win total control of Congress. The administration's agenda includes imposing limits on pollution from fossil fuel power plants, setting new vehicle fuel efficiency standards, overhauling oil and gas leasing rules, and not offering offshore drilling leases this year. Despite Republican opposition, many states have an interest in tapping into the Inflation Reduction Act's funds, which promise substantial investment in clean energy and infrastructure. The EPA is set to choose operators for a $14 billion national green bank and finalize guidelines for tax incentives under the Act. Additionally, significant portions of the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law's funds are yet to be allocated, including a major initiative for electric vehicle chargers. Court cases, especially Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, could also impact regulatory authority over greenhouse gas emissions by overturning the deference (“Chevron deference”) regulatory agencies have long enjoyed, marking 2024 as a pivotal year for climate policy and political strategy in the U.S. A wild year for energy policy begins—Politico 

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