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Energy Update, August 26

In the States

CO – In response to a court-ordered stay of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), Governor John Hickenlooper, during the annual Rocky Mountain Energy Summit, announced he is considering issuing an executive order to cut carbon pollution, directing state agencies to “incorporate additional climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.” The draft order mandates a 25% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2025 to 2012 levels, and a 35% reduction in emissions by 2030. The Governor’s draft order sets higher reduction target levels than the CPP, which called for the state to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 28% and overall emissions by 32% by 2030. Hickenlooper threatens executive order on clean airThe Durango Herald

MI – Governor Rick Snyder asked the Indiana-based Midcontinental Independent System Operator (MISO), a regional transmission organization (RTO) that provides open-access transmission services and monitoring of high-voltage systems, “to study the near and long-term benefits of electric transmission and generation expansion…to determine if there is an opportunity to lower costs while increasing reliability.” The Governor is specifically asking MISO to study connecting the state’s Upper Peninsula (UP) with systems in Canada as well as improving the connecting between the UP with the Straits of Mackinac. “Since Michigan has some of the highest prices for transmission in the MISO footprint, it makes sense to ask whether, in the long term, we can all spend less while increasing reliability by strengthening our ties to each other and our neighbors,” Governor Snyder said. The Governor previously asked for a similar study in 2012, which MISO completed, but did not look into potential connections to Canadian systems. Michigan Governor asks MISO to study transmission expansion in NorthT&D World

MT – Following the announced closure of two of Montana’s oldest coal-fired power plant units, state lawmakers are drafting measures to raise taxes on all electricity producers in the state. The lawmakers, as part of a package of legislative proposals to be debated in the 2017 legislative session, would also impose millions of dollars in fees on the power plants owners and require the state Department of Environmental Quality to approve any “decommissioning and remediation plans for coal-fired plants.” The two plants, which are part of the larger Colstrip power plant, are scheduled to close by 2022, as required by a legal settlement, and are currently owned by Puget Sound Energy and Talen Energy, which collectively employ approximately 700 people. Montana lawmakers want o make it costly to close Colstrip plantThe Billings Gazette and Montana lawmakers craft measures to deal with coal plant closureThe Olympian

Regional and National

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management received a little more than $18 million in bids to drill for offshore oil and natural gas in the western Gulf of Mexico. The lease sale was considered modest, in comparison to prior opportunities, with companies only submitting bids on 24 areas out of the close to 4,500 that were available. And according to BOEM, the acres that received bids represent less than one percent of the acres available for natural gas and oil drilling leasing. BHP Billiton Petroleum, BP Exploration and Production, and Exxon Mobil Corporation all submitted bids, with BHP leading the pack with 12 bids for around $10 million. “The relatively modest results of today’s lease sale are indicative of the current market conditions and regulatory environment,” said Randall Luthi, president of the National Ocean Industries Association. “Despite these challenging circumstances, the [participating companies] are investing millions of dollars in the future of America’s energy and economic security with no guarantee of success or financial return.” Lease sale for offshore drilling in Gulf of Mexico receives few bidsMorning Consult

Eleven state Attorneys General and the District of Columbia’s Attorney General sent a letter to House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith of Texas, requesting that he end his investigation into state probes of Exxon Mobil Corporation. The Attorneys General believe the Chairman’s latest attempt to subpoena documents related to state investigations in both New York and Massachusetts “exceed Congress’ constitutional authority.” Attorneys General from California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington signed the letter. The Chairman subpoenaed New York’s Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts’s Maura Healey in addition to eight environmental groups to ask for records related to their investigations “into whether Exxon lied to the public about its knowledge of climate change.” So far, both Schneiderman and Healey have refused to respond or submit to the subpoena. Democratic AGs push back against GOP chairman’s Exxon probeThe Hill

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