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Energy Update: December 22, 2023

In the States

NM: In New Mexico, efforts are underway to significantly update the state's Oil and Gas Act, chiefly driven by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham's office after previous attempts stalled in the last legislative session. The act, which hasn't been majorly revised since the 1980s and '90s, regulates oil and gas production in the state. The proposed changes aim to modernize the act, incorporating tools for better industry oversight and environmental protection. Key proposals include phasing out freshwater use in operations, legally solidifying the state’s gas capture target, increasing well setbacks from sensitive locations, raising bonding fees for orphan wells, and directing penalty funds to well reclamation. These discussions, initiated in September, involve various stakeholders, including state government, environmental groups, and energy companies. Despite the hush-hush nature of the talks and some opposition, they’ve been characterized as productive discussions. The goal is to draft a bill for the upcoming legislative session in January, with the hope of prioritizing health concerns over corporate interests. New Mexico governor kickstarts effort to overhaul oil and gas regulation—Source NM 


TX: The expansion of Calpine Corporation's Freestone County Energy Center, which is expected to bring 300 new jobs and add 425 megawatts of power to the Texas grid, was jointly announced by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Calpine CEO Thad Hill, and Energy Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) President Pablo Vargas. Governor Abbott stated, “The bottom line is Texans need more electrical power. We have a collective responsibility to make sure that we provide the power and electricity to support our growing state by adding new, reliable power plants like this one from Calpine.” This expansion is a part of a larger initiative to add 7,000 megawatts to the state's electrical grid. Abbott also emphasized Texas' preparedness for the winter and its commitment to reliable power, regardless of weather conditions. The new facility, which aligns with environmental goals through its planned CO2 capture technology, is expected to be operational by summer 2026.

Freestone Co. power plant expansion to bring jobs—Fox 44


VA: Lynchburg's nuclear energy sector is set to receive a significant boost with Framatome's $49.4 million investment to expand its facilities, creating 515 new jobs. Virginia Governor Youngkin announced this development, highlighting Framatome's role as an international nuclear energy leader. The investment aims to cater to rising demand and service needs. The Governor emphasized Virginia's leadership in securing the expansion, noting that Lynchburg was chosen over potential sites in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. He proudly stated, "We do not follow, we lead," aligning this expansion with Virginia's comprehensive energy plan. During the announcement, Governor Youngkin and Lynchburg Mayor Stephanie Reed underscored the significance of Framatome's growth for the community and the state's energy future. Reed praised Framatome's lasting impact on Lynchburg, while Youngkin envisioned Virginia as a global leader in nuclear energy, integral to a diverse and clean energy strategy. This expansion, marking a half-century of Framatome's presence in the area, is expected to enhance the region's role in low carbon power generation and clean energy transition, aligning with Virginia's energy innovation goals. Governor Youngkin announces nuclear company in Lynchburg will provide 515 new jobs, $49.4M in facility expansion—WSET 


WA: Washington Governor Jay Inslee has proposed an additional $941 million for climate action in his 2024 supplemental budget, leveraging funds from the state's successful carbon-pricing program. His proposal, adding to the already allocated $2.1 billion, is intended to enhance environmental justice, clean energy, and transportation initiatives. The Governor also announced legislative efforts to integrate with the California and Quebec carbon markets, transition Puget Sound Energy away from gas, and offer a $200 electricity bill credit to about 750,000 low- and moderate-income households. The budget plans, aligning with the Climate Commitment Act’s goal for a near carbon-free Washington by 2050, face challenges, including a repeal effort and State Senator Mark Mullet's proposal to revise early emission goals. Inslee, emphasizing the importance of environmental protection, criticized the oil and gas industry's profits amidst fluctuating gas prices. The comprehensive funding aims to support a range of projects, from electric buses to building decarbonization, with more details expected in the full budget announcement. Gov. Inslee proposes another $941 million for clean energy, climate action in WA—Seattle Times


National: At the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, representatives from nearly 200 countries reached a historic agreement to start reducing global fossil fuel consumption, marking a pivotal shift towards ending the oil era. This agreement, forged after two weeks of rigorous negotiations and strong opposition from major oil producers like OPEC, is aimed at averting the worst impacts of climate change by signaling a clear commitment to move away from fossil fuels. The deal is particularly notable for being the first of its kind to unite countries around a concrete plan for transitioning away from oil, gas, and coal, with a target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Despite its groundbreaking nature, the agreement has drawn criticism for the influence of oil-producing nations on its final provisions and the lack of firm commitments from wealthier nations to financially support developing countries in their shift to cleaner energy sources. Nations strike deal at COP28 to transition away from fossil fuels

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