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Energy Update, Feb. 8

In the States

IL – Governor Pat Quinn recently announced that Illinois has become a national leader in green buildings. In a report released by the U.S. Green Building Council, Illinois was ranked fourth out of all states, behind only Virginia, Colorado, and Massachusetts. Illinois completed 156 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications last year and has a total of 140 million feet of LEED-certified space. According to several state officials, at least 50 more projects are scheduled to meet LEED certification requirements this year. "I'm proud to have the U.S. Green Building Council recognize the success of our efforts to make sure sustainable practices are implemented in homes, schools, and businesses throughout Illinois,” said Governor Quinn. Illinois ranked 4th for green-certified buildingsThe Houston Chronicle and State ranks in green building listThe Southwest City News Herald

 MS – Governor Phil Bryant has released his plan to restore Mississippi’s coastal areas that were affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Governor’s report was presented to the GoCoast 2020 Commission, which Governor Bryant created to advise on how to spend money received under the federal Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunity, and Revived Economies of the Gulf States Act of 2011 (RESTORE Act). The RESTORE Act mandates that 80% of the Clean Water Act fines from the oil spill be distributed to the five states bordering the Gulf of Mexico. The final report, the first released by any state, focuses on workforce development and training programs, and additionally recommends the improvement of Internet access and the relocation of certain railroad tracks along the coast. “GoCoast 2020 will make sure this effort is coast-driven," Bryant said. “It should not be run from Jackson; it should not be run from Washington, D.C." Miss. Gov. Bryant releases plan to spend BP oil spill moneyThe Clarion-Ledger

 State of the State Updates – Governor Paul LePage of Maine, in his State of the State speech earlier this week, discussed Maine’s perceived unfriendly business environment and high energy costs and called for increased natural gas production and an expedited approval and permitting process. In Minnesota, Governor Mark Dayton focused on environmental stewardship, stating that “a healthy life starts with, and depends upon, clean air to breath, clean water to drink, protected natural environments to enjoy, and a secure ecological future.” Illinois Governor Pat Quinn stated he will work to increase renewable energy capacity, and mentioned the growth of the battery industry and energy research in Illinois. Governor Robert Bentley of Alabama stated he intends to keep energy costs down by using natural resources, including coal, natural gas, nuclear, and hydro-electric power to meet Alabama’s energy demands.


Federal energy regulators have ordered several energy companies, including Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, and Transocean, to stop work aboard oil exploration rigs this week due to defective bolts that connect drilling tubes to safety gear and the seafloor. The defective bolts, used in equipment manufactured by General Electric, were discovered last month. At the time of the announcement, it was estimated that almost 30% of all the active drilling wells in the Gulf of Mexico utilized the flawed bolts. According to some experts, installing new bolts and resuming drilling operations may take as long as three weeks for each rig. The Energy Information Administration states that 20% of total U.S. crude output is a result of oil production in federal waters in the Gulf. U.S. halts drilling on Gulf wells with flawed boltsBloomberg

 President Obama has nominated Sally Jewell, the CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc. – known as REI – to become the Secretary of the Department of the Interior. If confirmed, Ms. Jewell will replace Secretary Ken Salazar, a former United States Senator who has led the department since 2009. A former commercial banker and oil company engineer, Jewell is often considered a champion of conservation and preservation. Ms. Jewell’s nomination breaks with the recent tradition of nominating a western United States politician to lead the Interior Department. Her nomination is the first of several expected energy-related nominations in the coming weeks, including those for the Departments of Energy and Transportation in addition to the Environmental Protection Agency. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the first scientist to lead his department, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the Cabinet’s only Republican, announced their intentions to step down last week. Obama’s choice to lead Interior Dept. has oil sector and conservation credentialsThe New York Times

 Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska), together with several other Senate colleagues, including two centrist Democrats, introduced a bill to guarantee federal approval of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to NATO countries and Japan. The bill mirrors a late 2012 push by former Senator Dick Lugar (R-Indiana) to provide automatic approval for LNG exports to NATO members. Specifically, the bill would treat NATO allies and Japan as any other formal free-trade partner. The proposed legislation additionally instructs the Department of Energy to expedite approval of any export application to countries deemed important to U.S. security interests after consultation with the Departments of State and Defense. “The U.S. and Alaska have plenty of natural gas to sell to Japan and our NATO allies, and I can’t think of a better place to sell it than to our strategic and economic partners,” Senator Begich said. Senate bill would greenlight natural gas exports to US alliesThe Hill 

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