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Energy Update, February 12, 2010

In the States

AZ – Governor Jan Brewer has announced that Arizona will no longer fully participate in the Western Climate Initiative, citing potential higher costs for consumers.  The Governor signed an executive order effectively withdrawing the State from the planned cap-and-trade system and ordering the Department of Environmental Quality to review a plan to place more regulations on vehicle emissions.  Although these two programs will not be implemented, the State is not fully withdrawing from the Initiative, and will continue to work with other States to promote solar energy, limit pollution by setting smart growth policies, and taking steps to adapt to climate change.  The State is also continuing a program to make its entire state vehicle fleet hybrid, low-emission, or alternative fuel by 2012.  Arizona quits Western climate endeavorArizona Republic

MA – Governor Deval Patrick’s recently announced new plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions.  When combined with measures he and others have already put into place, these proposals would result in an 18.6% decrease in emissions from 1990 levels by 2020, according to a new draft report by the Eastern Research Group.  The Global Warming Solutions Act, signed by the Governor in 2008, requires Massachusetts to lower greenhouse gas emissions 10% to 25% by 2020.  The Governor cited the move toward reducing emissions as good for the environment and the economy, saying “[o]ur investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy are creating jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions dramatically.”  Mass. to meet gas reduction targetBoston Globe and Draft Report to Climate Protection and Green Economy Advisory Committee [pdf]Eastern Research Group

WY – Governor Dave Freudenthal is proposing stricter regulations on the wind power industry, including an excise tax of $3 per megawatt hour, and more restrictions on land use and zoning that would make building wind turbines and producing wind energy more expensive.  The Governor said that the wind energy industry “remains a profit-oriented business that should be treated the same as other energy producers."  Gov.: Tax wind powerStar-Tribune

State of the States – Most Governors have given a State of the State address, and many of them have included energy issues in their speeches.  Some of these are highlighted below.  The full text and summaries of all of the State of the State addresses can be found on the Stateline.org website.

CT – Governor M. Jodi Rell proposed eliminating the sales tax on “machines, equipment, tools, materials, supplies, and fuels used in renewable energy and green technology” in her annual State of the State address.  She also proposed a loan forgiveness program for students who get certain degrees related to renewable energy or health and choose to stay and work in the State. 

MI – Governor Jennifer Granholm said the Federal economic stimulus has helped the State make investments in clean energy and “take us from the rust belt to the green belt” in her State of the State address.  The Governor also said that several billion private sector dollars have been invested in building electric cars, batteries, wind turbines, and solar cells resulting in the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs.

NV – In his State of the State address, Governor Gibbons said that his office is working to promote solar, wind, and geothermal energy as well as research and development for new green technologies.  The Governor noted economic and environmental benefits, saying these industries would create long-term high-paying jobs. 

National News

President Barack Obama met with a bipartisan group of 11 Governors recently to discuss the future of energy.  While the President underscored the need to produce more biofuels, especially ethanol, and cleaner coal, Governor Gregoire of Washington expressed interest in nuclear power, Governor Rounds of South Dakota asked for help in developing biofuels resources in the Midwest, and Governor Beshear of Kentucky praised Obama’s interest in clean coal and expressed concern over cap-and-trade proposals.  Also in attendance were Governors Riley of Alabama, Baldacci of Maine, Schweitzer of Montana, Strickland of Ohio, Bredesen of Tennessee, Douglas of Vermont, Manchin of West Virginia, and Freudenthal of Wyoming.  Governors talk energy with ObamaStateline.org and Wash. Gov. says nuclear energy must be consideredSeattle Post-Intelligencer and Rounds says he pushed for SD in energy meetingKTIV.com and Kentucky Gov. Beshear praises Obama clean-coal initiativeCourier-Journal

More than 200 companies, including some major energy companies, have combined efforts to promote the passage of a Senate climate change bill this year.  Leaders from the companies and business groups have cited the need to compete with China, reduce dependence on foreign oil, and reduce carbon emissions as all worthy goals that can be achieved through climate change legislation.  In the Senate, Senators Kerry, Lieberman, and Graham are working together to craft legislation that will attract Republicans and Democrats.  President Obama has also shown a willingness to compromise to pass a bill this year: he proposed allowing more nuclear power in his State of the Union address, requested more Federal loans to build nuclear power plants in his FY2011 budget, and asked Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to address the issue of nuclear fuel and waste.  Coming together on climate billPolitico

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