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Energy Update: February 5, 2021

In the States

MA: Governor Charlie Baker vetoed a climate-focused bill from the state legislature just as the legislative session concluded. In his veto letter explaining why he rejected the bill, Governor Baker pushed back against the offshore wind procurements included in the bill and instead signaled his support for pursuing a regional approach to building wind energy capacity in the Northeast. "We urge the Legislature to allow this process to reform our regional energy system to mature over the coming months, at which point we will better understand whether future state procurements are necessary, or if opportunities for regional procurements and coordination emerge as a more effective approach to secure clean energy resources while protecting Massachusetts ratepayers," Governor Baker wrote in his veto letter. Governor Baker is part of an ongoing effort among several New England governors to reform the regional power grid, which he said he believed would be a crucial component to get Massachusetts on track for net-zero emissions by 2050. Energy regulators from six states gathered last month to discuss wholesale market design, and will discuss governance reform later this month. As Massachusetts’ next legislative session began, the state legislature passed another similar climate bill to be sent to Governor Baker’s desk. Governor Baker is expected to return it with several of the amendments he would have proposed to the last climate bill if the legislative session had not expired. Gov. Baker sees potential in regional approach to wind energyThe Herald News

 

MN: Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan announced their plan to fight climate change by converting Minnesota’s electricity sector to 100 percent clean energy by 2040. The plan aims to gradually reduce the state’s use of fossil fuels by increasing the use of clean energy resources while still maintaining reliability and affordability for ratepayers. Governor Walz’s plan has four parts: require all electric utilities to use only carbon-free energy resources by 2040, while setting interim goals; require that whenever a utility proposes to replace or add new power generation, it must prioritize energy efficiency and clean energy resources over fossil fuels; raise Minnesota’s Energy Efficiency Resource Standard for investor-owned electric utilities and expand the Conservation Improvement Program, and; set a state goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions from existing buildings in half by 2035. “The time to fight climate change is now. Not only is clean energy the right and responsible choice for future generations, clean energy maximizes job creation and grows our economy,” said Governor Walz. Gov. Walz Announces Plan to Achieve Clean Energy in Minnesota by 2040Minnesota Spokesman Recorder

 

TX: In an executive order, Governor Greg Abbott directed state agencies to challenge the Biden administration’s actions impacting the state’s oil and gas industry. Governor Abbot’s order directs “every state agency to use all lawful powers and tools to challenge any federal action that threatens the continued strength, vitality and independence of the energy industry,” and to “work to identify potential litigation, notice-and-comment opportunities, and any other means of preventing federal overreach within the law.” The Governor’s executive order comes in response to several climate-focused actions taken by the Biden administration, including President Biden’s directive to the Department of the Interior to pause oil and gas leasing on federal onshore and offshore acreage, rejoining the United Nations global climate accord, and revoking the federal permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. Governor Abbott indicated his intention to continue fighting the Biden administration on its energy agenda during a press appearance last week; “I'm in Midland to make clear that Texas is going to protect the oil and gas industry from any type of hostile attack launched from Washington D.C.,” said Governor Abbott. Texas Governor Ready to Fight Biden’s “Extreme Hostility” Against Oil, Gas IndustryNatural Gas Intelligence; Gov. Abbott Signs Executive Order Directing All State Agencies to Prepare to Challenge ‘Federal Overreach'NBCDFW

 

WY: Governor Mark Gordon announced his support of several proposed bills to buoy the state’s energy sector and to assist with Wyoming’s economic recovery. Among these bills are a proposal to reduce the state’s severance tax levied on oil and gas operators under certain conditions, and a proposal to broaden the involvement of the Wyoming Energy Authority in promoting investment in carbon capture technology and the mining of rare minerals. “The energy and mining sectors are the major pillars of our economy and they have provided the wherewithal that gives this nation the luxury of looking to new forms of energy,” Governor Gordon said in a statement. “Our economic recovery will hinge on the health of these industries and their ability to adapt to changing market demands.” Governor Extends Support to Bills Helping Energy, Agriculture and Tourism sectorsThe Casper Star Tribune

 

National

After facing delays from the Trump administration, the Biden administration has resumed progress on the Vineyard Wind energy project. Development on Vineyard Wind, an 800-megawatt wind farm to be built about 12 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, was originally delayed in the permitting process last December when developers of the project withdrew their proposal in response to opposition from the Trump administration. Developers re-submitted the permit request soon after President Biden was inaugurated. In one of her first actions as the new director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Director Amanda Lefton pledged to conduct a “robust and timely” review of the request, putting the project back on track for approval and construction. Katie Theoharides, Governor Charlie Baker’s energy secretary, said “This puts Vineyard Wind… once again back in the position to deliver on that promise of clean, affordable energy and jobs here in Massachusetts.” Biden Administration Puts Vineyard Wind Energy Project Back on TrackThe Boston Globe

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