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Energy Update: January 10, 2022

In the States

AR: Governor Asa Hutchinson signed an Executive Order to improve coordination between policymakers and industry during emergencies that threaten the state’s power grid. By creating the “Arkansas Energy Resources Council,” the Governor hopes to bring together representatives from the state’s energy industry, utility companies and state officials to meet on an annual basis to share knowledge on emergency preparedness. The state was hit with crippling power outages and damage from a series of unexpected winter storms in February of 2021. “The winter storms in February were a reminder of the toll that a natural disaster can take, which is why I have created the Arkansas Energy Resources Council. The members of the council will facilitate ongoing conversations between state agencies and leaders in the energy sector so that we are as prepared as possible to deal with extreme events that can cause power outages and interfere with communication,” Governor Hutchinson said in a press release. The permanent creation of the council follows a recommendation from a task force established by the Governor in the wake of the February storms. Hutchinson signs Executive Orders on Energy, Infrastructure -- Arkansas Money & Politics                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

KY: Gov. Andy Beshear announced plans for the largest solar farm in Kentucky history, at the site of a former coal mine in Martin County. The “Martin County Solar Project,” which was profiled in the New York Times, is being built by the company Savion and will create 11 full time jobs and stimulate $231 million in investment. The facility will be located on 1,200 acres of the old Martiki mine site and connect directly to a Kentucky Power substation. The project will power 33,000 homes, and is expected to be operational by 2024. “We are building a future that works for all Kentuckians, and that future includes an increased reliance on renewable energy,” Beshear said in a news release. “To maintain the incredible economic momentum we have established this year, we must continue to compete for all forms of energy investment. I want to thank Savion for choosing Kentucky.”  Plans announced for solar project at former coal mine -- WCHS TV    


NJ: New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection finalized a rule to phase out diesel powered trucks (vehicles larger than delivery vans), beginning in 2025. The rule, modeled after California’s “Advanced Clean Trucks” rule, cites climate change and the health risks of air pollution to prohibit the sale of diesel trucks beginning in 2025. The rule imposes gradual limits on all truck sales, requiring that 40-75% of new truck sales be zero emission by 2035. “New Jersey is already experiencing the adverse impacts of climate change, but we have the power and obligation to reduce its worsening in the years ahead by acting now to limit our emissions of climate pollutants,” Shawn LaTourette, the state’s commissioner for the Department of Environmental Protection, said. Currently, the state has only 600 electric vehicle charging stations, which would be inadequate to serve thousands of trucks needing daily charging. Expanding the state’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure has been a priority for Governor Phil Murphy, who signed an order in January of 2021 to fast track installation of charging stations alongside major roadways. California, Oregon and Washington have already implemented similar rules. New Jersey to phase out diesel powered trucks -- Grist                                                    

TX:. Governor Greg Abbot assured Texans that ERCOT (Energy Reliability Council of Texas) will continue inspections of energy facilities to ensure they are reliable in the event of extreme weather, as part of the state’s effort  to avoid a repeat of the major outages that plagued Texas after winter weather in February of 2021. The Governor promised over 300 ERCOT inspections by the end of December 2021 of natural gas, nuclear, wind, coal and solar generation plants to ensure they are prepared for winter weather. The Public Utility Commission of Texas approved a rule following the February blackout to require energy providers to winterize their facilities, and gave facilities until December 1st to comply. “This will ensure that the power grid is more resilient and reliable this winter,” the Governor said.  Abbot promises ERCOT inspections to ensure grid reliability -- KVUE


Federal courts in 2022 are expected to weigh in on climate rules issued by the Biden administration, which could have a major impact on the federal government’s authority to regulate carbon emissions and oil/gas extraction. In February, the Supreme Court will hear a case challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to regulate emissions from power plants under the Clean Air Act. A ruling against the Biden administration could hamstring its efforts to reduce power plant emissions.  Lower courts will consider challenges to a moratorium on oil drilling on federal land, as well as how the EPA can quantify the negative cost of carbon to society when performing regulatory cost-benefit analyses.   Courts May Overhaul Energy Rules in 2022 -- Energy Wire

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