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Energy Update, June 1, 2012

In the States

MD – Governor Martin O’Malley has signed three bills into law that are designed to increase the usage of solar energy and geothermal heating and cooling.  The new geothermal law makes Maryland the only state to count geothermal heat pumps toward its renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS), which requires utilities to obtain 20 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2022.  Governor O’Malley also enacted laws that will increase tax breaks for solar and geothermal projects and move up the deadline on the solar energy RPS, which will now require two percent of the state’s energy to come from solar by 2020 rather than the original 2022.  Maryland Gov. signs geothermal heat pump billContracting Business and O’Malley signs hundreds of bills that will tint Maryland a deeper shade of blueWashington Post and Maryland Legislation To Accelerate Solar Carve-Out Signed Into LawSolar Industry

NC – Governor Bev Perdue has issued an executive order mandating the creation of a workgroup to make recommendations on regulations concerning hydraulic fracturing.  Governor Perdue said that the workgroup should define regulations that allow for energy development while protecting water resources and citizens’ health.  "If done safely, fracking can be part of a larger energy solution to create jobs and help lower energy costs," the Governor said.  State House and Senate Republicans favor a bill that would create a board comprised of House, Senate, and Gubernatorial appointees to develop regulations and lift the moratorium on drilling, but expressed optimism that the Governor is taking action on drilling regulation.  Gov. Bev Perdue issues order to develop fracking rules for North CarolinaFayetteville Observer

OH – Governor John Kasich has said that he will sign a bill into law that will require new regulations on construction of new oil and gas wells, greater disclosure of the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process, and water testing within 1,500 feet of hydraulic fracturing water wells.  The energy bill, which passed with overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate, also requires that the amount of time between drilling and capping of wells be tracked, that well owners purchase insurance, and that waste water imported from other states be disclosed.  Ohio legislature OKs bill on energy fracking rulesChicago Tribune

National News

Senators James Inhofe (R-OK) and Christopher Coons (D-DE) have founded a working group with other Senators designed to examine the renewable fuels standard in an effort to determine which of its provisions are working and which are not.  The group will dedicate 20 – 30 staff members to a “seed-to-wheel examination” of the standard, which will take into account its affect on markets, the environment, food prices, feedstock, and consumers.  The group’s intent is to bring biofuels and the renewable fuels standard up for discussion in the next Congress, following this year’s elections.  US Senate group starts up “seed to wheel” review of US Renewable Fuel StandardBiofuels Digest

The U.S. Commerce Department has issued a preliminary ruling that will impose a 13.7 to 26 percent duty on wind turbine towers manufactured in China on the grounds that the companies building the towers have received unfair government subsidies.  The ruling comes not long after the Department issued a similar ruling on Chinese solar panels based on unfair subsidies.  After that ruling, the Department also ruled that Chinese companies manufacturing solar panels were “dumping” in the American market and subjected them to additional tariffs.  Wind turbine towers may also face additional duties due to dumping charges in the coming weeks.  Reactions to the rulings among businesses have been mixed.  Steelworkers are in favor of the rulings, as are U.S. solar panel and wind tower manufacturers; solar panel installers say that the higher prices will slow their business.  A lawyer for the coalition of U.S.-based wind turbine tower manufacturers that brought the complaint to the Department said that the decision is a “positive step” and is “where we expected it to be,” while a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that “resorting to protectionism will not solve these frictions.” U.S. imposes duties on Chinese wind tower makersNew York Times and U.S. sets duties as high as 26% on wind towers from ChinaBloomberg BusinessWeek

 

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