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Energy Update: March 19, 2021

In the States

CT: At an event unveiling the state’s first electric school bus, Governor Ned Lamont urged state lawmakers to authorize Connecticut to join the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program (TCIP), a regional multi-state cap-and-trade agreement that aims to curb carbon emissions from transportation and other sources. Although Governor Lamont has already agreed to join the program, formally joining the TCIP requires a bill to be approved by the state’s General Assembly. A closely contested vote on the bill is expected in the coming weeks. Democratic members tend to support the plan since it represents an opportunity to address climate change, but Republican members as well as oil and gas industry advocates tend to oppose the plan, arguing it will lead to increased gas prices for consumers. “It’s not an easy vote for the legislature,” said Governor Lamont. “A lot of these votes aren’t easy, but [the TCIP] will make a transformative difference for our kids, for our families, [and] for public health.’' Connecticut Gov. Lamont Lobbies for Regional Effort to Fight Climate Change; Electric School Buses Could be Funded under InitiativeThe Hartford Courant

 

MA: Lawmakers sent a sweeping climate-focused measure to Governor Charlie Baker’s desk with a veto-proof majority after incorporating many of the Governor’s proposed changes since he vetoed the legislation initially. The bill aims to put Massachusetts on a path to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 by promoting renewable energy and reducing the state’s reliance on fossil fuels. The bill also prescribes stricter energy efficiency requirements for appliances and compels utilities to buy more electricity generated from offshore wind power projects. Governor Baker first vetoed the bill in early February, sending it back to the legislature with a number of proposed amendments that aimed to address costs. The new bill includes 42 of the 47 changes Governor Baker proposed. Governor Baker is said to be pleased with the bill and is expected to sign it, according to Kathleen Theoharides, Massachusetts’ secretary of energy and environmental affairs. Legislature Approves Climate Bill, Sends Back to Governor BakerThe Boston Globe

 

NM: In a letter to President Joe Biden, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham pushed back against the Biden administration’s moratorium on leasing public lands for oil and gas production. In her letter, Governor Lujan Grisham argued that even a modest reduction in oil and gas production as a result of the moratorium could put a fiscal squeeze on the state that could compromise the state government’s ability to achieve certain policy goals, for example, universal access to early childhood education. The Governor said that the moratorium could force oil and gas producers to other states with laxer environmental regulations and more opportunities on private land, like Texas. “Those shifts would not only cause economic harm to New Mexico, but would actually lead to increased emissions by shifting production to areas that have not adopted our strict environmental standards. This runs counter to our shared climate goals,” wrote Governor Lujan Grisham. She implored the Biden administration to grant New Mexico an energy transition credit for actions the state is already taking to address climate change, including the state’s recent law mandating carbon-free electricity generation by investor-owned utilities by 2045, and her executive orders on climate change that establish targets for statewide greenhouse gas reduction. Officials from other major oil- and gas-producing states, like Texas and Wyoming, have also pushed back on the moratorium. New Mexico Governor Seeks to Offset Biden’s Oil PoliciesAssociated Press

 

TX: Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick urged Governor Greg Abbott to use his executive powers to address the electricity overcharges that occurred after widespread blackouts hit Texas early last month. At a recent press conference, Lt. Governor Patrick argued that Governor Abbott has the authority to compel the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to reprice the 32 hours that they charged the maximum price for, causing many Texans who had recently suffered from the blackouts to receive astronomically high energy bills. "In terms of the Governor's power to act, he has renewed the emergency order, and under an emergency declaration the governor has extraordinary power… he can make this corrective action if he so chooses,” said Lt. Governor Patrick. However, last week, Governor Abbott sent a letter to Lt. Governor Patrick, stating he believed he did not have the power to intervene. Lt. Governor Patrick said it is unclear to him whether Governor Abbott has changed his mind since then. Lieutenant Gov. Patrick pushes Gov. Abbott to take action on price correctionCBS Austin

 

National

Along with 19 other states with Republican attorneys general, the Texas and Montana attorneys general are suing the Biden administration over the federal government’s decision to revoke permits for the Keystone XL pipeline. In the lawsuit, Attorneys General Ken Paxton of Texas and Austin Knudson of Montana argue that President Biden does not possess the unilateral authority to change energy policy set by Congress. They also argue that halting construction of the pipeline could “devastate the livelihoods of thousands of workers, their families, and their communities” in the affected states. The other states party to the lawsuit include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Although many of these states are not on the proposed pathway of the pipeline, officials from these states said they are concerned with a potential “ripple effect” from the decision to block the pipeline that could adversely affect their states’ economies. Texas, Montana Lead 21 GOP-Run States in Suing Biden Admin Over Keystone XL Suspension - Forbes

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