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Energy Update, May 13

May 31, 2016

In the States

CO – The state’s Supreme Court recently ruled that local government bans and moratoriums on hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, conflict with state law. Proponents of local government action are now collecting signatures to place on the November ballot a constitutional amendment to restrict oil and gas drilling or to give local governments the authority to do so. One of the proposed constitutional amendments, which would supplant the state Supreme Court ruling if passed, would require minimum distances between wells and homes. “We're taking them as a serious threat to responsible oil and gas development in the state of Colorado," said Karen Crummy, a spokeswoman for an industry-backed group called Protecting Colorado's Environment, Economy and Energy Independence, which will campaign against the amendments. Colorado’s battle over regulating fracking shifts to ballotAP

GA – In collaboration with the Department of the Navy and state officials, Georgia Power announced it will build a new 31 megawatt (MW) alternating current solar generation facility at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Georgia. The new project is the fifth of its kind by Georgia Power – the state’s largest utility and a subsidiary of Southern Company – to be built, maintained, and operated on a military base in the state. The $75 million facility will include nearly 140,000 ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) panels across 150 acres and is expected to start generating electricity within the next year. "This project will generate solar energy as part of a diverse generation mix, while providing security for the base and a positive economic impact in the local community," said Kenny Coleman, senior vice president of marketing for Georgia Power. "The projects we are developing on our state's military bases are great examples of renewable energy growth being driven by collaboration and innovative partnerships." Georgia Power begins construction on new on-base solar facilityMidtown Patch

KS – Governor Sam Brownback recently signed legislation to suspend the state’s work on a plan to comply with federal regulations on carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. The new law is scheduled to take effect on May 19th, making Kansas, which is among 27 states challenging the Obama administration’s new rules, the third state to shelve its compliance plans. Specifically, the new measure prohibits the state from “conducting studies or doing other work towards drafting a compliance plan until the U.S. Supreme Court’s stay [on the regulations] are lifted.”  Eileen Hawley, a spokeswoman for Governor Brownback, called the EPA's rules "an unprecedented expansion of its regulatory power" and "an affront to our constitutional order and the rights of our citizens." Kansas suspending work on limiting plans’ carbon emissionsPennEnergy/AP

NJ – At a hearing of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, some lawmakers raised concerns about the cumulative $1.3 billion that was diverted from a state-created, taxpayer-supported clean energy fund to balance state budgets by Governor Chris Christie, a practice first initiated by former Governor Jon Corzine. The clean energy funds, which were originally intended to “reduce energy use and cut emissions contributing to global warming,” have been diverted by the executive branch in every budget since the 2008 state fiscal year. In next year’s budget, Governor Christie proposes to use $114.5 million from the fund to pay for energy costs at state buildings and for NJ Transit while another $3.7 million will pay for operational costs of the clean energy offices at both the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Board of Public Utilities. However, Board of Public Utilities President Richard Mroz, who appeared before a legislative committee, assured the legislators that “New Jersey has and continues to have a robust energy-efficiency program that is meeting our needs and reducing emissions.”  He also noted that the state has invested more than $2.4 billion in energy efficiency over the last 15 years. Over $1 billion meant for NJ clean energy fund diverted for other usesNJ Spotlight

Federal and Regional

A group of 68 United States Representatives, led by California Rep. Jared Huffman, sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell asking the Department to exclude certain portions of Alaskan Arctic Ocean from all future oil and gas lease sales. The two areas noted by the Members of Congress include the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, which have already been approved for drilling by the Obama administration. The letter, which was signed by one Republican – Rep. Robert Dold of Illinois – and 67 Democratic lawmakers, noted that barring lease sales in the Alaskan Arctic Ocean will help the United States meet the Paris Agreement’s target of keeping global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius. According to the Interior Department, the area slated for exploration in the Chukchi Sea includes approximately 15 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 78 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas while the Beaufort Sea could hold 8 billion barrels of oil and close to 28 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. "Ending oil and gas development in the Arctic would send a powerful international signal that the United States is committed to investing its resources in a climate safe, clean-energy future," the letter stated. Lawmakers want to end Arctic oil and gas leasingThe Washington Examiner

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