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Energy Update: November 24, 2021

In the States

CT: Amid rapidly rising gas prices, Governor Ned Lamont announced that Connecticut will not join the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI), a proposed regional partnership between Northeastern states to implement a “cap-and-invest” program on carbon emissions from vehicles. The program would tax fossil fuel companies that exceed pre-set emissions limits and require them to buy permits for further emissions. Companies would then likely pass these additional costs on to consumers, resulting in an estimated additional 5 to 9 cents per gallon in higher gasoline prices. Participating governments expect to generate about $3 billion over 10 years through the TCI, with the dividends reinvested on environmental projects. Although Governor Lamont initially supported the initiative, he was unable to convince the legislature to approve the TCI during last June’s budget discussions and since decided that rising gas prices will make the TCI too politically difficult to achieve; “Look, I couldn’t get [the TCI] through when gas prices were at historic low,” said Governor Lamont. Massachusetts and the District of Columbia have already committed to joining the initiative, however, conservative groups in Massachusetts are currently backing a ballot measure prohibiting a gas tax increase. Connecticut governor nixes TCI for now citing rising gas prices-- Boston Herald

 

MD: Governor Larry Hogan announced the state has joined the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Climate Challenge. The challenge commits Maryland to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in state government operations by at least 50% within ten years. This initiative builds off the state’s earlier goal of a 15% reduction in energy use from a 2018 baseline by 2029 across its 90.7 million square feet in property, which includes the University System of Maryland campuses. “Our administration continues to set an example by identifying energy efficiency opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our state buildings,” said Governor Hogan. “Maryland has one of the nation’s most comprehensive, detailed, and balanced plans to address and mitigate climate change, and this partnership only strengthens our efforts.” Maryland is the first state in the country to join the challenge. State of Maryland joins national climate challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions-- WMDT

 

MI: Enbridge, a Canadian energy company, is escalating a fight with Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration, which has tried to shut down the controversial Line 5 pipeline. Line 5 is an aging pipeline that ferries gas from Ontario to large swaths of Michigan, including supplying 65 percent of propane in the state’s upper peninsula and providing 55 percent of the state’s total supply. Environmentalists, Gov. Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel have sought to close the pipeline (which crosses the straits of Mackinac), citing environmental concerns. Amid rising heating oil prices, Enbridge has seized the offensive and launched a six figure ad buy touting the pipeline and assailing efforts to close it. Enbridge spokesperson Tracy Larsson said ad campaigns are “one of many methods” used to convey “important factual information” about the company. The Biden administration has resisted weighing in on the spat, deferring to an ongoing Army Corps of Engineers review.  - The Canadian Energy Company in the way of Whitmer’s campaign - Politico

 

VA: With Republicans having recaptured control of the Virginia Governor’s mansion and the House of Delegates, GOP leaders are aiming to repeal the state’s landmark “Clean Economy Act,” which they say will raise costs for Virginia residents. However, with narrow Democratic control of the Virginia Senate, the path to repeal is an uphill climb. “I believe that, in fact, we can tackle bringing down emissions in Virginia without putting forth a plan that not even executives at the utilities believe is doable,” Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin said during a debate in September. The Clean Economy Act established a renewable standard for the state’s electric utilities that required them to source power from 100% clean energy by 2050. The law also entered Virginia into a regional cap-and-trade program for energy generation, which requires power plants to purchase permits to emit carbon. As a result of the law, the state’s largest utility companies (Dominion and Appalachian) rapidly expanded their solar and renewable portfolios. - Virginia GOP targets clean energy law, but options for rollback are limited - Energy News

 

National

President Biden asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate whether “illegal” conduct from oil and gas companies was behind recent spikes in gas prices. “Usually, prices at the pump correspond to movements in the price of unfinished gasoline,” Biden wrote in a letter to FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan. “But in the last month the price of unfinished gasoline is down more than 5 percent while gas prices at the pump are up 3 percent… I do not accept hard-working Americans paying more for gas because of anti-competitive or otherwise potentially illegal conduct." The average per-gallon price of gasoline has hit $3.41, a 60% increase from 2020. In response, some industry representatives blamed the Biden administration for rising gas prices. “Unfortunately, federal policy is discouraging supply by shutting down pipelines, putting future production off limits, talking down the future of the petroleum business, and imposing expensive requirements on refineries, chief among them a burdensome Renewable Fuel Standard,” said American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers lobbyist Derrick Morgan in a written statement. Biden asks FTC to investigate oil and gas companies - Politico

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