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Energy Update: June 21, 2019

In the States

ME – Governor Janet Mills signed a bill into law that requires the Public Utilities Commission to approve a demonstration project to advance the use of floating offshore wind energy in the United States. The project is supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for $39.9 million and will deploy floating turbines. The bill was sponsored by Senator David Woodsome, a Republican who is enthusiastic about how this bill can help Maine take the lead in research that could have worldwide implications. Governor Mills also announced that Maine has joined a regional task force led by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which will seek to identify potential opportunities for renewable energy leasing and development in the Gulf of Maine. Governor Mills said, “Offshore wind represents a great opportunity for Maine’s energy future and our economy”.  Maine Governor takes action to advance offshore wind developmentWind Power Engineering & Development

 

NY – On June 20th the New York State Assembly passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which is headed to the Governor Andrew Cuomo for his expected signature. The legislation requires at least 70% of electric generation to come from renewable sources by 2030, and provides needed funding to assist low-income residents with this transition. This legislation was agreed to by leaders of both the State Senate and the State Assembly and Governor Cuomo earlier in the week. The bill also sets a requirement for local distributed solar energy production of 6 gigawatts by 2025, which a report released earlier this year estimated would sustain more than 11,000 jobs between now and 2025. New York sets goal for enough solar to power 1 million homes by 2025Solar Power World

 

PA – Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania has asked Republican leaders in the state legislature to work with him to bring Pennsylvania into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). This consortium requires members to set a price and cap on all gas emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants. If they do enter the program, the price paid by power plant owners to emit carbon dioxide would bring in hundreds of millions of dollars for the state government. Owners of power plants would have to buy credits for every ton of carbon dioxide they emit, which incentivizes them to lower their emissions. Governor Wolf is working with Republican leaders on a compromise with the hope of avoiding a court challenge if he were to act unilaterally. Republican leaders in the House and Senate have indicated their willingness to reach an agreement, but it’s unlikely a deal will be completed before the legislative session ends for the summer. Republicans are predicting that the commonwealth will join the RGGI no earlier than 2021. Wolf wants power plant emission plan to fight climate changePocono Record

 

OR – Oregon House Bill 2020, or the Oregon Climate Action Program, passed the House of Representatives earlier this week by a vote of 35-24. Under this legislation, greenhouse gas emissions will be capped each year to keep emissions below the 1990 level by 45% by 2035 and by at least 80% by 2050 through a market-based cap and trade program. Oregon would become the second state after California to adopt this approach if it is enacted into law. Republican members of the House assert the legislation will raise gas prices and damage rural economies.  While Governor Kate Brown has said that she would sign the bill, Republican members of the State Senate have gone into hiding to prevent the necessary quorum needed for a vote in that body. Oregon House approves ‘cap and trade’ legislationKTVZ News 21 / Oregon Republicans go missing to avoid climate change vote; governor sends police to find themCBS News

 

MN – Governor Tim Walz has announced a plan to renew his push for an ambitious clean energy bill. The plan would require electric companies in the state to switch to 100% clean energy in the next 30 years and prevents them from replacing or setting up new power generators with fossil-fuel power sources unless there’s no reliable or affordable carbon-free power available. He and his Democratic-Farmer-Labor party allies in the legislature attempted to pass the legislation this year, but failed to gain traction in the midst of debate over other important spending and policy bills. Opponents to the plan have compared it to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, portraying it as unrealistic.  Republican leaders have suggested that they would be willing to come to the table to find a compromise on the Governor’s plan, but are unlikely to do so until next year’s legislative session. Walz renews push for 100% clean energy planThe Daily Journal

 

National

A bipartisan group of U.S. House and Senate members, including Reps. Elaine Luria and Denver Riggleman have co-sponsored the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act, which would create a national strategy for nuclear energy, demonstrate advanced nuclear reactor concepts, and make initial supply of high-assay low-enriched uranium fuel available. The bill, which was introduced simultaneously with a Senate bill, shows some degree of bipartisan congressional enthusiasm for nuclear legislation. Congresswoman  Luria said that “when we talk about climate change and cutting CO2 emissions, it’s important that we recognize the impacts of having nuclear as one of those energy sources”. While the bill’s referral to both the House energy and science committees will require an extra step to gain passage, supporters are hopeful that the introduction of a single bill will expedite the process.  Bipartisan House Members Introduce Nuclear Energy Leadership ActMorning Consult

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Energy Update: May 31, 2019

In the States

CO – Governor Jared Polis signed a series of seven bills on Thursday aimed at creating a road map to Colorado’s electrical grid being fossil fuel free by 2040. The seven bills addressed clean air, green jobs, and lower electric rates. The Independence Institute and the Colorado AARP have come out against the bills saying that encouraging utilities to shutdown coal plants earlier than expected will drive up utility bills. Supporters, like Conservation Colorado, see the package of bills as a nationally leading climate policy. One of the new laws sets a goal for Colorado to reduce its statewide greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025; 50 percent by 2030; and 90 percent by 2050. Gov. Polis signs 7 bills on renewable energy, but what does that mean for Colorado’s energy future?The Baltimore Sun

 

WV – Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia has welcomed plans for a new wind farm that is about 170 miles wide. The farm would sit in the middle of two counties and be part of the Black Rock Wind Farm. In discussing the wind farm, Governor Justice said, “This investment is truly great news for Mineral and Grant counties and all of West Virginia. Not only will the project harness West Virginia’s inexhaustible wind…it will continue to stimulate our economy.” West Virginia has installed wind capacity of 686 MW and this project will be a 25% increase to their clean energy output. The new Windfarm will be run by the Clearway Energy Group, which originally proposed the project, and operates other wind farms in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The creation of the wind farm is expected to create 290 jobs and will generate at least $4.8 million in state and local taxes.  West Virginia Governor Embraces Proposed Wind FarmNorth American Windpower

 

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo has blocked a controversial pipeline that would have supplied natural gas to New York City and Long Island. The pipeline was originally meant to run natural gas from New Jersey, across Raritan Bay and New York Bay to New York City. According to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the pipeline would have had significant environmental impacts on the water quality in New York. The DEC maintains that the construction of the pipeline would result in water quality violations and fail to meet the state’s water standards. In response to the administration blocking the project, environmental advocates are hopeful this is a sign of the Cuomo administration’s commitment to the tenets of his Green New Deal. Williams Company, the project’s developer, plans to resubmit their application, but will need approval from both the DEC and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Cuomo administration rejects Williams pipelineWillamette Week

 

UT – Governor Gary Herbert officially unveiled an initiative that would deliver 1,000 megawatts of energy to Utah’s Millard County. Gov. Herbert said “The Utah Advanced Clean Energy Storage Project will generate enough power to meet the needs of 150,000 households. That’s the equivalent of about 21 percent of the total households in Utah”. The energy storage technologies being used include renewable hydrogen, compressed air energy storage, large-scale flow batteries, and solid oxide fuel cells. He also announced the first deployment of innovative software at the Enel plant at Cove Fort, Millard County. The software will monitor the pumps, using technology that detects anomalies and will offer recommendations on potential maintenance. Secretary Rick Perry believes that this will feed into his goal of bolstering geothermal resources 26-fold by 2050. Epic clean energy storage project bound for UtahKSL.com

 

OH – The Ohio House passed an energy bill that would require Ohio’s electric consumers to pay fees in order to subsidize two nuclear power plants and two coal-fired plants, one of which is located in Indiana. The legislation adds $1 per month to residential consumers’ bills to create a new fund capable of subsidizing power generators. The measure’s advocates contend eliminating energy efficiency programs will save consumers money and will reduce overall utility bills. An organization called Generation Now, a group that receive anonymous donations, has put $2.7 million into TV, radio, and online ads in support of the bill while opponents have spent about $300,000 on ads. State Representative David Leland of Columbus, who is opposed to the bill, pointed to the tornados ravaging the Midwest as proof that stopping climate change is imperative. Ohio House passes controversial energy bill changing electric feesDayton Daily News

 

National

Senator Susan Collins of Maine introduced a bipartisan bill this month to bolster renewable energy storage. Known as the Better Energy Storage Technology or BEST Act, the measure requires the Department of Energy (DOE) to “establish a research, development, and demonstration program for grid-scale energy storage” by providing $300 million over five years to DOE. “Next-generation energy storage devices will help enhance the efficiency and reliability of our electric grid, reduce energy costs, and promote the adoption of renewable resources,” said Senator Collins. “Our bipartisan legislation would help catalyze the development of this technology that holds great promise in the fight against climate change by supporting clean energy generation, including wind and solar.” The bill additionally directs DOE to develop a long-term strategic plan for energy storage. Susan Collins unveils $300M energy storage bill to combat climate changeThe Washington Examiner

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Energy Update: May 3, 2019

In the States

NV – Governor Steve Sisolak has signed into law a bill that requires Nevada to double its Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50% by 2030. This bill was first proposed in 2017, but was vetoed by former Governor Brian Sandoval. In signing the bill, Governor Sisolak said, “This milestone piece of legislation will also help reduce emissions that negatively affect the health and well-being of Nevadans”. The bill sponsored by Senator Chris Brooks easily made its way through both chambers. A ballot initiative has been approved for 2020 that would enshrine the 50% RPS in Nevada’s constitution, however the Governor expressed the view that he didn’t want to wait another year and a half to get the ball rolling on raising renewable standards. Sisolak signs ‘milestone’ bill increasing Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50 percent by 2030The Nevada Independent

 

OH – Governor Mike DeWine has thrown his support behind a nuclear energy bailout bill. The bill would raise $300 million for nuclear energy by tacking on a $2.50 fee to all residential electricity consumers. These fees would, however, be offset by eliminating a separate fee that pays for renewable energy. Governor DeWine believes that the state’s energy policy should be focused on having a reliable grid while limiting carbon emissions into the atmosphere and that, for the immediate future, it is impossible to dramatically reduce carbon without using nuclear power. Public committee hearings on the bill are ongoing. Opponents of the bill say that it would make clean energy more expensive in Ohio and that it would generate half as much clean energy. Amid bailout talk, Gov. Mike DeWine signals support for nuclear energyColumbus Dispatch

 

OR – Governor Kate Brown has expressed her support for a Clean Energy Jobs Bill that is getting mixed reviews from conservationists and environmental activists. The bill would create a system for reducing the pollution generation threshold that requires companies to purchase permits for any new greenhouse gas emissions. The amount of available permits available would decrease over time. Companies are also given an option to generate “offset credits” which are given as an incentive to complete projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These credits can be traded in to cover emissions over what the cap allows. This bill has failed multiple times in Salem previously and may fail again as some environmentalist groups are opposing the bill due to a provision that allows companies to use credits from other states to purchase permits. Despite this opposition, Governor Brown is prioritizing adoption of an emissions reduction program this legislative session. Oregon Clean Energy Jobs Bill has Mixed Support from Environmental Justice GroupsWillamette Week

 

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo is advocating a Green New Deal that would aim to make the state’s electricity sector carbon free by 2040 and create a council to develop a plan to transition the state to net-zero carbon emissions. However, some environmentalists and advocacy groups have thrown their support behind a competing bill that goes beyond the Governor’s proposal  by  requiring all industries in New York to be carbon-free by 2050, not just electricity. These groups oppose Governor Cuomo’s proposal because they believe it doesn’t go far enough to address New York’s contribution to climate change. Supporters counter that this is the first time that a bill like Cuomo’s has been capable of passing in years with the newly elected Democratic Senate. However, some lawmakers maintain that the Governor’s goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions only for the electricity sector is closer to the status quo. They believe that more needs to be done to put infrastructure and policies in place that will actually reduce the state’s carbon contribution.  New York's Governor is pitching a Green New Deal. Climate Activists say it's not Green Enough.Stamford Advocate

 

ME – Governor Janet Mills has introduced bipartisan legislation that would create a Maine Climate Council, which would help the state to meet its clean energy goal of reaching 100% renewable energy in Maine’s electricity sector by 2050. The idea for a council was originally announced when Maine joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, which effectively keeps individual states in the Paris climate agreement. Mills was joined by leaders of various food industries as well as State Sen. David Woodsome. The legislation is heavily backed by conservation groups and other groups advocating for a fix to climate change. Maine Climate Council Would Lead State’s 100% Renewable Energy EffortsNorth American Windpower

 

National

This week, the U.S House passed its first major climate-focused bill, HR 9, in almost ten years. The bill would commit the U.S. to the Paris Climate Accord from which the Trump administration earlier withdrew. It would require the U.S. to meet its commitments to the agreement, including cuts in greenhouse emissions, and prevent the Trump administration from using federal funds to withdraw from the agreement. HR 9 would also require the Trump administration to help ensure that other parties to the accord fulfill their contributions as well. The bill, however, is unlikely to be considered in the Senate. A Bill to Honor Paris Agreement Goals Could be the First Climate Legislation to Pass the House this Year Pacific Standard  Staking Out Battle Lines, House Votes to Keep U.S. in Paris Climate Pact – New York Times

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Energy Update: April 5, 2019

In the States
 
MD – The Maryland State Senate passed legislation that would require 50% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030. The current goal in Maryland is
25% renewable energy by 2020. Supporters of the bill hope that it will move Maryland in the right direction in addressing the effects of climate change. Senator Brian
Feldman, a lead sponsor of the bill, says that it’s a “No-brainer” due to its positive economic and environmental benefits. The bill, however, has strong opposition on the
Eastern Shore as it mainly expands offshore wind projects, which are being contested by lawmakers in those areas. The bill passed through the Senate but is stalled in the
House of Delegates due to a previous failed vote in committee, but supporters hope that the passage of the bill in the Senate will help move it forward in the House of
 
 
PR – The Puerto Rico legislature adopted a bill that would set a 100% renewable portfolio standard (RPS) by 2050, putting Puerto Rico on the same track as Hawaii, California,
and Washington D.C. The bill includes multiple interim goals of 40% renewable energy by 2025 and 50% by 2040. Another aspect of the bill places a ban on coal plants
starting in 2028. The purpose of the bill is to make energy both more affordable and reliable as Puerto Rico has some of the highest electricity costs in the country due to the
expense of shipping fossil fuels to the island. Its current energy infrastructure is also susceptible to disruption from hurricanes and other extreme weather. As Puerto Rico
continues to rebuild after Hurricane Mariá, the sponsors of the legislation believe the territory has a unique opportunity to create a new infrastructure that utilizes
renewable energy. The legislation includes a large build-out of solar energy storage and a range of renewable energy incentives for both utilities and consumers. The bill now
awaits a decision by Governor Ricardo Rosselló, who has already expressed his support for the bill and is likely to sign it. Puerto Rico Has Just Passed Its Own Green New
Deal - Forbes
 

NM – Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham recently signed into law new energy legislation that will make New Mexico another state ultimately requiring major electric utilities to
obtain 100% of their power from carbon emission-free sources. Current law requires that 20% of New Mexico’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2020, the
Governor is building on that law by creating new goals of 50% by 2030 for investor-owned utilities, then 80% by 2040, and 100% by 2045. Rural electric cooperatives would
have more time to achieve the 100% emission-free goal. The bill also provides a mechanism to finance the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s (PNM) closure of a coal
power plant and creates job training programs for the renewable energy industry while extending assistance to laid-off coal workers. Critics of the bill say that it will still
leave PNM customers paying for the company’s lost investments in the coal industry and do nothing to save related jobs. Critics also say that the bill weakens bedrock
consumer protections by gutting the Public Regulation Commission’s authority. Despite some opposition, Governor Lujan Grisham believes the legislation demonstrates that
“states in fact can respond to the climate change crisis.” The Governor campaigned on pushing energy companies to transition to more renewable energy while also growing
the energy industry. Lujan Grisham signs landmark clean energy bill – Santa Fe New Mexican
 

FL – The Florida House and Senate are moving forward with bills that would ban all but one form of fracking and natural gas exploration. The bills attempt to reach a balance
between the interests of the natural gas industry and concerns of environmentalists who claim that fracking has an adverse effect on drinking water and may contribute to
an uptick in earthquakes. While some legislators voting for the bills didn’t consider them a perfect solution, they say the legislation is a first step in protecting the
environment. Critics of the bills came from two directions, with supporters of natural gas claiming the bills move Florida’s economy in a regressive direction, while others
believe the bills doesn’t do enough to address concerns regarding fracking because it continues to allow a rock-dissolving process called matrix acidizing to continue.
Fracking has dramatically increased the United States’ oil and natural gas production, but has also been linked to contamination of drinking water and earthquakes. Both the
Senate and House bills will have to be reconciled before being sent to Governor Ron DeSantis for his consideration. Bills bans 2 of 3 forms of oil, gas fracking in Florida – AP
News
 

CO – The Colorado Senate voted to send legislation giving municipalities more control over drilling sites for the oil and gas to Governor Jared Polis. He is expected to sign the
bill, but could also let it become law without his signature. Supporters of the legislation are also pleased that the bill makes the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation
Commission put public health and the environment before production in its oversight of the oil and gas industry. Opponents of the bill argue that the measure will reduce
crude oil and natural gas production and adversely affect the state and local economies. While most oil and gas industry groups remained opposed to the legislation, they
were pleased with some amendments added by the Colorado House and agreed to by the Senate. Colorado Senate sends local control oil and gas measure to Gov. Polis'
desk – Denver 7 ABC/The DenverChannel.com

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Energy Update: March 8, 2019

In the States

NM – A Senate bill was recently introduced in New Mexico that would call for a four-year halt on hydraulic fracturing while the state examines the practice’s impact on the environment. A fiscal impact report made by the New Mexico State Land Office, New Mexico Department of Health, the New Mexico Attorney General, and The Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources department concluded that the state would suffer approximately a $3.5 billion loss and local governments a $327.5 million loss in revenue from oil and gas extraction. Direct revenues from the oil and gas industry make up 35% of New Mexico’s general fund revenue, and without a replacement source for that revenue the fracking ban would negatively impact New Mexico’s finances. In recent years, New Mexico had an oil boom and $2 billion budget surplus, which oil and gas industry leaders credit to fracking and horizontal drilling. The spokesman for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, Robert McEntyre, stated, “The bill would be devastating to New Mexico’s economy. Fracking is what New Mexico oil and gas looks like in 2019.” However, the bill’s sponsor, New Mexico State Senator Benny Shendo contended, “People are concerned about the issue. Now. You’re talking about something that has the potential for contamination of our drinking water and our aquifers.” There is currently no date yet set for the hearing of the bill. Report: Fracking ban could cost New Mexico billions, cut oil and gas productions – Carlsbad Current Argus

VA – New legislation in Virginia would require Dominion Energy to excavate its ash ponds and recycle a quarter of the 27 million cubic yards of existing coal ash, and put the rest in new, modern landfills. This coal ash is the toxic result of decades of coal burning. The ash is currently stored in four locations along the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, three of which are leaking toxins into nearby groundwater. For years environmentalists have argued that these leaks are a risk to public health and the environment.  Over half of Dominion’s coal ash is currently buried inside two storage ponds in Chesterfield County, so House Speaker Kirk Cox included a condition that shields Chesterfield from the traffic that would result from recycling. Cox said, “This language ensures that end of the agreement is codified and that our roads will not be bogged down with 300 trucks every day for 15 years.” This bipartisan legislation was sponsored by Senators Scott Surovell, Frank Wagner, and Amanda Chase. Governor Northam’s administration played a key role in this legislation and is likely to sign it. Coal ash bill heads to governor’s desk. – Richmond Times-Dispatch

WI – Governor Tony Evers announced his plans to join the US Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of governors whose goal is to implement the Paris climate accord on a state level, in response to President Trump’s plan to withdrawal from the accords. By joining the agreement, Governor Evers is committing to implement policies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at least 26% below 2005 levels by 2025, track and report progress to the global community, and accelerate new and existing policies that will reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy deployment at both the state and federal level. Governor Evers and Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes are exploring ways to increase the use of solar power in Wisconsin and help businesses and citizens make smart energy choices.  Governor Evers said, “It’s a new day in Wisconsin and it’s time to lead our state in a new direction where we embrace science, where we discuss the very real implications of climate change, where we work to find solutions, and where we invest in renewable energy.” Governor Evers and Lieutenant Governor Barnes are also working towards developing energy saving goals for state agencies. Governor Evers Announces Plan to Join U.S. Climate Alliance – evers.wi.gov

WY – Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon is seeking to save the coal industry in his state and is deciding whether to sign a bill requiring utilities to seek buyers for their coal plants rather than closing them. Legislation sponsored by Senator Dan Dockstader passed the Wyoming House and Senate on February 26th and 27th, respectively. The bill is designed to limit the loss of jobs from coal plant closings and reduced coal mining production. It allows utilities to replace the coal-fired generation with renewable energy or gas-fired facilities once they first make an effort to sell the coal plants to new operators who would continue to run them. The legislation would additionally require these utilities to purchase power from the coal plants they sell. If signed, the bill would not apply to cooperatives and municipal utilities and would exempt buyers of coal fired plants from regulation as a utility. Wyoming governor weighs bill to save coal plants in the state – S&P Global

 

National and Regional

In 2016, solar energy was responsible for more employment in the electric power sector (43%) than the entirety of the fossil fuel industry (22%) according to the U.S. Department of Energy. In 2017, President Trump imposed a 30% tariff on foreign-produced solar panels which negatively affected the industry. There was a loss of 10,000 solar energy jobs in 2017, and a loss of 8,000 more solar energy jobs in 2018. However, The Solar Foundation is confident that the industry will make a comeback in 2019, as the solar industry predicts 7% growth based on the National Solar Jobs Census survey. On the other hand, the foundation recognizes that in 2018 they predicted a 5.2% growth. Under Trump’s Tariff’s, The US Lost 20,000 Solar Energy Jobs – Forbes

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Energy Update: February 8, 2019

 

In the States

CO – Xcel Energy officials indicated in a meeting with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission that they may file a case on rates for public, fast charging stations, stations handling vehicle fleets, and another case that would address providing part of the infrastructure for charging stations. However Colorado Senators Kevin Priola and Angela Williams, and Representative Chris Hansen have created a piece of legislation that would, “allow investor owned utilities to own and operate charging stations as part of their regulated services,” thus allowing a return on their investment. It would essentially remove a block on all utilities, including Xcel, from owning and operating charging stations. The legislation, Senate Bill 19-088, would allow companies like Xcel and the Public Utilities Commission to work together and build infrastructure that would boost electric vehicle usage.  Xcel  Energy,  Colorado  regulators  weigh  utility’s  role  in  electric -vehicle market – The Denver Post

 

KY – In 2015, $2 million was taken from the funds of twenty-seven coal counties in Eastern Kentucky in favor of the Kentucky Communications Network Authority (KCNA) for initiatives benefitting community broadband readiness and public computer access. KCNA completed these initiatives with only $800,000. Governor Bevin has now announced that the surplus funds given to KCNA will be returned to the Single County Coal Severance accounts in the twenty- seven counties they were taken from.  Gov. Bevin Announces Recovery of $1.3 Million in Coal Severance Funds –Kentucky.gov

 

MI – Governor Whitmer issued an executive order to get rid of industry-backed environmental review panels that the previous governor put in place. The move received mixed reviews; gaining praise from environmentalists but criticism from business groups. The panels, known to environmentalists as “polluter panels,” are made of government-appointed members and business representatives. While these panels intended to provide state-level review of

 

proposed environmental regulations and permits, Governor Whitmer believes they may be in violation of the federal Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. In response, members of the House Republican leadership went on record saying that while they had no problem with the parts of Governor Whitmer’s order that would restructure Michigan’s top environmental agency, they would not accept abolishing the panels. The House voted 58-51 against Governor Whitmer’s order, sending the resolution to the Senate. If the Senate also rejects the order, it would be killed.  Michigan ’s GOP House moves  to  void Dem  governor’s  decision  on Environmental Panels – The Hill

National and Regional

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey officially introduced the Green New Deal on February 6th. The legislation, which calls for the elimination of the United States’ carbon footprint by 2030,has received mixed reviews. The scope of the plan is immense, and not only calls for an increased use of renewable energy, but also a broader

effort to expand economic opportunity. Specifically, it calls for, “a fair and just transition for all communities and workers.” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defended the legislation, saying, “All great American programs, everything from The Great Society to The New Deal, started with a vision for our future.” However, this future seems unattainable to some. Former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said, “I’m afraid I just cannot see how we could possibly go to zero carbon in a ten year time frame,” and goes on to call the plan, “impractical.” To some, the Green New Deal doesn’t go far enough. Nicole Ghio, Senior Fossil Fuel Program Manager at Friends of the Earth, said the, “resolution doesn’t quite get us there,” when discussing the challenge of the climate crisis. In contrast, the federal policy director for the Climate & Clean Every Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, Aliyah Haq, thinks, “It is a breath of fresh air to see leaders in Congress discussing climate solutions that rise to the scale of the challenge.” The Green New Deal is still in preliminary stages.  Despite Few Details and Much Doubt, the Green New Deal Generates Enthusiasm – NPR

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Energy Update: January 18, 2019

In The States

NJ – Governor Murphy entered office in 2018 with the goal of having 100 percent clean energy by the year 2050, and now New Jersey state’s environmental advocacy community, in addition to the state’s top business executives, are buying into it. DSM North America is releasing plans to double their solar field in Belvidere, Warren County. (DSM is a global-based science company that focuses on nutrition, health, and materials). The project is 20.2 megawatts (MW), doubling the capacity of the original DSM solar farm; making it the largest net-metered solar facility in New Jersey and the second largest on the East Coast. To increase the energy output of the system, the 62,215 solar panels at the site will use DSM’s anti-reflective coating which reduces the reflection of sunlight. The new field will provide surplus energy which will then be sold back into the grid. It is projected that the facility will provide 23,437 MW hours of electricity annually, or enough energy to power 2,614 homes a year. Belvidere is also a candidate for DSM’s new food enzyme plant. Is Business Buying into Murphy’s clean-energy goals? Looks like it. – NJ Spotlight

 

MD – The Maryland Board of Public Works, composed of Governor Larry Hogan, Treasurer Nancy Kopp, and Comptroller Peter Franchot, voted 3-0 against TransCanada’s pipeline that would run across the western part of Maryland and carry natural gas produced in Pennsylvania to West Virginia. Environmentalists and Maryland residents alike were outspoken in their opposition of the pipeline. Before the vote took place, over 60 lawmakers sent a letter that urged board members to reject the proposal, saying it goes against the state’s goal of increasing renewable energy production, as well as their ban of fracking. Governor Hogan said the unanimous vote would have happened regardless of the letter. Comptroller Peter Franchot stated that the pipeline would not bring Maryland economic benefits and would only come with a slew of environmental problems. However Scott Castleman, a spokesman for TransCanada, said the company will consider their options in order to keep the project on track and insists that, “through proper design and construction our project can be completed in an environmentally responsible and safe manner.” Despite the unanimous vote against the pipeline, it is still possible that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or the courts could get involved. But Anne Havemann, attorney for Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said the vote was at least a welcome delay of the project. Maryland board votes against natural gas pipeline project – The Washington Pos

CO – On Monday, January 14th, the Colorado Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling that required Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to give consideration to the public health, safety and the environment in any new drilling. The Supreme Court stated, “Specifically, as the commission recognized, the pertinent provisions do not allow it to condition all new oil and gas development on a finding of no cumulative adverse impacts to public health and the environment.” Oil and gas industry representatives said the ruling upholds the law’s recognition of multiple interests. However, newly inaugurated Governor Polis said, “While I’m disappointed by today’s ruling, it only highlights the need to work with the legislature and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to more safely develop our state’s natural resources and protect our citizens from harm.” Big win for oil and gas industry: Colorado Supreme Court reverses Appeals Court ruling in Martinez case – The Denver Post

 

Regional and National

On Monday, January 7, the Supreme Court refused to take the case Exxon Mobil Corp v. Healey, in which Exxon Mobil Corp is attempting to stop Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey from obtaining documents from them in an investigation on climate change. Now that the Supreme Court rejected the case, Exxon Mobil will likely now have to comply with the civil investigative demand. Attorney General Healey is probing whether or not Exxon lied about how much they knew about the threat of climate change and what role their use of fossil fuel played in order to protect their business. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court already ruled on the issue in favor of Attorney General Healey. Exxon Mobil said in their September 2019 petition, which was backed by the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, “The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court compelled compliance with sweeping investigatory requests by the state’s attorney general for decades’ worth of documents concerning petitioner’s knowledge of, and the relationship of petitioner’s products to, climate change.” Exxon Mobil called the ruling by the Massachusetts court “misguided” and is challenging whether or not a court  can have personal jurisdiction over a nonresident corporation to compel it’s compliance with an investigatory request for documents. Attorney General Healey has stated Massachusetts’ law allows her to investigate Exxon Mobil because of their prominence in the state via advertising and the selling of products. Supreme Court rejects Exxon Mobil appeal in climate case – The Hill

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Energy Update: December 21, 2018

In the States

CT – The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) has approved five contracts with two utilities for long-term power purchases that will provide the state with 252 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy annually. PURA’s 20-year contracts with Eversource Energy and United Illuminating include the state’s first offshore wind power program and four fuel-cell projects. Combined, estimates predict the power produced will supply 4.6 percent of Connecticut’s annual power consumption. One project, dubbed Revolution Wind, is slated to generate 200 MW of electricity from a wind farm built in federal waters about halfway between Montauk, NY and Martha’s Vineyard, or enough energy to power 100,000 homes in the state. Offshore construction of the Revolution Wind project will begin in 2022 with operations online by 2023. According to the companies, approximately 1,400 jobs will be created. Connecticut regulators approve contracts for renewable energy projectsThe Hour

 

National and Regional

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, and Governor Claudia Pavlovich of Sonora, Mexico signed an agreement to develop a plan that may result in natural gas shipments to Asia. The four-year collaboration agreement, which does not require the commitment of any state finances, may include the connecting of several existing pipelines to transport natural gas in New Mexico west and south through Arizona and into Sonora and finally to the port of Guaymas in the Gulf of California. At the Port, the gas would be liquefied and shipped to Asian markets. New Mexico is currently producing 3.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day and is projected to produce 4 billion cubic feet per day by 2022. When asked how Arizona would benefit from the collaboration Governor Ducey said, “This is just a way for us to work with our neighbors and promote binational trade…this is just another way for us to bring that to life and be cooperative in economic development.” Neither Governor Ducey nor Governor Martinez are concerned about a shortage of gas in the United States as a result of the collaboration.

 

“Asia’s burgeoning demand, New Mexico’s abundant supply, and Arizona and Sonora’s strategic location and transport networks all combine to present an opportunity for continued regional growth,” according to the collaboration. Ducey signs pipeline pact with New Mexico, SonoraArizona Capitol Times

 

Newly elected and re-elected governors across the nation are making aggressive moves toward addressing climate change and renewable energy. Governor Kate Brown of Oregon is prioritizing a measure to create a cap-and-trade system similar to the one California is pursuing. The proposal, laid out in a budget blueprint in November and would seek to set a limit on greenhouse gas emissions. To manage the new strategy and supervise the state’s efforts, Governor Brown will create the proposed Oregon Climate Authority. However, several critics of the plan believe the Governor’s approach will negatively impact the state’s economy because the technology available does not yet allow businesses to reduce emissions as much as the Governor’s proposed mandate. Washington Governor Jay Inslee has gone on record with The Hill that he will make an attempt to advance new climate change measures through the legislature. In Colorado, Governor-Elect Jared Polis stated, “The sooner we can achieve true energy independence, the better economic growth we’ll have and the cleaner air we’ll have. Retiring coal is our priority. There’s good green jobs that can’t be outsourced.” Another Governor-Elect, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, has made it a goal for her state to produce enough solar and wind energy to sell excess energy to neighboring states.  Governor-Elect J.B. Pritzker has said Illinois will increase its reliance on renewable energy to 25% of total consumption by 2025. Governor-Elect Steve Sisolak of Nevada backed a successful 2018 ballot measure requiring the state to run on 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. In Maine, Governor-Elect Janet Mills wants her state to run on 80 percent renewable energy by 2030. New Governors Plan Aggressive Climate StepsThe Hill

 

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Energy Update: November 16, 2018

In the States

LA – During a trade mission to Israel, Governor John Bel Edwards met with several energy companies, including officials from Houston-based Noble Energy and Delek Drilling, to explore partnership opportunities with Louisiana companies. The Governor, who also met with government leaders during his trip, hopes there are ways to involve Louisiana businesses in Noble’s supply chain and operations in Israel, as well as in the lucrative natural gas exploration taking place in eastern Mediterranean Sea. “From the outset, my goal for this economic development mission has been to explore trade, investment and partnership prospects between the State of Louisiana and Israel,” Governor Edwards said. “One of the key areas for us is our energy sector. Louisiana is an energy state and a global leader in oil and gas exploration and production. We have a long-established track record of exporting our technology and expertise to international oil and gas markets.” Louisiana trade mission to Israel explore energy industry collaborationThe Weekly Citizen

 

WA – Voters in Washington State rejected Initiative 1631, which would have imposed a carbon tax on fossil fuel emissions, with almost 60% against the proposed measure out of more than 1.9 million votes cast. If it had passed, it would have created the first-in-the-nation tax on carbon and the projected $1B in revenue generated would have been slated for water quality, forest health, and energy programs and investments related to communities. A comparable initiative was defeated two years ago by a similar margin as was a legislative effort by Governor Jay Inslee to pass a carbon tax in the state’s Democratic-controlled legislature earlier this year. Governor Inslee, after the initiative failed, said “Obviously we would liked [it to] pass, but we were up against about $31 million of big oil company money that obfuscated some of the complexities of the initiative.” Washington state voters rejected carbon-free initiativeThe Seattle Times

 

 

National and Regional

The Governors’ Wind & Solar Energy Coalition, a bipartisan group of 18 Governors, sent a letter to the members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), urging them to consider unifying and connecting the nation’s power grids. In its letter, the Coalition, which includes states from Massachusetts to Iowa and South Dakota to Maryland, noted it’s “nearly impossible to transmit electricity among the nation’s three major grids,” thereby “weakening the reliability of the nation’s overall transmission system.” The Governors hope the FERC will convene several discussions, in coordination with the Department of Energy and states, “to identify the nation’s transmissions needs … as well as multi-state and inter-regional transmission challenges.” Montana Governor Steve Bullock, who also serves as the chair of the National Governors Association, is the Coalition’s chair along with Delaware Governor John Carney, who is the vice chair. Governors cite benefits of single national power gridThe Daily News

 

Seven Governors-elect, including Janet Mills of Maine and Steve Sisolak of Nevada, have pledged to set strong renewable energy goals for their states, including deriving 100% of their electricity from renewable sources. The other Governors-elect who made the pledge to follow Hawaii and California’s lead include Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, and Jared Polis of Colorado. Governor-elect Polis, for example, set a goal of 100% of renewable energy by 2040, or five years earlier than Hawaii and California. "It was a great night for clean energy, it was a great night for candidates that had chosen to embrace clean energy," said J.R. Tolbert, vice president of state policy at Advanced Energy Economy. “And that's easy to see when you see that every candidate who ran on 100% clean, or 100% renewable energy was elected as chief executives in their state." Seven new Governors may be the biggest election boon for climate and clean energyForbes

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Energy Update: October 24, 2018

In the States

AZ – A member of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) proposed a “clean energy overhaul that would put the state at the front of the pack” among other clean energy-focused states. Developed by ACC member Andrew Tobin, the Energy Modernization Plan seeks an 80 percent clean energy target by 2050 in addition to a 3,000 megawatt energy storage target for 2030 – both goals, in essence, would put Arizona ahead of California and New York, which currently lead all states in terms of renewable energy and storage targets. Tobin has asked for the ACC to consider his plan during their next meeting on February 6. "We’re not trying to get on the train; we're trying to be the engine in the train," said Tobin. "This is Western people doing things and setting lofty goals and reaching them." If Tobin’s plan is voted on and accepted by the ACC, staff will begin a formal year-long rulemaking and stakeholder engagement process. AZ regulator proposes biggest storage, clean energy targets yetGTM

 

IA – NextEra Energy, a Florida-based company, announced it may shutter Iowa’s only nuclear power plant by the end of 2025. NextEra officials believes it main customer, Alliant Energy, will not renew its purchasing contract from NextEra’s Duane Arnold Energy Center in Palo, which is located northwest of Cedar Rapids. Alliant’s current contract goes through 2025, though the Energy Center is licensed to operate until 2034. The Energy Center current employs 600 people and started operations in 1975. “The cost of wind energy right now has really dropped as well as the cost of natural gas to be at levels where they are competitive and have never been before. We are continuing to pursue different options for our customers to make sure that they get the best value,” said an Alliant spokesman. Iowa nuclear plant may close in 2025The Gazette

 

NJ – Governor Phil Murphy announced his plans for New Jersey to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional cap-and-trade program that includes nine northeast states. The Governor signed an executive order to rejoin the pact after former Governor Chris Christie exited RGGI in 2011. The executive order directs state officials to “immediately begin negotiations with RGGI member states, and the Department of Environmental Protection will start determining the rules and guidelines needed to rejoin RGGI within 30 days.” According to the Governor’s office, the state lost almost $300 million in revenue by not participating in RGGI. “Pulling out of RGGI slowed down progress on lowering emissions and has cost New Jerseyans millions of dollars,” said Governor Murphy, “[funds] that could have been used to increase energy efficiency and improve air quality in our communities.” Murphy direct NJ to rejoin RGGIThe Observer

 

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo released his plan to develop a $6 billion offshore wind industry. The Governor, by 2030, would like New York to have ocean-based wind farms producing 2.4 gigawatts of electricity, roughly the equivalent of about five fossil fuel-burning power plants. The Governor’s offshore wind industry roadmap focuses on a 16,000 square-mile section of the Atlantic Ocean. The state will seek offers from wind farm developers beginning this year, first with an offering for projects totaling 800 megawatts. The funding for the projects will be derived from fees, known as compliance obligations, imposed on nuclear power plant owners. Governor Cuomo also announced his plans to use $15 million for workforce training programs related to the offshore wind energy plan. "We are encouraged by this development opportunity for New York's independent power generators, but the details matter," said Gavin Donohue, president and CEO of the Independent Power Producers of New York. State sees 5K jobs from offshore wind farm pushThe Albany Times-Union

 

WA – Governor Jay Inslee officially rejected proposals to build an oil-by-rail terminal for the Port of Vancouver. Concurring with the unanimous decision of the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, Governor Inslee said the project increases “the risk of a catastrophic earthquake, oil spills in the Columbia River, and fires or explosions.” The project, which was to be developed by Vancouver Energy, was slated to serve as a transfer point for up to 360,000 barrels of crude oil daily while creating several hundred temporary and permanent jobs. “When weighing all of the factors considered against the need for and potential benefits of the facility at this location, I believe the record reflects substantial evidence that the project does not meet the broad public interest standard necessary for the Council to recommend site certification,” Governor Inslee said. Vancouver Energy has 30 days to appeal the Governor’s decision. Inslee rejects Port of Vancouver oil terminalPortland Business Journal

 

 

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Energy Update: October 12, 2018

In the States

KS – Outgoing Governor Jeff Colyer hosted the annual Governor’s Energy Conference in Manhattan, Kansas. Topics included biofuel, energy storage, transportation innovations and alternatives, community initiatives, and how to improve solar and wind energy generation. “Energy is a top issue for the state of Kansas,” said Governor Colyer. “The diversity of our economy is dependent on a great energy system. We are one of the leading oil and gas states but we’re also a leading wind state and a leading ethanol state.” Kansas energy leaders gather for Governor’s Energy ConferenceWIBW

 

MA – Governor Charlie Baker’s administration awarded more than a half million dollars in grants to cities and towns across Massachusetts to help develop clean energy projects. The 41 Municipal Energy Technical Assistance (META) grants awarded were distributed to several localities participating in the Commonwealth’s “Green Communities” program or currently in the designation process, which is administered by the Department of Energy Resources. META grants help fund expert consultants and contractors to help localities with their clean energy projects and goals. “Our administration is proud to provide our municipal and regional partners with the tools they need to achieve our shared clean energy goals of reducing energy, emissions and costs,” said Governor Baker. “These grants deliver technical expertise on the local level that is essential to paving the way for innovative clean energy projects.” Governor awards grants for municipal clean energy projectsCape Cod Today

 

VA – Governor Ralph Northam released the Commonwealth’s updated 2018 Virginia Energy Plan, which helps to set Virginia’s strategic energy goals for the next decade. The Governor’s plan mostly focuses on modernizing the electric grid and promoting new technologies, in addition to reemphasizing the Commonwealth’s targets for renewable energy, electric vehicle deployment, and energy efficiency. The updated plan also includes benchmarks for expanding solar energy purchase options for corporations and small businesses and evaluating energy storage options. Virginia state agencies are also recommended to meet a 16% renewable energy procurement target as well as a 20% energy efficiency target. “The clean energy sector has the power to create new business opportunities, expand customer access to renewable energy, and spark the high-demand jobs of the 21st century,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia can shift to a more modern electric grid that is reliable, affordable, resilient, and environmentally responsible — and the Commonwealth can lead this critical industry as a result. This plan sets an ambitious path forward for Virginia, and I am confident we will charge ahead towards progress over the course of my administration.” Governor unveils modified 2018 Virginia energy planAlexandria News

 

WV – Governor Jim Justice and energy industry leaders gathered at the Greenbrier Resort during the state’s Chamber of Commerce Annual Business Summit to discuss economic changes and renewable energy in West Virginia. Dominion Energy’s Bob Orndorff believes the state “needs to make a quantum leap,” and consider wind and solar power’s appeal to the private sector in terms of potential future investment. “If we are to recruit companies to work in West Virginia,” he said, “to invest in West Virginia, we need to meet their needs,” which often include renewable energy. Appalachian Power President Chris Beam agreed, noting his company is open to renewable energy power sources as long as they are “economical for customers.” In his remarks, Governor Justice focused on the state’s improvements recently, including a declining unemployment rate and an easing of regulations at the state and federal levels of government. “It’s a miracle from God to look at how the numbers have changed,” Governor Justice said during his speech at his family-owned resort. Energy officials point to renewables at business summit highlighting coal ‘comeback’The Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

National and Regional

President Donald Trump nominated Bernard McNamee, director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Policy, to fill a vacancy on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which regulates, monitors, and investigates the transmission of electricity and its sources in interstate commerce. The seat was vacated by former Commissioner Robert Powelson, a critic of the Trump administration’s plans to financially support cash-strapped coal and nuclear power plants. McNamee has previously voiced support for fossil fuels, including subsidizing the coal industry. The Senate will need to approve McNamee’s nomination, and until then, the FERC has four members – two Democrats and two Republicans – which may result in several deadlock votes on key matters before the commission, including the approval of major pipelines and natural gas projects. Trump’s FERC pick could tip balance in favor of coal bailoutBloomberg News

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Energy Update: September 21, 2018

In the States

CA – Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that requires California to generate 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045. The law, SB 100, requires the amount to be met in increments, with 50 percent of the state’s electricity deriving from solar, wind, hydropower, and other sources by 2026 and 60 percent by 2030. California became the second state to set a carbon-free electricity target, following Hawaii, which set their target in 2015. The law also stipulates that the last 40 percent of the 100 percent total can be derived from carbon-free sources, including large dams, nuclear power, and carbon-capturing natural gas-fired power plants. Environmentalist groups and allied Silicon Valley businesses applauded the measure while utilities, including the state’s largest, Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison, said the law would increase prices for consumers. While signing the legislation, Governor Brown said ““It will not be easy. It will not be immediate. But it must be done.” California mandates 100 percent clean energy by 2045The Mercury News

 

NJ – The state’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU) voted to allow 1,100 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind capacity to be developed, a first step towards a goal set by Governor Phil Murphy to install 3,500 MW worth of offshore wind power by 2030. The unanimous vote by the PBU follows Governor Murphy joining the Governors’ Wind and Solar Energy Coalition as its newest member. The Coalition now counts 20 states as members. “We campaigned on rebuilding New Jersey’s reputation as a clean energy leader and that involves setting an aggressive timetable on offshore wind,” said the Governor. “Thanks to the Board, today we took another enormous step toward realizing that goal with the largest single-state solicitation of offshore wind in the country.” The Governor also clarified future offshore wind solicitations, which are now scheduled for 2020 and 2022. New Jersey makes way for 1.1. gigawatt offshore windCleanTechnica

 

RI – Several requests for proposals (RFPs) were recently published by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that call for 400 megawatts of power from new energy projects developed inside and outside the state. Eligible projects include geothermal, ocean-tidal and current-powered, onshore and offshore wind, small hydro, biomass, fuel cells, and solar power. The RFPs, which will be reviewed and selected by the PUC, will be managed by National Grid, a regional utility. “Our commitment to combating climate change is as strong as ever,” Governor Gina Raimondo said. RI orders up renewable energyECORI

 

TX – In partnership with Midland-based EagleClaw Midstream, Houston-based Kinder Morgan have authorized the construction of a $2 billion pipeline to transfer natural gas from West Texas to Houston. The 430-mile project, known as the Permian Highway Pipeline, is also backed by Exxon Mobil and Apache Corporation, is scheduled to be completed by 2020, transporting 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. The pipeline will mostly be used to transport gas for electricity generation in Texas and Mexico, but will also be sent new liquefied natural gas terminals in Freeport and Corpus Christi. "With the continued growth in drilling activity in the Permian Basin, this project will help to provide key infrastructure for producers to move natural gas to the best premium markets along the Gulf Coast and South Texas," said EagleClaw President Jamie Welch. Kinder Morgan authorizes $2B Permian Highway PipelineThe Houston Chronicle

 

VA – According to several reports, Governor Ralph Northam plans to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a multistate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that establishes a mandatory regional cap-and-trade program. If the Governor joins RGGI, he will be the second new Governor to join following New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy earlier his year. RGGI, which was established in 2009, currently counts 10 northeastern and mid-Atlantic states as members.

 

National and Regional

The federal Department of Energy (DOE) is planning to deploy new technology at the Hanford Reservation “to capture and destroy dangerous vapors that have caused health programs for workers” at the nuclear waste site. The DOE’s decision follows a successful lawsuit by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who challenged the DOE’s inaction during the Obama administration. In the settlement, DOE is going to install a vapor monitoring, detection, and alarm system where the vapor exposure is most likely to happen, as well as maintain current safety measures since the General sued. DOE is also paying the state’s legal fees, which almost total $1 million. "It has not been an easy road to get here," General Ferguson said. "They (DOE) did not take this seriously. We should never have had to file a lawsuit. The federal government did not do right by these workers.” DOE will destroy worker-harming vapors at Hanford nuclear siteThe Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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Energy Update: August 3, 2018

In the States

MD – Governor Larry Hogan called the debris and sediment pouring into the Chesapeake Bay, following several strong storms in the northeastern United States, an “economic and ecological crisis.” Governor Hogan, who chairs the interstate Chesapeake Executive Council, also urged his fellow bay watershed Governors, particularly those upstream from the Chesapeake Bay, to help clean up and “take responsibility for the nation’s largest estuary.” The debris poses a significant threat to commerce, energy development, as well as ships bound for Baltimore. Maryland officials argues the debris originated mostly from Pennsylvania rivers, to which the Commonwealth’s Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell said was a “careless and insensitive remarks” by Maryland’s leaders. Governor Hogan, who is running for reelection, has made pollution from upstream states a serious campaign issue since he 2014, noting the high levels of pollutants and sediments from natural gas exploration that end up in the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland officials criticize upstream states for Bay debrisThe Associated Press

 

MT – The Montana Renewables Development Action Plan calls for substituting wind energy for coal as a source of power to utilities in Oregon and Washington. Two of four coal-powered units at the Colstrip power plant used to supply these utilities will be shut down during the next five years. An action plan developed by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is taking advantage of extra transmission capacity freed up by the closure of the two units and renewable energy tax credits provided in Washington State to make wind energy an attractive source of power. Governor Steve Bullock’s administration helped to facilitate discussions between stakeholders, including the federal government, to make renewable energy competitive, principally through an agreement to low BPA transmission costs. The lower transmission costs, combined with the eligibility for tax credits, should make it possible for wind energy companies in Montana to compete for out-of-state sales. Up until now, Montana has relied on coal power to make it an energy exporter. According to Governor Bullock, “With this effort, we’re boosting the opportunities for more energy development in Montana and making Montana wind more attractive for West Coast buyers, all to create good-paying jobs and economic opportunity for Montanans.” Plans progressing to sell more Montana renewable energy out of stateBillings Gazette

 

National and Regional

The Coalition of Northeastern Governors (CONEG) and Canada’s Eastern Premiers are set to hold their annual gathering in Stowe, Vermont on August 12-14. Energy issues are perennially on the meeting’s agenda, as is regional trade and transportation issues. CONEG expects officials from the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont to attend as well as officials from the Canadian provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. The northeastern U.S. Governors and Canadian Premiers have met regularly since 1973 to address cross-border interests.

 

The Trump administration is proposing to freeze U.S. automobile mileage standards at 2020 levels, which requires new vehicles to average 30 miles per gallon (mpg). The administration also wants to eliminate a special provision of the Clean Air Act that allows the State of California to set more stringent mileage standards. At least a dozen other states, representing about 40 percent of the nation’s total vehicle market, follow California’s standards. The national standard adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President Obama increases to 36 mpg in 2025, 10 mpg higher than the requirement in effect. The administration believes that freezing that standard will reduce the cost of new cars, allowing more consumers to purchase vehicles with updated safety features. According to Heidi King, deputy administrator of the National Highway Safety Administration, highway deaths would drop by 1,000 each year “by reducing these barriers that prevent consumers from getting into the newer, safer, cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars.” Opponents argue that the savings in fuel costs derived from higher mileage standards also contribute to affordability of new vehicles. Commenting on the proposed changes, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said, “It’s going to cost drivers here and across the country hundreds of millions of dollars more at the pump.” While the Trump administration plans to seek public comment on the its proposal, as well as other options, including leaving the current standards in place, California and 16 other states have already filed a lawsuit to block any changes. One of the primary trade groups for the automobile industry, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, is urging California and the federal government to work out a compromise that would allow for continued increases. Trump proposes car-mileage rollback; states sue in protestThe Washington Post

 

The U.S. Climate Alliance, which counts as members the Governors from 16 states and one territory, released their policy options to “accelerate and scale up climate action.” The policy options include reducing super pollutants, modernizing the electricity grid, increasing energy efficiency standards set for appliances, requiring more carbon storage, and maximizing clean transportation options and financing for green energy projects. The member Governors (CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, MD, MA, MN, NJ, NY, NC, OR, PR, RI, VT, VA, and WA) plan to meet during the Global Climate Action Summit in September to discuss the Paris Agreement as well as other policy options to combat climate change.

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Energy Update: June 29, 2018

In the States

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo released the state’s Energy Storage Roadmap for speeding up the deployment of advanced energy storage projects, making New York State a national leader in promoting renewable energy and fighting climate change. The roadmap is intended to reduce the impacts of weather-related outages and maximize the benefits of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind by ensuring their availability during periods of peak demand. The plan sets a target of 1,500 megawatts of energy storage by 2025, an amount equivalent to the electricity demand of one-fifth of New York’s homes. According to Governor Cuomo, “This roadmap is the next step to not only grow our clean energy economy and create jobs, but to improve the resiliency of the grid to keep our power running in the face of extreme weather and other emergency situations.“ The New York Power Authority already has several projects underway, including a partnership with the State University of New York, to make it easier for the university system to utilize solar power during emergencies and times of peak demand through solar energy and battery storage systems at multiple campuses. State officials estimate that New York’s growing clean tech industry may potentially yield 30,000 new, well-paying jobs.  Governor Cuomo Announces New York Energy Storage Roadmap To Achieve Nation-Leading Target of 1,500 Megawatts By 2025 – LongIsland.com

 

PA – Governor Tom Wolf signed into law new legislation that provides low-cost, long-term funding for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation improvements at commercial and industrial locations. Senate Bill 234, which had bipartisan support, created the Pennsylvania Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, similar to programs in over 30 other states and the District of Columbia. Under this law, local governments choosing to participate in the program allow private lenders to providing financing for energy efficiency and clean energy improvements, which will be paid back through local assessments collected by these localities over a period of years and remitted back to the lenders. In a statement, Governor Wolf said, “This innovative financing mechanism will support the creation of new clean energy and energy efficiency projects throughout the commonwealth, while also enhancing property values and employments opportunities, while also lowering the cost of business.”  Governor Wolf Signs New Legislation to Support Low-Cost, Clean Energy Technology in Pennsylvania  – MyChesCo

 

National and Regional

Under a proposal being considered by the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, states that don’t allow offshore oil and gas drilling in at least 50 percent of lease blocks designated for such activity along the Outer Continental Shelf would be required to pay the federal government for the lost production. Such payments would be calculated based on proven mineral potential, oil prices and lease-sale demand over the past five years. Conversely, states that agree to allow drilling in at least 50 percent or more of available lease blocks would receive some portion of bonus bids, rentals and royalties. This legislation follows an earlier decision by the Trump administration to open up most of the U.S. coastline to potential offshore oil and gas development. Five governors – Roy Cooper of North Carolina, Dan Malloy of Connecticut, Ralph Northam of Virginia, Phil Murphy of New Jersey, and Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island – sent a letter to House leadership opposing the measure. In stating their case, the Governors said, “We ask that Congress recognize and respect the rights of states to protect our waters without being held hostage by the combined effects of the Interior Department’s dangerous proposal and this misguided legislation.” Steep penalty for passing on drilling? House Panel considers idea Daily Press, Northam joins coastal governors in urging Congress to reject offshore drilling legislation  – Augusta Free Press

 

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by two California cities against a number of fossil fuel companies over the costs of climate change. In rejecting the suit, the judge, William Alsup of the Federal District Court of San Francisco, acknowledged the seriousness of the health risks that were raised, but deferred to the executive and legislative branches of government in finding solutions. In his decision, Judge Alsup wrote, “The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case.” In bringing this action, the cities of Oakland and San Francisco had alleged that the energy companies’ activities had posed a public nuisance under state common law and must be required to pay for mitigation and abatements. A group of 15 state attorneys general, led by Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, had filed a friend of the court brief urging the dismissal of the lawsuit on the basis that Congress alone had authority to regulate interstate commerce. Judge Dismisses Suit Against Oil Companies Over Climate Change Costs  – The New York Times, State AGs Urge Court To Dismiss California Climate Lawsuit  – The Heartland Institute

 

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Energy Update: June 8, 2018

 

In the States

HI – Governor David Ige signed three energy- and climate-focused bills into law. The first bill, HB 2182, seeks to make Hawaii carbon neutral by 2045 and establishes a state task force on Greenhouse Gas Sequestration. The second bill, HB 1986, which was passed by the state legislature unanimously, crafts a framework for a carbon capturing, offsetting, and crediting program while the third bill, HB 2106, requires a sea level rise analysis in environmental impact statements before projects can be approved. “Climate change is real,” said Governor Ige, “and we’re seeing its impacts right now in our island state. Taken together, this suite of bills establishes policies and programs that acknowledge and address this reality.” Governor Ige signs three bills combating climate changeThe Honolulu Star-Advertiser

 

IL – Several bills focused on solar energy development, notably the standardization of requirements for solar installations on farmland, await Governor Bruce Rauner’s signature. One bill, SB 486, determines how property taxes are calculated for land with ground-mounted commercial solar systems while another measure, SB 2591, requires the same agricultural impact requirements for wind farms to apply to solar projects with 500 kilowatts or more of generation. Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, which worked on the bills, said “the trio of solar energy bills passed in Illinois by a strong bipartisan majority reflects the growing progress of solar energy development. There’s now sufficient development growing and moving forward that it makes sense to flesh out the policy framework.” Illinois bills for solar on farmland await Rauner actionEnergy News

 

NM – Testifying before a House subcommittee in support of four energy bills, Governor Susana Martinez urged  Congress to to reduce bureaucratic red tape in federal review of energy projects. Noting that oil and gas revenue are critical for funding education, healthcare, and other public services, the Governor pressed for streamlining the federal permitting process. According to Governor Martinez and Secretary of Energy, Minerals, and Naturals Resources Ken McQueen, who also testified, “the average time it takes federal land managers to approve a drilling permit application is 250 days, [which] can amount to a potential loss of $2 million a day for the state.” Two of the bills are sponsored by Representative Steve Pearce of New Mexico who is running succeed the Governor in this year’s gubernatorial election. “Each backlogged permit represents New Mexicans losing out on good paying jobs and rural communities losing out on economic growth. We need a solution that will streamline layers of bureaucratic requirements and expedite the approval process,” Martinez said. Red tape slows oil and gas projects, New Mexico Governor saysThe Salt Lake Tribune

 

NJ – Governor Phil Murphy signed a measure to subsidize three nuclear power plants in the Garden State. The legislation requires ratepayers to “spend more than $300 million a year to rescue [the plants] run by Exelon and Public Service Enterprise Group. The Governor also signed bills that mandate that half of the state’s electricity is generated from renewable energy sources by 2030. “To reach our clean energy goals, we will need to keep these plants open and safely operating,” Governor Murphy said at the bill signing. He also noted that New Jersey’s nuclear plants support almost 6,000 jobs. Nuclear plants play pivotal roles in New Jersey’s economy and environment, and Governor Murphy is to be commended for signing into law today a Zero Emissions Credit program to help preserve these critical energy assets,” said Maria Korsnick, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute. NJ Governor signs law to save nuclear plantsThe Washington Examiner

 

PA – Governor Tom Wolf announced his administration would more strictly enforce air pollution standards for the state’s natural gas industry, which has boomed in recent years thanks to the development of the Marcellus Shale’s natural gas deposits. The Wolf administration is planning, through the deployment of new permits, to require the exploration industry “to use more advanced equipment to reduce methane emissions and other air pollutants, control emissions from a broader array of sites, and check for leaks more frequently along pipelines and connections.” Applying to new well sits and compression, processing, and transmission stations along pipelines, the permits will take effect in August. “We are uniquely positioned to be a national leader in addressing climate change while supporting and ensuring responsible energy development, while protecting public health and our environment,” Governor Tom Wolf said. Pennsylvania sets methane requirements on natural gas wellsStateImpact Pennsylvania NPR

 

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Energy Update: May 18, 2018

 

In the States

CA – The California Energy Commission (CEC), on a unanimous vote of 5-0, approved regulations to require all newly-constructed single-family houses to have solar panels. The new regulation also applies to multifamily buildings with three stories or less. Beginning in 2020, the new requirement, which does not require approval from the state legislature, is expected to decrease consumers’ costs through reduced utility bills. According to an analysis by the CEC, “monthly mortgage payments should rise by an average of $40, but utility bills should fall by $80.” Currently, only 20% of new single-family houses in California have solar panels and the new requirement may make homes, on average, more expensive to build. "The cash flow position of the homeowners is actually improved in these homes," said Commissioner Andrew McAllister of the new regulation. Following the publication of the mandate, the California Building Standards Commission is expected to review and also approved the regulations. Regulators approve mandate for solar panels on new homesThe Los Angeles Times

 

CT – Energy and environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s approved budget that allows the transfer of $175 million in energy conservation program funding to be redirected towards the state’s budget deficit. The funds from the energy conversation programs in question are generally collected through fees on residents’ utility bills. The two-year budget was approved back in October and sought to take $127 million from the state’s Energy Efficiency Fund, $28 million from Connecticut’s Green Bank, and $20 million from the state’s share of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. “This should come as a surprise to no one,” said Governor Dan Malloy. “I have long maintained that these shortsighted sweeps would increase energy costs for consumers and businesses and cause untold harm to our green energy economy.” Federal lawsuit filed to block state from using energy conservation funds to solve budget deficitThe Hartford Courant

 

NJ – The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a 45-day extension to decide what to do on a contentious pipeline crisscrossing central New Jersey. The proposed 26.8-mile Northeast Supply Enhancement of Tulsa-based Williams’ Transco Pipeline is estimated to be a $926.5 million project that would transport natural gas through  Old Bridge, Sayreville, and the Raritan Bay and eventually to a compression station in Franklin Township. The DEP has until June 23 to approve four permits associated with the pipeline, and any extension granted by FERC would begin from the date supplemental material is received from Williams. Christopher Stockton, a company spokesman, said, “It is normal to issue what are known as ‘data requests’ any time they need additional information from the applicant. It doesn’t mean there is a problem with the application. It’s actually a normal part of the exchange of information during the review.” Transco protests continue as state asks feds for permit extensionMy Central Jersey

 

UT – Governor Gary Herbert unveiled his updated energy blueprint for Utah at his 7th Annual Governor’s Energy Summit, which featured former Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. The Summit focused mostly on creating jobs and expanding energy production in Utah, and notably a list of coal and solar power projects that Governor Herbert would like completed before his term ends. Overall, Governor Herbert would like Utah to increase energy production by 25 percent by the end of 2020. When discussing challenges, Governor Herbert, cited the difficulties in renewable energy storage as one potential barrier to additional solar and wind energy capacity. “We have people in other departments [of the Trump administration] who, again, whether they’re governors or not,” said Governor Herbert, “have a respect for the sovereignty of the states and are trying to give us more flexibility to find our solutions that are unique to the respective states.” Herbert releases 10 goals in Utah ‘Energy Action Plan’ KSL

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Energy Update: April 27, 2018

In the States

NH – Governor Chris Sununu released his plan to transform New Hampshire’s energy resources and priorities, titled the New Hampshire 10-Year State Energy Strategy, in coordination with the Governor’s Office of Strategic Initiatives. The new plan seeks to “inform decisions about [the state’s] energy challenges and energy future” whole updating the last state energy strategy, which was released in 2014. Noting that New Hampshire energy prices are among the highest in the United States, the Energy Strategy seeks to prioritize cost-effective energy policies utilizing all resources, encourage market-selection of those resources, and improve energy infrastructure. The plan further recommends an increase in the use of natural gas-fired and nuclear power generation, as well as a rewriting of the state’s renewal energy portfolio standards. The Governor’s Energy Strategy also notes the state will reconsider net metering policies for solar power. "Electricity touches every aspect of the economy, and New Hampshire's costs are among the highest in the region,” said Governor Sununu, and “our 10-year  strategy provides direction and leadership to our state's policymakers that is squarely aimed at helping our ratepayers.” NH energy strategy shifts from subsidizing renewables to lowering ratesThe New Hampshire Union Leader

 

Regional and National

Three Appalachian state Governors – Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, John Kasich of Ohio, and Jim Justice of West Virginia – extended an interstate memorandum of understanding to generate investments focused on their energy resources, arrange partnerships between their universities and the private sector, as well as offer technical training for careers in the oil, gas, and petrochemical sectors. Known as the Tri-State Shale Coalition, the agreement seeks to “transform the Appalachian Basin into a global energy hub on par with Texas and Louisiana” while making “the region as a whole more attractive [for] midstream and downstream investments.” All three states contain substantial energy formations known as the Marcellus and Utica shales and account for roughly 29 percent of the United States’ natural gas output. “The shale gas resources in the Appalachian Basin represent enormous economic opportunity not just for Pennsylvania, but for the region as a whole,” Governor Wolf said. “I’m proud to continue our successful collaboration with Ohio and West Virginia to ensure that we are doing everything we can to support additional development.” The agreement, which was originally signed in 2015, will now be extended through 2021. Appalachia markets itself as global energy hubU.S. News

 

According to a new study from the consulting firm Analysis Group, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a multi-state emissions-capping program, has “generated $4 billion in net economic activity,” finding the money produced more than offset the cost of the program. Under RGGI, power plants pay states to exceed the caps on emissions and the funds generated are spent on renewable energy and efficiency programs, electricity bill rebates, and other energy-related state priorities. RGGI includes all the New England states, as well New York and Delaware. New Jersey is planning to rejoin the interstate group after leaving in 2012, while Virginia is expected to join, too. “Rather than being an economic drag on the RGGI states, it’s actually providing economic benefits,” said Paul Hibbard, one of the study’s authors. RGGI spurs $4 billion in economic activity, study findsThe Baltimore Sun

 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released its latest Energy Infrastructure Update, noting that wind and solar power accounted for 98 percent of all new power generation capacity so far in 2018. While 12 units of wind power was created generating 1,568 megawatts, solar power accounted for 40 new units generating 565 megawatts of power in the first two months of 2018. The new FERC report predicts that renewable energy will continue “to dominate new power generation capacity installed over the next several years.”

 

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Energy Update: April 6, 2018

In the States

MA – Governor Charlie Baker filed legislation recently to require properties up for sale to include a home energy and efficiency rating. If lawmakers approve the bill, Massachusetts would become the first state with such a mandate. Some cities, including Berkeley, California and Portland, Oregon have similar requirements. Supporters of the legislation said the bill could help increase home modernizations, improve insulations, and lead to installing high-tech HVAC systems. Matthew Beaton, Baker’s energy and environmental affairs secretary, said “this is a market-based incentive to give the consumers a reason…to make an investment, [to make] a unified score that is digestible and understandable, that the general public would grow familiar with.” Mr. Beaton also said he hopes the bill will lead to lower carbon emissions thanks to a spurring of energy-efficiency and clean energy improvements the bill would help encourage. Home sellers would either be required to hire an energy assessor, the Mass Save program, or a local utility for an energy audit of their home’s insulation, air sealing, heating and cooling system, LED light bulbs, and programmable thermostats. Governor seeks to mandate energy efficiency scores for homesThe Boston Globe

 

MO – Clean Line Energy Partners, a Houston-based company, enlisted former Governor Jay Nixon to help overturn a decision by the Public Service Commission (PSC) blocking the construction of a proposed 780-mile power line to transport energy generated from wind turbines. Nixon, now a practicing private attorney, will argue before the Missouri Supreme Court that “utility regulators he appointed wrongly rejected the power line while relying on an incorrect ruling written by a judge whom Nixon also appointed.” If the PSC decision is overturned, the 2.3 billion high-voltage transmission line project, known as the Grain Belt Express, would transport wind-generated energy from western Kansas across Missouri and Illinois to Indiana. "I think it's a great opportunity for our state and an important one policy-wise" for the nation, Nixon said in an interview. Clean Line transmission project turns to ex-Missouri GovernorAssociated Press

 

NH – Addressing an audience of clean energy advocates, Governor Chris Sununu announced that he is soon planning to release a “New Hampshire First” energy policy. In his announcement, the Governor encouraged a comprehensive approach to energy and a move away from a zero-sum game he currently sees playing out in the states. The Governor also noted New Hampshire should thoughtfully help subsidize solar, wind, hydro, and biomass power development, and maintained his commitment to regional and multi-state initiatives to curb emissions, notably the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Sununu plans to release ‘NH First’ energy policyNHPR 

 

NJ – In response to Governor Phil Murphy’s executive order directing the Board of Public Utilities to cultivate 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, EDF Renewable Energy announced, as a first step to growing its business in the New Jersey market, that it will revive an agreement with Fisherman’s Energy to purchase a 24 megawatts wind project off the coast of Atlantic City. Another company, Danish offshore wind energy leader Ørsted, is planning to develop a 250 square mile area for its wind farm called Ocean Wind. “We cannot allow for stagnation in this growing sector of our energy economy and we cannot lose sight of the tremendous opportunity for offshore wind,” said Governor Murphy. “With this executive order, we begin the process of making New Jersey a leader in offshore wind, a critical step toward achieving our clean energy goals.” Another east coast Governor signs up for offshore wind and EDF sees stalled NJ project as opening to fast-growing marketOffshore Wind Journal

 

NM – The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission approved, by a unanimous vote, the construction of two wind farms along the border between New Mexico and Texas. The $1.6 billion project by Xcel Energy, a Minneapolis, Minnesota utility holding company, is part of Xcel’s plan to double its wind energy portfolio by the end of 2021 by adding a dozen wind farms in seven states, or about 3,700 megawatts of new wind capacity. David Hudson, president of the company’s operations in New Mexico and Texas, called the vote historic, noting “these wind facilities will power the regional economy with energy from our abundant, fuel-free wind resource and save customers hundreds of millions of dollars in energy costs for decades to come.” Additional wind farms, with the potential to power more than 440,000 homes, are planned for Hale County, Texas, as well as the area immediately northeast of Roswell, New Mexico. New Mexico regulators OK massive wind farms near TexasAssociated Press

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Energy Update: March 16, 2018

In the States

WA – Governor Jay Inslee’s proposal to impose a tax on carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels failed to gain enough traction in the Democratic-controlled state legislature. If the legislature had passed a carbon tax, where the policy was a few votes short according to officials, Washington would have been the first state to impose a straight tax on greenhouse gas emissions. Other states like California and some in the northeast employ a cap-and-trade system to shrink carbon dioxide pollution. The legislation would have imposed a $12 per metric ton of carbon emissions on the sale or use of fossil fuels, and was projected to raise nearly $800 million in two years. Despite the legislature’s inaction, Governor Inslee said “I would consider this a sea change in the climate fight. It’s come a long way from where we’ve been. We’ve basically shown that carbon policy is within reach.” The Governor also vowed to continue pressing for action on climate change issues. Washington’s carbon tax bill dies in legislatureAssociated Press

 

WY – East of the state capital of Cheyenne, EOG Resources announced its intent to withdraw an application to craft an injection well for fracking natural gas and oil. The application was withdrawn by the Houston-based company due to local concerns over the proposed well’s proximity to a drinking water aquifer. EOG announced it will continue to seek approval for injection wells in other parts of the state, notably in Laramie County and the Denver Basin in the southeastern part of the state. Both the federal Environmental Protection Agency as well as the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said they were waiting to receive updated application information from EOG. In Laramie County alone, there are close to 5,000 permits pending to drill for oil and gas, noted Shannon Anderson, an environmental lawyer. “That’s a huge number, and there is a large waste stream associated with those wells,” Ms. Anderson said. “There are traumatic impacts to aquifers for the drilling of those wells.” Company withdraws application for controversial well near CheyenneThe Casper Star Tribune

 

 

 

Regional and National

Governor Phil Scott of Vermont was elected the new chair of the nonpartisan Coalition of Northeastern Governors (CONEG), which encourages intergovernmental cooperation among states in the northeast and New England. Scott, a first-term Governor, was unanimously selected by his colleagues in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island. Governor Scott announced his chairmanship will focus on high energy costs in the region. Noting that “in Vermont, I’ve committed to making the state more affordable, which includes addressing energy costs that have been growing faster than wages.” Governor Scott added that “high energy costs impact our entire region, and our ability to create more and better paying jobs, so this is a goal that the CONEG governors have coalesced around because we know it will help to improve the economic security of the residents in each of our states.” Scott elected chair of CONEGVermont Business

 

During his recent testimony before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke noted that President Donald Trump’s plan to expand offshore leasing may not work on the west coast as California, Oregon, and Washington have “no known resources of any weight for energy companies to extract.” The Secretary, who also acknowledged the Maine was in a similar situation, did not state whether these states would be granted an exemption from the President’s proposal, as Florida was given. Also, during his testimony, Secretary Zinke acknowledged the resistance to the President’s plan from the states in the northeast, and said these concerns would be “reflected in the next draft of the [President’s] plan.” Zinke: Oil, gas exploration off Pacific coast might not happenThe Washington Post

 

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recently released its list of nuclear energy facilities requiring increased oversight by the federal agency. The NRC’s 2018 list includes a dozen or so nuclear energy plants that need routine oversight and additional assessments, focused on safety for example, including the Columbia Generating Station in Washington State. Rounding out the bottom of the NRC’s list includes two reactors in Arkansas and one in Massachusetts. NRC nuclear power plan review puts Columbia under extra federal scrutinyThe Tri-City Herald

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Energy Update: February 23, 2018

 

In the States

CO – Following a fatal gas explosion last year, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is set to update the state’s pipelines regulations. The new rules come after Governor John Hickenlooper called for a review of oil and gas operations and six months after a task force was created to study the issue. Under the new rules, companies must inform  state regulators about where current pipelines exist and the location of older pipelines at risk for leakages Major pipelines at risk must be reported within 24 hours. A new task force will also explore inspection technology the private sector deploys to detect leaks and locate pipelines. "Our work with operators last spring and summer to identify, quantify and test all flowlines near residential areas was a significant start," COGCC Director Matt Lepore, said in a statement. "These rules - and additional actions ordered by the governor that are still unfolding - continue to keep our focus on this work." In a statement, the Governor said “We believe these new rules are another important step in the aftermath of the Firestone tragedy.” Colorado toughens oil, has rule to try to prevent future Firestone disasterThe Denver Post

 

ME – Governor Paul LePage issued a moratorium on new offshore wind energy projects. The Governor’s decision immediately sparked several lawsuits by advocacy and environmental groups to overturn the moratorium, which they generally argue is an unconstitutional violation of separation of powers since the legislature has passed laws for offshore permitting. The state’s permitting process to date has allowed the construction of over 370 wind turbines as well as investments reaching more than $1 billion. Some Maine residents have complained, however, about the noise emanating from the turbines. In sum, the Governor’s moratorium  mirrors prior legislation he backed  to expand “from 8 to 40 miles the area around turbines that could be subject to visual impact studies,” thereby making it more difficult to encourage wind energy projects and developments. Environmental group sues LePage, says wind farm ban is unconstitutionalThe Portland Press Herald

 

NJ – A bill to subsidize nuclear energy plans continues to move through the state legislature. The legislation, which also includes ratepayer-funded incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, has come under scrutiny for potentially seeking to raise rates for utility customers while subsidizing two profitable nuclear plants in Salem County. The Public Service Enterprise Group, which partially own the plants, said they may be unprofitable in 2020 and may eventually close without the subsidies. The legislation is estimated to increase electric bills “by $31 a year while larger and industrial energy users could see costs increase over $1 million a year.” Controversial nuclear energy bill advances, now with subsidiesNorth Jersey News

 

PA – The Commonwealth’s Department of Environmental Protection announced Sunoco, a petroleum and petrochemical manufacturer headquartered in Texas, “agreed to pay $12.6 million over problems with a massive natural gas pipeline project.” Work on the 250-mile pipeline project, which will transport liquid natural gas from the Marcellus Shale to a terminal in Philadelphia, will continue under a consent agreement. The 20-inch pipeline, known as the Mariner East 2, is expected to be completed by the summer, and will cost approximately $2.5 billion. “Sunoco has demonstrated that it has taken steps to ensure the company will conduct the remaining pipeline activities in accordance with the law and permit conditions, and will be allowed to resume,” Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell said in a statement. “DEP will be monitoring activities closely to ensure that Sunoco is meeting the terms of this agreement and its permits.” Massive gas pipeline project to resumeThe Associated Press

 

VA – Governor Ralph Northam is working “to restore state regulation of electric utility rates” while encouraging investments in the Commonwealth’s electricity grid and renewable energy projects. The legislation, sponsored by the Governor, would reverse a General Assembly-approved bill in 2015 to freeze rates, which mostly impacted Virginia’s largest utility, Dominion Energy. Under the new plan , rates proposed by Dominion and the Commonwealth’s other utility, Appalachian Power, would once again be reviewed by the State Corporation Commission. The state’s Attorney General, Mark Herring, however disagrees with the Governor’s work on this issue, and believes the legislation would result in a “bad deal for ratepayers.” General Herring believes the measure, in the current draft, could instead allow “utilities to charge ratepayers twice for the same expense.” The bill continues to advance through the General Assembly’s legislative process. Northam, Herring disagree over bill to regulate utilitiesThe Washington Post

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