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Energy Update, March 9, 2012

March 9, 2012

In the States

NM – Governor Susana Martinez has signed a bill into law that will streamline the permitting process for companies seeking to develop geothermal energy.  Under the new law, geothermal developers are able to bypass the process of obtaining additional permits from the State in certain cases, though there are also protections for groundwater and the holders of water rights.  Governor Martinez said that she hopes the bill will increase the production of renewable energy in New Mexico.  N.M. streamlines geothermal permittingAlbuquerque Journal

OH – Governor John Kasich has proposed raising taxes on oil and natural gas liquids to potentially collect over $1 billion in additional revenue for the State by 2016.  The additional revenues would be used to lower taxes on individuals and small businesses.  If the proposal is approved, it would change the current rate structure of 20 cents per barrel of oil and no tax on natural gas liquids to 1.5 percent of market value for oil and natural gas liquids, which would be raised to four percent by 2014.  The current rate of three cents per 1,000 cubic feet would remain for natural gas, unless it is extracted through hydraulic fracturing, which would trigger a one percent tax.  The proposed increased rates are still lower than those of larger oil-producing states such as Texas, and would apply only to new horizontal-drilling sites and, in the case of natural gas, sites that produce over 10,000 cubic feet of natural gas per day.  Governor Kasich is expected to revisit his already-announced budget to include the new taxes, as well as regulations on hydraulic fracturing.  Kasich said to plan raising Ohio drilling tax as high as 4%Bloomberg and Kasich to propose fee on frackingToledo Blade

WA – Governor Christine Gregoire has signed a bill into law that broadens the type of energy production facilities that are considered to be renewable energy under a voter-approved initiative that requires 15 percent of the State’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020.  The new law allows biomass energy production facilities older than 13 years old to count toward the requirement.  While opposition from environmental groups stalled the bill this year and kept it from passing last year, opposition was dropped when the definitions of renewable energy were more narrowly defined.  Washington state plan expands renewable energy lawNews Tribune

National News

Two separate bills are making their way through the House and Senate that would extend highway and transit funding beyond its current March 31 deadline, and Senators and Congressman are currently debating what will be included in the version from each chamber.  Senate Republican amendments were voted down this week that would have bypassed the Obama Administration in the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline permitting process, required changes in new pollution regulations on industrial boilers, and encourage offshore oil drilling.  That two-year, $109 billion transportation bill without those amendments is opposed by House Speaker John Boehner, who is currently gathering support for the House’s own five-year, $260 billion proposal.  The House bill includes many of the provisions struck down in the Senate, but has stalled mainly due to the large price tag.  Speaker Boehner warned Republican House members this week that if the House does not pass the measure, they will need to take up the Senate’s bill, pass a short term extension, or risk shutting down the transportation projects funded by the government and losing many jobs.  Senate rejects GOP proposals that would overturn Obama environment, energy policiesWashington Post and House speaker gives Republicans highway ultimatumReuters and Boehner’s highway bill plea to GOP doesn’t deliverPolitico

The U.S. Department of Energy is soliciting proposals from companies that wish to bid for a newly-announced six-year $180 million demonstration project to develop offshore wind power.  Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the new program, saying that the initiative was designed to “catalyze the development of offshore wind in America” and help developers “design and demonstrate next generation wind energy technologies.”  Of the funds, $20 million will be available to up to four companies in 2012, with the rest becoming available over the next five years.  DOE launches 6-year, 180m offshore wind development initiativeCleanTechnica and Offshore wind gets $180 million boost from DOE (press release)Energy Department

Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has released a long-awaited proposal for a federal clean energy standard.  The proposed legislation would require that 84 percent of the nation’s electricity produced by large utilities would be required to come from wind, solar, nuclear, natural gas, or coal with carbon capture and sequestration by 2035.  Senator Bingaman acknowledged the challenges the bill will face in the current Congress, saying, “Getting substantive legislation through both houses of Congress to the president’s signature is very difficult in this Congress.”  While the White House expressed support for the measure, which resembles the president’s proposals in the two most recent State of the Union addresses, opponents say that the bill would raise energy costs.  Senator Bingaman says that a U.S. Energy Information Administration analysis shows that the standards would have little or no impact on the economy.  Bingaman launches uphill battle with ‘clean’ power proposalThe Hill

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Energy Update, April 22, 2011

April 22, 2011

In the States

CA – Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the country’s strongest renewable energy standard that will require electric utilities in the State to generate 33 percent of their electricity from renewable sources in less than nine years.  Although the new law limits the amount of rate hikes due to the new requirements, opponents of the measure cite studies showing that rates may increase by 7-19 percent.  The Governor cited reliance on foreign oil, economic instability, and climate issues in expressing his support for the law while other supporters said it would keep investment strong in the renewable energy industry.  Calif. sets nation’s most aggressive goal for renewable energy as critics say rates will soarWashington Post

OK – Governor Mary Fallin has signed a new law that will expand the allowed length of horizontal drilling into shale reservoirs, easing investment costs for companies to drill for oil and natural gas.  Proponents said that the new law allows for increased production while protecting mineral owners’ rights, and modernizes regulations to account for technological advances that have made it possible to extend drilling longer than was previously possible.  Drilling bill modernizes state oil and gas statutesEnid News & Eagle and Oklahoma’s Gov. Mary Fallin signs energy reform billThe Oklahoman

OR –  Speaking at a conference on the future of energy, Governor John Kitzhaber announced he is developing a 10-year plan for Oregon that will emphasize renewable energy as a way to rebuild the State’s post-recession economy.  During his remarks, one example he cited was the possibility of retrofitting homes with energy-saving materials as a way to replace economic activity previously generated by the housing construction industry.  He also said that he and Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington State had recently discussed forming a three-state coalition with California focused on creating green energy jobs and reducing carbon emissions.  Kitzhaber says it's time for a 10-year plan on clean energy in Oregon – The Oregonian

National News

The U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture have announced $30 million in spending on projects that will support research and development in advanced biofuels, much of which will be in rural areas in the Midwest.  These funds come from the Biomass Research and Development Initiative and could help rural communities become less reliant on fossil fuels.  They will now be able to produce much of the fuel they use for heating and electricity locally, lessening dependence on foreign oil.  The home-grown fuel can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, since burning biomass creates no more pollution that the decomposition process that occurs naturally.  U.S. expands seeding of biomassNew York Times

The U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Duke Energy and the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit utility consortium, to test its first electricity-related invention.  The new product is an energy storage device that may allow electric power generated by wind turbines to be stored and then used when needed.  It may also have applicability to solar power.  Electric power would be used to pump air into an underground cavern.  When more energy is needed, this compressed air would flow through a generator, at 70-75% efficiency.  ARPA-E provided $750,000 to General Compression, the company that makes the device, which then attracted $12 million in private investments.  ARPA-E is poised to put products on the gridNew York Times

The U.S. Supreme Court appears likely to dismiss a case in which six States are suing five energy companies to limit their greenhouse gas emissions.  While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun regulating emissions from new and modified industrial sources, the States are seeking to apply Federal and State laws to regulate existing plants.  Justices listening to oral arguments in the case expressed skepticism about the States’ claim that the costs and benefits of emissions standards can be evaluated by courts rather than determined through the regulatory process administered by federal agencies.  U.S. Supreme Court signals rejection of State climate-emissions lawsuitsBloomberg

Three U.S. States – New York, Minnesota, and California – have joined with 11 utility companies and two environmental groups as a coalition to ask the U.S. EPA to allow States to choose the best approach for meeting federal greenhouse gas emissions standards.  Specifically, the coalition seeks permission to regulate greenhouse gases through existing regional or statewide cap-and-trade programs or renewable energy standards as an alternative to plant-specific limitations.  Some power companies that use more fossil fuels than those taking part in the coalition did not join and are continuing to raise general objections to new restrictions on plant emissions.  States, utilities ask EPA to boost regional cap-and-trade programs

 

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Energy Update, March 11, 2011

March 11, 2011

In the States

OR – In a speech to an audience of 700 at a luncheon in Portland, Governor John Kitzhaber provided his vision for the future of Oregon, including some new energy policies and projects.  One of these is the “Cool Schools” project, which would utilize energy savings bonds to weatherize older schools and increase their energy efficiency and replace inefficient boilers with new biomass-burning models.  The bonds would be repaid with energy cost savings realized by the schools over time.  Governor Kitzhaber’s allies in the legislature are confident that the measure will receive bipartisan support.  Kitzhaber: Oregon needs sweeping changesPortland Business Journal and Oregon hashes out green schools planSustainable Industries

State of the State Addresses

Nearly all of this year’s State of the State addresses have now been delivered.  Most Governors did not propose new energy policies during their addresses and about half did not even mention energy at all.  In almost every case, any mention of energy came in the context of jobs or the economy.

Florida Governor Rick Scott and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn praised companies that produce energy or manufacture energy-producing parts that moved to or started operations in their States.  Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said that her State is “helping to power our nation with the extraction of oil and gas and by harnessing the wind,” while Texas Governor Rick Perry said that while energy is an important part of his State’s economy, its “strength is built on a much broader base” than just energy.  

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear praised the development of fossil fuels in their Commonwealths while Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley promoted offshore wind energy.  Governor Corbett spoke about the need to develop the Marcellus Shale – and keep that development free of new taxes – in order to create new jobs.  Governor Beshear said that coal has allowed Kentucky to grow a manufacturing sector and that he would “fight” the federal government to ensure the continued mining and use of coal.  Governor O’Malley asked his legislature to pass the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act, saying that it would create thousands of manufacturing and servicing jobs through offshore wind farms.  

Links to all of the Governors’ addresses can be found at the State of the State Speeches Calendar on Stateline.org

National News

The Obama Administration is considering opening a portion of the strategic oil reserves (SPR) in the event that oil supplies are disrupted as a result of an ongoing conflict in Libya.  Selling some of the reserves could lead to lower crude oil prices – and gasoline prices – in the short term, which have been rising quickly in recent weeks.  Three House Democrats have written to the President asking him to “consider utilizing the SPR now” in order to “counter supply disruptions and combat crippling price hikes in the short term.”  Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman agreed that it “would make sense for the President to begin selling oil from the SPR.”  The Administration has said that any decision it makes will not be due to simply to the price of oil – though that may be part of it – but also whether the flow of oil is significantly interrupted, an issue that may be offset by an increase in supply from Saudi Arabia in response to the shortage from Libya.  Democratic lawmakers urge Obama to tap oil reserveWashington Post

 

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Energy Update, January 31, 2011

January 31, 2011

In the States

MN – Several bills have been drafted that would repeal, to differing degrees, a 2007 bipartisan law that bans new coal-fired power plants and the importing of coal-powered electricity until carbon offsets or a plan to lower emissions are in place.  Sponsors are saying that the law places unnecessary burdens on industry, slowing economic recovery once the recession is over.  Governor Mark Dayton has not said yet indicated whether he will veto any particular repeal bill, but he did campaign in part on maintaining a moratorium on new nuclear power plants that is a part of the same law.  Minn. Republicans hope to undo clean energy policiesMinnesota Public Radio

NM – A State Supreme Court ruling has reversed an order by Governor Susana Martinez that blocked publication of regulations aimed at reducing emissions from utilities and dairies within the State.  One of the regulations requires a three percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions every year.  The Court ruled that the regulations must be published in the State’s register, but opponents of the regulations plan to work with the Governor and the State legislature to change the rules.  Court reverses New Mexico Governor on environmental rulesNew York Times

State of the State Addresses

While approximately half of the Governors have given their State of the State or State of the Commonwealth addresses, the realities imposed by the financial downturn caused most Governors to focus their speeches on addressing fiscal difficulties and job creation rather than energy issues.  Still, some Governors incorporated energy plans tied to job creation and retention.

Several Governors cited recent energy business investments that would help lead their States to better fiscal times, including South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, and Delaware Governor Jack Markell, all of whom who noted recent increased renewable energy investments or improvements.  Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said that Nordic Windpower USA’s new plant will create 200 jobs, and proposed to create more through the construction of a new nuclear power plant.  Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour noted several investments in his State, including coal, oil, nuclear, LNG, solar, ethanol, coal-to-liquids, and carbon capture projects. 

A few Governors called for increased domestic renewable energy production.  For example, Hawaii Governor Neal Abercrombie expressed support for accelerating renewable energy projects in his State, and improving Hawaii’s energy security.  Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval called for more renewables on federal lands, saying, “I support all efforts to make Nevada the renewable energy capital of the country.” 

Some Governors discussed a mix of fossil fuels and renewable energy resources available to their states.  Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said he hoped to make Virginia the “Energy Capital of the East Coast” by investing, in part, in solar, wind, waste-to-energy, and biomass, and promoting offshore wind by leasing offshore parcels for wind energy production and serving as headquarters for the Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium.  But he also called for increasing oil, coal, gas, and nuclear energy production.  While Alaska Governor Sean Parnell said that investments in hydroelectric power and renewable energy grants in his State would create jobs and help the State meet his goal of 50% renewable power by 2025, he also wants to lower taxes on oil production in order to create more jobs.  Wyoming Governor Matt Mead discussed “value-added” projects such as combing wind power with gas-fired turbines, as well the manufacturing of wind turbine components.  In addition, he supports continued use of coal while making it a cleaner fuel through carbon capture and sequestration, and also advocates greater use of carbon injection technologies for enhanced oil extraction, as well as coal gasification.  

In discussing his State’s abundant fossil fuel resources, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said he will aggressively pursue the State’s lawsuit against the U.S. EPA over mountaintop removal regulations, and that he supports development of the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia and carbon capture and sequestration.  

Links to all of the Governors’ addresses can be found at the State of the State Speeches Calendar on Stateline.org

National News

President Barack Obama gave his annual State of the Union speech to Congress last week, during which he issued a challenge of producing 80% of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.  President Obama said that all forms of energy production are needed to meet this goal, and mentioned nuclear power, clean coal, and natural gas in addition to wind and solar.  U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, who gave the Republican response to the State of the Union, emphasized the need for less government spending and a more limited government rather than new investments.  Several high-ranking Democrats expressed support for the idea of a broader clean energy mandate while most Republicans remained skeptical about incentivizing one energy type over another or imposing mandates on the private sector.  Senators laud “clean energy” pushPolitico and State of the Union (Transcript)White House and State of the Union Response (Transcript)House Budget Committee

According to a new report commissioned by the federal government as required in the 2009 Defense Authorization Act, the United States military would not receive any significant benefit from greater use of alternative fuels.  The study, performed by the RAND Corporation, said that focusing on energy efficiency would have a greater impact on lowering greenhouse gases.  The report received criticism from Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy for the Navy Thomas W. Hicks, who said he was not consulted by RAND, and that the report ignores energy security issues, and from environmental groups, biofuels proponents, the Algal Biomass Organization, and others.  RAND says that while the military is a major consumer of liquid fuels, it still only uses two percent of the country’s daily intake, and since some biofuels are still in their infancy, the money spent on alternative fuels in the military would have a small effect on greenhouse gas emissions.  Alternative fuels don’t benefit the military, a RAND report saysNew York Times

 

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Energy Update, October 8, 2010

October 8, 2010

In the States

AZ – Governor Jan Brewer, speaking to the Algal Biomass Organization, heralded plans for the Arizona Center for Algae Technologies and Innovations, a new research center for algae-based fuels to be built at Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus.  It is to be constructed with $2 million in federal stimulus funds and $2 million in private investment bundled by the university and the Science Foundation, a public/private partnership created to diversify Arizona’s research and development initiatives.  The Governor said that the facility “will expand Arizona’s potential as a national global leader in research and production in algae fuel,” which she said could produce billions of dollars in investments and millions of gallons of fuel that would be used to power vehicles and aircraft.   Brewer announces investment in algae fuels researchArizona Republic

OH – A 500-acre section of land on a decommissioned coal strip mine in southeast Ohio – a piece of land comparable in size to a small airport – will soon be home to a 50-megawatt solar farm capable of providing electricity to 25,000 homes.  Governor Ted Strickland, who signed a 2008 law requiring 12.5% of electricity to be renewable, said “the future has recognized Ohio” and that the venture would bring 600 jobs to the area, 300 of them permanent.  Isofoton, the Spanish solar panel maker behind the project, passed over other States, in part due to State and federal tax credits, loan guarantees, and a grant.  Twenty megawatts will be installed in about two years with the rest completed in about four years.  Huge solar panel farm coming to southeast OhioCleveland Plain Dealer

TX – Governor Rick Perry spoke to academic and industry professionals at the Sixth Annual Clean Carbon Policy Summit and Project Expo this week.  In his speech, the Governor outlined the progress Texas has made toward diversifying the sources from which it obtains energy, cleaning the air Texans breathe, and growing the State’s economy.  Governor Perry also said that “technology and innovation could propel us into a world of cleaner, more efficient energy generated from all sources, and where the United States could be much less dependent on foreign countries for energy.”  Texas continues to lead way toward US energy independenceGov Monitor

WV – In response to regulations from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that restrict mountaintop removal – a process in which mountaintops are blasted off in order to more easily reach coal, and which releases toxic chemicals into nearby streams – Governor Joe Manchin directed his State to sue the US EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.  Governor Manchin called the regulations “attempts to destroy our coal industry and way of life in West Virginia,” and said that only two of the 23 applications for permits that were pending last year – when the regulations went into effect – have been approved.  West Virginia sues US over mining restrictionsNew York Times

According to a new report released by the National Governors Association, every State and territory in the US has worked to increase its use of clean energy in some way.  The report identified seven categories of clean energy enhancements, ranging from energy efficiency to alternative fuels to green economic development, and found that States are undertaking these initiatives for environmental reasons, to save in energy costs, and to create jobs.  The report says that 49 States changed policies on clean electricity, 47 expanded energy efficiency, and 39 promoted clean energy as an economic growth strategy.  Report: States’ actions are promoting green energyAmerican City & County

National News

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has approved proposals to build the first solar farms on over 6,500 acres of federal land in California, and is expected to approve several similar projects soon.  More than 750 megawatts of electricity will be generated by the approved projects, enough to power over 550,000 homes, with more than three times that much capacity in the pending projects.  A new transmission line has also been approved to get the electricity into homes, but it is being challenged in court. A portion of the approved solar farms will be financed with federal stimulus funds and federal loan guarantees.  Solar power plants to rise on US landNew York Times

The Obama Administration has released four scenarios in a notice of intent outlining proposed requirements for fuel economy in cars and light trucks between 2017 and 2025.  Raising the fuel economy requirements three percent per year – the most modest increase – would result in a mileage standard of 47 miles per gallon by 2025, an increase from 34.1 in 2016, while the most ambitious proposal would increase fuel efficiency six percent per year, ending at 62 miles per gallon in 2025.  While more detailed proposals are due out in November, a point of contention with the proposals is how emissions from electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will be calculated.  Since they do not produce any emissions themselves when powered by electricity, but do utilize  electricity generated by coal and  natural gas burning power plants, an alternative measure, such as grams of carbon emissions per mile, could be used to develop comparable emissions ratings. Fuel economy will be, um, betterNew York Times

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Energy Update, April 23, 2010

April 23, 2010

In the States

HI – Governor Linda Lingle’s Clean Energy Initiative is not moving as quickly as planned, as concerns over electricity costs have caused some utilities to refrain from signing contracts with renewable energy producers to preserve lower prices for consumers.  Renewable energy advocates agree that upfront costs will be higher for renewable energy projects, but note that since 90% of the electricity in the State is produced with petroleum and prices for fuel will almost certainly rise substantially in the future, the investment in renewable energy such as wind and solar will result in lower future costs.  Hawaii’s green efforts not cheap, but will pay off, advocates sayHonolulu Advertiser

MI – Governor Jennifer Granholm is promoting Michigan’s potential in producing wind turbines and other equipment, explaining at a conference sponsored by the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association that she is “so bullish on wind power” and that she wants the State to be “the place where climate change solutions are researched, developed, and produced.”  The Governor also said she wanted to make use of the State’s windy coast line and install the first offshore wind turbines in the Great Lakes, adding that she has a wager with Ohio Governor Ted Strickland on the matter.  Granholm’s bullish on Michigan’s wind-power futureDetroit Free Press

NJ – Governor Chris Christie discussed his vision of New Jersey’s energy future at a forum sponsored by Rutgers University, saying that he and the Lieutenant Governor “are setting up a regulatory environment that is friendly to business” and that his environmental policies will not be “incompatible to having a growing economy.”  During his speech, he indicated support for developing off-shore wind farms, more manufacturing of renewable energy equipment and the installation of solar panels on landfills and on farm land.  The Governor also said he will review the 2008 Energy Master Plan, but did not disclose what he would change in it.  Gov. Christie discusses energy plan at Rutgers forumThe Star-Ledger

UT – Governor Gary Herbert has withdrawn Utah from the upcoming cap-and-trade program that will be implemented under the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), a regional climate change agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions.  Utah now joins Arizona in quitting the cap-and-trade program after State legislators passed resolutions asking the Governor to withdraw from the interstate agreement.  The Governor’s office said that the State is “simply not in a position at this time to implement cap-and-trade” but would still like to have a seat at the table at the WCI.  Utah sticking with climate pact but not its cap-and-trade planSalt Lake Tribune

National News

Vice President Joe Biden has announced the recipients of the US Department of Energy’s Retrofit Ramp-Up initiative, the competitive Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program funded by the Recovery Act.  Twenty-five communities will receive $452 million under the new program, and are expected to leverage $2.8 billion in private funds over three years to create 30,000 jobs performing retrofits on large-scale operations and facilities, as well as businesses and homes.  Grant recipients include a regional consortium of southeastern States, as well as cities, counties, state governments, and nonprofits in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin.  DOE’s Retrofit Ramp-Up Initiative awards $452 million to 25 communitiesClean Edge and Retrofit Ramp-Up selected projects [pdf]US Department of Energy

Simultaneous Congressional committee hearings were held on coal and natural gas last   week at which representatives from each industry promoted the positive aspects of their energy products while questioning the applicability or efficiency of the other.  Coal representatives emphasized the relatively low expense and domestic abundance of coal and warned that a significant shift toward natural gas could leave the US without enough supply, consumers with widely varying electricity rates, and a lack of capital to develop clean coal technologies.  Natural gas advocates, including oil magnate T. Boone Pickens, said that gas is also cheap and abundant, but it emits half the amount of greenhouse gases as coal and can be used to power cars and trucks.  The oil industry responded to that last point by saying that cars outfitted to run on natural gas would cost significantly more to consumers and that  the price of other products made from petrochemicals like plastics would increase if oil production capacity was scaled back.  Coal chiefs go on offensive as Pickens pushes case for natural gasNew York Times

State representatives are expressing concern over how varying environmental regulations in the states, including regional greenhouse gas cap-and-trade agreements, will be treated under forthcoming climate change legislation.  The legislation being crafted by Senators Graham, Kerry, and Lieberman is expected to eliminate such interstate programs.  Regulators in some States, including California, are worried that federal legislation could undermine existing or future policies and regulations that are designed to protect the environment in favor of a purely federal approach.  States fear devil in details of climate bill - Reuters

States are experiencing varying degrees of consumer enthusiasm toward appliance rebate programs made possible by the Recovery Act, which allocate stimulus funds to consumers who purchase certain Energy Star-compliant appliances as replacements for outdated or inefficient appliances.  Many States such as Florida, Illinois, and Texas have been overwhelmed by customers seeking rebates on dishwashers, clothes dryers, and other home appliances, emptying the available funds in days or sometimes hours.  Some states, however, such as Missouri, have experienced far less demand for such rebates.  Appliance discounts, for the swiftNew York Times

International News

A report from the European Commission was edited to remove a controversial analysis which concluded that biofuels emit up to four times as much greenhouse gas emissions as regular gasoline or diesel.  The omission caused one participant in the study to disown it, and the edited section was released only through the use of freedom of information laws.  The report’s conclusions are controversial in that there are many variables that could affect the greenhouse gas emissions of a particular biofuel, including what kind of plant was grown to make the fuel and whether the land used to grow the plants was cleared of existing plants.  Once-hidden EU report reveals damage from biodieselReuters

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Energy Update, June 12, 2009

June 12, 2009

In the States

KS – Governor Mark Parkinson has announced an agreement that will result in  up to $800 million being spent on building new electric transmission lines that will send the power generated by Kansas’ wind turbines to other areas and states.  The lines are expected to be completed by 2013 and will carry 765,000 volts.  Kansas governor announces deal on transmission linesKansasCity.com

OK – One of the 26 new laws signed by Governor Brad Henry includes a plan to increase the availability of compressed natural gas to state vehicle fleets and consumers throughout the state.  Under the new law, the Department of Central Services will be authorized to build stations that dispense the alternative fuel for government vehicles.  These stations would also be open to the public unless a private station offers natural gas at a nearby location.  Governor signs alternative energy billTulsa World

VT – Governor Jim Douglas allowed a bill to become law without his signature that would establish feed-in tariffs for small wind, solar, and methane power operations that send power back to the grid.  Qualifying producers will receive 12 to 30 cents per kilowatt hour for the energy they produce, though that rate may be adjusted by the Vermont Public Service Board.  Vermont first to pass renewable energy feed-in lawBiomass Magazine

WY – One company has applied for and received a permit from the Bureau of Land Management to explore new ways of recovering an estimated 1.5 trillion barrels of oil from oil shale deposits.  The deposits were abandoned more than 30 years ago after it was determined that the process for extracting the oil would require more energy than would be produced by the oil that was recovered.  The companies involved, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and General Synfuels International, believe they can improve the efficiency and eco-friendliness of the process.  Wyo. gets oil shale projectCasper Star Tribune

Federal and World News

In response to both the expected new rules requiring – and current incentives encouraging – more energy to be produced from renewable sources, several utilities in the Southeast and Midwest are building power plants that will use biomass for fuel.  Biomass plants are expected to create about half of the country’s renewable energy by 2030, and hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in recent years.  Biomass is considered nearly carbon-neutral as the burning process produces only as much carbon as the biomass would if it had decomposed naturally.  It’s also a dependable source of energy that can be fed continuously into a furnace.  Though in the past biomass plants have used mostly waste material for fuel, some of the new plants will grow crops specifically for this purpose.  Biomass power generates tractionWall Street Journal

During a meeting of a bipartisan group of Southern Governors, some warned that the proposals being discussed in Congress now would increase the cost of fuel and electricity and negatively affect the economy.  Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said that industries will move to countries with fewer restrictions, producing no impact on greenhouse gases and a negative impact on the economy.  West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin said “"If we don't have reliable low-cost energy, we will no longer be a political power.”  Offering another perspective, Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe asserted that a new energy policy provided the opportunity for states to create jobs and noted that Arkansas had attracted four foreign companies that make components for wind power.   Governors warn energy plan could stifle growthThe Washington Post    Separately, Governor Rick Perry and other elected Texas officials met with energy leaders and discussed the proposed cap-and-trade legislation that has passed the US House Energy and Commerce Committee.  Governor Perry said the bill “could wreck our traditional energy industry and put a very serious dent in our economy," and warned that “every American that uses any source of energy would see their bills go up.”  Texas blasts federal efforts to flight global warmingWall Street Journal

A group of representatives from a range of public and private interests that was convened in 2007 at the request of Governors from six Midwestern states and the premier of Manitoba have produced a list of recommendations that would lower carbon emissions in those states to 20% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.  The plan now calls for a regional cap-and-trade system to be established if the federal government does not create a national program by 2012.  Group sets greenhouse gas goals        – Topeka Capital-Journal

While the Democratic House energy bill, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454), has passed the Energy and Commerce Committee, it awaits further consideration by several other committees before a vote by the full House.  For more information on the provisions of this bill, the online environmental news source, Grist, provides a concise summary: Everything you always wanted to know about the Waxman-Markey energy/climate bill–in bullet points - Grist

Meanwhile, House Republicans have released an outline of their proposal, the American Energy Act, which focuses on developing domestic energy sources such as nuclear power, and drilling for fuel offshore and in the Arctic.  The bill would also extend tax credits on renewable energy and cut red tape for new nuclear plants and refineries.  While it contains no limits on greenhouse gases, Republican leaders say tax credits would incentivize energy producers to use more renewable sources without raising costs for consumers.  House GOP offers nuclear-loaded energy billWashington Post and Summary of the American Energy Act [pdf]American Energy Solutions Group (House Republicans)

Of the $250 billion invested in new energy capacity in 2008, $140 billion went to clean energy investments and $110 billion was invested in fossil fuels, according to a report issued by the United Nations Environment Program.  Much of the investment growth in clean energy came from developing countries, while such investments grew only 2% in Europe and fell 8% in the US.  The report cites the ineffectiveness of tax credits during economic downturns among the reasons for the drop in investments in the US.  Clean energy funding trumps fossil fuelsNew York Times

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