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Blog posts : "clean coal"

Energy Update, August 12, 2011

August 12, 2011

In the States

IL – Governor Pat Quinn has signed a bill into law that paves the way for a coal gasification facility to be built in southern Illinois just miles from where coal will be mined for its operation.  The facility will convert coal into synthetic natural gas and remove and store more than 90% of carbon emissions.  At the bill signing, Governor Quinn said that the plant will “help revive the coal industry in southern Illinois while ensuring that Illinois remains a leader in the development of state-of-the-art clean energy facilities.”  The new law should also help to stabilize the price of the resulting natural gas, provide other consumer protections, and create over 1,600 jobs, 550 of which will be permanent.  Governor Quinn also recently signed other energy legislation, including a bill to study the potential for offshore wind energy in Lake Michigan, and another bill to allow counties to establish districts for wind farms.  Governor Quinn signs law to advance clean energy projectDecatur Tribune and Southern Illinois coal-gasification plant will bring hundreds of jobsEvansville Courier-Press and Quinn signs bill to study offshore wind energyChicago Tribune

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill into law that will change the way power plants are built, the oversight of smaller energy development projects, and the manner by which energy efficiency projects are paid for by homeowners and businesses.  The new law reinstates a process for approving new power plants that had expired in 2003. Governor Cuomo said this streamlined process will provide a “faster, easier, more expeditious, and more predictable” way to approve new plants.  This approval process will apply to all fuel types, traditional as well as renewable.  The new law also creates a seven-person board to oversee development of all power plants over 25 megawatts in size; a previous law only required State oversight of plants over 60 megawatts in size, leaving local communities to oversee those projects, which can include wind farms and battery storage facilities.  Under the new law, homeowners and businesses will also be able to finance energy-efficiency projects through additional payments on utility bills.  The law has the support of the power industry, environmental groups, and consumer groups.  Gov. Cuomo approves power plant siting billIthaca Journal

PA – As the debate over whether to impose a tax or fee on gas retrieved from the Marcellus shale continues, Governor Tom Corbett has offered a potential solution to the question of what to do with the potential revenues, which may impact lawmakers’ decisions on the matter.  Governor Corbett has suggested using some of the revenues to cap the more than 100,000 abandoned shallow wells, some of which date back to the mid-1800s, and which can lead to a range of consequences, including the leaking of new wells the explosion of nearby buildings.  Currently no funding exists to properly cap the aging wells, many of which do not currently have a known or fiscally solvent owner.  The proposal has been endorsed by both drilling companies and the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.  Corbett: Shale gas fee could cap wellsPittsburgh Tribune-Review

National News

The Obama administration has unveiled new rules that will, for the first time, require heavy-duty trucks and buses, including tractor trailers, to comply with fuel efficiency and emissions control guidelines that will cut fuel use 23% below 2010 levels by 2018.  U.S. officials estimate that the new regulations will increase the cost of a new tractor trailer by over $6,000, but will save the owner an estimated $73,000 over the life of the vehicle in reduced fuel costs.  The new regulations were issued jointly by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and were welcomed by engine manufacturers, the trucking industry, and environmental groups, who all appear to agree that the rules allow sufficient time for full compliance while effectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions and save money on fuel.  Fuel efficiency rules set for heavy-duty trucks and busesWashington Post

The U.S. Army is aiming for a target of 25% of its electricity use to come from renewable sources by 2025.  In an effort to achieve this goal, the Army will spend as much as $7.1 billion through a task force that will work with developers to build renewable energy power plants that will produce about 10 megawatts each at bases in the U.S.  Army Secretary John McHugh said that the renewable energy goal is “the right thing to do for the environment in this era of diminishing resources and the right thing to do for federal taxpayers.”  Army forms unit to manage development of renewable power plantsBloomberg

 

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Energy Update, July 1, 2011

July 1, 2011

In the States

CA – The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has postponed full implementation of the State’s cap-and-trade system for one year, until 2013, though ARB Chairwoman Mary Nichols maintains the State will still be on track to meet the underlying law’s emissions goal:  reducing GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.  The law was originally supposed to take effect at the beginning of 2012.  "We will be testing the system, doing simulation models, but no one will be held accountable during that year for compliance," Nichols said. "But at the end of 2014, people will still be where they would have been if the program had started." She also indicated that Governor Jerry Brown did not involve himself in the Board’s decisions.  A judge ruled in March that the State had not adequately analyzed alternatives to the cap-and-trade program before requiring its implementation, as required by California’s Environmental Qualify Act, but an appeals court has since ruled the State can move forward while the appeal is being heard.   California delays its carbon trading program for a yearLos Angeles Times and California delays cap-and-trade auctions, citing potential gamingNew York Times

FL – Governor Rick Scott has proposed developing a new State energy policy that would encourage renewable energy, but also would also address other issues such as offshore drilling and clean coal.  He also wants the Public Service Commission to lower requirements for utilities to conserve more electricity through consumer rewards and incentives.  The Governor has said that he wants to attract manufacturing jobs to the State and that doing so would require lower energy costs.  While one of the State’s utilities estimated that a plan in place to lower energy usage would cost the average residential consumers an additional $13.20 per month over nine years, the Governor is looking for alternative approaches for meeting Florida’s energy needs. In a meeting with energy stakeholders, Mary Anne Carter, Governor Scott’s chief advisor said, “The Governor is a big proponent of renewable energy.”  The Governor, however, also prefers allowing free-market forces to determine the type and amount of renewable energy use rather that favoring a single type of producer or driving the market through a renewable standard set by the State.  Scott calls for reducing energy-saving rebatesSunSentinel and Scott wants to reduce energy efficiency rules and push cost-effective renewablesMiami Herald

GA – Governor Nathan Deal has ordered that a scheduled increase in the State’s gasoline tax from 20.4 cents per gallon to 22 cents per gallon that was to take effect on July 1 be suspended until the end of the year.  The legislature will need to finalize the decision, but the Governor’s plan has the support of the State House Speaker.  Governor Deal cited gasoline’s “escalating costs in 2011” in his announcement of the freeze, and said that the move should save consumers $40 million in the coming months.  Governor freezes gas tax Atlanta Journal Constitution

NV – Governor Brian Sandoval has vetoed a renewable energy bill because of a provision added on the legislature’s last day that would have increased electricity rates to pay for a transmission line that would be used to export power from the State.  The bill would have allowed a single utility, NV Energy, to bypass the normal approval process for this project, which critics contended would have cost as much as $1 billion.  The utility would have been able to send renewable energy power to other States with renewable energy standards, including California and Arizona.  Governor Sandoval said that any potential rate hike “would result in the imposition of an unnecessary and unfair burden on our recovery.”  The project may still move forward without the bill, as other companies have also expressed interest in building the transmission lines.  Governor vetoes controversial last-minute energy billLas Vegas Sun

National News

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court threw out a lawsuit from brought by a group of States and environmental groups that, if successful, would have forced power plants to lower greenhouse gas emissions.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) already regulates greenhouse gas emissions from some large industrial plants and is planning to issue regulations to control power plant emissions next year.  While some members of Congress are seeking legislation to block the EPA from using the Clean Air Act to issue regulations further limiting greenhouse gas emissions, the plaintiffs in this case were seeking the right to require lower emissions more quickly through a lawsuit, which could have given federal judges a role in overseeing emissions standards, currently the authority of the EPA.  The court ruled that giving such power to judges is not consistent with the Clean Air Act and rejected the lawsuit, but said that the group could sue the EPA in federal court should they disagree with the agency’s rulemaking decision.  States cannot bypass EPA on power plant emissions, Justices ruleNew York Times and Supreme Court tosses lawsuit against utilitiesPolitico

 

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Energy Update, May 20, 2011

May 20, 2011

In the States

IN – Governor Mitch Daniels has signed into law a statewide renewable energy portfolio that sets a voluntary goal of 10% of the electricity used in the State to come from renewable sources by 2025 with half of that energy to come from utilities located in Indiana.  The new law also provides incentives for utilities to participate in the program and for investment in wind, solar, nuclear, clean coal, and hydroelectric power.  Wind energy industry leaders applauded the law and the Governor and legislators who created the bipartisan measure.  Wind industry praises Indiana’s clean energy lawBrighter Energy

MA – Governor Deval Patrick spoke at the dedication of the State’s first wind farm, a ten-turbine system that will produce 15 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 6,000 homes.  The Governor’s Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan said that the project involved 20 companies and employed 50 people.  The wind farm almost doubles the amount of wind energy produced in the State, which Secretary Sullivan said was a step toward achieving the State’s goal of 25 percent fewer carbon emissions by 2025.  After hailing the benefits of the wind farm to Massachusetts residents, Governor Patrick said “There is an opportunity here for us to grow a whole new industry, and make the world our customer, and the jobs that come from it."  Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick dedicates Berkshires wind farmWAMC

National News

President Barack Obama has announced several changes in his administration that are aimed at increasing oil and gas drilling in the U.S., a policy shift his administration says demonstrates the President’s commitment to increasing domestic oil production in order to reduce imports and to signal flexibility to political opponents who seek increased oil and gas drilling.  Included in the reforms are an annual lease auction for parcels in the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve, an environmental review on the possibility of drilling off the southern and central Atlantic coast, and an extension in the offshore leases that have been off-limits to drilling under the moratorium in place since the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will still not be allowed under the new policies.  The changes were received favorably by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and did not receive much opposition from environmental groups or praise from Republicans.  Obama shifts to speed oil and gas drilling in the U.S.New York Times

 

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