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Energy Update, December 10, 2010

December 10, 2010

In the States

NC – A recent report by the National Wildlife Federation says that North Carolina has the greatest potential for wind energy of any Atlantic Coast State, which was welcome news to Governor Bev Perdue.  The Governor supports offshore wind development and would like to see one or two companies building turbines off the State’s coast in the next two years, provided “it can be developed cost-effectively and safely,” according to her spokeswoman.  The Governor also said that she still supports offshore oil drilling, so long as it is done safely, protects the State’s natural resources, and provides some revenue sharing.  Wind companies have already taken notice of the State and have applied for offshore leases that would allow construction of as many as 500 turbines offshore, enough to power up to 550,000 homes.  Drilling banned; eyes turn to windCharlotte Observer

VT – Governor-elect Peter Shumlin has written a letter to the Vice President of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant asking that the plant restart the process of extracting water contaminated with radioactive tritium from onsite wells.  A leak of the radioactive material was discovered a year ago, and the plant extracted the water in an effort to contain the material until November when the project ended.  One of the Governor-elect’s advisors, a nuclear engineer, is worried that tritium could reach the public’s water supply if more of the affected water is not extracted.  Shumlin urges Vermont Yankee to extract tainted waterBurlington Free Press

In the face of high unemployment and record deficits, States are turning to new revenue sources.  At least three States have used a portion of proceeds from the sale of carbon pollution credits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)  to help balance their budgets.  The RGGI agreement binds States to use at least 25% of the proceeds for such programs as alternative energy, energy efficiency, and consumer benefits, and all States combined have applied about 80% to these purposes.  In New Jersey, where legislation has been introduced to withdraw from the RGGI, $65 million of carbon credit proceeds has been used to help fill the State’s budget gap.  If the RGGI program is eliminated, however, such funding will no longer be available.  States diverting money from climate initiativeNew York Times

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal of an Appeals Court ruling that allowed a suit brought by eight States and New York City against five coal-burning utilities to move forward.  In the suit, the States claim that the plants operated by the utilities are a “public nuisance” in that they contribute to global climate change.  The Obama Administration urged the Supreme Court to hear the appeal because it contends the States’ claim could interfere with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.  The utilities support the appeal, but for a different reason – they argue the matter should be addressed by Congress rather than the courts.  The States involved – California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin – urged that the appeal be rejected.  Justices to rule on States’ emissions caseNew York Times

National News

The Obama Administration has postponed implementation of U.S. EPA regulations on emissions of ozone until July 2011 and of mercury and other pollutants until April 2012, citing the need for further study on the effects of the pollutants.  The rules would have affected several hundred cities and 200,000 industrial boilers, heaters, and incinerators.  Environmental groups voiced opposition to the rule delay, while manufacturers and Republican congressional leaders praised it, with some calling on the EPA to do away with the rules altogether.  EPA delays tougher rules on emissionsNew York Times

President Barack Obama has reinstated a ban on offshore oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico as well as the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar issued a statement on the ban citing the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as a reminder to exercise caution when deciding whether or not to drill offshore.  News of the ban was welcomed by Florida Senator Ben Nelson and Environment America, but opposed by the oil industry.  Obama reinstates ban on offshore oil drillingTrade Only Today

The Republican Steering Committee has voted on who will chair the House committees in the 112th Congress.  The Energy and Commerce Committee will be chaired by Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan who favors an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy production and who has said he will scrutinize the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to regulate greenhouse gases.  Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington State, who will be the next chair of the Natural Resources committee, supports increased domestic energy production and his party’s “all-of-the-above” energy position.  Rep. Upton expected to cross final hurdle to Energy gavel with GOP caucus vote todayNew York Times and Hastings loses bid to consolidate energy jurisdictionThe Hill

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Energy Update, November 24, 2010

November 24, 2010

In the States

HI – Almost three years after State officials signed a general agreement with the Federal government to develop a cleaner energy future, Hawaii is making progress in diversifying its energy sources.  A State law passed last year requires Hawaii’s electric utility company, Hawaiian Electric, to use renewable sources for 40 percent of its power by 2030.  At the same time, it must cut projected electricity consumption by 30 percent.  This past September, State regulators ruled that the utility will be paid a guaranteed amount no matter how much energy it sells.  The new financial model will allow Hawaiian Electric to become more of a power distributor than power producer.  Another regulatory change will allow individuals to get paid by the utility for producing their own power.  An expansion of smart-grid technologies is also underway and will help Hawaii increase the use of renewable power generated from available wind, solar and geothermal resources.  Another project could link wind farms proposed for the islands of Lanai and Molokai with “power-hungry” Oahu through an undersea cable.  In describing Hawaii’s need to change course to meet its energy needs, outgoing Governor Linda Lingle gave an interview in which she said, “We had to be transformational.  It couldn’t be incremental any longer.”  State lays groundwork for more clean energy -- Maui News

MO – Governor Jay Nixon has endorsed a plan that would allow utilities to charge customers for early costs of developing a new nuclear power plant, a practice currently prohibited by State law.  Missouri utilities have expressed interest in expanding the State’s only current nuclear plant, but have not yet decided whether to build it.  If the proposal is approved, the utilities will pass on to consumers the $40 million in site permits required to determine the viability of the project.  Nixon endorses idea of second Callaway County power plantNews Tribune 

NJ – Governor Chris Christie has filed a motion to stop a proposed offshore natural gas terminal and a 50-mile pipeline from being constructed.  Governor Christie said that he “will not subject our state’s shore and economy to the environmental risks that are inseparable from such a project.”  The terminal is one of three proposed liquefied natural gas terminals to which the Governor expressed opposition earlier this year; the other two plans were withdrawn.  Gov. Christie opposes proposed natural gas facility off Asbury ParkThe Star-Ledger

National News

The U.S. Department of the Interior has announced a new initiative – Smart From the Start – intended to help identify and pre-approve appropriate locations along the Atlantic Coast for offshore wind turbines.  Interior Secretary Ken Salazar introduced the new program at a public event at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland and said it was the result of “a lesson learned” from the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts.  The site for that project was approved in April, but construction has been stalled by opponents who have brought legal challenges.  Interior officials are hoping the new site selection process will allow new leases to be granted as early as 2011.Administration wants to speed up process for windmills in AtlanticWashington Post

The New York Times recently ran a special energy section outlining recent changes in the world’s energy sources and consumption, along with the roles politics and economics have played in those changes. Although Republicans generally favor nuclear energy and have now gained the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, a “nuclear renaissance” may not happen quickly because of Republican opposition to carbon pricing that could help make nuclear power more competitive.  While coastal States slow or halt building new coal power plants, retiring plants in the South, Midwest, and Mountain regions are likely to be replaced with coal, and the developers are hoping to use new technologies to lower or capture greenhouse gas emissions.  Solar gardens are being built on the edges of some towns to capture energy without requiring trees to be cut down for roof installations, while biologists ensure that minimal impact is made on large solar projects in the desert.  And though two years ago, experts were warning that oil and gas supplies were being depleted, new-found deposits and new technologies to obtain it have extended that timeline for several decades, though with predictable downsides, such as the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  G.O.P. gains on Capitol Hill may not advance nuclear power and In the heartland, still investing in coal and There will be fuel and The benefits of solar with the beauty of trees and Concerns as solar installations join a desert ecosystemNew York Times

Other News

At the World Mayors Summit on Climate in Mexico City, a group of 138 Mayors from around the world signed an agreement to lower greenhouse gas emissions in their cities.  The cities will post their commitments and progress on the carbonn Cities Climate Registry (cCCR), a website that allows uniform reporting tracking.  Signatories to the pact include some major world cities, such as Vancouver, Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, and Jakarta, and also include four U.S. cities: Burnsville, MN; Des Moines, IA; Los Angeles, CA; and North Little Rock, AR.  Calgary, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Mexico City, and Nagpur have already entered their data onto the website.  The agreement was meant to be a sign of the willingness of Mayors and cities to work on climate issues and as a catalyst for action at the upcoming global climate change summit in Cancun.  Mayors flaunt resolve in advance of CancunNew York Times and Mayors sign global pact to tackle urban emissionsCNN International and cCCR Signatory Cities [pdf]cCCR and cCCR PioneerscCCR

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Energy Update, September 24, 2010

September 24, 2010

In the States

ALGovernor Bob Riley has signed off on a plan submitted by TORP Technology to build a closed-loop liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal off the coast of Alabama.  In recent years, Governor Riley has rejected several proposals that would have relied on a less environmentally-friendly open-loop system that would have required the use of seawater from the Gulf to warm up imported LNG.  The company must also pay $25 million for a fund that will protect the marine environment, and will be administered by the State’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.  A large local environmental group said that its concerns had been alleviated by the Governor, who praised the proposal, saying “with this agreement, we’re able to protect the environment, improve our economy with 250 new jobs, and provide an important alternative source of natural gas for Alabama.”  Gov. Riley approves “closed loop” LNG facilityWNCF

MI – In a speech to an energy symposium, Governor Jennifer Granholm stressed that the wind energy sector is a key element in the State’s economic future.  The Governor said that the State’s strategy is to use federal funds, tax incentives, renewable energy Renaissance Zones, and a consortium of universities, national labs, and the State to boost both the manufacturing of wind power generators such as turbines and the use of wind power in the State.  So far the strategy has created 5,300 jobs and leveraged as much as $58 million in federal investment.  Wind energy critical for Michigan clean energy economyGovMonitor

NJ – As a consequence of Governor Chris Christie’s prioritization of developing brownfields into solar farms, and strong incentives for renewable energy production, solar businesses that have been searching for large, undeveloped tracts of land in the State are working with the Department of Environmental Protection to procure landfills.  The Department is helping utilities and other companies navigate the federal and State regulatory landscape in order to convert unused properties into revenue- and energy-generating land.  Local governments, facing budgetary problems of their own, are hoping that developers will use the sites in order to generate more revenue as well.  As solar power developers search for sites, NJ tries to cash inNewark Star-Ledger

UT – Governor Gary Herbert gathered a large crowd for the third in a series of public hearings on Utah’s energy future.  Groups representing environmental, conservation, State, and coal interests were given an audience by the Governor, who said that “there has been a healthy difference of opinion on what we should be doing when it comes to energy” and said that all types of energy production will be considered when developing the State’s ten-year energy policy.  Gov. Gary Herbert’s 3rd energy hearing brings diverse ideasDeseret News

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell has announced that he will hold the State’s first energy conference in October 2010, and that T. Boone Pickins, a Texas oilman who campaigns for energy independence, will be headlining the event.  Governor McDonnell stressed the need to utilize all forms of energy production, including “traditional, alternative, and renewable sources” such as “wind, coal, solar, nuclear, biomass, oil, and natural gas.”  “By fully developing our domestic energy resources we can provide reliable, low-cost power that will lead our country closer toward energy independence,” the Governor said.  T. Boone Pickins to speak at Virginia’s first energy conferenceWashington Post

National News

In the waning days of the current Congress, Senate Democrats are hopeful that they can pass a renewable electricity standard (RES) bill by the end of the year that would require 15% of electricity in the country to come from renewable sources by 2021.  Several Senate Democrats including Barbara Boxer, Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are strongly in favor of moving forward with the bill.  Although Republican Senator Sam Brownback is a cosponsor of the legislation, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s spokesman says he “does not support” the measure, with other Republicans also expressing similar opposition.  Democrats warm to last-ditch energy pushPolitico

Eighty percent of States will be prepared to issue greenhouse gas permits in compliance with US Environmental Protection Agency regulations starting January 2 or shortly thereafter according to a report by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA).  While some States are fully prepared to comply, many others still need to change their laws in order to allow the permitting process to begin.  Still other States will not be incompliance with the regulations, and some of these still actively oppose them.  A rule issued last month would allow the EPA to take over the permitting process for noncompliant States, drawing criticism from some officials in States that do not plan to comply.  Report: 80% of States on track for greenhouse gas permitting, enforcementNew York Times and States moving full speed ahead on greenhouse gas permitting [pdf]National Association of Clean Air Agencies

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Energy Update, April 24, 2008

April 24, 2008
In the States

AZ – Although many energy-related bills have been introduced this year in the Arizona state legislature, very few have passed. Efforts to curb emissions in state buildings and vehicles or to promote alternative energy have been met with stalling tactics and other opposition. Proponents of such legislation contend that the federal government will have to force the state to produce any meaningful change. Environmental measures low priority in legislatureAZCentral.com

CA – The implementation of a cap-and-trade policy in California is proving to be controversial. Public-owned facilities use mostly coal, while privately operated utilities use more nuclear and hydroelectric sources. Thus, the public utilities would pay a higher price for the generation of power than the private ones when it comes time to buy carbon credits. The Los Angeles-based public utility might have to use money set aside for building renewable energy facilities to pay for the credits. The details of this plan are being discussed in public workshops and will be decided upon by the California Air Resources Board late this year. Electricity industry wrangles over California’s greenhouse gas lawLos Angeles Times

CO – A bill which would require that utilities in Colorado add solar plants to their development plans passed the state House and is to be taken up in the Senate. Power companies are already expecting a cap-and-trade system in the near future. Supporters of the bill, HB1164, cite the huge potential for renewable energy in the state while opponents claim prices for consumers will rise. Here comes the sun: Solar energy measure goes to SenatePueblo Chieftain

DE – Mark Denn, Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, says he will push for tougher restrictions on emissions from power plants if elected. Although he would have no direct control over energy policy, he would use his influence to lessen the pollution from smokestacks, particularly those which harm children the most. Denn says he'll push for pollution regulationsDelaware Online

DE – Plans for an offshore wind farm in Delaware may have come to a halt due to a report modified by the state Senate which claims the project is too costly among other criticisms. There is much controversy surrounding the project with some legislators in full favor and others completely opposed. The plans are still in committee. Delaware Senate committee modifies wind farm reportCape Gazette

FL – Two nearly identical bills, one in each chamber of the state legislature, are expected to pass and overhaul the state’s energy policy. Changes include the following: a certain percent of the state’s energy must come from renewable resources; installation of smart meters; tax exemptions for renewable energy production at home; energy efficiency requirements for home builders; allowing utilities to raise rates for efficiency programs; requiring gasoline to be a 10% ethanol blend by 2011; the creation of a clean energy and climate change department within the state. Lawmakers set to pass comprehensive energy billMiami Herald

HI – Hawaii will receive $15 million over the next three years in order to update its electrical grid to support the adoption of alternative energy sources. This is the latest piece of Hawaii’s plan to become more energy efficient and less dependent on fossil fuels for its energy. $7 million will come from the U. S. Department of Energy as one of nine projects to modernize the electrical grid and $8 million will be from the private sector. State gets up to $7 million for energy researchHonolulu Advertiser

KS – In the fight between the governor and state house over the construction of new coal-fired power plants in Kansas, Governor Sebelius has fought back again, issuing another veto. The governor already vetoed nearly identical legislation, which would have allowed the plants to be built, last month. Coal issue vetoed againTopeka Capital-Journal

ME – Governor Baldacci and experts in the state are planning for the use of 1.8 million tons of waste wood to be turned into dry pellets for heating homes and small businesses. The product would only use branches and other wood left behind by the timber and paper industries in the woods and could heat up to 150,000 homes. Baldacci touts wood energy useBangor Daily News

MD – Governor Martin O’Malley has endorsed a plan which would allow a third nuclear reactor to be built in Maryland. The plan would allow Constellation Energy to take advantage of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal tax credits for building one of the first new reactors in the U. S. in the past 30 years. Proponents say that nuclear power would reduce greenhouse gas emissions while opponents, including some environmental groups, cite the dangers of potentially catastrophic safety hazards and the promise of alternatives such as solar and wind. Maryland on track for nuke reactorWashington Times

MI – A legislative package is making its way to the state Senate which would alter the way electricity is produced and priced. The bills require more energy to come from renewable sources and that the cost for producing that energy be shifted more to residential consumers. Previously, businesses paid higher prices for electricity; this legislation requires that $350 million be transferred from commercial to residential bills over the next five years. House starts passing comprehensive energy legislationCrain’s Detroit Business

MIMichigan is hosting its own controversy over five proposed power plants which would all use coal for fuel. Environmental groups claim that not only are the plants harmful to the environment and foster climate change, but would result in the importation coal from other states, netting a loss of income in the state. Proponents say that the new plants would create more jobs than wind turbine production. Plant plans have environmentalists on firemlive.com

MN – The Minnesota House and Senate have approved bills which will define how the state will integrate itself into a Midwestern cap-and-trade agreement. The legislature essentially gave itself more power in the decision-making process and set how revenues would be spent. Greenhouse gas bills approvedPioneer Press

MO – The state legislature is considering the repeal of a law which requires gas stations throughout the state to sell E-10 (a blend of 90% gasoline and 10% ethanol) rather than pure gasoline. Some legislators have expressed regret over their support for the original law, citing rising corn prices as a result of the mandate. Missouri ethanol mandate is questionedColumbia Daily Tribune

MT
– It’s been three years since Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission applied for permits to build a coal-fired power plant in Montana and, though the permits have been granted, they are currently held up on appeals made by environmental groups. The Montana Board of Environmental Review is requiring that a study of tiny particulate matter from the smokestacks of such plants be performed before the plant becomes operational. It is believed that the tiny particles are the most dangerous and the Board decided that the federal EPA is acting too slowly in performing studies on them. State orders more study of emissionsGreat Falls Tribune

MT
– A compromise has been reached by regulators in the decision of who should pay for “regulating reserve power” or the power the utility would have to produce to make up for lost power when wind turbines are not turning. The utility company said the wind company should pay for the energy, while wind companies maintained they were being overcharged. The Public Service Commission decided that the wind companies should pay a discounted rate to the utility companies. Montana regulators decide wind integration chargesHouston Chronicle

NJ
– New Jersey is contemplating building a new nuclear plant in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The project is in its earliest stages of studying sites and reviewing permits. Environmental groups have already expressed opposition to the Governor’s energy plan which includes the construction of more nuclear plants. New Jersey weighs building another nuclear plant, first since 1973New York Times

OH
– As part of a comprehensive energy bill, Ohio lawmakers have agreed to change the incentive system for power companies. Until now, utilities have been encouraged by the state to produce as much power as possible. The new law would require the companies to produce less power next year, and a small rate hike, which would fund energy efficiency programs. The bill would also require 12.5% of the energy in the state’s portfolio to come from renewable sources with benchmarks for each year in between. Lawmakers push energy efficiencyToledo Blade and Group says wind an economic boonToledo Blade 
WI – In an effort to get more citizens of Wisconsin to get electricity from renewable resources, Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton is creating a website which will allow consumers to find utilities providing renewable energy. Although 2.3 million residents have access to renewable energy, only 39,000 receive it. The lieutenant governor is hoping more demand will create more supply of renewable energy. Making it easier to go greenWisconsin Radio Network

National and Regional


Five governors gathered at Yale University's Conference of Governors on Climate Change along with state officials from other states and signed a declaration that the states will continue to fight global warming and that Congress and the next president should work with them on establishing a new national policy. Eighteen governors have signed the declaration.
Governors convene at Yale to fight global warmingHartford Courant and Sub-national action on climate changeYale University

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