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Blog posts : "climate change legislation"

Energy Update, July 2, 2010

July 2, 2010

In the States

FL – A $14 million program that provides rebates to homeowners and businesses for installing solar panels and equipment has proven so popular that it has run out of money ahead of schedule.  Those who purchased a solar system are still eligible for a 30% federal tax credit.  Although the State Energy Department made it clear that the program would need more funds to satisfy demand, the legislature, under budgetary constraints during a prolonged economic downturn, did not appropriate the needed funding.  Residents who went solar won’t get their rebatesFort Myers News-Press

MI – Three wind farms that will soon be built in Michigan are expected to boost the State’s wind energy capacity by over 60%, generating enough electricity for 84,000 households.  Governor Jennifer Granholm praised the projects, saying that “we intend to lead the nation in making our nation energy independent” in a speech at the Michigan Energy Fair.  Senator Debbie Stabenow, who also spoke at the event, talked about the importance of manufacturing clean energy products domestically.  The new wind farms, along with a new power plant that will use gases from a landfill to create electricity, will allow a utility company, Consumers Energy, to increase the percentage of power it obtains from renewable sources from 4% to 6.2%.  Three wind farms to open in MichiganDetroit Free Press

RI – A new law signed by Governor Donald Carcieri will require the State’s Public Utilities Commission to revisit a proposed contract between Deepwater Wind, a company that is planning an offshore wind farm, and National Grid, the utility company that would deliver the electricity generated by the proposed wind farm.  A contract between the companies was unanimously rejected by the Commission earlier this year for being “commercially unreasonable” in that the wind power would cost rate-payers an additional $400 million.  Governor Carcieri said the project “holds the key to Rhode Island’s economic future” and that it will lead to the creation of thousands of jobs.  While he and a majority of legislators support moving forward with the project, some State officials say the project is not worth the costs and the process is unfair to rate-payers. Carcieri signs wind farm legislationBlock Island Times

Regional News

Governors from several Western States focused on the need to streamline the process by which new interstate transmission lines will be built during the Western Governors Association Annual Meeting.  While the Governors are in favor of increasing electricity produced from renewable sources that are abundant in their States, the infrastructure to transmit that energy from the source of production to distant population centers needs to be designed and built.  The Governors acknowledged that objections raised by private landowners and environmental groups, as well as requirements for permits, often affect the siting and construction of new transmission lines, but also see new transmission lines as a critical to the development of alternative energy.  Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer stated his belief that, “we don’t develop any of the alternative sources until you get transmission,” echoing Washington Governor Christine Gregoire’s concern that, “if we can’t get it anywhere, what good does it do?”  Governors see need for transmission lines Billings Gazette

National News

President Barack Obama invited 23 Senators to the White House recently in an attempt to bridge divergent opinions on the best way to move forward on comprehensive energy legislation.  Accounts from the meeting suggest that little progress was made in reaching a consensus.  During the meeting, the President and many Democratic Senators insisted on some kind of cap on carbon emissions while Republican Senators pledged opposition to any such plan.  Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, co-authors and enthusiastic supporters of climate change legislation, left the meeting saying that they were willing to compromise on some parts of the bill, and that some unnamed Republicans expressed interest in a scaled-back version of their bill that would regulate only power plants rather than entire sectors of the economy.  Republican Senators, upon leaving the meeting, reiterated their opposition to a carbon cap and called for more domestic oil production.  One idea not promoted by Senators from either party was increased offshore oil drilling.  White House energy session changes no mindsNew York Times and Democrats, Obama willing to scale back energy and climate change billPolitico

The US Department of Energy has announced $24 million in funding for three companies to perform research on how to make algae-based biofuels commercially viable.  These awards are part of the $800 million in biofuels funding made available through economic stimulus legislation passed last year.  The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 set a goal of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be produced by 2022, including 21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels, such as algae-based fuels.  A roadmap released by the US Department of Agriculture reveals that achieving that goal will require this type of research as well as large investments in infrastructure and other technology, but could create many jobs, mainly in the Southeast and Central-Eastern regions.  Obama funds research into algae-based biofuelsUSA Today and New USDA report provides roadmap for US biofuels energy goalsEERE News

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Energy Update, June 18, 2010

June 18, 2010

In the States

AK – Governor Sean Parnell has signed two energy bills designed to spell out how Alaska will obtain energy in the coming years.  One new law mandates that the State obtain 50% of its electricity from renewable sources within 15 years.  The other law promotes energy efficiency through the creation of an Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Fund and a requirement that the least efficient 25% of State buildings undergo weatherization.  The new law also requires that State Transportation Department vehicles be powered by compressed natural gas and contains some incentives for non-renewable resources as well.  State goal: 50 percent renewable energy sources by 2025KTVA TV  

CO – Governor Bill Ritter signed The Community Solar Gardens Act, which allows groups of individuals, who may not be able to install solar panels on their rooftops, to collectively own a solar array, enabling them to tap into potential benefits from the State's net-metering laws and tariffs.  The amount they will be paid will depend upon the size of their ownership shares of the solar garden, the performance of the solar array, and their own monthly electricity usage.  Washington, Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts already have laws on the books to support community solar energy and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) is sponsoring a community solar bill in the US Senate.  Colorado Governor signs community solar gardens act into law  – Ecopolitology (blog)

OH – Governor Ted Strickland has signed an energy bill that will provide tax breaks to companies that produce renewable energy and jobs in Ohio.  To qualify, companies must begin construction before 2012 and produce energy by 2013 or 2017, depending on the type of energy produced.  Counties have the option to decide whether to cooperate in relieving energy businesses from the tangible personal property tax, which could affect whether renewable energy companies invest in particular areas.  Ohio Governor to sign advanced energy tax billUSA Today and Gov. Strickland signs wind energy bill into lawTimes Bulletin   

Regional and National News

The primary elections currently taking place around the country could profoundly affect the outcome of deliberation over federal climate change legislation.  To date, many of the Democratic and Republican primary winners have staunchly opposed cap-and-trade measures at the State and federal level.  If a climate bill is not passed in this Congress, a new set of Senators, elected in part through these primaries, will have the opportunity to influence the direction of any such legislation.  Similarly, the primaries will determine gubernatorial candidates who will not only help to shape State policies affecting the future use of fossil fuels and alternative energy, but who also will be making their views known to policymakers in Washington.  Climate bubbles below the surface of primary winsNew York Times

President Barack Obama addressed the nation on June 15 on the subject of the BP oil spill, now in its ninth week, as well as potential energy and climate change legislation.  The President did not specifically lay out his administration’s agenda on cap-and-trade or other controversial energy measures, opting instead to focus on the need to act and to consider all proposals.  The lack of specifics has left the fate of energy legislation without real direction.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he is unsure of which energy legislation to move forward, while other Senators used the occasion to promote their or others’ energy bills or rally behind or criticize the President.  With regard to how to best regulate greenhouse gas emissions, there is little cohesion among Senators, including within the Democratic caucus, with arguments ranging from legislation with no climate change measures, to only regulating power plants, to regulating many sources of pollution such as transportation.  President Obama speech has energy bill in limboPolitico and President Obama’s Oval Office address on BP oil spill & energyThe White House

As electric cars gain in popularity and two major auto manufacturers, General Motors and Nissan, plan to release plug-in models later this year, federal regulators are struggling to determine a definition of auto efficiency for these non-gasoline powered vehicles.  Mike Duoba, a research engineer at Argonne National Laboratory, said, "The language we have been speaking -- mpg -- isn't sophisticated enough."  The onset of electric vehicles "will require new metrics to effectively convey information to consumers," according to an EPA statement, though researchers predict it will be difficult to find one measurement to convey a car’s efficiency in terms of both electricity and gas without making too many  assumptions about consumer driving habits.  The new metrics are expected to change the way fuel-economy estimates are calculated and displayed and will shape consumer choices that, in the aggregate, could profoundly affect smog and carbon emissions.  The EPA is scheduled to propose a rule by August.  More electric cars means finding new standards to measure fuel efficiency – The Washington Post

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Energy Update, June 4, 2010

June 4, 2010

In the States

AK – Governor Sean Parnell of Alaska has signed two bills that would make it more affordable to generate renewable energy in the State.  One bill improves the economic viability of geothermal projects by cutting the costs of the royalty payments that developers must pay for geothermal leases on State land.  Governor Parnell commented, “This legislation makes geothermal power projects economically viable and therefore more likely to produce more affordable and reliable electric power for homes and businesses.”  The other bill exempts facilities that use only renewable energy to generate electricity from regulations currently governing energy production in the State.  Alaska cuts red tape to attract renewable energy developersBrighterEnergy.org

CT – The Governor of Connecticut, M. Jodi Rell, vetoed an energy reform bill that proponents asserted would encourage the use of more renewable energy and change the way energy was procured in the State by using long-term power purchase contracts.  Governor Rell said that while there were some measures in the bill that made “good economic sense” and that she supports enhanced State incentives for renewable energy, particularly solar power programs, and energy assistance for low-income families, she thought the legislation would cost too much and had concerns about the lack of detail in parts of the bill.  Citing a $1.4 billion price tag, she said “it is simply not the right time to make an investment of this magnitude.”  Connecticut Governor vetoes clean energy reforms – BrighterEnergy.org and Rell veto of Conn. energy bill riles critics New Haven Register

OK – Governor Brad Henry signed a measure into law that expands the use of clean energy in the State of Oklahoma by establishing a renewable energy goal that 15% of electricity in the State be generated by renewable energy such as solar, wind and geothermal by 2015.  The bill also allows electricity producers to utilize energy efficiency improvements to help meet the goal, establishes a natural gas energy standard, and requires the development of a plan for transmission grid expansion.  Henry signs Oklahoma Energy Security Act Tulsa World

MAGovernor Deval Patrick designated 35 cities and towns as Massachusetts’ first official Green Communities under the Green Communities Act, the name for energy legislation passed in 2008.  To earn this designation, municipalities had to meet five clean energy goals, which included adopting local zoning bylaws to encourage and speed up permitting for renewable energy projects, purchasing only fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal fleets whenever possible, and requiring all new residential construction over 3,000 square feet to save energy by adopting new building codes.  These communities are eligible for $8.1 million in grants intended to enable the communities to “go further, saving energy costs for their residents, reducing the environmental impact of municipal operations, and validating the Commonwealth’s reputation as a national clean energy leader,’’ according to Ian Bowles, the State’s Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs.  35 named Green Communities, qualify for State aidBoston Globe

Regional and National News

Next week, Senator Richard Lugar will propose energy and climate legislation that aims to cut emissions of planet-warming gases that he says will achieve about half of the 17% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 proposed by President Obama.  Lugar’s bill does not include pollution permits like those found in cap-and-trade proposals.  Under the bill, coal-fired power plants would not be required to install expensive scrubbers as they would under other proposals, but would retire those plants in 2020.  The legislation also includes stronger fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, encourages the use of alternative transportation fuels, seeks to improve the energy efficiency of homes and commercial buildings, and expands the use of nuclear power.  President Obama has said that a price must be set on carbon pollution, and that he will work to find enough votes to get a cap-and-trade bill passed in the Senate.  The Senate will vote on June 10 – before any climate change legislation – whether to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas pollution, providing some indication of how the Senate will approach climate change legislation in the future.  Sen. Lugar to propose climate bill alternativeReuters

The chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to recover royalties associated with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.  The government’s lease with BP stipulates that the company must pay 18.75% in royalties for all oil and natural gas produced, so the estimated loss of at least 500,000 barrels of oil and hundreds of millions of cubic feet of natural gas could cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in uncollected revenue.  "My first priority is that the environmental effects of this spill be contained and mitigated as quickly as possible, but I am also deeply concerned that the American public is compensated for damages to their public lands, waters, wildlife and minerals," Mr. Rahall said.  Rep. Rahall seeks damages for revenue lost to oil spillWall Street Journal

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Energy Update, May 21, 2010

May 21, 2010

In the States

AK – Governor Sean Parnell has signed a pair of bills into law into law that offer companies tens of millions of dollars in tax incentives to drill for natural gas in Cook Inlet and make it cheaper and easier to build gas storage facilities.  Demand for natural gas grows in the winter, when the need for heat is greatest, and slowing production from existing wells will need to be supplemented by either importing gas from elsewhere or increased domestic drilling.  While some companies have existing leases to drill, the incentives are meant to prompt them into drilling sooner than later and store supplies for later use.  Legislature’s incentives may draw gas rig to InletAnchorage Daily News

HI – Hawaii has been chosen to be one of the first States to help launch the new all-electric car from Nissan, the LEAF, which is powered by lithium-ion batteries and produces zero tailpipe emissions.  Governor Linda Lingle recently spoke at event announcing Nissan’s decision and said that the car “will build on Hawaii's progress to end our state's over-reliance on imported fossil fuels and increase our energy security.”  The State has set a goal of obtaining 70% of its energy from clean sources by 2030.  Residents can now reserve the car, which is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit, and costs more than 60% less per mile to drive than the average gasoline-powered car.  Hawaii selected as an early launch State for Nissan LEAF vehicleReliable Plant

ME – Governor John Baldacci has signed five energy bills into law that will make generating and transmitting wind energy easier in the future.  Included in the new laws is the creation of “energy corridors” or new transmission lines along major highways, steering funds to energy efficiency and alternative energy projects, as well as a smart grid and other infrastructure to allow energy efficient use of electric vehicles.  Home and business owners will be allowed to tack upfront costs of energy efficiency projects onto their property tax bill for 10 to 20 years, and energy companies will be required to provide at least $4,000 in community benefits per wind turbine.  Another bill institutes the Ocean Energy Task Force recommendations by creating a permit system, clarifying the leasing process, and setting energy goals for offshore wind and tidal energy systems.  Baldacci signs energy bills aimed at cutting oil consumptionMaine Public Broadcasting Network and Energy bills smarten up State policyBangor Daily News

NJ – Governor Chris Christie and the State’s Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner, Bob Martin, have filed a petition with the federal Environmental Protection Agency to require a coal-fired power plant 500 feet across the border in Pennsylvania to reduce its emissions.  According to the Commissioner, the plant in question emits three times as much as all seven coal power plants in New Jersey, but residents on both sides of the river are susceptible to the pollution.  The plant is already the subject of a federal EPA lawsuit, though the plant’s owners say they are fully compliant with all Pennsylvania permit limitations.  NJ Gov. Chris Christie, DEP chief seek reduced pollution from coal-burning plant in PAThe Star-Ledger

WI – Governor Jim Doyle is promoting the collaboration of two large university research consortia with private companies to research and develop clean energy solutions, saying “it is crucial that Wisconsin develop and maintain a leadership role in these emerging energy technologies.”  Under the plan, the Center for Renewable Energy Systems in Madison and the Southeastern Wisconsin Energy Technology Research consortium in Milwaukee will combine into a single statewide group and provide energy research services for industry in the State.  Wisconsin makes a play for clean energyCivSource

Governor Doyle has also signed a bill that will make burning garbage for energy count as “renewable” and help the State realize its goal of obtaining 10% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015.  Also listed as “renewable” is the Apollo light pipe, a small glass skylight dome that reflects daylight inside a building and reduces energy use.  The skylight system is manufactured in Wisconsin.  The Governor also vetoed a bill that would have required State buildings to become more energy efficient.  Governor Doyle said that he vetoed the measure because the way it was written would have delayed current maintenance projects and would have created “chaos” for the State’s building construction program.  Disputed renewable power bill signedMilwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel

National News

Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman publicly released their climate change and energy legislation in the company of both utility company executives and environmental advocates, but without the bill’s other original co-author, Senator Lindsey Graham.  Climate provisions include a cap and trade policy that would cap utility, oil, and heavy industry emissions (following a temporary exemption), but not as broadly as the as the economy-wide House plan passed last year.  Greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 17% by 2020 and 83% by 2050 compared to 2005 levels.  Permits would initially be given away to utilities and coal burning power plants would receive more permits than natural gas power plants.  In the wake of the ongoing Gulf oil leak, the legislation has been amended to scale back some the expansion of offshore oil drilling.  States will now be able to stop certain plans to drill for oil off the coast of neighboring States.  Nuclear plant operators would also receive loan guarantees under the proposed legislation.  The nuclear power industry and utility companies generally embraced the plan, while some oil companies also voiced support.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, however, did not endorse the bill.  Senator Graham issued a separate statement on the bill in which he predicted the bill would not gain bipartisan support given immigration politics and the recent oil spill in the Gulf.  Climate bill’s fate down to businessPolitico and Senate gets a climate and energy bill, modified by a Gulf spill that still growsNew York Times 

The Georgetown Climate Center has produced an overview of the legislation’s State-related provisions.

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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, February 12, 2010

February 12, 2010

In the States

AZ – Governor Jan Brewer has announced that Arizona will no longer fully participate in the Western Climate Initiative, citing potential higher costs for consumers.  The Governor signed an executive order effectively withdrawing the State from the planned cap-and-trade system and ordering the Department of Environmental Quality to review a plan to place more regulations on vehicle emissions.  Although these two programs will not be implemented, the State is not fully withdrawing from the Initiative, and will continue to work with other States to promote solar energy, limit pollution by setting smart growth policies, and taking steps to adapt to climate change.  The State is also continuing a program to make its entire state vehicle fleet hybrid, low-emission, or alternative fuel by 2012.  Arizona quits Western climate endeavorArizona Republic

MA – Governor Deval Patrick’s recently announced new plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions.  When combined with measures he and others have already put into place, these proposals would result in an 18.6% decrease in emissions from 1990 levels by 2020, according to a new draft report by the Eastern Research Group.  The Global Warming Solutions Act, signed by the Governor in 2008, requires Massachusetts to lower greenhouse gas emissions 10% to 25% by 2020.  The Governor cited the move toward reducing emissions as good for the environment and the economy, saying “[o]ur investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy are creating jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions dramatically.”  Mass. to meet gas reduction targetBoston Globe and Draft Report to Climate Protection and Green Economy Advisory Committee [pdf]Eastern Research Group

WY – Governor Dave Freudenthal is proposing stricter regulations on the wind power industry, including an excise tax of $3 per megawatt hour, and more restrictions on land use and zoning that would make building wind turbines and producing wind energy more expensive.  The Governor said that the wind energy industry “remains a profit-oriented business that should be treated the same as other energy producers."  Gov.: Tax wind powerStar-Tribune

State of the States – Most Governors have given a State of the State address, and many of them have included energy issues in their speeches.  Some of these are highlighted below.  The full text and summaries of all of the State of the State addresses can be found on the Stateline.org website.

CT – Governor M. Jodi Rell proposed eliminating the sales tax on “machines, equipment, tools, materials, supplies, and fuels used in renewable energy and green technology” in her annual State of the State address.  She also proposed a loan forgiveness program for students who get certain degrees related to renewable energy or health and choose to stay and work in the State. 

MI – Governor Jennifer Granholm said the Federal economic stimulus has helped the State make investments in clean energy and “take us from the rust belt to the green belt” in her State of the State address.  The Governor also said that several billion private sector dollars have been invested in building electric cars, batteries, wind turbines, and solar cells resulting in the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs.

NV – In his State of the State address, Governor Gibbons said that his office is working to promote solar, wind, and geothermal energy as well as research and development for new green technologies.  The Governor noted economic and environmental benefits, saying these industries would create long-term high-paying jobs. 

National News

President Barack Obama met with a bipartisan group of 11 Governors recently to discuss the future of energy.  While the President underscored the need to produce more biofuels, especially ethanol, and cleaner coal, Governor Gregoire of Washington expressed interest in nuclear power, Governor Rounds of South Dakota asked for help in developing biofuels resources in the Midwest, and Governor Beshear of Kentucky praised Obama’s interest in clean coal and expressed concern over cap-and-trade proposals.  Also in attendance were Governors Riley of Alabama, Baldacci of Maine, Schweitzer of Montana, Strickland of Ohio, Bredesen of Tennessee, Douglas of Vermont, Manchin of West Virginia, and Freudenthal of Wyoming.  Governors talk energy with ObamaStateline.org and Wash. Gov. says nuclear energy must be consideredSeattle Post-Intelligencer and Rounds says he pushed for SD in energy meetingKTIV.com and Kentucky Gov. Beshear praises Obama clean-coal initiativeCourier-Journal

More than 200 companies, including some major energy companies, have combined efforts to promote the passage of a Senate climate change bill this year.  Leaders from the companies and business groups have cited the need to compete with China, reduce dependence on foreign oil, and reduce carbon emissions as all worthy goals that can be achieved through climate change legislation.  In the Senate, Senators Kerry, Lieberman, and Graham are working together to craft legislation that will attract Republicans and Democrats.  President Obama has also shown a willingness to compromise to pass a bill this year: he proposed allowing more nuclear power in his State of the Union address, requested more Federal loans to build nuclear power plants in his FY2011 budget, and asked Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to address the issue of nuclear fuel and waste.  Coming together on climate billPolitico

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Energy Update, November 13, 2009

November 13, 2009

In the States

TX – A new report from Environment Texas, using data from the US Department of Energy, shows that although Texas produces more carbon dioxide than any other state, its carbon dioxide emissions were reduced by 2% from 2004 to 2007 while the US collectively increased those emissions by 0.7% during the same period.  Governor Rick Perry said the report shows that the State is able to reduce emissions without imposing taxes or regulations and expressed opposition to federal climate change legislation that he believes would harm industry in Texas.  Report: Texas greenhouse gas emissions downAssociated Press

UT – Governor Gary Herbert made his first trip to Washington DC since assuming the office of Governor to reach out to the Obama administration on contentious oil and gas leases in Utah.  The Bush administration moved the auction for the leases up to December 2008, during which an activist bid up the cost of the leases without having the money to buy them.  Interior Secretary Ken Salazar subsequently cancelled many of the leases due to environmental concerns and the fraudulent bids.  The Governor met with Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes to discuss how they could work together to deliver some of the leases to companies that had submitted legitimate bids; the Deputy Secretary invited the State and the companies to provide a legal argument for not cancelling the auctions that included fraudulent bids.  Guv stresses public lands on DC tripDeseret News and A bid too far: Utah oil lease activist Tim DeChristopher faces jail timeWall Street Journal

WV – Governor Joe Manchin held a private meeting with federal and state officials and coal industry representatives to discuss the future of coal.  After the meeting, the Governor held a press conference to announce his intention to join West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller and Representatives Nick Rahall and Shelley Moore Capito in a high-level meeting with US EPA officials to discuss new regulations on mountaintop removal.  Rep. Rahall said that during their meeting coal executives expressed confusion over the regulations and Rep. Capito said two meetings she had previously scheduled with the EPA were cancelled.  W. Va. Gov. to host private meeting on coalAssociated Press and W. Va. Leaders seek coal answers from White HouseCharleston Gazette

Regional and National News

Mid-Atlantic – Governors Jack Markell of Delaware, Martin O’Malley of Maryland, and Tim Kaine of Virginia have agreed to coordinate the efforts of their states to produce wind energy offshore and transmit it throughout the region while creating new jobs.  Each state is interested in developing offshore wind power and stands to gain from the resources such a collaboration would provide. MD, DE, VA enter offshore wind power partnershipThe Capital and Governors commit to offshore wind energyWTOP

Federal – Democratic Senators passed the Senate’s climate change bill out of the Environment and Public Works Committee 11-1 despite a Republican boycott of the hearings.  To move the bill, committee chair Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) bypassed a rule that would have required participation by both parties.  Republicans, who boycotted the hearings because they believed not enough time was provided to read the bill and thought the EPA had failed to adequately study the costs, objected to the bill’s passage without their input.  Though the bill passed the committee, many Senators believe that another bill, being crafted by Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to allow more nuclear energy and offshore drilling, is more likely to pass the Senate.  Many Senators also believe that no other major action will be taken on climate change legislation in the Senate until next year.  Democrats move on emissions billWashington Post and Democrats push climate bill through panel without GOP debateNew York Times and Climate bill likely on the shelf for rest of the yearWall Street Journal

Senator Chuck Schumer has sent a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu asking him to refuse stimulus money for a wind farm project in Texas unless the “high-value components, including the wind turbines, are manufactured in the United States.”  The letter was prompted by an Investigative Reporting Workshop study that found that 84% of stimulus money for green projects has gone to foreign companies and that the project in Texas in particular will create 2,000 jobs in China and 300 in Texas.  The Texas project is being financed by $450 million in stimulus funds and more than $1 billion in investments from Chinese banks.  Schumer seeks to block stimulus money for Chinese-backed Texas wind farmNew York Times

Stimulus Funding -- The US Department of Energy announced nearly $500 million in new stimulus grants, including $338 million of stimulus money awarded to 123 schools, tribes, local governments, and national laboratories to advance geothermal energy development.  Another $155 million of additional stimulus funds is being used to leverage $634 million of private investment for industrial energy efficiency projects.  The Treasury Department has also issued $2.2 billion in Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) that will act as low-interest loans to help energy co-ops, governmental entities, and public power providers develop clean renewable energy projects such as wind or solar power.  Department of Energy awards $338 million to accelerate domestic geothermal energyEERE News and Secretary Chu announces more than $155 million for industrial energy efficiency projectsEERE News and Treasury allocates $2.2 billion in bonds for renewable energy developmentTreasury Department Press Room

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Energy Update, October 2, 2009

October 2, 2009

In the States

CA – This week, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger hosted the Global Climate Summit 2, which gathered over 1,200 participants from across the U.S. and the world to help discuss climate change issues and influence national policy in their countries prior to the UN summit planned for Copenhagen, Denmark in December.  California officials also hoped the summit would allow other governments to see what the state has accomplished and build on its achievements in negotiating a new global climate change pact at that meeting.  Topics included how to decrease energy usage, how to obtain cleaner energy, and how to best offset greenhouse gas emissions.  Schwarzenegger leads governors’ summit on global warmingChristian Science Monitor and Climate summit delegates like state’s planned carbon trading marketLos Angeles Times

NC – In a letter to US Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, Governor Bev Perdue indicated she may be willing to consider offshore oil and gas drilling depending on the amount of reserves located off North Carolina’s shore and whether a panel of scientists and engineers she plans to assemble indicate drilling can be done safely and without hampering offshore wind energy development.  Governor Perdue commented on a draft proposal prepared by the Bush administration, which would allow certain sites to be explored for possible extraction of fossil fuels.  The Governor would also like more information on the share of oil and gas revenues the State could expect to receive.  Secretary Salazar has indicated he is likely to scale back the proposal before presenting it to President Obama and Congress prior to final approval.  Perdue indicates she’s open to offshore drillingWinston-Salem Journal

PA – Governor Ed Rendell spoke at a news conference to covey the importance of clean energy to Pennsylvania’s financial and environmental goals.  He cited the State’s $900 million of investment since 2003, an energy portfolio standard that mandates the development of alternative energy sources, energy conservation laws, and adoption of the California Clean Car Rule to reduce emissions from mobile sources as actions that have helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions and created thousands of new jobs.  The Governor also expressed support for more research on carbon capture and storage technologies.  Rendell calls for clean energy developmentPittsburgh Post-Gazette

TX – Governor Rick Perry voiced strong opposition to federal climate change legislation during a meeting with State business and political leaders.  The Governor said that Texas has done well in balancing the interests of business and the environment and that new federal mandates on carbon emissions and other climate changing pollution would raise the prices of many everyday products for consumers and eliminate 200,000 to 300,000 jobs in the State.  He suggested the Federal Government should follow Texas’ lead by expanding the nation’s alternative energy portfolio, reducing the cost of alternative energy forms like solar and wind, and promoting investment in technology that captures emissions of carbon dioxide rather than institute a cap-and-trade policy.  Texas governor voices opposition to climate billAustin American-Statesman

WV – Governor Joe Manchin gave a speech to the US Chamber of Commerce in which he noted that while coal may create pollution, coal-producing states such as West Virginia have helped build a vibrant American economy.  The Governor believes that the pending House cap and trade legislation, in its current form, will cost too many jobs and that there may be ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by recycling carbon dioxide into a useful product.  He also raised concerns about the potential for newly created alternative energy industry jobs moving offshore if production costs prove to be too high in the US.  Manchin calls for energy balanceCharleston Daily Mail

Regional and National News

Attracting renewable energy manufacturing plants and workers is less difficult for states that have generous incentive programs than for those that do not.  Some states provide millions of dollars in tax and other incentives for companies to build such facilities – which produce not only renewable energy technology but high-paying and high-skill jobs – while other state provide little or none.  With renewable energy becoming a key component of economic development, states are competing to provide more generous subsidies in return for new clean energy investment and jobs.  Clean-energy jobs touch off bidding wars between statesUSA Today

Senators John Kerry and Barbara Boxer have introduced the Senate’s version of climate change legislation.  Many details are missing from the bill as it is currently written, though the two sponsors say it will be deficit-neutral.  The bill would require a reduction in carbon emissions to 20% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050 through a cap-and-trade mechanism, cleaner coal technologies, natural gas, and nuclear energy production, more solar and wind energy production, and increased energy efficiency.  Republican leaders have already voiced opposition to the bill, calling it a tax on families and small businesses while environmental advocates have expressed mixed reactions.  Boxer, Kerry launch campaign to pass Senate cap-and-trade billNew York Times and Overview [pdf], Section-by-section summary [pdf], and Bill text [pdf] for S.1733 – Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act

To date, more than $1 billion in stimulus funds has already been spent on clean energy projects, including $550 million that was just awarded for new renewable energy production (in lieu of tax credits), $300 million for energy conservation efforts in public housing projects, and $36 million for energy efficiency projects in Pennsylvania.  An additional $410 million in stimulus funds have been recently announced, including $161 million for a wind power transmission line, $144 million to advance the smart grid, and $106 million for Energy Efficiency Community Block Grants.  Treasury, Energy surpass $1 billion milestone in Recovery Act awards for clean energy projectsEERE News and U.S. Treasury and DOE award $550 million for renewable energy projectsEERE News and HUD grants $300 million in Recovery Act funds for green housingEERE News and DOE delivers $36 million to Pennsylvania for energy efficiency projectsEERE News and Recovery Act helps to fund transmission line for Montana wind powerEERE News and DOE announces $144 Million in Recovery Act funding for the smart gridEERE News and Obama administration delivers more than $106 million for energy efficiency and conservation projects in nine statesEERE News

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