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Energy Update, February 10, 2012

February 10, 2012

State of the State Addresses

Ten more Governors have given their State of the State addresses in the last two weeks, and the majority of them discussed energy issues, mostly in the context of attracting or retaining jobs in their respective states.  Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett noted the jobs available in natural gas production and said that he is working to attract a natural gas processing plant to the Commonwealth, while Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said that he would like to permanently abolish the tax on natural gas in order to boost his State’s ability to compete for jobs.  Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin called energy “the back bone of our economy” and said that an agreement Oklahoma entered into with nine other states would lead result in the State purchasing thousands of vehicles for its vehicle fleet each year, which would help support jobs in Oklahoma’s natural gas industry.  Ohio Governor John Kasich said that lower energy costs would promote business development. 

Some Governors expressed their belief that increasing renewable energy and reducing energy use are also important goals.  Governor Fallin asked the legislature to pass a bill that would reduce energy consumption in State buildings and higher education facilities 20 percent by 2020.  Governor Kasich proposed using waste heat as an energy source and said he supports greater use of renewable energy so long as it does not raise energy costs.  New Hampshire Governor John Lynch said that he supports renewable energy, including hydroelectric power, though he opposes a transmission line bringing hydroelectric power from Canada if it does not have sufficient local support.  Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley said he supports the work that has been done to build an offshore wind farm, and noted a settlement with an energy company that requires an investment in solar and wind energy. 

Governors also highlighted some of the advancements made on energy issues over the past year.  Governor Corbett said that natural gas development has lowered prices by 40 percent in the past year.  Governor Lynch noted that many residents and businesses have benefitted from the State’s energy-efficiency fund, new production of wind turbines and biomass plants, as well as successful business expansions under the State’s Green Launching Pad program.  Governor Quinn said that Illinois has the most wind turbines of any state and that universities and government facilities have been working together on creating energy-efficient batteries.

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

In the States

MO – Governor Jay Nixon has added his voice in support of a proposed 600-mile oil pipeline from Illinois to Oklahoma.  "We believe this proposal has tremendous potential to boost Missouri's economy, create construction jobs across our State and brighten America's energy future," Governor Nixon said.  Since the pipeline would not cross an international border, it does not need the same federal approvals as the proposed Keystone XL project.  Enbridge Inc., the Canadian company behind the pipeline, estimates that as many as 3,400 workers would be needed to build the pipeline and as many as 400 would be employed at related facilities like pump stations.  Missouri Governor backs plans for new pipelineCBS

UT – Governor Gary Herbert has announced an initiative that would ask residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce their emissions.  The Governor said that “All of us can do something to improve Utah’s air quality,” but that it should not be done with “the heavy hand of government.”  Currently, the initiative, known as Utah Clean Air Partnership, or U-CAIR, involves a website where visitors can sign a pledge to improve air quality by changing habits such as using a push lawn mower and keeping solvents in air-tight containers.  While environmental activists were hoping the initiative would mandatory requirements rather than recommendations, Governor Herbert said “I think it’s better to do this voluntarily.”  Governor announces clean air initiativeDeseret News

WV – Governor Earl Ray Tomblin criticized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a statement after it was announced that three of the State’s oldest and most polluting coal-fired power plants will be retired this year due in part to new EPA regulations limiting mercury and other toxic emissions.  In his statement, Governor Tomblin said, "I urge the EPA to respectfully and accurately review the entire impact of their decisions -- from environmental to economical -- because individuals, families, and communities are forever changed by their short-sighted decisions."  FirstEnergy, the company that owns the plants, said that 105 employees will be affected by the shutdown, but that some of these workers will be considered for positions at other plant locations.  FirstEnergy to snuff Albright, Rivesville, Willow Island plantsState Journal and EPA causes power company to close plantsLegal Newsline

National News

U.S. Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar said that his department is “moving full-steam ahead to accelerate the siting, leasing, and construction of new” offshore wind farms.  The agency within Interior that is responsible for offshore leases, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, has cleared the way for companies to bid for and lease parcels for wind farms in designated areas off the coasts of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey after an assessment from that agency concluded that the wind farms would have no significant socioeconomic or environmental effects.  Obama administration renews offshore wind power pushWall Street Journal MarketWatch

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has granted a license to The Southern Company to build two new nuclear reactors in Georgia, the first new start for a nuclear reactor since 1978.  The $14 billion project will be built at an existing nuclear facility near Augusta and will begin operating in 2016 or 2017.  New safety features will be incorporated into the design that should simplify emergency operations in the event of a malfunction, and the reactors will be built to withstand earthquakes and plane crashes.  Some anti-nuclear organizations oppose the new reactors because they believe that safety issues that surfaced in the recent Fukushima meltdown in Japan have note been adequately addressed.  The NRC voted 4-1in favor granting the license; the lone dissenter was the Commission’s chairman, Gregory Jaczko, who opposed the license on the basis that not all requested safety features may be in place before operations begin.  Federal regulators approve two nuclear reactors in GeorgiaNew York Times

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Energy Update, January 27, 2012

January 27, 2012

State of the State Addresses

Of the 30 Governors who have given their State of the State addresses this year, 17 have specifically discussed energy issues, much of the time in the context of job creation and retention.  California Governor Jerry Brown, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said that renewable energy would bring green jobs to their states, while Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell, and West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin each said that their states’ fossil fuel resources would bring more jobs.  Governor Tomblin praised recent oil, coal, and natural gas investments and the jobs they will bring while promising that “I will do everything in my power to make sure that West Virginia is positioned to take full advantage of this opportunity” to build an ethane cracker facility, which he said would bring thousands of manufacturing jobs.  Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Maine Governor Paul LePage said that new jobs would arise from low energy costs, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez said that the key to economic growth and environmental protection is “sensible, predictable regulations” on energy production, and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal proposed eliminating a sales tax on energy used for manufacturing as a way to retain their business.

In the face of the slow economic recovery, several Governors have proposed ideas that require no state funds or attract new private investment.  For example, Hawaii Governor Neal Abercrombie proposed legislation to incentivize companies to invest in energy infrastructure that would integrate more renewable energy into the grid, saying that “there is no legislation more critical to our future."  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed several new initiatives, including attracting $2 billion in private investment for grid infrastructure and a program to increase energy efficiency in State buildings to be paid for with savings in energy costs.  Utah Governor Gary Herbert proposed creating an “energy research triangle” that would pair universities and industry to research energy production technologies.  Maine Governor Paul LePage proposed lifting a restriction on the amount of hydroelectric power produced. 

Governors commonly reflect on the previous year in their State of the State addresses to evaluate the progress that has been made.  California Governor Jerry Brown said that his State’s goal of producing 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020 was ahead of schedule and that billions of private clean energy investments had been made.  Delaware Governor Jack Markell said that hundreds of jobs were created in his State last year due to upgrades and conversions of power plants to lower emissions.  Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick cited his State’s policies on renewable energy in discussing that industry’s seven percent growth in 2011.  Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin referenced signing an agreement with other states to work with automakers on converting their vehicle fleets to run on natural gas.  Governor Hickenlooper also noted an agreement between energy companies and environmental groups to disclose materials used in the hydraulic fracturing process.

Some Governors used their speeches to urge federal government action on energy issues.  Utah Governor Gary Herbert said that the federal government needed to continue working with the State on siting and permitting of energy development.  Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell called on President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to accelerate the timetable for allowing oil and gas drilling off Virginia’s coast.  West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said that he would continue to fight against attempts to increase regulation of coal and other energy resources.

The State of the State addresses announced a range of other proposals, including:

  • Washington Governor Christine Gregoire proposing a $1.50-per-barrel tax on oil produced in Washington that would be used to improve infrastructure such as roads and bridges.
  • Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber stating that his administration will adopt a ten-year energy plan this year.
  • Maine Governor Paul LePage proposing giving ratepayers a choice of whether to purchase renewable or traditional energy.
  • Missouri Governor Jay Nixon stating his intention to work with farmers to improve their energy efficiency in order to make the State’s agriculture industry more competitive.
  • Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin proposing an increase in the amount of renewable energy required in the State’s renewable energy portfolio to 75% by 2032.

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’s State of the Union address included an overview of his energy agenda for 2012, which he began to unveil in more detail after his speech.  In his remarks, President Obama announced that he is opening 75 percent of potential offshore oil and gas reserves to development and opening enough federal land to renewable energy development to power 3 million homes.  The Defense Department will purchase much of that new renewable energy.  He also said that his administration would help develop domestic natural gas resources and separately called on Congress to pass legislation to provide production tax credits for renewable energy.  In addition, The President called for the disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing on federal lands and proposed providing energy-efficiency incentives to manufacturers.  Since the speech, President Obama has released a “blueprint” detailing these proposals, which he calls an “all-of-the-above strategy,” and has gone on a nationwide tour to promote it.  The blueprint includes a proposal to incentivize greater use of natural gas as a transportation fuel and calls for doubling the country’s clean energy output by 2035.  State of the Union Address TranscriptWhite House and Energy Blueprint Fact SheetWhite House and Obama pitches ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategyNational Public Radio

In the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels criticized the President for rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, which he said was “perfectly safe” and “would employ tens of thousands.”  Governor Daniels called for a free-market approach to energy, with lower taxes and fewer loopholes, fewer regulations, and maximizing domestic energy production.  He also characterized the President’s energy policies as “pro-poverty” for increasing consumers’ costs while not improving public health or the environment.  Full text of GOP’s State of the Union responseMcClatchy

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address included an overview of his energy agenda for 2012, which he began to unveil in more detail after his speech.  In his remarks, President Obama announced that he is opening 75 percent of potential offshore oil and gas reserves to development and opening enough federal land to renewable energy development to power 3 million homes.  The Defense Department will purchase much of that new renewable energy.  He also said that his administration would help develop domestic natural gas resources and separately called on Congress to pass legislation to provide production tax credits for renewable energy.  In addition, The President called for the disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing on federal lands and proposed providing energy-efficiency incentives to manufacturers.  Since the speech, President Obama has released a “blueprint” detailing these proposals, which he calls an “all-of-the-above strategy,” and has gone on a nationwide tour to promote it.  The blueprint includes a proposal to incentivize greater use of natural gas as a transportation fuel and calls for doubling the country’s clean energy output by 2035.  State of the Union Address TranscriptWhite House and Energy Blueprint Fact SheetWhite House and Obama pitches ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategyNational Public Radio

In the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels criticized the President for rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, which he said was “perfectly safe” and “would employ tens of thousands.”  Governor Daniels called for a free-market approach to energy, with lower taxes and fewer loopholes, fewer regulations, and maximizing domestic energy production.  He also characterized the President’s energy policies as “pro-poverty” for increasing consumers’ costs while not improving public health or the environment.  Full text of GOP’s State of the Union responseMcClatchy

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Energy Update, January 13, 2012

January 13, 2012

In the States

CA – Governor Jerry Brown has proposed using half of the estimated $1 billion in revenues from the State’s cap-and-trade auctions to reduce California’s $9.2 billion deficit.  Funds from the cap-and-trade program are required to be spent on projects related to greenhouse gas emissions; the Governor has said that the money sent to the general fund will pay for existing greenhouse gas-related projects.  Some business groups oppose the move, saying that it is not authorized by the cap-and-trade law, and have said they will challenge the State in court if a budget passes in which auction proceeds pay for general fund projects.  Brown sees $500 million cap-and-trade fees for California budgetBloomberg and Gov. Brown’s cap-and-trade spending plan angers businessesLos Angeles Times

ME – In remarks to wood product industry representatives, Governor Paul LePage expressed his support for a proposed natural gas pipeline into central Maine.  Governor LePage said that while the State "is not in a position where it can help fund a pipeline," he assured companies interested in investing in the project that he would help streamline the approval process.  "There is a lot we're doing to try to encourage some natural gas here," he said.  During an earlier radio address, Governor LePage also said he does not endorse a citizens’ initiative to strengthen the State’s renewable energy portfolio, saying “It’s not good and I’m going to be fighting it all year.”  Governor LePage also vetoed a bill that passed the House and Senate unanimously that would have tightened energy efficiency standards for new state buildings; the veto, however, was later sustained.  LePage pledges to tackle energy costs to improve business climateBangor Daily News and LePage supports natural gas projectPortland Press Herald and Maine Senate sustains LePage vetoesLewiston Sun Journal

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell has unveiled his 2012 energy policy agenda that he says will help the State become the “Energy Capital of the East Coast.”  One of his proposals would direct $500,000 to wind energy research to help companies develop offshore wind farms when the federal government leases areas off the coast.  Another proposal would help fund conversion of some State vehicles to alternative fuels.  Other initiatives include strengthening oversight of wells and pipelines and increased investment in energy efficiency programs.  The Governor also called on the federal government to open up offshore areas to oil and gas exploration and drilling.  Va. Gov. McDonnell outlines energy agenda; slams U.S. limits on off-coast oil, gas explorationWashington Post

WV – Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s office announced his administration is focusing on promoting the development of natural gas and coal resources rather than state initiatives to begin or expand renewable energy projects.  The Governor’s Chief of Staff, Rob Alsop, said that the Governor believes that natural gas will not only be a good source for energy, but its by-products will reinvigorate the manufacturing sector as well.  On wind power, Alsop said that it can be successful only with federal tax incentives and that state programs have little effect.  Governor’s office: State energy focus on gas and coalState Journal 

Federal News

President Barack Obama has signed a bill into law that will increase regulations on pipelines, following a series of pipeline bursts that have killed and injured people as well as caused environmental and property damage.  The new law, passed with bipartisan support, will require automatic valves where “feasible,” increase the number of pipeline inspectors, and increase the maximum fine for safety violations from $1 million to $2 million.  Obama signs pipeline safety law - UPI

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Energy Update, December 30, 2011

December 30, 2011

In the States

CO – A new rule approved by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission requires companies that engage in hydraulic fracturing, often called “fracking,” to disclose the chemicals and the concentrations of each that is used in the fluid pumped into the ground to extract gas.  The rule had been vigorously debated, and eventually Governor John Hickenlooper stepped in to help settle the issue of how to handle trade secrets.  Environmental groups and industry representatives are generally pleased with the rule, which requires companies to disclose the chemicals on a website and provide nearby residents information on fracking.  Colorado approval of fracking fluids’ full disclosure came after long negotiations and nudge from GovernorDenver Post

CT – Under a new competitive bidding program, the State’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection selected two companies out of 21 applicants to build two solar power plants that will generate a total of 10 megawatts, enough to power 10,000 homes.  The plants will help to meet a state mandate passed this year that requires 30 megawatts of new renewable energy projects.  Governor Dannel Malloy praised the competitive bidding program, saying the number of applicants shows that “entrepreneurs and clean technology innovators are excited about the new approach Connecticut has taken.”  The remaining 20 megawatts of renewable energy will be developed by utilities.  Largest-ever solar projects approved by StateHartford Courant

MS – At Governor Haley Barbour’s request, the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) has issued a set of regulations that could allow oil and natural gas drilling in State waters near barrier islands within the next year.  Environmental groups and tourism industry leader united several years ago to oppose legislation that allowed drilling in coastal areas, citing concern over environmental and economic effects of a potential spill.  The legislation that eventually passed kept some areas of the Gulf off limits to drilling but gave the MDA the authority to issue and regulate oil and gas leases in State waters.  However, Hurricane Katrina and last year’s Gulf oil spill delayed further consideration of the issue.  Earlier this year, Governor Barbour asked the MDA to work on the rules so they could be completed before his term ends.  The MDA estimates that the State will gain between $250 million and $500 million in royalties from drilling.  Miss. moves toward offshore oil and gas leasingHattiesburg American and State agency revives offshore drilling effortsSun Herald

NJ – Governor Chris Christie has signed a bill into law that will allow solar panels and wind turbines to be installed on closed landfills and quarries.  Lawmakers in favor of the new law said it would benefit the environment and the economy by creating renewable energy and jobs.  The bill was originally passed in January but was vetoed by Governor Christie due to a technical issue that was later corrected and returned to the Governor for his signature.  Solar power legislation now law in NJNorthJersey.com and Bill to promote solar energy facilities signed into lawNJToday.net

Regional News

Four states will receive a total of $60 million in a settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) after a multi-year lawsuit in which the states, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and three environmental groups alleged that the TVA’s coal-fired power plants had spread pollution across the southeast.  The settlement directs the money to be spent on energy efficiency and environmental projects and requires the TVA to shutter 18 coal plants by 2017, close or convert an additional 16 by 2019, and spend $5 billion on emission control equipment for remaining power plants.  The states are currently planning how to spend the funds, which will paid out over the next five years.  States receive energy windfallChattanooga Times Free Press

Federal News

New rules released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will require power plants that generate electricity with coal or oil to greatly reduce emissions of 84 different toxins including mercury, arsenic, nickel, selenium, and cyanide.  The rules, which implement clean air mandates enacted by Congress over two decades ago and comply with a court order for federal action, are estimated by the EPA to prevent 11,000 premature deaths and hundreds of thousands of ailments each year.  Within as little as four years, all coal- and oil-fired power plants must meet or exceed the emission rates of the cleanest 12 percent of such plants.  At the current time, about 40 percent of the nation’s plants have no emissions controls in place.   An analysis by the Associated Press concluded that between 32 and 68 coal-fired power plants may close as a result of the new rules.  Utility groups have said that the rules will cost as many as a million jobs over the next decade, though the EPA estimates that it expects only a small change in employment.  EPA rules target mercury pollution, toxics from power plantsUSA Today and EPA forces dirtiest power plants to clean up toxic air pollution but gives leeway on timingWashington Post

A provision in the payroll tax cut extension legislation recently signed into law by President Barack Obama will require the White House to make a decision on whether to allow construction of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline by February 21, 2012.  The President has said previously that a decision would not be made until 2013.  The provision requires the President to approve the pipeline within 60 days of passage unless he declares it to not be in the country’s “national interest.”  Several executive branch officials have indicated that a Congressionally-imposed 60-day timeline would result in a rejection of the proposal since there is not enough time to complete the review process and the route has not yet been finalized.  If the pipeline is rejected, its developer, TransCanada, would need to submit another application and start from the beginning with more hearings and reviews, a process that has taken three years to date.  Obama signs payroll tax bill that requires speedy decision on Keystone pipelineThe Hill and Politics stamps out oil sands pipeline, yet it seems likely to endureNew York Times

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has announced federal approval of two renewable energy projects on public land in the Southwest that he says “will produce the clean energy equivalent of nearly 18 coal-fired power plants.”  The projects include a solar energy facility southwest of Phoenix, AZ that will power about 90,000 homes and a wind farm east of San Diego, CA that will power up to 65,000 homes.  These two are the latest renewable energy projects approved for construction on public land; there are currently 25 such projects that, when completed, will power 2.2 million homes.  The Obama Administration is also attempting to promote the installation of wind turbines off the east coast, though a lack of investment and expiring tax credits are hampering those efforts.  Obama admin pushes renewable energy on 2 coastsAssociated Press and Obama Administration approves 2 huge renewable energy projectsCleanTechnica

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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, June 17, 2011

June 17, 2011

In the States

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill into law that will encourage businesses, farms, and schools to generate renewable energy onsite by allowing remote net metering.  Until the law was signed, renewable energy systems needed to be very close to the place where the energy was consumed and connected to the same meter in order to receive a credit from the utility.  Remote net metering will allow credits to be issued even if the source of electricity, like a solar array or wind turbine, is connected to a different meter than the one where electricity is consumed.  Now, non-residential facilities can create renewable energy farther away from energy consumption sites and still receive credits.  Governor Cuomo also announced that the State will spend $191 million on 17 projects through the renewable portfolio standard, which uses a surcharge on some utilities rates to fund renewable energy projects.  The projects will eventually produce enough clean energy to power 145,000 homes.  Cuomo signs net-metering bill, announces renewable energy projectsDemocrat and Chronicle

UT – Governor Gary Herbert visited the Sufco mine in Salina, Utah to express his wish to increase the use of coal in the future, saying that the fuel “certainly for the next generation, has a role to play.”  However, Governor Herbert also warned that the federal government may impose additional costs on carbon emission if the industry doesn’t “find cleaner ways to have affordable energy.”  During the Governor’s visit, which closely follows the release of his 10-year energy plan, he said “we ought to be burning more coal, but we ought to be concerned about the environment, too.”  Governor sees future deep in Utah coal mineSalt Lake Tribune

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell signed a bill into law at a ceremony in Richmond that will create a clean energy grant program to help fund companies that make or assemble renewable energy, nuclear energy, conservation, energy storage, or grid efficiency equipment.  In addition, the new law will create solar energy demonstration projects, raise a cap on the amount of energy homeowners and businesses can generate, and create a voluntary fund for solar energy development.  Another bill signed by the Governor will fund renewable energy products through the Virginia Resources Authority.  Governor McDonnell said that the renewable energy industry has “amazing potential” for economic development and energy independence and that creating incentives for its growth “makes great sense.”  Gov. Bob McDonnell promotes clean, renewable energy at ceremonial signingRoanoke Times

 

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Energy Update, June 3, 2011

June 3, 2011

In the States

ME – Governor Paul LePage and members of his administration are questioning whether the State policy should dictate increase renewable energy use.  The Governor has proposed replacing the State’s renewable energy standard, which currently requires a one-percent increase in renewable energy use each year, with an option for individual customers to choose whether to purchase up to 100% clean energy for their own homes.  While critics of the proposal have noted that $1 billion has been invested in alternative energy since the renewable energy standard was enacted four years ago, Governor LePage believes most of the new “green jobs” are temporary and the that the state mandate will result in a net loss of jobs and increase electricity costs.  The Governor’s administration is also skeptical of some of the claims made by proponents of a massive offshore wind energy proposal, specifically that the project would reduce dependence on foreign oil.  Since the vast majority of homes in the State use heating oil – and cars use gasoline – rather than electricity, consumers would need to transition to heating systems and vehicles powered by wind-generated electricity in order to  decrease oil use, an expensive and logistically difficult prospect.  LePage urges rollback of renewable energy requirementBangor Daily News and LePage administration questions feasibility of offshore wind powerBangor Daily News

MN – Governor Mark Dayton has vetoed a bill that would have allowed more electricity produced by coal-fired power plants to be sold in Minnesota.  In his veto message, Governor Dayton said “Minnesota must continue on a path of progress to a sustainable, clean, and safe energy future, rather than increasing our already heavy reliance upon coal-fired electricity, which threatens our health and climate."  As an alternative to new coal plants, the Governor said the State’s utilities should focus on natural gas, hydroelectric, and renewable sources.  Governor Dayton, however, signed a bill that will allow electricity to be sold in Minnesota created by a new coal plant on the North Dakota border, which will avoid a lawsuit with the neighboring state.  He also signed a bill that will allow an existing coal plant to convert to natural gas.  Gov Dayton signs, vetoes variety of billsDL-Online and Looser restrictions on coal power vetoed by DaytonStamford Advocate and Minnesota Governor vetoes bill supporting more coal-fired generationPlatts

NJ – Governor Chris Christie has vowed to take New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a 10-state cap-and-trade organization designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions, by the end of the year.  Governor Christie said that the program is not effective because it “does nothing more than tax electricity, tax our citizens, tax our businesses, with no discernible or measurable impact upon our environment.”  RGGI Inc., the nonprofit in charge of the program, has said that while emissions have been reduced 30% since 2005, half of which is due to the program, New Jersey’s ratepayers will save about $3.38 per year on average due to the State’s withdrawal from the program.  Although Governor Christie’s administration used $65 million in RGGI revenues to help balance the State’s budget, other revenues allowed the State to provide loans to companies to help install enough renewable energy technology to power 19,600 homes.  The Governor also acknowledges that human activity contributes to climate change, has said he will not allow another coal plant to be built in the State, and is supportive of increased natural gas and nuclear energy production.  Gov. Christie declares regional cap-and-trade initiative ineffective, ‘gimmicky’ partnershipNJ.com and Christie to pull N.J. out of cap-and-trade energy programNorthJersey.com

VT – Governor Peter Shumlin has signed a bill into law that is designed to greatly reduce the administrative burdens usually encountered with the installation of small scale solar systems on residential or small business buildings.  Prior to when the bill  goes into effect in January, local ordinances, building and electric codes, zoning laws, the processes for permitting and inspections, and other requirements have varied widely, even between neighborhoods in the same town, so that one installation may cost twice as much as another.  Governor Shumlin said in a statement regarding the new law that “there is a fiscal and environmental urgency for Vermont to move off fossil fuels and toward sustainable sources of power.”  The Governor also signed an omnibus energy bill that will make it easier for homeowners to finance residential renewable energy and energy efficiency projects and another bill that will increase the amount of excess renewable energy that homeowners can put back on the grid and charge utilities.  Vermont streamlines small-scale solar powerHuffington Post and Governor to sign Vermont energy billBloomberg BusinessWeek

National News

The federal government has agreed to a $45.6 million loan guarantee for a solar power project near Las Vegas, Nevada. The plant will consist of 90,000 solar modules mounted on panels that will track the sun and produce enough power for 4,700 homes in the area.  The project will employ 250 construction workers.  While a senior official for the company behind the project cited high infrastructure, labor, and material costs as reasons for the need for a loan guarantee, one solar analyst questioned the need for the loan guarantee.  Solar power firm wins federal loan guaranteeSan Francisco Chronicle and Federal loan guarantee for Nevada solar project raises questionsForbes

 

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Energy Update, May 6, 2011

May 6, 2011

In the States

IA – In a speech to a renewable energy symposium, Governor Terry Branstad praised the wind energy industry in the State, saying that wind power could help achieve his stated goals of creating 200,000 jobs and increasing family income by 25 percent within five years.  The Governor also said “I think that Iowa has the potential to be the leader of renewable energy.” Branstad talks alternative energyDaily Iowan

MO – In the two years since Governor Jay Nixon signed an executive order requiring State agencies to use less energy, Missouri’s government has cut electricity use by 3% and propane and natural gas use by 15%.  Following the Governor’s executive order, agencies replaced windows, upgraded lighting, and adjusted thermostats.  The overall cut in energy usage by State agencies was 5.5 percent.  Mo. Gov. says State cut energy use by 5.5 percentBloomberg BusinessWeek

NH – Governor John Lynch, in a press conference with U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu and University of New Hampshire President Mark Huddleston, announced the six companies that won a second round of funding from the State’s Green Launching Pad, which provides federal stimulus funds to clean energy companies in an effort to foster innovative energy technologies and create more jobs.  Companies receiving the funds focus on a range of technologies, including clean energy storage, and hydroelectric and solar power.  Governor Lynch called the first round of the project “a tremendous success,” and that he is “focused on making sure that we are growing the jobs and companies of the future right here in New Hampshire” through the Green Launching Pad.  Green Launching Pad winners announcedNew Hampshire Business Review and ‘Green’ firms in Granite State get helpNashua Telegraph

WA – Governor Christine Gregoire has signed a bill that will phase out the State’s only existing coal-fired power plant and ban coal plants from the State in the future.  Under the new law, the plant’s owner, TransAlta, must take one boiler at the power plant offline by 2020 and the other by 2025, and establish a $30 million fund for economic development in the county that houses the plant.  TransAlta’s CEO, Steve Snyder, said the company plans to build a new gas-fired plant that will open by 2020.  TransAlta may also build a wind farm elsewhere in the State and does not plan to eliminate any jobs during the transition.  At the bill signing, Governor Gregoire said “Coal power was a part of our past.  Our prosperity now depends on our ability to move forward with a clean energy future.”  In Centralia, Gov. Gregoire signs bill that ends TransAlta’s coal use by 2025Olympian

WY – During a speech at an energy development conference, Governor Matt Mead said that rising oil prices are “a tax on all of us” and that the profitable extraction of energy resources in Wyoming is essential to furthering clean energy goals.  Governor Mead said that energy development is vital to the State’s economy, but that it can be done without degrading the environment, saying “we want a clean environment, we want energy development, and those two are not mutually exclusive.”  The Governor also said that “there’s just no question” that development must be done “in a timely and efficient manner.”  Wyoming Governor Mead insists energy can be developed safely, quicklyStar-Tribune

 

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Energy Update, April 8, 2011

April 8, 2011

In the States

SD –  Governor Dennis Daugaard has signed a bill into law that he proposed earlier this year that will divert a portion of funds that previously would have gone to ethanol production plants toward grants to fuel stations for installation of blender pumps that will allow motorists to purchase fuel containing higher levels of ethanol.  Governor Daugaard referenced the recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision that allows cars made in the past decade to use fuel containing 15% ethanol, higher than the previous 10% limit.  The blender pumps will allow consumers to choose the amount of ethanol in the fuel they purchase.  SD Governor signs bill to boost ethanol industryRapid City Journal

State Fiscal News

Energy production appears to be a driver of economic recovery in some States.  In Wyoming, thousands of new mining jobs have opened up, increasing by 8.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010 over the same period in 2009.  Higher demand in developing countries, particularly in Asia, is leading companies to hire more workers to extract coal, soda ash, and uranium.  Rising oil prices and demand for natural gas may soon contribute to job growth in those industries as well.  These industries have increased sales tax revenues for Wyoming by 10% in 2010.  In Montana, unemployment numbers are higher on the west side of the State, where workers rely more on wood-product manufacturing jobs dependent on the housing market.  On the east side of the State, energy jobs in the coal, oil, and wind industries have kept unemployment rates much lower.  Energy powers robust Wyoming economyStar-Tribune and Montana growth slows but withstands recessionUSA Today

National News

In a series of recent appearances, President Barack Obama has called for a one-third reduction in oil imports within 14 years.  The President addressed shortcomings in previous methods in reducing oil imports, stressing that “there are no quick fixes” and that efforts must continue once drivers see relief at the gas pump.  Proposals for reducing oil imports include greater use of natural gas in fleet vehicles and buses, increased production and use of biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol (for which the President said four refineries will be built in the next two years), higher fuel efficiency standards for heavy trucks, and increasing domestic oil production both on- and offshore.  President Obama also said that “we simply cannot take [nuclear power] off the table, regardless of concerns over the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan.  Part of the President’s message on energy independence includes an economic aspect: that transitioning to a less oil-intensive economy could create jobs.  The President cited new lower unemployment numbers adding “we need to keep the momentum going” by “making a transition to a clean energy economy.”  President Obama calls for one-third cut to oil importsWashington Post and Reviving elusive goal, Obama calls for one-third reduction in U.S. oil importsWashington Post and Obama promotes his energy agenda by showcasing energy-efficient vehiclesWashington Post

U.S. EPA regulations on greenhouse gases and mountaintop removal have become major points of contention in Congress, and attempts to limit the agency have thus far been unsuccessful.  Nineteen House Democrats joined all Republicans in voting for a bill that would prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act and, beginning in 2017, from granting waivers to States for stricter emissions standards for automobiles.  A similar bill was defeated in the Senate.  Although four Democrats joined 46 Republicans in supporting a ban on the EPA regulations, the bill needed 60 votes to pass.  The fate of appropriations riders that would have restricted EPA greenhouse gas and mountaintop removal regulations in the fiscal year omnibus 2011 funding bill appeared settled as of the afternoon of April 8, when Republicans agreed to drop the measures.  If Congress does pass a bill limiting EPA’s oversight of greenhouse gases, the Obama Administration has signaled that the President would veto such a measure.  Senate rejects bill that would limit EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gasesWashington Post and House votes to stop EPA from regulating greenhouse gasesWall Street Journal and EPA riders axed, lawmakers sayPolitico

 

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Energy Update, March 25, 2011

March 25, 2011

In the States

AR – In delivering the keynote address to a wind power workshop in Little Rock, Governor Mike Beebe said that States’ investments in wind energy would create jobs, improve the environment, and strengthen national security and made a case for States to increase wind energy production.  Governor Beebe said that while Arkansas may not be the ideal candidate for wind farms compared to the rest of the country, it can still be involved through manufacturing wind power products.  Mike Beebe: Wind energy important to Arkansas jobs, economyArkansas Business

UT – After consulting with academic, industrial, environmental, and governmental experts, as well as receiving public input, Governor Gary Herbert issued a 10-year energy plan for Utah.  Among the goals Governor Herbert set in the plan are “a balanced use of fossil fuels and alternatives and renewable resources” that also balances economic and environmental interests, promotes energy efficiency, and increases partnerships with universities and communities to “address future energy challenges and opportunities.”  The Governor’s plan also calls for seriously debating the use of nuclear energy in the State as a way to provide baseload energy capacity.  Gov. Gary Herbert’s energy plan includes nuclearDeseret News and Energy Initiatives and Imperatives: Utah’s 10-Year Strategic Energy Plan [pdf]Governor Gary Herbert

WY – Governor Matt Mead applauded the leasing of federal land to mining companies for the extraction of up to 750 million tons of coal during a news conference with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.  The leases are estimated to be worth between $13.4 billion and $21.3 billion in revenue, with roughly half this amount going to the State.  More than a dozen similar leases will be granted over the next three years.  Governor Mead said “We need the energy.  We need the jobs that come with the energy.”  Federal lands in Wyoming opened to coal miningNew York Times

Nuclear Power

The nuclear crisis in Japan that followed the devastating earthquake and tsunami has brought renewed scrutiny of the use and expansion of nuclear energy industry in the United States.  For example, spent fuel located in the Japanese plant overheated, causing some government officials here in the U.S. to renew calls for the opening of Yucca Mountain, the federally designated nuclear waste storage facility, or another similar site.  Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakley and Senate President Therese Murray wrote in a letter to federal Energy Department officials that "the events in Japan show that a breach can occur," and called for a central nuclear repository.  Former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and current member of a panel advising the Obama on nuclear waste storage, Richard Meserve, said that "There may be some things about the vulnerability of spent fuel pools that will be learned as a result of the Japanese accident that will cause us to rethink what we do in the U.S."  Storage of nuclear waster gets new scrutinyWall Street Journal

Additionally, the push for more nuclear power may face new obstacles due to the issues raised by the current nuclear crisis in Japan.  While President Barack Obama has not backed down from seeking $36 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear plants, and his Energy Department says that nuclear is a “low-cost, carbon-free” fuel that will spur job growth and protect the environment, the industry, its backers, and pro-environment groups are preparing for a long battle over the future role of nuclear power in the United States.  Lobbyists’ long effort to revive nuclear industry faces new testNew York Times

EPA Regulations

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson has proposed rules that would drastically cut the amount of toxic emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants.  The plan to reduce mercury, acid gas, sulfur dioxide, and 81 other pollutants has been delayed for 20 years, and if approved, would still not take effect for five more years.  Affected plants would need to utilize a variety of methods to reduce the emissions, which are expected to cost a total of $10.9 billion per year nationwide, or about $3 – $4 per month per electric bill.  EPA estimates that as many as 17,000 deaths, an additional 11,000 heart attacks, and 120,000 cases of asthma per year would be prevented every year under the new rules.  EPA proposes toxic emissions rules for power plantsNew York Times

 

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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, January 14, 2011

January 14, 2011

In the States

MA – Governor Deval Patrick’s administration has set a new limit on statewide greenhouse gas emissions that will require the State to emit 25% less pollutants than it did in 1990 within ten years.  While the State’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008 mandated the State to impose a limit on greenhouse gas emissions, the Patrick administration chose a higher limit than any other State, and one that makes Massachusetts the only State on track to reduce emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.  The State was already on track to lower emissions 18% below 1990 levels by 2020, but the State has adopted several new low-impact policies in order to meet the higher standard, including energy efficiency ratings on buildings, scaling auto insurance rates based on the amount of miles driven, and considering environmental impacts when issuing permits.  New jobs weatherizing homes and in manufacturing and research will number between 42,000 and 48,000 according to the State.  State sets tougher limits on emissionsBoston Globe

MI – Governor Rick Snyder’s administration is appealing a court’s ruling that rejected the denial of a permit for a coal-fired power plant based on a lack of need for the electricity and on the grounds that it would increase greenhouse gas emissions.  The permit was denied by environmental regulators under then-Governor Jennifer Granholm, who issued an executive order requiring the need for electricity and the amount of emissions to be taken into account when issuing permits.  Environmental groups praised Governor Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette for filing the appeal and maintaining the same position on this issue as the prior administration.  State to appeal decision rejecting denial of coal permitDetroit Free Press

NM – Governor Susana Martinez dismissed all of the members of the Environmental Improvement Board (E.I.B.) and overturned an E.I.B. regulation just before its publication that would have required greenhouse gas emissions to be cut by three percent each year.  The Governor also halted another regulation that would have limited discharges from dairies in southern New Mexico.  A third E.I.B. regulation adopted by the Board on Election Day would limit emissions from stationary sources such as power plants and allow emitters to trade emission allowances.  This rule is scheduled to go into effect in 2012 and remains in place, at least temporarily.  The Governor campaigned on a promise to overturn regulations that could prove harmful to the State’s economy.  2 environmental rules halted in New MexicoNew York Times

OR – Governor John Kitzhaber has directed his State’s Energy Department to perform 500 energy audits using $2 million in leftover federal recovery funds.  The Governor’s plan calls for using $70 million in funds from energy utilities to retrofit schools across the State after all the audits have been performed.  Governor Kitzhaber says the audits will allow the State to “be very strategic to get the biggest bank for the buck,” and that he will meet regularly with business leaders to maximize job creation.  Governor targets job creationThe World

TX – A three-judge panel in Washington, DC denied Texas’ motion to block regulators from issuing pollution permits to major sources of greenhouse gas emissions as required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the third such denial.  All other States now either issue permits to these polluters or allow the U.S. EPA to issue them.  Texas will continue fighting the regulation in court on the grounds that the U.S. EPA lacks legal authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions under the Clean Air Act.  A spokesperson for the Attorney General said the regulation puts “the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of Texas families and businesses at risk” and called the rules an “unlawful overreach.”  The U.S. EPA is seeking public input before issuing final regulations in Texas, where it is currently using interim regulations to issue permits to polluters.  Texas loses another round in fight over EPA regulation of greenhouse gasesDallas Morning News and EPA seeking input before finalizing Texas rulesHouston Chronicle

WA – Governors Christine Gregoire of Washington and Brian Schweitzer of Montana met recently to discuss a terminal planned in Washington State that would export coal extracted from Montana and Wyoming to China and other Asian countries.  After an initial approval by the county in which the terminal is proposed to be located, environmental groups appealed that decision and Washington’s Ecology Department has said environmental impacts from the intended use of the coal shipments should be taken into account during the permitting process.  Governor Schweitzer supports the project, citing the potential for job creation.  While Governor Gregoire does not want to stifle growth, she would like to ensure that environmental and regulatory processes are followed.  Montana, Washington Governors discuss coal exportsThe Olympian

WV – The U.S. EPA has revoked a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the largest mountaintop-removal coal mine in the State, citing the harmful effect the project would have on water quality downstream from the seven miles of streams it would bury.  Hal Quinn, President of the National Mining Association said the EPA is “weakening the trust U.S. businesses and workers need to make investments and secure jobs.”  The U.S. EPA maintains it reserves the power to intervene in permits issued by the Corps of Engineers and exercises this authority “for only unacceptable cases.”  EPA vetoes water permit for W. Va. mountaintop mineCharleston Daily Mail

 

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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, November 12, 2010

November 12, 2010

Special 2010 Election Edition

In the States

This edition of In the States features a change from the usual format.  Rather than a selection of updates on State energy policy, this version includes a brief summary of each of the winning gubernatorial candidate’s positions on energy policy, especially as they relate to renewable, nuclear, and fossil fuel energy, as well as climate change and cap-and-trade policies.

Alabama: Governor-elect Robert Bentley (R)

State Representative and Governor-elect Robert Bentley made energy an important campaign issue in his successful election bid, focusing on the relationship between energy costs and business interests in the State.  In his campaign policy document, the Governor-elect stated his belief that lower energy costs for businesses would spur economic growth and reduce unemployment, and that the economic success of southern States is directly related to “reliable and affordable power sources.”  The Governor-elect also opposed a cap-and-trade approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, writing that proposed federal legislation would “serve as a death sentence for economic expansion in Alabama,” though he has also said that “carbon emissions, I do think, probably play a role in climate changes” and suggested that carbon emissions should be reduced.  Governor-elect Bentley’s proposed approach is to further develop and diversify the State’s energy resources, including fossil fuels such as natural gas, methane, and coal, but also nuclear energy and alternative energy such as hydro and biomass.  Putting Alabamians back to work [pdf]Robert Bentley for Governor and The race for Alabama Governor: Sparks, Bentley views similar on environmentBirmingham News

Alaska: Governor Sean Parnell (R)

Governor Parnell has been involved with energy issues in the private and public sectors for more than 15 years, and since energy development is a major part of Alaska’s economy, it’s no surprise that energy is an important State issue.  Governor Parnell supports the oil and gas industry and has proposed increasing development, lowering taxes, and increasing tax credits for the production of oil and gas resources.  He also supports sending more oil and gas out of the State and increasing hydro, geothermal, and other renewable power, having signed one of the most ambitious renewable energy standards in the country – requiring 50% renewable energy by 2025, and a 15% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020.  Governor Parnell’s administration, however, is one of several suing the U.S .Environmental Protection Agency to block it from imposing new regulations on greenhouse gases.  Governor Candidate Q/A: Gov. Sean Parnell (R)News Tribune and Energy PageParnell-Treadwell 2010 and State challenges EPAParnell Press Release and Governors candidates spar, joust at Anchorage forumAlaska Journal of Commerce and Alaska emerges as unlikely renewable energy pioneerBusinessGreen

Arizona: Governor Jan Brewer (R)

Incumbent Governor Jan Brewer has pushed for creating new jobs and economic growth through increasing renewable energy use.  She has signed several executive orders intended to help develop strategies to attract solar manufacturers and promote solar energy within the State and also signed a law to provide tax credits and other incentives to solar companies in Arizona.  While Governor Brewer actively opposed repeal of a 2006 law that mandates a renewable energy standard of 15% by 2025, she also signed an executive order pulling the State out of the cap-and-trade portion of the Western Climate Initiative, expected to go into effect in 2012.  Arizona quits Western climate endeavorArizona Republic and Gov. Brewer signs Arizona solar jobs billPhoenix Sun and Executive Order 2010-06, Governor’s Policy on Climate ChangeOffice of Governor Jan Brewer and Remarks by Gov. Jan Brewer [pdf]Office of Governor Jan Brewer

Arkansas: Governor Mike Beebe (D)

Governor Mike Beebe has said that he wants as many energy companies to move to Arkansas as possible, which he believes will foster economic growth and help address the State’s fiscal concerns.  The Governor is especially interested in bringing nuclear and wind companies to Arkansas to manufacture and ship products from the State.  Another one of his goals is to increase production of gasoline from wood chips, a product abundant in Arkansas.  Governor Beebe also would like to work with neighboring States on developing compressed natural gas infrastructure for vehicles.  Governor Beebe has stated that although he believes global warming is a threat, individual States lack the ability to sufficiently alter greenhouse gas emissions, and any carbon reduction program should be nationally managed.  Beebe wants part of potential nuclear energy resurgenceCity Wire and Beebe high on wood chipsCity Wire and Beebe on global warming: “We didn’t listen!”The Arkansas Project

California: Governor-elect Jerry Brown (D)

Former Governor and Attorney General and current Governor-elect Jerry Brown has a record of opposing offshore oil drilling and supporting restrictions on vehicle emissions.  As Attorney General, the Governor-elect defended California’s auto emissions requirements, which were later expanded nationwide, and was a part of the successful lawsuit against the U.S. EPA that resulted in a Supreme Court ruling that greenhouse gases are subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.  The Governor-elect has proposed a renewable energy jobs plan that includes building 20,000 megawatts of solar and other renewable energy projects on public and private land, as well as and transmission lines to distribute this newly generated electric power.  Governor-elect Brown also supports “feed-in tariffs” for small private renewable energy projects, expediting clean energy permits, energy efficiency retrofits for existing buildings, and tightened efficiency standards for new construction. Environment Page and Clean Energy Jobs PageJerry Brown for Governor

Colorado: Governor-elect John Hickenlooper (D)

Denver Mayor and Governor-elect Dan Hickenlooper believes “there is no single solution to energy supply or demand,” and that he is “agnostic about the fuel source” that powers vehicles and heats homes.  He proposed an energy plan that includes using abundant energy sources in Colorado, including solar, wind, natural gas, coal, as well as energy efficiency measures.  The Governor-elect has also said that although climate change is an important factor in energy policy, other factors such as the environment, national security, and the economy must be taken into account as well.  Governor-elect Hickenlooper also supports the State’s new 30% renewable energy standard by 2030, saying it’s “ambitious” but “doable” with the help of solar, wind, and geothermal energy sources.  Energy PageHickenlooper for Colorado and Hickenlooper-McInnis Debate TranscriptColorado Energy News and Colorado: Denver mayor and guv candidate talks bike-sharing, light rail, and coalGrist

Connecticut: Governor-elect Dan Malloy (D)

Former Stamford Mayor and Governor-elect Dan Malloy’s energy policy focuses on creating and keeping jobs in Connecticut while cutting greenhouse gases through greater use of renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives.  The Governor-elect plans to add thousands of green jobs in the State by leveraging federal tax incentives and the State’s bonding authority to spur private investment in clean energy that will be developed and used in Connecticut. Governor-elect Malloy also believes that focusing on keeping rates for new clean energy low will be essential to attracting and keeping business in Connecticut.  He has not specified which sources of energy his administration will focus on, but has supported the State’s existing 20% renewable energy standard by 2020.  As Mayor of Stamford, he provided businesses with a year of free single-stream recycling in exchange for adopting sustainability measures and promoted other solar and energy efficiency projects.  Energy PageDan Malloy for Governor and Environment PageDan Malloy for Governor and Foley and Malloy: A clear difference on climate changeConnecticut Mirror and Municipal initiatives to address climate changeConnecticut Office of Legislative Research

Florida: Governor-elect Rick Scott (R)

Governor-elect Rick Scott supports increasing energy independence for economic and national security reasons.  He also supports increased offshore oil drilling, but says he will “ensure that any future offshore drilling does not negatively impact Florida’s beaches.” In addition, he favors expanding nuclear energy production and the use of alternative fuels.  The Governor-elect signed a pledge for Americans for Prosperity that he will “oppose legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue,” and also endorsed FreedomWorks’ “Contract from America,” which calls for candidates to “reject cap & trade.”  Governor-elect Scott has also expressed skepticism about scientific findings on global warming.  Energy Independence PageRick Scott for Governor and Contract from America – FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity Applauds Florida Gubernatorial Candidate Rick Scott [pdf]Americans for Prosperity and Rick Scott doesn’t believe in global warmingSt. Petersburg Times

Georgia: Governor-elect Nathan Deal (R)

As a U.S. Representative, Governor-elect Nathan Deal voted against federal legislation to cap greenhouse gas emissions, tax incentives for renewable energy, removing subsidies for oil and gas exploration, a moratorium for offshore oil drilling, and raising fuel efficiency standards.  He voted against tax incentives for renewable energy and for a temporary repeal of the 4.3 cent gas tax.  As a member of the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, he expressed his support for using biomass as an alternative fuel source, but not solar or wind energy.  Nathan Deal on Energy and OilOn the Issues and Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucuses – Environmental and Energy Study Institute and Sparks fly at Georgia’s gubernatorial debateAtlanta Examiner

Hawaii: Governor-elect Neil Abercrombie (D)

Former U.S. Congressman and Governor-elect Neil Abercrombie has said that making Hawaii energy independent is the State’s “most important economic enterprise,” and is “critical to protect our environment from the pollutant risks and climate change impacts associated with fossil fuels.”  As a U.S. Representative, Congressman Abercrombie voted to cap greenhouse gas emissions, provide tax incentives for renewable energy, raise vehicle efficiency standards, and end oil and gas exploration subsidies.  The Governor-elect proposes to create the Hawaii Energy Authority, which would combine policy oversight and regulatory authority to fast-track renewable energy projects.  He has also proposed rewarding utilities for meeting or exceeding the State’s clean energy goals, using federal money to support green jobs and retrofit public buildings, and expanding wind, solar, geothermal, ocean wave, and biofuel technology use.  Energy PageAbercrombie for Governor and Environment and Natural Resources PageAbercrombie for Governor and Hawaii Gov. candidates want clean energy fasterWKRG and Neil Abercrombie on Energy and OilOn the Issues

Idaho: Governor Butch Otter (R)

When Governor Butch Otter won the gubernatorial election in 2006, he ran on an energy platform that promoted the use of nuclear and hydroelectric power and he has consistently pursued the development of these forms of energy in Idaho.  As Chairman of the Western Governors’ Association, Otter also signed a letter urging Congress to increase nuclear loan guarantees.  The Governor has increasingly promoted other renewable energy sources including wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass, even filming a campaign commercial promising to make the State’s efforts on alternative energy research a “top priority” and pushing for State funding for the Center for Advanced Energy Studies at the Idaho National Laboratory, which supports research on nuclear and alternative energy.  Governor Otter also helped steer federal stimulus funds toward an initiative to install solar panels on schools.  Election 2010: Gov. Otter targets green votersIdaho Statesman and New nuclear power plant development urged by GovernorsPowerGen Worldwide and Otter: Idaho is “rapidly developing” an energy industryIdaho Statesman

Illinois: Governor Pat Quinn (D)

Governor Quinn has made clean energy a focus of his administration by signing several pieces of legislation that promote the use of wind and other renewables through tax incentives and allow local authorities to finance green projects.  According to the U.S. EPA, Illinois became the second-highest clean-energy-purchasing State, obtaining 33% of the State government’s electricity from renewable sources in 2009.  Governor Quinn supports a renewable energy standard of 25% by 2025 and a diverse energy portfolio of wind, ethanol, biodiesel, and clean coal.  Governor Quinn signs legislation to encourage investment in renewable energyPress Release and Green Power Purchasing AwardsU.S. EPA Green Power Partnership and Environment and Green Energy PageQuinn/Simon for Illinois

Iowa: Governor-elect Terry Branstad (R)

While energy policy was not a top issue in this year’s Iowa gubernatorial race, Governor-elect Branstad, who previously served four terms as Governor of Iowa, has differentiated himself from incumbent Governor Chet Culver by strongly supporting the construction of new coal power plants.  The Governor-elect has also supported reducing dependence on foreign oil sources by expanding wind, ethanol, and biodiesel energy use.  In addition, Governor-elect Branstad has expressed support for building a 400,000-barrel-per-day tar sands oil refinery on the South Dakota border, which Governor Culver and several environmental groups oppose.  Branstad, Reynolds attack Culver in MarshalltownTimes-Republican and Proposed oil refinery the center of political debateIowa Independent

Kansas: Governor-elect Sam Brownback (R)

U.S. Senator and Governor-elect Sam Brownback’s record in the U.S. Senate and as a member of the Natural Resources Committee reflect support for increased domestic energy production and reduced oil and gas imports.  During his tenure, he sponsored a number of bills – often with bipartisan support – to increase the use of renewable fuels, reduce dependency on foreign oil by 50%, increase offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and establish a national renewable electricity standard of 15% by 2021.  Governor-elect Brownback also worked with Democrats when they were trying to pass energy and climate legislation in 2010; he supported a renewable electricity standard as part of the bill at the same time he opposed a cap on greenhouse gas emissions.  Sam BrownbackCouncil on Foreign Relations and Energy PageSenator Brownback’s Webpage and Brownback joins bipartisan group seeking U.S. renewable electricity standardKansas City Business Journal and Brownback not a lock for new climate billMcPherson Sentinel

Maine: Governor-elect Paul LePage (R)

Governor-elect Paul LePage’s approach to energy focuses on lowering prices for consumers and he has said that his administration “will welcome any energy that can compete on price.” However, he has also expressed the view that on- and off-shore wind and tidal power are not yet viable.  Instead, the Governor-elect prefers increasing the number of natural gas power plants and expanding hydroelectric power, nuclear power, and offshore oil drilling. He also has said that while he does not believe global warming is a “myth” he’s unsure about the severity of the problem and how human activity has contributed to it.  LePage outlines vision for welfare, education, energyPortland Press Herald and Energy Independence and Efficiency PageLePage 2010 and Maine and New England stew over climate and energy projectsNew York Times and Forum clarifies candidates’ divideKennebec Journal and Maine Democrats attack LePage on nuclear powerBloomberg BusinessWeek  and Candidates speaking at UMaine forumMorning Sentinel

Maryland: Governor Martin O’Malley (D)

Governor Martin O’Malley supports greater use of renewable energy such as solar and wind as a way to create as many as 100,000 jobs in the State.  As Governor, he has supported legislation designed to generate more solar energy, create wind power offshore, and provide tax credits for renewable energy generation and electric vehicles.  Governor O’Malley has signed an executive order creating the Maryland Commission on Climate Change, legislation reducing energy consumption and more than doubling the State’s renewable energy standard (requiring that 20% percent of Maryland’s power  come from renewable sources by 2022) , and a memorandum of understanding adding Maryland to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.  Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley Highlights 2010 clean energy agendaGov Monitor and Maryland Commission on Climate ChangeMaryland Climate Change Advisory Group and Maryland Governor signs energy efficiency and climate change legislationPew Center on Global Climate Change and Environment PageFriends of Martin O’Malley and Jobs PageFriends of Martin O’Malley and Second Amendment to Memorandum of Understanding [pdf]Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Massachusetts: Governor Deval Patrick (D)

A major issue in Governor Deval Patrick’s campaign for re-election was the Governor’s support for the proposed Cape Wind project, which is likely to be the first offshore wind farm in the United States and create as many as 1,000 jobs.  The Governor also supports the State’s renewable energy standard, which will require 25% of its energy to come from renewable sources by 2020, and energy efficiency programs that will invest $2 billion over three years to save ratepayers $6.5 billion in future years.  The State is a part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and has experienced an increase in the use of both wind and solar power under Governor Patrick’s tenure.  Accomplishments [pdf]Deval Patrick for Governor and Rivals clash with Patrick over vision for cleantechBoston Business Journal and Patrick leads celebration of New Bedford’s Cape Wind coupSouth Coast Today and Program DesignRegional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Michigan: Governor-elect Rick Snyder (R)

Energy was not a major issue in Governor-elect Rick Snyder’s campaign, since he and his opponent, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, generally agreed on the issue.  The Governor-elect has shown support for outgoing Governor Jennifer Granholm’s agenda of promoting wind, solar and other clean energy as one solution to the State’s persistent economic woes.  Governor-elect Snyder has also indicated support for building a new coal plant “when it’s clean coal replacing old coal,” and offered support for “smart growth” of mass transit and less sprawl.  He also supports the State’s existing renewable energy standard.  Governor-elect Snyder received the endorsement of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. Rick Snyder says he supports Michigan’s renewable energy lawAnnArbor.com and Rogers City, Holland coal plant denials spark lawsuitsMichigan Land Use Institute and Environment PageOffice of Governor-elect Rick Snyder

Minnesota: Mark Dayton (D) or Tom Emmer (R)

The Minnesota gubernatorial race may not be decided for months due to a mandatory recount and potential legal battles.  However, both candidates have proposed energy plans, which are summarized below.

Former U.S. Senator Mark Dayton has said that “clean, renewable energy is one of the most promising growth industries for our State and our nation.”  His campaign plan included drawing developers of wind, solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric power to the State, and creating 50,000 jobs by retrofitting older government buildings to increase energy efficiency.  As Senator, Mr. Dayton co-sponsored bipartisan cap-and-trade legislation, voted to ban drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, voted to increase vehicle fuel efficiency standards, and consistently supported the ethanol industry.  Clean Energy PageMark Dayton for a Better Minnesota and Dayton Votes for Passage of Senate Energy Bill - But Cautions it will not Remedy America's Dependence on Foreign Oil [archived press release]Project Vote Smart and Mark DaytonOn the Issues

As a State Representative, Tom Emmer sponsored legislation that would have repealed the State’s existing renewable electricity standard of 25% by 2025, adding that more should be done to develop fossil fuels, and has said that green jobs are a “fancy marketing campaign.”  Representative Emmer also introduced legislation that would have repealed the Next Generation Energy bill that allows Minnesota to participate in the regional cap-and-trade program of the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord, signed by Governor Tim Pawlenty.  Emmer visits area, says he wants more power shifted to cities and countiesAllBusiness and Rep. Emmer moves to repeal cap-and-trade law [press release]State Representative Tom Emmer

Nebraska: Governor Dave Heineman (R)

Governor Heineman has actively promoted alternative fuels and renewable energy within Nebraska.  The Governor signed a bill making it easier for utilities operating in the State to access federal incentives that have greatly expanded wind energy use in neighboring States consistent with his goal of making Nebraska one of the top ten wind energy producing States by 2020.  During his re-election campaign, Governor Heineman also highlighted the economic and security benefits that stem from the State’s production of ethanol and biodiesel.  Although the Governor endorsed adoption of a national renewable energy standard requiring 25% of all energy to come from renewable sources by 2025, he also signed a letter asking the U.S. Congress to pass a law to stop the EPA from unilaterally issuing regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions as a substitute for comprehensive, economically-friendly energy legislation.  Wind energy bill signedOmaha World-Herald and Dave Heineman on Energy and OilOn the Issues and Nebraska celebrates groundbreaking for wind farmEdison International and Update on Wind Development in NebraskaOffice of Governor Dave Heineman

Nevada: Governor-elect Brian Sandoval (R)

Governor-elect Brian Sandoval has stated that he believes renewable energy will play an important role in the State’s economic recovery, and specifically supports developing the State’s “unique and valuable” energy resources including solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric.  He does not support a renewable energy standard or other mandates on renewable energy use on the grounds that they are harmful to businesses.  Gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval answers questions on issuesNevada News Bureau

New Hampshire: Governor John Lynch (D)

As Governor of New Hampshire, John Lynch has pushed for greater use of renewable energy and greater energy efficiency.  He signed a bill into law requiring nearly 25% of the State’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2025, and another authorizing its participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade program for Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States.  The Governor has cited concerns about climate change and energy independence as reasons for increasing renewable energy use and energy efficiency in New Hampshire.  Governor Lynch’s 25 x ’25 renewable energy initiativeNew Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning and Governor Lynch signs law joining Regional Greenhouse Gas InitiativeOffice of Governor Lynch and New Hampshire Governor says renewables are a priorityRenewableEnergyWorld.com

New Mexico: Governor-elect Susanna Martinez (R)

Governor-elect Susana Martinez’s energy platform in the 2010 gubernatorial race included loosening regulations on energy production, including gas wells, and ending New Mexico’s participation in the Western Climate Initiative’s regional cap-and-trade program.  She believes these actions will help protect and create jobs in the State.  The Governor-elect has said that “the more diverse our energy portfolio, the stronger we will be as a State and a nation,” and said she supports “creating incentives that encourage coal power plants to invest in new technology that will help coal burn more efficiently and reduce our carbon footprint.”  She has also said that she is “not sure the science completely supports” the idea that human activity plays a role in climate change.  New Mexico’s economic recoverySusana Martinez for Governor and GOP candidates knock global warmingPolitico and Press roomSusana Martinez for Governor

New York: Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo (D)

Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo published a series of policy books detailing his governing agenda on several subjects, including energy and climate change issues.  The Governor-elect wrote that he would like to see the State move more quickly toward achieving the goals of reducing energy use and increasing renewable energy, but that energy must also be made more affordable to consumers.  He also supports promoting solar energy, as well as on- and off-shore wind energy projects, and closing aging nuclear power plants without replacing them.  In addition, Governor-elect Cuomo supports drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, provided it is done in an environmentally safe way that does not impact the water supply.  Power NY [pdf]Cuomo 2010 and New York gubernatorial candidate issues plan to increase solarSolar Home and Business Journal

Ohio: Governor-elect John Kasich (R)

Former U.S. Congressman and Governor-elect John Kasich opposes federal cap-and-trade legislation, saying that limiting greenhouse gas emissions “will be immensely harmful to our State, kill Ohio's low-cost coal power, and cripple our manufacturing jobs.”  Instead, he believes the State should encourage clean coal technology, nuclear energy, energy efficiency, and increased use of renewables.  The Governor-elect said that he would seek repeal of the State’s existing renewable energy standard that requires 25% of power to come from renewable sources by 2025 if he “were to determine that it is unrealistic and would drive up prices,” but that he does not oppose it now and has no immediate plans to repeal it.  As a Congressman, Governor-elect Kasich called the division between economic and environmental interests “a false and dangerous dichotomy,” and said that State and local governments should take the lead on environmental concerns.  Strickland, Kasich offer their answers to questionsMarietta Times and Strickland accuses Kasich of turning back the clock on energy policyDayton Daily News and John Kasich on EnvironmentOn the Issues

Oklahoma: Governor-elect Mary Fallin (R)

Governor-elect Mary Fallin is a former Lieutenant Governor and U.S. Representative with a record of supporting traditional energy sources and opposing climate change bills and renewable energy legislation.  The Governor-elect signed a pledge for Americans for Prosperity in which she promised to “oppose legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.”  She has also said that her “goal as governor would be to stimulate the oil and gas industry in the State and support the Legislature for incentives for oil and gas production."  However, Governor-elect Fallin has also said she supports federal incentives for solar, wind, nuclear, and biofuels “in the long term” as a part of an “all of the above” approach that would include increased domestic drilling for oil and gas as a way to reduce dependence on foreign fuels.  Askins, Fallin speak at OIPA conferenceTulsa World and Americans for Prosperity applauds Congresswoman Mary FallinOffice of Congresswoman Mary Fallin and In the fight to end the recession, the energy industry is our ally (Rep. Fallin Op-Ed)Townhall.com and At Congressional field hearing, Fallin evaluates national energy policy in OklahomaOffice of Congresswoman Mary Fallin

Oregon: Governor-elect John Kitzhaber (D)

Governor-elect Kitzhaber’s campaign included setting a plan for the State to meet its established renewable energy standard and carbon emissions reduction goals while also promoting energy independence, saving money for consumers, and producing green jobs.  The Governor-elect’s plan suggested increased energy efficiency efforts to lower demand, developing and exporting renewable energy technologies, as well as loan guarantees, grants and tax incentives for renewable energy production.  Governor-elect Kitzhaber supports wind, solar, ocean wave, biomass, and geothermal energy, as well as developing technologies such as micro-hydro, small-scale wind, algae-based biofuels, and gas generation through waste.  He opposes offshore oil drilling and has said that he believes climate change is a major issue, which is why he supports a regional cap-and-trade program, either through the existing Western Climate Initiative or new State alliance.  Energy and Environment Plan [pdf]John Kitzhaber for Governor and Dudley vs. Kitzhaber: On global warming, energy, and land useEcotrope

Pennsylvania: Governor-elect Tom Corbett (R)

Governor-elect Tom Corbett’s energy policy focuses on the importance of affordability of energy and independence from foreign oil.  In Pennsylvania, drilling is beginning to occur in the Marcellus Shale, a large underground reserve of natural gas.  Unlike his immediate predecessor, Democratic Governor Ed Rendell, Governor-elect Corbett does not support a drilling tax on natural gas wells, believing that such a tax would “reduce the potential for new jobs, tax revenues and other economic benefits associated with development of the Marcellus Shale.”  In addition to his support for natural gas, Governor-elect Corbett also supports greater use of coal-to-liquids and gas-to-liquids technologies, biodiesel, and nuclear power.  The Governor-elect also supports the State’s current renewable energy standard and says that the marketplace will “effectively incentivize alternative energy investments.”  In addition, Governor-elect Corbett supports tax credits for infrastructure improvement, more smart meters and other grid improvements, and energy regulatory reform.  Economic Plan [pdf]Tom Corbett for Governor and Energy Plan [pdf]Tom Corbett for Governor and Pennsylvania Republican offers big tax break to oil and gas industry The Guardian

Rhode Island: Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee (I)

Former U.S. Senator and Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee has a Senate voting record that includes opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and strengthened fuel standards for consumer vehicles.  He also co-sponsored cap-and-trade legislation and supported federal funding to encourage the purchase of alternative fuel vehicles.  The Governor-elect has said that there is no one single policy option that will solve energy and climate issues, but promotes using more renewable energy and reducing oil usage as solutions.  Energy and Environment PageChafee for Governor and Lincoln Chafee on Energy & OilOn the Issues

South Carolina: Governor-elect Nikki Haley (R)

The campaign for South Carolina’s next governor did not include much discussion about the future of energy use in the State.  However, Governor-elect Nikki Haley’s campaign has said that she supports drilling for oil off the State’s coast, and has criticized the Obama administration for stopping work on Yucca Mountain, which has caused uncertainty about where South Carolina’s nuclear waste will be permanently stored.  Nuclear energy accounts for more than half of South Carolina’s energy consumption, with most of the remainder produced by coal plants.  South Carolina GOP hopeful Haley supports offshore drillingCNN.com and Haley wants nuclear waste out of SCThe State and Haley touts SC’s nuclear potential, promises to fight Obama on YuccaNikki Haley for Governor

South Dakota: Governor-elect Dennis Daugaard (R)

Governor-elect Dennis Daugaard has said that he believes wind, ethanol, and biofuel energy production are beneficial to South Dakota in terms of the environment and the economy.  However, he does not support a cap-and-trade policy or a renewable energy standard, opting to promote wind energy through tax incentives, reduced regulation, increased transmission capacity, and expanded use of ethanol in gasoline through EPA regulations that increase the ratio of ethanol allowed for use in consumer vehicles fuels.  The Governor-elect also supports additional research on creating cellulosic ethanol from wood, grass, and other non-edible plant matter.  Energy PageDaugaard for South Dakota and Daugaard unveils economic plan for South DakotaCapital Journal and On energy, candidates for Governor vow to be strong voice Argus-Leader

Tennessee: Governor-elect Bill Haslam (R)

Former Knoxville Mayor and Governor-elect Bill Haslam has said that his top priority as Governor will be to bring jobs to Tennessee, especially renewable energy and energy-efficiency jobs.  He has also said that he supports the Tennessee Valley Authority’s goal of increasing the State’s renewable energy usage to 50% by 2020 (including nuclear and hydroelectric energy).  While the Governor-elect served as Mayor of Knoxville, the City was designated as a Solar America City by the U.S. Department of Energy for its efforts to promote solar energy.  The Governor-elect has also said he wants to “foster an environment of collaboration between business and environmental interests” and that he rejects “the false choice that pits the environment versus job growth.”  Bill Haslam’s Answers [pdf] - Tennessee Clean Water Network Questionnaire and Knoxville, TNU.S. Department of Energy, Solar America Cities

Texas: Governor Rick Perry (R)

Governor Rick Perry has opposed many of the Obama Administration’s energy policies  – for instance, suing the Administration over greenhouse gas regulations and the offshore oil drilling moratorium and calling federal cap-and-trade “an economic disaster” – and is “not convinced” that climate change should be a policy issue.  To meet Texas’s own energy needs, the Governor has signed bills mandating greater renewable energy use and has pushed to fast-track new coal burning power plants.  He supports an energy portfolio that includes coal, natural gas, nuclear energy, and renewables.  Texas sues to stop EPA from regulating greenhouse gasesAustin American-Statesman and Gov. Perry: Waxman-Markey will negatively impact Texas familiesGovernor Perry Press Release and Perry’s strong views on climate change can be muted at homeAustin American-Statesman and Texas increases its renewable portfolio standardPew Center for Global Climate Change and Despite pollution worries, Texas builds coal plantsTexas Tribune and Issues PageTexans for Rick Perry

Utah: Governor Gary Herbert (R)

While Governor Gary Herbert has expressed skepticism that climate change is occurring due to greenhouse gas emissions – he has said emissions are “probably irrelevant” – his administration has developed an outline of State energy objectives that will serve as a baseline for a 10-year energy plan to diversify energy sources for security reasons.  The Governor also held a series of public meetings that were attended by State residents, oil and gas companies, and environmental activists to discuss this objective and a range of options for achieving this goal, which include increased use of renewable energy, coal, gas, oil, and nuclear energy.  Governor Herbert will release a more formal plan in December 2010 after months of public comment on the State’s plan. Herbert challenges reality of global climate changeDeseret News and Utah Gov. Herbert outlines energy initiative goalsYahoo Finance and Gov. Gary Herbert’s 3rd energy hearing brings diverse ideasDeseret News

Vermont: Governor-elect Peter Schumlin (D)

Governor-elect Schumlin has cited climate change as an issue that triggered his return to politics and as the “number one issue” when he was elected as State Senate Pro Tem in 2006.  The Governor-elect wants Vermont to “lead the nation” in the move toward renewable energy production, which he believes will provide “huge economic and job creation opportunities for Vermont” as well as reduce the effects of climate change.  Governor-elect Schumlin has fought to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, which is currently scheduled to go offline in 2012, and said he will set a goal of reducing energy use by 3% each year through energy efficiency measures.  Schumlin said WHAT???Freyne Land and Energy PagePeter Schumlin for Governor and Gubernatorial candidates Dubie and Schumlin talk energyWCAX and Senator Peter Schumlin – Responses to the VT LCV questionnaireVermont League of Conservation Voters and Schumlin: Yes to clean energy; no to EnexusPeter Schumlin for Governor

Wisconsin: Governor-elect Scott Walker (R)

Governor-elect Walker says that he supports removing the State’s moratorium on building nuclear power plants, calling nuclear a “clean energy option,” and that the State “must diversify our energy supply” while balancing cost and environmental impact.  During the campaign, the Governor-elect wrote an open letter to President Obama, critical of his administration’s “radical environmental policies” and opposed legislation supported by current Governor Jim Doyle that would set a renewable energy standard for the State.  The Governor-elect also signed the climate pledge from Americans for Prosperity vowing that he would not support climate legislation that would include any increase in State revenue. Jobs PageFriends of Scott Walker and Scott Walker letter to President Obama [pdf]Friends of Scott Walker and Scott Walker statement on global warming legislationFriends of Scott Walker and  Americans for Prosperity applauds Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker [pdf]Americans for Prosperity

Wyoming: Governor-elect Matt Mead (R)

Governor-elect Matt Mead has said he supports developing clean energy technologies to meet growing energy demands to supplement coal, oil, and natural gas resources available within Wyoming.  However, he has said he is “unconvinced that climate change is man-made.”  He strongly opposes any cap-and-trade legislation, including the proposals considered by Congress, and instead supports increased drilling for fossil fuels, construction of new nuclear power plants supplied by uranium from Wyoming, and an excise tax on wind power.  Energy Page [cached]Matt Mead for Governor

National News

Preparing for the pending Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives, many political figures are touting their positions on energy policy and their views on how or even whether to confront climate change in the 112th Congress.

Congressman John Boehner (R-OH), the presumed next Speaker of the House, has said that he does not believe that the climate is changing due to greenhouse gas emissions and has been a steadfast opponent of cap-and-trade legislation.  In addition, 50% of the new Republican legislators in Congress don’t believe climate change is a real issue, while 86% have pledged their opposition to any climate change legislation that increases government revenue.  Some House Republicans are hoping to use their new majority to slow governmental action on climate change, including Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who would prefer to keep the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming in place in order to “put a tall hurdle in the path” of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to move forward on regulations to limit greenhouse gases.  Sensenbrenner: Keep climate panel alive so I can investigate EPAPolitico.

Meanwhile, just this week, the U.S. EPA released a guidance document for State and local officials on how to issue permits for power plants when EPA’s climate change rules take effect next year.  The guidance emphasizes the importance of energy efficiency as a strategy for reducing the use of carbon-intensive fuels.  It also promotes the use of biomass as a way to reduce emissions on the grounds that carbon dioxide that is released when plant material is burned for fuel can be removed from the atmosphere by new replacement plants.  While State and local officials are gearing up to comply with the new requirements, some concerns are already being raised about the length of the permitting process under EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions rules.  EPA Issues Guidelines for States' Permitting for Greenhouse Gases - NYTimes.comNew York Times

President Obama has tempered his support of climate control legislation considered in the current Congress by saying: “Cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat; not the only way.”  He has instead proposed working with the new Congress on a number of issues that he believes Republicans can support, including development of electric vehicles, converting heavy trucks to run on natural gas, incentives for energy efficiency, and more emphasis on renewables and nuclear energy.  Obama to face new foes in global warming fightNew York Times

The lack of agreement on federal legislation to address climate change also has international implications.  European officials believe that other large countries with growing economies, such as China and India, will have little incentive to sign onto an enforceable emissions-reduction pact unless the U.S. government takes decisive action on this issue.  Under a nonbinding accord agreed to at a U.N.-sponsored summit in Copenhagen last year, the President Obama pledged to cut U.S. emissions by 17% by 2020 and contribute $100 billion to help developing countries reduce their emissions.  White House officials point to other measures being taken at the federal and State level as an indication that progress is still being made.  Chilly wind blows against global climate pactWashington Times

 

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Energy Update, October 22, 2010

October 22, 2010

In the States

CA – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is calling on voters to defeat Proposition 23, framing the initiative as a choice between big out-of-State oil companies and the environment.  The Proposition would delay the implementation of a 2006 law that will mandate emissions restrictions beginning in 2012.  The Governor asked that voters soundly defeat the measure in order to send a message that a new national energy policy is necessary.  Schwarzenegger urges voters to protect climate lawABC News

KY – Governor Steve Beshear is the second Governor to direct his State to sue the US Environmental Protection Agency over its regulations that limit mountaintop removal.  Governor Beshear called the regulations “arbitrary and unreasonable,” adding that they “threaten to end the responsible mining of coal and eliminate the jobs of an estimated 18,000 Kentucky miners.”  The suit was originally filed in US District Court by the Kentucky Coal Association, and was soon joined by the Governor’s Energy and Environment Cabinet.  EPA sued by Kentucky Governor Beshear, coal industryMiami Herald

MA – Governor Deval Patrick’s administration has successfully pushed to secure a lease for what could be the first offshore wind farm in the US, to be constructed off the coast of Cape Cod.  US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently signed a 28-year lease agreement with Cape Wind Associates for 130 wind turbines that will operate over  25 square miles of water in Nantucket Sound about 5 miles from the Cape Cod shoreline.  The project will generate up to 468 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 200,000 homes.  New Bedford will host a $35 million terminal onshore where the turbines will be built, and which will create about 200 jobs.  The Cape Wind project itself is expected to cost $2.5 billion and create a total of 600 – 1,000 new jobs during the construction and manufacturing phases, with an estimated completion date in late 2012.  The project has been a source of controversy due to concerns about visual and environmental impacts as well as its cost and potential impact on electricity rates.  Salazar signs cape wind lease, first for US watersBloomberg BusinessWeek and Cape Wind backers blew right by costBoston Globe and Mass. city chosen for offshore wind farm siteBloomberg BusinessWeek

RI – Governor Donald Carcieri says that Rhode Island still may be the first State to host an offshore wind farm, despite the recent approval of a lease agreement for Massachusetts’ Cape Wind project.  The Governor said that plans for an offshore wind power site off Block Island at Quonset Point are on schedule for fall 2011 (although no offshore lease with the U.S. Department of Interior has yet been signed).  The Governor also announced that a State ocean management plan has been completed, pushing the project forward.  Carcieri looks beyond Cape WindWJAR

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell convened an energy conference in Virginia with a speech about the future of energy in the State.  The Governor said that uncertainty about offshore drilling is hampering the State’s ability to produce more of its own energy, and called for federal environmental regulations to be loosened.  Governor McDonnell said that he hopes the State “will be an offshore energy leader” despite the regulations, and called for a strategy that relies on fossil fuels, nuclear energy, and renewable energy such as wind power, which he said was in abundance in Virginia, but that "what we've got to do is find a way to harness it in a commercially practicable way."  State’s energy future lies offshore, McDonnell saysVirginian-Pilot

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has released its fourth annual Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which ranks States on their efforts to increase and sustain energy efficiency pursuits.  While the results are not markedly different from previous Scorecard reports, they do show that States have nearly doubled their total energy efficiency budgets from $2.5 billion to $4.3 billion since the initial Scorecard report was released in 2007.  The five States with the highest marks for energy efficiency are relatively the same as last year, including California, Massachusetts, Oregon, New York, and Vermont.  The most improved States include Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Alaska.  ACEEE 2010 State Energy Efficiency ScorecardACEEE and 2010 ACEEE Energy Efficiency Scorecard Cites State LeadersEERE News

National News

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has approved the first solar project on public land in Nevada, a decision which will result in a 50-megawatt photovoltaic array 40 miles south of Las Vegas mad possible in part through federal tax credits in ARRA.  The project is the first of a long list of such proposals to gain approval after passing through the Bureau of Land Management’s extensive environmental review process.  Power from the solar panels will be sold in Nevada and should power up to 15,000 homes.  A 350-megawatt expansion of the plant is already proposed, but will require additional review before permits are issued.  Interior Department approves first solar project on Nevada public landsEERE News

According to a new report from the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “US offshore winds have a gross potential generating capacity four times greater than the nation’s present electric capacity,” without taking “siting constraints and stakeholder inputs” into account.  The study also showed that the US could obtain as much as 20% of its electricity needs from offshore wind as soon as 2030, creating 43,000 jobs, and that offshore resources would generate more electricity than land-based resources since wind speeds increase with distance from land.  Upon the study’s release, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that "clean, renewable energy development that capitalizes on the nation's vast offshore wind and water resources holds great promise for our clean energy future and our economy."  Study: Offshore wind could generate all US electricityUSA Today and Large-scale offshore wind power in the United States: Assessments of opportunities and barriers [pdf]National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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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, August 27, 2010

August 27, 2010

In the States

ID – Governor Butch Otter participated in the groundbreaking ceremony for what will be Idaho's largest wind farm project, called the Oregon Trail Wind Farm. The project, which includes a total of 11 different wind farms, will consist of 122 wind turbines that will power nearly 40,000 homes, and is expected to create 175 jobs. In addition to the sizable investment in wind energy, Idaho lawmakers are hoping to lure geothermal investment to the area. A geothermal power plant could serve as a baseline energy source for when the wind is not blowing enough to create any electricity; a bill that would lower lease rates for geothermal developers is expected to be considered in the legislature in 2011. Lawmakers highlight legislation aimed at developing renewable energyTwin Falls Times-News

IL – Governor Pat Quinn has signed two bills into law that are designed to increase the amount of solar energy produced in the State. The “Solar Ramp-Up Bill” will require a gradual increase in the proportion of solar energy that must be purchased by the State's utility companies from 0.5% in 2012 to 6% from 2015 on. Homeowners associations will not be allowed to prohibit the installation of solar panels on members' roofs under the Homeowners' Solar Energy Act. The Governor said the new laws will promote renewable energy development, create jobs, and lessen dependence on fossil fuels for meeting electricity demand within the State. Illinois ramps up solar developmentEpoch Times

ME – Ocean Renewable Power Company has installed the largest ocean energy power plant to date off the eastern coast of Maine. The 60 megawatt tidal energy generator prototype has met or exceeded expectations in tests thus far, and will be used to charge a battery and provide power to a Coast Guard station in Eastport, Maine. The company's CEO hopes to have a 150 megawatt version connected to the electric grid in late 2011. Governor John Baldacci praised the company's success in his weekly radio address, and called for more renewable energy development that he said would lead to more jobs and less dependency on foreign oil. Maine company says underwater turbine is a successBangor Daily News and Baldacci touts renewable power in MaineBangor Daily News

NJ – Governor Chris Christie has signed a bill into law that uses two approaches to help build a wind power sector in the State. One approach is to provide financial assistance and $100 million in tax credits to companies that participate in building offshore wind farms. The other approach is to provide a steady market by requiring utilities to purchase 1,100 megawatts from wind power producers, which will not only create demand, but also help secure financial backing for wind power projects. Governor Christie signed the bill at a vacant chemical plant on the Delaware River that will be converted into a production and assembly site for wind turbines and components. Christie signs law encouraging offshore wind turbinesPhiladelphia Inquirer

National News

A report released by the US Department of Energy shows that the US as a whole used less energy in general but more energy from renewable sources in 2009 than in 2008. Total energy consumption declined by 4.6% from from 2008, while production of wind energy increased 44% from .51% to .74% of total energy production. Other modes of energy production from renewable sources rose as well, including solar, hydrothermal, and geothermal energy. The reduction in energy usage and increase in renewable energy production corresponds with a decrease in the use of fossil fuels to create energy; coal, natural gas, and petroleum all declined in use in 2009. Several factors contributed to the drop in energy consumption including higher-efficiency appliances and vehicles as well as the economic downturn, which resulted in less production and consumption in general. The White House has also issued a report which claims that the stimulus has put the US on track toward achieving three major energy goals: cutting the cost of solar power in half by 2015, cutting the cost of batteries for electric vehicles 70% by 2015, and doubling the amount of energy created by renewable sources by 2012. Americans using less energy, thanks to recession, technologyChristian Science Monitor and Annual Energy Review 2009 [pdf]US Energy Information Administration and White House report: US on track to double renewable energy outputWall Street Journal and The Recovery Act: Transforming the American economy through innovation [pdf]The White House

The US Department of Energy has released $120 million to 120 private companies, nonprofits, universities, local governments, and national organizations in order to expand existing, successful weatherization programs and to fund new, innovative approaches to weatherizing low-income single and multifamily homes. The awards will allow grant recipients to install renewable energy systems (such as solar panels, wind turbines, and tank-less water heater systems), incorporate other services such as improving indoor air quality and lead abatement, and leverage private sector investment. DOE announces nearly $120 million to advance innovative weatherization projects, highlight progress in the program nationallyEERE News

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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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