Blog posts : "delaware"
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
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 Transcript – White House and Energy Blueprint Fact Sheet – White House and Obama pitches ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy – National 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 response – McClatchy
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 policies – Minnesota 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 rules – New 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
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” push – Politico 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 says – New York Times
In the States
FL – Governor Charlie Crist has called a special session of the State legislature to begin next week. The sole purpose of the session is to pass a constitutional amendment banning offshore oil before August 4, which would put the amendment on the ballot this November. Offshore drilling is already banned in Florida, but the Governor has expressed concern that future legislators might overturn the existing ban, which they could not do to a constitutional amendment. Crist calls for special session to ban offshore oil drilling near Florida – The Ledger
MO – Governor Jay Nixon has signed a bill into law that will make it easier for residents to pay for energy efficiency upgrades on their homes. Under the new law, cities and counties will be able to issue low-interest bonds to homeowners for home improvements such as new windows or insulation. The loans would be paid back to the State through a special 20-year assessment on property taxes. Mo. Gov. signs bills on energy efficiency, KC zoo – Bloomberg Business Week
OH – Governor Ted Strickland has announced the new Northwest Ohio Solar Energy Hub, a conglomeration of colleges, universities, and career centers aimed at promoting solar energy and related jobs and businesses. A $250,000 grant has been awarded to the hub, which will allow collaboration between these entities, the solar industry, and the manufacturing sector on a plan for urban economic development and revitalization. Governor announces Ohio solar energy hub – Solar Novus Today
UT – Governor Gary Herbert testified at a Republican House and Senate Western Caucus hearing in Washington, DC about the challenge of developing energy resources in Western States. He said that his goal is to streamline the process for energy companies interested in developing resources in the State and that uncertainty about the Obama administration’s policies on energy development on public lands is “spooking” companies considering investments in Utah. The Governor also said that Congressional Republicans and Democrats need to work together on these issues, that he thinks “it is foolish for us to fight and rant and rave,” and that he is working to build a relationship with the Obama administration. Gov. Gary Herbert urges cooperation with Obama administration on issues of the West – Deseret News
Governors from both parties in eleven States on the East Coast have signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) against a proposed electric transmission line from the Midwest to the East Coast. The proposed line would allow Midwestern States to send renewable energy produced there to the Eastern States. The Governors disapprove of the line because they would like to create their own alternative energy rather than import it from other States, and because they believe ratepayers in the Eastern States would shoulder the costs, estimated at $16 billion. Signatories include Governors M. Jodi Rell (R-CT), Jack Markell (D-DE), John Baldacci (D-ME), Martin O’Malley (D-MD), Deval Patrick (D-MA), John Lynch (D-NH), Chris Christie (R-NJ), David Paterson (D-NY), Donald Carcieri (R-RI), Jim Douglas (R-VT), and Bob McDonnell (R-VA). Eastern Governors protest Midwest wind transmission line – Des Moines Register
Six New England Governors and five Eastern Canadian Premiers participated in a conference to discuss energy goals. In the end, the leaders agreed to reduce energy use in buildings 20% by 2020 through higher standards in building codes, examine implementing a low carbon fuel standard, and promote solar power by establishing a regional usage standard. The Governors separately agreed to petition the US government to establish a high efficiency standard on furnaces in New England. Massachusetts promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy goals – GovMonitor
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said that he will bring energy and climate legislation to the Senate floor by the end of July. The legislation is still a rough draft and will be the subject of intense negotiations in the coming weeks, but Senator Reid has said it will contain a section on reducing greenhouse gas emissions that would apply only to electric utilities rather than the entire economy. A number of Senators from both parties have expressed skepticism that the bill will pass the procedural phase, with liberal Democrats saying it is too weak, moderate Democrats weary of costly new federal requirements, and Republicans opposed to the process being used to move he bill forward and certain elements of the legislation, including proposed limits on carbon emissions. Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) has already said that he will not vote for a motion to proceed, forcing Senator Reid to secure at least two Republican votes for cloture, though potential supporters of a more comprehensive approach such as Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Judd Gregg (R-NH) have signaled that they will not support the legislation if it caps greenhouse gas emissions in any way. In a move to build support for the measure, Senator John Kerry (D-MA), a key supporter, is set to meet with the main electric utility trade group on possible concessions on existing Clean Air Act regulations, causing some environmental groups who say they may withdraw support if the concessions are too great. Reid warms to July climate vote – Politico and Clock winding down on Senate’s carbon cap efforts – New York Times and Nelson says no to climate vote – Politico and Utilities, signaling support for carbon caps, want ‘relief’ from other air pollutants – New York Times
In the States
DE – Governor Jack Markell has proposed an extension and expansion of existing law that would increase the use of renewable energy within the State. Current law dictates that Delmarva Power must obtain 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2019; the proposed changes would require that other utilities comply, that 30% of electricity come from renewable sources by 2029, that preference be given to renewable energy producers within Delaware, and other minor changes. The Governor hopes these changes will prompt more “green” jobs in the State as well as more home-based solar power production. Markell pushes for renewable energy in Delaware – The News Journal
VA – Governor Bob McDonnell has signed legislation that endorses the Federal government allowing oil and gas drilling off Virginia’s coastline. The plan that Governor McDonnell endorsed would funnel royalties to the State, though some of this funding would be directed to the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, a partnership between industry, government, and universities to research and develop renewable energy. McDonnell signs offshore energy bills – Virginian Pilot and Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium
WY – Governor Dave Freudenthal has signed three bills into law that will centralize control over wind farm development and impose a new tax on electricity produced by wind. The new laws will require a tax of $1 per megawatt of wind power, place a moratorium on using eminent domain laws to take private land for power lines, and extend permitting authority for the State over those power lines. The Governor praised the legislature for passing the bills, saying that the wind energy industry is welcome in the State, but only if it pays its way. Gov signs 3 wind bills into law – Cheyenne Tribune
Regional and National News
Two Democratic Governors joined a group of 18 Republican Governors in sending a letter to the Congressional leadership asking that Congress keep the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from imposing regulations on greenhouse gases. The Governors wrote that the EPA is unable to fully consider the economic effects of the regulations, which the Governors believe would place heavy administrative burdens on state environmental agencies, prove costly to consumers, and have a devastating impact on state economies and jobs. The EPA has responded to the Governors, dismissing the premise that regulatory action would necessarily weaken the economy. Several pieces of legislation, introduced in Congress by members of both parties, would delay or eliminate the ability of EPA to regulate greenhouse gases; those in favor of a delay have been encouraged by the Governors’ letter, while supporters of the EPA have been relatively silent on the matter. US Governors ask Congress to stop EPA Rules – Wall Street Journal and Governors’ letter to Congressional leadership – Gulf Coast News and EPA defends greenhouse gas caps – Politico
Four Democratic Senators have called for a halt to stimulus spending on wind farm projects on the grounds that too much of the money has been sent outside the United States. The Senators specifically cited a potential project by a company that has not yet applied for stimulus funds, but has signaled that it might install wind turbines manufactured in China. Union leaders have supported the Senators’ position, while the Obama Administration has disputed it, as has the project manager for the referenced wind initiative, who said at least 70% of each turbine would be fabricated and assembled in the United States. The American Wind Energy Association has also disputed the claims of the Senators, saying that 53%-63% of the value of equipment bought with stimulus funds has come from within the United States, and that 50,000 jobs would be lost if grants were suspended. Four Democratic Senators aim to halt stimulus wind project – Washington Post
President Barack Obama met with several members of his administration and a bipartisan group of 14 Senators to discuss concerns about a potential energy bill that would include caps on carbon emissions. The President offered concessions on nuclear power and drilling for oil and gas while emphasizing the importance of capping carbon emissions. The Senators attending the meeting represented diverse viewpoints. Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, for example, made it clear that any proposal must include safeguards for coal and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio remarked on the importance of job creation. Senator LeMieux of Florida dismissed the possibility of supporting a cap on carbon, focusing instead on promoting nuclear power, and Senator Lugar of Indiana, who also said he was unlikely to support putting a price on carbon emissions, announced he has begun drafting legislation to promote nuclear power and clean coal technology, as well as stricter auto fuel efficiency standards. Obama, key Senators make their pitch for climate and energy bill – New York Times
In the States
DE – Governor Jack Markell has signed two bills into law that he says will spur new green collar jobs. The new laws will require more energy efficient homes and office buildings, encourage zero net energy buildings, and require utilities in the state to reduce energy consumption by 15% in just five years, by 2015. Governor Markell signed legislation earlier this year promoting home solar and wind energy. Markell signs landmark energy legislation – Delaware Business Ledger
OR – Governor Ted Kulongoski has signed several climate change bills that will lower greenhouse gas emissions in the state. The new laws require that new power plants be at least as clean as natural gas, new buildings are more energy efficient, and emissions are reported by more polluters. They also authorize a low carbon fuel standard, and grants for energy efficiency projects. Governor signs climate change legislation – Portland Business Journal
The nation’s Governors agreed to support a goal of requiring new and renovated buildings to be carbon-neutral by 2030 at the National Governors Association Annual Meeting. The goal is promoted by the American Institute of Architects and endorsed by the US Conference of Mayors and the National Association of Counties. Governors call for carbon-neutral buildings by 2030 – New York Times
Regional and National News
The Cash for Clunkers program, which provides car-buyers with $3,500 to $4,500 in incentives to trade in gas-guzzlers for cars with much better gas mileage, is running out of its $950 million in stimulus funds. The House and Senate have passed a $2 billion extension of the program to keep it going. $2B in clunkers cash on way, senators say – Detroit Free Press and “Cash for Clunkers” gets a $2 billion boost – New York Times
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the chairs of five committees have agreed to get a cap-and-trade bill out of committee by September 28. Senators have cited several impediments to quick passage of the bill, though, including the complexity of the pending health reform legislation, negative impacts on coal- and manufacturing-heavy states, and spending any additional money after the stimulus and health reform. Some Senators have stated that it is unlikely that the bill will be passed this year, and will only be harder to push next year as difficult votes are harder to make in election years. Climate bill may fall by the wayside – Politico
President Obama and other administration officials traveled throughout the country on August 5 to announce the recipients of $2.4 billion in stimulus grants for the development of battery powered vehicles. The President visited Indiana and Vice President Biden was in Michigan – those two states received the majority of the funds – while other cabinet members traveled to North Carolina, Florida, and Pennsylvania to announce grants in those states. The grants will fund 50 projects in 25 states. Obama back in Indiana with message and aid – New York Times and Electric cars get plug from Obama – Charlotte News and Observer
At a two-day meeting between the Obama administration and Chinese officials, the US and China entered into an agreement that states each country’s desire to deal with the climate issue, though no real specifics emerged. The memorandum of understanding cited climate change as a challenge to be combated by transitioning to a low-carbon economy through “domestic action and international cooperation.” At the meeting, both countries said their relationship on the subject would be positive and mutually beneficial. US, China end talks with smiles but no progress on climate change – Los Angeles Times and US-China memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation on climate change, energy and the environment – US Department of State
MT – It’s been three years since Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission applied for permits to build a coal-fired power plant in
MT – A compromise has been reached by regulators in the decision of who should pay for “regulating reserve power” or the power the utility would have to produce to make up for lost power when wind turbines are not turning. The utility company said the wind company should pay for the energy, while wind companies maintained they were being overcharged. The Public Service Commission decided that the wind companies should pay a discounted rate to the utility companies. Montana regulators decide wind integration charges – Houston Chronicle
NJ – New Jersey is contemplating building a new nuclear plant in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The project is in its earliest stages of studying sites and reviewing permits. Environmental groups have already expressed opposition to the Governor’s energy plan which includes the construction of more nuclear plants. New Jersey weighs building another nuclear plant, first since 1973 – New York Times
OH – As part of a comprehensive energy bill, Ohio lawmakers have agreed to change the incentive system for power companies. Until now, utilities have been encouraged by the state to produce as much power as possible. The new law would require the companies to produce less power next year, and a small rate hike, which would fund energy efficiency programs. The bill would also require 12.5% of the energy in the state’s portfolio to come from renewable sources with benchmarks for each year in between. Lawmakers push energy efficiency – Toledo Blade and Group says wind an economic boon – Toledo Blade
National and Regional
Five governors gathered at Yale University's Conference of Governors on Climate Change along with state officials from other states and signed a declaration that the states will continue to fight global warming and that Congress and the next president should work with them on establishing a new national policy. Eighteen governors have signed the declaration. Governors convene at Yale to fight global warming – Hartford Courant and Sub-national action on climate change – Yale University