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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 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, July 16, 2010

July 16, 2010

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 FloridaThe 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 zooBloomberg 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 hubSolar 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 WestDeseret News  

Regional 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 lineDes 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 goalsGovMonitor

National News

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 votePolitico and Clock winding down on Senate’s carbon cap effortsNew York Times and Nelson says no to climate votePolitico and Utilities, signaling support for carbon caps, want ‘relief’ from other air pollutantsNew York Times

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Energy Update, March 12, 2010

March 12, 2010

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 DelawareThe 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 lawCheyenne 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 RulesWall Street Journal and Governors’ letter to Congressional leadershipGulf Coast News and EPA defends greenhouse gas capsPolitico

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 projectWashington 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 billNew York Times

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Energy Update, August 7, 2009

August 7, 2009

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 legislationDelaware 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 legislationPortland 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 2030New 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 sayDetroit Free Press and “Cash for Clunkers” gets a $2 billion boostNew 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 waysidePolitico

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 aidNew York Times and Electric cars get plug from ObamaCharlotte News and Observer

International News

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 changeLos Angeles Times and US-China memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation on climate change, energy and the environment US Department of State

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Energy Update, July 3, 2008

July 3, 2008
In the States

CA – A draft plan released by the California Air Resources Board calls for many changes to be made in order for the state to comply with a 2006 law that requires greenhouse gas emissions to be below 1990 levels by 2020. Recommendations include increasing renewable energy sources to 33%, reversing the EPA’s waiver denial and raising the fuel economy of cars sold in the state to 43 miles per gallon, and imposing a greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade system with other Western states. The draft plan, which will be made final in November and approved before next year, received mostly positive comments from both pro-business and pro-environmental groups, though both sides have reservations. Board outlines plans to whip greenhouse gasesSan Francisco Chronicle and New plan unveiled to fight climate changeContra Costa Times

CO – The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is holding hearings this and next month on whether and how to change regulation of industry. Proponents of greater regulation claim that new rules are needed to protect the state’s environment and economy; the oil and gas industry say that they would lose money due to mandatory drilling stoppages during breeding seasons. The commission supports the goals of both groups and is working on a compromise. Energy group to fight rulesDenver Post

CO – In addition to promoting drilling for oil in coastal waters and in Alaska, President Bush has proposed developing oil shale in western states, asserting that developing the resource would lessen the country’s need to import fuel. Some state leaders have questioned the validity of the president’s claims. While Sen. Ken Salazar noted the extreme difficulty of extracting usable oil from the oil shale, Rep. Mark Udall expressed concerns about the environmental and economic effects. Governor Bill Ritter noted that no one knows how much oil there is, how much it would cost to extract it, or what the effects would be on the state. Power struggle over oil shaleDenver Post

DE – A deal has been struck which will require Delmarva Power to buy wind generated electricity from Bluewater Wind, which will construct up to 70 wind turbines off the coast of Delaware, powering 50,000 homes for 25 years. Legislation approving this project was passed unanimously in both chambers of the state legislature, signed by the Governor, and backed by gubernatorial candidates from both parties. As the deal requires significantly less power to be bought by Delmarva than originally envisioned, Bluewater is now looking for additional customers to purchase its wind energy. Bluewater must now complete the permitting process; construction is expected to begin within two years and it could be operational by 2013. Offshore wind pact OK'd for DelawareNews Journal and Governor signs offshore wind legislationNews Journal

FL – Governor Charlie Crist has recently taken notable positions on energy as he both hosted the Florida Summit on Global Climate Change and called for an end to the federal moratorium on offshore oil drilling. During the summit, the Governor signed into law an energy bill that puts in place new standards on energy efficiency and renewable energy, and will also produce a plan for an emissions cap-and-trade system. He also called on Florida’s businesses to invest in clean energy technology, and noted the link between the state’s environment and its tourist economy, while also declaring that Florida can lead the country on climate change as it has in space exploration. Crist: Florida can lead the nation in green technologyFlorida Capital NewsClimate summit: There's gold in going greenMiami Herald and Gov. Crist Takes Middle Way in Environment, EnergyWall Street Journal and

HI – Under a new law signed by Governor Lingle, no permits for new single-family homes built in Hawaii will be issued which do not include a solar water heating system. The Governor cited the progress the measure will make toward decreasing Hawaii’s dependence on fossil fuels. Although some environmental groups offered support for the new law, opponents claim it will drive up development costs, restricts people from choosing how to power their homes, and eliminates and existing an tax break for solar water heaters . Solar water heater law enacted by LingleHonolulu Advertiser

MI – The country’s first cellulosic ethanol plant will be built in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and may become operational by 2012. The $250 million plant will produce up to 40 million gallons of ethanol per year from wood chips rather than corn. The plant and the expansion of industry in the region are expected to eventually produce up to 750 jobs. Ethanol plant to be built in U. P.Detroit News

MT – Governor Schweitzer traveled to Capitol Hill to push for legislation that would provide incentives for alternative energy use. One bill would provide a tax credit for consumers who purchase plug-in hybrids and the other would allow electric consumers to sell their solar or wind energy to the utility at market price. During a forum hosted by a Montana electric coop, the Governor highlighted the need for innovative energy storage solutions as the way to energy independence. Schweitzer touts state’s energy potentialDaily Inter Lake

NH – Governor Lynch has signed legislation which will incorporate New Hampshire into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional cap-and-trade system. Under RGGI, polluters in New Hampshire will be limited to a certain number of carbon credits, which can be traded, bought, and sold by entities that emit greenhouse gases. Businesses can earn credits by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by implementing emission controls or in more novel ways like capturing methane from landfills or planting trees to offset pollution. As of today, nine other states have joined the RGGI. Lynch signs on to effort to cut gasesConcord Monitor and Lynch signs bill to add NH to CO2 initiativeNew Hampshire Union Leader

RI – Governor Donald Carcieri has reluctantly vetoed renewable energy legislation passed overwhelmingly by both legislative chambers. It’s unclear whether legislative leaders will attempt an override. The bill would have required National Grid, one of the country’s largest utilities, to enter into long-term contracts with renewable energy producers in exchange for bonuses paid by ratepayers. The Governor cited three problems with the legislation: National Grid would receive a windfall at the expense of ratepayers, the utility could utilize renewable energy sources outside the state, and the only renewable project mandated in Rhode Island was a solar facility, which he called “perhaps the costliest renewable technology.” Carcieri vetoes renewable-energy billProvidence Journal

UT The State of Utah will become the first state to join a growing number of municipalities and businesses in implementing a mandatory four-day workweek for 80% of its state employees. Officials say the benefits are lower energy costs for commuting state workers and fewer carbon emissions due to less miles driven and closing offices an extra day. Most state workers in Utah shifting to 4-day weekUSA Today

WI – The Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming has recommended eliminating the moratorium on nuclear plants. The current moratorium requires that a federally licensed nuclear waste facility be operational before a plant can be built. Specifically the panel recommended that the plants must have a “reasonable and stringent” waste plan, deliver power only to Wisconsin instead of other states, and meet renewable energy and energy efficiency goals beforehand. Ease restrictions on nuclear power plants, state task force recommendsCapital Times

National News

President Bush has asked Congress to reverse an 18-year-old ban on offshore coastal oil drilling and renewed calls to allow oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Mr. Bush could rescind an executive order which bans offshore drilling, but a Congressional ban would still be in effect. Bills appearing in Congress would repeal the federal ban, but allow states to decide whether to keep and enforce their own bans. Following the president’s announcement, many coastal governors weighed in on the idea. Supporters of repealing the ban on offshore drilling include Governors Charlie Crist (FL) and Haley Barbour. In addition, Governors Mark Sanford (SC) and Sonny Perdue (GA) have shown at least tentative support for the repeal. Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA), Mike Easley (NC), Jon Corzine (NJ), Martin O’Malley (MD), Ted Kulongoski (OR), Christine Gregoire (WA), and John Baldacci (ME) are opposed to the repeal. States along the Gulf Coast, with the exception of Florida, are exempt from the ban. Bush Calls for End to Ban on Offshore Oil DrillingNew York Times and State officials offer mixed views on offshore drillingHattiesburg American and Offshore drilling draws concernThe Daily Times and Coastal Governors Pledge to Protect Oceans from Offshore DrillingFox Business and Gov. Sanford still conditionally opposes offshore drillingGreenville News and Soaring gas prices drive offshore-drilling debateFlorida Capital News and Schwarzenegger remains opposed to offshore oil drillingSan Diego Union-Tribune

Both presidential hopefuls are in favor of reducing the use of fossil fuels, but Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain have differing views on the pathway to achieving that goal. Sen. Obama has called for greatly increasing fuel efficiency standards and ethanol use for cars, new requirements for power generation from wind, solar, and other renewable sources, and windfall profits taxes on oil companies. He opposes renewed calls for offshore oil drilling and is skeptical about expanding nuclear power. Sen. McCain, on the other hand, believes offshore drilling and nuclear plants will help ease energy costs and that market incentives and tax breaks can help encourage reductions in carbon emissions and the use of alternative energy sources, including electric-powered vehicles. Sen. McCain also favors a temporary extension of the federal gas tax, which Sen. Obama opposes. Both candidates support more government oversight of energy futures speculators and making the US government itself more energy efficient. McCain and Obama share energy goals, not methodsChristian Science Monitor

Other News

The National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices announced the award of grants to 12 states as part of NGA Chair Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s Securing a Clean Energy Future initiative. Each state will receive $50,000 for projects in energy efficiency, conservation, or clean energy development. Examples of projects include: 1) developing training curriculum for assuring compliance with updated statewide energy efficiency building codes, 2) analysis of the costs and benefits of electric vehicles prior to large-scale deployment; and 3) a study of the greenhouse gas emissions of ethanol fuel related to the development of a low-carbon fuel standard. The states awarded grants are: Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina and Utah. NGA Awards Clean Energy Grants to 12 StatesNGA News Release

The Western Governors Association, which counts 22 Governors of US states and territories as members, held its annual meeting in Wyoming and focused discussion on environmental and energy issues. While all of the Governors in attendance consider climate change to be a real issue, some highlighted the challenge of deploying alternative energy sources given a lack of infrastructure. The Governors also recognized that traditional forms of energy generation such as coal and nuclear power will continue to play a large role into the future of Western states, especially since the region’s energy needs are growing faster than in other parts of the country. Western govs, energy heads seek solutionsHelena Independent Record and Govs eye national energy roleCasper Star-Tribune and Western govs to mull ways to cut pollution, slow warming, boost energySalt Lake Tribune

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Energy Update, April 24, 2008

April 24, 2008
In the States

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National and Regional


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

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