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Energy Update, August 24, 2012

August 28, 2012

In the States

IA – Governor Terry Branstad, joined by Alliant Energy’s chief executive officer and several state energy officials, announced the launch of a $345 million project upgrade for the Ottumwa Generating Station. The new emissions-reduction system at the south central Iowa plant is projected to reduce sulfur dioxide and mercury emissions by 90 percent thanks to a series of high-tech filters that curtail pollution. Governor Branstad, who predicts an increase in the use of such technology, called the project “a long-term investment in Iowa’s economy and environment.” Officials Tout $345 Million System at Ottumwa Generating StationThe Ottumwa Courier

KY – Governor Steve Beshear announced the opening of a $20.7 million facility committed to the research and development of renewable energy and energy storage technologies. The Kentucky-Argonne Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center is an advanced manufacturing facility that will help researchers study and create new energy technologies, including biofuels and electrochemical devices such as batteries and capacitors. “This amazing facility, which includes one of the first federal battery manufacturing laboratories in the United States,” said Governor Beshear, “is more proof that Kentucky is now a leader in developing the energy and automotive technologies of the future." Gov. Beshear Announces Opening of $20.7 Million FacilityToday’s Energy Solutions and University of Kentucky Opens $20.7 Million Research LabThe Lexington Herald Leader

 Federal News

 The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled 2-1 to strike down an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule to control air pollution at power plants. The regulation, known as the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, targeted coal-fired plants and was projected to cost the utility industry $2.4 billion in pollution-control upgrades over several years. The EPA’s rule sought to require cleanup according to the cost of the reductions in pollution rather than “apportion the reductions according to the amount of pollution that each upwind state was contributing.” Ruling that the EPA had overstepped its authority, the Court’s majority stated the EPA had used a section of the Clean Air Act “to impose massive emission’s reduction requirements on upwind States without regard to the limits imposed by the statutory text.” Experts say a new rule may take years to draft. Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Obama Air Pollution RuleThe Washington Post and Court Blocks E.P.A. Rule on Cross State PollutionThe New York Times

 The Department of Energy released a new report noting the strong growth in the U.S. wind energy market in 2011. The wind energy market, according to the report, accounted for 32 percent of all new electric capacity additions last year, roughly $14 billion in new investment. The report also found the nation’s wind power capacity has reached 47,000 megawatts, or enough to provide power to approximately 13 million homes annually. "This report shows that America can lead the world in the global race to manufacture and deploy clean energy technologies," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. U.S. Wind Power Capacity IncreasingUnited Press International

 The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted 2-1 to require American oil and mining companies to disclose taxes and other fees that they pay to foreign governments. The rule, which derives its authority from a section of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, will apply to approximately 1,100 companies and mandates the reporting of payments made in excess of $100,000 beginning in fiscal year 2014. Industry groups maintained the rule will allow foreign, state-owned companies to discover the proprietary business information and strategy of their American competitors, thereby potentially forcing a decrease of American business in countries where foreign companies do not have to make such disclosures or are prohibited from doing so. In support of the new requirements, Luis Aguilar, an SEC commissioner, quoted former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis by stating, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” U.S. Oil and Mining Companies Must Disclose Payments to Foreign GovernmentsThe New York Times

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Energy Update, June 29, 2012

June 29, 2012

In the States

AK – Governor Sean Parnell has signed a bill into law that creates a new fund within the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) that will provide loans, both directly and through banks and credit unions, to finance energy projects in the State.  The authority will also be able to offer loan or bond guarantees.  The new energy fund will help finance small to medium-sized energy projects, such as improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings or developing new renewable energy, and will begin operations this year with $125 million.  Governor Parnell said the new law “will bring the state closer to achieving its goal of 50 percent electricity generated by renewable energy by 2025.”  Gov. Parnell signs bills expanding AIDEA finance abilityAlaska Journal of Commerce

NH – Governor John Lynch has signed a bill into law that fully incorporates thermal renewable energy into the State’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) program.  The legislation also gives incentives to biomass, solar, and geothermal project developers equivalent to those provide to renewable electricity projects.  Under the new law, projects such as wood pellet-burning boilers and solar hot water systems must be used to meet a portion of the state’s current RPS standard, which mandates that 23.8 of percent of every utility’s energy portfolio come from renewable energy sources by 2025.  The legislation sets specific percentage requirements that increase over time.  Qualifying thermal projects will also receive the same $29 per megawatt-hour renewable energy credits as other renewable energy sources.  New Hampshire sets thermal renewable energy carve-outRenewable Energy World and N.H. grants full RPS credit to biomass thermalBiomass Magazine

ND – Governor Jack Dalrymple joined Senator John Hoeven in speaking to the Renewable Energy Action Summit, in which they and other government and business officials said that the State’s approach to energy is a model for the country.  Governor Dalrymple said that the State’s goal of doubling energy production between 2007 and 2025 is “almost laughable now” because the State is ahead of schedule to meet that goal.  North Dakota has experienced a sevenfold increase in oil production in the last decade to more than 600,000 barrels, making it the No. 2 oil producer after Texas.  Wind power generation has also increased over the same period of time from less than a half a megawatt to 1,400 megawatts, ranking North Dakota 9th among all states.  Credit for the growth in energy production was mostly given to the State’s comprehensive energy policy, which includes goals for developing each type of energy resource and allows the State to work with the energy industry to ensure that those goals are achieved.  Officials: ND energy policy is model for countryGrand Forks Herald

Federal News

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has upheld a finding by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that greenhouse gases pose a public health risk and must be regulated.  A panel of three judges ruled unanimously that the agency’s decision to impose restrictions was “unambiguously correct.” under requirements set forth in the Clean Air Act.  The court also upheld rules that limit emissions from both cars and stationary sources.  Fourteen states joined together in a lawsuit to block the EPA from imposing new restrictions, while 15 other states were part of earlier litigation that forced the EPA to take action.  Virginia’s attorney general said that he will appeal the ruling.  Court backs EPA over emissions limits intended to reduce global warmingNew York Times

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Energy Update, April 20, 2012

April 20, 2012

In the States

AK – Governor Sean Parnell has called a special 30-day session of the State Legislature to address several matters, including tax incentives for oil production.  Both the Alaska House and Senate earlier considered legislation on this issue, but couldn’t reach agreement.  The Senate attempted in the regular session to overhaul current tax law but was unable to agree on how to address existing oil fields, and so provided incentives for only new fields. This approach was rejected by the House, which had passed its own package of incentives.  Governor Parnell said that he prefers a complete overhaul of the tax structure, including incentives for existing oil fields, because it would help speed up production from wells that are becoming less economically viable.  He estimated that the incentives could lead to an increase of 100,000 barrels per day in less than two years, while incentives for only new fields could take as long as 10 years to increase production.  Alaska Gov. Parnell introduces oil tax billFairbanks Daily News-Miner and Alaska Governor to introduce oil tax bill this weekFairbanks Daily News-Miner

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a consolidation and expansion of programs administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Long Island Power Authority, and the New York Power Authority, in an effort to double the amount of customer-sited solar energy production this year, and to quadruple that amount in 2013.  Governor Cuomo said that the NY-Sun Initiative “puts New York at the forefront of solar development and research, creating green jobs while containing energy costs for consumers.”  Part of the initiative involves the State’s Public Service Commission doubling funding for a program that provides incentives to homes and businesses to install solar panels on-site. These funds will be transferred from an existing program designed to subsidize larger renewable energy projects.  Other changes in the initiative include solar demonstration projects, expansion of research and development, an investment in cost-cutting strategies, a new program in which the Long Island Power Authority will install their solar panels on customers’ premises, and agencies working together to streamline the permitting and interconnection processes.  Governor Cuomo announces comprehensive NY-Sun Initiative to expand solar development in New YorkSaugerties Post Star and PSC approves doubling solar incentive fundsAlbany Times Union

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell has signed 13 energy bills into law that he says will help Virginia become “the energy capital of the East Coast.”  At a signing ceremony, Governor McDonnell said that the “legislative package strengthens and adds flexibility to the expansion of our energy infrastructure, which is a key component in attracting new economic development and jobs,” as well as expanding alternative energy.  Among the new laws are measures that would expand the production and use of natural gas, expand the definition, research, and use of renewable energy, improve electricity infrastructure, support energy efficiency, and convert the State’s fleet of automobiles to use alternative energy.  McDonnell signs energy billsAugusta Free Press and Gov. signs 13 energy billsCavalier Daily

National News

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a final rule on hydraulic fracturing, which will require companies using the process to capture natural gas to implement procedures to help mitigate negative environmental effects.  The most stringent regulations, which will require rig operators to use “green completions,” which capture smog-producing gases upon initially tapping a well, will not go into effect until 2015; the initial proposed regulation would have required a 60-day implementation.  Until 2015, drillers will need to burn off the gases rather than capture them.  The gas industry, which had argued that supplies required to implement the new regulations would not be available within 60 days, called the delay an “important adjustment” that would allow compliance.  Many existing wells already use the technology required by the new rules, which the EPA estimates will make companies up to $11 million per year since they will be able to sell gases they capture instead of burning or releasing them.  Obama issues first pollution rules for gas wells, offers delayBloomberg

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a three-month funding extension required to continue federal support for transportation projects that include roads, bridges, and transit systems.  Included in this version is language that would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.  The pipeline is opposed by some environmentalists because the type of oil sent through it will generate more greenhouse gases than other types of oil; it is supported by unions because of the jobs it is expected to create and by others who believe it will lead to a reduced dependency on foreign oil.  The bill will now go to a conference committee to be reconciled with a bill passed by the Senate that does not include a provision on the Keystone pipeline.  President Barack Obama has vowed to veto the legislation if it includes a requirement to approve the pipeline.  House Republicans revive bid to advance Keystone pipelineBusinessWeek and House clears highway bill with Keystone pipeline mandate, thwarts Obama The Hill

 

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Energy Update, December 16, 2011

December 16, 2011

In the States

NE – After calling a special session to determine how to approach environmental issues related to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, Governor Dave Heineman is now endorsing an accelerated approval process for the project.  Governor Heineman said “I certainly support expediting everything we're doing with the Keystone XL project,” which includes not only federal permitting but a State environmental review that is expected to take up to nine months.  The Obama Administration has said that it will not make a decision on whether to issue the required permits for the project until 2013.  Heineman supports speeding up Keystone XLLincoln Journal Star

NJ – Governor Chris Christie has approved a final master energy plan for New Jersey that would lower the percentage of energy required to come from clean sources by 2020 from 30 percent to 22.4 percent.  The revised plan calls for changing the focus of solar production incentives from residential installations to large-scale collection centers and increasing the amount of solar energy credits utilities will be required to buy.  The plan also calls for building a new nuclear power plant and convening a State panel to discuss the future role of nuclear energy.  The plan includes a longer-term goal to derive 70 percent of the State’s electricity from clean sources, which include nuclear, natural gas, and hydroelectric power.  Natural gas, nuclear get bigger role in energy master planNorthJersey.com and NJ energy master plan finalized: action on solar, but environmentalists still not happyNJ.com

WA – Governor Chris Gregoire is meeting with stakeholders to discuss potential changes to the State’s definition of clean energy.  A mandate passed by voters requires larger utilities to generate three percent of electricity from clean sources starting January 1, 2012, gradually increasing that percentage in coming years up to 15 percent in 2020.  Currently, the mandate does not consider existing hydroelectric energy, which generates two-thirds of the State’s electricity, to count toward meeting the goals. However, legislation is expected to be introduced in the next session that would modify the treatment of this source of energy.  Governor Gregoire has indicated she supports allowing some incremental hydropower and biomass improvements to count towards meeting the State’s clean energy standard, along with other changes to the law, such as delaying some requirements for smaller and slowly growing utilities, and allowing utilities to offset future requirements with excess conservation.  Governor weighs changes to Wash. clean-energy lawSeattle Post-Intelligencer

Federal News

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a draft report following a three-year study on hydraulic fracturing that suggests that the method of retrieving trapped natural gas may have contributed to the contamination of the water supply in central Wyoming.  The study notes that the gas wells are unusually shallow and are thus more likely to affect the water supply, but that synthetic materials used in the hydraulic fracturing process, including benzene and methane, were found in monitoring wells near the gas wells.  The study will now be peer-reviewed and available for public comment.  Wyoming Governor Matt Mead called for more testing to be done and called the study “scientifically questionable” while a local citizens’ group praised the EPA for offering protection to residents of the affected area.  E.P.A. links tainted water in Wyoming to hydraulic fracturing for natural gasNew York Times

Despite the fact that many energy-related bills have been proposed, introduced, or debated in the current Congress, almost no legislation has been enacted this year except for a bill to improve pipeline safety.  Included on the list of inaction is President Barack Obama’s proposal that he unveiled at this year’s State of the Union address: a renewable standard requiring 80 percent of the country’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2035.  Other languishing energy proposals include 15 narrowly focused bills that passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee with bipartisan support, efforts to respond to the Gulf oil spill and West Virginia coal mine explosion disasters, a range of House-passed measures to increase domestic energy production, limitations on EPA rulemaking authority, and initiatives to address climate change concerns.  The Obama Administration has moved forward with several regulatory initiatives, including new fuel efficiency standards for personal and industrial vehicles, offshore energy production oversight, and EPA regulation of greenhouse gases.  However, increased partisanship in Congress has made it more difficult to pass legislation than in previous years when lawmakers approved bills encouraging renewable energy production, increasing fuel efficiency, and increasing offshore energy production.  While some lawmakers from both parties are planning on pushing for new energy legislation in 2012, they acknowledge that the chances of passage are slim; Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chair Jeff Bingaman said, “Given the makeup of this Congress, it’s very hard to see how we get serious legislation of that sort through both houses and to the president for his signature.”  Big energy measures to slide past in 2012 - Politico

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Energy Update, July 29. 2011

July 29, 2011

In the States

CA – Governor Jerry Brown has made dramatically increasing renewable energy production and decreasing overall energy usage in his State by 2020 his first major policy initiative since reaching a budget agreement.  The plan calls for 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy – enough to power a third of California’s peak energy use -- of which 12,000 megawatts will come from small localized renewable energy production facilities at homes and commercial buildings throughout the State, as well as tighter building codes and efficiency requirements.  The Governor will meet with stakeholders on how to best implement the plan, including streamlining the permitting process and integrating educational, technological, and financial resources.  Governor Brown used strong language in describing his feelings about efforts to thwart progress on his plan and the importance of pushing ahead with implementation.  In describing expected obstacles, the Governor said, "There's technical problems, financial problems, regulatory problems, coordination problems….The fact is, the regulations are so embedded in our culture or legal system that to overcome it is difficult."  From Governor Moonbeam to Governor Sunbeam – Brown pushed for alternative energyMercury News and Calif. Governor vows to ‘crush’ foes of renewable energyNew York Times

IA – Governor Terry Branstad recently toured a power plant that turns gas emissions from landfills into enough energy to power 4,000 nearby homes.  He also toured a greenhouse that is heated by the power plant, which grows high-quality organic produce for local businesses and residents.  Governor Branstad said, “These operations are tremendous examples of how business is constantly adapting to meet the needs of Iowans with job creation, clean power, and affordable organic produce that is grown locally.  I’m encouraged by the commitment here to add good paying ‘green’ jobs with sustainable operations.”  Iowa Governor tours landfill gas plant heating nearby greenhouseBrighterEnergy.org

National News

President Barack Obama’s administration has reached an agreement with automakers to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent and fuel consumption by 40 percent in cars and light trucks by 2025, the largest cut in emissions since the federal government started regulating them in the 1970s.  The new proposal will require that automakers’ vehicle fleets sold then will average 54.5 miles per gallon.  Cars will be required to improve efficiency five percent each year between 2017 and 2025 while light trucks must improve 3.5 percent annually between 2017 and 2021 and five percent each year between 2022 and 2025.  The measures represent a compromise between environmentalist groups, unions, and California on one side and automakers on the other.  California officials had warned that the State would institute its own stricter regulations if the federal rules were not imposed.  The compromise won the support of California, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, and Hyundai, with varying levels of support from environmental groups.  Automakers, Obama administration agree on fuel efficiency standards through 2025Washington Post and Carmakers back strict new rules for gas mileageNew York Times

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed new regulations that would limit the amount of pollution allowed at oil and gas drilling sites.  These regulations, the first that apply to the drilling site rather than a processing facility, were issued in response to a court order, and are most restrictive on drilling operations that use hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” as a means to extract oil and gas from shale.  Some states have begun regulating emissions at drilling sites, which can cause smog and soot, and which result from allowing newly extracted gases to escape during the drilling process or from compressors, storage tanks, or other equipment.  Producers will be required to reduce emissions of smog-forming compounds by about 25% under the new regulations.  The reductions would result in even higher reductions -- 95 percent – at fracking sites.  The EPA estimates that the regulations will save energy companies about $30 million per year since they will keep and sell the gases that would otherwise escape into the atmosphere.  The oil and gas industry has requested to push back the final rules another six months while environmental groups say they are already overdue.  EPA proposes first-ever controls on air pollution at oil and gas wells, equipmentWashington Post and EPA proposes pollution limits for gas fracturing, oil productionSan Francisco Gate

An offshore drilling safety bill has stalled in the Senate Energy Committee after Senators supporting an amendment to increase revenue sharing for coastal states used procedural rules to forestall a vote to give the sponsor, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), more time to secure the support of her colleagues.  The amendment would expand the number of coastal states eligible to receive a 37.5 percent share of energy production revenues currently available to only Gulf Coast states.  Proponents of the measure included several coastal Senators on the committee as well as six Republican Governors from coastal states (Alaska, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia) who signed onto a letter in support of the amendment.  That letter said in part, “If a responsible portion of the vast revenues from offshore generation and production are returned to our states, we would be far better prepared to mitigate the resulting risks and impacts.”  Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), the committee’s chairman, is staunchly opposed to the amendment and has wanted to move ahead with a vote.  The Obama administration also opposes the amendment and believes the drilling safety bill’s chances for passage are greater without the amendment.  Coastal Governors push revenue sharing ahead of markupThe Hill and Oil spill bill’s fate uncertain after Senate panel’s adjournmentPolitico

 

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Energy Update, July 15, 2011

July 15, 2011

In the States

HI – Governor Neil Abercrombie has signed a bill into law that will require the State’s Public Utility Commission to study and, if practicable, implement a program that would allow homeowners to finance the upfront costs of home-based renewable energy and efficiency projects through savings realized in utility bills.  This “on-bill financing” option would allow many homeowners to bypass the often unaffordable initial cost to take advantage of renewable energy and allow them to own the equipment outright once the costs are paid down through savings credits on their utility bills.  Electric customers could get a financing break with new lawHawaii News Now

NH – Governor John Lynch has vetoed a bill that would have withdrawn New Hampshire from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade consortium comprised of ten States in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.  The Governor explained his veto by saying the legislation would “cost our citizens jobs, both now and into the future, hinder our economic recovery and damage our state's long-term economic competitiveness.”  While the House passed the bill with a veto-proof majority of over two-thirds, the Senate did not.  The Governor also said that a withdrawal from RGGI would cost ratepayers $6 million in additional costs and the State would forego $12 million per year in sales of emissions permits.  Supporters of the bill have said that RGGI has increased energy costs.  House Speaker William O’Brian released a statement calling RGGI a “failed policy” that has raised New Hampshire’s electricity rates 149 percent above the national average.  Citing jobs and economic growth, NH Gov. vetoes bill to exit RGGIReuters

NJ – Governor Chris Christie has proposed revisions to the State’s master energy plan, last revised by former Governor John Corzine in 2008, that are intended to lower electricity rates for residents and businesses by eliminating some of the incentives and subsidies currently offered to promote clean energy.  The Governor says that New Jersey has some of the highest energy costs in the country and that he wants to make rates more comparable to other states in order to promote economic growth and reduce financial burdens on rate-payers.  The revisions would also lower the State’s renewable energy use goal from 30% to 22.5% by 2021.  However, Governor Christie is also proposing the development of large solar generation projects on brownfield sites and landfills, as well as the codification of statutory provisions intended to promote the development of offshore wind energy.  Opponents say the changes may jeopardize green investments and green job growth.  While Matt Elliot, clean energy advocate for Environment New Jersey, acknowledges that renewables currently have higher costs, he also argues that fossil fuels benefited from subsidies and that prices for solar energy and other renewables are becoming more competitive every year.  Advocates say changes threaten New Jersey’s green energyAsbury Park Press

Regional News

At meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a group of New England Governors and Canadian premiers have discussed a new transmission line from Canada that would bring clean hydroelectric power to major population centers in New England States.  Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin discussed the plan with reporters in a teleconference call, saying it is too soon to know whether the transmission line will be routed through Vermont, but that any State willing to host it could expect to receive preferential rates.  Governor Shumlin also discussed proposals from two Canadian companies to purchase the State’s largest utility.  Group looks to bring more Canadian power to New EnglandVermont Public Radio

National News

U.S. Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner of Virginia have introduced legislation that would allow for offshore oil and natural gas drilling in federal waters off the Virginia coast.  The bill requires half of leasing revenues to go to the State to be used for renewable energy development, conservation, and infrastructure.  Senator Warner cited the large amount of money sent to unfriendly oil-rich nations and Senator Webb said the drilling would bring more domestic energy and an improved economy.  Governor Bob McDonnell said the proposed legislation is a “common-sense proposal” that would bring “much needed jobs and revenue.”  The Director of Sierra Club’s Virginia chapter sad the plan will not reduce costs or dependence on foreign oil and that the efforts would be better spent on renewable energy.  Webb, Warner introduce bill to allow offshore drillingRichmond Times Dispatch

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a final rule that requires power plants in 27 states to reduce emissions that contribute to pollution in neighboring states.  The EPA estimates the rule will save hundreds of billions in health care costs due to a reduction in chronic health problems caused by the pollution, and prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths in 2014 but will cost around $800 million per year.  The rule, which goes into effect January 1, 2012, has received mixed reactions from States.  Governor Rick Perry of Texas called the rule “another example of heavy-handed and misguided action from Washington, D.C.” that would have negative consequences for residents in his State.  However, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz, the State’s top environmental official, believes the rule will greatly help Vermont since it has had difficulty attaining federal air quality standards because of emissions produced in other nearby states.  "By reducing ozone and fine particle pollution, EPA's new rule will protect the health of Vermonters, saving lives and preventing illnesses," Markowitz said.  New EPA rule aims to reduce pollution across State bordersPittsburgh Post-Gazette and Texas Governor bashes new federal environmental regulationsNew Orleans Examiner and Vermont environment chief hails new EPA ruleBoston Globe

 

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Energy Update, July 1, 2011

July 1, 2011

In the States

CA – The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has postponed full implementation of the State’s cap-and-trade system for one year, until 2013, though ARB Chairwoman Mary Nichols maintains the State will still be on track to meet the underlying law’s emissions goal:  reducing GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.  The law was originally supposed to take effect at the beginning of 2012.  "We will be testing the system, doing simulation models, but no one will be held accountable during that year for compliance," Nichols said. "But at the end of 2014, people will still be where they would have been if the program had started." She also indicated that Governor Jerry Brown did not involve himself in the Board’s decisions.  A judge ruled in March that the State had not adequately analyzed alternatives to the cap-and-trade program before requiring its implementation, as required by California’s Environmental Qualify Act, but an appeals court has since ruled the State can move forward while the appeal is being heard.   California delays its carbon trading program for a yearLos Angeles Times and California delays cap-and-trade auctions, citing potential gamingNew York Times

FL – Governor Rick Scott has proposed developing a new State energy policy that would encourage renewable energy, but also would also address other issues such as offshore drilling and clean coal.  He also wants the Public Service Commission to lower requirements for utilities to conserve more electricity through consumer rewards and incentives.  The Governor has said that he wants to attract manufacturing jobs to the State and that doing so would require lower energy costs.  While one of the State’s utilities estimated that a plan in place to lower energy usage would cost the average residential consumers an additional $13.20 per month over nine years, the Governor is looking for alternative approaches for meeting Florida’s energy needs. In a meeting with energy stakeholders, Mary Anne Carter, Governor Scott’s chief advisor said, “The Governor is a big proponent of renewable energy.”  The Governor, however, also prefers allowing free-market forces to determine the type and amount of renewable energy use rather that favoring a single type of producer or driving the market through a renewable standard set by the State.  Scott calls for reducing energy-saving rebatesSunSentinel and Scott wants to reduce energy efficiency rules and push cost-effective renewablesMiami Herald

GA – Governor Nathan Deal has ordered that a scheduled increase in the State’s gasoline tax from 20.4 cents per gallon to 22 cents per gallon that was to take effect on July 1 be suspended until the end of the year.  The legislature will need to finalize the decision, but the Governor’s plan has the support of the State House Speaker.  Governor Deal cited gasoline’s “escalating costs in 2011” in his announcement of the freeze, and said that the move should save consumers $40 million in the coming months.  Governor freezes gas tax Atlanta Journal Constitution

NV – Governor Brian Sandoval has vetoed a renewable energy bill because of a provision added on the legislature’s last day that would have increased electricity rates to pay for a transmission line that would be used to export power from the State.  The bill would have allowed a single utility, NV Energy, to bypass the normal approval process for this project, which critics contended would have cost as much as $1 billion.  The utility would have been able to send renewable energy power to other States with renewable energy standards, including California and Arizona.  Governor Sandoval said that any potential rate hike “would result in the imposition of an unnecessary and unfair burden on our recovery.”  The project may still move forward without the bill, as other companies have also expressed interest in building the transmission lines.  Governor vetoes controversial last-minute energy billLas Vegas Sun

National News

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court threw out a lawsuit from brought by a group of States and environmental groups that, if successful, would have forced power plants to lower greenhouse gas emissions.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) already regulates greenhouse gas emissions from some large industrial plants and is planning to issue regulations to control power plant emissions next year.  While some members of Congress are seeking legislation to block the EPA from using the Clean Air Act to issue regulations further limiting greenhouse gas emissions, the plaintiffs in this case were seeking the right to require lower emissions more quickly through a lawsuit, which could have given federal judges a role in overseeing emissions standards, currently the authority of the EPA.  The court ruled that giving such power to judges is not consistent with the Clean Air Act and rejected the lawsuit, but said that the group could sue the EPA in federal court should they disagree with the agency’s rulemaking decision.  States cannot bypass EPA on power plant emissions, Justices ruleNew York Times and Supreme Court tosses lawsuit against utilitiesPolitico

 

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Energy Update, April 22, 2011

April 22, 2011

In the States

CA – Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the country’s strongest renewable energy standard that will require electric utilities in the State to generate 33 percent of their electricity from renewable sources in less than nine years.  Although the new law limits the amount of rate hikes due to the new requirements, opponents of the measure cite studies showing that rates may increase by 7-19 percent.  The Governor cited reliance on foreign oil, economic instability, and climate issues in expressing his support for the law while other supporters said it would keep investment strong in the renewable energy industry.  Calif. sets nation’s most aggressive goal for renewable energy as critics say rates will soarWashington Post

OK – Governor Mary Fallin has signed a new law that will expand the allowed length of horizontal drilling into shale reservoirs, easing investment costs for companies to drill for oil and natural gas.  Proponents said that the new law allows for increased production while protecting mineral owners’ rights, and modernizes regulations to account for technological advances that have made it possible to extend drilling longer than was previously possible.  Drilling bill modernizes state oil and gas statutesEnid News & Eagle and Oklahoma’s Gov. Mary Fallin signs energy reform billThe Oklahoman

OR –  Speaking at a conference on the future of energy, Governor John Kitzhaber announced he is developing a 10-year plan for Oregon that will emphasize renewable energy as a way to rebuild the State’s post-recession economy.  During his remarks, one example he cited was the possibility of retrofitting homes with energy-saving materials as a way to replace economic activity previously generated by the housing construction industry.  He also said that he and Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington State had recently discussed forming a three-state coalition with California focused on creating green energy jobs and reducing carbon emissions.  Kitzhaber says it's time for a 10-year plan on clean energy in Oregon – The Oregonian

National News

The U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture have announced $30 million in spending on projects that will support research and development in advanced biofuels, much of which will be in rural areas in the Midwest.  These funds come from the Biomass Research and Development Initiative and could help rural communities become less reliant on fossil fuels.  They will now be able to produce much of the fuel they use for heating and electricity locally, lessening dependence on foreign oil.  The home-grown fuel can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, since burning biomass creates no more pollution that the decomposition process that occurs naturally.  U.S. expands seeding of biomassNew York Times

The U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Duke Energy and the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit utility consortium, to test its first electricity-related invention.  The new product is an energy storage device that may allow electric power generated by wind turbines to be stored and then used when needed.  It may also have applicability to solar power.  Electric power would be used to pump air into an underground cavern.  When more energy is needed, this compressed air would flow through a generator, at 70-75% efficiency.  ARPA-E provided $750,000 to General Compression, the company that makes the device, which then attracted $12 million in private investments.  ARPA-E is poised to put products on the gridNew York Times

The U.S. Supreme Court appears likely to dismiss a case in which six States are suing five energy companies to limit their greenhouse gas emissions.  While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun regulating emissions from new and modified industrial sources, the States are seeking to apply Federal and State laws to regulate existing plants.  Justices listening to oral arguments in the case expressed skepticism about the States’ claim that the costs and benefits of emissions standards can be evaluated by courts rather than determined through the regulatory process administered by federal agencies.  U.S. Supreme Court signals rejection of State climate-emissions lawsuitsBloomberg

Three U.S. States – New York, Minnesota, and California – have joined with 11 utility companies and two environmental groups as a coalition to ask the U.S. EPA to allow States to choose the best approach for meeting federal greenhouse gas emissions standards.  Specifically, the coalition seeks permission to regulate greenhouse gases through existing regional or statewide cap-and-trade programs or renewable energy standards as an alternative to plant-specific limitations.  Some power companies that use more fossil fuels than those taking part in the coalition did not join and are continuing to raise general objections to new restrictions on plant emissions.  States, utilities ask EPA to boost regional cap-and-trade programs

 

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Energy Update, February 11, 2011

February 11, 2011

In the States

MO – The Missouri legislature has passed legislation that keeps the voter-approved requirement that 15% of Missouri’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2021, but eliminates the requirement that utilities purchase energy from producers located in the state or directly from sources outside Missouri.  Governor Jay Nixon has not commented on whether he will sign or veto the measure, which would allow utilities to instead purchase renewable energy “credits” rather than require them to obtain energy from renewable projects.  Proponents of the bill say that loosening restrictions gives utilities greater flexibility to meet the renewable standard, while opponents say the legislation will result in the same rates for electricity, but none of the environmental or economic benefits from requiring the utilities to obtain a portion of their power generation from renewable sources.  Missouri General Assembly kills two rules on renewable energy sourcesKansas City Star

NH – Governor John Lynch has written a letter in opposition to a bill in the New Hampshire State House that would end the State’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the Northeast’s cap-and-trade system.  The bill, which was introduced in the House Committee on Science, Technology, and Energy, says that the permits required by RGGI have “increased consumer costs for electricity, fuel, and food.”  Governor Lynch wrote that prices would not fall after withdrawing from the program since rates are set regionally, but that the State would lose all income from the sale of the permits, about $12 million per year.  New Hampshire Governor backs Northeast’s carbon dioxide marketBloomberg and Governor Lynch opposes RGGI repealOffice of Governor John Lynch

WI – Legislators will not take up a bill proposed by Governor Scott Walker that would have increased property setback requirements where wind turbines are built.  However, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules is holding a hearing on a rule that would allow property owners to build wind turbines only 1,250 feet from their property line, as previously proposed by the State’s Public Service Commission.  This rule could either move forward or be blocked by a vote of the legislature.  Governor Walker’s bill proposed that turbines be set back by at least 1,800 feet and he has said he wants “to see the wind industry, like every other industry, be effective here in the state of Wisconsin,” but that promoting this industry must also be balanced with property rights.  Legislature won’t take up Walker’s wind-siting billMilwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Some States, facing record deficits for the past few years, are seeking to ensure that no revenue is lost due to technological and environmental advances.  Since owners of electric cars use the same roads as gas-powered cars, but do not pay a gas tax that funds those roads, lawmakers in Oregon and Washington have introduced legislation that would charge drivers of electric vehicles either a flat fee or a mileage tax in order to make up for this lost revenue.  Oregon’s bill would impose a per-mile tax of 0.6 cents or about $90 per 15,000 miles driven (about the equivalent of the gas taxes paid for a hybrid), while the bill in Washington would impose a flat fee of $100 when registering an electric car with the State.  Proposal would charge drivers of electric carsRegister-Guard and Electric car owners might face $100 State feeSeattle Times

National News

In an effort to support President Obama’s stated goal of deriving 80% of electricity from renewable sources by 2035, the Departments of Energy and Interior released a joint plan to spur quick development of offshore wind farms, which includes up to $50.5 million of funding incentives.  The funding will be allocated over the next five years and split into three separate initiatives: developing better tools to study and implement offshore wind systems; improving the design of drivetrains inside wind turbines; and removing barriers to the marketplace.  The plan also identifies 911 square nautical miles off the coasts of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia that will undergo early environmental reviews to expedite the process of approving offshore wind development.  U.S. selects zones in four States to accelerate offshore wind energyBloomberg and Salazar, Chu announce major offshore wind initiativesEERE News

Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Lisa Jackson testified for more than two hours before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power, in part to defend her agency’s actions in regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.  Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY), who is sponsoring a draft bill that would revoke the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases, said that "Congress intends to reassert itself in the statutory and regulatory process at EPA and specifically the Clean Air Act."  Administrator Jackson said that the Clean Air Act and scientific evidence of global climate change compelled her agency to move forward with regulating greenhouse gases and that the proposed legislation “would eliminate portions of the landmark law that all American children and adults rely on to protect them from harmful air pollution." Global warming heats up Republican attacks on EPAWashington Post

 

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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, 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, September 24, 2010

September 24, 2010

In the States

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

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

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

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

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

National News

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

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

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Energy Update, June 18, 2010

June 18, 2010

In the States

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

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

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

Regional and National News

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

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

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

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Energy Update, May 21, 2010

May 21, 2010

In the States

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

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

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

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

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

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

National News

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

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

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Energy Update, April 9, 2010

April 9, 2010

In the States

NM – Governor Bill Richardson heralded the arrival of a solar energy company this week, calling it “a great investment for New Mexico.”  Green2V will manage the entire solar energy producing process from making solar cells to financing, and plans to hire 1,500 to 3,000 people in the next several years.  The company joins at least two more large-scale solar power companies that have begun operations in New Mexico recently.  Solar business to build headquarters in NMBusinessWeek

OH – Governor Ted Strickland says that he would like Ohio to be the first State to produce offshore wind energy.  Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. is currently organizing a $100 million project to build several wind turbines three to five miles off the coast of Ohio.  The Governor is advocating for the elimination of the tangible personal property tax on equipment used to create solar or wind power.  Wind turbines planned for Erie Akron Beacon Journal

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell says he would like to make Virginia a national energy power and is pushing for more wind and fossil fuel energy production in Virginia, especially offshore, while also withdrawing from the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition.  The Governor signed several pieces of legislation last week that will promote production of wind energy offshore, create tax credits for green jobs, and create a state-university based alternative fuels research and development foundation, along with some other initiatives.  Governor McDonnell also praised the Obama administration’s decision to allow drilling for natural gas and oil off Virginia’s coast and is seeking 37.5% in royalties from oil sales to finance transportation projects.  The Governor also recently withdrew from the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition after the group sent a letter to Congressional leaders calling for a mandatory renewable energy standard without first getting his approval for this position or the use of his name.  Virginia Gov. McDonnell signs green energy bills – BusinessWeek and McDonnell hails ‘breakthrough’ on offshore drillingRichmond Times-Dispatch and McDonnell withdraws from energy coalitionWashington Post

WY – Governor Dave Freudenthal will host the first of several town-hall style meetings on the topic of wind energy in Wyoming starting later this month.  The Governor said the event will be a “straightforward conversation on what we can all agree are difficult, sometimes polarizing issues, wind development opportunities and transmission line siting.” The meeting is scheduled for April 27.  Governor to host session on wind projects and power transmissionCowboy State Free Press

National News

States could benefit from efforts to expand offshore drilling as part of negotiations over federal climate change legislation.  President Obama’s recent decision to consider off shore drilling leases along the Atlantic Coast has led to more discussion by members of Congress of the pros and cons of giving states a greater role in determining where offshore drilling can occur and whether more states should receive a share of revenues for drilling in federal waters.  Currently, only Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas are eligible for revenue-sharing.  Energy incentives for states are in the works  -- Houston Chronicle

The US Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency have finalized new rules that will phase in greater fuel efficiency and set limits on greenhouse gas emissions for cars and light trucks staring in 2012.  By 2016, all vehicles must get an average of 35.5 miles per gallon.  The change is estimated to increase the cost of a car by just under $1,000 but save drivers about $4,000 in gas costs over the life of the vehicle.  The National Resources Defense Council estimates that the new rules will save consumers $65 billion, reduce oil consumption by 1.3 million barrels per day, and eliminate 220 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 alone.  The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is also in favor of the new rules, calling them “a clear roadmap for future fuel economy increases.”  Emissions limits, greater fuel economy for cars, light trucks made officialWashington Post

The Obama administration is instituting new rules on mountaintop mining for coal that will slow if not completely stop the practice.  The process, in which miners blast the top off a mountain and send the rubble and waste into valleys, has been shown to introduce toxins into streams.  The National Mining Association said the new rules are “tantamount to saying the intent is to strictly limit coal mining in Appalachia while the West Virginia Coal Association said they “represent a grim, crippling picture” for the economy.  While the rules will make the process more difficult, they do not ban it outright; coal companies have options available that will require storing the rubble away from streams and other measures to avoid poisoning the water.  Environmental regulations to curtail mountaintop miningWashington Post

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Energy Update, March 26, 2010

March 26, 2010

In the States

CA – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill into law that will provide a sales tax exemption on equipment used for manufacturing alternative energy products that have a tangible effect on greenhouse gas emissions or energy efficiency.  The new law is expected to be of fiscal benefit to the State since the jobs it creates or keeps will produce more tax revenue.  The Governor also signed a new law that will streamline the permit process for construction of large solar and wind projects, thereby helping alternative energy developers meet deadlines for expending stimulus funding.  California creates green tech manufacturing sales tax exemptionEnvironment News Service and Schwarzenegger signs energy law – Clean Skies

CO – Governor Bill Ritter has signed a new law that will require utilities in the State to obtain 30% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020, the highest renewable energy standard in the region.  The previous standard required 20% of total electricity power to come from renewable sources by 2020.  Provisions in the new law also promote home-based alternative energy production through solar panels or wind turbines and require certifications for solar panel installers.  Ritter signs bill requiring greater use of renewable energy by 2020Denver Post

MA – Governor Deval Patrick’s administration is working to ensure that the benefits of several high-profile projects make their way to taxpayers.  Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles is pushing for contract commitments from companies involved in one of these -- the country’s first offshore wind farm – that would guarantee that tax incentives from federal stimulus legislation and other Department of Energy assistance used for this project lead to lower, more stable rates.  Mass. Gov supporting renewable energy initiativesBoston Herald

SD – Governor Mike Rounds has signed a bill into law that will prohibit easements or leases for wind turbine towers from being finalized until 10 days after of an offer in order to provide homeowners more time to study the contracts.  The new law will also prohibit developers from requiring that the terms of easement contracts  be kept secret and will allow construction of certain larger projects to be completed in up to 12 years, rather than the 5-year timeframe required for smaller projects.  SD Governor signs changes in wind tower easementsBusinessWeek

Regional, National, and International News

A bipartisan group of 29 Governors has sent a report to the US Congress and the White House calling for a mandatory increase in renewable energy, an interstate system of electricity transmission lines, more federal funding for research, and an easier permitting process for offshore wind development.  The report was compiled by the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition and specifically requests enactment of a renewable energy standard of 10% by 2012.  Group of 29 Governors seeks renewable power standard – ­Los Angeles Times and Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition Letter to President Obama and Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition Letter to Congressional Leadership and Great Expectations, US Wind Energy Development - Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DoE) are strengthening verification methods for the Energy Star program, which provides special designation to appliances that meet certain energy efficiency standards.  The agencies say they will test each product seeking the label at independent laboratories starting with 200 base-level models in the next several months.  The change comes amid revelations that auditors have found many problems with the current verification process.  For example, auditors obtained verification for several nonexistent products, including a gasoline powered alarm clock.  A recent audit showed that 100% of computer monitors that had the logo were compliant with the standards, but 80% of those tested that did not have the logo were also compliant.  And it also found that some products without Energy Star designation consumed less power than those with it.  DoE, EPA announce new Energy Star testingClean Skies and Audit finds vulnerability of EnergyStar programNew York Times

For the first time, China now leads the United States and all other G20 countries in clean energy technology investments, pouring almost twice as much private capital as the United States into clean energy technology and designating one-third of its recent stimulus package for clean energy projects.  Developing countries such as Brazil and India are also greatly increasing their clean energy efforts through adoption of national renewable energy standards and investment in the development of biofuels and conservation funds.  In contrast, U.S. investment in renewable energy has fallen 40% since 2008.  China leads major countries with $34.6 billion invested in clean technologyNew 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, February 26, 2010

February 26, 2010

In the States

CA – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill into law that doubles the amount of electricity utilities must purchase from homeowners with solar panels or wind turbines under a net metering arrangement, calling it “great for the environment and great for our economy.”  Net metering allows homeowners with alternative energy generators like solar panels to receive credits for electricity they do not use, but feed to the grid.  These credits can then be used when more electricity is needed than a home system can provide, such as when it is less sunny in the winter.  Prior to the new law, utilities were required to issue net metering credits for 2.5% of electricity generated by the utility; the new law doubles that percentage to 5%.  Gov. Schwarzenegger signs bill to raise net-metering limitSunpluggers.com and California doubles net-metering cap on wind and solar to 5% Treehugger.com

FL – Governor Charlie Crist’s energy office is “trying to encourage energy efficiency, water conservation, and recycling” by implementing a program in which consumers will be eligible for an additional $75 rebate for replacing their inefficient appliances with new Energy Star rated ones.  Florida residents already receive up to $100 in rebates for purchasing efficient appliances, so the additional $75 per appliance will substantially increase the amount consumers will save.  The program only runs April 19-25 and consumers must produce a receipt from a certified disposal facility confirming the destruction of the old appliance to be eligible.  Florida sweetens deal for clunker appliancesMiami Herald

Regional and National News

The Federal government and 11 Atlantic Coast states have taken initial steps towards forming a Wind Consortium to help coordinate offshore wind permitting processes and electric transmission planning.  Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar participated in a news conference in Washington DC announcing the initiative, along with Maine Governor John Baldacci, Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri, Delaware Governor Jack Markell, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.  Offshore wind projects are currently in the planning or permitting processes off the coasts of several of these states.  Feds plan offshore wind consortium with 11 Atlantic States – Environment News Service

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson recently sent a letter to eight coal-state Democratic Senators who had sought a moratorium on new emissions regulations.  In her letter, Administrator Jackson assured the Senators that only the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions would be subject to any limitations before 2013, with limits placed on smaller entities beginning in 2016.  The group of Senators, led by John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, had argued that significant decisions about energy, the economy, and the environment should be left to Congress.  In addition to the concerns of these Senators, Republican members of Congress, industry groups, and officials from Texas, Alabama, and Virginia have challenged EPA’s proposed regulation of industrial emissions.  EPA plans to phase in regulation of emissionsNew York Times

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Energy Update, November 13, 2009

November 13, 2009

In the States

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

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

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

Regional and National News

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

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

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

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

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