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Energy Update, July 16, 2010

In the States

FL – Governor Charlie Crist has called a special session of the State legislature to begin next week.  The sole purpose of the session is to pass a constitutional amendment banning offshore oil before August 4, which would put the amendment on the ballot this November.  Offshore drilling is already banned in Florida, but the Governor has expressed concern that future legislators might overturn the existing ban, which they could not do to a constitutional amendment.  Crist calls for special session to ban offshore oil drilling near FloridaThe Ledger

MO – Governor Jay Nixon has signed a bill into law that will make it easier for residents to pay for energy efficiency upgrades on their homes.  Under the new law, cities and counties will be able to issue low-interest bonds to homeowners for home improvements such as new windows or insulation.  The loans would be paid back to the State through a special 20-year assessment on property taxes.  Mo. Gov. signs bills on energy efficiency, KC zooBloomberg Business Week

OH – Governor Ted Strickland has announced the new Northwest Ohio Solar Energy Hub, a conglomeration of colleges, universities, and career centers aimed at promoting solar energy and related jobs and businesses.  A $250,000 grant has been awarded to the hub, which will allow collaboration between these entities, the solar industry, and the manufacturing sector on a plan for urban economic development and revitalization.  Governor announces Ohio solar energy hubSolar Novus Today

UT – Governor Gary Herbert testified at a Republican House and Senate Western Caucus hearing in Washington, DC about the challenge of developing energy resources in Western States.  He said that his goal is to streamline the process for energy companies interested in developing resources in the State and that uncertainty about the Obama administration’s policies on energy development on public lands is “spooking” companies considering investments in Utah.  The Governor also said that Congressional Republicans and Democrats need to work together on these issues, that he thinks “it is foolish for us to fight and rant and rave,” and that he is working to build a relationship with the Obama administration.  Gov. Gary Herbert urges cooperation with Obama administration on issues of the WestDeseret News  

Regional News

Governors from both parties in eleven States on the East Coast have signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) against a proposed electric transmission line from the Midwest to the East Coast.  The proposed line would allow Midwestern States to send renewable energy produced there to the Eastern States.  The Governors disapprove of the line because they would like to create their own alternative energy rather than import it from other States, and because they believe ratepayers in the Eastern States would shoulder the costs, estimated at $16 billion.  Signatories include Governors M. Jodi Rell (R-CT), Jack Markell (D-DE), John Baldacci (D-ME), Martin O’Malley (D-MD), Deval Patrick (D-MA), John Lynch (D-NH), Chris Christie (R-NJ), David Paterson (D-NY), Donald Carcieri (R-RI), Jim Douglas (R-VT), and Bob McDonnell (R-VA).  Eastern Governors protest Midwest wind transmission lineDes Moines Register

Six New England Governors and five Eastern Canadian Premiers participated in a conference to discuss energy goals.  In the end, the leaders agreed to reduce energy use in buildings 20% by 2020 through higher standards in building codes, examine implementing a low carbon fuel standard, and promote solar power by establishing a regional usage standard.  The Governors separately agreed to petition the US government to establish a high efficiency standard on furnaces in New England.  Massachusetts promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy goalsGovMonitor

National News

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said that he will bring energy and climate legislation to the Senate floor by the end of July.  The legislation is still a rough draft and will be the subject of intense negotiations in the coming weeks, but Senator Reid has said it will contain a section on reducing greenhouse gas emissions that would apply only to electric utilities rather than the entire economy.  A number of Senators from both parties have expressed skepticism that the bill will pass the procedural phase, with liberal Democrats saying it is too weak, moderate Democrats weary of costly new federal requirements, and Republicans opposed to the process being used to move he bill forward and certain elements of the legislation, including proposed limits on carbon emissions.  Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) has already said that he will not vote for a motion to proceed, forcing Senator Reid to secure at least two Republican votes for cloture, though potential supporters of a more comprehensive approach such as Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Judd Gregg (R-NH) have signaled that they will not support the legislation if it caps greenhouse gas emissions in any way.  In a move to build support for the measure, Senator John Kerry (D-MA), a key supporter, is set to meet with the main electric utility trade group on possible concessions on existing Clean Air Act regulations, causing some environmental groups who say they may withdraw support if the concessions are too great.  Reid warms to July climate votePolitico and Clock winding down on Senate’s carbon cap effortsNew York Times and Nelson says no to climate votePolitico and Utilities, signaling support for carbon caps, want ‘relief’ from other air pollutantsNew York Times

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Energy Update, August 21, 2009

In the States

CT – Renewable energy is a growing industry in Connecticut, resulting in new jobs, thriving small businesses, and millions in new investments.  The new projects range from a small wind turbine on a farm to a million-dollar-plus solar array at a school and are made possible in part through state funds and federal stimulus money.  Clean energy taking root in ConnecticutHartford Courant

NJ – Governor Jon Corzine praised residents, businesses, and environmental groups during the celebration of the 4,000th solar installation in the state.  Solar energy now produces more than 90 megawatts statewide.  The Governor implied that such installations help achieve his goal to increase the use of renewable energy and create more jobs.  New Jersey reaches renewable energy milestoneNew Jersey Newsroom

NY – Governor David Paterson has signed an executive order that will seek to cut emissions from all sources to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.  He also named a Climate Action Council to make recommendations on how to best achieve this goal.  Deputy Secretary for Energy Tom Congdon noted that such a program will make the State more competitive if and when a national carbon-cutting program is implemented.  State joins effort to limit greenhouse gasAlbany Times-Union

Regional and National News

MidwestState officials’ responses to the federal government’s calls for more investment in “green” jobs ranges from alarm to advocacy.  Some see the shift from manufacturing to green jobs as a poor trade-off that will result in a large net loss of jobs.  Others are more optimistic and see it as an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gases and boost their local economies.  The number of green jobs is growing throughout the region, but still represents a much smaller percentage of total jobs than the manufacturing sector.  Greening the rustbeltEconomist

National – The federal government is continuing its investment in alternative energy through more than $350 million of stimulus assistance and and other funds released in the past month.  The projects include $52.5 million for concentrating solar research, $13.8 million for 28 wind projects, $21.45 million for community renewable energy projects, $47 million for smart grids and statewide clean energy programs, $6.3 million for biofuel research, and $212 million for other clean energy projects.  US government continues to fund renewable energy R&D

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