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Blog posts : "natural gas"

Energy Update, Sept. 7

September 7, 2012

In the States

 MD – Governor Martin O’Malley attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony of Maryland’s largest solar power facility, a $50 million project located on the grounds of Mount St. Mary’s University. The new 16.1 megawatt solar farm contains more than 200,000 photovoltaic panels, covering roughly 100 acres, and is expected to produce 20 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, or enough energy to power 1,700 homes. Baltimore-based Constellation, a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation, built the facility, which is the result of a three-year-old state initiative to boost renewable energy production. "Solar energy means Maryland jobs," Governor O'Malley said. "Over the next 10 years, with efforts like this, we will be putting another 10,000 Marylanders to work on projects like this. There will be a day when solar panels will be as common as shingles on roofs." Solar lights up the Mount The Baltimore Sun and O’Malley talks jobs at solar farm’s completionThe Frederick News Post

 MI – Governor Rick Snyder joined the Michigan Public Service Commission and Consumers Energy in an effort to block the conversion of a natural gas pipeline to one that carries crude oil, citing the plan’s cost for the state’s consumers. Trunkline Gas, which operates two pipelines that carry natural gas to southwest Michigan, has requested that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) allow the transport of crude oil through one of its lines. According to Governor Snyder, who filed a motion with the FERC to block the company’s proposal, the pipeline supplies approximately one-third of Michigan’s natural gas. “This infrastructure is fundamental to energy supply and reliability in Michigan and is vital to heating our state's homes and businesses at affordable prices," Governor Snyder said. Gas pipeline conversion called costlyThe Detroit Free Press

 WV – Governor Earl Ray Tomblin along with leaders from Williams Partners L.P. announced the company will invest an additional $1.34 billion in processing capacity to help separate and to process natural gas liquids in northern West Virginia. Following Williams’ acquisition of two facilities and management of several pipelines in the state, this new investment, which is projected to create approximately 100 new long-term jobs, brings the natural gas company’s total investment in the region close to $4 billion. "Williams' commitment to Marshall County and the entire Northern Panhandle is an example of the growing opportunities Marcellus Shale development is bringing to West Virginia," said Governor Tomblin. "The investment and jobs will have lasting effects on the region as the workers needed will be operating and maintaining Williams' facilities and pipelines for many years to come." $1.34B Project to Add JobsThe Intelligencer / Wheeling News Register

 Federal News

 President Barack Obama issued an executive order calling for an increase in industrial energy efficiency, hoping to spur investment and the expansion of combined heat and power (CHP) processes in manufacturing facilities. CHP technologies generate heat and power simultaneously from one source, thereby burning less fuel, lowering emissions, and reducing energy costs. The order sets a national goal of expanding CHP capacity by 40 gigawatts by 2020, or an increase of 50% in cogeneration plants compared with today, and encourages federal and state partnerships to identify best practices. According to the administration, the new goal will lead to a decrease in carbon emissions by 150 million tons per year, save energy users about $10 billion a year, and result in roughly $40 to 80 billion in new capital investment. “We are taking another step to strengthen American manufacturing by boosting energy efficiency for businesses across the nation,” the President said. Obama sets new energy efficiency goalThe Hill and Obama order targets industrial efficiency, emissionsReuters

 The Obama administration also announced new vehicle fuel-efficiency standards intended to significantly cut American oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The new rules, which will apply to model years beginning in 2017, require all automobiles to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The rule additionally mandates an emission standard of 144 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per mile for passenger car and 203 grams CO2 per mile for trucks. The National Automobile Dealers Association estimated that the standards will increase the price of a vehicle by approximately $3,000 and expressed the concern that 7 million Americans may be priced out of the new-car market. Greg Martin, General Motors’ executive director for communications, said “We expect the rules to be tough, but we have a strong history of innovation, and we’ll do our best to meet them.” EPA issues new fuel-efficiency standard; autos must average 54.5 mpg by 2025The Washington Post

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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, March 9, 2012

March 9, 2012

In the States

NM – Governor Susana Martinez has signed a bill into law that will streamline the permitting process for companies seeking to develop geothermal energy.  Under the new law, geothermal developers are able to bypass the process of obtaining additional permits from the State in certain cases, though there are also protections for groundwater and the holders of water rights.  Governor Martinez said that she hopes the bill will increase the production of renewable energy in New Mexico.  N.M. streamlines geothermal permittingAlbuquerque Journal

OH – Governor John Kasich has proposed raising taxes on oil and natural gas liquids to potentially collect over $1 billion in additional revenue for the State by 2016.  The additional revenues would be used to lower taxes on individuals and small businesses.  If the proposal is approved, it would change the current rate structure of 20 cents per barrel of oil and no tax on natural gas liquids to 1.5 percent of market value for oil and natural gas liquids, which would be raised to four percent by 2014.  The current rate of three cents per 1,000 cubic feet would remain for natural gas, unless it is extracted through hydraulic fracturing, which would trigger a one percent tax.  The proposed increased rates are still lower than those of larger oil-producing states such as Texas, and would apply only to new horizontal-drilling sites and, in the case of natural gas, sites that produce over 10,000 cubic feet of natural gas per day.  Governor Kasich is expected to revisit his already-announced budget to include the new taxes, as well as regulations on hydraulic fracturing.  Kasich said to plan raising Ohio drilling tax as high as 4%Bloomberg and Kasich to propose fee on frackingToledo Blade

WA – Governor Christine Gregoire has signed a bill into law that broadens the type of energy production facilities that are considered to be renewable energy under a voter-approved initiative that requires 15 percent of the State’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020.  The new law allows biomass energy production facilities older than 13 years old to count toward the requirement.  While opposition from environmental groups stalled the bill this year and kept it from passing last year, opposition was dropped when the definitions of renewable energy were more narrowly defined.  Washington state plan expands renewable energy lawNews Tribune

National News

Two separate bills are making their way through the House and Senate that would extend highway and transit funding beyond its current March 31 deadline, and Senators and Congressman are currently debating what will be included in the version from each chamber.  Senate Republican amendments were voted down this week that would have bypassed the Obama Administration in the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline permitting process, required changes in new pollution regulations on industrial boilers, and encourage offshore oil drilling.  That two-year, $109 billion transportation bill without those amendments is opposed by House Speaker John Boehner, who is currently gathering support for the House’s own five-year, $260 billion proposal.  The House bill includes many of the provisions struck down in the Senate, but has stalled mainly due to the large price tag.  Speaker Boehner warned Republican House members this week that if the House does not pass the measure, they will need to take up the Senate’s bill, pass a short term extension, or risk shutting down the transportation projects funded by the government and losing many jobs.  Senate rejects GOP proposals that would overturn Obama environment, energy policiesWashington Post and House speaker gives Republicans highway ultimatumReuters and Boehner’s highway bill plea to GOP doesn’t deliverPolitico

The U.S. Department of Energy is soliciting proposals from companies that wish to bid for a newly-announced six-year $180 million demonstration project to develop offshore wind power.  Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the new program, saying that the initiative was designed to “catalyze the development of offshore wind in America” and help developers “design and demonstrate next generation wind energy technologies.”  Of the funds, $20 million will be available to up to four companies in 2012, with the rest becoming available over the next five years.  DOE launches 6-year, 180m offshore wind development initiativeCleanTechnica and Offshore wind gets $180 million boost from DOE (press release)Energy Department

Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has released a long-awaited proposal for a federal clean energy standard.  The proposed legislation would require that 84 percent of the nation’s electricity produced by large utilities would be required to come from wind, solar, nuclear, natural gas, or coal with carbon capture and sequestration by 2035.  Senator Bingaman acknowledged the challenges the bill will face in the current Congress, saying, “Getting substantive legislation through both houses of Congress to the president’s signature is very difficult in this Congress.”  While the White House expressed support for the measure, which resembles the president’s proposals in the two most recent State of the Union addresses, opponents say that the bill would raise energy costs.  Senator Bingaman says that a U.S. Energy Information Administration analysis shows that the standards would have little or no impact on the economy.  Bingaman launches uphill battle with ‘clean’ power proposalThe Hill

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Energy Update, February 24, 2012

February 24, 2012

In the States

IL – Governor Pat Quinn said in his budget address that he would like to close a tax loophole that allows companies to avoid paying taxes on profits earned from selling oil and gas in Illinois that is extracted offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.  Illinois’ current corporate tax law specifically excludes “exploration for or exploitation of natural resources” from anywhere outside the 50 states and the District of Columbia.  Governor Quinn has stated that the loophole costs the State $75 million per year, though the oil industry disagrees with that estimate.  The Governor raised this issue in 2009, but the State’s law was not changed; it still faces opposition today.  Quinn wants to eliminate tax loophole that helps oil companiesChicago Tribune

PA – Governor Tom Corbett has signed three energy-related bills into law.  One would give counties the option of imposing an “impact fee” on wells producing natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.  While the new law ensures that Pennsylvania is no longer the only natural gas-producing State without a tax on its production, the effective rate, if imposed by the county at all, would be far lower than any other State.  Sixty percent of the revenues from the fees would go to participating local governments, while another portion would be used to purchase natural gas-powered vehicles for the State fleet.  The other two laws signed by the Governor would allow utilities to raise rates to recover the costs of improvements prior to completion and provides tax incentives intended to help attract a new petrochemical refinery to western Pennsylvania that could create thousands of jobs and millions in new revenue to the State.  Corbett signs 3 key energy-sector billsScranton Times-Tribune

National News

President Barack Obama has released his annual budget request to Congress, which calls for $27.2 billion in funding for the Energy Department, a 3.2 percent increase.  The President’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2013 would increase spending for energy efficiency, safety, conservation, renewable energy, and nuclear power, and would offset much of that expansion by ending $4 billion in tax breaks to oil and gas companies.  Specifically, the budget would increase funding for a grant program to states for pipeline safety by 50 percent and the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration by 44 percent.  The Office of Nuclear Energy would receive a total of $770 million, part of which would be used to research small modular nuclear reactors and nuclear waste research.  Clean energy funding would increase by $580 million, or about 13 percent, and would include programs to make solar power more cost-competitive and research geothermal and offshore wind energy.  Another research initiative, the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Efficiency (ARPA-E), would receive a 37 percent increase, bringing its funding up to $350 million.  Funding for fossil fuels would increase as well, and would include research on methods of hydraulic fracturing that would be less harmful to the environment.  A program to invest in energy efficiency in the Department of Defense would more than double, from $400 million to $1 billion.  An agency-by-agency guide to Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal 2013Washington Post and Obama seeks clean energy, pipeline funds in budgetMSNBC

 

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Energy Update, February 10, 2012

February 10, 2012

State of the State Addresses

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

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

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

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

In the States

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

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

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

National News

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

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

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Energy Update, December 30, 2011

December 30, 2011

In the States

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

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

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

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

Regional News

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

Federal News

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

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

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

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Energy Update, November 18, 2011

November 18, 2011

In the States

AZ – Governor Jan Brewer has taken the final steps to withdraw Arizona from the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), the regional cap-and-trade agreement entered into by her predecessor, former Governor Janet Napolitano.  The director of the State’s Department of Environmental Quality, Henry Darwin, said that rather than subscribe to the cap-and-trade program, Arizona will join North America 2050, a group of states that will consider greenhouse gas emissions issues, but let each member State decide what emissions reduction policies make sense economically and environmentally.  Governor Brewer’s administration has also begun to eliminate rules that would have required reductions in carbon dioxide emissions in autos starting next year.  In both cases, administration officials cited new and proposed federal environmental regulations that they believe lessen the need for States to take separate action on climate and pollution issues.  Brewer withdraws Arizona from climate initiativeArizona Daily Sun

ME – Governor Paul LePage has said that he would like to halve the percentage of homes reliant on heating oil in Maine from 80 percent to 40 percent by the end of his current term in 2014.  The Governor’s plan involves increasing access to natural gas in urban areas where the population is dense enough to make installing pipelines cost-effective, and wood pellets in more rural areas.  While some lawmakers and experts think that the goal is ambitious, most agree with the idea of diversifying fuel sources for home heating.  LePage wants heating oil use cut in half by 2014Bangor Daily News

A group of 15 Governors has sent a letter to the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committee leadership urging them to fund the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2012 at the same level as FFY 2011.  The letter said that the encroaching cold weather coupled with higher oil and propane costs make such funding timely and critical.  Under the temporary appropriations bill that funds the government through December 16, LIHEAP is cut by more than half, from $4.7 billion to $2 billion.  Signatories of the letter include Governors Hickenlooper (CO), Malloy (CT), Markell (DE), Quinn (IL), LePage (ME), O’Malley (MD), Patrick (MA), Dayton (MN), Lynch (NH), Cuomo (NY), Perdue (NC), Chafee (RI), Shumlin (RI), Tomblin (WV), and deJongh (VI).  Gov. Patrick calls on Congress to fund winter fuel assistanceMilford Daily News and Letter to Congress [pdf]Fifteen Governors

Governors Hickenlooper of Colorado, Fallin of Oklahoma, Corbett of Pennsylvania, and Mead of Wyoming have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to encourage the production of affordable natural gas-powered vehicles for their fleets and for public consumption.  The MOU announces the States’ intentions to issue a joint request for proposal (RFP) “that aggregates annual State fleet vehicle procurements” in order to boost demand for the vehicles and help incentivize their design and manufacture.  The Governors also wrote that they will solicit support from other Governors prior to the issuance of the RFP.  Wyoming Governor Matt Mead’s policy director, Shawn Reese, said that “by working with other states and Wyoming’s cities, towns and counties, we can show automakers in Detroit that there is a large enough market for replacement vehicles for them to manufacture natural gas fleets that can be sold back to the public at prices comparable to traditional vehicles.”  Wyoming Gov. Mead joins multistate effort to push for affordable natural gas vehiclesWyoming Star-Tribune and Memorandum of Understanding [pdf]Four Governors

The Governors Wind Energy Coalition, a bipartisan group of 23 Governors, has written Congress urging them to extend the production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy that is set to expire at the end of 2012, specifically endorsing H.R. 3307, the American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act.  The Governors note that wind energy projects are beginning to slow down due to uncertainty over whether they will be eligible for the credits in coming years, and expect that if the credits are not renewed, “there will be negative impacts on the high-tech manufacturing jobs that the industry has brought to or created in our states.”  Governors urge prompt extension of wind energy tax exemptionREVE and Letter to Congress [pdf]Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition

Federal News

President Barack Obama’s administration has announced that the decision on whether to allow construction of the 1700-mile Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will be delayed until after the 2012 election.  The State Department, which has the authority to issue or deny permits on the project, says that it will review alternative routes that would avoid certain environmentally vulnerable areas, delaying the decision until early 2013.  Prior to the announcement of the delay, TransCanada, the company that would build the pipeline, suggested changing the route to avoid crossing an aquifer in Nebraska.  President Obama and the State Department had come under pressure from environmental groups who generally oppose the project, Nebraska state officials who oppose the proposed route of the pipeline because of the potential impact of a spill on environmentally sensitive areas of that state, and oil companies, labor unions, and the Canadian government who support the pipeline because of its economic and job creation potential.  U.S. delays decision on pipeline until after electionNew York Times and Keystone pipeline builder proposes changing Nebraska RouteLos Angeles Times

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Energy Update, October 7, 2011

October 7, 2011

In the States

GA – Governor Nathan Deal attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new $98 million factory in Gainesville, GA that will produce 16-ton gearboxes for wind turbines.  Governor Deal said that while Georgia is not an ideal place for generating electricity from the wind, “we certainly are pleased that we can be part of the process that will allow us to harness wind energy.”  The new factory, which will be operated by ZF Wind Power, and which Governor Deal described as representing “cutting-edge technology,” is expected to employ 250 workers and will be in full production mode next year.  ZF Wind Power plant opens in GainesvilleGainesville Times

KS – Governor Sam Brownback held an economic development summit this week that focused on generating and transmitting energy.  During the summit, an announcement was made of a new project that will become the State’s largest wind farm.  This 66,000 acre, $800 million facility, called Flat Ridge 2, will span four counties and create 419 megawatts of wind power, 500 construction jobs, and 30 operations jobs.  At the gathering, Governor Brownback said “I love wind energy.  It’s a fabulous industry that fits our State well.”  The Governor also said the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) is “key for the State of Kansas if we want to continue to develop wind energy.”  The summit’s agenda also included traditional energy production; Governor Brownback said that Kansas must create an “all of the above” portfolio, that the State “can’t walk away from any” type of energy production, and noted growth in oil and gas drilling and ethanol production.  Citing a need to reduce importation of energy resources, the Governor said “We need renewable energy.  We need coal.  We need oil and gas.  We're in the top 10 states in each of these fields, and we need to grow all of them.”  $800 million wind farm planned across 66,000 acres in KansasKansas City Star and Brownback brings heat to energy policy – Topeka Capital-Journal and Brownback asks energy industries to cooperate for growthWichita Eagle

MD – The solar energy industry in Maryland is growing rapidly – the amount of photovoltaic generating capacity installed in the second quarter was four times as much as the first quarter – due in part to State grants, tax breaks, a mandate for solar energy production, and innovative financing options from businesses.  The mandate, which requires an increasing amount of solar energy per year until 2022 when 2% of the State’s electricity must come from solar power, was cited by the Maryland Energy Administration’s director of energy market strategies, Kevin Lucas, as helping to create demand for solar panels.  In order to meet the 2022 mandate, 30 to 40 times more solar power must be harnessed than is currently produced.  Industry officials also cited the importance of a 30 percent federal tax credit,  local property tax breaks, and a State grant system that provides up to $10,000 to homeowners for installing a solar system paid for by the permits sold under a regional cap-and-trade system.  In addition, some companies are offering leasing options for solar systems, which allow consumers to pay little or no up-front costs, but benefit from lower electric bills and pay a monthly fee to the leasing company.  In the second quarter of this year, Maryland ranked eighth in the nation in solar installations, ahead of some sunnier states, and much higher than a few years ago when the State generated virtually no solar energy.  Solar home business shining in MarylandBaltimore Sun and Number of solar energy installations up in StateGazette.net

OH – Governor John Kasich recently held a two-day energy summit that brought together over 1,000 energy sector business leaders and government officials.  Part of Governor Kasich’s message to the summit was that “the pursuit of clean alternative, renewable, and advanced energy sources and their supportive technologies is the pursuit of the future, and our commitment to them shouldn’t waiver despite the fact that their costs aren’t yet where we want them to be.”  Governor Kasich also said that he does not support a full repeal of the State’s renewable energy standard (but would support some changes to it) and he would like to allow national oil and gas companies to develop fossil fuels from shale rock.  He described the potential shale development as an economic opportunity, saying, “if we do it right, Ohio’s new gas finds hold the potential to restore hope and prosperity to struggling regions of our State.”  Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he supports renewable energyCleveland Plain Dealer and Kasich talks of renewable energy’s value but hints at tweaking State rules – Columbus Dispatch

Regional News

Governors Robert Bentley of Alabama, Haley Barbour of Mississippi, and Bob McDonnell of Virginia all appeared at the Southern States Energy Board (SSEB) Governors Energy Summit to discuss regional and state energy issues.  Governor Bentley noted last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but said that while we should learn lessons from the spill, oil drilling should proceed.  Governor Bentley also said that “if we’re going to take the responsibility of having to clean up our coasts and having to lose money because of any spill, then we ought to be able to get money from” federal revenues collected from offshore energy production.  Governor Haley Barbour said that he would like to see a second nuclear power plant built in his State, saying “we don’t have ‘not in my backyard,’ we have ‘please, in my backyard.’”  Governor Bob McDonnell called for the federal government to allow more offshore oil drilling along the East Coast and also expressed support for more nuclear energy development.  Governor McDonnell said he believed in an all-of-the-above approach to energy development, including renewable energy, but focused his comments on coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear energy development.  While Governor McDonnell said he did not expect any major changes in Washington, he did say that the SSEB would entertain three proposed policy statements at the group’s annual meeting later this month that would urge the Obama administration to loosen current regulations to allow more offshore oil drilling.  Gov. Robert Bentley: Oil spill shows need for state revenue from drilling in federal watersAL.com and Gov. Haley Barbour: ‘We’d love to have another nuclear power plant’GulfLive.com and McDonnell blasts Obama at energy summitWashington Examiner and Governors asked to help revive offshore leasing at energy summitOil & Gas Journal

Federal News

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has committed to obtaining 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025 and expanded its funding for renewable energy from $400 million in 2006 to $1.2 billion in 2009.  This goal does not apply to vehicles operated in theaters of military operations such as tanks.  The Pentagon has offered economic and security concerns as reasons for the shift, but not environmental.  For every one dollar added to the price of a barrel of oil, DoD spends an additional $30 million per year, so diversifying energy sources is being employed as a cost containment strategy.  With regard to security issues, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who says that renewable energy sources will make the Navy and Marines “better war fighters,” cited the statistic that one Marine is either wounded or killed for every 50 fuel convoys that supplies the war in Afghanistan.  When asked about greenhouse gas emissions, Secretary Mabus said “it’s a good byproduct, but it’s a byproduct.”  Not all fuel sources in the military will be cut equally or on the same schedule; for example, fossil fuel use in non-combat vehicles operated by the Navy and Marines will be cut 50 percent by 2015, but fuel consumption on ships will be cut by 15 percent by 2020.  Military spearheads clean-energy driveWashington Post

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Energy Update, April 8, 2011

April 8, 2011

In the States

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

State Fiscal News

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

National News

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

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

 

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Energy Update, January 31, 2011

January 31, 2011

In the States

MN – Several bills have been drafted that would repeal, to differing degrees, a 2007 bipartisan law that bans new coal-fired power plants and the importing of coal-powered electricity until carbon offsets or a plan to lower emissions are in place.  Sponsors are saying that the law places unnecessary burdens on industry, slowing economic recovery once the recession is over.  Governor Mark Dayton has not said yet indicated whether he will veto any particular repeal bill, but he did campaign in part on maintaining a moratorium on new nuclear power plants that is a part of the same law.  Minn. Republicans hope to undo clean energy policiesMinnesota Public Radio

NM – A State Supreme Court ruling has reversed an order by Governor Susana Martinez that blocked publication of regulations aimed at reducing emissions from utilities and dairies within the State.  One of the regulations requires a three percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions every year.  The Court ruled that the regulations must be published in the State’s register, but opponents of the regulations plan to work with the Governor and the State legislature to change the rules.  Court reverses New Mexico Governor on environmental rulesNew York Times

State of the State Addresses

While approximately half of the Governors have given their State of the State or State of the Commonwealth addresses, the realities imposed by the financial downturn caused most Governors to focus their speeches on addressing fiscal difficulties and job creation rather than energy issues.  Still, some Governors incorporated energy plans tied to job creation and retention.

Several Governors cited recent energy business investments that would help lead their States to better fiscal times, including South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, and Delaware Governor Jack Markell, all of whom who noted recent increased renewable energy investments or improvements.  Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said that Nordic Windpower USA’s new plant will create 200 jobs, and proposed to create more through the construction of a new nuclear power plant.  Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour noted several investments in his State, including coal, oil, nuclear, LNG, solar, ethanol, coal-to-liquids, and carbon capture projects. 

A few Governors called for increased domestic renewable energy production.  For example, Hawaii Governor Neal Abercrombie expressed support for accelerating renewable energy projects in his State, and improving Hawaii’s energy security.  Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval called for more renewables on federal lands, saying, “I support all efforts to make Nevada the renewable energy capital of the country.” 

Some Governors discussed a mix of fossil fuels and renewable energy resources available to their states.  Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said he hoped to make Virginia the “Energy Capital of the East Coast” by investing, in part, in solar, wind, waste-to-energy, and biomass, and promoting offshore wind by leasing offshore parcels for wind energy production and serving as headquarters for the Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium.  But he also called for increasing oil, coal, gas, and nuclear energy production.  While Alaska Governor Sean Parnell said that investments in hydroelectric power and renewable energy grants in his State would create jobs and help the State meet his goal of 50% renewable power by 2025, he also wants to lower taxes on oil production in order to create more jobs.  Wyoming Governor Matt Mead discussed “value-added” projects such as combing wind power with gas-fired turbines, as well the manufacturing of wind turbine components.  In addition, he supports continued use of coal while making it a cleaner fuel through carbon capture and sequestration, and also advocates greater use of carbon injection technologies for enhanced oil extraction, as well as coal gasification.  

In discussing his State’s abundant fossil fuel resources, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said he will aggressively pursue the State’s lawsuit against the U.S. EPA over mountaintop removal regulations, and that he supports development of the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia and carbon capture and sequestration.  

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

National News

President Barack Obama gave his annual State of the Union speech to Congress last week, during which he issued a challenge of producing 80% of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.  President Obama said that all forms of energy production are needed to meet this goal, and mentioned nuclear power, clean coal, and natural gas in addition to wind and solar.  U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, who gave the Republican response to the State of the Union, emphasized the need for less government spending and a more limited government rather than new investments.  Several high-ranking Democrats expressed support for the idea of a broader clean energy mandate while most Republicans remained skeptical about incentivizing one energy type over another or imposing mandates on the private sector.  Senators laud “clean energy” pushPolitico and State of the Union (Transcript)White House and State of the Union Response (Transcript)House Budget Committee

According to a new report commissioned by the federal government as required in the 2009 Defense Authorization Act, the United States military would not receive any significant benefit from greater use of alternative fuels.  The study, performed by the RAND Corporation, said that focusing on energy efficiency would have a greater impact on lowering greenhouse gases.  The report received criticism from Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy for the Navy Thomas W. Hicks, who said he was not consulted by RAND, and that the report ignores energy security issues, and from environmental groups, biofuels proponents, the Algal Biomass Organization, and others.  RAND says that while the military is a major consumer of liquid fuels, it still only uses two percent of the country’s daily intake, and since some biofuels are still in their infancy, the money spent on alternative fuels in the military would have a small effect on greenhouse gas emissions.  Alternative fuels don’t benefit the military, a RAND report saysNew York Times

 

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Energy Update, November 24, 2010

November 24, 2010

In the States

HI – Almost three years after State officials signed a general agreement with the Federal government to develop a cleaner energy future, Hawaii is making progress in diversifying its energy sources.  A State law passed last year requires Hawaii’s electric utility company, Hawaiian Electric, to use renewable sources for 40 percent of its power by 2030.  At the same time, it must cut projected electricity consumption by 30 percent.  This past September, State regulators ruled that the utility will be paid a guaranteed amount no matter how much energy it sells.  The new financial model will allow Hawaiian Electric to become more of a power distributor than power producer.  Another regulatory change will allow individuals to get paid by the utility for producing their own power.  An expansion of smart-grid technologies is also underway and will help Hawaii increase the use of renewable power generated from available wind, solar and geothermal resources.  Another project could link wind farms proposed for the islands of Lanai and Molokai with “power-hungry” Oahu through an undersea cable.  In describing Hawaii’s need to change course to meet its energy needs, outgoing Governor Linda Lingle gave an interview in which she said, “We had to be transformational.  It couldn’t be incremental any longer.”  State lays groundwork for more clean energy -- Maui News

MO – Governor Jay Nixon has endorsed a plan that would allow utilities to charge customers for early costs of developing a new nuclear power plant, a practice currently prohibited by State law.  Missouri utilities have expressed interest in expanding the State’s only current nuclear plant, but have not yet decided whether to build it.  If the proposal is approved, the utilities will pass on to consumers the $40 million in site permits required to determine the viability of the project.  Nixon endorses idea of second Callaway County power plantNews Tribune 

NJ – Governor Chris Christie has filed a motion to stop a proposed offshore natural gas terminal and a 50-mile pipeline from being constructed.  Governor Christie said that he “will not subject our state’s shore and economy to the environmental risks that are inseparable from such a project.”  The terminal is one of three proposed liquefied natural gas terminals to which the Governor expressed opposition earlier this year; the other two plans were withdrawn.  Gov. Christie opposes proposed natural gas facility off Asbury ParkThe Star-Ledger

National News

The U.S. Department of the Interior has announced a new initiative – Smart From the Start – intended to help identify and pre-approve appropriate locations along the Atlantic Coast for offshore wind turbines.  Interior Secretary Ken Salazar introduced the new program at a public event at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland and said it was the result of “a lesson learned” from the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts.  The site for that project was approved in April, but construction has been stalled by opponents who have brought legal challenges.  Interior officials are hoping the new site selection process will allow new leases to be granted as early as 2011.Administration wants to speed up process for windmills in AtlanticWashington Post

The New York Times recently ran a special energy section outlining recent changes in the world’s energy sources and consumption, along with the roles politics and economics have played in those changes. Although Republicans generally favor nuclear energy and have now gained the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, a “nuclear renaissance” may not happen quickly because of Republican opposition to carbon pricing that could help make nuclear power more competitive.  While coastal States slow or halt building new coal power plants, retiring plants in the South, Midwest, and Mountain regions are likely to be replaced with coal, and the developers are hoping to use new technologies to lower or capture greenhouse gas emissions.  Solar gardens are being built on the edges of some towns to capture energy without requiring trees to be cut down for roof installations, while biologists ensure that minimal impact is made on large solar projects in the desert.  And though two years ago, experts were warning that oil and gas supplies were being depleted, new-found deposits and new technologies to obtain it have extended that timeline for several decades, though with predictable downsides, such as the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  G.O.P. gains on Capitol Hill may not advance nuclear power and In the heartland, still investing in coal and There will be fuel and The benefits of solar with the beauty of trees and Concerns as solar installations join a desert ecosystemNew York Times

Other News

At the World Mayors Summit on Climate in Mexico City, a group of 138 Mayors from around the world signed an agreement to lower greenhouse gas emissions in their cities.  The cities will post their commitments and progress on the carbonn Cities Climate Registry (cCCR), a website that allows uniform reporting tracking.  Signatories to the pact include some major world cities, such as Vancouver, Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, and Jakarta, and also include four U.S. cities: Burnsville, MN; Des Moines, IA; Los Angeles, CA; and North Little Rock, AR.  Calgary, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Mexico City, and Nagpur have already entered their data onto the website.  The agreement was meant to be a sign of the willingness of Mayors and cities to work on climate issues and as a catalyst for action at the upcoming global climate change summit in Cancun.  Mayors flaunt resolve in advance of CancunNew York Times and Mayors sign global pact to tackle urban emissionsCNN International and cCCR Signatory Cities [pdf]cCCR and cCCR PioneerscCCR

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Energy Update, August 27, 2010

August 27, 2010

In the States

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

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

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

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

National News

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

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

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Energy Update July 30, 2010

July 30, 2010

In the States

CA – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has written to the chair of the California Air Resources Board asking her to postpone a vote on creating a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) of 33% by 2020 that was expected to happen before July 31.  The Governor vetoed legislation last year that would have created the same RPS on the grounds that it did not the State’s regulatory process to speed up the introduction of renewable forms of energy and did not sufficiently allow for electricity produced from  renewable energy sources located outside California.  Soon after that, the Governor signed an executive order requiring the Board to vote on an RPS with regulatory reforms and out-of-state electricity measures in place.  He has asked for the Board to postpone consideration of the RPS because the legislature is close to passing legislation that he would sign, and he wants to give them more time to do so.  Schwarzenegger asks Calif. regulators to delay 33% RPSNew York Times

MD – Governor Martin O’Malley has signed an executive order requiring the Department of Natural Resources to develop a long-term electricity report to be completed by December 2011.  The report is expected to provide data that will be used to determine where and how energy should be produced over the next 20 years.  No major new electric power plants or transmission lines have been built since 1990, when the last such report was produced.  Maryland’s population has grown by about 1 million since then, while energy consumption has increased by 25 percent.  The report will look at an array of potential energy sources, including fossil fuels, nuclear power, and renewable electric generation sources.  It will also consider ways to increase the reliability of electricity as well as potential conservation and efficiency measures.  State’s future energy needs targeted by GovernorGazette.net

MI – As much as a million gallons of crude oil leaked from a 30-inch-wide pipeline under the Kalamazoo River in Marshall Township on July 27, sending a 20-mile slick along the river, killing birds, fish, turtles, and other animals in its path, and releasing benzene into the air.  Although the pipeline has since been shut down, health officials have recommended evacuating 50 homes nearby and for others to not use well water for fear of contamination.  Cleanup crews are trying to keep the oil from reaching Lake Morrow, something State officials contend has already occurred, but which representatives for Enbridge Energy Partners, the owner of the pipeline, insist has not yet happened.  Governor Jennifer Granholm has expressed concern over the strength of the cleanup response, which officials say could take months.  Regulators warned company on pipeline corrosion – New York Times and Michigan oil spill prompts evacuations, finger-pointingWall Street Journal and Oil spill near Kalamazoo River causes stench, messDetroit Free Press

NY – Governor David Paterson has signed three new energy-related bills into law.  One bill allows the Secretary of State to establish energy efficiency standards for some appliances that were not previously regulated.  Another allows consumers to pay back loans for energy efficiency home upgrades on their gas bill.  Still a third bill adds kinetic energy storage devices, such as compressed air storage, that generate less than 80 megawatts, to the definition of an alternative production facility.  This will help facilitate the use of such production facilities and improve the efficiency of the State’s electric power system.  Governor Paterson signs three bills to advance clean energy agenda and forty-five other bills into lawHamptons.com

Regional News

Governors Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and Donald Carcieri of Rhode Island have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will allow the two States to collaborate on offshore wind energy projects off the coast of their border, near Martha’s Vineyard.  The MOU covers a specific area of common interest; however, the States will not have to collaborate on any projects outside that area.  The goal of the MOU is to determine a strategy through which disputes over offshore wind energy development in the area will be resolved before a project is proposed, providing guidance to developers and fostering cooperation between the two States.  Massachusetts and Rhode Island team up on offshore windBrighterEnergy.org

The Western Governor’s Association has written a letter to the US Congress recommending that they authorize the additional $36 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear energy development requested by President Obama.  In the letter, the Governors wrote that the loan guarantees could help to fund 6-9 additional nuclear reactors and would also spur private sector investment, which would create jobs as well as cleaner energy.  New nuclear power plant development urged by GovernorsPowerGen Worldwide

National News

In a not-unexpected change of course, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has announced that the Senate will not take up legislation that includes any cap on greenhouse gas emissions this year.  Some supporters of climate charge legislation, including Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT), vowed to continue pushing for a bill, while others expressed doubt that passing such legislation would be possible between the August recess and November elections.  Majority Leader Reid has unveiled a $15 billion energy bill that would remove the $75 million cap on oil companies’ liabilities to communities after an oil spill, allow for federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing (a partially unregulated process used to obtain natural gas), provide more infrastructure and R&D support for electric vehicles, and use rebates and loan guarantees to increase the number of vehicles that run on natural gas and improve the energy efficiency of homes.  The legislation, as proposed by Majority Leader Reid, also does not include a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that would require a certain percentage of energy produced in the US to come from renewable sources, a measure that has support from many Democratic Senators.  Some Senators are also contending Majority Leader Reid’s assertion that there are not enough votes to pass cloture with an RPS.  An initial test vote on the bill is set for the first week in August.  Democrats pull plus on climate billPolitico and Energy bill, focusing on conservation, can’t shake calls for RESNew York Times and Reid’s energy bill revives fight over hydraulic fracturingCQ Politics and Energy bill would end oil claims capWall Street Journal and The Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act Bill Text [pdf]Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

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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 23, 2010

April 23, 2010

In the States

HI – Governor Linda Lingle’s Clean Energy Initiative is not moving as quickly as planned, as concerns over electricity costs have caused some utilities to refrain from signing contracts with renewable energy producers to preserve lower prices for consumers.  Renewable energy advocates agree that upfront costs will be higher for renewable energy projects, but note that since 90% of the electricity in the State is produced with petroleum and prices for fuel will almost certainly rise substantially in the future, the investment in renewable energy such as wind and solar will result in lower future costs.  Hawaii’s green efforts not cheap, but will pay off, advocates sayHonolulu Advertiser

MI – Governor Jennifer Granholm is promoting Michigan’s potential in producing wind turbines and other equipment, explaining at a conference sponsored by the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association that she is “so bullish on wind power” and that she wants the State to be “the place where climate change solutions are researched, developed, and produced.”  The Governor also said she wanted to make use of the State’s windy coast line and install the first offshore wind turbines in the Great Lakes, adding that she has a wager with Ohio Governor Ted Strickland on the matter.  Granholm’s bullish on Michigan’s wind-power futureDetroit Free Press

NJ – Governor Chris Christie discussed his vision of New Jersey’s energy future at a forum sponsored by Rutgers University, saying that he and the Lieutenant Governor “are setting up a regulatory environment that is friendly to business” and that his environmental policies will not be “incompatible to having a growing economy.”  During his speech, he indicated support for developing off-shore wind farms, more manufacturing of renewable energy equipment and the installation of solar panels on landfills and on farm land.  The Governor also said he will review the 2008 Energy Master Plan, but did not disclose what he would change in it.  Gov. Christie discusses energy plan at Rutgers forumThe Star-Ledger

UT – Governor Gary Herbert has withdrawn Utah from the upcoming cap-and-trade program that will be implemented under the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), a regional climate change agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions.  Utah now joins Arizona in quitting the cap-and-trade program after State legislators passed resolutions asking the Governor to withdraw from the interstate agreement.  The Governor’s office said that the State is “simply not in a position at this time to implement cap-and-trade” but would still like to have a seat at the table at the WCI.  Utah sticking with climate pact but not its cap-and-trade planSalt Lake Tribune

National News

Vice President Joe Biden has announced the recipients of the US Department of Energy’s Retrofit Ramp-Up initiative, the competitive Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program funded by the Recovery Act.  Twenty-five communities will receive $452 million under the new program, and are expected to leverage $2.8 billion in private funds over three years to create 30,000 jobs performing retrofits on large-scale operations and facilities, as well as businesses and homes.  Grant recipients include a regional consortium of southeastern States, as well as cities, counties, state governments, and nonprofits in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin.  DOE’s Retrofit Ramp-Up Initiative awards $452 million to 25 communitiesClean Edge and Retrofit Ramp-Up selected projects [pdf]US Department of Energy

Simultaneous Congressional committee hearings were held on coal and natural gas last   week at which representatives from each industry promoted the positive aspects of their energy products while questioning the applicability or efficiency of the other.  Coal representatives emphasized the relatively low expense and domestic abundance of coal and warned that a significant shift toward natural gas could leave the US without enough supply, consumers with widely varying electricity rates, and a lack of capital to develop clean coal technologies.  Natural gas advocates, including oil magnate T. Boone Pickens, said that gas is also cheap and abundant, but it emits half the amount of greenhouse gases as coal and can be used to power cars and trucks.  The oil industry responded to that last point by saying that cars outfitted to run on natural gas would cost significantly more to consumers and that  the price of other products made from petrochemicals like plastics would increase if oil production capacity was scaled back.  Coal chiefs go on offensive as Pickens pushes case for natural gasNew York Times

State representatives are expressing concern over how varying environmental regulations in the states, including regional greenhouse gas cap-and-trade agreements, will be treated under forthcoming climate change legislation.  The legislation being crafted by Senators Graham, Kerry, and Lieberman is expected to eliminate such interstate programs.  Regulators in some States, including California, are worried that federal legislation could undermine existing or future policies and regulations that are designed to protect the environment in favor of a purely federal approach.  States fear devil in details of climate bill - Reuters

States are experiencing varying degrees of consumer enthusiasm toward appliance rebate programs made possible by the Recovery Act, which allocate stimulus funds to consumers who purchase certain Energy Star-compliant appliances as replacements for outdated or inefficient appliances.  Many States such as Florida, Illinois, and Texas have been overwhelmed by customers seeking rebates on dishwashers, clothes dryers, and other home appliances, emptying the available funds in days or sometimes hours.  Some states, however, such as Missouri, have experienced far less demand for such rebates.  Appliance discounts, for the swiftNew York Times

International News

A report from the European Commission was edited to remove a controversial analysis which concluded that biofuels emit up to four times as much greenhouse gas emissions as regular gasoline or diesel.  The omission caused one participant in the study to disown it, and the edited section was released only through the use of freedom of information laws.  The report’s conclusions are controversial in that there are many variables that could affect the greenhouse gas emissions of a particular biofuel, including what kind of plant was grown to make the fuel and whether the land used to grow the plants was cleared of existing plants.  Once-hidden EU report reveals damage from biodieselReuters

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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 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, December 11, 2009

December 11, 2009

In the States

MA – The first phase of Governor Deval Patrick’s plan to install 250 megawatts of solar-generating capacity by 2017 was so successful that it ran out of money more than a year ahead of schedule and allowed for the installation of more solar panels than originally anticipated.  The $68 million program called Commonwealth Solar provided homeowners and businesses with nearly half the funds to purchase and install solar systems.  The program exhausted its funds in just less than two years and allowed for the purchase of solar panels that can generate 29 megawatts of electricity.  $68m in solar rebates goes fastBoston Globe

MD – A law passed last year at the urging of Governor Martin O’Malley requires the State of Maryland requires utilities to obtain 20% of their electric power from renewable sources.   The sale of two alternative energy projects to utility companies should help them achieve this goal.  Constellation Energy will take over a $140 million, 28-turbine wind farm project that already has received state approval, while CPV Renewable Energy Company will install a solar energy facility next to a natural gas power plant.  Garrett, Charles to get wind, solar power plants Baltimore Sun

MT – Governor Brian Schweitzer’s goal of increasing the State motor fleet’s gas mileage to 30 miles per gallon has already been achieved, more than a year ahead of schedule.  The fleet’s mileage stands at 31.6 miles per gallon and will be increased to at least 34.2 miles per gallon in the coming year due to increases in hybrid vehicles.  Montana’s large size and rural nature requires state officials to travel long distances, so raising mileage requirements has a substantial budgetary impact.  State on track to surpass fuel goalBillings Gazette

OR – Governor Ted Kulongoski says that the subsidies offered to the wind and solar energy industries should be phased out after vetoing a similar measure earlier this year.  The Governor changed his mind after commissioning and receiving a report by two department directors who determined the most generous subsidies of up to $10 million for wind and $20 million for solar projects are no longer required in order to keep alternative energy companies investing in the State.  The State legislature is expected to explore phasing out the subsidies when it begins a special session in February.  Kulongoski changes course, supports phase-out of wind energy tax creditThe Oregonian

Regional and National News

Climate change legislation – Senators John Kerry, Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman have released an outline of the “tripartisan” legislation that the three of them have been working on for the past month.  The outline says that the plan should reduce pollution to “in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels” in the “near term” and “approximately 80 percent below 2005 levels” would be “a long term target.”  The outline suggests the way to do this is to drill and refine more domestic oil and natural gas, establish a national regulatory system for reducing carbon emissions, encourage nuclear and clean coal development, and create incentives for green jobs for blue-collar workers, and maintaining carbon offsets for farmers.  Senators release ‘basic framework’ of climate billCQ Politics and Letter to President Obama and Framework for Climate Action and Energy Independence in the US SenateSenators John Kerry, Joseph Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham

The Senate Energy Subcommittee held a hearing this week on nine energy- and climate-related bills that could create more funding for the Department of Energy’s efforts to develop more advanced alternative energy.  Five of these bills have already passed the House and would authorize $3 billion in funds for vehicle technologies (HR 3246), $2 billion for solar energy research and development (HR 3585), $200 million for a wind energy research program (HR 3165), $20 million for research parks at which scientists can perform energy-related research (HR 2729), and grants for training designers to incorporate energy efficiency into buildings (HR 957).  The four remaining Senate bills would provide loans for manufacturers to increase energy efficiency or produce clean energy technology (S 1617), authorize $500 million for wind energy research and development (S 2773), expand current ethanol research and development programs (S 737), and provide a monetary prize for researchers that develop a way of taking carbon dioxide out of the air (S 2744).  Research panel to take up carbon capture, biofuels, research billsNew York Times

Governors Donald Carcieri (R-RI) and Jack Markell (D-DE) recently told attendees at a wind energy conference that they support offshore wind projects in their states.  Governor Carcieri said land-based and offshore wind power should be expanded and   the federal government should strengthen its renewable energy policy.  He also said  his state is moving as fast as it can to get an offshore wind project off the ground, and that “a failure to invest in renewable resources ... in today’s economic climate would verge on irresponsibility.”  Governor Markell spoke about efforts in Rhode Island to promote alternative energy, praised the Obama administration for its promotion of wind energy, and said a “steady stream of projects year after year” is needed to ensure the viability of the industry.  Seize the breeze: Carcieri urges speed in development of offshore wind projectsProvidence Journal

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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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Energy Update, October 30, 2009

October 30, 2009

In the States

AK – Governor Sean Parnell is attempting to boost the state’s economy through increased traditional energy production.  He has met with Interior Secretary Salazar and other officials about drilling for fossil fuels offshore, which the Governor says could create 35,000 jobs.  He is also working on a $30 billion natural gas pipeline that would send fuel to the lower 48 states and create thousands of more jobs.  Palin successor focuses on energy agendaWall Street Journal

CA – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed two solar renewable bills into law.  One new law will require utilities to pay consumers for any excess electricity produced by a home alternative energy installation such as a solar panel.  Utilities must begin paying such consumers a rate to be determined by the Public Utilities Commission in early 2011.  The other law requires utilities to pay higher rates for electricity generated from small alternative energy producers, also known as a feed-in tariff.  Both of these measures are expected to help the state achieve its goal of obtaining 33% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.  California passes feed-in tariff for solar energyCooler Planet and California expands its rules for feed-in tariffs and net metering – EERE News 

CO – As the debate over national energy legislation continues, the role of nuclear energy has emerged as a major concern.  Electricity produced with nuclear energy is virtually carbon-free which makes it attractive as an alternative to the more expensive renewable options such as solar or wind.  Governor Bill Ritter and other state officials have said that they support nuclear power and increased mining for uranium, of which Colorado is a major producer, as long as it is done in a manner that is safe for both mine workers and the environment.  Colorado in crosshairs of nuke boom if climate bill sparks uranium revivalColorado Independent

WY – Governor Dave Freudenthal talked with lawmakers from other western States this week to discuss energy issues particular to the region.  In response to a suggestion from some representatives that there be more cooperation between States regarding permitting and siting of interstate power lines, the Governor pointed out that such cooperation runs counter to the foundation of interstate relations, namely competition for economic development and human and natural resources.  He also expressed frustration that Wyoming creates power for other States from coal and natural gas while at the same time some of these States are touting new restrictions on carbon emissions.  Wyo. governor talks energy with Western lawmakersIdaho Statesman

Regional and National News

President Barack Obama has announced the largest-ever investment in the American energy grid, $3.4 billion in grants to 100 electric companies, which will be used to upgrade the grid to be more dependable and efficient.  Specifically the funds will, when combined with $4.7 billion in private investment, purchase 2.5 million smart meters, one million in-home energy displays, hundreds of thousands of smart devices for homes, 200,000 smart transformers, as well as hundreds of grid sensors and substations.  Combined, these improvements to the grid will allow rate-payers to save energy and money, operators to better monitor and administer electricity, and utilities to respond to outages more quickly, while creating tens of thousands of jobs needed for manufacturing and installing the new products.  US electrical grid gets $3.4 billion jolt of stimulus fundingWashington Post and President Obama announces $3.4 billion to spur smart electric gridsEERE News

The Senate Environment and Public Works committee conducted hearings this week on the cap-and-trade bill sponsored by Senators Kerry and Boxer (S.1733) that would lower emissions from power plants and other polluters more than 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.  Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer has pledged to hold a markup on the bill next Tuesday while Republican committee members, who have said the process is moving too hastily, have pledged to boycott such a meeting, effectively preventing it from beginning.  Republican committee members have said they would like more information from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Congressional Budget Office before holding a markup.  According to one already completed EPA analysis, the Senate cap-and-trade bill is “quite similar” to the House version, varying only slightly in the amount of allowed pollution and costs.  Senate climate markup set for Tuesday but will any Republicans show?New York Times and Economic impacts of S.1733: The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act of 2009Environmental Protection Agency

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