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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 16, 2011

December 16, 2011

In the States

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

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

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

Federal News

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

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

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Energy Update, September 9, 2011

September 9, 2011

In the States

GA – Governor Nathan Deal has written a letter to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in support of a $14 billion nuclear power plant planned for his State.  The Commission will meet on September 27th to decide whether to approve the project, which would be the first new U.S. nuclear power plant in a generation.  Governor Deal said that the plant would create jobs and increase and diversify the State’s energy supply to meet the needs of a growing population.  Ga. Gov. Deal supports new nuclear plant – Spartanburg Herald Journal

NH – New Hampshire’s Senate failed to override Governor John Lynch’s veto of a withdrawal from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the Northeast’s regional cap-and-trade program.  The repeal passed the legislature and was vetoed by Governor Lynch, but it fell just one vote short of the two-thirds majority required to override the veto. Earlier in the year, the Senate proposed a reform bill that the House rejected in favor of an outright repeal bill.  RGGI supporters claimed that maintaining membership in the program is a national security issue because of the large sums of money being sent to hostile foreign countries for energy imports and political instability caused by global warming.   They also argued that a withdrawal would only eliminate the State’s income from the sale of tax credits, not the higher electricity rates resulting from the initiative.  Those favoring a veto described the cap and trade program as an “income redistribution ploy” and the House leadership pledged to bring back a new repeal bill next year.  State upholds Lynch veto blocking RGGI repeal – New Hampshire Union Leader

Federal News

The U.S. Energy Department has announced that it will guarantee, in part, a $344 million loan to SolarCity, which will use the funds to double the amount of rooftop solar energy in the United States.  As many as 160,000 rooftops of military housing developments in 33 states will be fitted with solar panels that will be installed, owned, and operated by SolarCity, generating as much as 371 megawatts of electricity.  The guarantee is expected to significantly lower capital costs.  DOE to offer loan guarantee for solar rooftop project – Washington Post

According to an audit by the U.S. Energy Department, nearly one in three dollars authorized by federal stimulus legislation for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants (EECBG) has not been spent.  As of last month, $879 million of those funds remained unspent and another $500 million had been committed by state and local governments, but had not been fully expended.  The Energy Department acknowledged that the money was slow to get to projects, but that they had made significant progress in the past year: just $270 million was spent at this time in 2010 compared to $1.4 billion this year.  The Department also says that the grants have created 5,400 jobs.  But the Inspector General for the Department, who released the report, said that the slow pace of spending is counter to the purpose of the stimulus funding, and that if the money is not spent soon, it should be returned to the Treasury.  Energy Department audit says nearly $900M for efficiency grants to states, cities, goes unspent – Washington Post

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Energy Update, June 17, 2011

June 17, 2011

In the States

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill into law that will encourage businesses, farms, and schools to generate renewable energy onsite by allowing remote net metering.  Until the law was signed, renewable energy systems needed to be very close to the place where the energy was consumed and connected to the same meter in order to receive a credit from the utility.  Remote net metering will allow credits to be issued even if the source of electricity, like a solar array or wind turbine, is connected to a different meter than the one where electricity is consumed.  Now, non-residential facilities can create renewable energy farther away from energy consumption sites and still receive credits.  Governor Cuomo also announced that the State will spend $191 million on 17 projects through the renewable portfolio standard, which uses a surcharge on some utilities rates to fund renewable energy projects.  The projects will eventually produce enough clean energy to power 145,000 homes.  Cuomo signs net-metering bill, announces renewable energy projectsDemocrat and Chronicle

UT – Governor Gary Herbert visited the Sufco mine in Salina, Utah to express his wish to increase the use of coal in the future, saying that the fuel “certainly for the next generation, has a role to play.”  However, Governor Herbert also warned that the federal government may impose additional costs on carbon emission if the industry doesn’t “find cleaner ways to have affordable energy.”  During the Governor’s visit, which closely follows the release of his 10-year energy plan, he said “we ought to be burning more coal, but we ought to be concerned about the environment, too.”  Governor sees future deep in Utah coal mineSalt Lake Tribune

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell signed a bill into law at a ceremony in Richmond that will create a clean energy grant program to help fund companies that make or assemble renewable energy, nuclear energy, conservation, energy storage, or grid efficiency equipment.  In addition, the new law will create solar energy demonstration projects, raise a cap on the amount of energy homeowners and businesses can generate, and create a voluntary fund for solar energy development.  Another bill signed by the Governor will fund renewable energy products through the Virginia Resources Authority.  Governor McDonnell said that the renewable energy industry has “amazing potential” for economic development and energy independence and that creating incentives for its growth “makes great sense.”  Gov. Bob McDonnell promotes clean, renewable energy at ceremonial signingRoanoke Times

 

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Energy Update, May 20, 2011

May 20, 2011

In the States

IN – Governor Mitch Daniels has signed into law a statewide renewable energy portfolio that sets a voluntary goal of 10% of the electricity used in the State to come from renewable sources by 2025 with half of that energy to come from utilities located in Indiana.  The new law also provides incentives for utilities to participate in the program and for investment in wind, solar, nuclear, clean coal, and hydroelectric power.  Wind energy industry leaders applauded the law and the Governor and legislators who created the bipartisan measure.  Wind industry praises Indiana’s clean energy lawBrighter Energy

MA – Governor Deval Patrick spoke at the dedication of the State’s first wind farm, a ten-turbine system that will produce 15 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 6,000 homes.  The Governor’s Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan said that the project involved 20 companies and employed 50 people.  The wind farm almost doubles the amount of wind energy produced in the State, which Secretary Sullivan said was a step toward achieving the State’s goal of 25 percent fewer carbon emissions by 2025.  After hailing the benefits of the wind farm to Massachusetts residents, Governor Patrick said “There is an opportunity here for us to grow a whole new industry, and make the world our customer, and the jobs that come from it."  Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick dedicates Berkshires wind farmWAMC

National News

President Barack Obama has announced several changes in his administration that are aimed at increasing oil and gas drilling in the U.S., a policy shift his administration says demonstrates the President’s commitment to increasing domestic oil production in order to reduce imports and to signal flexibility to political opponents who seek increased oil and gas drilling.  Included in the reforms are an annual lease auction for parcels in the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve, an environmental review on the possibility of drilling off the southern and central Atlantic coast, and an extension in the offshore leases that have been off-limits to drilling under the moratorium in place since the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will still not be allowed under the new policies.  The changes were received favorably by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and did not receive much opposition from environmental groups or praise from Republicans.  Obama shifts to speed oil and gas drilling in the U.S.New York Times

 

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Energy Update, March 25, 2011

March 25, 2011

In the States

AR – In delivering the keynote address to a wind power workshop in Little Rock, Governor Mike Beebe said that States’ investments in wind energy would create jobs, improve the environment, and strengthen national security and made a case for States to increase wind energy production.  Governor Beebe said that while Arkansas may not be the ideal candidate for wind farms compared to the rest of the country, it can still be involved through manufacturing wind power products.  Mike Beebe: Wind energy important to Arkansas jobs, economyArkansas Business

UT – After consulting with academic, industrial, environmental, and governmental experts, as well as receiving public input, Governor Gary Herbert issued a 10-year energy plan for Utah.  Among the goals Governor Herbert set in the plan are “a balanced use of fossil fuels and alternatives and renewable resources” that also balances economic and environmental interests, promotes energy efficiency, and increases partnerships with universities and communities to “address future energy challenges and opportunities.”  The Governor’s plan also calls for seriously debating the use of nuclear energy in the State as a way to provide baseload energy capacity.  Gov. Gary Herbert’s energy plan includes nuclearDeseret News and Energy Initiatives and Imperatives: Utah’s 10-Year Strategic Energy Plan [pdf]Governor Gary Herbert

WY – Governor Matt Mead applauded the leasing of federal land to mining companies for the extraction of up to 750 million tons of coal during a news conference with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.  The leases are estimated to be worth between $13.4 billion and $21.3 billion in revenue, with roughly half this amount going to the State.  More than a dozen similar leases will be granted over the next three years.  Governor Mead said “We need the energy.  We need the jobs that come with the energy.”  Federal lands in Wyoming opened to coal miningNew York Times

Nuclear Power

The nuclear crisis in Japan that followed the devastating earthquake and tsunami has brought renewed scrutiny of the use and expansion of nuclear energy industry in the United States.  For example, spent fuel located in the Japanese plant overheated, causing some government officials here in the U.S. to renew calls for the opening of Yucca Mountain, the federally designated nuclear waste storage facility, or another similar site.  Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakley and Senate President Therese Murray wrote in a letter to federal Energy Department officials that "the events in Japan show that a breach can occur," and called for a central nuclear repository.  Former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and current member of a panel advising the Obama on nuclear waste storage, Richard Meserve, said that "There may be some things about the vulnerability of spent fuel pools that will be learned as a result of the Japanese accident that will cause us to rethink what we do in the U.S."  Storage of nuclear waster gets new scrutinyWall Street Journal

Additionally, the push for more nuclear power may face new obstacles due to the issues raised by the current nuclear crisis in Japan.  While President Barack Obama has not backed down from seeking $36 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear plants, and his Energy Department says that nuclear is a “low-cost, carbon-free” fuel that will spur job growth and protect the environment, the industry, its backers, and pro-environment groups are preparing for a long battle over the future role of nuclear power in the United States.  Lobbyists’ long effort to revive nuclear industry faces new testNew York Times

EPA Regulations

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson has proposed rules that would drastically cut the amount of toxic emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants.  The plan to reduce mercury, acid gas, sulfur dioxide, and 81 other pollutants has been delayed for 20 years, and if approved, would still not take effect for five more years.  Affected plants would need to utilize a variety of methods to reduce the emissions, which are expected to cost a total of $10.9 billion per year nationwide, or about $3 – $4 per month per electric bill.  EPA estimates that as many as 17,000 deaths, an additional 11,000 heart attacks, and 120,000 cases of asthma per year would be prevented every year under the new rules.  EPA proposes toxic emissions rules for power plantsNew York Times

 

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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, December 10, 2010

December 10, 2010

In the States

NC – A recent report by the National Wildlife Federation says that North Carolina has the greatest potential for wind energy of any Atlantic Coast State, which was welcome news to Governor Bev Perdue.  The Governor supports offshore wind development and would like to see one or two companies building turbines off the State’s coast in the next two years, provided “it can be developed cost-effectively and safely,” according to her spokeswoman.  The Governor also said that she still supports offshore oil drilling, so long as it is done safely, protects the State’s natural resources, and provides some revenue sharing.  Wind companies have already taken notice of the State and have applied for offshore leases that would allow construction of as many as 500 turbines offshore, enough to power up to 550,000 homes.  Drilling banned; eyes turn to windCharlotte Observer

VT – Governor-elect Peter Shumlin has written a letter to the Vice President of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant asking that the plant restart the process of extracting water contaminated with radioactive tritium from onsite wells.  A leak of the radioactive material was discovered a year ago, and the plant extracted the water in an effort to contain the material until November when the project ended.  One of the Governor-elect’s advisors, a nuclear engineer, is worried that tritium could reach the public’s water supply if more of the affected water is not extracted.  Shumlin urges Vermont Yankee to extract tainted waterBurlington Free Press

In the face of high unemployment and record deficits, States are turning to new revenue sources.  At least three States have used a portion of proceeds from the sale of carbon pollution credits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)  to help balance their budgets.  The RGGI agreement binds States to use at least 25% of the proceeds for such programs as alternative energy, energy efficiency, and consumer benefits, and all States combined have applied about 80% to these purposes.  In New Jersey, where legislation has been introduced to withdraw from the RGGI, $65 million of carbon credit proceeds has been used to help fill the State’s budget gap.  If the RGGI program is eliminated, however, such funding will no longer be available.  States diverting money from climate initiativeNew York Times

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal of an Appeals Court ruling that allowed a suit brought by eight States and New York City against five coal-burning utilities to move forward.  In the suit, the States claim that the plants operated by the utilities are a “public nuisance” in that they contribute to global climate change.  The Obama Administration urged the Supreme Court to hear the appeal because it contends the States’ claim could interfere with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.  The utilities support the appeal, but for a different reason – they argue the matter should be addressed by Congress rather than the courts.  The States involved – California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin – urged that the appeal be rejected.  Justices to rule on States’ emissions caseNew York Times

National News

The Obama Administration has postponed implementation of U.S. EPA regulations on emissions of ozone until July 2011 and of mercury and other pollutants until April 2012, citing the need for further study on the effects of the pollutants.  The rules would have affected several hundred cities and 200,000 industrial boilers, heaters, and incinerators.  Environmental groups voiced opposition to the rule delay, while manufacturers and Republican congressional leaders praised it, with some calling on the EPA to do away with the rules altogether.  EPA delays tougher rules on emissionsNew York Times

President Barack Obama has reinstated a ban on offshore oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico as well as the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar issued a statement on the ban citing the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as a reminder to exercise caution when deciding whether or not to drill offshore.  News of the ban was welcomed by Florida Senator Ben Nelson and Environment America, but opposed by the oil industry.  Obama reinstates ban on offshore oil drillingTrade Only Today

The Republican Steering Committee has voted on who will chair the House committees in the 112th Congress.  The Energy and Commerce Committee will be chaired by Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan who favors an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy production and who has said he will scrutinize the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to regulate greenhouse gases.  Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington State, who will be the next chair of the Natural Resources committee, supports increased domestic energy production and his party’s “all-of-the-above” energy position.  Rep. Upton expected to cross final hurdle to Energy gavel with GOP caucus vote todayNew York Times and Hastings loses bid to consolidate energy jurisdictionThe Hill

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Energy Update, 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, November 12, 2010

November 12, 2010

Special 2010 Election Edition

In the States

This edition of In the States features a change from the usual format.  Rather than a selection of updates on State energy policy, this version includes a brief summary of each of the winning gubernatorial candidate’s positions on energy policy, especially as they relate to renewable, nuclear, and fossil fuel energy, as well as climate change and cap-and-trade policies.

Alabama: Governor-elect Robert Bentley (R)

State Representative and Governor-elect Robert Bentley made energy an important campaign issue in his successful election bid, focusing on the relationship between energy costs and business interests in the State.  In his campaign policy document, the Governor-elect stated his belief that lower energy costs for businesses would spur economic growth and reduce unemployment, and that the economic success of southern States is directly related to “reliable and affordable power sources.”  The Governor-elect also opposed a cap-and-trade approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, writing that proposed federal legislation would “serve as a death sentence for economic expansion in Alabama,” though he has also said that “carbon emissions, I do think, probably play a role in climate changes” and suggested that carbon emissions should be reduced.  Governor-elect Bentley’s proposed approach is to further develop and diversify the State’s energy resources, including fossil fuels such as natural gas, methane, and coal, but also nuclear energy and alternative energy such as hydro and biomass.  Putting Alabamians back to work [pdf]Robert Bentley for Governor and The race for Alabama Governor: Sparks, Bentley views similar on environmentBirmingham News

Alaska: Governor Sean Parnell (R)

Governor Parnell has been involved with energy issues in the private and public sectors for more than 15 years, and since energy development is a major part of Alaska’s economy, it’s no surprise that energy is an important State issue.  Governor Parnell supports the oil and gas industry and has proposed increasing development, lowering taxes, and increasing tax credits for the production of oil and gas resources.  He also supports sending more oil and gas out of the State and increasing hydro, geothermal, and other renewable power, having signed one of the most ambitious renewable energy standards in the country – requiring 50% renewable energy by 2025, and a 15% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020.  Governor Parnell’s administration, however, is one of several suing the U.S .Environmental Protection Agency to block it from imposing new regulations on greenhouse gases.  Governor Candidate Q/A: Gov. Sean Parnell (R)News Tribune and Energy PageParnell-Treadwell 2010 and State challenges EPAParnell Press Release and Governors candidates spar, joust at Anchorage forumAlaska Journal of Commerce and Alaska emerges as unlikely renewable energy pioneerBusinessGreen

Arizona: Governor Jan Brewer (R)

Incumbent Governor Jan Brewer has pushed for creating new jobs and economic growth through increasing renewable energy use.  She has signed several executive orders intended to help develop strategies to attract solar manufacturers and promote solar energy within the State and also signed a law to provide tax credits and other incentives to solar companies in Arizona.  While Governor Brewer actively opposed repeal of a 2006 law that mandates a renewable energy standard of 15% by 2025, she also signed an executive order pulling the State out of the cap-and-trade portion of the Western Climate Initiative, expected to go into effect in 2012.  Arizona quits Western climate endeavorArizona Republic and Gov. Brewer signs Arizona solar jobs billPhoenix Sun and Executive Order 2010-06, Governor’s Policy on Climate ChangeOffice of Governor Jan Brewer and Remarks by Gov. Jan Brewer [pdf]Office of Governor Jan Brewer

Arkansas: Governor Mike Beebe (D)

Governor Mike Beebe has said that he wants as many energy companies to move to Arkansas as possible, which he believes will foster economic growth and help address the State’s fiscal concerns.  The Governor is especially interested in bringing nuclear and wind companies to Arkansas to manufacture and ship products from the State.  Another one of his goals is to increase production of gasoline from wood chips, a product abundant in Arkansas.  Governor Beebe also would like to work with neighboring States on developing compressed natural gas infrastructure for vehicles.  Governor Beebe has stated that although he believes global warming is a threat, individual States lack the ability to sufficiently alter greenhouse gas emissions, and any carbon reduction program should be nationally managed.  Beebe wants part of potential nuclear energy resurgenceCity Wire and Beebe high on wood chipsCity Wire and Beebe on global warming: “We didn’t listen!”The Arkansas Project

California: Governor-elect Jerry Brown (D)

Former Governor and Attorney General and current Governor-elect Jerry Brown has a record of opposing offshore oil drilling and supporting restrictions on vehicle emissions.  As Attorney General, the Governor-elect defended California’s auto emissions requirements, which were later expanded nationwide, and was a part of the successful lawsuit against the U.S. EPA that resulted in a Supreme Court ruling that greenhouse gases are subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.  The Governor-elect has proposed a renewable energy jobs plan that includes building 20,000 megawatts of solar and other renewable energy projects on public and private land, as well as and transmission lines to distribute this newly generated electric power.  Governor-elect Brown also supports “feed-in tariffs” for small private renewable energy projects, expediting clean energy permits, energy efficiency retrofits for existing buildings, and tightened efficiency standards for new construction. Environment Page and Clean Energy Jobs PageJerry Brown for Governor

Colorado: Governor-elect John Hickenlooper (D)

Denver Mayor and Governor-elect Dan Hickenlooper believes “there is no single solution to energy supply or demand,” and that he is “agnostic about the fuel source” that powers vehicles and heats homes.  He proposed an energy plan that includes using abundant energy sources in Colorado, including solar, wind, natural gas, coal, as well as energy efficiency measures.  The Governor-elect has also said that although climate change is an important factor in energy policy, other factors such as the environment, national security, and the economy must be taken into account as well.  Governor-elect Hickenlooper also supports the State’s new 30% renewable energy standard by 2030, saying it’s “ambitious” but “doable” with the help of solar, wind, and geothermal energy sources.  Energy PageHickenlooper for Colorado and Hickenlooper-McInnis Debate TranscriptColorado Energy News and Colorado: Denver mayor and guv candidate talks bike-sharing, light rail, and coalGrist

Connecticut: Governor-elect Dan Malloy (D)

Former Stamford Mayor and Governor-elect Dan Malloy’s energy policy focuses on creating and keeping jobs in Connecticut while cutting greenhouse gases through greater use of renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives.  The Governor-elect plans to add thousands of green jobs in the State by leveraging federal tax incentives and the State’s bonding authority to spur private investment in clean energy that will be developed and used in Connecticut. Governor-elect Malloy also believes that focusing on keeping rates for new clean energy low will be essential to attracting and keeping business in Connecticut.  He has not specified which sources of energy his administration will focus on, but has supported the State’s existing 20% renewable energy standard by 2020.  As Mayor of Stamford, he provided businesses with a year of free single-stream recycling in exchange for adopting sustainability measures and promoted other solar and energy efficiency projects.  Energy PageDan Malloy for Governor and Environment PageDan Malloy for Governor and Foley and Malloy: A clear difference on climate changeConnecticut Mirror and Municipal initiatives to address climate changeConnecticut Office of Legislative Research

Florida: Governor-elect Rick Scott (R)

Governor-elect Rick Scott supports increasing energy independence for economic and national security reasons.  He also supports increased offshore oil drilling, but says he will “ensure that any future offshore drilling does not negatively impact Florida’s beaches.” In addition, he favors expanding nuclear energy production and the use of alternative fuels.  The Governor-elect signed a pledge for Americans for Prosperity that he will “oppose legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue,” and also endorsed FreedomWorks’ “Contract from America,” which calls for candidates to “reject cap & trade.”  Governor-elect Scott has also expressed skepticism about scientific findings on global warming.  Energy Independence PageRick Scott for Governor and Contract from America – FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity Applauds Florida Gubernatorial Candidate Rick Scott [pdf]Americans for Prosperity and Rick Scott doesn’t believe in global warmingSt. Petersburg Times

Georgia: Governor-elect Nathan Deal (R)

As a U.S. Representative, Governor-elect Nathan Deal voted against federal legislation to cap greenhouse gas emissions, tax incentives for renewable energy, removing subsidies for oil and gas exploration, a moratorium for offshore oil drilling, and raising fuel efficiency standards.  He voted against tax incentives for renewable energy and for a temporary repeal of the 4.3 cent gas tax.  As a member of the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, he expressed his support for using biomass as an alternative fuel source, but not solar or wind energy.  Nathan Deal on Energy and OilOn the Issues and Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucuses – Environmental and Energy Study Institute and Sparks fly at Georgia’s gubernatorial debateAtlanta Examiner

Hawaii: Governor-elect Neil Abercrombie (D)

Former U.S. Congressman and Governor-elect Neil Abercrombie has said that making Hawaii energy independent is the State’s “most important economic enterprise,” and is “critical to protect our environment from the pollutant risks and climate change impacts associated with fossil fuels.”  As a U.S. Representative, Congressman Abercrombie voted to cap greenhouse gas emissions, provide tax incentives for renewable energy, raise vehicle efficiency standards, and end oil and gas exploration subsidies.  The Governor-elect proposes to create the Hawaii Energy Authority, which would combine policy oversight and regulatory authority to fast-track renewable energy projects.  He has also proposed rewarding utilities for meeting or exceeding the State’s clean energy goals, using federal money to support green jobs and retrofit public buildings, and expanding wind, solar, geothermal, ocean wave, and biofuel technology use.  Energy PageAbercrombie for Governor and Environment and Natural Resources PageAbercrombie for Governor and Hawaii Gov. candidates want clean energy fasterWKRG and Neil Abercrombie on Energy and OilOn the Issues

Idaho: Governor Butch Otter (R)

When Governor Butch Otter won the gubernatorial election in 2006, he ran on an energy platform that promoted the use of nuclear and hydroelectric power and he has consistently pursued the development of these forms of energy in Idaho.  As Chairman of the Western Governors’ Association, Otter also signed a letter urging Congress to increase nuclear loan guarantees.  The Governor has increasingly promoted other renewable energy sources including wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass, even filming a campaign commercial promising to make the State’s efforts on alternative energy research a “top priority” and pushing for State funding for the Center for Advanced Energy Studies at the Idaho National Laboratory, which supports research on nuclear and alternative energy.  Governor Otter also helped steer federal stimulus funds toward an initiative to install solar panels on schools.  Election 2010: Gov. Otter targets green votersIdaho Statesman and New nuclear power plant development urged by GovernorsPowerGen Worldwide and Otter: Idaho is “rapidly developing” an energy industryIdaho Statesman

Illinois: Governor Pat Quinn (D)

Governor Quinn has made clean energy a focus of his administration by signing several pieces of legislation that promote the use of wind and other renewables through tax incentives and allow local authorities to finance green projects.  According to the U.S. EPA, Illinois became the second-highest clean-energy-purchasing State, obtaining 33% of the State government’s electricity from renewable sources in 2009.  Governor Quinn supports a renewable energy standard of 25% by 2025 and a diverse energy portfolio of wind, ethanol, biodiesel, and clean coal.  Governor Quinn signs legislation to encourage investment in renewable energyPress Release and Green Power Purchasing AwardsU.S. EPA Green Power Partnership and Environment and Green Energy PageQuinn/Simon for Illinois

Iowa: Governor-elect Terry Branstad (R)

While energy policy was not a top issue in this year’s Iowa gubernatorial race, Governor-elect Branstad, who previously served four terms as Governor of Iowa, has differentiated himself from incumbent Governor Chet Culver by strongly supporting the construction of new coal power plants.  The Governor-elect has also supported reducing dependence on foreign oil sources by expanding wind, ethanol, and biodiesel energy use.  In addition, Governor-elect Branstad has expressed support for building a 400,000-barrel-per-day tar sands oil refinery on the South Dakota border, which Governor Culver and several environmental groups oppose.  Branstad, Reynolds attack Culver in MarshalltownTimes-Republican and Proposed oil refinery the center of political debateIowa Independent

Kansas: Governor-elect Sam Brownback (R)

U.S. Senator and Governor-elect Sam Brownback’s record in the U.S. Senate and as a member of the Natural Resources Committee reflect support for increased domestic energy production and reduced oil and gas imports.  During his tenure, he sponsored a number of bills – often with bipartisan support – to increase the use of renewable fuels, reduce dependency on foreign oil by 50%, increase offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and establish a national renewable electricity standard of 15% by 2021.  Governor-elect Brownback also worked with Democrats when they were trying to pass energy and climate legislation in 2010; he supported a renewable electricity standard as part of the bill at the same time he opposed a cap on greenhouse gas emissions.  Sam BrownbackCouncil on Foreign Relations and Energy PageSenator Brownback’s Webpage and Brownback joins bipartisan group seeking U.S. renewable electricity standardKansas City Business Journal and Brownback not a lock for new climate billMcPherson Sentinel

Maine: Governor-elect Paul LePage (R)

Governor-elect Paul LePage’s approach to energy focuses on lowering prices for consumers and he has said that his administration “will welcome any energy that can compete on price.” However, he has also expressed the view that on- and off-shore wind and tidal power are not yet viable.  Instead, the Governor-elect prefers increasing the number of natural gas power plants and expanding hydroelectric power, nuclear power, and offshore oil drilling. He also has said that while he does not believe global warming is a “myth” he’s unsure about the severity of the problem and how human activity has contributed to it.  LePage outlines vision for welfare, education, energyPortland Press Herald and Energy Independence and Efficiency PageLePage 2010 and Maine and New England stew over climate and energy projectsNew York Times and Forum clarifies candidates’ divideKennebec Journal and Maine Democrats attack LePage on nuclear powerBloomberg BusinessWeek  and Candidates speaking at UMaine forumMorning Sentinel

Maryland: Governor Martin O’Malley (D)

Governor Martin O’Malley supports greater use of renewable energy such as solar and wind as a way to create as many as 100,000 jobs in the State.  As Governor, he has supported legislation designed to generate more solar energy, create wind power offshore, and provide tax credits for renewable energy generation and electric vehicles.  Governor O’Malley has signed an executive order creating the Maryland Commission on Climate Change, legislation reducing energy consumption and more than doubling the State’s renewable energy standard (requiring that 20% percent of Maryland’s power  come from renewable sources by 2022) , and a memorandum of understanding adding Maryland to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.  Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley Highlights 2010 clean energy agendaGov Monitor and Maryland Commission on Climate ChangeMaryland Climate Change Advisory Group and Maryland Governor signs energy efficiency and climate change legislationPew Center on Global Climate Change and Environment PageFriends of Martin O’Malley and Jobs PageFriends of Martin O’Malley and Second Amendment to Memorandum of Understanding [pdf]Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Massachusetts: Governor Deval Patrick (D)

A major issue in Governor Deval Patrick’s campaign for re-election was the Governor’s support for the proposed Cape Wind project, which is likely to be the first offshore wind farm in the United States and create as many as 1,000 jobs.  The Governor also supports the State’s renewable energy standard, which will require 25% of its energy to come from renewable sources by 2020, and energy efficiency programs that will invest $2 billion over three years to save ratepayers $6.5 billion in future years.  The State is a part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and has experienced an increase in the use of both wind and solar power under Governor Patrick’s tenure.  Accomplishments [pdf]Deval Patrick for Governor and Rivals clash with Patrick over vision for cleantechBoston Business Journal and Patrick leads celebration of New Bedford’s Cape Wind coupSouth Coast Today and Program DesignRegional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Michigan: Governor-elect Rick Snyder (R)

Energy was not a major issue in Governor-elect Rick Snyder’s campaign, since he and his opponent, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, generally agreed on the issue.  The Governor-elect has shown support for outgoing Governor Jennifer Granholm’s agenda of promoting wind, solar and other clean energy as one solution to the State’s persistent economic woes.  Governor-elect Snyder has also indicated support for building a new coal plant “when it’s clean coal replacing old coal,” and offered support for “smart growth” of mass transit and less sprawl.  He also supports the State’s existing renewable energy standard.  Governor-elect Snyder received the endorsement of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. Rick Snyder says he supports Michigan’s renewable energy lawAnnArbor.com and Rogers City, Holland coal plant denials spark lawsuitsMichigan Land Use Institute and Environment PageOffice of Governor-elect Rick Snyder

Minnesota: Mark Dayton (D) or Tom Emmer (R)

The Minnesota gubernatorial race may not be decided for months due to a mandatory recount and potential legal battles.  However, both candidates have proposed energy plans, which are summarized below.

Former U.S. Senator Mark Dayton has said that “clean, renewable energy is one of the most promising growth industries for our State and our nation.”  His campaign plan included drawing developers of wind, solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric power to the State, and creating 50,000 jobs by retrofitting older government buildings to increase energy efficiency.  As Senator, Mr. Dayton co-sponsored bipartisan cap-and-trade legislation, voted to ban drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, voted to increase vehicle fuel efficiency standards, and consistently supported the ethanol industry.  Clean Energy PageMark Dayton for a Better Minnesota and Dayton Votes for Passage of Senate Energy Bill - But Cautions it will not Remedy America's Dependence on Foreign Oil [archived press release]Project Vote Smart and Mark DaytonOn the Issues

As a State Representative, Tom Emmer sponsored legislation that would have repealed the State’s existing renewable electricity standard of 25% by 2025, adding that more should be done to develop fossil fuels, and has said that green jobs are a “fancy marketing campaign.”  Representative Emmer also introduced legislation that would have repealed the Next Generation Energy bill that allows Minnesota to participate in the regional cap-and-trade program of the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord, signed by Governor Tim Pawlenty.  Emmer visits area, says he wants more power shifted to cities and countiesAllBusiness and Rep. Emmer moves to repeal cap-and-trade law [press release]State Representative Tom Emmer

Nebraska: Governor Dave Heineman (R)

Governor Heineman has actively promoted alternative fuels and renewable energy within Nebraska.  The Governor signed a bill making it easier for utilities operating in the State to access federal incentives that have greatly expanded wind energy use in neighboring States consistent with his goal of making Nebraska one of the top ten wind energy producing States by 2020.  During his re-election campaign, Governor Heineman also highlighted the economic and security benefits that stem from the State’s production of ethanol and biodiesel.  Although the Governor endorsed adoption of a national renewable energy standard requiring 25% of all energy to come from renewable sources by 2025, he also signed a letter asking the U.S. Congress to pass a law to stop the EPA from unilaterally issuing regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions as a substitute for comprehensive, economically-friendly energy legislation.  Wind energy bill signedOmaha World-Herald and Dave Heineman on Energy and OilOn the Issues and Nebraska celebrates groundbreaking for wind farmEdison International and Update on Wind Development in NebraskaOffice of Governor Dave Heineman

Nevada: Governor-elect Brian Sandoval (R)

Governor-elect Brian Sandoval has stated that he believes renewable energy will play an important role in the State’s economic recovery, and specifically supports developing the State’s “unique and valuable” energy resources including solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric.  He does not support a renewable energy standard or other mandates on renewable energy use on the grounds that they are harmful to businesses.  Gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval answers questions on issuesNevada News Bureau

New Hampshire: Governor John Lynch (D)

As Governor of New Hampshire, John Lynch has pushed for greater use of renewable energy and greater energy efficiency.  He signed a bill into law requiring nearly 25% of the State’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2025, and another authorizing its participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade program for Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States.  The Governor has cited concerns about climate change and energy independence as reasons for increasing renewable energy use and energy efficiency in New Hampshire.  Governor Lynch’s 25 x ’25 renewable energy initiativeNew Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning and Governor Lynch signs law joining Regional Greenhouse Gas InitiativeOffice of Governor Lynch and New Hampshire Governor says renewables are a priorityRenewableEnergyWorld.com

New Mexico: Governor-elect Susanna Martinez (R)

Governor-elect Susana Martinez’s energy platform in the 2010 gubernatorial race included loosening regulations on energy production, including gas wells, and ending New Mexico’s participation in the Western Climate Initiative’s regional cap-and-trade program.  She believes these actions will help protect and create jobs in the State.  The Governor-elect has said that “the more diverse our energy portfolio, the stronger we will be as a State and a nation,” and said she supports “creating incentives that encourage coal power plants to invest in new technology that will help coal burn more efficiently and reduce our carbon footprint.”  She has also said that she is “not sure the science completely supports” the idea that human activity plays a role in climate change.  New Mexico’s economic recoverySusana Martinez for Governor and GOP candidates knock global warmingPolitico and Press roomSusana Martinez for Governor

New York: Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo (D)

Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo published a series of policy books detailing his governing agenda on several subjects, including energy and climate change issues.  The Governor-elect wrote that he would like to see the State move more quickly toward achieving the goals of reducing energy use and increasing renewable energy, but that energy must also be made more affordable to consumers.  He also supports promoting solar energy, as well as on- and off-shore wind energy projects, and closing aging nuclear power plants without replacing them.  In addition, Governor-elect Cuomo supports drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, provided it is done in an environmentally safe way that does not impact the water supply.  Power NY [pdf]Cuomo 2010 and New York gubernatorial candidate issues plan to increase solarSolar Home and Business Journal

Ohio: Governor-elect John Kasich (R)

Former U.S. Congressman and Governor-elect John Kasich opposes federal cap-and-trade legislation, saying that limiting greenhouse gas emissions “will be immensely harmful to our State, kill Ohio's low-cost coal power, and cripple our manufacturing jobs.”  Instead, he believes the State should encourage clean coal technology, nuclear energy, energy efficiency, and increased use of renewables.  The Governor-elect said that he would seek repeal of the State’s existing renewable energy standard that requires 25% of power to come from renewable sources by 2025 if he “were to determine that it is unrealistic and would drive up prices,” but that he does not oppose it now and has no immediate plans to repeal it.  As a Congressman, Governor-elect Kasich called the division between economic and environmental interests “a false and dangerous dichotomy,” and said that State and local governments should take the lead on environmental concerns.  Strickland, Kasich offer their answers to questionsMarietta Times and Strickland accuses Kasich of turning back the clock on energy policyDayton Daily News and John Kasich on EnvironmentOn the Issues

Oklahoma: Governor-elect Mary Fallin (R)

Governor-elect Mary Fallin is a former Lieutenant Governor and U.S. Representative with a record of supporting traditional energy sources and opposing climate change bills and renewable energy legislation.  The Governor-elect signed a pledge for Americans for Prosperity in which she promised to “oppose legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.”  She has also said that her “goal as governor would be to stimulate the oil and gas industry in the State and support the Legislature for incentives for oil and gas production."  However, Governor-elect Fallin has also said she supports federal incentives for solar, wind, nuclear, and biofuels “in the long term” as a part of an “all of the above” approach that would include increased domestic drilling for oil and gas as a way to reduce dependence on foreign fuels.  Askins, Fallin speak at OIPA conferenceTulsa World and Americans for Prosperity applauds Congresswoman Mary FallinOffice of Congresswoman Mary Fallin and In the fight to end the recession, the energy industry is our ally (Rep. Fallin Op-Ed)Townhall.com and At Congressional field hearing, Fallin evaluates national energy policy in OklahomaOffice of Congresswoman Mary Fallin

Oregon: Governor-elect John Kitzhaber (D)

Governor-elect Kitzhaber’s campaign included setting a plan for the State to meet its established renewable energy standard and carbon emissions reduction goals while also promoting energy independence, saving money for consumers, and producing green jobs.  The Governor-elect’s plan suggested increased energy efficiency efforts to lower demand, developing and exporting renewable energy technologies, as well as loan guarantees, grants and tax incentives for renewable energy production.  Governor-elect Kitzhaber supports wind, solar, ocean wave, biomass, and geothermal energy, as well as developing technologies such as micro-hydro, small-scale wind, algae-based biofuels, and gas generation through waste.  He opposes offshore oil drilling and has said that he believes climate change is a major issue, which is why he supports a regional cap-and-trade program, either through the existing Western Climate Initiative or new State alliance.  Energy and Environment Plan [pdf]John Kitzhaber for Governor and Dudley vs. Kitzhaber: On global warming, energy, and land useEcotrope

Pennsylvania: Governor-elect Tom Corbett (R)

Governor-elect Tom Corbett’s energy policy focuses on the importance of affordability of energy and independence from foreign oil.  In Pennsylvania, drilling is beginning to occur in the Marcellus Shale, a large underground reserve of natural gas.  Unlike his immediate predecessor, Democratic Governor Ed Rendell, Governor-elect Corbett does not support a drilling tax on natural gas wells, believing that such a tax would “reduce the potential for new jobs, tax revenues and other economic benefits associated with development of the Marcellus Shale.”  In addition to his support for natural gas, Governor-elect Corbett also supports greater use of coal-to-liquids and gas-to-liquids technologies, biodiesel, and nuclear power.  The Governor-elect also supports the State’s current renewable energy standard and says that the marketplace will “effectively incentivize alternative energy investments.”  In addition, Governor-elect Corbett supports tax credits for infrastructure improvement, more smart meters and other grid improvements, and energy regulatory reform.  Economic Plan [pdf]Tom Corbett for Governor and Energy Plan [pdf]Tom Corbett for Governor and Pennsylvania Republican offers big tax break to oil and gas industry The Guardian

Rhode Island: Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee (I)

Former U.S. Senator and Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee has a Senate voting record that includes opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and strengthened fuel standards for consumer vehicles.  He also co-sponsored cap-and-trade legislation and supported federal funding to encourage the purchase of alternative fuel vehicles.  The Governor-elect has said that there is no one single policy option that will solve energy and climate issues, but promotes using more renewable energy and reducing oil usage as solutions.  Energy and Environment PageChafee for Governor and Lincoln Chafee on Energy & OilOn the Issues

South Carolina: Governor-elect Nikki Haley (R)

The campaign for South Carolina’s next governor did not include much discussion about the future of energy use in the State.  However, Governor-elect Nikki Haley’s campaign has said that she supports drilling for oil off the State’s coast, and has criticized the Obama administration for stopping work on Yucca Mountain, which has caused uncertainty about where South Carolina’s nuclear waste will be permanently stored.  Nuclear energy accounts for more than half of South Carolina’s energy consumption, with most of the remainder produced by coal plants.  South Carolina GOP hopeful Haley supports offshore drillingCNN.com and Haley wants nuclear waste out of SCThe State and Haley touts SC’s nuclear potential, promises to fight Obama on YuccaNikki Haley for Governor

South Dakota: Governor-elect Dennis Daugaard (R)

Governor-elect Dennis Daugaard has said that he believes wind, ethanol, and biofuel energy production are beneficial to South Dakota in terms of the environment and the economy.  However, he does not support a cap-and-trade policy or a renewable energy standard, opting to promote wind energy through tax incentives, reduced regulation, increased transmission capacity, and expanded use of ethanol in gasoline through EPA regulations that increase the ratio of ethanol allowed for use in consumer vehicles fuels.  The Governor-elect also supports additional research on creating cellulosic ethanol from wood, grass, and other non-edible plant matter.  Energy PageDaugaard for South Dakota and Daugaard unveils economic plan for South DakotaCapital Journal and On energy, candidates for Governor vow to be strong voice Argus-Leader

Tennessee: Governor-elect Bill Haslam (R)

Former Knoxville Mayor and Governor-elect Bill Haslam has said that his top priority as Governor will be to bring jobs to Tennessee, especially renewable energy and energy-efficiency jobs.  He has also said that he supports the Tennessee Valley Authority’s goal of increasing the State’s renewable energy usage to 50% by 2020 (including nuclear and hydroelectric energy).  While the Governor-elect served as Mayor of Knoxville, the City was designated as a Solar America City by the U.S. Department of Energy for its efforts to promote solar energy.  The Governor-elect has also said he wants to “foster an environment of collaboration between business and environmental interests” and that he rejects “the false choice that pits the environment versus job growth.”  Bill Haslam’s Answers [pdf] - Tennessee Clean Water Network Questionnaire and Knoxville, TNU.S. Department of Energy, Solar America Cities

Texas: Governor Rick Perry (R)

Governor Rick Perry has opposed many of the Obama Administration’s energy policies  – for instance, suing the Administration over greenhouse gas regulations and the offshore oil drilling moratorium and calling federal cap-and-trade “an economic disaster” – and is “not convinced” that climate change should be a policy issue.  To meet Texas’s own energy needs, the Governor has signed bills mandating greater renewable energy use and has pushed to fast-track new coal burning power plants.  He supports an energy portfolio that includes coal, natural gas, nuclear energy, and renewables.  Texas sues to stop EPA from regulating greenhouse gasesAustin American-Statesman and Gov. Perry: Waxman-Markey will negatively impact Texas familiesGovernor Perry Press Release and Perry’s strong views on climate change can be muted at homeAustin American-Statesman and Texas increases its renewable portfolio standardPew Center for Global Climate Change and Despite pollution worries, Texas builds coal plantsTexas Tribune and Issues PageTexans for Rick Perry

Utah: Governor Gary Herbert (R)

While Governor Gary Herbert has expressed skepticism that climate change is occurring due to greenhouse gas emissions – he has said emissions are “probably irrelevant” – his administration has developed an outline of State energy objectives that will serve as a baseline for a 10-year energy plan to diversify energy sources for security reasons.  The Governor also held a series of public meetings that were attended by State residents, oil and gas companies, and environmental activists to discuss this objective and a range of options for achieving this goal, which include increased use of renewable energy, coal, gas, oil, and nuclear energy.  Governor Herbert will release a more formal plan in December 2010 after months of public comment on the State’s plan. Herbert challenges reality of global climate changeDeseret News and Utah Gov. Herbert outlines energy initiative goalsYahoo Finance and Gov. Gary Herbert’s 3rd energy hearing brings diverse ideasDeseret News

Vermont: Governor-elect Peter Schumlin (D)

Governor-elect Schumlin has cited climate change as an issue that triggered his return to politics and as the “number one issue” when he was elected as State Senate Pro Tem in 2006.  The Governor-elect wants Vermont to “lead the nation” in the move toward renewable energy production, which he believes will provide “huge economic and job creation opportunities for Vermont” as well as reduce the effects of climate change.  Governor-elect Schumlin has fought to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, which is currently scheduled to go offline in 2012, and said he will set a goal of reducing energy use by 3% each year through energy efficiency measures.  Schumlin said WHAT???Freyne Land and Energy PagePeter Schumlin for Governor and Gubernatorial candidates Dubie and Schumlin talk energyWCAX and Senator Peter Schumlin – Responses to the VT LCV questionnaireVermont League of Conservation Voters and Schumlin: Yes to clean energy; no to EnexusPeter Schumlin for Governor

Wisconsin: Governor-elect Scott Walker (R)

Governor-elect Walker says that he supports removing the State’s moratorium on building nuclear power plants, calling nuclear a “clean energy option,” and that the State “must diversify our energy supply” while balancing cost and environmental impact.  During the campaign, the Governor-elect wrote an open letter to President Obama, critical of his administration’s “radical environmental policies” and opposed legislation supported by current Governor Jim Doyle that would set a renewable energy standard for the State.  The Governor-elect also signed the climate pledge from Americans for Prosperity vowing that he would not support climate legislation that would include any increase in State revenue. Jobs PageFriends of Scott Walker and Scott Walker letter to President Obama [pdf]Friends of Scott Walker and Scott Walker statement on global warming legislationFriends of Scott Walker and  Americans for Prosperity applauds Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker [pdf]Americans for Prosperity

Wyoming: Governor-elect Matt Mead (R)

Governor-elect Matt Mead has said he supports developing clean energy technologies to meet growing energy demands to supplement coal, oil, and natural gas resources available within Wyoming.  However, he has said he is “unconvinced that climate change is man-made.”  He strongly opposes any cap-and-trade legislation, including the proposals considered by Congress, and instead supports increased drilling for fossil fuels, construction of new nuclear power plants supplied by uranium from Wyoming, and an excise tax on wind power.  Energy Page [cached]Matt Mead for Governor

National News

Preparing for the pending Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives, many political figures are touting their positions on energy policy and their views on how or even whether to confront climate change in the 112th Congress.

Congressman John Boehner (R-OH), the presumed next Speaker of the House, has said that he does not believe that the climate is changing due to greenhouse gas emissions and has been a steadfast opponent of cap-and-trade legislation.  In addition, 50% of the new Republican legislators in Congress don’t believe climate change is a real issue, while 86% have pledged their opposition to any climate change legislation that increases government revenue.  Some House Republicans are hoping to use their new majority to slow governmental action on climate change, including Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who would prefer to keep the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming in place in order to “put a tall hurdle in the path” of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to move forward on regulations to limit greenhouse gases.  Sensenbrenner: Keep climate panel alive so I can investigate EPAPolitico.

Meanwhile, just this week, the U.S. EPA released a guidance document for State and local officials on how to issue permits for power plants when EPA’s climate change rules take effect next year.  The guidance emphasizes the importance of energy efficiency as a strategy for reducing the use of carbon-intensive fuels.  It also promotes the use of biomass as a way to reduce emissions on the grounds that carbon dioxide that is released when plant material is burned for fuel can be removed from the atmosphere by new replacement plants.  While State and local officials are gearing up to comply with the new requirements, some concerns are already being raised about the length of the permitting process under EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions rules.  EPA Issues Guidelines for States' Permitting for Greenhouse Gases - NYTimes.comNew York Times

President Obama has tempered his support of climate control legislation considered in the current Congress by saying: “Cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat; not the only way.”  He has instead proposed working with the new Congress on a number of issues that he believes Republicans can support, including development of electric vehicles, converting heavy trucks to run on natural gas, incentives for energy efficiency, and more emphasis on renewables and nuclear energy.  Obama to face new foes in global warming fightNew York Times

The lack of agreement on federal legislation to address climate change also has international implications.  European officials believe that other large countries with growing economies, such as China and India, will have little incentive to sign onto an enforceable emissions-reduction pact unless the U.S. government takes decisive action on this issue.  Under a nonbinding accord agreed to at a U.N.-sponsored summit in Copenhagen last year, the President Obama pledged to cut U.S. emissions by 17% by 2020 and contribute $100 billion to help developing countries reduce their emissions.  White House officials point to other measures being taken at the federal and State level as an indication that progress is still being made.  Chilly wind blows against global climate pactWashington Times

 

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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 January 15, 2010

January 15, 2010

In the States

AZ – Governor Jan Brewer discussed her ideas on the future of energy in Arizona at a business conference in Phoenix, calling for more wind, solar, and nuclear energy production.  The Governor said she is a “strong advocate for the development of more nuclear energy in Arizona,” calling the energy source “the cornerstone of our clean energy future.”  She also said she is “committed to making Arizona the solar capital of the world,” proposed adding incentives and easing regulations, and signed two executive orders to help promote solar energy.  Brewer pushes for nuclear as key part of energy goalsArizona Republic

MD – As the session begins in the State general assembly, Governor Martin O’Malley is preparing to push for a low-cost plan to increase solar energy, offshore wind development, and electric cars.  The Governor is proposing smaller changes to comply with the legislature’s existing goal of generating 20% of Maryland’s energy from renewable sources by 2022, and a need to cut $2 billion from the State budget.  Examples include streamlining the process to allow transmission lines from offshore wind farms and a tax break on new electric vehicles.  O’Malley to press for legislation on renewable energyBaltimore Sun

NM – Governor Bill Richardson has signed an executive order instructing several state agencies to coordinate efforts to promote the growth of green jobs and renewable energy.  The agencies are tasked with improving the electrical grid, commercializing new clean energy technologies, attracting renewable energy companies to the state, streamlining the permit process for alternative energy projects, and promoting commercial-scale geothermal energy.  Richardson orders new steps to build green economyNew Mexico Business Weekly

WV – In his State of the State address, Governor Joe Manchin praised the energy sector and defended the coal industry.  The Governor stressed balancing the economy and the environment, heralding both increased wind energy development and new technologies that will allow more drilling for oil and natural gas.  His speech also focused on supporting the coal industry by noting the fuel’s ubiquity and low cost, praising an upcoming project to control greenhouse gas emissions at a power plant, and criticizing efforts to “villainize this resource that helped us win two world wars and built the greatest country in the world.”  West Virginians urged to ‘stand up for our coal miners’Charleston Gazette

National News

President Barack Obama has announced $2.3 billion in tax credits that is expected to leverage an additional $5 billion in private investment, help complete 183 clean energy projects, and create more than 17,000 new jobs.  The credits will be provided for a wide variety of projects, including solar, wind, and geothermal energy production, fuel cells, electric cars, carbon capture and sequestration technology, and energy efficiency products.  White House awards $2.3 billion in tax credits for clean energy developersNew 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, 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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Energy Update, June 5, 2008

May 20, 2008
In The States

AZ – Governor Napolitano has vetoed legislation that would have stopped that state’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The attempted ban arose out of frustration that state lawmakers felt when the governor directed the DEQ to follow the same rules as the California Air Resources Board. Supporters of the failed bill have suggested they will attempt to pass it in other environmental legislation or sue the state to stop the regulations from taking effect. Governor vetoes bill voiding vehicle emission standardsArizona Daily Star

NH – The state Senate has passed legislation (HB1434) that would implement the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The state House had already passed the same bill, but needs to approve changes made by the Senate. The governor has expressed his support for the bill, which would be revisited if a federal cap-and-trade plan is implemented. NH Senate gives OK to global warming initiativeBoston Globe

NH – The New Hampshire legislature has sent a bill (HB1628) to the governor which would act as an incentive for homeowners to build small alternative-energy production facilities. Those who put electricity onto the grid could be paid as much as $6,000 depending on the cost of the system and how much power is generated. New Hampshire and Vermont Renewable Energy Program UpdatesRenewableEnergyWorld.com

VT – Vermont’s Green Mountain Power Corp. is offering incentives to homeowners who supply the power grid with solar energy. Customers supplying the solar energy will now be given $0.19 per kilowatt-hour as opposed to the standard $0.13 per kilowatt-hour. New Hampshire and Vermont Renewable Energy Program UpdatesRenewableEnergyWorld.com


National News

Nuclear energy producers are eager to see a cap-and-trade system enacted because the proposed system in which polluters will have to pay for their emissions only counts carbon output as pollution, not nuclear waste. This exclusion, combined with the fact that the rates of nuclear power generators are less regulated than those of coal or natural gas, has led some nuclear power companies to expect additional profits in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Carbon caps may give nuclear power a liftWall Street Journal

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is proposing an amendment to the Climate Security bill which would add new funding to the bill. The proposed changes would increase the amount the government would use to help consumers offset rate hikes from utilities to $911 billion and introduce $800 billion in tax breaks. Some new measures would help businesses, including $213 billion in subsidies to corporations that sell energy and manufacture products which require a great deal of energy to create such as cars or paper. Corporations would further be allowed to offset up to 30% of their carbon-cutting obligations by planting trees or investing in anti-deforestation programs. Boxer to propose changes to climate billWashington Post and New global warming measure would provide tax relief to consumersCQ.com (subscription)

3,100 wind turbines were installed in the United States last year, contributing to a total number of about 25,000. Although the power generated from these turbines amounts to only 1% of the national power production, the US Department of Energy has said that as much as 20% of US electricity could be generated by wind by 2030. Production of wind energy will continue to rise as new wind farms are being created faster than ever. Several companies have recently invested funds in the hundreds of millions of dollars each to create wind farms that will produce electricity to power hundreds of thousands of homes. Quietly, wind farms spread footprint in U.S.Washington Post

John McCain has highlighted the issue of climate change in his campaign speeches and suggested that the US needs to cut its carbon emissions. All remaining presidential candidates now support reducing carbon emissions to offset climate change. McCain’s plan calls for 60% drop in emissions from 1990 levels by 2050, which is less than Lieberman-Warner’s 70% and the 80% reductions called for by Senators Clinton and Obama. Greenhouse gas must be capped, McCain assertsNew York Times

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