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Blog posts : "oil"

Energy Update, August 24, 2012

August 28, 2012

In the States

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

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

 Federal News

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

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

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

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Energy Update, April 20, 2012

April 20, 2012

In the States

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

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

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

National News

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

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

 

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Energy Update, April 6, 2012

April 6, 2012

In the States

CA – Governor Jerry Brown has said that he is considering allowing wider use of hydraulic fracturing in California as a means of obtaining oil from shale.  Governor Brown says that he is not considering new taxes on the procedure and did not comment on legislation that would require companies to disclose the site locations or chemicals used in the process, but said the process would self-regulate due to the State’s “very vigorous tort system.”  According to a U.S. Energy Department estimate, California has two-thirds of the country’s oil shale, which is enough to supply every west coast refinery for 17 years.  California’s Brown says he’ll consider fracking standardsBloomberg BusinessWeek and Gov. Jerry Brown says he’s studying ‘fracking’ in CaliforniaLos Angeles Times

GA – Governor Nathan Deal welcomed PyraMax Ceramics, a company that manufactures ceramic pellets used in the hydraulic fracturing process, to the State, along with the estimated 60 jobs the company plans to establish at the plant it is building in Jefferson County.  PyraMax will save an estimated $1 million per year in taxes – due to a recently-enacted law exempting manufacturing companies from energy sales taxes – and will receive employee training benefits from the State.  The company chose the site due to the benefits that Georgia offered, as well as the availability of kaolin -- a soft white clay used to make the pellets -- and assistance provided by State officials to complete the permitting process and secure contracts from natural gas and electricity companies.  Governor Deal said, “Now that Georgia knows that Jefferson County can make something happen, we look forward to future opportunities to work with other new industries like PyraMax Ceramics that the state of Georgia brings.”  Gov. Deal welcomes PyraMax Ceramics to GeorgiaAugusta Chronicle and Pellet plant bringing jobsGeorgia Public Broadcasting

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell has announced the approval by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission of a proposal from Gamesa Energy USA, in partnership with Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding, to build and install a prototype wind turbine in the Chesapeake Bay.  While Gamesa will use this project primarily to ensure optimal performance and reliability of its technology, the turbine will also produce five megawatts of clean, renewable wind power. In discussing the project in the context of his “all of the above” energy approach, Governor McDonnell said:  “This is an important next step in developing all of Virginia’s domestic energy resources to help power our nation’s economy and puts Virginia at the forefront of clean energy technology development.” The turbine will stand 479 feet tall and will be located about three miles off the coast near the town of Cape Charles on the Eastern Shore.  It is expected to be in service in 2013, which would make it the first offshore wind turbine in the country.  However, the project still needs the approval of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and review by the U.S. Coast Guard.  State approves construction of bay wind turbineLuray Page Free Press

National News

Ten Federal agencies and five U.S. States have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) creating the Great Lakes Offshore Wind Energy Consortium that will help coordinate permitting processes and expedite the development of wind power off the coasts of those states.  The MOU, which is modeled after a similar agreement involving Atlantic coast states, was signed by Governors from Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Pennsylvania as well as the U.S. Departments of Energy, Defense, and the U.S. Army, among other Federal agencies.  Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, another signatory, said the goal of the MOU “is to cut through red tape” in order to “create jobs and reduce pollution.”  Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said, “This agreement will enable states to work together to ensure that any proposed offshore wind projects are reviewed in a consistent manner, and that the various State and Federal agencies involved collaborate and coordinate their reviews.”  Feds, 5 states to push for Great Lakes wind farmsAlbert Lea Tribune

U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar has announced that companies will be allowed to perform seismic mapping surveys off the Atlantic coast between Delaware and Florida to determine the location and scope of offshore oil and gas reserves early next year.  The surveys could pave the way for expanded offshore drilling by providing oil and gas companies updated information they can use in deciding where to drill.  Seismic testing could also be used to determine the most suitable locations for wind turbines and other renewable energy projects, locate sand and gravel for restoring eroding coastal areas, and identify cultural artifacts such as historic sunken ships. Some environmental groups, including the Sierra Club’s Virginia chapter, objected to the surveys because of their concern that the requisite sonic booms emitted by air guns will harm marine life, including endangered species like whales.  Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said the announcement is “a small step forward in the development of our offshore energy resources,” but also criticized the Obama administration for not allowing offshore oil exploration off the coast of Virginia last year.  Drilling off the Atlantic coast moves a step closerWashington Post

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a proposed rule that would limit the amount of greenhouse gases that new power plants can emit.  Existing plants are exempt from the rule, which requires plants to emit less than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of energy produced.  The rule also allows new coal plants to begin operation and implement carbon restrictions later, as long as they meet the required limit on emissions on average over a 30-year period.  Newer natural gas-fired power plants generally meet the emissions limit, but coal-fired plants would need to use a method of lowering emissions such as carbon capture and sequestration, in order to comply with the proposed rule.  Most environmental groups expressed support for the rule, but some also want emission limitations applied to existing plans.  Republicans in Congress criticized the proposal and Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) indicated he would seek a Congressional Review Act vote to stop the rule before it is implemented.  EPA unveils green house gas standard for new power plants - Politico and For new generation of power plants, a new emission rule from the EPANew York Times

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Energy Update, March 9, 2012

March 9, 2012

In the States

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

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

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

National News

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

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

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

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Energy Update, January 27, 2012

January 27, 2012

State of the State Addresses

Of the 30 Governors who have given their State of the State addresses this year, 17 have specifically discussed energy issues, much of the time in the context of job creation and retention.  California Governor Jerry Brown, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said that renewable energy would bring green jobs to their states, while Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell, and West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin each said that their states’ fossil fuel resources would bring more jobs.  Governor Tomblin praised recent oil, coal, and natural gas investments and the jobs they will bring while promising that “I will do everything in my power to make sure that West Virginia is positioned to take full advantage of this opportunity” to build an ethane cracker facility, which he said would bring thousands of manufacturing jobs.  Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Maine Governor Paul LePage said that new jobs would arise from low energy costs, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez said that the key to economic growth and environmental protection is “sensible, predictable regulations” on energy production, and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal proposed eliminating a sales tax on energy used for manufacturing as a way to retain their business.

In the face of the slow economic recovery, several Governors have proposed ideas that require no state funds or attract new private investment.  For example, Hawaii Governor Neal Abercrombie proposed legislation to incentivize companies to invest in energy infrastructure that would integrate more renewable energy into the grid, saying that “there is no legislation more critical to our future."  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed several new initiatives, including attracting $2 billion in private investment for grid infrastructure and a program to increase energy efficiency in State buildings to be paid for with savings in energy costs.  Utah Governor Gary Herbert proposed creating an “energy research triangle” that would pair universities and industry to research energy production technologies.  Maine Governor Paul LePage proposed lifting a restriction on the amount of hydroelectric power produced. 

Governors commonly reflect on the previous year in their State of the State addresses to evaluate the progress that has been made.  California Governor Jerry Brown said that his State’s goal of producing 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020 was ahead of schedule and that billions of private clean energy investments had been made.  Delaware Governor Jack Markell said that hundreds of jobs were created in his State last year due to upgrades and conversions of power plants to lower emissions.  Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick cited his State’s policies on renewable energy in discussing that industry’s seven percent growth in 2011.  Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin referenced signing an agreement with other states to work with automakers on converting their vehicle fleets to run on natural gas.  Governor Hickenlooper also noted an agreement between energy companies and environmental groups to disclose materials used in the hydraulic fracturing process.

Some Governors used their speeches to urge federal government action on energy issues.  Utah Governor Gary Herbert said that the federal government needed to continue working with the State on siting and permitting of energy development.  Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell called on President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to accelerate the timetable for allowing oil and gas drilling off Virginia’s coast.  West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said that he would continue to fight against attempts to increase regulation of coal and other energy resources.

The State of the State addresses announced a range of other proposals, including:

  • Washington Governor Christine Gregoire proposing a $1.50-per-barrel tax on oil produced in Washington that would be used to improve infrastructure such as roads and bridges.
  • Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber stating that his administration will adopt a ten-year energy plan this year.
  • Maine Governor Paul LePage proposing giving ratepayers a choice of whether to purchase renewable or traditional energy.
  • Missouri Governor Jay Nixon stating his intention to work with farmers to improve their energy efficiency in order to make the State’s agriculture industry more competitive.
  • Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin proposing an increase in the amount of renewable energy required in the State’s renewable energy portfolio to 75% by 2032.

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

National News

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address included an overview of his energy agenda for 2012, which he began to unveil in more detail after his speech.  In his remarks, President Obama announced that he is opening 75 percent of potential offshore oil and gas reserves to development and opening enough federal land to renewable energy development to power 3 million homes.  The Defense Department will purchase much of that new renewable energy.  He also said that his administration would help develop domestic natural gas resources and separately called on Congress to pass legislation to provide production tax credits for renewable energy.  In addition, The President called for the disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing on federal lands and proposed providing energy-efficiency incentives to manufacturers.  Since the speech, President Obama has released a “blueprint” detailing these proposals, which he calls an “all-of-the-above strategy,” and has gone on a nationwide tour to promote it.  The blueprint includes a proposal to incentivize greater use of natural gas as a transportation fuel and calls for doubling the country’s clean energy output by 2035.  State of the Union Address TranscriptWhite House and Energy Blueprint Fact SheetWhite House and Obama pitches ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategyNational Public Radio

In the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels criticized the President for rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, which he said was “perfectly safe” and “would employ tens of thousands.”  Governor Daniels called for a free-market approach to energy, with lower taxes and fewer loopholes, fewer regulations, and maximizing domestic energy production.  He also characterized the President’s energy policies as “pro-poverty” for increasing consumers’ costs while not improving public health or the environment.  Full text of GOP’s State of the Union responseMcClatchy

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address included an overview of his energy agenda for 2012, which he began to unveil in more detail after his speech.  In his remarks, President Obama announced that he is opening 75 percent of potential offshore oil and gas reserves to development and opening enough federal land to renewable energy development to power 3 million homes.  The Defense Department will purchase much of that new renewable energy.  He also said that his administration would help develop domestic natural gas resources and separately called on Congress to pass legislation to provide production tax credits for renewable energy.  In addition, The President called for the disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing on federal lands and proposed providing energy-efficiency incentives to manufacturers.  Since the speech, President Obama has released a “blueprint” detailing these proposals, which he calls an “all-of-the-above strategy,” and has gone on a nationwide tour to promote it.  The blueprint includes a proposal to incentivize greater use of natural gas as a transportation fuel and calls for doubling the country’s clean energy output by 2035.  State of the Union Address TranscriptWhite House and Energy Blueprint Fact SheetWhite House and Obama pitches ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategyNational Public Radio

In the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels criticized the President for rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, which he said was “perfectly safe” and “would employ tens of thousands.”  Governor Daniels called for a free-market approach to energy, with lower taxes and fewer loopholes, fewer regulations, and maximizing domestic energy production.  He also characterized the President’s energy policies as “pro-poverty” for increasing consumers’ costs while not improving public health or the environment.  Full text of GOP’s State of the Union responseMcClatchy

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Energy Update, December 30, 2011

December 30, 2011

In the States

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

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

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

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

Regional News

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

Federal News

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

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

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

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Energy Update, October 21, 2011

October 21, 2011

In the States

CA – After an eight hour hearing that consisted of passionate speeches both in support and in opposition, the California Air Resources Board unanimously created the nation’s first statewide cap-and-trade program.  A controversial part of the landmark climate change legislation passed in 2006, AB 32, the cap-and-trade program will be phased in beginning in 2013 with the State’s largest greenhouse gas emitters and will expand in 2015 to include almost all emission sources.  The cap-and-trade program was instituted in order to help the State reach the goal mandated by AB 32 of returning greenhouse gas levels emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.  The second largest cap-and-trade program in the world has support from both Governor Jerry Brown and former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  California becomes first state to adopt cap-and-trade programLos Angeles Times and California adopts limits on greenhouse gasesNew York Times and California moves ahead with cap-and-trade, adopts final rulesFox Business News

OK – Governor Mary Fallin has been unanimously elected to as Chair of the Southern States Energy Board, an organization of Governors and legislators from 16 states and two territories to encourage innovation in energy programs and policies.  Responding to her election, Governor Fallin said she was “honored to be elected” to the group that “has an excellent reputation for its powerful support of the traditional energy resources that are needed and used by Oklahoma and other states every day.”  She also said “we must build our energy infrastructure base and support American made energy” by “fully exploiting the United States’ reserves of natural gas through hydraulic fracturing as well as improving the technology needed to capture and store carbon dioxide for use in advanced oil recovery.”  Board elects Governor Fallin as chairmanTulsa Today

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell spoke to about 400 people at his second annual Governor’s Conference on Energy and critiqued the federal government’s energy policies.  The Governor said the federal government had impeded the development of fossil fuels and had not pushed hard enough for more nuclear energy.  "We unfortunately have erected too many impediments, too many roadblocks at the federal level," Governor McDonnell said.  He said that in order to create jobs and provide for the expected increase in energy demand, "We've got to have a comprehensive, red-white-and-blue American energy policy," which he said would be an “all-of-the-above approach” including fossil fuels, nuclear, and renewable energy as well as increased conservation.  The Governor also called for increased offshore oil and gas drilling as an economic development tool.  The three-day conference also included discussions and speeches by energy executives.  McDonnell chides federal government for hindering energy developmentRichmond Times-Dispatch and Va. energy conference begins 3-day run MondayBloomberg BusinessWeek

Federal News

The number of rigs drilling for oil in the U.S. has nearly doubled in the past year according to a survey of oil and gas rigs conducted by oil services firm Baker Hughes and represents a record high since they began tracking the data 24 years ago.  Nearly 1,100 oil rigs are currently drilling around the country this week, with the spike in production mainly due to technological advancements such as hydraulic fracturing that allow shale oil to be extracted in an economically viable way.   The states that contain more unconventional oil fields, such as North Dakota and Texas, have experienced most of the increases.  U.S. oil rig count hits recordReuters

The White House has identified 14 infrastructure projects that it intends to fast-track through environmental and permitting processes, as well as other regulatory requirements, including two new wind farms.  A 15-turbine wind farm to be built in southern Vermont is included on the list of expedited projects, as is a 52-turbine facility in the San Bernardino National Forest in California.  The Vermont wind farm should receive a full environmental impact statement by the end of this year and the timeline for the review process for the California wind farm should be cut in half, from three years to 18 months.  14 U.S. infrastructure projects get federal fast-trackingAtlantic Cities and Obama Administration announces selection of 14 infrastructure projects to be expedited through permitting and environmental review processWhite House

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Energy Update, October 7, 2011

October 7, 2011

In the States

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

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

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

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

Regional News

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

Federal News

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

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Energy Update, April 8, 2011

April 8, 2011

In the States

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

State Fiscal News

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

National News

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

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

 

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Energy Update, 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, March 11, 2011

March 11, 2011

In the States

OR – In a speech to an audience of 700 at a luncheon in Portland, Governor John Kitzhaber provided his vision for the future of Oregon, including some new energy policies and projects.  One of these is the “Cool Schools” project, which would utilize energy savings bonds to weatherize older schools and increase their energy efficiency and replace inefficient boilers with new biomass-burning models.  The bonds would be repaid with energy cost savings realized by the schools over time.  Governor Kitzhaber’s allies in the legislature are confident that the measure will receive bipartisan support.  Kitzhaber: Oregon needs sweeping changesPortland Business Journal and Oregon hashes out green schools planSustainable Industries

State of the State Addresses

Nearly all of this year’s State of the State addresses have now been delivered.  Most Governors did not propose new energy policies during their addresses and about half did not even mention energy at all.  In almost every case, any mention of energy came in the context of jobs or the economy.

Florida Governor Rick Scott and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn praised companies that produce energy or manufacture energy-producing parts that moved to or started operations in their States.  Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said that her State is “helping to power our nation with the extraction of oil and gas and by harnessing the wind,” while Texas Governor Rick Perry said that while energy is an important part of his State’s economy, its “strength is built on a much broader base” than just energy.  

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear praised the development of fossil fuels in their Commonwealths while Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley promoted offshore wind energy.  Governor Corbett spoke about the need to develop the Marcellus Shale – and keep that development free of new taxes – in order to create new jobs.  Governor Beshear said that coal has allowed Kentucky to grow a manufacturing sector and that he would “fight” the federal government to ensure the continued mining and use of coal.  Governor O’Malley asked his legislature to pass the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act, saying that it would create thousands of manufacturing and servicing jobs through offshore wind farms.  

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

National News

The Obama Administration is considering opening a portion of the strategic oil reserves (SPR) in the event that oil supplies are disrupted as a result of an ongoing conflict in Libya.  Selling some of the reserves could lead to lower crude oil prices – and gasoline prices – in the short term, which have been rising quickly in recent weeks.  Three House Democrats have written to the President asking him to “consider utilizing the SPR now” in order to “counter supply disruptions and combat crippling price hikes in the short term.”  Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman agreed that it “would make sense for the President to begin selling oil from the SPR.”  The Administration has said that any decision it makes will not be due to simply to the price of oil – though that may be part of it – but also whether the flow of oil is significantly interrupted, an issue that may be offset by an increase in supply from Saudi Arabia in response to the shortage from Libya.  Democratic lawmakers urge Obama to tap oil reserveWashington Post

 

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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, September 10, 2010

September 10, 2010

In the States

CA – A new website called Clean Energy Jobs has been launched as a part of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Clean Energy Workforce Training Program, which is designed to help promote green collar jobs in the State.  Governor Schwarzenegger praised the website in a written statement, saying that it will highlight “how the state's community colleges and workforce investment boards, labor unions, and employers are working to meet the demand for trained workers."  The Governor also wrote that the training program itself “represents the kind of innovative thinking needed to steer our economy toward a greener future, while doing everything possible to help Californians return to work." Governor introduces green jobs websiteSan Francisco Chronicle

PA – Pennsylvania currently requires that 0.5% of the electricity in the State must come from solar power by 2021.  Governor Ed Rendell has called for an increase in that percentage during his announcement of $20.5 million to finance new solar programs within the State.  “Unless we act now to increase our solar share – even to a modest 1.5%– the types of projects we’re announcing today won’t even consider Pennsylvania,” the Governor said at the announcement, adding that solar companies already in the State may move to other States with larger mandates on solar energy.  Pennsylvania Governor calls for increase in solar targetBrighterEnergy.org

TN – Governor Phil Bredesen has announced a $2.5 million rebate program that will provide a $2,500 rebate for the first 1,000 electric vehicles sold in Tennessee.  A federal rebate program to provide $7,500 per electric car is also available to Tennessee residents, making the total amount available to electric car purchasers up to $10,000.  These rebates will be available as soon as sales begin later this year for the new all-electric Nissan Leaf, for which batteries will be manufactured in Tennessee.  The funds for the rebates will be taken from the petroleum violation escrow account, which consists of money collected from oil companies by the federal government and provided to States for use on federally approved projects.  During a speech at the Tennessee Valley Authority, Governor Bredesen said that the rebates will allow “Tennesseans to be pioneers in trying out electric cars and making them accessible and affordable in the State.”  Rebates available for first electric cars in Tenn.Bloomberg Businessweek

Regional News

At a meeting of the Southern Governors’ Association in Alabama, Governors from both Gulf and Atlantic coastal States told Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to President Barack Obama, and Wilma Lewis, the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management, that since States that allow offshore oil drilling are more susceptible to the risks of drilling – risks made clear to the Governors as a result of the BP oil spill in the Gulf – they should receive a higher share of royalties from offshore oil leases than they are scheduled to receive, and they should receive them as soon as possible.  In making the case for States that allow offshore drilling to receive a higher share of royalties, Governor Bob Riley of Alabama told the officials that he was “not too sure any coastal States had any idea of the risk we were taking,” and Governor Bev Perdue of North Carolina expressed her concern that States might not be willing to take the risk of an offshore oil spill if they aren’t also rewarded for assuming such risk.  Governor Riley said that the royalties would allow States to stock up on boom and other supplies necessary to handle an emergency oil cleanup, for which they had to rely on BP and the federal government during the recent Gulf spill.  Some of the Governors and other State officials also criticized the Obama Administration for imposing a temporary moratorium on deep water offshore oil drilling.  While Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi said he was glad to hear that the Administration is committed to offshore oil drilling, he also made clear that he hoped offshore drilling would continue as soon as possible.  Assistant Secretary Lewis emphasized the importance of the moratorium providing time to review regulations and ensure safety on offshore oil rigs following an incident that resulted in 11 people losing their lives and devastation to Gulf Coast communities.  Southern Governors want more oil money due to drilling risksMontgomery Advertiser

National News

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has resulted in the installation of more than two million smart meters and the weatherization of more than 200,000 homes.  Smart meters cut costs and energy usage by allowing consumers to track and alter energy use in real time and weatherization improvements reduce the amount of energy needed to control the temperature inside homes.  DOE cited a utility industry analysis that asserts that smart grid improvements, such as smart meters, can cut electricity demand by more than 4% annually by 2030, saving businesses and consumers $20.4 billion per year.  Another study by DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory also indicates that weatherization can save homeowners an average of $400 in the first year after a project is complete.  The Department of Energy is currently weatherizing 25,000 homes per month with a goal of weatherizing a total of 600,000 homes under the ARRA.  Energy Dept. says ‘smart meter’ army hits 2 millionThe Hill and DOE announces two million smart meters installed in the USEERE News and 200,000 homes weatherized in Recovery Act milestone: Vice PresidentEERE News

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Energy Update, August 27, 2010

August 27, 2010

In the States

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

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

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

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

National News

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

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

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Energy Update July 30, 2010

July 30, 2010

In the States

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

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

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

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

Regional News

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

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

National News

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

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Energy Update, June 18, 2010

June 18, 2010

In the States

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

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

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

Regional and National News

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

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

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

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Energy Update, June 4, 2010

June 4, 2010

In the States

AK – Governor Sean Parnell of Alaska has signed two bills that would make it more affordable to generate renewable energy in the State.  One bill improves the economic viability of geothermal projects by cutting the costs of the royalty payments that developers must pay for geothermal leases on State land.  Governor Parnell commented, “This legislation makes geothermal power projects economically viable and therefore more likely to produce more affordable and reliable electric power for homes and businesses.”  The other bill exempts facilities that use only renewable energy to generate electricity from regulations currently governing energy production in the State.  Alaska cuts red tape to attract renewable energy developersBrighterEnergy.org

CT – The Governor of Connecticut, M. Jodi Rell, vetoed an energy reform bill that proponents asserted would encourage the use of more renewable energy and change the way energy was procured in the State by using long-term power purchase contracts.  Governor Rell said that while there were some measures in the bill that made “good economic sense” and that she supports enhanced State incentives for renewable energy, particularly solar power programs, and energy assistance for low-income families, she thought the legislation would cost too much and had concerns about the lack of detail in parts of the bill.  Citing a $1.4 billion price tag, she said “it is simply not the right time to make an investment of this magnitude.”  Connecticut Governor vetoes clean energy reforms – BrighterEnergy.org and Rell veto of Conn. energy bill riles critics New Haven Register

OK – Governor Brad Henry signed a measure into law that expands the use of clean energy in the State of Oklahoma by establishing a renewable energy goal that 15% of electricity in the State be generated by renewable energy such as solar, wind and geothermal by 2015.  The bill also allows electricity producers to utilize energy efficiency improvements to help meet the goal, establishes a natural gas energy standard, and requires the development of a plan for transmission grid expansion.  Henry signs Oklahoma Energy Security Act Tulsa World

MAGovernor Deval Patrick designated 35 cities and towns as Massachusetts’ first official Green Communities under the Green Communities Act, the name for energy legislation passed in 2008.  To earn this designation, municipalities had to meet five clean energy goals, which included adopting local zoning bylaws to encourage and speed up permitting for renewable energy projects, purchasing only fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal fleets whenever possible, and requiring all new residential construction over 3,000 square feet to save energy by adopting new building codes.  These communities are eligible for $8.1 million in grants intended to enable the communities to “go further, saving energy costs for their residents, reducing the environmental impact of municipal operations, and validating the Commonwealth’s reputation as a national clean energy leader,’’ according to Ian Bowles, the State’s Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs.  35 named Green Communities, qualify for State aidBoston Globe

Regional and National News

Next week, Senator Richard Lugar will propose energy and climate legislation that aims to cut emissions of planet-warming gases that he says will achieve about half of the 17% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 proposed by President Obama.  Lugar’s bill does not include pollution permits like those found in cap-and-trade proposals.  Under the bill, coal-fired power plants would not be required to install expensive scrubbers as they would under other proposals, but would retire those plants in 2020.  The legislation also includes stronger fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, encourages the use of alternative transportation fuels, seeks to improve the energy efficiency of homes and commercial buildings, and expands the use of nuclear power.  President Obama has said that a price must be set on carbon pollution, and that he will work to find enough votes to get a cap-and-trade bill passed in the Senate.  The Senate will vote on June 10 – before any climate change legislation – whether to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas pollution, providing some indication of how the Senate will approach climate change legislation in the future.  Sen. Lugar to propose climate bill alternativeReuters

The chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to recover royalties associated with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.  The government’s lease with BP stipulates that the company must pay 18.75% in royalties for all oil and natural gas produced, so the estimated loss of at least 500,000 barrels of oil and hundreds of millions of cubic feet of natural gas could cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in uncollected revenue.  "My first priority is that the environmental effects of this spill be contained and mitigated as quickly as possible, but I am also deeply concerned that the American public is compensated for damages to their public lands, waters, wildlife and minerals," Mr. Rahall said.  Rep. Rahall seeks damages for revenue lost to oil spillWall Street Journal

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