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Energy Update, March 23, 2012

March 23, 2012

In the States

NC – Governor Bev Perdue has said that she believes hydraulic fracturing can be done safely in North Carolina if it is properly regulated, following an unannounced trip to Pennsylvania to examine the process.  The State’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources came to a similar conclusion shortly after the Governor’s announcement, when the Department released a study conducted with the Department of Commerce that was mandated by the legislature last year.  The study notes that there are likely unknown consequences of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, requiring effective regulatory oversight of the process.  Governor Perdue highlighted the potential economic benefits of energy resource development, saying that it is “something that can help America and North Carolina be globally competitive," but that much of that potential depends on “whether the folks who live in this community are willing to move forward.”  Perdue says “fracking” can be done safely in NCNews & Record and DENR: With safeguards, fracking is OK in North CarolinaCharlotte Observer

PA – Royal Dutch Shell has decided to locate its petrochemical plant, also known as an ethane cracker, near Pittsburgh, and Governor Tom Corbett has said that while the deal is the “first pitch in a nine-inning game” – the site must meet environmental and other requirements – it would “have the potential to be the single largest industrial investment in the region in at least a generation.”  Construction of the plant is expected to create 10,000 jobs, while another 10,000 workers will be needed to operate the plant itself, as well as for jobs at suppliers and businesses that will use the products made at the plant.  Corbett: Shell decision the first pitch in the gamePittsburgh Business Times and Corbett says “cracker” plant a job provider to State’s studentsPittsburgh Post-Gazette 

SD – Governor Dennis Daugaard has vetoed a bill that would have cut construction taxes in half on wind farm development projects and environmental upgrades to existing power plants over $50 million.  The bill was passed by the legislature to provide incentives to companies to invest in major wind projects and to help power plants conform to new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations.  Governor Daugaard said in a statement about the veto that he did not disagree with providing incentives for in-state energy development, but felt that the legislature should wait to pass any new incentives until after a November vote on an initiative that would offer incentives to a wider variety of construction projects.  The Governor also said that such a program should include incentives for construction projects under $50 million, citing a $40 million wind farm project within the State that would be ineligible for benefits under the vetoed legislation.  South Dakota governor vetoes tax breaks for wind farms as untimely, discriminatoryThe Republic

 National News

The number of new photovoltaic solar panels installed in the United States more than doubled between 2010 and 2011 according to a new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association.  In 2010, 887 megawatts of photovoltaic solar capacity was installed; that total increased by 109 percent in 2011 when 1,855 megawatts of solar capacity was installed.  Part of the reason for the increase in installations is a reduction of prices for photovoltaic panels, which in 2011 dropped nearly 50 percent.  California installed the most solar capacity of any state in 2011 -- in part due to the State’s 33 percent renewable energy standard that must be met by 2020 -- followed by New Jersey, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Nevada.  Solar installations doubled last year, with California leading the wayMiami Herald

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Energy Update, April 8, 2011

April 8, 2011

In the States

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

State Fiscal News

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

National News

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

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

 

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Energy Update, January 31, 2011

January 31, 2011

In the States

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

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

State of the State Addresses

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

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

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

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

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

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

National News

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

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

 

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Energy Update, November 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, March 26, 2010

March 26, 2010

In the States

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

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

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

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

Regional, National, and International News

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

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

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

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Energy Update, June 26, 2009

June 26, 2009

In the States

ME – Governor Baldacci has signed a new law that will establish a six-year pilot program that will allow individuals and groups to sell renewable power to the Public Utilities Commission at a fixed rate for up to 20 years, with the goal of encouraging small renewable energy projects.  The law also allows for energy to be bought in blocks by investors and consumers.  Baldacci signs law prompting smaller energyKennebec Journal

OR – The state’s legislature has passed some – but not all – of the energy-related legislation that was on the agenda for this session.  A bill that would create a low-carbon standard for fuel sold in Oregon has passed, but a bill that would guarantee that emissions will be 10% below 1990 levels by 2020 has not.  Some pending bills would reverse existing clean energy legislation, such as a bill that would decrease tax credits for alternative energy producers that easily passed the House, though Governor Kulongoski’s office has said that the Governor will not “allow any rollback.”  Many green-friendly bills don’t make the cut in OregonOregonian and Update: Bill to cut carbon emissions from gasoline, diesel fuel, gains approval - Oregonian

SD – South Dakota currently produces 237 megawatts of electricity with wind power and has some of the greatest potential for more, but only if transmission lines are upgraded to carry more alternative energy.  The state’s electricity grid has not been updated since the 1970s.  The Obama administration has designated $11 billion in stimulus funds to upgrade the nation’s electric grid and private companies have invested billions more to build the needed transmission lines.  While these improvements will allow more wind power to be created in South Dakota’s rural areas and used in populated centers, as well as lessen the chances for interruptions in the power supply, much more investment is needed to sufficiently expand transmission capacity.  Wind power blocked by ‘glass ceiling’Argus Leader

Regional and Federal News

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative completed its fourth auction, selling 30.8 million pollution allowances for $3.23 each for a total of $104 million.  The 10 states in the Initiative have so far sold over 110 million allowances for a total of $366.5 million that will be used to weatherize homes, perform energy efficiency audits, help small businesses lower energy usage, and other uses.  Auction raises $104 M for renewable energyRutland Herald

Automakers Ford, Nissan, and Tesla will receive a total of $8 billion in order to retool their factories to build electric vehicles and battery packs and increase fuel efficiency.  Business leaders say tens of thousands of jobs will be created by the loans, which are part of the $25 billion in loans approved for automakers by Congress in 2007.  The cap-and-trade legislation currently being discussed in Congress contains a provision to double the loans to $50 billion.  The Energy Department is working with GM and Chrysler, who must get out of bankruptcy before being eligible for the loan.  3 automakers get loans to build more efficient carsWashington Post

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has voted 15-8 to pass what has been called a compromise between Republicans and Democrats on energy and climate change policy.  The legislation would require that utilities obtain 15% of their energy from renewable energy by 2021, but would not put a cap on the amount of greenhouse gases polluters could emit.  The bill would also allow drilling for oil within 45 miles of coastlines, provide incentives for carbon capture and storage, expand the national petroleum reserves, and increase funding for clean energy technology and training.  Senate panel approves energy billNew York Times

American Clean Energy and Security Act

On Friday, June 26, the House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, written by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and promoted by President Obama by a vote of 219-212.  The legislation would limit emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.  Additional language was added the night before the vote, including additional emission allowances for rural electric cooperatives, authority for the US Department of Agriculture to determine agricultural offsets for farmers, and a number of other provisions benefiting specific industries.

During the debate, one point of contention between parties was the cost of the bill to rate-payers.  The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average household will pay an additional $80-$111 per year by 2020, while the Congressional Budget Office estimates the average household will pay an additional $175 per year by 2020, with those in lowest-income homes saving $40 per year due to rebates.  Republicans estimated that the average household would pay an additional $3,100 per year.

Another issue revolved around the efficacy of the provisions.  Supporters of the bill claimed that up to 1.7 million jobs would be created through the creation of clean energy infrastructure while opponents claimed millions of jobs would be lost in closing small businesses and manufacturers that cannot afford the additional costs.  Supporters also asserted that the reductions in emissions would stem or reverse global climate change, while opponents generally questioned the effectiveness of the legislation in the absence of international cooperation and the degree to which climate change poses a near-term threat.

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