Blog posts : "state of the union"
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
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 Transcript – White House and Energy Blueprint Fact Sheet – White House and Obama pitches ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy – National 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 response – McClatchy
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 policies – Minnesota 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 rules – New 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
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” push – Politico 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 says – New York Times
In the States
State of the States – More than half of all Governors have given their State of the State addresses, and a many of them have included energy issues in their speeches. Some of these are highlighted below. The full text and summaries of all of the State of the State addresses can be found on the Stateline.org website.
AK – Governor Sean Parnell gave his first State of the State speech, in which he advocated drilling for more oil and natural gas, saying that drilling would contribute to a “more secure, domestic energy future.” The Governor specifically promoted drilling in the outer continental shelf and in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.
HI – Governor Linda Lingle focused on energy in her State of the State speech, calling the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative “one of our most successful collaborations.” The Governor cited clean energy as important for the environment, the economy, and security, while introducing new tax incentives, bonds, and a ban on power plants that burn fossil fuels as ideas to achieve the State’s clean energy goals.
IN – In his State of the State address, Governor Mitch Daniels cited the fact that Indiana has been “the fastest growing State in wind power” over the past two years as proof of the State’s strength, and said that “within weeks, you’ll see us explode onto the solar power landscape.” He also said that the State’s goal is to become the capital of the electric vehicle industry, a “potentially massive industry of tomorrow.”
ME – A large portion of Governor John Baldacci’s State of the State Address focused on the future of energy in Maine. In terms of energy production, the Governor focused on the potential for offshore wind power generation, biofuels, and tidal energy. Governor Baldacci also focused on energy efficiency and conservation efforts such as rebates to homeowners for weatherization and grants to businesses for energy reductions.
MS – Governor Haley Barbour touted forthcoming projects in his State of the State address, including coal-to-liquids and coal-to-gas power plants, carbon capture technologies, and creating fuel from waste products such as pet coke and wood waste. Governor Barbour also promoted the expansion of nuclear, biofuel, and natural gas industries, saying that “as long as I am Governor, Mississippi will have an energy policy; and it’s more affordable, American energy.”
OH – Governor Ted Strickland opened his State of the State address with an overview of recent energy programs and investments in Ohio before announcing his new energy proposals. Specifically, the Governor advocated a new “Energy Gateway Fund” that would invest $40 million in State and federal money into solar, wind, fuel cells, energy storage, and other alternative energy projects, and restructuring tax incentives to promote more wind and solar energy production.
UT – In his State of the State address, Governor Gary Herbert unveiled the Utah Energy Initiative, which will develop a ten-year plan to ensure the use of modern technology combined with local inexpensive fuels to create jobs and economic opportunity. The Governor also touted the State’s abundance of energy resources, including wind, solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric, as well as a number of specific alternative energy projects.
WI – Governor Jim Doyle used his State of the State speech to propose new alternative energy initiatives that would increase energy production within the State. Currently, Wisconsin spends $16 billion per year on energy coming from outside its borders. The Governor supported the Clean Energy Jobs Act that would expand the State’s requirement for alternative energy use to 25% by 2025 and reduce total energy consumption by 2% by 2015. Governor Doyle also announced a new “Wisconsin Gold to Green Fund,” a $100 million revolving loan to allow manufacturers to reduce energy costs.
In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama expressed his continued support for climate change legislation and prodded the Senate to pass its version of the bill after passing jobs and financial regulation legislation. The President called upon opponents of climate change legislation to engage in negotiation by offering concessions on oil and gas drilling and some other issues, and received a standing ovation from both parties when he endorsed building more nuclear power plants. The call to action generated mixed reactions from Representatives and Senators. Climate change bill advocates Senators John Kerry and Barbara Boxer expressed optimism that a bill would be passed, while some other Democrats were skeptical of the bill’s chances or the President’s commitment to the issue, and some Republicans dismissed the bill’s chances altogether. Obama holds firm on climate bill, but most Senators shrug – New York Times
In giving the Republican response to the State of the Union, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell criticized the Obama administration for delaying offshore production, hindering nuclear energy, and for proposing what he described as “job-killing cap-and-trade energy taxes.” The Governor also said that Virginia may be the first State to explore for and produce oil and gas off the shore of the East Coast. McDonnell’s response for GOP focuses on jobs – Richmond Times-Dispatch