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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, 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, May 21, 2010

May 21, 2010

In the States

AK – Governor Sean Parnell has signed a pair of bills into law into law that offer companies tens of millions of dollars in tax incentives to drill for natural gas in Cook Inlet and make it cheaper and easier to build gas storage facilities.  Demand for natural gas grows in the winter, when the need for heat is greatest, and slowing production from existing wells will need to be supplemented by either importing gas from elsewhere or increased domestic drilling.  While some companies have existing leases to drill, the incentives are meant to prompt them into drilling sooner than later and store supplies for later use.  Legislature’s incentives may draw gas rig to InletAnchorage Daily News

HI – Hawaii has been chosen to be one of the first States to help launch the new all-electric car from Nissan, the LEAF, which is powered by lithium-ion batteries and produces zero tailpipe emissions.  Governor Linda Lingle recently spoke at event announcing Nissan’s decision and said that the car “will build on Hawaii's progress to end our state's over-reliance on imported fossil fuels and increase our energy security.”  The State has set a goal of obtaining 70% of its energy from clean sources by 2030.  Residents can now reserve the car, which is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit, and costs more than 60% less per mile to drive than the average gasoline-powered car.  Hawaii selected as an early launch State for Nissan LEAF vehicleReliable Plant

ME – Governor John Baldacci has signed five energy bills into law that will make generating and transmitting wind energy easier in the future.  Included in the new laws is the creation of “energy corridors” or new transmission lines along major highways, steering funds to energy efficiency and alternative energy projects, as well as a smart grid and other infrastructure to allow energy efficient use of electric vehicles.  Home and business owners will be allowed to tack upfront costs of energy efficiency projects onto their property tax bill for 10 to 20 years, and energy companies will be required to provide at least $4,000 in community benefits per wind turbine.  Another bill institutes the Ocean Energy Task Force recommendations by creating a permit system, clarifying the leasing process, and setting energy goals for offshore wind and tidal energy systems.  Baldacci signs energy bills aimed at cutting oil consumptionMaine Public Broadcasting Network and Energy bills smarten up State policyBangor Daily News

NJ – Governor Chris Christie and the State’s Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner, Bob Martin, have filed a petition with the federal Environmental Protection Agency to require a coal-fired power plant 500 feet across the border in Pennsylvania to reduce its emissions.  According to the Commissioner, the plant in question emits three times as much as all seven coal power plants in New Jersey, but residents on both sides of the river are susceptible to the pollution.  The plant is already the subject of a federal EPA lawsuit, though the plant’s owners say they are fully compliant with all Pennsylvania permit limitations.  NJ Gov. Chris Christie, DEP chief seek reduced pollution from coal-burning plant in PAThe Star-Ledger

WI – Governor Jim Doyle is promoting the collaboration of two large university research consortia with private companies to research and develop clean energy solutions, saying “it is crucial that Wisconsin develop and maintain a leadership role in these emerging energy technologies.”  Under the plan, the Center for Renewable Energy Systems in Madison and the Southeastern Wisconsin Energy Technology Research consortium in Milwaukee will combine into a single statewide group and provide energy research services for industry in the State.  Wisconsin makes a play for clean energyCivSource

Governor Doyle has also signed a bill that will make burning garbage for energy count as “renewable” and help the State realize its goal of obtaining 10% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015.  Also listed as “renewable” is the Apollo light pipe, a small glass skylight dome that reflects daylight inside a building and reduces energy use.  The skylight system is manufactured in Wisconsin.  The Governor also vetoed a bill that would have required State buildings to become more energy efficient.  Governor Doyle said that he vetoed the measure because the way it was written would have delayed current maintenance projects and would have created “chaos” for the State’s building construction program.  Disputed renewable power bill signedMilwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel

National News

Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman publicly released their climate change and energy legislation in the company of both utility company executives and environmental advocates, but without the bill’s other original co-author, Senator Lindsey Graham.  Climate provisions include a cap and trade policy that would cap utility, oil, and heavy industry emissions (following a temporary exemption), but not as broadly as the as the economy-wide House plan passed last year.  Greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 17% by 2020 and 83% by 2050 compared to 2005 levels.  Permits would initially be given away to utilities and coal burning power plants would receive more permits than natural gas power plants.  In the wake of the ongoing Gulf oil leak, the legislation has been amended to scale back some the expansion of offshore oil drilling.  States will now be able to stop certain plans to drill for oil off the coast of neighboring States.  Nuclear plant operators would also receive loan guarantees under the proposed legislation.  The nuclear power industry and utility companies generally embraced the plan, while some oil companies also voiced support.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, however, did not endorse the bill.  Senator Graham issued a separate statement on the bill in which he predicted the bill would not gain bipartisan support given immigration politics and the recent oil spill in the Gulf.  Climate bill’s fate down to businessPolitico and Senate gets a climate and energy bill, modified by a Gulf spill that still growsNew York Times 

The Georgetown Climate Center has produced an overview of the legislation’s State-related provisions.

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Energy Update, 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, November 25, 2009

November 25, 2009

In the States

AZ – Governor Jan Brewer has announced that up to 400 high-paying jobs will go to Arizona residents as a result of the State’s renewable energy tax incentive program.  The Chinese solar energy company Suntech will begin operations in the State in January when the incentives go into effect with an initial investment of between $13 and $17 million, and continue to build facilities in the next few years.  The Governor also said she is in talks with other large-scale renewable energy companies who have expressed interest in starting operations in the State.  Brewer: addition of Chinese solar firm shows impact of tax creditsAZCapitolTimes.com

CA – The State of California has taken a big step toward implementing a broad-based State cap-and-trade program ahead of any potential action by the US Congress on federal climate change legislation.  Draft rules issued this week by the California Air Resources Board would require major sources of air pollution, including power plants, refineries, and concrete factories to being reducing emissions in 2012.  The State’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.  Beginning in 2015, emissions from industrial and transportation fuels would also be subjected to reductions.  The draft rule does not specify how to allocate permits allowing companies to emit carbon dioxide and other GHGs, which is one of the most contentious issues being debated at the federal level.  The chairwoman of the Air Resources Board, Mary D. Nichols, has stated that her preference is for all permits to be auctioned.  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has said the new rules will help California address a serious environmental problem while allowing companies flexibility in meeting the State’s clean-air goals.  California takes step to limit emissionsNew York Times

ME – Governor Jon Baldacci was present at the dedication of three new offshore wind turbines that are now producing power for communities on the Fox Islands off the coast of Maine.  The project is the largest community-owned wind production facility on the east coast and the largest off-shore wind farm in New England.  The turbines were welcomed by the communities, who currently  pay twice the national average for electricity sent from the mainland, but now have a cleaner, more affordable method of energy production.  New England community wind project goes online, begins powering islands off MaineClean Edge News

OR – Governor Ted Kulongoski is seeking recommendations from two State agencies on the efficacy of the Business Energy Tax Credit after the Oregonian newspaper determined that some lawmakers had downplayed the cost of this incentive before its passage in 2007.  The Governor’s office has expressed concern over the cost, saying that the State should only be as generous with the tax credits as is necessary to encourage growth in the clean energy sector, which is the goal of the credits.  State legislators will take up the issue again in the next legislative session after a previous measure, a much lower cap on the tax credits, was vetoed by the Governor earlier this year.  Governor orders review of Oregon energy tax creditsThe Oregonian

National News

Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) announced he will not support cap-and-trade legislation in its current form and unveiled a climate bill he authored with Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN).  Senator Webb expressed disapproval of the cap-and-trade concept and the burdens such an approach might impose on US business vis-à-vis China.  Instead of imposing restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions and establishing a market for pollution credits as the current bill would, the Webb-Alexander bill would provide up to $100 billion in loan guarantees for clean energy production, mainly to nuclear power plants, as well as $750 million per year for alternative fuel research and development.  US Senators unveil bill to double nuclear powerReuters and Jim Webb bails on cap-and-tradePolitico

The US Department of Energy has announced $683 million in new stimulus money for clean energy programs.  The newly announced funds will provide $620 million to support 16 regional smart grid demonstration projects in 21 states and 16 utility-scale projects to help store renewable energy, $45 million for a new facility that will be able to test the next generation of wind turbines (expected to be too big for current domestic facilities), and $18 million in grants to support small business innovation in clean energy technology.  The DOE and USDA have also announced $28.4 million in continued investment to increase the yield and efficiency of biomass and other biofuels.  DOE Awards $620 Million for Smart Grid and Energy Storage ProjectsEERE News and Secretary Chu Announces $45 Million to Support Next Generation of Wind Turbine DesignsEERE News and Recovery Act Announcement: DOE to Invest $18 Million in Small Business Clean Energy Innovation ProjectsEERE News and USDA-DOE Make Available $4 Million for Biomass Genomics ResearchUS Department of Agriculture and DOE and USDA Select Projects for more than $24 Million in Biomass Research and Development GrantsUS Department of Energy

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Energy Update, June 25, 2008

June 18, 2008
In The States

IA – Governor Chet Culver received the American Wind Energy Association’s 2008 State Leadership Award on behalf of the Iowa Department of Economic Development at the WINDPOWER 2008 Conference and Exhibition in Houston, Texas. The IDED received the award for generating more wind energy in Iowa than in any other state and attracting so many wind energy companies to the state. Iowa blows away competition, wins wind awardRadio Iowa

KS – Speaking at the same conference, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius called on Congress to renew tax credits for renewable energy production. She strongly suggested that the length of the extension was a paramount concern as investors shy away from projects with unknown future costs. See below in National News for an update on HR 6049, which extends tax credits for renewable energy production among other things. Wind backers lobby for extension of tax creditsSalina Journal

MA – Governor Deval Patrick and House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi are working together to make Massachusetts one of the greenest states in the country. DiMasi’s bill, which is in conference after passing the State House and Senate, would provide tax incentives to homeowners and cities who install equipment like solar panels or wind turbines, mandate that utility companies engage in long-term contracts with producers of alternative energy, and require that 20% of the state’s energy come from renewable sources. Leaders unite on push to go greenDaily News Tribune

NJ – A new bill sponsored by state Senator Bob Smith in New Jersey would allow owners of preserved farmland to produce alternative energy on their properties, or also sell it to a utility company. Under the proposed legislation, alternative energy production would fall under the term “agricultural activity,” and would immunize farmers from nuisance complaints from neighbors. Opponents claim that farmland preservation would be more difficult; they say new construction on the land could spur other kinds of development. NJ weighs bill encouraging alternative farm energyWashington Post

NY – A coal fired power plant that will capture and store its carbon emissions underground has received the support of the Governor of New York, David Paterson. With that support comes a grant of $6 million from the state to the Oxy-Coal Alliance, a coalition of enterprises which will research the project. Up to 90% of the plant’s carbon emissions would be stored up to 5,000 feet underground. Opponents say that the plant’s technology is untested and that the cost of creating the electricity will soar 40%. The plant could be online as soon as 2013. Governor supports cleaner coal plant in Chautauqua CountyNewsday

TN – Governor Phil Bredesen is confronting climate change with conservation and energy-efficiency efforts. Since two state buildings near the Capitol underwent an energy-efficiency overhaul in the 1990s, cost savings have become more pronounced. The Governor has expressed interest in creating the same type of changes in many, if not all, state buildings including the Capitol and public schools. These projects could also show the citizens of Tennessee that small changes can both save money and help cut greenhouse gas emissions. Tennessee: Bredesen Looks to Improve State's Energy EfficiencyChattanooga Times Free Press


National News

The bill to extend tax breaks for producers of renewable energy has twice failed to gain enough votes for cloture in the Senate. A major point of contention is whether the bill will contain offsets to pay for the provisions. Sen. Baucus has introduced a substitute bill, which makes minor changes in offsets in an effort to accommodate both parties, but at least $61 billion of spending on the one-year Alternative Minimum Tax patch would still not be offset. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has said that if the bill goes back to the House without completely offsetting the costs, it will not reach the floor. Senate will try to revive tax billCQ.com (subscription) and Senate again fails to initiate debate on tax breaks - CQ.com (subscription)

A bill in the Senate that would repeal tax breaks on oil and gas companies to pay for alternative energy projects has stalled in the US Senate and it is doubtful that it will move anywhere for the rest of the year. Even if the bill were to somehow pass, the President has already issued a formal veto threat. Energy debate continues, largely for showCQ.com (subscription) and Statement of Administration Policy on S. 3044Executive Office of the President

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Energy Update, June 18, 2008

June 5, 2008
In The States

CA
– Supporters of an alternative energy ballot initiative have gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot this fall, and has been certified by the Secretary of State. Initiative 07-0066 will require the state’s utilities to generate 20% of their power from alternative energy by 2010, 40% by 2020, and 25% by 2050. Four more measures make fall ballotSacramento Bee (free registration required)

FL
– New solar plants are being proposed in Florida in response to high fuel costs. One utility in the state is attempting to build a new solar concentration plant which would become the largest in the state, creating 75 megawatts. This is still significantly less power than is created with traditional power plants. Other projects include traditional solar cell plants, creating a total of 35 megawatts. FPL seeks OK for large solar plant in Martin, with 2 more in wingsPalm Beach Post

MN –
A new law in Minnesota requires that all diesel sold in the state be made up of a blend of 80% regular diesel and 20% biodiesel by 2015. There are a series of steps, however, that must be met before that happens. Every three years, the legislature must approve of an increase in biodiesel blend, first to 5% (up from the current 2%) in May 2009, then to 10% and then 20%. The legislature will determine whether to raise the biodiesel mandate by evaluating supply and demand of the product. Also, 5% of the fuel must come from non-traditional resources such as algae or waste oil. Minnesota Passes B20 MandateRenewableEnergyWorld.com

UT
– State Department of Environmental Quality Director Rick Sprott is distributing a plan to help Utah lower its carbon emissions while not creating new restrictions or mandates on businesses or individuals. Sprott used examples of greater efficiency, such as in autos or coal plants, and iterated that the plan is not a mandate, but is only to guide future policy decisions. State setting greenhouse gas goalsDeseret News

National News


The US Senate has voted to debate the Climate Security Act legislation (S. 3036) which would impose a cap-and-trade system on emissions which contribute to global warming. The first day of debate focused on the cost of implementing the bill, a major concern in the veto threat. Talks quickly broke down, however, when Majority Leader Harry Reid moved to introduce Sen. Barbara Boxers substitute amendment. To protest a different issue, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell asked that the bill be read aloud, causing a four-hour wait before talks could begin again. Senate Republicans also expressed concern at the speed with which the bill was moving, saying that the importance of the legislation requires lengthy debate and many amendments.
Senate moves ahead on climate billCQ.com (subscription) and Statement of administration policyExecutive Office of the President and Senate debate on climate legislation stallsCQ.com (subscription)

A bi-partisan majority passed legislation in the US House (HR 6049) that would both create new and extend existing tax breaks totaling over $55 billion for individuals, businesses, and energy producers. Thirty-five House Republicans and all but one Democrat voted for the bill. Many Republicans opposed it because it does not extend the Alternative Minimum Tax patch and it includes pay-go provisions. The bill includes billions in tax relief for renewable energy production which, if nothing is done, would expire at the end of 2008. If signed into law, the tax incentives would expire at different times: wind energy production incentives would expire in 2009 while solar, geothermal, and other clean energy production tax breaks would expire at the end of 2011. Tax breaks for homeowners who install solar technology would be extended to 2014. Other uses for this money include projects for carbon capture, energy efficiency, and conservation, and various tax breaks and credits for education and homeowners. This tax break is not offset by a reduction in tax breaks for oil and gas companies, making it potentially more appealing to the Senate.
House votes to extend tax breaks to individuals, businessesCQ.com (subscription) and House-passed legislation to extend tax breaks faces uncertain future - CQ.com (subscription) and US House passes renewable energy tax credit extension billrenewableenergyworld.com and Summary of H.R. 6049: Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008 (pdf)US House Ways and Means Committee

After dozens of hearings as chair of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, and a year of crafting legislation, Sen. Edward Markey will introduce a cap-and-trade bill next week which would decrease American carbon emissions even more than the Lieberman-Warner legislation. The new bill would cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 85% by 2050, auction nearly all pollution credits, and use half of the estimated $8 trillion in proceeds to subsidize energy costs for low- and middle-income households and the other half to promote alternative energy.
Markey unveils sweeping new global warming billBoston Globe and Markey unveils sweeping climate change legislationPolitico and Executive summary of Rep. Markey’s climate legislation (pdf)Congressman Markey’s Website

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