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Energy Update, August 10, 2012

August 10, 2012

In the States

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo recently visited Fort Drum to express his support for an Albany-based company to sell renewable energy to the army post.  Governor Cuomo stated he will send Defense Secretary Leon Panetta a letter asking his department to approve a supply contract between the Army and ReEnergy Holdings.  The company is retrofitting a coal-powered plant no longer in use to become a 60 megawatt biomass facility that will burn leftover products from the logging industry.  The new plant, which has received state and local tax breaks and other support, is scheduled to open in early 2013 and is expected to create 300 jobs in the North Country region.  “This is exactly what we’ve been talking about: Making New York open for business again,” said Governor Cuomo.  At Form Drum, Cuomo Supports Biomass Project for Post’s Energy NeedsThe Watertown Daily Times

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell praised the opening of an advanced nuclear fuel fabrication technology manufacturing center in Lynchburg.  The new 10,000-square-foot Fuel Technology Center will develop technologies for manufacturing  nuclear fuel used in small modular reactors (SMRs) produced by the Babcock & Wilcox Company.  Its mPower reactor currently generates 180 megawatts of electricity.  “This unique facility in Lynchburg,” Governor McDonnell stated, “is working to develop our domestic energy resources.  To local Virginians, it promises a new era of high-tech jobs.”  New Center Aims to Help B&W Make Fuel for its Small Reactor DesignThe Lynchburg News & Advance and Governor McDonnell Applauds Opening of B&W mPowerTM Fuel Technology Center in VirginiaPower Engineering

VT – Governor Peter Shumlin and the New England Governors’ Conference welcomed their Eastern Canadian counterparts to Burlington to discuss regional environmental and energy challenges.  Pledging to increase the use of clean energy throughout the region, the Governors expressed support for renewable energy coupled with emerging transportation technologies.  Additionally, the New England Governors passed a resolution to launch a coordinated regional procurement of renewable energy.  A request for proposals will be issued in 2013.  Governor Shumlin, promising to deploy and develop electric charging infrastructure in the Quebec-Vermont corridor, stated “It’s helpful to Vermont; it’s helpful to the Northeast states to have the Canadians competing for our business.”  NE Governors, Canadian Counterparts Talk EnergyHartford Courant and New England States Embrace Regional Procurement for Renewable EnergySustainable Business

WY – Republican Governor Matt Mead of Wyoming invited oil refinery and Department of Workforce Services officials to discuss increasing workforce safety at Wyoming oil refineries.  Governor Mead would like to see the creation of an industry safety alliance similar to the Wyoming Oil and Gas Industry Safety Alliance – especially following recent fires at one plant that left three workers severely injured.  Several refinery executives praised the Governor and the State for their leadership.  Hopeful for a positive outcome, Mead stated “I think there’s a real opportunity here.  I’m encouraged they’re eager to get on board with this.”  Wyoming Gov. Mead Encourages Refinery Reps to Join Force for SafetyThe Casper Star-Tribune

Federal News

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar have signed a memorandum of understanding to promote renewable energy projects on over 16 million acres of public lands reserved for defense-related purposes.  The Department of Defense hopes its opening of historically-restricted federal lands to new energy projects will harness solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy resources located on or near military installations.  Specifically, the military is interested in microgrids, or self-sufficient bases of power generation and storage that can, but do not have to rely on local utilities.  The Defense Department is hoping to have renewable sources account for 25 percent of its energy by 2025.  “Renewable energy,” said Dorothy Robyn, deputy under secretary of defense for installations and environment, “will allow a military base to maintain critical operations for weeks or months if an electric power grid goes down.”  U.S. Military’s Big Plan for Renewable Energy ProjectsForbes and White House to seek $7B in Green Energy Contracts for MilitaryThe Hill

According to a report released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), fewer power plants were built in the United States during the first half of 2012 than the first half of 2011.  Power generating companies thus far have completed 54 fewer units – a total of 280 units were built in the first half of 2012 as compared to 334 during the same period in 2011.  More units are expected to come online later this year, even though energy experts view demand to be low, including a second 800 megawatt coal-fired unit in Illinois, which will provide power to approximately 800,000 homes.  U.S. Builds Fewer Power Plants in First Half of 2012Reuters

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Energy Update, April 20, 2012

April 20, 2012

In the States

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

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

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

National News

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

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

 

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Energy Update, April 6, 2012

April 6, 2012

In the States

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

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

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

National News

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

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

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

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Energy Update, January 27, 2012

January 27, 2012

State of the State Addresses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National News

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

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

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

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

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Energy Update, January 13, 2012

January 13, 2012

In the States

CA – Governor Jerry Brown has proposed using half of the estimated $1 billion in revenues from the State’s cap-and-trade auctions to reduce California’s $9.2 billion deficit.  Funds from the cap-and-trade program are required to be spent on projects related to greenhouse gas emissions; the Governor has said that the money sent to the general fund will pay for existing greenhouse gas-related projects.  Some business groups oppose the move, saying that it is not authorized by the cap-and-trade law, and have said they will challenge the State in court if a budget passes in which auction proceeds pay for general fund projects.  Brown sees $500 million cap-and-trade fees for California budgetBloomberg and Gov. Brown’s cap-and-trade spending plan angers businessesLos Angeles Times

ME – In remarks to wood product industry representatives, Governor Paul LePage expressed his support for a proposed natural gas pipeline into central Maine.  Governor LePage said that while the State "is not in a position where it can help fund a pipeline," he assured companies interested in investing in the project that he would help streamline the approval process.  "There is a lot we're doing to try to encourage some natural gas here," he said.  During an earlier radio address, Governor LePage also said he does not endorse a citizens’ initiative to strengthen the State’s renewable energy portfolio, saying “It’s not good and I’m going to be fighting it all year.”  Governor LePage also vetoed a bill that passed the House and Senate unanimously that would have tightened energy efficiency standards for new state buildings; the veto, however, was later sustained.  LePage pledges to tackle energy costs to improve business climateBangor Daily News and LePage supports natural gas projectPortland Press Herald and Maine Senate sustains LePage vetoesLewiston Sun Journal

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell has unveiled his 2012 energy policy agenda that he says will help the State become the “Energy Capital of the East Coast.”  One of his proposals would direct $500,000 to wind energy research to help companies develop offshore wind farms when the federal government leases areas off the coast.  Another proposal would help fund conversion of some State vehicles to alternative fuels.  Other initiatives include strengthening oversight of wells and pipelines and increased investment in energy efficiency programs.  The Governor also called on the federal government to open up offshore areas to oil and gas exploration and drilling.  Va. Gov. McDonnell outlines energy agenda; slams U.S. limits on off-coast oil, gas explorationWashington Post

WV – Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s office announced his administration is focusing on promoting the development of natural gas and coal resources rather than state initiatives to begin or expand renewable energy projects.  The Governor’s Chief of Staff, Rob Alsop, said that the Governor believes that natural gas will not only be a good source for energy, but its by-products will reinvigorate the manufacturing sector as well.  On wind power, Alsop said that it can be successful only with federal tax incentives and that state programs have little effect.  Governor’s office: State energy focus on gas and coalState Journal 

Federal News

President Barack Obama has signed a bill into law that will increase regulations on pipelines, following a series of pipeline bursts that have killed and injured people as well as caused environmental and property damage.  The new law, passed with bipartisan support, will require automatic valves where “feasible,” increase the number of pipeline inspectors, and increase the maximum fine for safety violations from $1 million to $2 million.  Obama signs pipeline safety law - UPI

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Energy Update, October 21, 2011

October 21, 2011

In the States

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

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

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

Federal News

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

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

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Energy Update, June 17, 2011

June 17, 2011

In the States

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

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

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

 

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Energy Update, 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, October 22, 2010

October 22, 2010

In the States

CA – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is calling on voters to defeat Proposition 23, framing the initiative as a choice between big out-of-State oil companies and the environment.  The Proposition would delay the implementation of a 2006 law that will mandate emissions restrictions beginning in 2012.  The Governor asked that voters soundly defeat the measure in order to send a message that a new national energy policy is necessary.  Schwarzenegger urges voters to protect climate lawABC News

KY – Governor Steve Beshear is the second Governor to direct his State to sue the US Environmental Protection Agency over its regulations that limit mountaintop removal.  Governor Beshear called the regulations “arbitrary and unreasonable,” adding that they “threaten to end the responsible mining of coal and eliminate the jobs of an estimated 18,000 Kentucky miners.”  The suit was originally filed in US District Court by the Kentucky Coal Association, and was soon joined by the Governor’s Energy and Environment Cabinet.  EPA sued by Kentucky Governor Beshear, coal industryMiami Herald

MA – Governor Deval Patrick’s administration has successfully pushed to secure a lease for what could be the first offshore wind farm in the US, to be constructed off the coast of Cape Cod.  US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently signed a 28-year lease agreement with Cape Wind Associates for 130 wind turbines that will operate over  25 square miles of water in Nantucket Sound about 5 miles from the Cape Cod shoreline.  The project will generate up to 468 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 200,000 homes.  New Bedford will host a $35 million terminal onshore where the turbines will be built, and which will create about 200 jobs.  The Cape Wind project itself is expected to cost $2.5 billion and create a total of 600 – 1,000 new jobs during the construction and manufacturing phases, with an estimated completion date in late 2012.  The project has been a source of controversy due to concerns about visual and environmental impacts as well as its cost and potential impact on electricity rates.  Salazar signs cape wind lease, first for US watersBloomberg BusinessWeek and Cape Wind backers blew right by costBoston Globe and Mass. city chosen for offshore wind farm siteBloomberg BusinessWeek

RI – Governor Donald Carcieri says that Rhode Island still may be the first State to host an offshore wind farm, despite the recent approval of a lease agreement for Massachusetts’ Cape Wind project.  The Governor said that plans for an offshore wind power site off Block Island at Quonset Point are on schedule for fall 2011 (although no offshore lease with the U.S. Department of Interior has yet been signed).  The Governor also announced that a State ocean management plan has been completed, pushing the project forward.  Carcieri looks beyond Cape WindWJAR

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell convened an energy conference in Virginia with a speech about the future of energy in the State.  The Governor said that uncertainty about offshore drilling is hampering the State’s ability to produce more of its own energy, and called for federal environmental regulations to be loosened.  Governor McDonnell said that he hopes the State “will be an offshore energy leader” despite the regulations, and called for a strategy that relies on fossil fuels, nuclear energy, and renewable energy such as wind power, which he said was in abundance in Virginia, but that "what we've got to do is find a way to harness it in a commercially practicable way."  State’s energy future lies offshore, McDonnell saysVirginian-Pilot

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has released its fourth annual Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which ranks States on their efforts to increase and sustain energy efficiency pursuits.  While the results are not markedly different from previous Scorecard reports, they do show that States have nearly doubled their total energy efficiency budgets from $2.5 billion to $4.3 billion since the initial Scorecard report was released in 2007.  The five States with the highest marks for energy efficiency are relatively the same as last year, including California, Massachusetts, Oregon, New York, and Vermont.  The most improved States include Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Alaska.  ACEEE 2010 State Energy Efficiency ScorecardACEEE and 2010 ACEEE Energy Efficiency Scorecard Cites State LeadersEERE News

National News

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has approved the first solar project on public land in Nevada, a decision which will result in a 50-megawatt photovoltaic array 40 miles south of Las Vegas mad possible in part through federal tax credits in ARRA.  The project is the first of a long list of such proposals to gain approval after passing through the Bureau of Land Management’s extensive environmental review process.  Power from the solar panels will be sold in Nevada and should power up to 15,000 homes.  A 350-megawatt expansion of the plant is already proposed, but will require additional review before permits are issued.  Interior Department approves first solar project on Nevada public landsEERE News

According to a new report from the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “US offshore winds have a gross potential generating capacity four times greater than the nation’s present electric capacity,” without taking “siting constraints and stakeholder inputs” into account.  The study also showed that the US could obtain as much as 20% of its electricity needs from offshore wind as soon as 2030, creating 43,000 jobs, and that offshore resources would generate more electricity than land-based resources since wind speeds increase with distance from land.  Upon the study’s release, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that "clean, renewable energy development that capitalizes on the nation's vast offshore wind and water resources holds great promise for our clean energy future and our economy."  Study: Offshore wind could generate all US electricityUSA Today and Large-scale offshore wind power in the United States: Assessments of opportunities and barriers [pdf]National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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Energy Update, September 24, 2010

September 24, 2010

In the States

ALGovernor Bob Riley has signed off on a plan submitted by TORP Technology to build a closed-loop liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal off the coast of Alabama.  In recent years, Governor Riley has rejected several proposals that would have relied on a less environmentally-friendly open-loop system that would have required the use of seawater from the Gulf to warm up imported LNG.  The company must also pay $25 million for a fund that will protect the marine environment, and will be administered by the State’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.  A large local environmental group said that its concerns had been alleviated by the Governor, who praised the proposal, saying “with this agreement, we’re able to protect the environment, improve our economy with 250 new jobs, and provide an important alternative source of natural gas for Alabama.”  Gov. Riley approves “closed loop” LNG facilityWNCF

MI – In a speech to an energy symposium, Governor Jennifer Granholm stressed that the wind energy sector is a key element in the State’s economic future.  The Governor said that the State’s strategy is to use federal funds, tax incentives, renewable energy Renaissance Zones, and a consortium of universities, national labs, and the State to boost both the manufacturing of wind power generators such as turbines and the use of wind power in the State.  So far the strategy has created 5,300 jobs and leveraged as much as $58 million in federal investment.  Wind energy critical for Michigan clean energy economyGovMonitor

NJ – As a consequence of Governor Chris Christie’s prioritization of developing brownfields into solar farms, and strong incentives for renewable energy production, solar businesses that have been searching for large, undeveloped tracts of land in the State are working with the Department of Environmental Protection to procure landfills.  The Department is helping utilities and other companies navigate the federal and State regulatory landscape in order to convert unused properties into revenue- and energy-generating land.  Local governments, facing budgetary problems of their own, are hoping that developers will use the sites in order to generate more revenue as well.  As solar power developers search for sites, NJ tries to cash inNewark Star-Ledger

UT – Governor Gary Herbert gathered a large crowd for the third in a series of public hearings on Utah’s energy future.  Groups representing environmental, conservation, State, and coal interests were given an audience by the Governor, who said that “there has been a healthy difference of opinion on what we should be doing when it comes to energy” and said that all types of energy production will be considered when developing the State’s ten-year energy policy.  Gov. Gary Herbert’s 3rd energy hearing brings diverse ideasDeseret News

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell has announced that he will hold the State’s first energy conference in October 2010, and that T. Boone Pickins, a Texas oilman who campaigns for energy independence, will be headlining the event.  Governor McDonnell stressed the need to utilize all forms of energy production, including “traditional, alternative, and renewable sources” such as “wind, coal, solar, nuclear, biomass, oil, and natural gas.”  “By fully developing our domestic energy resources we can provide reliable, low-cost power that will lead our country closer toward energy independence,” the Governor said.  T. Boone Pickins to speak at Virginia’s first energy conferenceWashington Post

National News

In the waning days of the current Congress, Senate Democrats are hopeful that they can pass a renewable electricity standard (RES) bill by the end of the year that would require 15% of electricity in the country to come from renewable sources by 2021.  Several Senate Democrats including Barbara Boxer, Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are strongly in favor of moving forward with the bill.  Although Republican Senator Sam Brownback is a cosponsor of the legislation, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s spokesman says he “does not support” the measure, with other Republicans also expressing similar opposition.  Democrats warm to last-ditch energy pushPolitico

Eighty percent of States will be prepared to issue greenhouse gas permits in compliance with US Environmental Protection Agency regulations starting January 2 or shortly thereafter according to a report by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA).  While some States are fully prepared to comply, many others still need to change their laws in order to allow the permitting process to begin.  Still other States will not be incompliance with the regulations, and some of these still actively oppose them.  A rule issued last month would allow the EPA to take over the permitting process for noncompliant States, drawing criticism from some officials in States that do not plan to comply.  Report: 80% of States on track for greenhouse gas permitting, enforcementNew York Times and States moving full speed ahead on greenhouse gas permitting [pdf]National Association of Clean Air Agencies

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Energy Update, July 16, 2010

July 16, 2010

In the States

FL – Governor Charlie Crist has called a special session of the State legislature to begin next week.  The sole purpose of the session is to pass a constitutional amendment banning offshore oil before August 4, which would put the amendment on the ballot this November.  Offshore drilling is already banned in Florida, but the Governor has expressed concern that future legislators might overturn the existing ban, which they could not do to a constitutional amendment.  Crist calls for special session to ban offshore oil drilling near FloridaThe Ledger

MO – Governor Jay Nixon has signed a bill into law that will make it easier for residents to pay for energy efficiency upgrades on their homes.  Under the new law, cities and counties will be able to issue low-interest bonds to homeowners for home improvements such as new windows or insulation.  The loans would be paid back to the State through a special 20-year assessment on property taxes.  Mo. Gov. signs bills on energy efficiency, KC zooBloomberg Business Week

OH – Governor Ted Strickland has announced the new Northwest Ohio Solar Energy Hub, a conglomeration of colleges, universities, and career centers aimed at promoting solar energy and related jobs and businesses.  A $250,000 grant has been awarded to the hub, which will allow collaboration between these entities, the solar industry, and the manufacturing sector on a plan for urban economic development and revitalization.  Governor announces Ohio solar energy hubSolar Novus Today

UT – Governor Gary Herbert testified at a Republican House and Senate Western Caucus hearing in Washington, DC about the challenge of developing energy resources in Western States.  He said that his goal is to streamline the process for energy companies interested in developing resources in the State and that uncertainty about the Obama administration’s policies on energy development on public lands is “spooking” companies considering investments in Utah.  The Governor also said that Congressional Republicans and Democrats need to work together on these issues, that he thinks “it is foolish for us to fight and rant and rave,” and that he is working to build a relationship with the Obama administration.  Gov. Gary Herbert urges cooperation with Obama administration on issues of the WestDeseret News  

Regional News

Governors from both parties in eleven States on the East Coast have signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) against a proposed electric transmission line from the Midwest to the East Coast.  The proposed line would allow Midwestern States to send renewable energy produced there to the Eastern States.  The Governors disapprove of the line because they would like to create their own alternative energy rather than import it from other States, and because they believe ratepayers in the Eastern States would shoulder the costs, estimated at $16 billion.  Signatories include Governors M. Jodi Rell (R-CT), Jack Markell (D-DE), John Baldacci (D-ME), Martin O’Malley (D-MD), Deval Patrick (D-MA), John Lynch (D-NH), Chris Christie (R-NJ), David Paterson (D-NY), Donald Carcieri (R-RI), Jim Douglas (R-VT), and Bob McDonnell (R-VA).  Eastern Governors protest Midwest wind transmission lineDes Moines Register

Six New England Governors and five Eastern Canadian Premiers participated in a conference to discuss energy goals.  In the end, the leaders agreed to reduce energy use in buildings 20% by 2020 through higher standards in building codes, examine implementing a low carbon fuel standard, and promote solar power by establishing a regional usage standard.  The Governors separately agreed to petition the US government to establish a high efficiency standard on furnaces in New England.  Massachusetts promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy goalsGovMonitor

National News

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said that he will bring energy and climate legislation to the Senate floor by the end of July.  The legislation is still a rough draft and will be the subject of intense negotiations in the coming weeks, but Senator Reid has said it will contain a section on reducing greenhouse gas emissions that would apply only to electric utilities rather than the entire economy.  A number of Senators from both parties have expressed skepticism that the bill will pass the procedural phase, with liberal Democrats saying it is too weak, moderate Democrats weary of costly new federal requirements, and Republicans opposed to the process being used to move he bill forward and certain elements of the legislation, including proposed limits on carbon emissions.  Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) has already said that he will not vote for a motion to proceed, forcing Senator Reid to secure at least two Republican votes for cloture, though potential supporters of a more comprehensive approach such as Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Judd Gregg (R-NH) have signaled that they will not support the legislation if it caps greenhouse gas emissions in any way.  In a move to build support for the measure, Senator John Kerry (D-MA), a key supporter, is set to meet with the main electric utility trade group on possible concessions on existing Clean Air Act regulations, causing some environmental groups who say they may withdraw support if the concessions are too great.  Reid warms to July climate votePolitico and Clock winding down on Senate’s carbon cap effortsNew York Times and Nelson says no to climate votePolitico and Utilities, signaling support for carbon caps, want ‘relief’ from other air pollutantsNew York Times

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Energy Update, April 9, 2010

April 9, 2010

In the States

NM – Governor Bill Richardson heralded the arrival of a solar energy company this week, calling it “a great investment for New Mexico.”  Green2V will manage the entire solar energy producing process from making solar cells to financing, and plans to hire 1,500 to 3,000 people in the next several years.  The company joins at least two more large-scale solar power companies that have begun operations in New Mexico recently.  Solar business to build headquarters in NMBusinessWeek

OH – Governor Ted Strickland says that he would like Ohio to be the first State to produce offshore wind energy.  Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. is currently organizing a $100 million project to build several wind turbines three to five miles off the coast of Ohio.  The Governor is advocating for the elimination of the tangible personal property tax on equipment used to create solar or wind power.  Wind turbines planned for Erie Akron Beacon Journal

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell says he would like to make Virginia a national energy power and is pushing for more wind and fossil fuel energy production in Virginia, especially offshore, while also withdrawing from the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition.  The Governor signed several pieces of legislation last week that will promote production of wind energy offshore, create tax credits for green jobs, and create a state-university based alternative fuels research and development foundation, along with some other initiatives.  Governor McDonnell also praised the Obama administration’s decision to allow drilling for natural gas and oil off Virginia’s coast and is seeking 37.5% in royalties from oil sales to finance transportation projects.  The Governor also recently withdrew from the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition after the group sent a letter to Congressional leaders calling for a mandatory renewable energy standard without first getting his approval for this position or the use of his name.  Virginia Gov. McDonnell signs green energy bills – BusinessWeek and McDonnell hails ‘breakthrough’ on offshore drillingRichmond Times-Dispatch and McDonnell withdraws from energy coalitionWashington Post

WY – Governor Dave Freudenthal will host the first of several town-hall style meetings on the topic of wind energy in Wyoming starting later this month.  The Governor said the event will be a “straightforward conversation on what we can all agree are difficult, sometimes polarizing issues, wind development opportunities and transmission line siting.” The meeting is scheduled for April 27.  Governor to host session on wind projects and power transmissionCowboy State Free Press

National News

States could benefit from efforts to expand offshore drilling as part of negotiations over federal climate change legislation.  President Obama’s recent decision to consider off shore drilling leases along the Atlantic Coast has led to more discussion by members of Congress of the pros and cons of giving states a greater role in determining where offshore drilling can occur and whether more states should receive a share of revenues for drilling in federal waters.  Currently, only Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas are eligible for revenue-sharing.  Energy incentives for states are in the works  -- Houston Chronicle

The US Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency have finalized new rules that will phase in greater fuel efficiency and set limits on greenhouse gas emissions for cars and light trucks staring in 2012.  By 2016, all vehicles must get an average of 35.5 miles per gallon.  The change is estimated to increase the cost of a car by just under $1,000 but save drivers about $4,000 in gas costs over the life of the vehicle.  The National Resources Defense Council estimates that the new rules will save consumers $65 billion, reduce oil consumption by 1.3 million barrels per day, and eliminate 220 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 alone.  The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is also in favor of the new rules, calling them “a clear roadmap for future fuel economy increases.”  Emissions limits, greater fuel economy for cars, light trucks made officialWashington Post

The Obama administration is instituting new rules on mountaintop mining for coal that will slow if not completely stop the practice.  The process, in which miners blast the top off a mountain and send the rubble and waste into valleys, has been shown to introduce toxins into streams.  The National Mining Association said the new rules are “tantamount to saying the intent is to strictly limit coal mining in Appalachia while the West Virginia Coal Association said they “represent a grim, crippling picture” for the economy.  While the rules will make the process more difficult, they do not ban it outright; coal companies have options available that will require storing the rubble away from streams and other measures to avoid poisoning the water.  Environmental regulations to curtail mountaintop miningWashington Post

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Energy Update, March 12, 2010

March 12, 2010

In the States

DE – Governor Jack Markell has proposed an extension and expansion of existing law that would increase the use of renewable energy within the State.  Current law dictates that Delmarva Power must obtain 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2019; the proposed changes would require that other utilities comply, that 30% of electricity come from renewable sources by 2029, that preference be given to renewable energy producers within Delaware, and other minor changes.  The Governor hopes these changes will prompt more “green” jobs in the State as well as more home-based solar power production.  Markell pushes for renewable energy in DelawareThe News Journal

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell has signed legislation that endorses the Federal government allowing oil and gas drilling off Virginia’s coastline.  The plan that Governor McDonnell endorsed would funnel royalties to the State, though some of this funding would be directed to the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, a partnership between industry, government, and universities to research and develop renewable energy.  McDonnell signs offshore energy bills Virginian Pilot and Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium

WY – Governor Dave Freudenthal has signed three bills into law that will centralize control over wind farm development and impose a new tax on electricity produced by wind.  The new laws will require a tax of $1 per megawatt of wind power, place a moratorium on using eminent domain laws to take private land for power lines, and extend permitting authority for the State over those power lines.  The Governor praised the legislature for passing the bills, saying that the wind energy industry is welcome in the State, but only if it pays its way.  Gov signs 3 wind bills into lawCheyenne Tribune

Regional and National News

Two Democratic Governors joined a group of 18 Republican Governors in sending a letter to the Congressional leadership asking that Congress keep the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from imposing regulations on greenhouse gases.  The Governors wrote that the EPA is unable to fully consider the economic effects of the regulations, which the Governors believe would place heavy administrative burdens on state environmental agencies, prove costly to consumers, and have a devastating impact on state economies and jobs. The EPA has responded to the Governors, dismissing the premise that regulatory action would necessarily weaken the economy.  Several pieces of legislation, introduced in Congress by members of both parties, would delay or eliminate the ability of EPA to regulate greenhouse gases; those in favor of a delay have been encouraged by the Governors’ letter, while supporters of the EPA have been relatively silent on the matter.  US Governors ask Congress to stop EPA RulesWall Street Journal and Governors’ letter to Congressional leadershipGulf Coast News and EPA defends greenhouse gas capsPolitico

Four Democratic Senators have called for a halt to stimulus spending on wind farm projects on the grounds that too much of the money has been sent outside the United States.  The Senators specifically cited a potential project by a company that has not yet applied for stimulus funds, but has signaled that it might install wind turbines manufactured in China.  Union leaders have supported the Senators’ position, while the Obama Administration has disputed it, as has the project manager for the referenced wind initiative, who said at least 70% of each turbine would be fabricated and assembled in the United States.  The American Wind Energy Association has also disputed the claims of the Senators, saying that 53%-63% of the value of equipment bought with stimulus funds has come from within the United States, and that 50,000 jobs would be lost if grants were suspended.  Four Democratic Senators aim to halt stimulus wind projectWashington Post

President Barack Obama met with several members of his administration and a bipartisan group of 14 Senators to discuss concerns about a potential energy bill that would include caps on carbon emissions.  The President offered concessions on nuclear power and drilling for oil and gas while emphasizing the importance of capping carbon emissions.  The Senators attending the meeting represented diverse viewpoints.  Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, for example, made it clear that any proposal must include safeguards for coal and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio remarked on the importance of job creation.  Senator LeMieux of Florida dismissed the possibility of supporting a cap on carbon, focusing instead on promoting nuclear power, and Senator Lugar of Indiana, who also said he was unlikely to support putting a price on carbon emissions, announced he has begun drafting legislation to promote nuclear power and clean coal technology, as well as stricter auto fuel efficiency standards.  Obama, key Senators make their pitch for climate and energy billNew York Times

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Energy Update, December 31, 2009

December 31, 2009

In the States

MS – Governor Haley Barbour discussed the future of energy in Mississippi at a meeting of energy policy experts, calling energy “the lifeblood of the world’s economy.”  He cited a potential new lignite coal power plant with carbon capture and sequestration technology and the possibility of two solar power companies beginning manufacturing in the state as positive steps.  Barbour: Energy is lifeblood of the world’s economyMississippi Business Journal

NY – Governor David Paterson has said that a new plan released by the State Energy Planning Board will help shape legislation to make New York a leader in clean energy.  The plan calls for greater efficiency in new building codes, requiring energy audits in home sales to encourage efficiency upgrades, and increasing the proportion of energy created by solar, wind, and natural gas.  The Governor has stated a goal for the State to meet 45% of its energy needs through reducing energy demand and increasing renewable energy.  State energy plan promotes clean, efficient alternativesNew York Times

VA – Governor-elect Bob McDonnell has sent a letter to US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking that the federal government move quickly to lease ocean-floor parcels off of Virginia’s coastline for oil and natural drilling, currently scheduled for 2011.  Governor Tim Kaine asked Secretary Salazar for a delay of the same leases earlier this year.  The Governor-elect believes a lack of movement in the past year and interference from federal politicians could further impede the process, which a 2005 study suggests could create up to 2,500 new jobs.  McDonnell wants offshore drilling in 2011Virginian-Pilot

Regional, National, and International News

Copenhagen Climate Talks – President Barack Obama and four other world leaders shaped a final accord at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting.  To the disappointment of representatives from many smaller countries, the document is not a binding pledge with firm targets for reducing greenhouse gases, but a non-binding statement of intention.  The accord aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, limit a rise in global temperature by two degrees Celsius, and for richer countries to provide aid of $30 billion over the next three years – and up to $100 billion per year by 2020 – to poorer countries.  There were many issues of contention between the countries during the meeting, to the point where some called for another, smaller conference, but the accord represents a small step forward in halting and mitigating climate change.  A grudging accord in climate talksNew York Times

US Cap-and-Trade Policy – At least six moderate Senate Democrats have asked President Barack Obama to hold off on cap-and-trade legislation next year.  The Senators cited the economy, a contentious health care debate, and election-year politics as reasons to hold off on another sweeping legislative change.  The While House has signaled that it is committed to cap-and-trade legislation, but there are other proposals currently being discussed by Senators, including setting a price on carbon emissions and capping emissions only for power plants.  Senate Democrats to W.H.: Drop cap-and-trade - Politico

Northeast and Mid-Atlantic US – The Governors of 11 Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States have signed a memorandum of understanding to require reductions in the carbon content of fuel through a multistate low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS).  The mandatory requirement will not rely on a single technological resource, not will it fundamentally change the fuel used in automobiles, but will make the fuel used emit less carbon.  According to proponents, higher-carbon sources of fuel such as tar sands will be discouraged by the agreement, while alternative energy and low- or no-emissions vehicles will be favored.  Signatories to the agreement include Governors M. Jodi Rell (CT), Jack Markell (DE), John Baldacci (ME), Martin O’Malley (MD), Deval Patrick (MA), John Lynch (NH), Jon Corzine (NJ), David Paterson (NY), Ed Rendell (PA), Donald Carcieri (RI), and Jim Douglas (VT).  Governors take aim at carbon in fuelNew Haven Register

2009 Energy Review – Much advancement has been made in energy technology over the past year.  New technologies are allowing the recovery of natural gas, which is cleaner burning than coal, from places previously thought economically impossible, increasing its availability by 39%.  Clean coal technology has begun to be implemented on a larger scale, including power plants, and researchers are finding potential in less expensive carbon capture strategies.  Similar movement has occurred for biomass and cellulosic ethanol, which are now more viable as a replacement for gasoline and oil due to discoveries this year.  New technologies are creating potential for lighter batteries that will hold a greater charge, bringing plug-in hybrid and electric autos closer to reality.  The year in energyTechnology Review

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Energy Update, April 4, 2008

April 4, 2008
In the States

CO – A bill has been put forth in the legislature, HB 1350, which would allow state and local governments to loan money with low- or no- interest to homeowners for the purchase and installation of solar panels. The bill is designed to remove the barrier of upfront costs which homeowners face when purchasing a solar system. A similar bill, SB 184, would provide loans to low-income homeowners for energy efficiency projects like new windows or insulation. Bill gives solar panels brighter possibilitiesDenver Post

IL – Plans to build a coal gasification power plant on the campus of Southern Illinois University Carbondale have stopped in the pre-feasibility-study phase. Officials said the results of the study provided “more questions than answers,” but said they will continue pursuing new opportunities and remain proactive. No real answersThe Southern

KS – The state Senate has produced another bill which would allow two new coal-fired power plants to be built in Kansas, despite the veto of Governor Sebelius last month. The House created another similar bill last week. It appears doubtful that the House has enough votes to override the governor’s veto at this time. New coal-plant bill emerges in Senate Lawrence Journal-World

MD – Governor O’Malley attempted to pass several energy proposals in the final two weeks of this legislative session. As of Friday, two bills had passed in both the House and the Senate: one (SB 205) sets a goal of reducing consumption of energy by 15% by 2015 and the other directs money received from the auction of carbon credits through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative toward renewable energy projects (though the exact amounts will have to be worked out). Another bill which has passed the Senate (SB 209) would increase the amount of renewable energy in the state’s portfolio with a goal of 20% by 2022. Senate gives initial approval to energy billsThe Daily Times and Senate rejects energy billBaltimore Sun and Part of O’Malley’s plan hits snag in SenateWashington Post and Senate reverses on energyBaltimore Sun and Constellation settlement gets preliminary approvalWashington Post

MO – Kansas City is waiting for Governor Blunt to decide whether the city will get a waiver, allowing the sale of gasoline with no ethanol. The state passed a law last year that requires all gasoline sold in the state to be an E10 blend, unless the governor grants a waiver. The city wants the waiver because of concerns over smog. KC awaits Blunt’s waiver of ethanol blend mandateThe Kansas City Star

OH – The Republican-controlled state House is rewriting Governor Strickland’s energy bill, and is pushing for a change in the way rates are determined. There is also disagreement on the way a mandate on changing the renewable energy portfolio should be implemented. The rewrite is due to be released soon. Ohio House wrapping up rewrite of energy billCleveland Plain Dealer

TN – The plan to ban coal mining above 2,000 feet to protect mountains and streams, which had mild support from the governor, has died in a House subcommittee and will not be discussed this session in the Senate. Bill on surface mining haltedKnoxville News Sentinel

VA – Governor Kaine has said that he has no control over whether a new coal-fired power plant will be built in VA’s coal country and that he does not oppose it anyway. He agrees with Dominion, the energy company attempting to build the plant, that more power will become necessary as more people move to the state and said that “We are not going to eliminate coal, a native source that we have, as one of the sources that will power our country. The portion [of the energy supply] that is coal is going to get smaller, and it is going to get cleaner, but we are not going to abandon coal from the portfolio.” Kaine says coal-burning power plant is necessaryThe Washington Post

WI – Governor Doyle has announced a new energy initiative that would increase the amount of energy from renewable sources to 25% of all energy within 17 years, produce 10% of all renewable energy products, and lead the nation in researching alternative energy. The plan calls for interaction between the state’s Office of Energy Independence and communities from around the state to find the best solution for that particular community. Another goal of the initiative is to provide green-collar jobs, which one organization estimated to be over 35,000. Doyle pushing for renewable energyThe Badger Herald and Governor launches program focusing on renewable fuels, energy research Green Bay Press–Gazette

WV – A new study from WVU claims that residents that live in coal-producing counties have a greater risk of early death and disease than those that do not, even after controlling for other factors such as age, obesity, smoking, and diet. Governor Manchin said he has no immediate plans to investigate the effects of coal in WV and the state’s Dept. of Environmental Protection secretary says that such an investigation “isn’t DEP’s job.” Manchin plans no investigation of coal, health Charleston Gazette

On The Hill

Lobbyists are counting on grassroots efforts to help pass the Lieberman-Warner bill and the Renewable Energy Tax Credits bill. Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and other volunteer-driven organizations are using education centers to motivate citizens to call their representatives while industry groups and the National Taxpayers Union’s have a mixed advertising and grassroots campaign. Green lobbyists seek grass-roots lovePolitico

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