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New Jersey joins coalition backing Paris climate change deal

Washington Examiner | Posted on February 26, 2018

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill joining a coalition of states committed to cutting emissions of carbon dioxide to fulfill the United States' pledge under the Paris international climate change agreement. Murphy’s action requires New Jersey to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of 15 other states and Puerto Rico vowing to uphold the Paris Agreement. Both chambers of the state legislature passed a bill to put New Jersey in the alliance. The alliance, which includes California, represents at least $7 trillion of economic activity and about 40 percent of the nation's population.


Judge orders gov't review of Keystone pipeline documents

Bismarck Tribune | Posted on February 26, 2018

Federal officials must go back and review documents related to the disputed Keystone XL oil pipeline, under a Wednesday court ruling that came after environmentalists accused President Donald Trump's administration of withholding details on the project's approval.U.S. District Judge Brian Morris said the government must provide any relevant documents by March 21 or explain why they should be withheld.The ruling came in a lawsuit pending in federal court in Montana from environmentalists seeking to stop the 1,179-mile (1,897-kilometer) pipeline. It would carry crude from Canada's oil sands region to U.S. refineries.


Bill would preempt local control of oil and gas production in Utah

Deseret News | Posted on February 26, 2018

The Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee endorsed legislation that would put into law the "bright line of authority" Utah has over oil and gas production, as opposed to state and local government. SB191, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Van Tassell, R-Vernal, establishes that state authority in instances where state and local government may pass ordinances and rules that thwart mineral production.  Van Tassell explained there may be instances where owners of surface and mineral rights are at odds with each other, but the state has clear interest in the production of those mineral rights. In other parts of the country, too, state and local government have adopted ordinances to prohibit oil or gas production. This proposal would be prevent that.


Here are 10 states that employ thousands in solar power jobs

CNBC | Posted on February 26, 2018

Last year, just over 250,000 Americans were working in solar. While this figure is impressive, it represents a 3.8 percent drop since 2016. Looking at the bigger picture, however, there are reasons to be optimistic. Over the past seven years, the solar workforce has grown by 168 percent, rising from around 93,000 roles in 2010 to 250,271 in 2017.


Energy Alliance draws scrutiny over barrage of fraudulent emails in South Carolina,Ohio and Wisconsin

Think Progress | Posted on February 26, 2018

South Carolina law enforcement officials have opened an investigation into emails that were sent to state lawmakers in support of a mega-merger between Dominion Energy and utility company SCANA Corp. Many of these emails — all based on the same template — used the names and addresses of people without their knowledge. The industry group that encouraged customers to tell state lawmakers they supported the merger says it had nothing to do with the falsified emails, despite a history of deceptive letter campaigns. The Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA), a group with dozens of energy industry members including Dominion Energy, admitted the form letters in support of Dominion’s proposed acquisition of SCANA came from the group’s website. But David Holt, the president of the group,said that his group was not involved with sending out the fraudulent emails. South Carolina lawmakers received a barrage of form emails last week from constituents urging the legislators not to pass any laws that could kill the merger deal. Some of the people who supposedly sent the emails say they were impersonated. In response to a request from the South Carolina attorney general’s office, the State Law Enforcement Division on Tuesday opened an official investigation into the matter.


Fixing the RFS is Getting Easier and Easier

Farm Doc Daily | Posted on February 22, 2018

There has been no shortage of ideas in recent months about how to "fix" the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). These include application of the various waiver authorities under the RFS, expanding the number of small refinery exemptions, and a $0.10 per gallon cap on the price of the RIN credits used to comply with the RFS. The reason cited over and over for the need to fix the RFS is the high cost of ethanol RINs borne by independent "merchant" refiners. In late January, Philadelphia Refining Solutions declared bankruptcy, citing high RIN costs as a major contributing factor. There is no argument that the cost of D6 ethanol RINs has indeed skyrocketed since 2012 (Figure 1). The disagreement is whether refiners have to absorb most of the RINs costs or are able to pass them on to fuel blenders in the form of higher gasoline and diesel blendstock prices. What seems to have gotten lost in all the noise surrounding the political war over the RFS is how rapidly the conditions are changing that created the high ethanol RINs prices in the first place. The key is the "gap" between the ethanol blend wall and the conventional ethanol mandate. In this article, we analyze why this gap is so important to understanding the movement of ethanol RINs prices, how the gap is rapidly shrinking, and what this means for the future level of ethanol RINs prices.


Bill Proposes Taxing Solar, Increasing Wind Tax in Wyoming

US News and World Report | Posted on February 13, 2018

Legislation has been proposed to increase Wyoming's tax on wind production and impose a new tax on utility-scale solar facilities.House Bill 118 is sponsored by Republican Rep. Thomas Crank, of Kemmerer. It proposes levying a $2 per megawatt hour tax on renewable energy produced in Wyoming. Currently, the state levies a $1 per megawatt hour tax on just wind power.The Casper Star-Tribune reports that the measure provides that if a company manufactures and installs its wind or solar facilities in Wyoming, the cost of equipment may be subtracted from the tax bill.


Virginia Senate passes utility regulation overhaul

Richmond Times Dispatch | Posted on February 13, 2018

Despite floor speeches from lawmakers from both parties calling it a mistake, the state Senate voted 26-13 on Friday to pass the utility regulatory reform package endorsed by Gov. Ralph Northam and spearheaded by Dominion Energy, Virginia’s biggest utility. “Let’s be honest,” said Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax City. “This bill is being written to benefit ... an industry giant.”The far-reaching legislation shifts Virginia to what Dominion calls a “reinvestment model” that lets the company keep millions in earnings that would otherwise be returned to customers in exchange for investments in grid upgrades and renewable energy, among other spending, over the next decade.


Lawmakers Seek Firmer Stance Against Drilling off Georgia

US News and World Report | Posted on February 13, 2018

While the governor sticks to cautious, measured responses to President Donald Trump's proposal to expand oil drilling into waters off Georgia and its coastal neighbors, a bipartisan group of lawmakers wants the Georgia legislature to formally denounce the energy plan as a threat to tourism and fishing.Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, serving his last year in office, stands alone among governors of 22 coastal U.S. states in that he's refrained from taking a firm stand for or against Trump's plan to let private companies drill in federal waters currently off-limits to oil exploration.Hoping to fill the political vacuum, a small group of Democratic and Republican legislators are pushing resolutions in the state House and Senate that would flat out declare opposition to drilling. They argue it would risk fouling Georgia's pristine salt marshes, threaten endangered right whales that give birth off Georgia and potentially devastate local economies.Anti-drilling Democrats have been joined in sponsoring the proposals by at least six GOP lawmakers. One of them is Republican Rep. Jesse Petrea of Savannah, who said he's a big supporter of "fracking and drilling" in the U.S. But he also noted Georgia's 100-mile (160 kilometer) coast is home to nearly one-third of the remaining salt marshes on the East Coast. The state's chain of barrier islands remains largely undeveloped, with vast acreage under federal and state protection.


Pipeline sues Wintergreen property owners citing eminent domain

The Daily Progress | Posted on February 13, 2018

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC is suing Nelson County property owners to gain land for the 600-mile natural gas pipeline, which is set to emerge from the mountain and pass along a ridge right next to the popular Wintergreen Resort.The company, which is majority owned by Dominion Energy, sued the Wintergreen Property Owners Association Friday in the United States Court for the Western District of Virginia for seven and a half acres. The suit cites eminent domain, or the governmental power to take private property for public use.The company has made several efforts to buy the land, but it and the association have never been able to agree about adequate compensation, according to the lawsuit.In a release on Friday, the association repeated its opposition to the location of the pipeline. The association represents 3,700 property owners in Nelson County, and the proposed pipeline would pass right next to the resort and the association’s front gate.


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