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Maryland introduces fracking regulations, one year ahead of ban's end

Baltimore Sun | Posted on September 29, 2016

The Hogan administration has proposed rules that would prohibit the gas-drilling technique known as fracking within 2,000 feet of a private drinking water well, require steel casings around gas bores to a depth of 100 feet, and require energy companies to replace any water supply that is contaminated by the practice. The Maryland Department of the Environment submitted the measures to a legislative committee that reviews regulations, a year before a state ban on fracking ends. The plan was unveiled five days ahead of the Oct. 1 deadline set by lawmakers for the rules to be formally adopted. Department of the Environment officials now expect the approval process to finish by the end of the year instead. Secretary Ben Grumbles said the rules “will be the most stringent and protective environmental shale regulations in the country.”

Missouri improves energy efficiency rating, still lags other states

Biz Journals | Posted on September 29, 2016

Missouri is one of three most improved states in the 2016 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which is published by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The state ranked 32nd in 2016, rising 12 positions from its 2015 ranking. Missouri scored 13.5 points out of a possible 50, five more points than it earned in last year’s ranking.

A venture capitalist’s view on the clean-tech economy

Midwest Energy News | Posted on September 29, 2016

Midwest Energy News: What is impact investing? Pfund: It is a kind of investment that recognizes new business formation and investment that can have profound social impact. It harnesses the power of investment to make positive social impact, as well as returns for its investors. We’ve invested in iconic leaders in sustainability, health and nutrition, and digital music. We have proof points that it should be done more. You don’t have to sacrifice financial return if you introduce a social dimension to your approach. We think Tesla, SolarCity and other sustainable investments lift the world from the 20th-century, fossilized, centralized approach to one that is much more attuned to 21st-century needs.

Energy policies swirling into political maelstrom locally, nationally | Posted on September 23, 2016

Policy disputes about how electricity ought to be generated and the role of fossil fuels such as gas and oil on the economy are generating one kind of product to be sure -- reports from economists and pollsters.  No fewer than two economic reports and one poll were released.  And at least one of them, a national poll released by the Young Conservatives for Clean Energy Reform and the Christian Coalition, was aimed at national policy makers and Congress, who normally receive a steady stream of reports from organizations such as the American Petroleum institute. But what the poll found will be of interest to Ohio lawmakers as well: Political conservatives are embracing new technologies such as solar and wind, as well as energy efficiency technologies. "For young conservatives, clean and efficient energy isn't something fringe or futuristic. It's a regular and growing part of their lives, and they want their elected leaders to support renewable energy in common-sense ways that grow the economy, promote energy independence and defend American families from pollution," said Michele Combs, founder and chair of Young Conservatives for Clean Energy Reform, following a rally in Washington, D.C., co-hosted not only by the  Christian Coalition but also by the American Wind Energy Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association and Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions.

Ohio GOP voters support green energy, efficiency programs and customer choice | Posted on September 22, 2016

Ohio's Republican voters and conservative independents are greener than state politicians might have believed. They strongly support green energy and want to see more of it in Ohio, a new poll of only Republican and conservative independents has determined.The poll also found:That 82 percent of these conservative voters want the state to keep on requiring electric utilities to provide efficiency programs that help consumers cut their monthly bills.That 85 percent want the state to continue the policy that gives them the right the choose their own power suppliers, even after hearing about their utility's concerns about the option.That 87 percent want utilities to continue crediting customers who have home solar systems for excess power they generate. That 74 percent would increase research and development of battery storage technologies to increase the use of renewable power.That 72 percent would advise Republican candidates to support energy efficiency and renewable energy policies.

Key Takeaways from the Clean Energy Partnership

Institute for Self Reliance | Posted on September 22, 2016

Minneapolis garnered national attention when it formed a first-of-its-kind partnership with local utilities to advance sustainable, efficient energy policy. Now, as communities across the U.S. increasingly push for influence over their energy futures, the Midwestern city offers a blueprint for what works and a taste of the challenges that come with cooperation. The Clean Energy Partnership, as it’s known, marked a pioneering approach to responsible energy policy. It united the City of Minneapolis and its two investor-owned utilities, electricity provider Xcel Energy and natural gas provider Centerpoint, to advance the city’s goals for shrinking its carbon footprint and promoting a healthy energy economy.  Going forward, advocates want to see richer data collection and a focus on equitable access to initiatives that support access to renewable energy and efficiency-oriented upgrades. They also want greater community engagement, a callback to an important piece of the Minneapolis Energy Options campaign. Measuring some progress is easy, because benchmarks are spelled out in city documents. That includes emissions reductions of 80% by 2050, a plan to reach 75 percent of Minneapolis households with an energy retrofit by 2025, and an overarching effort to reduce energy consumption. But none of those will happen — and no more ambitious goals will surface — if the utilities don’t debut wider-reaching programs with access in mind. The initial work plan also failed to set any interim goals, making it harder to evaluate efforts in the short run, an issue Farrell is interested in solving for the upcoming two-year plan.

Southern governors lift driver rules after gas spill

PennEnergy | Posted on September 20, 2016

The governors of three Southern states are lifting restrictions on the number of hours that truck drivers delivering fuel can work, hoping to prevent shortages in both states after the shutdown of a pipeline that spilled at least 252,000 gallons of gasoline in rural Alabama.  Governors can suspend federal transportation regulations during emergencies.  Colonial Pipeline has said most of the leaked gasoline is contained in a retention pond near the city of Helena and there's no public safety concern. The spill was first detected on Sept. 9, but it's not clear when it began.  The company increased its estimate of the spill's size on Friday, saying it was between 252,000 and 336,000 gallons. Colonial doesn't expect to fully reopen the pipeline until next week. The pipeline runs from Texas to New Jersey, supplying fuel to states in the Southeast and on the East Coast.

Wind energy group drops $375K on Kansas airwaves, looks ahead to elections

The Topeka Capital Journal | Posted on September 20, 2016

A new national nonprofit group is spending $375,000 on advertising in Kansas over the next two months to make the case for wind energy production, a purchase that hints at future electoral influence.  American Wind Action, founded three months ago, already has a seven-figure budget. Its largest advertising purchase to date is in Kansas, where it will roll out television, radio and digital ads across the state in September and October.

Massachusetts governor Baker orders new rules to reduce greenhouse emissions

Boston Globe | Posted on September 20, 2016

Governor Charlie Baker signed an executive order directing state officials to develop regulations for specific, annual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by next summer.  The order comes on the heels of a court ruling that the state has not done enough to meet its obligations under the state’s 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act, which requires Massachusetts to cut its greenhouse gases 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. Baker also directed officials, in the order, to develop a statewide plan for “adaptation and resiliency” in the face of expected sea level rise and anticipated growth in wildfires and extreme weather events.

Most states on track to meet emissions targets they call burden

Reuters | Posted on September 20, 2016

The 27 states challenging Obama’s Clean Power Plan in court say the lower emissions levels it would impose are an undue burden. But most are likely to hit them anyway.  Already, Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma and South Dakota appear to be meeting the CPP's early targets. And changes in the power market, along with policies favoring clean generation, are propelling most of the rest toward timely compliance, according to researchers, power producers and officials, as well as government filings reviewed by Reuters.  We are seeing reductions earlier than we ever expected,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said in an interview. “It’s a great sign that the market has already shifted and people are invested in the newer technologies, even while we are in litigation.”  States engaged in the legal battle that is set for an appellate court hearing later this month say their concerns go beyond whether they can meet the mandate. The states, most of them led by Republican governors, say they object to what they view as federal overreach by Obama and the Democrats and want to maintain flexibility to make energy decisions at the state level that reflect changing market conditions.  Cynthia Coffman, attorney general of Colorado, said her state’s likely ability to comply with the CPP’s mandate “truly is not the issue."   "We don't have anything against clean air," Coffman said. "That really doesn't factor into my decision to say the federal government has gone beyond its legal authority.”  Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said that he sees the Clean Power Plan as a form of federal “coercion and commandeering” of energy policy and that the state should have “sovereignty to make decisions for its own markets.”