Capitol Comments

The US Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced plans to accelerate the development of offshore wind power in the United States.  The US, particularly along the East Coast, has vast reserves of offshore wind.  According to Willett Kempton of the Center for Carbon-Free Power Integration at the University of Delaware, offshore wind has an estimated 18 times the resource of offshore oil.[i]  DOE intends to realize 54 gigawatts (GW) of wind by 2030 within a cost range of 7-9 cents per kilowatt-hour.[ii]

CGS, through the National Center for Interstate Compacts, recently released a new publication detailing some of the ways Interstate Compacts are being used to address multi-state policy challenges.  The publication, entitled The Evolving Use of Interstate Compacts, highlights some of the recent trends in compacts and how modern compacts are helping to reshape interstate cooperation.  To read the piece please click here.

President Obama stepped up the urgency in his call for increased infrastructure spending during remarks Monday in the White House Rose Garden. Although the President primarily echoed the plan he originally outlined on Labor Day calling for the rebuilding of 150,000 miles of roads, 4,000 miles of rail lines, and 150 miles of airport runways, he came armed with plenty of new evidence that infrastructure improvements would be an effective tool in aiding the nation’s economic recovery and ensuring a brighter future.

On November 2nd, Californians will vote “yes” or “no” on Proposition 23.  Prop 23 seeks to suspend AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 through, among other things, increased use of renewable energy and pollution controls until state unemployment (currently at 12.4%) is sustained at 5.5% for 4 consecutive quarters.  That has only happened 3 times in the last 34 years.

The U.S. transportation system lacks a coherent vision, is chronically short of resources, is costing the country dearly in lost time, money and safety and is compromising our productivity and ability to compete internationally. Those are some of the conclusions in a new report entitled “Well Within Reach” issued on behalf of a bipartisan panel of transportation experts who met for three days last year at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs. While none of that is likely to be news to many, the report does offer a series of recommendations for a new transportation agenda that are worthy of consideration.

A new report looking at the experiences of five states (CT, MI, MA, NC, WA) as they move through the early period of implementation of federal health reform legislation finds significant hurdles due to political uncertainties and staffing challenges. Anticipating that states will require information and assistance to meet the implementation requirements and timelines of the Affordable Care Act, CSG plans a full day of sessions on health reform during the 2010 Annual Conference in Providence, RI, on December 3-6.

“Armageddon on Colorado ballots” proclaimed the colorful headline of a Denver Post editorial this week. The doomsday concern is in reference to three ballot measures Colorado voters will consider this November that may be reflective of the anti-tax, anti-spending, anti-borrowing, anti-big government sentiments among the electorate this fall but that could go a long way in determining whether the state has any money in the future to do important things like build and maintain roads.

No sooner was the Renewable Electricity Promotion Act of 2010, sponsored by Sens. Bingaman (D- NM) and Brownback (R- KS), introduced in the Senate last week than it was dismissed as being unlikely to proceed by one of its key sponsors.

This month’s Government Accountability Office update on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has 284 pages worth of fodder for both fans and foes of the legislation. But while it has been the speed with which states have spent Recovery Act highway dollars and the overall job creation numbers to date that have gotten most of the attention, it’s a couple of other findings in the report that should also prompt concern.

More evidence this week that renewed investment in the nation’s transportation system is needed--and soon: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released their first-ever Transportation Performance Index, which shows that the performance of the system is not keeping pace with the rate of growth of demands on it. Meanwhile, two states got very different kinds of news about the challenges they face in upgrading that system.

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