Capitol Comments

According to a recent article in the Houston Chronicle, the EPA believes that at least 140 million fraudulent credits have been circulated in biodiesel markets established by federal renewable energy mandates. The level of fraud (almost 9%) is concerning to many industry observers because the entire credit market only generated 1.6 billion credits last year. The agency brought allegations this month against two Texas-based companies, charging them with fabricating 60 million invalid credits that fuel producers like refineries buy when alternative fuels are not available. 

Hawaii recently became the first state in the country to ban the use of disposable plastic bags. Beginning in July 2015, retailers across the entire state will be prohibited from issuing non-biodegrade checkout bags and paper bags that are not at least 40 percent recycled. 

Federal transportation reauthorization legislation—typically a long-term, multi-year process—will cover only two years and provide a fraction of the money needed to maintain current transportation needs.

According to the state Industrial Commission, North Dakota recently passed Alaska to become the second largest oil producer in the country. In March, North Dakota's oil wells produced 17.8 million barrels or 575,490 barrels per day - providing roughly 9% of overall US production. The advancements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have catapulted the state from a minor producer to a major player in the oil boom across the country, with production more than doubling since 2009.

According to recent figures by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the percentage of electric power generation from coal  fell by 19% in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same time period in 2011. Overall, coal-fired power made up 36% of US electricity generation in the first quarter of 2012 and in the first quarter of 2011 that figure was 44%. EIA went on to estimate in its short-term energy outlook that coal consumption will fall by 14% in 2012.