Capitol Comments

Last fall, a coalition of solar manufacturers filed a trade complaint with the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission alleging that Chinese companies were illegally subsidizing the production of solar panels and dumping them in the US marketplace. A ruling is expected soon from Commerce, perhaps even by early March, that will determine whether additional tariffs or duties should be placed on imported solar panels from China. A recently issued study has added more pressure to an already contentious decision, with findings that suggest up to 60,000 jobs could be lost due to higher costs for solar projects and retaliatory action from China.

The long-awaited final report from the President's Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future was issued yesterday and offered stark warnings that inaction on developing a long-term strategy for disposing and handling nuclear waste threatens to strand 65,000 tons of spent fuel at 70 reactors across the country. 

Energy issues were a focal point last night in the President's State of the Union address. He highlighted the significant increase in oil and gas production, the vast economic potential of natural gas, energy independence, as well as echoing his continued support for renewable and alternative energy. Below is brief analysis from a state perspective into some of the specific proposals, the reaction from Congress, and the prospects for potential action.

On February 1st, Texas will join a growing list of states that require drilling operators to disclose the chemicals used in their hydraulic fracturing processes. The pending rule by the Texas Railroad Commission mirrors other states like Montana, Louisiana, Colorado, and North Dakota which require disclosure of well-by-well data on the website FracFocus.org.

Last Friday President Obama rolled out a proposal to reorganize and streamline various agencies and roles within the sprawling reach of the Department of Commerce. One aspect of the plan would move the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) under the jurisdiction of the Department of Interior. The move has sparked debate over reducing the federal government's size and concern that key functions of national fisheries and oceans policy will be diminished.

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