Capitol Comments

The Obama Administration is expected to announce this afternoon that it will deny a National Interest permit for the Keystone XL pipeline project. TransCanada, the company building the project, will reportedly be given an opportunity to "reapply" once it develops an alternative route to avoid the Sandhills region of Nebraska. 

According to a recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Governor Tom Corbett and top legislative leaders have been meeting to develop and finalize details on a new “impact fee” that will be assessed on drilling operations. The crux of the negotiations will be over determining which agency will collect the fees and what role local governments may play in regulating the industry’s activities. 

Natural gas futures fell to their lowest levels in over two years on January 11th. The implications for factories, homeowners, and manufacturers are incredibly significant. And according to an instructive article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, prices are expected to stay low for the immediate future as hydraulic fracturing and a generally mild winter has created a glut in natural gas supplies. 

Few issues generate as much passion as those surrounding energy and environmental policy. In 2012, states and territories ("the states") will continue to grapple with the challenges, opportunities, and benefits of new Clean Air regulation and historic expansion of domestic energy production. Expect the focus of energy and environmental policy debates to become more granular and focused at the state level as election-year politics in Washington will likely produce little federal legislation. States will have added pressure and face new complexities to incentivize alternative energy as weak economic recovery persists and public opinion has changed substantially on the proper and best role of government involvement in supporting renewal energy development. Below is a brief snapshot of the major energy and environment issues states will face in 2012:

Maryland's General Assembly will gather this week to begin their 90-day, 2012 legislative session. Topping the list of priority issues will be a forthcoming plan from Governor Martin O'Malley to finance the construction of an offshore wind farm that could provide up to 30 percent of the state's energy needs, according to his administration. The proverbial rubber meeting the road is how to pay for the project, and the General Assembly's action could prove instructive for other states that wish to provide renewable energy incentives.