CSG Midwest

Out of sight, out of mind — until they aren’t — pipelines are as yet a necessary piece of the nation’s energy puzzle, moving oil and natural gas from their origins to refineries, and thence into our gas tanks, stoves, roads, roofs and more.

But against a backdrop of heightened environmental and climate-change awareness, crude oil pipelines now also carry controversy, raising the stakes for the states, which are more or less on their own when it comes to regulating the siting of such pipelines (as long as their regulations aren’t pre-empted by applicable federal laws).

Companies that operate pipelines come under the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. And once pipelines are operational, the U.S. Pipeline Safety Act assigns oversight to the Office of Pipeline Safety (housed within the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration).

The latest pipeline to make headlines is the Dakota Access Pipeline, a planned 1,134-mile underground pipe from the Bakken oil fields in northwest North Dakota that would run through South Dakota and Iowa to the Patoka Tank Farm in south central Illinois. If/when completed, the $3.7 billion pipeline is projected to carry more than 450,000 barrels of fracked crude oil per day.

Over 20 state legislators and public utility commissioners attended CSG's "Future of American Electricity" policy academy in Washington, D.C. from Sept. 21-23. One of several 2 1/2 day events put on by CSG policy staff in 2016, this event was designed to give state officials an overview of American electricity along with a deeper dive into more complex and emerging energy and electricity issues.

Natural resource extraction is a key component of many Western states’ economies and often generates a sizeable share of state revenue. However, natural resources are finite, the price of energy commodities is increasingly unpredictable, and revenues are volatile and tough for state forecasters to accurately predict. As a result, many states have created severance tax-based sovereign wealth funds to set aside a share of today’s revenue in order to generate investment earnings for state use in the future. This free CSG eCademy features Patrick Murray of The Pew Charitable Trusts, who presents findings and policy recommendations from a new research brief, including challenges and opportunities for state policymakers in energy-producing states.

During The Council of State Governments' eCademy webcast, "Building the Grid of the Future: How Technology Can Help," panelists discussed the aging electric grid, how new technologies can help meet energy reliability and affordability objectives, and how policymakers can help ensure the grid continues to meet consumer demands.

The Obama Administration announced yesterday awards totaling $38.8 million for 29 economic and workforce development projects across seven states – Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia – to assist communities negatively impacted by changes in the coal industry.

As the nation’s electric grid ages and the ways in which consumers and utilities are interacting with the electric grid are changing, policymakers and regulators face the challenge of ensuring the continued efficiency, reliability, affordability and ease of operation upon which the grid was initially built. This FREE CSG eCademy webcast explores how new technologies can help meet energy reliability and affordability objectives and the role regulators and policymakers can play in formulating policies to help ensure the grid continues to meet consumer demands now and in the future.

Approximately 25 legislators and regulators attended CSG’s Fourth Annual Natural Gas Policy Academy from August 1-3 in Bismarck, North Dakota. CSG policy academies are two and one-half day seminars featuring a variety of speakers that provide participants with in-depth information on a current and important policy issue. One of several policy academies CSG will put on in 2016, the Natural Gas Policy Academy included an introductory session on natural gas, as well as sessions on infrastructure modernization, workforce development,...

Since April, environmental groups in Colorado have been working to gather signatures for two statewide initiatives that would amend the state constitution to increase regulatory control on energy industries. Coloradans Resisting Extreme Energy Development submitted two measures, Initiatives 75 and 78, that would grant local governments the authority to regulate energy industry development and establish that facilities be at least 2,500 feet from an occupied structure.

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 established a national program for the safe, permanent disposal of highly radioactive wastes. In 2002, Congress approved a site at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain; however, that project was stalled and defunded in 2010. Consequently, there currently is no disposal facility in the United States for spent fuel rods from 99 operating commercial nuclear reactors across the country. Both the federal government and the private sector are taking action to develop solutions for the long-term, sustainable management of our nation’s spent nuclear fuel. The Department of Energy, or DOE, is seeking public input on how to site facilities for nuclear waste storage and disposal following a consent-based approach. At the same time, two private partnerships are attempting to develop interim storage facilities in New Mexico and Texas. This webinar, the second in a two-part series, explores these proposed solutions for the consolidated storage of our nation’s spent fuel and provides insight into the DOE’s consent-based siting effort.

A new study conducted by the economic research group Power Consulting suggests that the overall costs of operating the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River in Northern Arizona may outweigh the benefits of increased electricity production.