Energy

Following the release of the final rule addressing greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants through Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed implementation of the Clean Power Plan pending judicial review. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit took another unexpected step by rescheduling oral arguments on challenges to the Clean Power Plan to September. During this eCademy session, presented by CSG and the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies, attorneys discussed legal arguments for and against the Clean Power Plan, what state officials should watch for during oral arguments, and the impact of the rescheduled argument timeline.

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 established a national program for the safe, permanent disposal of highly radioactive waste.  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. This webinar, the first in a two-part series, explores the status of nuclear waste management in the United States, with a focus on how the lack of a disposal facility affects electricity customers, the communities that are home to nuclear power plants, and the utilities that own and operate the plants. The series will continue with Part 2, Searching for Solutions,” on July 26 at 2 p.m. EDT.

The legal challenge to the Clean Power Plan is one of the most important environmental lawsuits in recent memory. The case will address whether EPA acted in accordance with the Clean Air Act in finalizing its rule that requires states to set carbon emissions limits on existing power plants. The U.S. Supreme Court stayed implementation of the rule in February and sent the case back to the D.C. Circuit, where a three-judge panel was scheduled to hear oral arguments on the already briefed issues on June 2nd. However, the court, on its own volition, issued an unexpected order late on May 16, 2016, pushing oral arguments back to September 27th and notifying the parties that the arguments will now be held before the entire court, instead of a three-judge panel.

Nuclear energy has provided commercial electricity generation in the United States since 1957, when a plant in Shippingport, Penn., came online. Between 1966 and 1977, 75 nuclear reactors were built in the U.S. However, a combination of escalating costs and increasing safety and environmental concerns halted almost all construction of new nuclear reactors in the U.S. after 1978. While the future of nuclear energy is uncertain, the construction of the first new reactors in decades and the continuing need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is leading to an increased interest in nuclear energy.

In a unanimous opinion in Hughes v. Talen Energy Marketing the Supreme Court held that Maryland’s program which guarantees a power plant generator a contractual rate rather than the “clearing price” wholesale rate set at a federally-approved capacity auction is preempted by the Federal Power Act (FPA).

The State and Local Legal Center filed an amicus brief arguing that Maryland’s program should not be preempted. At least one other state, New Jersey, has implemented a similar program.  

CSG Midwest

The nation’s leader in wind energy and use has hit yet another milestone. Iowa is now getting more than 30 percent of its electricity from this renewable source — the only U.S. state that has reached this threshold. According to Gov. Terry Branstad, the state has the potential to reach 40 percent within the next five years....

The Environmental Protection Agency’s final Clean Power Plan, or CPP, is the first regulation that seeks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. A top issue for states in 2016 will be determining how to comply.

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On March 11, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed into law the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan, which requires the state’s two largest utilities to eliminate their use of coal for electricity generation by 2035 and to double their use of renewable energy sources to 50 percent by 2040. The legislation was crafted and supported by a diverse group of stakeholders, including the utilities affected by the legislation and various environmental and ratepayer advocates.

CSG Midwest
Canada and the United States have long been each other’s most important energy partners, with annual trade between the two countries in this economic sector at nearly $100 billion. Cross-border pipelines bring natural gas and oil south to major U.S. markets, and two Midwestern states, Minnesota and North Dakota, imported 12 percent of their electricity from Canada in 2014.
“North America is an integrated market,” notes Dan D’Autremont, speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan.
But leaders at the federal, state and provincial levels are taking steps now to deepen the two countries’ relationship, this time with an emphasis on sharing information and working more closely on innovations to reshape the future of energy policy and energy use across the entire continent.

Most of the country lost an hour of sleep as clocks sprung forward Sunday, March 13 for daylight saving time. Some states are looking to opt out of the practice, insisting that the downsides outweigh the benefits.

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