Last week, the National Research Council (NRC) released a report entitled, "Induced Seismicity Potential in Energy Technologies" that examined the potential impacts and risks associated with hydraulic fracturing, enhanced oil recovery, carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), and waste water disposal for their potential to cause earthquakes. The report found little risk of induced seismic activity from hydraulic fracturing for shale gas, but there some level of risk associated with CCS, waste water injection wells, and geothermal development. The NRC recommended more research and development on key areas of study and noted that there are no common best practices implemented by government for each technology.

As the process of hydraulic fracturing becomes more prevalent, several municipal governments are using their local zoning power to restrict or prohibit resource exploration. Many of these new local ordinances conflict with state permitting authority; however, some state statutes may be ambiguous when it comes to regulating oil and natural gas exploration.

Last Friday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a draft environmental impact statement for the McCoy Solar Energy Project which would encompass 7,700 acres of public land in Southern California. At least one environmental group is expressing concerns with the project and some renewable energy observers wonder if the project will face similar opposition by Tribes and other advocacy groups have raised about other projects in the desert because of impacts to endangered species and cultural sites.

The Obama administration announced dramatic goals for developing alternative energy. What does that mean for states and what considerations should policymakers undertake to turn aspirations into reality? Panelists provided insight from federal, state and private sector perspectives in siting large-scale, commercial renewable energy power plants. This session  covered the financial, regulatory and stakeholder process associated with developing complex projects to help states anticipate future challenges.

Texas power regulators are considering action to link up the Electric Reliability Corporation of Texas (ERCOT)  and its grid with more out of state projects and connections to meet growing energy demands from rapid population growth in the state. ERCOT, the first Independent System Operator in the country, is well-known to guard its autonomy but it may to have consider relying on new out of state grid connection projects to avoid repeating the stress placed on the electric system during a 2011 Summer heat wave where 6 rolling power emergencies were declared to avoid blackouts. 

Staff from CSG’s National Center for Interstate Compacts convened the second Electric Transmission Line Siting Compact Drafting Team meeting last week in Washington, DC.  The meeting, which was hosted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), brought together the drafting team comprised of state legislators, federal officials, and interested stakeholders to continue efforts to develop an interstate compact designed to facilitate electric transmission line siting. 

State officials are weighing in on the future of nuclear power in the United States as Japan struggles to control its nuclear reactors in the wake of last week’s massive earthquake in that country. Despite an increasing need to find energy alternatives here at home, some believe the Japan crisis may make additional delays in the construction of new nuclear reactors or relicensing of old ones in this country a possibility. Here’s a rundown of media reports on how the nuclear power issue is being raised in various state capitals.

Stress on the electricity transmission grid is growing.  This stress can be eased by greater interstate cooperation and increased efficiency and conservation measures.