NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments urges the executive branch and Congress to establish a national energy policy that encourages access to and removal of impediments to all available domestic sources of energy; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments encourages the U.S. EPA to recognize the sovereign power of state regulators to avoid costly litigation; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments recommends state policymakers work closely with their environmental commissioners, informed by electricity providers and other stakeholders, this resolution and the states’ previous recommendations, to develop comments and where appropriate comments with other states addressing the legal, economic, employment, timing, achievability, affordability, implementation scheduling and reliability issues in the proposed regulations for their state and file them by U.S. EPA’s comment deadline and to stay engaged with U.S. EPA and other relevant federal agencies after the comment period ends and the regulation is finalized to eliminate or minimize the risks and consequences from U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments encourages states to inform their congressional delegations on their evaluations and comments and encourage these representatives to help resolve issues by reducing or eliminating negative consequences from U.S. EPA’s proposed regulation;

With the new proposed rules by the United States Environmental Protection Agency related to section 111 (d) of the Clean Air Act, many states have questions about what the rule means for their state. The session addressed the questions state leaders need to ask to have a better understanding of how the rule affects their state’s businesses, citizens and energy future.

State leaders received the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, released June 2, with mixed reactions. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback considers the new regulations on existing coal-fired power plants to be “more of the Obama administration’s war against middle America.” Kansas, like many...

The U.S. Energy Information Administration issued a report last week detailing the 13,500 megawatts (MW) of electric utility capacity added in 2013.  According to the report, the total capacity added is down roughly 50% from 2012.  Natural gas and solar were the top industries generating additional capacity at just over 50% and 22% respectively. 

State and federal policymakers in the past could be confident that America’s energy demands would increase every year. Now the future isn’t as clear.  Barbara Tyran, director of Washington, D.C., and state relations with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), said the Great Recession, a greater use of locally produced power, a growing interest in energy efficiency and the unprecedented increase in the natural gas supply have turned once staid assumptions about the future of energy on their head. Tyran was one of the featured speakers at a CSG policy academy about natural gas development last week and noted that all three branches of the federal government are currently engaged in shaping energy and environmental outcomes that will impact the future electricity and natural gas sectors. 

CSG Director of Energy and Environmental Policy Brydon Ross outlines the top five issues for 2013, including the future of coal, Clean Water Act legal actions, energy infrastructure hardening, managing the energy wave, and EPA air regulations. 

 

State leaders should expect energy and environmental issues to largely stay in the regulatory and legal arena in 2013 as fiscal issues will most dominate the attention of Congress. Market forces will also likely put upward pressure on the development of the country’s oil and natural gas resources, but could pose potentially complex oversight and budget issues for states. The substantial increase in natural gas supply and the current cheap price it enjoys could have long-lasting implications for the nation’s electricity mix as the use of coal-fired power declines and more stringent EPA air regulations are enforced. Lastly, as many states will continue to recover from the ravages caused by Hurricane Sandy opportunities will be presented to apply lessons learned to improve the resiliency of their energy infrastructure. 

States have been reclaiming and restoring thousands of abandoned mine sites that pre-existed federal environmental laws. To cope with the environmental and public safety threats they pose, Congress passed legislation in the late 1970s charging fees for coal production that were disbursed back to states for remediation efforts. Recent changes made by the Transportation Reauthorization bill have altered and cut the payment structure for many states still dealing with the long-term ramifications of abandoned mines.

The Environmental Protection Agency in December 2011 issued new stringent regulations called the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, or MATS, Rule to limit mercury emissions and other hazardous substances from fossil fuel power plants. The standards have been controversial because of industry concerns with costs and grid reliability. The EPA, however, contends the standards are reasonable, provide billions of dollars in public health benefits and will prevent thousands of premature deaths.

According to recent figures by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the percentage of electric power generation from coal  fell by 19% in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same time period in 2011. Overall, coal-fired power made up 36% of US electricity generation in the first quarter of 2012 and in the first quarter of 2011 that figure was 44%. EIA went on to estimate in its short-term energy outlook that coal consumption will fall by 14% in 2012.

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