The New York Times says that the oil industry is in its “deepest downturn since the 1990s, if not earlier”. The price of a barrel of oil has plummeted, falling more 70 percent since mid-2014, and gas prices at the pump have followed – falling from $2.21 one year ago to $1.70 today (AAA). Unfortunately, a drop in energy prices means a headache for several states that rely heavily on severance taxes for revenue.

A majority of states (35) impose at least one form of severance tax, which is a tax on natural resource extraction. While overall severance taxes don’t make up a large percentage of total state taxes collected – 2.1 percent in 2014 – they have very different impacts across the states. For example, in 2014 severance taxes collected ranged from 72 percent of total tax revenue in Alaska and 54 percent of revenue in North Dakota to less than 1 percent in 18 states. In seven states, severance taxes make up 10 percent or more of total tax collections. 

On Tuesday evening, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay that stops implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan until the ongoing legal challenges to the rule are resolved by the courts. The 5-4 decision came in response to a request for stay to the U.S. Supreme Court by over two dozen states, utilities, and other industry advocates after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit...

Community solar is a program where a utility or third-party provider constructs a solar array in an external location and a group of participants voluntarily pay for a share of that project. The electricity produced by the array flows to the electricity grid instead of directly to the customers’ homes, but the subscriber receives a benefit for the electricity produced by the array, usually as a credit on their utility bill.

Product stewardship laws have a goal of reducing the environmental, safety and health impacts of consumer products. These laws typically focus on the end-of-life management of these products and generally require the manufacturers to take responsibility for recycling or safely disposing of these products when consumers cease using them. This FREE eCademy webcast featured Chaz Miller, director of policy and advocacy for the National Association of Waste and Recycling, who discussed emerging issues and trends in product stewardship laws in the states.

Produced water is a term used to describe water trapped in underground formations that is brought to the surface during oil and gas exploration and production. Because the water has been in contact with the hydrocarbon-bearing formation for centuries, it carries some of the chemical characteristics of the formation and the hydrocarbon itself. Produced water may include water from the reservoir, water injected into the formation, and any chemicals added during the drilling, production, and treatment processes. Often, produced water is regarded as wastewater, but if managed as a resource rather than a waste for disposal, produced water has the potential to be used beneficially, such as helping to alleviate drought and reducing earthquakes caused by waste water injection. This webinar explores alternative uses and factors that influence the demand for alternative uses, as well as environmental concerns posed by produced water.

In an 6-2 decision in FERC v. Electric Power Supply Association the Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has the authority to regulate wholesale “demand response” and that demand response bidders may receive the same compensation as electricity producers.

“Demand response” is a practice in which operators in wholesale markets pay electricity consumers to not use power at certain times.

Energy is more expensive and inefficient to produce at certain times (like hot days). Nonetheless retail electricity rates remain stable providing no incentive for electric consumers to reduce their demand at these times. So, FERC blessed wholesale market operators using demand response to reduce energy use during peak times and to lower wholesale electricity prices.

This Act provides disclosure requirements to be included in agreements for the sale or lease of a distributed energy generating system.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s, or EPA’s, final Clean Power Plan regulates carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act. The final version of this regulation, published in October 2015, includes a number of key changes from the proposed rule, including an adjusted state plan and implementation schedule, alterations to the “building blocks” on which individual state targets are based and the promotion of interstate trading options. While the overall Clean Power Plan seeks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from this sector by 32 percent by 2030, each state faces a different target. This controversial rulemaking (as of Oct. 30, 2015, 26 states had filed legal challenges to the final rule) has prompted states to consider legislation directing how state environmental agencies and other officials respond or comply.

The Clean Power Plan

On Aug. 3, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized the Clean Power Plan, which is expected to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The rule sets target emissions reductions for states and states are responsible for designing their own plans to meet these emissions reductions targets...

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