December 15, 2010

SenateApprops Bill Zeros Out Yucca, But Jacks Loan Guarantees. That Make Sense? E&ENews (subs req’d, 12/15)reports, “Funding for the Energy Department in an omnibus appropriations billintroduced yesterday by Senate Democrats largely stays level with earlierversions, but it does boost funding for the agency’s nuclear and fossil energyloan guarantee programs and zeroes out appropriations for the nuclearrepository at Yucca Mountain, Nev. The measure authorizes $8 billion in loanguarantee authority for advanced nuclear reactor projects, giving DOE a totalof $26 billion it may use to back up prospective reactor projects. DOE hasalready used $8 billion of that for a conditional loan guarantee to thepartners building a new reactor at Southern’s Vogtle reactor in Georgia. TheSenate bill goes further than the House long-term continuing resolution (CR),which provided $7 billion in nuclear loan guarantees, $3 billion in fossilenergy and $300 million for renewable energy credit subsidies. The House lastweek passed a CR to fund the government through September 2011. The bill alsofollows through on a decision by Obama this year to zero out funding for theDOE nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, as the White House establisheda "blue ribbon commission" to find an alternative waste solution. DOEhas made a motion to withdraw the license application for the project, whichhas been submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. NRC and federal courtsare reviewing whether DOE has the authority to do so.

ObamaAdmin. Comes out in Support of Marcellus Development in Del. River Basin; Anti-EnergyCrowd, Buffalo Mo Aren’t Happy.Greenwire/New York Times (12/14) reports, “The Obama administrationsupports a full study of the effects of gas drilling in the watershed thatprovides drinking water for Philadelphia and New York City, but it doesn’t wantto wait until it’s finished for drilling to begin. Gen. Peter "Duke"DeLuca of the Army Corps of Engineers outlined the position in a letter (pdf)written to Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) and released today. The letter offersthe first indication of the administration’s position on gas drilling in theNortheast since the day after the Nov. 2 midterm election when President Obamahighlighted gas drilling as a potential area of common ground with Republicans.DeLuca, the Army Corps’ North Atlantic division engineer, is the federalrepresentative on the Delaware River Basin Commission, which is developingregulations for gas drilling in eastern Pennsylvania and upstate New York.Hinchey and local environmentalists want the commission to keep its drillingmoratorium until its staff does a "cumulative impacts" study, aprocess that could take years. Drilling supporters want the commission to moveahead as quickly as possible and dislike that the commission has blockeddrilling in Pennsylvania while drilling continues rapidly in the rest of thestate.”

You’veHeard of the Offshore Permitorium and Moratorium, Right? Now Meet the BLMoratorium;Records Show 79 Percent Drop in Acreage Offered for Energy Development outWest.Washington Examiner (12/14) reports, “A new analysis ofgovernment data by the Western Energy Alliance shows a 79 percent drop in thenumber of energy development leases offered by the federal government on publiclands in the Rocky Mountain region states of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, NorthDakota, New Mexico and Utah. The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of LandManagement, which oversees the activities of energy firms seeking to find anddevelop oil and natural gas under public lands, has issued only 531 new leasesin 2010, compared to 2,499 in 2005, according to WEA. The Wyoming BusinessReport notes that since 2008 90 percent of the leases awarded by BLM have beenprotested. Such protests are usually filed by Big Green groups like the NaturalResources Defense Fund, Earth Justice, and Wilderness Society. The data alsoshow that under President Obama BLM has issued 76 percent fewer leases than wasthe case during the first two years of the Clinton administration and 71percent fewer than during the first two years of the second Bushadministration. Federal revenues from these leases dropped from more than $189million in 2005 to $101 million in 2010, a 46 percent decrease, according toWEA.”

OmnibusApprops Bill Jacks Fees, Adds Red Tape to Offshore Energy Development. Questionfor the Lawyers: Is the Permit Review Change from 30 to 90 days Legal?E&ENews (subs req’d, 12/15)reports, “The $32.2 billion bill would flatline the agencies’ funding at fiscal2010 levels, but increased inspection fees for offshore drilling would raise anadditional $50 million for Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management,Regulation and Enforcement — enough to double the outer continental shelf oiland gas inspection work force. The omnibus bill also contains a controversialprovision from a House-passed spending measure last week to triple the amountof time Interior is allowed to approve offshore drilling proposals. The measure– extending drilling permit reviews from 30 days to 90 days — is backed bythe Obama administration and key Senate Democrats as a way to allow fuller reviewsof offshore drilling in the wake of the BP spill. "Review of explorationplans should not be a perfunctory, rubber-stamp activity," Bill Wicker,spokesman for Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman(D-N.M.) said this week. "These plans are complicated, they’re complex andthey’re critical." But the proposal has also drawn fire from severalSenate Republicans and some coastal state lawmakers who contend that it woulddelay domestic energy production and create additional opportunities forlawsuits both from industry and environmental groups.”

Sen.Feinstein Opposes Coal, Oil and Gas Production. Now Add Solar to the List;Wonder How She Powers her Home, Fuels her Car?Politico’sMorning Environmentalist(12/15) reports, “The budget omnibus includes a rider from Dianne Feinsteinthat would restrict solar development in the Mojave Desert. The provision– tucked 808 pages into the bill – prohibits Interior from usingfunds to authorize energy development on a quarter-million acres of federalland in the Mojave. Feinstein says the lands were donated for conservation byprivate owners and should not be opened to solar power plants. Feinstein took abigger bite at that apple earlier this year with legislation that would haveblocked solar development on nearly 1 million Mojave acres. That bill alsoincluded provisions to expedite solar development elsewhere in the Mojave, butit stalled in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee after it was panned byLisa Murkowski and got only tepid support from Interior and the DefenseDepartment.”

New MexicoCap-and-Raid Proposal Under Fire. Chief Concern? You Guessed it, IncreasedCosts. Associated Press(12/14) reports, “New Mexico’s largest electric utility filed a notice ofappeal Tuesday to the state’s new cap-and-trade program. Public Service Companyof New Mexico is seeking to appeal a plan to establish what state officialscall the most comprehensive greenhouse gas pollution reduction regulations inthe nation. The New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board narrowly approvedthe program last month. Utilityspokesman Don Brown said the program imposes costs on New Mexico other statesdon’t have. "At such a vulnerable economic time, it would put New Mexicoat a disadvantage in competing for jobs," he said. In addition, PNM doesnot believe the Environmental Improvement Board has the authority to regulategreenhouse gas emissions, Brown said. The program would force coal-fired powerplants, refineries, natural gas compressor stations and other facilities thatpump out a certain level of carbon dioxide each year to reduce those emissionsby 2 percent annually starting in 2012. Supporters of the cap-and-trade programsay it’s the first step for New Mexico to get a handle on the pollution blamedfor global warming. Critics, however, contend the regulations will lead tohigher electricity costs and an exodus of businesses and jobs to surroundingstates.”



Speak Your Mind


Anonymous says:
Your email has been received. Thank you for signing up.