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Déjà Vu in West Virginia as Natural Gas Industry Digs In
As communities across West Virginia struggle with the damaging legacy of coal, the natural gas industry is on the rise, shaping public policy that is not in most residents’ best interest. Lobbyists have captured regulatory bodies and elected officials have sided with gas companies on taxes. ‘“It’s déjà vu for the people who sat here 130 years ago and gave away our coal wealth to big out-of-state companies,” one state senator said. “That’s what we’re about to do again.”
Study: Emissions-Permit Program Has Turned Into a Job Creator in Nine States
New research shows that nine eastern states have gained $1.4 billion in economic benefits over the past three years from an air pollution “cap-and-trade” policy that requires utility companies to pay for emissions permits. The program wasn’t designed as an economic-development initiative, but has become one nonetheless: “The biggest payoff came in investments in energy efficiency programs, which have led to more businesses and jobs in activities such as energy audits and installing energy-efficiency equipment.”
Arizona Lawmakers Decline to Grant Tax Bailout for Failing Navajo Generating Station
Arizona lawmakers have failed to pass a proposed tax-relief bailout for the Navajo Generating Station, the largest coal-fired power plant west of the Mississippi. Owners of the failing operation, which employees about 750 people between the plant and its feeder mine, plan to close it next year because it cannot compete with natural gas and renewables. Activity at the plant is winding down already, and chances for finding a new owner are diminished by failure on the tax relief. One legislator who opposed the tax break said the millions in question would be better used as an economic-development appropriation to the Navajo Nation.
Survey: Swing-State Voters Favor Transition to Renewable Electricity Generation
A new survey finds that most voters in five swing states—Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia—favor state policies mandating 100 percent reliance on renewable energy for electricity generation. The survey results “serve as a potential warning to candidates to support renewable-energy policies or face possible voter backlash.”
Montana Ballot Initiative Aims to Smooth Transition
A former Montana lawmaker is promoting a ballot initiative that would have the state’s utilities increase their reliance on renewable energy to 80 percent by 2050. The proposal calls for job retraining and unemployment benefits for up to two years for workers currently employed by coal mines, power plants and railroads. And it includes a mechanism for replacing coal taxes and protecting government and tribal revenue.
Op-Ed: Sensible Change Comes to Virginia
Virginia is on the right path as it adopts stronger energy-efficiency standards, a broader commitment to solar and wind, and regulatory changes that encourage electricity-generation modernization. “Whether you’re an environmentalist concerned about the effects of climate change, a business trying to keep operating costs low or a consumer advocate looking out for low-income customers, this is a historic win that will generate economic and environmental benefits for years to come,” writes the author.
State Policies and Market Forces Limit What Washington Can Do to Save Coal
Trends in electricity generation are being driving increasingly by state policies that are adding to the larger momentum of market forces. Twenty-nine states have enacted requirements for more reliance on solar and wind which—combined with “the cheap price of natural gas and the rapidly falling cost of renewables,” as one analyst puts it—undermines Trump administration policies and rhetoric aimed at bringing coal-fired electricity back.
Ohio Businesses Oppose Bill to Slow Electricity-Generation
Major companies in Ohio, an important consumer of Appalachian coal, are fighting a legislative proposal to slow the state’s transition to clean energy. Among them: Gap Inc., Ikea North America, Nestle, and Cliff Bar & Co. Ohio has also become a hotbed for companies that are turning entirely to renewable energy, including Facebook and General Motors.