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Editorial: A Better Idea for Virginia’s Controversial Coal Tax Credits
“Coal companies won’t like this idea — they’ll want to keep those tax credits. But why should Southwest Virginia tie its fate to an industry that has clearly not made the region wealthy when there’s an opportunity to create an entirely new economy?”
Indiana Policymakers Forge a Complicated Transition From Coal to Renewables
As the state’s utilities move toward renewables, recent legislation aims to keep coal in use.
Pennsylvania Pushes Forward Plan to Join Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
The plan, which is likely to accelerate the closure of coal plants, faces a public review period and questions about coal community impacts.
Coal Country Confronts Industry’s Future, Sees Solutions in Policy
As coal continues to decline, communities from West Virginia to Wyoming see a need for state and federal policy support.
Mine Reclamation Projects Stimulate Wyoming’s Pandemic-Stricken Economy
The state expects to complete 96 projects, generating a total of $201 million for local economies, by the end of the year.
Op-Ed: Who’s in Charge of Rural Utah’s Future?
“Would our state benefit more from hundreds of rural community development grants than by pouring $53 million into the pockets of out-of-state coal port developers?”
New Research Series Analyzes Energy Transition Policy Options
The Environmental Defense Fund and Resources for the Future are collaborating on an extensive research project to assess existing policy proposals that address the needs of fossil fuel workers and communities during the energy transition.
In Maryland, lawmakers push a transition initiative that includes the rank-and-file
“We’re gonna do it in a way that doesn’t harm workers,” one legislator said of a five-year timetable to close the state’s failing coal-plant fleet, which is barely used anymore.
Candidates: ‘West Virginia Can’t Wait’
A reform-minded slate pushes for investment in modernization and “choosing taxpayers instead of tax dodgers, choosing workers instead of Wall Street, choosing patients over big pharma, choosing children over cheats.”
Virginia enacts Clean Economy Act in hopes of getting up to speed
“The cost of doing nothing is staggering,” said the sponsor. “Yes, this is a big bill, but it does some very important things that Virginia is far, far behind in.”
The latest technology-driven challenge to coal
Attorneys general in five states are pushing back against utility-industry resistance to regulatory acceptance of utility-scale battery storage, a fast-growing business that poses a fresh threat to traditional power-generation models.
Op-ed: West Virginia risks being left behind
As neighboring states attract investment capital and build their tax bases and employment growth around diversified energy economies, West Virginia lags in part because of political resistance to change. “West Virginians will be left behind if our elected officials do not act quickly and assertively to create a policy environment that encourages growth, competition and diversification in this newly unfolding energy system,” the author writes.
Arizona judge: Let voters participate in state energy policy decisions
An Arizona judge has sided with utility-industry reformers in ruling that a clean energy initiative will appear on the ballot when voters go to the polls in November. Executives at Arizona Public Service, the biggest electricity provider in the state, say they will appeal the decision. At issue is whether to allow development of solar resources at the likely expense of traditional power generation.
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.