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Michigan has more lobbyists than lawmakers working on energy reform

Michigan Live | Posted on October 3, 2016

When it comes to deciding how to overhaul the state's energy policy, the Michigan legislature isn't suffering from a lack of input. According to an analysis from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, at least 145 registered lobbyists have either submitted position statements to committees about proposed energy reforms or are registered as working for key players. That means the lobbyists outnumber the 144 state legislators -- a number which is typically 148 but has been lowered due to two resignations and two deaths. After the Nov. 8 general election, three of those vacancies will be filled.

Wyoming's 1st major coal mine in decades clears council

AP | Posted on October 3, 2016

A state environmental review board voted Wednesday to allow Wyoming's first major coal mine in decades to proceed despite the objections of another coal company. Amid competition from natural gas and tougher environmental regulations, coal mines tend to be cutting back production or even shutting down — not opening anew. Kentucky-based Ramaco's relatively small Brook Mine would buck that trend but has faced opposition from another company and a ranch. The Wyoming Environmental Quality Council voted unanimously to allow Ramaco to go ahead despite the Big Horn Coal Company's objections.

Studies Link Biofuel Demand, Habitat Loss

Coastal review | Posted on September 29, 2016

As the U.S. and other countries have ramped up development of bio-energy as an alternative to fossil fuels, demand is rising for trees for wood pellets, or biomass, and agricultural products for liquefied biofuels.  A recent multi-year study by researchers at North Carolina State University and the U.S. Geological Survey, detailed in two papers printed in August in the journal “Global Change Biology Bioenergy,” indicates that the increased demand could come with a cost: a loss of forested land, especially mature pinelands, and because of that, less habitat for wildlife.

How An Engineer's Desperate Experiment Created Fracking

NPR | Posted on September 29, 2016

The fracking boom in America kicked off almost by accident. An engineer worried about losing his job kept experimenting until he hit on a technique that changed the world. Back in 1995, Nick Steinsberger was 31. He was working for an oil company called Mitchell Energy. And he had just gotten a promotion. He was put in charge of an area called the Barnett Shale. It was in central Texas. And the company had a bunch of natural gas wells there. A couple of months in, management called him in for a meeting.

Nuisance arguments heard in Oklahoma wind farm case

The Oklahoman | Posted on September 29, 2016

The fate of a nuisance case against an Oklahoma wind farm is up to a federal judge after a hearing Tuesday in Oklahoma City. More than 60 members of the Oklahoma Wind Action Associated showed up for the hearing before U.S. District Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti on a motion by Kingfisher Wind LLC to issue a summary judgment in the case. After the two-hour hearing, DeGiusti said he will rule at a later date. If he declines to grant the wind company's motion, the case will proceed to a bench trial. Citing complaints over noise, shadow flicker and other concerns, the landowners want turbines in the development to be at least two miles (10,560 feet) from their homes.

Maryland introduces fracking regulations, one year ahead of ban's end

Baltimore Sun | Posted on September 29, 2016

The Hogan administration has proposed rules that would prohibit the gas-drilling technique known as fracking within 2,000 feet of a private drinking water well, require steel casings around gas bores to a depth of 100 feet, and require energy companies to replace any water supply that is contaminated by the practice. The Maryland Department of the Environment submitted the measures to a legislative committee that reviews regulations, a year before a state ban on fracking ends. The plan was unveiled five days ahead of the Oct. 1 deadline set by lawmakers for the rules to be formally adopted. Department of the Environment officials now expect the approval process to finish by the end of the year instead. Secretary Ben Grumbles said the rules “will be the most stringent and protective environmental shale regulations in the country.”

Missouri improves energy efficiency rating, still lags other states

Biz Journals | Posted on September 29, 2016

Missouri is one of three most improved states in the 2016 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which is published by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The state ranked 32nd in 2016, rising 12 positions from its 2015 ranking. Missouri scored 13.5 points out of a possible 50, five more points than it earned in last year’s ranking.

A venture capitalist’s view on the clean-tech economy

Midwest Energy News | Posted on September 29, 2016

Midwest Energy News: What is impact investing? Pfund: It is a kind of investment that recognizes new business formation and investment that can have profound social impact. It harnesses the power of investment to make positive social impact, as well as returns for its investors. We’ve invested in iconic leaders in sustainability, health and nutrition, and digital music. We have proof points that it should be done more. You don’t have to sacrifice financial return if you introduce a social dimension to your approach. We think Tesla, SolarCity and other sustainable investments lift the world from the 20th-century, fossilized, centralized approach to one that is much more attuned to 21st-century needs.

Energy policies swirling into political maelstrom locally, nationally | Posted on September 23, 2016

Policy disputes about how electricity ought to be generated and the role of fossil fuels such as gas and oil on the economy are generating one kind of product to be sure -- reports from economists and pollsters.  No fewer than two economic reports and one poll were released.  And at least one of them, a national poll released by the Young Conservatives for Clean Energy Reform and the Christian Coalition, was aimed at national policy makers and Congress, who normally receive a steady stream of reports from organizations such as the American Petroleum institute. But what the poll found will be of interest to Ohio lawmakers as well: Political conservatives are embracing new technologies such as solar and wind, as well as energy efficiency technologies. "For young conservatives, clean and efficient energy isn't something fringe or futuristic. It's a regular and growing part of their lives, and they want their elected leaders to support renewable energy in common-sense ways that grow the economy, promote energy independence and defend American families from pollution," said Michele Combs, founder and chair of Young Conservatives for Clean Energy Reform, following a rally in Washington, D.C., co-hosted not only by the  Christian Coalition but also by the American Wind Energy Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association and Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions.

Ohio GOP voters support green energy, efficiency programs and customer choice | Posted on September 22, 2016

Ohio's Republican voters and conservative independents are greener than state politicians might have believed. They strongly support green energy and want to see more of it in Ohio, a new poll of only Republican and conservative independents has determined.The poll also found:That 82 percent of these conservative voters want the state to keep on requiring electric utilities to provide efficiency programs that help consumers cut their monthly bills.That 85 percent want the state to continue the policy that gives them the right the choose their own power suppliers, even after hearing about their utility's concerns about the option.That 87 percent want utilities to continue crediting customers who have home solar systems for excess power they generate. That 74 percent would increase research and development of battery storage technologies to increase the use of renewable power.That 72 percent would advise Republican candidates to support energy efficiency and renewable energy policies.