ELECTION RESULTS: Republicans set to control executive, legislative branches
Steve Quinn, KTVA, November 7, 2018
Republicans are poised to control the executive branch and both chambers of the legislative branch for the first time since 2014. That’s when Mike Chenault served as House Speaker and Charlie Huggins served as Senate President during the Sean Parnell administration. Former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy, a Wasilla Republican, held a decisive lead over Democratic challenger Mark Begich early Wednesday morning and is poised to succeed incumbent independent Gov. Bill Walker as the state’s 14th governor. “I’m going to hire the right people to do the best job possible, and we’re going to implement our agenda,” Dunleavy said. “Public safety is number one.”
Our Take: Now the real work begins.
Big Oil has poured a lot of money to defeat energy-restricting ballot initiatives in various states in the midterm elections, and it succeeded in two key votes. Voters in Colorado were asked to vote on a ballot proposition to increase the setback distance for drilling oil and gas wells by five times to 2,500 feet, which would have put a lot of land off limits for new developments. Voters in Washington State voted on a proposal to instate a U.S. first state-wide carbon tax. Both initiatives failed, and both ‘no’ camps were supported by Big Oil.
Our Take: In Alaska, Colorado & Washington, voters chose not to support “energy-restricting ballot initiatives.” Using the term “big oil” downplays the most important message in these victories – voters, aka people, don’t support a keep-it-in-the-ground approach to resource development. Congrats to all three states!!
Russia looks to reduce ice-class demands for Arctic shipping
Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer, November 7, 2018
The Russian Transport Ministry aims for a revision of shipping regulations in Arctic waters. In a new normative act, the ministry calls for the introduction of new zones with lower ice-class requirements. Currently, the Arctic sea route is divided into seven parts with different ice-class requirements. The new regulations will diversify those areas. “It is necessary to specify criteria for the ships’ access to the waters of the Northern Sea Route and add several areas to the currently existing seven areas,” the ministry says. “This will enable us to create regions with homogenous ice conditions and provide access of ships to parts of the Northern Sea Route with light ice conditions.” The new regulations are described by RIA Novosti and also referred to by the ministry itself. The regime is due to come into effect in May 2019.
From the Washington Examiner Daily on Energy:
EPA TAKES CONTROVERSIAL NEW STEP TO MAKE THINGS EASIER FOR COAL PLANTS: The Environmental Protection Agency took steps Wednesday morning to clarify federal regulations that have in the past made it harder for coal power plants to make efficiency upgrades without triggering environmental reviews.
The change to the New Source Review permitting program has been “long-delayed” for nearly a decade, EPA said in its announcement.
“Previously, New Source Review regularly discouraged companies from employing the latest energy-efficient equipment,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Our updates will remove undue regulatory barriers, provide greater certainty to America’s job creators and energy providers, and incentivize upgrades that will improve air quality.”
What the change does: The change seeks to clarify “project aggregation” under the permitting requirements, which has been a sticking point for coal and other fossil power plants in making efficiency upgrades. Aggregation can take individual changes to a plant to count as a new power plant altogether, making it harder for plants to get permits to operate under the Clean Air Act.
Our Take: Making it easier for coal power plants to run more efficiently seems like a no-brainer.