Western Energy News

Montana lawmakers use health care as leverage for coal plant

COAL: A group of Republican lawmakers tie the fate of Medicaid expansion in Montana to a bill seeking to save a struggling coal plant. (Helena Independent Record)

ALSO:
• Montana lawmakers amend the controversial bill by restoring state regulators’ authority to scrutinize plans by a South Dakota utility to buy a bigger stake in Colstrip. (Billings Gazette)
• The nation’s only new coal plant is under construction in Alaska. (E&E News, subscription)

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UTILITIES:
• California Gov. Gavin Newsom releases a report that suggests one way the state could grapple with rising wildfire costs is to create two funds to help pay for damages. (New York Times)
• Meanwhile, the report gives Wall Street a renewed sense of optimism about the future of the state’s investor-owned utilities. (Bloomberg)

TECHNOLOGY: An Arizona startup hopes its hydrogen-powered big rigs can finally bring the fuel mainstream. (Forbes)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES:
• Recently passed legislation in Colorado seeks to expand the state’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. (Utility Dive)
• Autonomous electric shuttles will begin operating in Utah this year as part of a pilot program. (Herald Extra)

OIL AND GAS:
• Members of a congressional subcommittee are in New Mexico today to gather testimony on the impacts of drilling near sites considered sacred by several Western tribes. (Associated Press)
• Chevron becomes one of the four biggest oil and gas companies in the world with its $33 billion purchase of Anadarko Petroleum, the biggest producer in Colorado by volume. (Associated Press)
• Oregon’s largest facilitator of crude oil deviated from a mock disaster plan approved by state regulators who wanted the company to practice cleaning up Canadian tar stands. (The Oregonian)
• Several Colorado counties have agreed to promote natural gas produced after the state energy office decides to back out of the initiative which was launched under former Gov. John Hickenlooper. (Grand Junction Daily Sentinel)
• Oregon Democrats are asking federal regulators to give the public more time to comment on plans for a proposed liquefied natural gas facility and pipeline. (The Register-Guard)

PUBLIC LANDS: The U.S. government approved 40 percent more drilling permits on federal lands in 2018 than it did the previous year, an increase attributed to the rollout of an online system aimed at reducing the backlog of applications. (Reuters)

POLITICS: Nevada’s largest utility outspent all other energy companies in political contributions during the 2018 midterms, campaign records show. (The Nevada Independent)

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SOLAR: An Albuquerque company is one of 20 finalists for a U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored solar technology competition. (Albuquerque Journal)

COMMENTARY:
• While signs of coal’s demise have been apparent for some time, Wyoming’s leaders “have done little to pivot our state’s economy away from this volatile industry,” says the editorial board of the Casper Star-Tribune.
• Arizona’s largest utility must “control its worst demons and regain the moral clarity” it had prior to 2014, the year the company spent millions to elect candidates to the state commission that regulates utilities, says the former executive director of the Arizona Republican Party. (Arizona Republic)
• The landscape around New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon is “extraordinarily important, from a cultural standpoint, and without question is deserving of protection,” says a preservation archeologist from Taos. (Santa Fe New Mexican)

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