Western Energy News

Oil producers on public lands get a break; renewable projects get a bill

PUBLIC LANDS: The Trump administration has been giving oil and gas producers a break on royalties owed for operations on public land, which an Arizona senator says may violate federal law. (Associated Press; E&E News, subscription required)

ALSO:
While fossil fuel operations get a break, the BLM is demanding payment of back-due rent for renewable energy projects on federal land. (Mountain West News Bureau)
A new Yale study finds renewable energy projects on public land have contributed $13 billion to the economy since 1996. (Bloomberg)
The BLM abruptly postponed an auction of oil and gas leases in New Mexico due to take place yesterday morning without explaining why. (Reuters)

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CLIMATE:
A new report says Microsoft’s dealings with the oil industry could undermine its goal to be “carbon negative” by 2030. (Grist)
California regulators are conducting more thorough analyses of Silicon Valley data center operations to determine if they are consistent with the state’s climate policies. (S&P Global)

RENEWABLE ENERGY: A recent study indicates Facebook’s new data center in New Mexico is an example of how renewable energy commitments can benefit local economies. (Utility Dive)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES:
• A Southern California utility creates a vehicle-to-grid demonstration project, aiming to validate that electric vehicles can reduce customers’ electric bill. (Inside EVs)
• A rural Washington transit agency becomes the first in the U.S. to reach 50 MW-hours of wireless charging of its electric bus fleet. (Mass Transit Magazine)

SOLAR:
• California’s 2.7 GW Westlands Solar Park, one of the world’s largest solar power plants, is expected to start power generation in late 2021. (Power Technology)
• Arizona will lose 4,000 solar jobs by June because of the coronavirus crisis according to a new analysis. (Phoenix Business Journal)

OIL & GAS:
In clarifying a decision overturning Washington’s effort to regulate oil trains, the Trump administration says states “cannot use safety as a pretext for inhibiting market growth.” (DeSmog)
A report says New Mexico has one of the worst track records in the U.S. on oil and gas enforcement, but notes improvement. (Carlsbad Current-Argus)
New Mexico regulators say new rules aiming to crack down on methane emissions are being crafted, but environmental groups and the oil and gas industry disagree on the approach being taken. (Associated Press, Carlsbad Current-Argus)

UTILITIES:
Boulder, Colorado’s mayor says the city’s partnership with Xcel Energy could allow it to reach its 100% renewable goals by procuring power from other companies to supplement Xcel’s offerings. (Boulder Weekly)
Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality releases a preliminary emission reduction plan that would exclude electric utilities from a cap-and-reduce program. (Utility Dive)

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NUCLEAR: The nominee for deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy claims the Trump administration has no plans to use Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste storage site, contradicting a statement he made in February. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

COMMENTARY:
An advocacy group calls for tougher setbacks for oil and gas operations and says Honolulu’s new building code will have both environmental and economic benefits. (Natural Resources Defense Council)
A Seattle advocate for transit riders says the drop in emissions during the coronavirus crisis offers hope for the climate. (Crosscut)

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