Western Energy News

Trump plan could open Alaskan wildlife refuge to drilling next year

NOTE TO READERS: Western Energy News is taking a break for the holidays. The daily digest will return on Wednesday, January 2.

OIL & GAS: With the release of a draft environmental study, the Trump administration is moving closer to opening an Alaskan wildlife refuge to drilling, possibly by the end of next year. (New York Times)

ALSO: During his final days in office, the outgoing New Mexico land commissioner is discouraging drilling in a biologically-rich part of the state. (Alamogordo Daily News)

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COAL: The Navajo Nation could lose $170 million over the next decade from its investment in an New Mexico coal plant, according to an energy research group. (KNAU)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES:
• A San Francisco-area startup is producing a portable charger for electric vehicles that it says won’t stress the grid. (Greentech Media)
• A legal settlement between Volkswagen and Washington state will yield the first ever electric bus for the public transportation agency serving the cities of Richland, Kennewick and Pasco. (Tri-City Herald)

POLITICS:
 The Arizona congressman who is the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee says he still wants to investigate how the Interior Department strayed from its original mission despite Ryan Zinke’s resignation as secretary. (Washington Post)
• A Utah congressman is blocking a bipartisan effort to pass a package of public lands legislation over his state’s ability to block national monument designations. (The Hill)
• Colorado native and current Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt wants to succeed his former boss Ryan Zinke, colleagues say. (Grand Junction Daily Sentinel)

NUCLEAR: Nevada lawmakers appear to have stopped a last-minute attempt to include funding in a stopgap spending bill for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

SOLAR: A Utah solar company has filed a countersuit against the New Mexico Attorney General’s office which accused it of fraud, unfair business practices and racketeering. (Deseret News)

REGULATION:
• An outgoing Montana utility regulator talks about where he thinks the future of clean energy is headed in the West. (High Country News)
• New Mexico’s incoming energy secretary says securing a sufficient budget for her department and implementing the new governor’s vision for clean energy are among her top priorities. (New Mexico Political Report)

HYDROPOWER: A new study from Stanford University shows that when droughts sap hydropower production, Western states typically turn to fossil fuels and produce more carbon dioxide emissions. (Stanford News)

COMMENTARY:
• Utah lawmakers need to transition from a gas tax to a mileage tax to encourage people to drive less, says a columnist for the Deseret News.
• Colorado should adopt a zero-emission vehicle standard to reduce harmful air pollution, says a Fort Collins pulmonologist. (The Coloradoan)

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