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Big utilities try to tilt solar energy market in their favor

Indiana’s energy utilities want state lawmakers to pass a law that critics say would muscle out smaller companies from the emerging solar energy market. Solar power provides only about 1 percent of the country’s energy, but the industry is growing rapidly, with figures showing it employed 208,859 workers in 2015. That amounts to a 125 percent increase since 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. But much of the growth has come from homeowners or businesses taking advantage of its bill-lowering potential.

Solar leases could conflict with key tax break for some Michigan farmers

As interest grows in developing Michigan agricultural land for solar energy, some farmers may have to choose between keeping tax incentives for preserving farmland or leasing their property to solar developers. Under a state program that provides an annual state income tax break for maintaining farmland, property owners can not do both, state officials say.

With veto override, Md. legislature enacts stronger green-energy standards

Despite vigorous opposition from the popular Republican governor, the Maryland Senate voted 32 to 13 on Thursday to override Hogan’s veto of a bill to boost the state’s use of renewable energy.  The House of Delegates voted to reverse the veto earlier this week. That means the measure — which requires Maryland to obtain 25 percent of its energy from wind, solar and other renewable sources by 2020, instead of ­20 percent by 2022 — will become law.

The contradictions at the heart of the fight over methane rules

In 2014, Colorado became the first state to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas drilling, with the goal of shrinking its carbon footprint and improving local air quality. While a couple industry trade groups fought the rules, some producers, including Encana, Devon Energy and Anadarko, supported the measures. They even helped write the rules with the state and the Environmental Defense Fund. A couple years in, even the trade groups agree that the rules are reasonable and effective.

With veto override, Md. legislature enacts stronger green-energy standards

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan may have the approval ratings. But the Democrats who control both houses of the state legislature have the votes.  Despite vigorous opposition from the popular Republican governor, the Maryland Senate voted 32 to 13 on Thursday to override Hogan’s veto of a bill to boost the state’s use of renewable energy. The House of Delegates voted to reverse the veto earlier this week. That means the measure — which requires Maryland to obtain 25 percent of its energy from wind, solar and other renewable sources by 2020, instead of ­20 percent by 2022 — will become law.

Two Michigan counties pause wind development to sort out local regulations

In the past two months, two rural Michigan counties have adopted one-year moratoriums on wind development, though they appear to be in vastly different positions when it comes to regulatory experience. On December 29, Huron County in Michigan’s Thumb region — also known as the state’s wind capital due to the comparatively high density of turbines there — enacted a one-year moratorium for areas that fall under county zoning laws.

Groups Line Up Arrows at EPA Over RFS Implementation

The future of how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency implements the Renewable Fuel Standard is at the epicenter of a federal court case set for oral arguments April 24 in Washington, D.C.  This week a number of groups filed briefs with the U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit challenging EPA's management of the RFS on a number of fronts. Though Congress may at some point consider changing the RFS, the lawsuit originally filed by Americans for Clean Energy attempts to force the agency to apply the law as the groups believe was intended.

Biofuels can solve ag crisis

In November, the EPA made a sound decision to fully enforce the Renewable Fuel Standard and improve options for American-made biofuels at the pump. That commitment must remain strong as a new Congress takes effect this year. We must grow consumers’ access to E15 — a 15 percent ethanol blend —  by removing arbitrary restrictions during the summer driving season. E15 could provide a market for up to 2 billion bushels of corn to stabilize commodity prices.

States Expected to Continue Course Toward Clean Energy Future

In Wyoming, Republican Gov. Matt Mead is counting on a state-funded research center set to open this year to find a way to produce energy from coal without releasing carbon dioxide into the environment. In Kansas, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is eyeing new wind farms to bring jobs and economic growth. And in Ohio, Republican Gov. John Kasich says the state needs to support renewable energy to stay competitive and reduce electricity costs.

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