Energy policy — coalbed methane: SB 10-165, Adjust Oil And Gas Well Regulation

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From the Cortez Journal (Joe Hanel):

[Senate Bill 10-165] (pdf) passed the Senate Agriculture Committee 6-0 on Wednesday. Sen. Bruce Whitehead, D-Hesperus, voted yes… SB165 extends the [March 31 deadline to file a substitute water supply plan] until August, because the state engineer’s office was facing a flood of paperwork.

Meanwhile the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s construction fund avoided being dried up completely as the legislature moves to pass a budget bill. Here’s a report from Joe Hanel writing for The Durango Herald. From the article:

A year ago, the Colorado Water Conservation Board had two of the richest bank accounts in the state government. But after the recession arrived, the Legislature took $107 million from the accounts. Today the balance stands at about $19 million, and the Legislature’s budget writers had plans to take that, too…

But Gov. Bill Ritter’s Department of Natural Resources rebelled, and a bipartisan group of representatives joined to defeat the effort on a 39-22 vote…

The spat was a sideshow to the major work the House did Wednesday – cutting hundreds of millions out of this year’s budget. Wednesday’s bills bring the total cuts to about $2 billion. And there’s more to come. In March, the Legislature will take up the 2010-11 budget, which needs an added $1 billion in cuts. For the most part, Wednesday’s work formalized cuts that Gov. Bill Ritter proposed last year. The savings come from eight unpaid days off for state workers and cuts in payments to Medicaid doctors and caretakers of disabled people. The plan also takes $64 million in gas and oil taxes that had been earmarked for local governments.

More 2010 Colorado legislation coverage here.

Energy policy — nuclear: President Obama promises $8.3 billion for new nuclear facilities

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From USA Today (Julie Schmit):

The guarantees will help fund two reactors in eastern Georgia which, if licensed and built, could begin running in 2016 and 2017, supplying electricity to 1.4 million people. More money is coming. The Department of Energy has $18 billion to dole out, and Obama, in his 2011 budget, asked that the number be tripled to $54.5 billion, enough to help fund six to 10 reactors. Obama says more nuclear power, which doesn’t emit greenhouse gases and produces 20% of the nation’s electricity, is needed for the U.S. to meet greenhouse gas emission goals and keep pace with others, such as China, Japan and France, which are investing heavily in nuclear.

New construction in the U.S. nuclear industry stopped after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. But Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that the U.S. pioneered nuclear energy and has sat on the sidelines for too long. “It’s time to take the lead once again,” he said…

Opponents also say that federal subsidies should be reserved for new industries. Nuclear “should be able to stand on its own feet,” says Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. He fears a repeat of the 1970s and early 1980s, when the industry overstated power demands and underestimated costs, resulting in dozens of canceled plants. Of 26 new nuclear reactor license applications submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission since 2007, 19 have been delayed or canceled, says Mark Cooper, senior fellow at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School. “The technologies aren’t ready for prime time, and the economics aren’t there,” he says.

More nuclear coverage here and here.