Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline Falters
By Josh Goodman, Staff Writer
END OF THE LINE? Two energy companies have given up on plans to build a $35 billion natural gas pipeline from Alaska to other states, a decision that highlights the challenges facing a separate pipeline proposal supported by Alaska's state government. BP and Conoco Phillips said they weren't able to find enough interest from potential customers to justify the project's enormous cost, the Anchorage Daily News reports . The BP and Conoco Phillips project was a competitor to a joint effort between pipeline company TransCanada and Exxon Mobil, for which Alaska has offered up to $500 million in subsidies. So far, that effort has stalled for the same fundamental reason the BP/Conoco Phillips effort didn't get off the ground: Natural gas prices are low, which calls into doubt the economics of building the pipeline.
CLIMATE FREEZE: As a result of the election of Republican Governor Rick Scott, a climate change skeptic, Florida 's Department of Environmental Protection has given up work to mitigate global warming, the St. Petersburg Times reports . "DEP is not pursuing any programs or projects regarding climate change," an agency spokesperson told the Times . That's a major reversal from the administration of Scott's predecessor, Charlie Crist, who signed an executive order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a level 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Most Florida legislators share Scott's approach. They passed a bill this year to disband the Florida Energy and Climate Commission, which was formed under Crist.
REVIEW OF REVIEWS: Without placing his signature on the legislation, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer has permitted enactment of a law that will make it more difficult for environmental challenges to succeed in court. The legislation limits the scope of state environmental reviews and says that courts can't stop development projects while they're considering cases about the adequacy of the reviews. In announcing his decision, Schweitzer said that he still thinks the legislation is flawed and pledged to work to make changes to it.
BURNING ISSUE: Over the objections of environmental groups, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley has signed a bill to define burned trash as a renewable energy source on par with wind and solar power. The move will allow energy generated from waste-burning plants to count toward the state's renewable portfolio standard, the Baltimore Sun reports . Environmentalists objected that the legislation would discourage development of wind and solar, which they consider cleaner. O'Malley said, however, that the state will need as many alternatives as possible to meet its goal of receiving 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2022.PORK-CHOPPER: Intent on fighting the proliferation of feral hogs, Texas legislators have passed a bill that allows recreational hunters to shoot the swine from helicopters, the Texas Tribune reports . The hogs, which often weigh hundreds of pounds, damage crops, livestock and property. Estimates of Texas' feral hog population range from 1.5 million to 3 million. Already, landowners can rent helicopters to shoot the hogs, but under the new legislation, they'd also be allowed to sell helicopter space to sport hunters to help defray the costs. The "pork-chopper" bill, as it's become known, now goes to Governor Rick Perry.