Congress Reconvenes After Midterm Elections

Progressives and environmentalists are upping the pressure on the Obama administration to increase the fees that energy companies pay to extract fossil fuels from the federal lands. “The advocates and their Democratic allies in Congress say they’re out to ensure taxpayers get a fair return for the minerals the government owns, while better protecting the environment and being fair to other industries.

The coalition pushing for higher rates can now count Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton as one of its allies after she highlighted the issue earlier this month as she formally launched her campaign.”[The Hill]

A key vote fossil fuel divestment vote has passed in California’s state senate, allowing the state’s largest pension funds to divest from thermal coal was passed this week. “The California Public Employee Retirement System (Calpers) and the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) are the US’s largest pension funds, holding $299bn (£190bn) and $193bn in respective assets. Calpers currently holds at least $100m in at least 20 thermal coal mining companies.

“Coal is the dirtiest of all fossil fuels, now being outcompeted by renewables and natural gas. It’s incredibly harmful to our children’s lungs and our atmosphere,” said Senator Kevin de León.” [The Guardian]

The Alaska Energy Authority has issued a request for a $50,000-$100,000 study to assist in determining if LNG is a viable long-term solution for affordable energy in communities that will not have direct access to the proposed North Slope natural gas pipeline. “Senate Bill 138, passed in 2014, directed AEA to propose a plan and supporting legislation by Jan. 1, 2017, for improving energy affordability for communities that will not have direct access to the proposed gas pipeline.

The legislation also established the Affordable Energy Fund, which would use part of the revenue from a North Slope natural gas pipeline to develop infrastructure to deliver affordable energy to communities that don’t have access to a gas pipeline from the North Slope.” [Alaska Dispatch News]