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California cools on coal

GILLETTE -- Wyoming officials watched with interest as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday signed into law a sweeping global warming initiative that imposes the nation's first cap on greenhouse gas emissions. When the idea for such a bill was recommended about a year ago, Wyoming energy officials reacted strongly against it -- and even sent a letter to Schwarzenegger's office suggesting it may violate interstate commerce laws. Called for reaction on Wednesday, Gov. Dave Freudenthal's energy adviser, Rob Hurless, said he wasn't prepared to discuss interstate commerce concerns, but said the California law definitely is not a threat to Wyoming's ambitions to export more electricity.

GILLETTE -- Wyoming officials watched with interest as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday signed into law a sweeping global warming initiative that imposes the nation's first cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

When the idea for such a bill was recommended about a year ago, Wyoming energy officials reacted strongly against it -- and even sent a letter to Schwarzenegger's office suggesting it may violate interstate commerce laws.

Called for reaction on Wednesday, Gov. Dave Freudenthal's energy adviser, Rob Hurless, said he wasn't prepared to discuss interstate commerce concerns, but said the California law definitely is not a threat to Wyoming's ambitions to export more electricity.

"In a lot of ways, I don't think it changes any of the activities we're engaged in -- either on the transmission or generation side," Hurless said. "Part of the reason is because there are a lot of markets between here in California."

The Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, for example, is currently working with the Arizona Public Service Co. on its proposed TransWest Express project to bring some 3,000 megawatts of coal- and wind-generated electricity from... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

GILLETTE -- Wyoming officials watched with interest as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday signed into law a sweeping global warming initiative that imposes the nation's first cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

When the idea for such a bill was recommended about a year ago, Wyoming energy officials reacted strongly against it -- and even sent a letter to Schwarzenegger's office suggesting it may violate interstate commerce laws.

Called for reaction on Wednesday, Gov. Dave Freudenthal's energy adviser, Rob Hurless, said he wasn't prepared to discuss interstate commerce concerns, but said the California law definitely is not a threat to Wyoming's ambitions to export more electricity.

"In a lot of ways, I don't think it changes any of the activities we're engaged in -- either on the transmission or generation side," Hurless said. "Part of the reason is because there are a lot of markets between here in California."

The Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, for example, is currently working with the Arizona Public Service Co. on its proposed TransWest Express project to bring some 3,000 megawatts of coal- and wind-generated electricity from Wyoming to Arizona and four other Western states.

And just this summer, the city of Los Angeles, Calif., signed its first long-term contract for wind-generated electricity, which originates from FPL Energy's wind farm in Uinta County in southwest Wyoming.

"There are a lot of wind developers who are anxious to tap into the Wyoming resource base. So we think we'll see some wind development as well," Hurless said.

The California measure imposes a first-in-the-nation emissions cap on utilities, refineries and manufacturing plants in a bid to curb the gases that scientists blame for warming the Earth. Plants that burn Wyoming coal are among the polluters.

On Wednesday, Schwarzenegger called the bill signing a historic occasion.

"It will begin a bold new era of environmental protection in California that will change the course of history," he said.

Schwarzenegger and Democratic lawmakers said they expected others to follow California's lead.

"Today, we tell the rest of the world, other states and our nation that California has the courage, the know-how to turn this tide and the ability to move forward to putting an end to this creeping disaster we know as global warming," said Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles.

Also this week, Schwarzenegger is expected to sign a second Democrat-sponsored global warming bill with consequences beyond the state's borders. That bill will prohibit California's large utilities and corporations from entering long-term power contracts with suppliers whose electricity sources do not meet the state's greenhouse gas emission standards.

The measure by Sen. President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, is intended to force coal plants in the Western U.S. to install cleaner technologies.

Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California are working under a "Frontier Line" memorandum of understanding, an effort to garner support for a new high-voltage transmission system linking the states. Initially, Wyoming officials envisioned that Wyoming coal would anchor the first 6,000 megawatts of the line, making way for smaller megawatts derived from wind.

However, several Western states and cities are under aggressive deadlines to meet renewable portfolio standards, which means some of the first strands of new transmission may actually be built on wind generation.

Hurless also noted that Wyoming has also solicited interest from companies willing to launch a demonstration for integrated gasification combined cycle, or IGCC, technology in Wyoming -- a coal-based co-generation plant that would capture carbon dioxide emissions and sequester them underground.

In April, the state of California signed a declaration lending its support for Wyoming as the location of the Western IGCC demonstration project appropriated in the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

There's another reason why Wyoming officials are not alarmed by California's promise to kick its dirty coal habit: "We're happy to sell them a ton of (natural) gas," Hurless said.

Wyoming and California are already connected by the Kern River natural gas pipeline, which moves 1.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas into California daily.

"What they are effectively doing is locking their economy into a gas-fired generation economy going forward," Hurless said.

California's efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions from industry and automobiles are part of a goal to reduce the state's emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, an estimated 25 percent reduction. California is the world's 12th largest producer of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide that are trapping heat in the Earth's atmosphere.

Schwarzenegger issued an executive order in 2005 calling for an even more ambitious reduction -- cutting the levels of greenhouse gases to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Schwarzenegger said it is possible to protect the environment as well as the state's economy. He expects the law will lead to a new business sector in California devoted to developing the technologies industries can use to meet the tougher emission requirements.

"We will create a whole new industry that will pump up our economy," he said.

Energy reporter Dustin Bleizeffer can be reached at (307) 682-3388 or dustin.bleizeffer@casperstartribune.net.


Source: http://www.casperstartribun...

SEP 29 2006
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