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Gillette center eyed as ALEC members survey energy

Conservative state lawmakers who are members of the American Legislative Exchange Council meet this week in Washington to review what they see as a much more favorable landscape for energy policy under President-elect Donald Trump.

“So much state policy has been indelibly tied to the Clean Power Plan, and states have been taking a wait-and-see approach with litigation,” said John Eick, director of ALEC’s energy, environment and agriculture task force. Most now assume U.S. EPA’s climate standards for the power sector will be rescinded or overturned by the courts.

Dry Fork Station will host the Integrated Test Center, scheduled to open in summer 2017. Photo courtesy of Basin Electric Power Cooperative.

Dry Fork Station will host the Integrated Test Center, scheduled to open in summer 2017. (Basin Electric Power Cooperative)

Legislators in particular will be re-examining the need for renewable portfolio standards to push zero-carbon power, Eick said. Without the specter of the Clean Power Plan, they may not feel the standards are necessary, he said. Eick said it’s likely red and blue states will diverge more on the issue of renewable energy standards under a Trump administration.

Members will also review a paper from the Consumer Energy Alliance looking at subsidies for rooftop solar power. They will hear a presentation on research into carbon capture from coal plants in Wyoming.

[The presentation is a panel discussion about the Wyoming Integrated Test Center, a facility outside Gillette that was begun with an initial $15 million appropriation by the Wyoming legislature in 2014, along with additional funds both public and private. Jason Begger, Executive Director of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, will be one of the panel speakers. He said the Integrated Test Center, dedicated to carbon capture research, is an example of what state legislatures can do to move energy policy questions beyond the rhetoric of production versus concerns about climate change. Rep. Norine Kasperik (R, HD 32, Gillette), who is listed on ALEC’s website as a member of the group’s board of directors, asked Begger to speak at the event, he said.]

Lawmakers will also vote on a resolution supporting a permanent nuclear waste storage site at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, as Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic minority leader who has long opposed the plan, prepares to retire. Nuclear advocates have acknowledged other members may have concerns with the repository.

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The ALEC meeting is closed to the press.

Next week, the National Conference of State Legislatures will hold its Capitol Forum meeting and Lobby Day on Capitol Hill.

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