State Roundup: California Bag Ban, New Jersey Offshore Wind

California lawmakers rejected a bill that would have banned single-use plastic shopping bags statewide.

Some California cities already prohibit the distribution of the bags, but the bill would have made California the first state to do so. Supporters of the bill say the state uses 19 billion bags each year, and disposing of them in landfills costs $25 million. 

But some lawmakers saw it as a personal freedom issue. And the plastic bag manufacturing industry lobbied hard against the bill, as they have done in other states and municipalities where the issue has come up. They trotted out the old "job killer" label, according to an Associated Press story.

The bill’s main opponent was the Virginia-based American Chemistry Council. According to AP the group spent millions in lobbying fees, radio ads and even a prime-time television ad attacking the bag bill. The organization represents plastic bag manufacturers such as Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE: DOW) and ExxonMobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM).

In 2009, Seattle Washington residents voted down a 20-cent fee for paper and plastic bags. New York retailers are now required to collect and recycle plastic bags. But that still comes up short of bans that have been effective in Ireland, China, South Africa and Bangladesh.

New Jersey Gives Offshore Wind A Boost

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act.

The bill directs the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU)
to develop an offshore renewable energy certificate program that calls
for a percentage of electricity sold in the state to be from offshore
wind energy. This percentage would be developed to support at least
1,100 megawatts of generation from qualified offshore wind projects. 

Through
the legislation, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA)
will provide financial assistance to qualified offshore wind projects
and associated equipment manufacturers and assembling facilities.

In June, Governor Christie signed a Memorandum of Understanding with
other nine other East Coast governor’s establishing the Atlantic
Offshore Wind Energy Consortium to facilitate federal-state cooperation
for commercial wind development on the Outer Continental Shelf off of
the Atlantic coast.Three of the first five "interim policy
leases” approved by the federal government to explore offshore wind
projects are for tracts located off the coast of New Jersey.

"This is a terrific step for New Jersey,” said DEP Commissioner Bob
Martin."It makes us a leader environmentally, while at the same time
providing New Jersey with a major economic boost from jobs that surely
will be created by this green industry. Certainly, we would rather have
wind turbines, and the environmental and economic benefits they offer,
than oil rigs off the coast of New Jersey.”

Wisconsin Finalizes Wind Siting Rules

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) has completed administrative rules governing the siting of wind turbines in the state.

The rules were drafted in response to recently enacted legislation directing the PSC to outline rules specifying restrictions local governments may impose on the installation of wind energy systems.

The rules apply to projects less than 100 MW in capacity. They detail how a political subdivision can establish setback requirements, noise and shadow-flicker standards, and mechanisms that give nonparticipating landowners a stake in wind energy projects sited in their area.

Among other provisions, the rules allow local governments to require wind energy system owners
to provide monetary compensation to nonparticipating landowners located
within one-half mile of a wind turbine site.

The PSC’s rules now head to the state legislature for review.

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