GREEN FEES: Both the Oregon and Washington legislatures are considering bills imposing fees on electric car owners, moves designed to make up for revenue that's lost when drivers don't pay gas taxes because they don't use gas. The bills have key legislators behind them. In Washington, the transportation committee chairs in both houses of the legislature support a $100-a-year fee, the Seattle Timesreports . The Register Guard
reports that Oregon's bill, which would charge electric car drivers six cents for every 10 miles they drive, is the product of a task force that has been studying alternatives to the gas tax for years. Virtually every state has struggled to pay for transportation projects in recent years, as more fuel-efficient vehicles have cut into gas tax revenue.
REVERSAL ON RENEWABLES:
Three years ago, Missouri voters approved a ballot measure requiring the state's utilities to derive 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2021. The state's Public Service Commission drafted rules stipulating that the renewable energy had to be sold only to Missouri customers. But this created a legislative backlash, and the commission abandoned its position in January. Now the legislature has sent Governor Jay Nixon a bill eliminating any geographic requirement, the Kansas City Star
reports . That means the utilities can purchase renewable energy credits from other states as long as they make it to 15 percent.
JUDGING CAP-AND-TRADE: California 's landmark greenhouse gas law, AB 32, survived a challenge at the ballot box last fall, but now it's in a court fight. A state judge issued a preliminary ruling last week that the California Air Resources Board didn't adequately review alternatives before approving a cap-and-trade emissions control system to implement AB 32. The judge, however, did give the board the opportunity to present additional information before he made a final ruling, the New York Times
reports . California's law would cap greenhouse gas emissions from all sources next year — unlike the Northeast's Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which is a cap-and-trade system focused only on power plants.
WATER WARS ENDURE: Georgia 's new governor wants to build more reservoirs and Alabama 's new governor isn't happy about it, as the Southeast's two-decade water dispute continues even with different political leadership. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
reports that Georgia Governor Nathan Deal's budget includes $46 million for new reservoirs, but Alabama Governor Robert Bentley doesn't want Georgia building them without consulting his state first. Key water sources for Alabama and Florida start out in Georgia, and those downriver states have led the fight in court to limit Georgia's water consumption.
POLITICAL FOOTBALL: Before their Super Bowl win in Dallas, the Green Bay Packers won a victory in Madison, as Wisconsin lawmakers agreed to allow retail development on a wetland near the team's Lambeau Field home. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
reports that the legislature, with the support of Governor Scott Walker, took the unusual step of bypassing the state's normal permitting process, angering environmental groups. The Wisconsin Wetlands Association had been challenging the project, but no longer will be able to make its case against the development, which is part of the Packers' plans to build a retail and entertainment area near the stadium. Wisconsin lawmakers are hoping to lure Bass Pro Shops to the location, even though the company announced in January it wouldn't build on wetlands.