The NCSL Blog


By Kristen Hildreth

A state’s energy mix, the protection of navigable waters, using farmland for solar development, legislative trends in traffic safety and state efforts to meet clean air standards will be discussed in detail during NCSL’s Natural Resources and Infrastructure Committee’s annual Spring Webinar Series beginning April 23 and continuing through June 18.

scenic river viewA roundup of this year's series:

April 23 | Who Decides a State’s Energy Mix?

That question is on the minds of policymakers after two recent decisions by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). According to the Federal Power Act, decisions about the energy mix are left up to the states, although a state's ability to shape the energy mix—through mandates and financial incentives—could be harmed by FERC's recent decisions. The Commission's Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR) has garnered the most attention due to its potential impact on the nation's largest electricity market. The MOPR order requires state-backed resources bid into regional capacity markets at inflated prices, which will raise prices for resources like renewables and nuclear, while making others, such as coal plants, more competitive. The debate over how regional markets should interact, and whether they should counteract, state policy has been raging for years. Join us to hear more about how the order impacts states and what actions they may be taking in response. Register now.

May 7 | New WOTUS Rule & States Response to Jurisdictional Changes

The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released the “The Navigable Waters Protection Rule,” which updates the federal definition for a “Waters of the United States,” more commonly referred to as a WOTUS.​ The now final rule outlines four clear categories of jurisdictional waters that would be considered a WOTUS, significantly reducing the number of waters under federal jurisdiction. Join us as we learn a bit about the new rule, and how states are responding. Register now.

May 21 | Solar on Agricultural Lands–Preserving Pollinator Habitat and Soil Health

The interest in using farmland for solar development has grown in recent years, spurred by a rapid decline in solar prices and an increase in aggressive state renewable energy standards. As interest in farmland solar has grown so has the concern over its potential environmental and food impacts, and in particular its impacts on pollinators. A fourth of U.S. agriculture production relies on bees, which have seen record declines in recent years, pushing many species close to extinction. Fields that are cleared for solar installations can harm pollinators that depend on vegetation for habitat and food. Solar installations can also harm soil health by increasing erosion. Can agriculture, solar and pollinators coexist in a way that benefits all three? This webinar will explore this question, highlighting state efforts to implement environmentally friendly solar siting policies for agricultural lands.​ Register now.

June 4 | State Legislative Trends: Traffic Safety

How are state legislatures responding to the 37,000 or so deaths on American roadways each year? Join NCSL experts for an overview of notable legislative trends related to impaired and distracted driving, school bus and bicyclist safety and automated enforcement and more. Register now.

June 18 | What’s Exceptional? State Efforts to Meet Clean Air Standards

States are required to meet clean air standards established under the Clean Air Act (CAA), even as they combat increasing air quality issues due to unusual, or naturally occurring events. In order to help states determine if air quality monitoring data has been influenced by such an event, the Environmental Protection Agency established the Exceptional Events Rule in 2016. That final rule, which not only outlined the criteria for EPA’s approval of the exclusion of event-influenced air quality data, but also issued requirements for air agencies to take appropriate and reasonable actions to protect public health from exceedances or violations of the national ambient air quality standards, was updated by the agency this past February. The update revised certain sections that govern the exclusion of event-influenced air quality data as the CAA recognizes that it may not be appropriate to use data influenced by “exceptional” events such as wildfires, high wind dust events, prescribed fires and volcanic and seismic activities. Join us as we look at the tools states have in their toolbox to meet clean air standards and protect human health as they address emissions from increasingly frequent and severe wildfires, other natural events and from various industries. Register now.

NCSL Webinars allow attendees to participate in meetings taking place around the world from the comfort of their desks. They are collaborative, interactive, easy to use, and free of charge. Most webinars will be recorded for those who are unable to attend the live meeting.

In order to attend any of the webinars, you must first register to participate, most registration periods will close a day prior to the webinar, or when max capacity is reached so sign up now here. For those who missed out on last year’s series, check out all the information, including recordings.

Kristen Hildreth is a senior policy specialist with NCSL's National Resources and Infrastructure Committee.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.