June 1, 2020

States Warn That Virus May Doom Climate Projects

From a first-of-its-kind underground flood wall in Connecticut to a new community for people forced to flee Louisiana's coast, climate-related projects in 13 cities and states are now in jeopardy because of Covid-19, the New York Times reports. The projects, which were created under the Obama administration, will likely get sidelined unless Congress saves them.

Fuzzy Math: How Do You Calculate Emissions From a Storage Tank When The Numbers Don’t Add Up?

Amid growing concerns that its fumes may be harming locals, a company that owns petroleum storage tanks in South Portland, Maine, showed drastic cuts in their emissions over the course of a year not by changing its practices, but by altering a key part of its emissions calculation. Reporter Sabrina Shankman looks at the company's questionable math in the latest installment of this ongoing investigative series.

Trump Administration Looks to Fast Track Logging on Public Lands

The Trump administration is proposing to fast track logging on public lands, introducing two proposals last week that would limit the environmental review of new projects. The Bureau of Land Management argues that its proposal to eliminate a 15-day public comment period on the agency's decisions would eliminate redundancies. Others say the move further cuts the public out of the conversation.

Hurricanes May Cause More Pain for Pandemic-Hit Insurers

The official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which forecasters anticipate to be above-average, could signal more steep losses for insurers and reinsurers already battered by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their underwriting and investment positions.

Climate Concerns as Siberia Experiences Record-Breaking Heat

One of the coldest regions on Earth has been experiencing a record-breaking heat wave in recent weeks amid growing fears about devastating wildfires and melting permafrost, NBC News reports. A town in Siberia's Arctic Circle registered highs of over 80 degrees Fahrenheit this week, far above the 59 degrees Fahrenheit historical average, as the whole of western Siberia basked in unseasonable warmth.

May 29, 2020

Renewables Top Coal in the U.S. for the First Time in More Than 130 Years

Renewable energy consumption in the U.S. topped coal consumption in 2019, the first time this has occurred in more than 130 years, according to new Energy Information Administration data. Last year, coal consumption fell 15 percent while renewable consumption increased by 1 percent compared to 2018. It was the sixth consecutive year in which coal consumption dropped.

‘Zombie Fires’ Erupt in Alaska and Likely Siberia, Signaling Severe Arctic Fire Season May Lie Ahead

Zombie fires—blazes that continue to smolder even while covered by snow through the winter—are erupting this year in Alaska, and likely Siberia, where scientists say vast stores of organic matter are helping wildfires that started last summer stay alive. Those still-active blazes could compound on new ones, researchers warn, making for a particularly active fire season.

California Regulators Back PG&E Bankruptcy Plan

California regulators on Thursday approved a plan that would allow the state's biggest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, to emerge from the bankruptcy case it filed last year, clearing the last major hurdle the company faced. PG&E sought bankruptcy protection in January 2019 after it amassed $30 billion in liabilities related to wildfires caused by its equipment in recent years.

International Monetary Fund Warns Investors: You're Not Ready for Climate Change

Investors worldwide are underestimating the financial risks from climate change, and companies need to start disclosing their exposure, according to the International Monetary Fund. As global temperatures rise, severe climate events may impact companies owning assets in areas hit by drought, floods, wildfires and storms, the fund said in its latest report. At present, asset prices fail to reflect the risk of extreme weather events that may cost $1 trillion annually starting in 2050, it said.

May 28, 2020

How a Contrarian Scientist Helped Trump’s EPA Defy Mainstream Science

When scientist James Enstrom published a study concluding that there was no link between fine soot air pollution and premature death, it was criticized by groups like the American Cancer Association and was drastically at odds with the consensus of medical researchers. It also helped provide the underpinning for the Trump administration's wide-ranging assault on environmental protection policy.

States Sue to Block Trump From Weakening Fuel Economy Rules

Led by California, nearly two dozen states sued the Trump administration on Wednesday over its reversal of fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks, arguing that the move is based on erroneous science, and endangers public health. The lawsuit escalates a standoff between President Trump and a coalition of Democratic states that are attempting to stop the administration's aggressive deregulation efforts.

Global Energy Investment Could Fall by $400 Billion This Year. Climate Goals Are at Risk

The coronavirus pandemic may have slashed global carbon emissions but a historic slump in global energy investment this year could threaten climate goals in the longer term, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency. Global investment could plunge by a record $400 billion this year, with spending expected to plummet across every major sector, including renewable energy.

Gas-Friendly States Are Passing Laws Barring Bans or Restrictions on Natural Gas

States friendly to oil and gas development are trying to stop more local governments from banning natural gas connections in favor of electric hookups, which are seen as more climate-friendly, Bloomberg Law reports. Lawmakers in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Arizona have all recently passed, or signed into law, bills that would ban municipalities from prohibiting gas hookups.

Chevron’s Investors Defy Board in Demanding Climate Disclosures

In a rare move against Chevron Corp.'s board, shareholders of the U.S. oil giant are calling on the company to disclose lobbying efforts and ensure that they support international goals to combat global warming, Bloomberg reports. The proposal was the only one where a majority of Chevron's investors diverged from the board's recommendations in an annual meeting held virtually Wednesday.

Climate Change Burns Its Way Up the Pop Charts

An analysis by the New York Times found at least 192 references to climate change in songs that appeared on the Billboard charts in the last two decades, with 26 appearing on the charts in the last two years. The prevalence of the theme in pop music could be a bellwether for where the world is heading in terms of tackling the climate crisis.

May 27, 2020

In Setback to Industry, the Ninth Circuit Sends California Climate Liability Cases Back to State Courts

In a double setback for the fossil fuel industry, a federal court has ruled that two climate change-related lawsuits in California be heard in lower courts—rather than federal—where experts say the suits stand a better chance of succeeding. The ruling is seen as a win for cities and counties seeking to hold the industry financially liable for the effects of climate change.

Federal Court Strikes Down 440 Oil and Gas Leases Across the West

A federal court in Montana invalidated 440 oil and gas leases sold across the West, ruling Friday the Trump administration did not properly follow an Obama-era plan to protect sage grouse habitat. The decision strikes down a 2018 memo that sought to change that plan and forces the government to return millions of dollars from the oil and gas contracts.

Clean Energy Power Line Between New York and Canada Would Help Economic Recovery, Governor Says

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling for new power lines from upstate and Canada to promote clean energy and reinvigorate the state's ravaged economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The plan includes installing cables to bring wind and solar power down from the state's rural regions to New York City and its suburbs, as well as expediting efforts to deliver hydropower from Canada.

The EU Unveiled Its Massive ‘Green Recovery’ Plan. Here’s What’s in It.

The European Commission unveiled a $826.3 billion package on Wednesday, which it says will put fighting climate change at the heart of the bloc's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Final details will be released Thursday, but a draft obtained by Reuters shows spending going toward building renovations, clean hydrogen and renewable energy, among other things.

World’s Largest All-Electric Aircraft Set for Its First Flight

The world's largest all-electric aircraft is about to take to the skies for the first time. The Cessna Caravan, retrofitted with an electric engine, is expected to fly for 20-30 minutes over Washington state on Thursday. It can cruise at a speed of 114 miles per hour and carry nine passengers, although a lone test pilot will helm its inaugural flight.

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