March 13, 2019
The Trump administration has advanced a plan that would increase the use of ethanol in gasoline. The proposal would allow year-round sale of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol, which is higher than the most common current blends. Summer sales of E15 had been restricted because it was found to contribute to increased ground-level ozone and smog in warmer months.
Members of the AFL-CIO's Energy Committee say they have concerns that the Green New Deal resolution in Congress could lead to job losses. Opposition from organized labor, a key constituency for Democrats, would complicate attempts by Democrats to mobilize support for the plan.
San Francisco officials are studying the possibility of creating their own utility by acquiring some of the assets of the bankrupt PG&E. One city leader says the city should take this opportunity to address climate change by creating a utility that relies 100 percent on renewable energy.
A program that encourages landlords to improve their energy efficiency has cut the utility bills of renters by as much as $72 million a year, according to Fannie Mae. The government-controlled mortgage company says in a new report that about 550,000 renters had an average savings of about $145 per year over the past six years.
March 12, 2019
Climate change in the American West may be crossing an ominous threshold, making parts of the region inhospitable for native ponderosa pine and Douglas fir forests to regrow after wildfires, new research suggests. Wildfires in these areas could lead to abrupt ecosystem changes that would otherwise take decades to centuries.
The Trump administration's latest budget proposal would radically reduce new spending on federal programs for advancing clean energy. Congress has rejected deeps cuts in the past, but the proposal shows the administration doubling down on its retreat from the U.S. advancing clean energy.
Flood insurance premiums could rise and property values fall in high-risk areas under a Trump administration plan to change the way risk is calculated under the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA plans to use private-sector data, rather than simply focusing on flood maps.
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says he is ruling out any re-opening of talks between the Trump administration and California over proposed changes to federal vehicle emissions standards. California, which currently has an exemption to set to higher standards, has threatened to sue.
As infrastructure talks progress on Capitol Hill, Democrats are calling for any legislative package to address climate change. Some observers think Republicans in areas hit by extreme weather may support climate components if they're framed in terms of resilience.
President Trump's budget also seeks cuts to a number of scientific and medical research enterprises, including a 13 percent cut to the National Science Foundation and a 12 percent cut at the National Institutes of Health. The NSF funds roughly a quarter of all federally supported basic science and engineering research in the U.S.
A battle is erupting over a proposed 23-mile natural gas pipeline that would pass under Lower New York Bay, with opponents claiming it would lock in planet-warming emissions for decades while proponents say it would allow thousands of New Yorkers to switch from oil to gas heat. The underwater pipeline would link infrastructure in New Jersey to the Rockaways.
The InsideClimate News investigative series Harvesting Peril: Extreme Weather and Climate Change on the American Farm has won first place for best series and best feature in the North American Agricultural Journalists 2019 writing contest. Read the four-part series and see the graphics here.
March 11, 2019
Hundreds of avalanches roared down Colorado mountainsides last week, some burying cars on highways. Snow scientists say extreme avalanche risks are among the accelerating impacts of climate change. Several mountain regions in the U.S. and Europe have started preparing for worse.
Legislators in Ohio are considering a bailout for the state's two nuclear power plants after candidates supported by the powerful utility FirstEnergy won key positions in state government. Could the pending bill could also present an opportunity for renewable energy?
More than 1.8 million acres of California wildland burned last year, the highest in recorded state history according to the National Interagency Coordination Center. More than 100 people were killed and 17,000 homes were destroyed in the state in 2018.
President Trump formally nominated former oil lobbyist David Bernhardt to lead the Interior Department on a permanent basis. Read more from ICN about Bernhardt's work at Interior as deputy before he became acting secretary and how his former clients got policy changes they wanted.
After a two-year review, the Norwegian government has recommended that the country's $1 trillion wealth fund sell its holdings in a group of companies that focus on finding and producing oil and gas to "reduce the vulnerability of our common wealth to a permanent oil price decline." While it stopped short of divesting of major energy companies like Exxon and Shell, the move is still likely to increase concern among investors.
After years when Detroit was Ground Zero for skepticism about electric vehicles, the hometown of the auto industry has become a hub of EV action. The trend is attracting new companies looking for engineering talent and it's bringing jobs.
The de Blasio administration is exploring building out new land into the East River to protect lower Manhattan from storm surges as sea level rises, according to a city planning document obtained by Gothamist.
Costa Rica wants to wean itself from fossil fuels by 2050. Leading the charge is urban planner and first lady Claudia Dobles. The country already has a head start in its electric sector, where power comes largely from renewable sources, and its forests, a carbon sink. Transportation, the largest source of emissions, will likely be the biggest challenge.
An ice skating race on more than 100 miles of canals through the Netherlands is wildly popular, but it can only be held when conditions allow. The last time that happened was 1997. Climate change has endangered the race and is slowly dousing hopes for its future.
March 7, 2019
Not long ago, a carbon tax was the untouchable third rail of climate politics. Ironically, President Trump may have helped usher in an era when carbon taxation is politically thinkable. Two plans are gaining traction. Here's what each would do, and why the oil industry supports one of them.
The Greenland Ice Sheet has been getting more rain, even in winter, a new study shows. That's a problem for coastal cities around the world, as Bob Berwyn explains.
The Trump administration is again seeking deep cuts to the U.S. Energy Department division charged with renewable energy and energy efficiency research, Bloomberg reports. Citing an unidentified official, Bloomberg reports that the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy would see about a 70 percent cut in Trump's next budget proposal, expected next week.
Republicans took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to lambast the Green New Deal on Wednesday, saying taking action on climate change is too expensive. They didn't mention the health, environmental and subsidy costs of fossil fuels. Sen. Edward Markey, one of its Democratic supporters, asked them why they were propagating a "bogus number made up by the Koch brothers."
As climate change becomes a hotter topic in classrooms, climate deniers and their political allies are trying harder to stop schools from educating students about the science. Some of the more than a dozen measures proposed this year have failed. Many are encouraged by the Heartland Institute and Discovery Institute.
The Geneva International Motor Show opened to the public today with the strongest, most varied line-up of close-to-market-ready electric vehicles in its history.
Two key factors that keep people from taking action on climate change, identified a decade ago by an American Psychological Association task force, have stood the test of time: habit and a feeling of a lack of control. David Wallace-Wells hits this note in his new book, too, writing, "We seem most comfortable adopting a learned posture of powerlessness."
March 6, 2019
White House's Plan to Deny Climate Science Reports ‘Will Erode Our National Security,’ Former Military, Intelligence Officials Warn
More than four dozen former military and intelligence officials wrote to President Trump rebuking his administration's plan to try to deny the government's own findings that climate change poses a threat to national security, warning that it's "dangerous to have national security analysis conform to politics."
The Trump administration's efforts to undo rules aimed at reducing greenhouse gases would lead to a rise in annual emissions and thousands more American deaths, according to a report from New York University Law School that looked at the government's own estimates. A separate report from the GAO the rollbacks threaten to waste taxpayer dollars, too.