December 14, 2018
Scientific understanding of the risks greenhouse gases pose to public health and welfare has strengthened in the decade since the EPA made its landmark "endangerment finding," a new report from scientists and legal scholars shows. Even as the evidence piles up, the Trump administration continues to try to roll back climate policies.
Hurricane Harvey Report Seeks to 'Future-Proof' Texas from Climate Change Without Saying so Directly
Over a year after Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas, a state commission has released its recommendations for protecting the state from the next major hurricane. While the report notes that sea levels are rising and storms are becoming more frequent and severe, it doesn't directly acknowledge climate change or its main underlying cause, the burning of fossil fuels.
A major wind farm development faces opposition from the Rhode Island Fishermen Advisory Board. Company officials say they're willing to compromise, but that any delays in the project would force them to forfeit key tax credits, potentially dooming the project.
Companies competing for the opportunity to install wind turbines in Atlantic waters off Massachusetts shattered records in an auction that started Thursday. After 24 rounds of sealed bidding, companies had already pledged $285 million toward three offshore wind leases, more than six times the previous high, Bloomberg reports.
The number of new U.S. solar installations fell 15 percent in the third quarter, largely as a result of the Trump administration's tariffs policies, an industry groups says. But analysts expect the current weakness in the utility-scale market to be offset by larger volumes over the next five years because of low solar prices, the report said.
There are signs that homeowners in wildfire-prone areas could see their deductibles increase or their home insurance cancelled as global warming increases wildfire risk, CBS News reports. House fires have traditionally been covered. But "the standard assumption of wildfire being a 'secondary' peril may evolve in the future," said Steve Bowen of the insurance company Aon.
A federal appeals court has blocked a permit that would have allowed a natural gas pipeline through two national forests. In their ruling, the three judge-panel wrote this: "We trust the United States Forest Service to 'speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.'"
December 13, 2018
Some of last year's weather extremes are now 2-3 times more likely because of global warming, a series of studies published by the American Meteorological Society shows. Several 2017 events would have been virtually impossible without it.
On land and at sea, the Arctic is under a relentless global warming siege. The latest Arctic Report Card shows that the region continues to warm at about twice the global average and that that's having wide-ranging effects, including toxic algae outbreaks, wildlife population declines and coastal erosion as sea ice coverage declines.
In Congress, on Facebook and in statehouses nationwide, the oil industry has been running a stealth campaign to roll back auto emissions standards, the New York Times reports.
Congress has passed an $867 billion Farm Bill that maintains $50 million in annual funding for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The program provides grants and other assistance to farmers to buy, install and build renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements.
The day after the bill hit his desk, Michigan Gov. Rick Synder signed legislation that will allow plans for a new pipeline tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac to move forward. Snyder, a Republican, is about to be replaced by Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, who has voiced opposition to the pipeline.
While the Trump White House promotes fossil fuels at the UN climate talks in Poland, another group of U.S. leaders is ready to take action on climate change. A coalition of U.S. governors and mayors is meeting with foreign officials and says it's committed to reducing greenhouse gases even if the federal government is not.
Concerned that disagreements could derail progress at the global climate talks in Poland, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged compromise and sacrifice from participating countries. The summit is scheduled to wrap up this week.
The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources has released a comprehensive plan for how to advance the state's climate goals. The plan calls for aggressive technology-based conservation, energy efficiency and peak demand reduction, as well as rapid electrification of transportation, more use of air-source heat pumps, and other efforts.
Technology investments and falling prices are expected to help the wind industry add more than 680 gigawatts of capacity worldwide in the next decade, more than doubling the total global installed capacity at the end of 2017, according to new forecasts from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables.
December 10, 2018
Four top oil-producing countries—the U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait—refused during international climate talks over the weekend to endorse the findings of a landmark report on the global warming from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
As solar and heat pump prices fall, these highly energy-efficient homes are paying for themselves faster. Here's how they work and why they're spreading northward.
Investors managing $32 trillion in assets are urging cuts in carbon emissions and the phasing out of all coal burning. They warn failure to act could lead to a financial crash several times worse than the 2008 crisis. The investors sounding the alarm include some of the world's biggest pension funds, insurers and asset managers.
Democrats who captured gubernatorial seats in the midterm elections are planning for environmental action as the White House continues its environmental policy rollbacks. The governors' plans include cap-and-trade systems, new state climate agencies and encouraging clean energy development.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's carbon tax push is facing significant opposition, including strong dissent from several provinces. In the background of discussions are an election next fall and the violent protests in France.
Putting a price on carbon has been an idea with some amount of bipartisan support in Washington for decades. But taxes on greenhouse gases are proving a hard sell with the public, even as time to head off disastrous climate change shrinks.
Construction on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline could be delayed for months after a federal court ordered work stopped on the 600-mile interstate natural gas project. The court is reviewing federal permits which had cleared the way for pipeline construction in sensitive habitats that are home to four endangered species.
December 7, 2018
From wind power maintenance to energy efficiency upgrades, clean energy job opportunities outnumber fossil fuel work in much of the rural Midwest, a new report shows. The numbers reflect the importance of clean energy to rural employment and underscore the need for government policies that are supportive of clean energy, the authors say.
A plan approved by the Cincinnati City Council this week makes it the 100th city in the U.S. to commit to getting all of its electricity from renewable sources, PV Magazine reports. The city of approximately 300,000 will aim to be completely transitioned by 2035. Read more from ICN about a similar move this year by Cleveland.
A group of leading economists and engineers write in the journal Science that the Trump administration's proposal to roll back fuel economy standards relies on an error-ridden and misleading analysis that overestimates the costs and understates the benefits of tighter regulations.
The Trump administration announced plans to strip protections for the sage grouse in a move to open 9 million acres to drilling and mining. Oil companies have fought protections for the imperiled ground-nesting bird, which they saw as an obstacle to exploiting rich resources in the West.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer writes in an op-ed in the Washington Post that any infrastructure bill will have to address climate change. The list he's sending to the president includes investments in renewable energy infrastructure and ensuring new electric grid, water and wastewater infrastructure investments are climate-resilient.
As climate talks proceed in Poland, some areas of negotiation have been more difficult than others. Among the points of contention: how much flexibility developing countries will have when it comes to reporting their emissions and how much aid rich countries will provide to them.
Taken together, the emissions produced by the United States and China account for more than 40 percent of the global total. But tension between the two countries threatens to slow global action on climate change at a time when the risks are accelerating, The New York Times writes.