September 3, 2020
Illinois has some difficult decisions to make about whether to bail out two nuclear power plants. It's part of a larger debate that highlights a major divide over the role people think nuclear should play in the transition to clean energy. That and more in the latest Inside Clean Energy by Dan Gearino.
The question of who wins the presidential election this fall likely won't determine whether the U.S. power sector transitions to carbon neutral energy sources, but it will determine when the industry achieves it, new research from financial firm Wood Mackenzie says. Joe Biden's $2 trillion climate plan could decarbonize the sector by 2035, while a Trump win could delay progress for decades.
Dozens of House Democrats are calling for the climate crisis to be a central focus of the upcoming presidential and vice presidential debates. In a letter Wednesday to the Commission on Presidential Debates, 70 lawmakers stressed that their constituents must hear from the candidates about how they plan to tackle "one of the most pressing and all-consuming issues currently facing our country."
Last month as a heat wave slammed California and the grid struggled to keep up with surging electricity demand, state regulators pleaded for help from people who managed thousands of batteries installed at utilities, businesses, government facilities and homes. It highlights what experts have predicted for years, that businesses and even homes could act as mini-power plants, running off solar.
September 2, 2020
While previous Democratic presidential candidates have voiced intentions to tackle climate change, none have offered an investment or set goals as ambitious as those in Joe Biden's plan. Take a look at Biden's climate record since he sponsored one of the first pieces of climate legislation over 30 years ago.
Insurers are expected to halt policies for homeowners in fire-prone California as climate change intensifies, leaving residents unprotected. Experts warn that this could devastate the housing market in the region—a sign of economic crises to come in a warming planet.
Alabama energy regulators voted 3-0 to increase a so-called "sun tax" by 8 percent—a monthly fee imposed by Alabama Power Co. on customers with their own solar systems. Clean-energy advocates have described the solar fee as among the most regressive solar power policies in the country.
The Louisiana coast has lost 2,000 square miles of wetlands to open water, an inundation hastened by man-made canals built to access oil wells. Many lands that have been lost are sacred, and local tribes are working with a coastal scientist to protect the remaining sites by restoring the wetlands, Southerly Magazine reports.
The California State Water Resources Control Board voted Tuesday to keep four power plants that run on fossil fuels open to provide reliable energy and avoid blackouts like those that occurred last month. The plants were slated to close at the end of the year due to their adverse impacts on marine life.
A school in Austin, Texas, is the first community college in the state to run solely on wind and solar power. This achievement is just one step the school is taking toward reducing its carbon footprint.
September 1, 2020
The Trump administration on Monday issued a proposal that would make it easier to permit oil and gas drilling operations in national forests, angering environmental groups who said the move would harm wildlife and increase greenhouse gas emissions. The proposal, released by the U.S. Forest Service, aims to streamline approval for drilling leases, permits and other key processes.
The Trump administration on Monday relaxed strict Obama-era standards for how coal-fired power plants dispose of wastewater laced with dangerous pollutants like lead and arsenic, a move environmental groups said would leave rivers and streams vulnerable to toxic contamination. The new regulation scales back what technologies utilities must use to protect waterways.
President Donald Trump’s Climate Change Record Has Been a Boon for Oil Companies, and a Threat to the Planet
Legal experts and activists agree that President Trump, beginning with his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, has done more to roll back and weaken environmental laws and regulations than any president in history. Trump has scaled back or eliminated over 150 environment measures, expanded Arctic drilling and denied climate science. We take a hard look at his record.
Along the Gulf Coast, Hurricane Laura has left more than 465,000 people without power as of Saturday, CNN reports, with the bulk of the outages in Louisiana. The power loss is especially dangerous for communities in parts of Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas that are still reeling from the storm's damage as forecasters predict continued heat waves.
Catastrophic damage to power lines and communications outages on Monday weighed on the assessments of Gulf Coast refineries and on offshore oil and gas production in the wake of Hurricane Laura, Reuters reports. Offshore oil production was down by 53 percent of the region's daily output and natural gas was down by 41 percent.
For the first time ever, solar and wind made up the majority of new power generation in the world, marking a seismic shift in how nations get their electricity, Bloomberg reports. Solar additions last year totaled 119 gigawatts, representing 45 percent of all new capacity. Together, solar and wind accounted for more than two-thirds of the additions—up from less than a quarter in 2010.
California, which imposed rolling blackouts on two days during an oppressive heat wave last month, will decide on Tuesday whether to extend the lives of four aging natural gas plants it has been seeking to retire for a decade. The vote by the State Water Resources Control Board follows a state analysis last year that identified a potential electricity capacity shortfall beginning in the summer of 2021.
August 31, 2020
No part of Alaska has been immune to President Trump's agenda to push through extraction projects, such as drilling for oil. But so far, the damage from those efforts has been mostly symbolic. We looked at the six major projects in the state to see what Trump has actually accomplished, and what the courts or a possible Biden administration may undo.
Pick almost any slice of time in the recent past and you can find clues to how climate change is jacking up dangerous weather extremes. From record heat waves to historic wildfires to the one-two punch of Hurricane Laura, in just a 10-day period, the world caught a glimpse of its future as the planet continues to warm.
Even if humanity manages to keep global warming to an average of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century, life threatening rainfall like the Carribean faced during Hurricane Laura will become up to 5 times more likely, a new study warns. The finding highlights the urgent need to tackle climate change even beyond current international climate goals.
Amid devastating California wildfires, one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the Gulf Coast in 50 years and an unprecedented "derecho" storm system in Iowa, the Republican National Convention has been devoid of any mention of climate change. Some party members worry that ignoring the issue could lose the party support from voters—especially younger conservatives.
Firefighters have made progress on containing at least two major fires ravaging California's Bay Area, as some residents have been allowed to return to their homes, The Mercury News reports. The LNU Complex and CZU Complex fires, which have burned hundreds of thousands of acres, are now at 41 percent and 33 percent containment, respectively.
Confronting a climate crisis that threatens the fossil fuel industry, oil companies are racing to make more plastic, but face markets already awash with plastics and countries reluctant to take on plastic waste. Now the industry is targeting African nations with new trade agreements to solve both of those problems, The New York Times reports.
In the wake of the police killing of George Floyd and amid ongoing racial justice protests, cities nationwide are passing resolutions aimed at tackling racial inequality. In Arlington, Texas, one such resolution, combined with mounting public pressure, has prompted lawmakers to reject a request to expand a fracked gas drilling site.
A coalition of 21 states sued the Trump administration Friday for rolling back what they say is a "rule that is, at its heart, the gutting" of America's bedrock environmental law. The White House in July finalized a rollback of the National Environmental Policy Act, which for 50 years has required the government to weigh environmental and community concerns before approving major projects on federal lands.
August 28, 2020
Intensified by the warming waters of the Gulf, Laura was the most powerful storm to hit Louisiana in 150 years—stronger than hurricanes Rita and Katrina. But a last-minute wobble to the east reduced storm surge and flooding in cities like Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Port Arthur, Texas, and spared some major population centers from further devastation.
As melting sea ice opens the Arctic to navigation, more ships are plying the loosely regulated polar waters, bringing increasing amounts of climate-warming pollution, Reuters reports. Traffic through the icy region's busiest lane along the Siberian coast increased 58 percent between 2016 and 2019. Last year, ships made 2,694 voyages on the Northern Sea Route.
Oil and gas exports from the United States have been severely disrupted by Hurricane Laura, with nearly a million barrels per day of crude exports likely reduced this week by closures of Gulf Coast terminals and disruptions at ports, Reuters reports. The hurricane also temporarily suspended operations at several liquefied natural gas facilities.
As climate change unfolds, scientists are learning that warming is uneven, with temperature records showing distinct hot spots. Now one of the fastest warming areas on the planet includes Minnesota's Iron Range, spanning the state's northern border with Canada, Minnesota Public Radio reports.
A federal appeals court has sided with environmentalists, ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency used a "pernicious loophole" when it greenlighted laxer standards for Pennsylvania's coal-fired power plants. The Sierra Club sued the EPA and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection over a permit governing the state's air quality standards.