June 17, 2020

Absent From Stimulus Packages: Overhauling Energy, Climate Programs

As world leaders discuss how to pass further coronavirus-related financial relief packages, calls to integrate solutions for climate change have failed to produce results in any of the $3 trillion in aid the U.S. has passed so far. That's despite the country's history of passing big energy programs to boost the economy, such as in President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal nearly a century ago.

PG&E Pleads Guilty to 84 Counts of Manslaughter in Camp Fire Case

In a nearly empty courtroom on Tuesday, the chief executive of Pacific Gas & Electric stood in front of a judge and said the same three words more than 80 times: "Guilty, your honor." California's largest utility pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of illegally setting a fire for the deadly 2018 Camp Fire that was started by the company's poorly maintained transmission line.

Texas Could Tighten Some Natural Gas Flaring Rules by Fall

Texas as early as this fall could tighten some rules for the controversial practice of natural gas flaring, the head of the state's regulatory commission said on Tuesday. The practice of burning off unwanted natural gas has become a top issue for both environmentalists and investors, who are focused on sustainability measures and are already frustrated by a decade of poor financial returns in oil and gas.

New Jersey Wants to Become 'the Houston of American Offshore Wind'

In its quest to become the capital of the offshore wind energy industry, New Jersey is building a giant port. Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, announced on Tuesday that his state will stage construction for the colossal turbines that may one day dot the East Coast horizon as Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states rush to build more renewable energy.

June 16, 2020

Supreme Court Says Pipeline May Cross Underneath Appalachian Trail

The Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of a pipeline company in a dispute about whether a new 600-mile natural gas pipeline could cross underneath the Appalachian Trail on federal land. The 7-2 decision overturned one part of a lower court decision that had blocked construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would run from West Virginia to Virginia and North Carolina.

Scientists Warn Against Consumer Protection Nominee

President Trump's nominee to lead the Consumer Product Safety Commission is Nancy Beck, a toxicologist who currently leads chemical and pesticide regulation at the Environmental Protection Agency. But many scientists and public health experts say Beck has not adequately protected the public from toxic chemicals and pollution over the course of her career.

NOAA Chief Violated Ethics Code in Furor Over Trump Tweet, Agency Says

Neil Jacobs, the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, violated the agency's code of ethics in the fall when he rebuked employees for contradicting President Trump's inaccurate claim that a hurricane would hit Alabama, NOAA said Monday in a report. Jacobs' actions were "intentionally, knowingly, or in reckless disregard" of agency policy, the investigation said.

Deaths Related to Heat Are Rising in Arizona, New Analysis Shows

Around 900 deaths in Arizona from 1980 to 2017 can be attributed to warmer-than-average monthly temperatures, according to new scientific modeling conducted in partnership between The Center for Public Integrity and Columbia University's Earth Institute. The analysis, which shows that the state's heat-related deaths are rising, found that climate change plays a significant role.

Conservative Climate Group Runs Pro-Environment Ads on Fox News

The American Conservation Coalition, a conservative climate group, is spending six figures to run an environmentally-focused ad on Fox News in an attempt to push the administration and Congress to consider environmental issues in future coronavirus recovery legislation. The ad comes as many Republicans have expressed opposition to green strings being attached to stimulus plans.

June 15, 2020

‘Insurgent’ Plan Once Again Reveals Split in Democratic Party Over Climate Change

The Democratic National Committee's council on climate change irked party leadership when it published policy recommendations this month that ventured beyond presidential candidate Joe Biden's plan, Reuters reports. The move spotlighted once again the division within the party on climate policy, as Biden attempts to woo both younger, more progressive voters and moderates in swing states.

June 12, 2020

'Surprisingly Rapid' Rebound in Carbon Emissions Post-Lockdown

Carbon dioxide emissions have rebounded around the world as lockdown conditions have eased, raising fears that annual emissions of greenhouse gases could surge to higher than ever levels after the coronavirus pandemic ends unless governments take swift action, The Guardian reports. Daily carbon emissions are now just 5 percent below 2019 levels, an updated study found.

New Study Blames Climate Crisis for Hurricane Harvey’s $67 Billion of Damage

At least $67 billion of the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 can be attributed directly to the impacts of climate change, according to a new study that calculated how likely severe hurricanes would form under different levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Harvey caused at least $90 billion in damage, but past economic estimates only attributed about $20 billion of that to global warming.

Midwest Derecho Knocks Out Power to 650,000, Brings Winds to 80 Mph

Primed by the remnants of Tropical Storm Cristobal, a powerful line of thunderstorms swept through the Midwest on Wednesday, leaving at least 650,000 customers without electricity, The Washington Post reports. The squall line stretched for more than 400 miles from Michigan to Kentucky and produced winds of up to 70 mph, with some gusts topping 80 mph.

California Will Use Diesel This Summer to Help Keep Lights On

Despite environmental concerns, California will allow utility Pacific Gas and Electric to use diesel-powered mobile generators to keep some electricity flowing when the utility proactively cuts power to prevent live wires from sparking fires in high wind. Last fall, regulators criticized PG&E for blacking out millions of customers to help prevent fires during dry, windy conditions.

How This Strange Green Sand Could Help Reverse Climate Change

These small, green volcanic rocks, known as olivine, can pull carbon dioxide out of the air when exposed to ocean water—a chemical reaction scientists refer to as "olivine weathering." Now these researchers want to artificially scale up the production of olivine, which naturally occurs much slower, to help fight climate change.

June 11, 2020

Interior to Push Drilling in Florida Waters After November Election

The Trump administration is preparing to open the door to oil and gas drilling off Florida's coast—but will wait until after the November election to avoid blowback in a swing state whose waters both parties have long considered sacrosanct, Politico reports. The move would fulfill a long-sought goal of energy companies to tap potentially billions of barrels of oil that have been off limits since 1985.

Love is Blind: How Germany’s Long Romance With Cars Led to the Nation’s Biggest Clean Energy Failure

Germany's transition to clean energy offers rich lessons for countries seeking to fight climate change—particularly the U.S. But one of the most important lessons comes from a failure: The nation's decades-long unwillingness to cut emissions from cars and trucks. This is the second part of our Power Switch series, documenting Germany's journey to a carbon-free economy.

Inside Clean Energy: The Racial Inequity in Clean Energy and How to Fight It

In this moment of reckoning and reflection about racial inequity in our country, it's time to be forthright about the inequalities in the rapidly expanding business of clean energy. While the industry as a whole grows, most of the jobs and financial benefits continue to go toward predominately white, affluent communities. In 2019, only 7.7 percent of the solar industry's workforce was black.

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