February 22, 2019
The Trump administration announced Thursday that it has broken off talks with the California Air Resources Board over vehicle fuel-efficiency standards and is on track to roll back standards. The decision sets the stage for what could be a lengthy legal battle over the state's long-standing ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
European Commission Head Pledges Billions for Climate Initiatives in Speech with Swedish Student Leader
The European Union should spend hundreds of billions of euros combating climate change during the next decade, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Thursday in a speech alongside 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who has inspired a global youth movement for climate action. Juncker pledged that 25 percent of the EU's 1 trillion euro budget over seven years will go toward action to mitigate climate change.
Arizona Public Service announced that it will install 850 megawatts of energy storage by 2025, much of it paired with solar arrays. It's the latest big energy storage move. Read about others in this week's Clean Economy Weekly.
The resolution to get to 100 percent renewable power by 2050 also sets milestones for Florida's capital city, including having all-electric city vehicles and buses by 2035. It's the latest city to make a 100 percent clean energy commitment.
February 21, 2019
A lengthy ethics complaint filed by the Campaign Legal Center describes "a disturbing pattern of misconduct" at the Interior Department, including meetings that violate the White House's own ethical pledge and good governance standards. It focuses on six political appointees who are part of a powerful group connected to fossil fuel and conservative lobbying groups.
The nation's largest coal-burning utilities paid a lobbying firm millions to fight Obama-era environmental rules, and now one of the firm's ex-partners, Bill Wehrum, is shaping those rules as the Trump administration's top air pollution regulator. Documents reveal which companies paid for services and the extent to which Wehrum was involved.
Oil, coal, natural gas and mining interests have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at Trump hotel events frequented by top administration officials, according to documents E&E News and Sierra Club. Federal workers regularly stop by what one Energy Department staffer called "Republican Disneyland."
Amazon says it will disclose its carbon footprint later this year and is pledging that half of its shipments will be net-zero carbon by 2030. The disclosures will call attention to the complexity of emissions from e-commerce.
Alabama Power Co. says it will shut down an old, polluting coal-fired power plant. A company executive says the cost of meeting federal rules, including for coal-ash disposal, are too high to justify continuing to run the plant. Read more from ICN about the widespread problem of power plant coal ash contaminating groundwater.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued a new order to reorganize the state environmental agency after her first was rejected by the Republican-controlled Legislature. The new order leaves in place two industry-dominated review panels that could overrule department decisions. Her effort to abolition those industry panels was opposed by Republicans.
China's recent ban on the import of recyclables means that tons of those items are now being burned or otherwise disposed of in the United States. This is leading to pollution concerns in places like Chester, Pennsylvania, where an incinerator receives 200 tons of material each day.
February 20, 2019
Energy analysts saw a useful experiment in last month's polar vortex: They asked what would have happened if the power grid had relied exclusively on renewable energy and how much battery storage would have been necessary. The results show how much storage would have been needed to fill the gaps.
The Trump administration is planning a panel to question whether climate change is a threat to national security, despite findings to the affirmative by the nation's defense and intelligence experts, the Washington Post reports. It would be led by William Happer, who has said carbon emissions are an asset rather than a pollutant.
Talks between California and federal officials on vehicle emissions and fuel economy standards have broken down without a deal, three people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg news.
Pollution is lingering longer over cities and summer storms are more powerful because of climate change, according to a new MIT study. Researchers found that the atmosphere's heat structure is changing in ways that drive massive weather systems in the regions where most people live.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker wants to change how the state spends proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to allow some of the money to be spent on adaptation and mitigation related to climate change, as opposed to focusing on programs that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The proposal touches on a broader policy debate about the extent to which mitigation should be part of the mix.
EPA acting administrator Andrew Wheeler in December rejected a plan from staff that would have reduced the nation's targets for ethanol and other biofuels. His actions angered oil interests and escalated a fight between two key Trump constituencies, the oil industry and corn industry.
Maine's new governor, Janet Mills, has signed an executive order ending the moratorium on wind turbine permits that her predecessor, Republican Paul LePage, imposed a year ago. A state legislative committee also approved a bill that would repeal a tax renewable energy advocates consider anti-solar.
Glencore, one of the world's biggest coal sellers, is yielding to investor pressure to limit its coal production to its current levels. "Limiting ourselves with no further growth will tighten up supplies. It should bode well for prices," its CEO said.
Republicans say they couldn't be happier that prominent Democrats are embracing the idea of a "Green New Deal." It's part of Republicans' hope that Democrats will drift so far to the left that they will be vulnerable in 2020.
February 19, 2019
Sea level rise is eating into the revenue of Annapolis's quaint coastal business district, where nuisance flooding has become an increasingly frequent problem. An innovative study estimates the economic costs here of doing nothing about climate change.
Earlier spring rains in the Arctic could double the increase in methane emissions from the region by hastening the rate of thawing in permafrost, new research shows. The findings are cause for concern because early spring rains are expected to occur more frequently as the region warms.
The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to hear what is expected to be one of the biggest environmental cases of the year: a dispute over which types of pollution discharges trigger the Clean Water Act.
Increasing deforestation and delays in changing how humans use land will cause countries to miss international targets to cut emissions, a new study warns.
A dramatic rise in atmospheric methane threatens to derail efforts to keep global temperature rise under to 2°C, a new study warns. Read more from ICN about an increase in methane from China's coal mines.
Britain plans to overhaul its recycling system, including making plastic packaging producers pay the full cost of dealing with the waste and introducing a deposit return scheme for cans and bottles.
Wally Broecker, a prominent climate scientist who brought "global warming" into common use with a 1975 paper that correctly predicted rising carbon dioxide levels would lead to pronounced warming, has died at age 87. He was among the first to recognize the thermohaline circulation, or ocean conveyor belt, and to warn a U.S. president about climate change (in 1965). "The climate system is an angry beast and we are poking it with sticks," he said in 1998.
February 15, 2019
The Tennessee Valley Authority voted to retire two aging coal-fired power plants, despite a week of intense political pressure from coal-state politicians and President Trump, who had urged the board to keep them open. The TVA concluded that the old, unreliable plants were too expensive to justify.
An Ohio River commission representing eight states has decided to keep its authority to set regional pollution standards, a victory for environmental advocates. Last summer, under pressure from industry and electricity utilities, the commission preliminarily voted to abandon its pollution control standards, only to change course this week.
‘We Don’t Have Time Anymore’: In Face of Climate Change, Young People Across Europe Are Protesting for Their Future
Tens of thousands of teenagers planned to skip school today to gather in public places across Europe to protest climate change. The event, being billed as a general strike, is part of a movement that has spread across the European Union and is expanding globally.