June 20, 2018
There is an apparent disconnect between India's financial sector and its government on whether most investment in new power plants should go to coal-fired units. Coal plants received more than 70 percent of financing for new power plants last year, according to a new report.
June 19, 2018
Nashville, Little Rock, Phoenix — in cities across the country, the oil-billionaire Koch brothers are fueling a fight against public transit projects designed to get cars off the streets and improve access for everyone. "These are outside groups," said David Briley, mayor of Nashville, where a transit plan was targeted. "They don't represent Nashville's interests or values."
The EPA approved Oklahoma's permit program for disposal of toxic ash from coal plants, a switch from federal oversight and something the coal industry had sought. Environmental groups say state inaction has already contributed to widespread groundwater contamination.
Enbridge presented its final arguments to Minnesota regulators for a new Line 3 oil pipeline, arguing that it needs to build the new pipeline to ensure safety. The company offered a concession, saying it would put in place a guarantee to ensure cleanup money would be available in the event of a spill.
Scott Pruitt's EPA has rescinded its policy that had a political appointee in the press office review grants before they could be approved. It replaced the policy with a system of regional administrators or assistant administrators, most of whom are also political appointees, reviewing the grants instead.
A contentious proposal to link oversight of California's electric grid with other western states faces a crucial test today in a state Senate committee. Supporters say regionalizing the grid would make it easier and cheaper to deploy renewable energy across the western U.S., but critics worry it could jeopardize California's efforts to require the expansion of renewables.
Purchases, Permits and Route Hearings Could Stall Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion, Legal Experts Say
With over 1,000 permits unresolved, no determined basic route and as many as 25 hearings yet to be conducted, environmental law experts say completing Trans Mountain pipeline expansion could take years. Communities worry the federal government may bypass the process and impose a route. Read more from ICN on the government's purchase of the pipeline.
West Virginia has cited the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline project four times now for breaking water pollution rules. Last month, Rover Pipeline, another natural gas pipeline, agreed to pay the state $430,000 for water pollution violations, according to a consent order.
India is experiencing the worst water crisis in the country's history, with about half the population facing high to extreme water scarcity, according to a government report. Rising temperatures and dwindling rain and snowfall, along with leaky infrastructure and over pumping, are contributing to the crisis. Read more on the government report from Reuters.
June 18, 2018
U.S. property losses could run into the hundreds of billions of dollars unless rapid action is taken on climate change, according to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists. More than 150,000 homes and businesses could face frequent high-tide flooding within 15 years, and that could double by 2045.
Thirty years since James Hansen's groundbreaking testimony before Congress about the threat of climate change, Earth is noticeably hotter, the weather is more extreme, polar regions have lost billions of tons of ice, and sea levels have risen.
The head of the Office of Government Ethics says he is considering a highly unusual "corrective action proceeding" involving alleged improper behavior by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. A spokesman for the ethics office said he is unaware of any previous example of the agency starting such a proceeding against a Cabinet official.
EPA staff frequently felt pressured by Administrator Scott Pruitt to obtain special favors for his family, The New York Times reports. Staff say Pruitt indicated he expected staff members' assistance with matters outside the purview of government, including helping his daughter obtain a summer internship at the White House.
President Trump is increasingly putting his finger on the scale to help once-iconic industries that are declining, and doing so at the expense of some of the country's fastest-growing sectors. His attempts to boost steel and coal have produced only modest job gains while injecting uncertainty into a host of other growing industries.
Many power companies say President Trump's coal bailout hasn't altered their plans to retire old units. The trend has been underway for years. "I will tell you it is not a matter of if we are going to retire our coal fleet in this nation, it's just a matter of when," Xcel Energy CEO Ben Fowke said.
China is including coal among the products it would hit with tariffs in retaliation for the Trump administration's trade actions, just weeks after China said it would increase purchases of U.S. coal. The tariffs would strike at the heart of President Trump's campaign promise to revive the coal industry.
A trial is set to start today in the Portland Pipe Line Corp.'s federal lawsuit challenging South Portland, Maine's 2014 ban on shipping crude oil from the city's waterfront, including controversial tar sands oil produced in western Canada. Read more from ICN on the David-and-Goliath battle underway.
Enbridge has submitted alternative proposals for its troubled Line 5 oil pipeline through Michigan, and they include building a tunnel below the Straits of Mackinac. A tunnel would cost as much as $500 million. Read more from ICN about problems on the pipeline.
June 15, 2018
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is expected to send President Trump a proposal today to dramatically scale back water pollution regulations. He also intends to publish his plan to gut vehicle emissions standards next week, an EPA official says. Read more from ICN on what weaker auto standards would mean.
Global warming is on track to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2040, threatening global economic growth, unless governments take drastic action, according to a draft report from the IPCC. Impacts such as increasing damage from floods, droughts and heat waves will affect national economies, it says.
Two months of unusually high spring temperatures in Europe have thrown pollinators and the plants that rely on them out of sync. It's giving scientists a chance to study in real time how climate change can affect these complex, critical interactions.
A federal judge in New Mexico set aside oil and gas leases on more than 19,000 acres in the Santa Fe National Forest and ordered the Bureau of Land Management to conduct further analysis. The judge said federal law requires BLM to consider the "downstream" and cumulative impacts on climate change of the use of the fuel produced from oil and gas leases on public lands.
House Republicans put forward a proposal this week to impose hefty fees on states that do not approve of drilling for oil and natural gas off their coasts. If approved, it could pressure local leaders who oppose the Trump administration's plan to expand offshore drilling.
President Trump has nominated Daniel Simmons, a former fossil fuel lobbyist who has questioned climate science, to head the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). In 2015, a group he worked for called for eliminating the office.
Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey must now submit their presentation titles for review by the Interior Department to get approval to attend two major conferences, and they will have to identify how their research relates to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's priorities, according to new guidelines obtained by the Washington Post.
Exxon is trying to sell the narrative that climate change lawsuits against the company are the result of a left-wing conspiracy. The approach, which tries to frame the issue as free speech, is being used in court as the company and its peers face an array of legal challenges. Read more from ICN on Exxon's legal challenges and what Exxon knew about climate change decades ago.
The city's plan, to be tested for two years, includes stormwater runoff management and requires the largest developments to assess building an on-site power plant with the goals of minimizing flooding and keeping the power on during extreme weather.
With the Ponca tribe now owning land on the Keystone XL pipeline route, TransCanada will have to negotiate with a new landowner — one with special legal status and who opposes the pipeline. The surrounding Nebraska farm was the site of a "spirit camp" protesting the pipeline five years ago.
June 14, 2018
Georgia has plenty of sun, but little support for solar power from lawmakers in the General Assembly. Here's how a Republican who goes by 'Bubba' changed the energy landscape and turned his state into a solar leader in just five years.
New York City's attempt to hold five of the world's biggest oil companies responsible for damage from global warming didn't seem to impress a judge during oral arguments to determine if the city's lawsuit can proceed. Read more from ICN on why New York and other cities are suing.