April 1, 2019
Colorado Withdraws Request to EPA for More Time to Bring State into Compliance with Federal Air-Quality Standards
Colorado is withdrawing a request for more time to comply with federal health-based air standards. The state is developing zero-emissions vehicle standards, reforming oil and gas laws, and adding more renewable energy, rather than relying on extensions that would allow more polluted air to be acceptable, Gov. Jared Polis said.
Andrew Beal, a billionaire and major Trump backer, could upend California's carbon-free power goals with a case before federal regulators. Beal, who owns a natural gas power plant in California's Central Valley, is arguing before federal regulators that state policies discriminate against fossil fuel generators.
March 29, 2019
Extreme weather, intensified by climate change, affected about 62 million people around the world last year, the UN's World Meteorological Organization says. Its annual "State of the Climate" report says flooding affected 35 million people and droughts affected 9 million. Officials note the number of disasters around the world is growing because of climate change.
About a billion more people could be exposed to mosquito-borne diseases as the earth warms with climate change, a new study says. Scientists say diseases like Zika, chikungunya and dengue will continue spreading farther north.
Some of the nation's top tech firms, manufacturers and consumer companies are banding together to create a boom in renewable energy purchases throughout corporate America. Their new Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance is a trade organization to help companies take advantage of new ways to purchase clean energy.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered state agencies to stop action on a proposed tunnel to encase the controversial Enbridge Line 5 fossil fuel pipeline under the Great Lakes' Straits of Mackinac. It follows a legal opinion issued by Attorney General Dana Nessel that a law signed by the previous governor creating a state authority to oversee the project is unconstitutional.
Unless fruit breeders can produce more climate-resilient varieties, fruit-growing regions of the United States will be seriously disrupted by future warming scenarios, scientists say. Even the groups trying to breed those more resilient varieties are struggling with climate change.
David Bernhardt, the president's choice to lead the Interior Department and its current acting secretary, faced questions from senators, including a stinging rebuke from Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon, who told Bernhardt, "You're just another corrupt official." Meanwhile, Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said the nominee's qualifications are "unparalleled."
President Donald Trump has repeatedly mocked wind energy this week for reasons that are dismissed by "frequently asked questions" guidance published by the U.S. Department of Energy, including at his latest political rally and in appearances on Fox.
NextEra Energy says it will build the largest solar-powered battery in the world. The 490 megawatt battery will be added to an existing 74.5 megawatt solar farm near Tampa. The announcement indicates that a worldwide race is underway to build the largest battery, with the new project larger than other would-be leaders in Saudi Arabia and Texas.
March 28, 2019
When Hurricane Maria shattered Puerto Rico's power grid in 2017, the U.S. territory faced a choice: rebuild a long-troubled grid, powered by diesel fuel or build a more resilient grid powered by clean energy. This week, Puerto Rico chose clean energy, but its electric utility is still pushing for an infrastructure buildout for natural gas imports.
Bills to clamp down on pipeline protests have spread to at least nine new states this year, and several of the measures allow prosecutors to go after people or organizations as "conspirators" or "riot boosters" for merely supporting or coordinating with others who violate the law. It's part of an industry-backed push to heighten penalties for protesting.
The U.S. Air Force says it needs $350 million to cover cleanup and repair costs after this month's floods at Offutt Air Force Base. It's part of a $4.9 billion supplemental request to Congress for repairs including damage last year at Tyndall Air Force Base when Hurricane Michael hit. Read more from ICN about how protective flood measures had been delayed at Offut for years.
AT&T says it is paying the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory to predict climate-related events that could damage the company's infrastructure. Weather disasters have cost the company $847 million since 2016.
Researchers across the U.S. say the milder winters are leading to earlier flowering of tree fruits, exposing the blooms to increasingly erratic frosts and other adverse weather. Unless breeders can produce more climate-resilient varieties, fruit-growing regions will be serious disrupted by future warming.
In Australia, where the farmers are known for their resilience and business savvy, many are facing mental health concerns as drought has ravaged their land. Health authorities have recorded a surge in depression and an uptick in alcoholism, the Washington Post reports.
A report from the NGO-backed Global Energy Monitor says the number of coal plants starting construction each year has fallen by 84% since 2015, and the number of completed plants has dropped by more than half since 2015. It cites falling costs of other energy sources and financial institutions avoiding coal producers.
March 27, 2019
The three Democrats who voted with Republicans on a procedural maneuver opposing the Green New Deal on Tuesday explained their break with party unity while emphasizing the need for some action on climate change. Read more from ICN about what Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell hoped to gain from orchestrating the vote.
New York officials have agreed in principle to make NYC the first U.S. city to introduce congestion pricing, putting electronic tolls in place for drivers entering the busiest stretches of Manhattan. The details have yet to be worked out, but supporters pointing to an array of health and environmental benefits.
Germany has found greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector difficult to tackle, particularly with a strong auto industry lobby. A panel of experts is trying to figure out how to get the public to adopt electric vehicles.
Trillium Asset Management is part of a wave of concerned shareholders trying to use the tools of capitalism to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for climate change. But the Trump administration is threatening the efforts of environmentally aware investors and shareholders.
Twenty of Iran's 31 provinces were experiencing floods or facing an imminent threat of flooding after extreme rainfall in the region, and with more to come. "Climate change is forcing itself on our country," said Energy Minister Reza Ardekanian. "These unprecedented floods in our country are because of climate change worldwide."
Kelcy Warren is the face of a company best known for a pipeline project that, as a shareholder says, has become a symbol of "the big, bad energy industry." This notoriety hasn't helped as the company tries to build new lines.
The New York Times looks at some of the people who grew up in the fossil fuel industry but are now working in renewable energy. It's a matter of economics, and there are more jobs today in wind and solar than in coal.
Newspapers are struggling, and one casualty is environmental reporting. The New Yorker talked with ICN's James Bruggers for an article about the loss of environment reporters at major newspapers in Kentucky. Here's more on what ICN is doing to support local environment reporting, including expanding our National Environment Reporting Network, training reporters across the regions and collaborating with local newsrooms.
March 26, 2019
Before U.S. lawmakers have even come up with the details of the Green New Deal, they're being asked to take a stand on it in a vote in the Senate today. The vote, orchestrated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in an attempt to embarrass Democrats, could reveal more about Republican denial than Democratic disunity. Here's what you need to know.
Elected officials from both sides of the aisle are teeing up their own climate proposals in response to the Green New Deal. Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, for example, is calling for a "new Manhattan Project for clean energy."
Coastal homes are increasingly vulnerable to flooding as sea level rises, but that may not be fully reflected in insurance costs as new investment capital that has gone into insurers and reinsurers has increased competition in the industry and held premiums down, artificially suppressing the cost of coastal homeownership, Bloomberg reports.
Global energy-related carbon emissions rose 1.7 percent to a record high last year as energy demand and coal use increased, the International Energy Agency reported. The United States' CO2 emissions grew 3.1 percent, and China's rose by 2.5 percent. Europe and Japan's emissions both went down.