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Why some environmental groups oppose a bill to help out low-carbon nuclear plants

Pennsylvania Capital Star | Posted on April 11, 2019

After Sen. Ryan Aument revealed his version of a plan to prop up the state’s nuclear power plants on Wednesday, it didn’t take long for the criticism to start rolling in. “We don’t need to see the forthcoming bill to know that any proposed legislation would rob ratepayers, including Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens, to support corporate greed,” the No Nukes Bailout Coalition, a group that includes the AARP, gas industry interests, and commercial electric users, said.The debate over whether lawmakers should forestall the shutdowns of two of the state’s five nuclear power plants is one of the most divisive issues of this legislative session. A bill similar to Aument’s was introduced in the House in March.And it’s made unlikely allies among some critics, which include everyone from liberal consumer advocates to the conservative Americans for Prosperity.

Ohio bill would create ‘clean air’ fund to benefit nuclear, excluding wind and solar

Energy News Network | Posted on April 11, 2019

Legislation to subsidize two FirstEnergy Solutions nuclear power plants in Ohio is about to surface in the Ohio House. Republican majority leaders have been circulating a proposal that would add up to $300 million annually to electric bills across the state, creating a state “clean air program” with grants administered by political appointees.About $180 million would be earmarked for the FirstEnergy Solutions nuclear power plants, say analysts who have looked at the legislation. The remaining $120 million could be used to prop up other companies — though it appears those companies would not be owners of wind and solar farms.

An overeager legal strategy may endanger Trump’s energy goals

Roll Call | Posted on April 11, 2019

Sen. Lisa Murkowski was unhappy with an April 5 ruling by Sharon Gleason, a federal judge in Anchorage, Alaska, who found that President Donald Trump had unlawfully lifted a ban prohibiting drilling in the Arctic Ocean, dealing the president’s fossil-fuel energy agenda a major blow. “I strongly disagree with this ruling,” said Murkowski, who wants to open her state’s land and water to increased oil and gas leasing. “I expect this decision to be appealed and ultimately overturned.”If the past is any indication, the Alaska Republican may be disappointed. In the 28 months since Trump became president, his administration has worked with zeal and speed to slash, dilute and tweak the environmental protections of previous administrations, frequently with the support of Republicans in Congress and industry groups that stood to gain.To achieve his administration’s “energy dominance” agenda, the president has nominated industry-friendly officials to run Cabinet agencies, signed a raft of executive orders in support of oil, gas and coal companies rather than work with Congress to change the law, and overseen a governmentwide rollback of environmental regulations.

Earth's carbon dioxide levels highest in 3 million years, study says

USA Today | Posted on April 11, 2019

Carbon dioxide – the gas scientists say is most responsible for global warming – has reached levels in our atmosphere not seen in 3 million years, scientists announced this week in a new study.  At that time, sea levels were as much as 65 feet higher than they are now, Greenland was mostly green and Antarctica had trees.“It seems we’re now pushing our home planet beyond any climatic conditions experienced during the entire current geological period, the Quaternary,” said study lead author Matteo Willeit of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. “A period that started almost 3 million years ago and saw human civilization beginning only 11,000 years ago. So, the modern climate change we see is big, really big; even by standards of Earth history.”

Here’s why Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma and other investors are pouring billions into clean-tech ventures

CNBC | Posted on April 11, 2019

Investors are pouring billions into clean-tech ventures as renewable-energy technology advances. At the same time, more than 100 globally significant financial institutions have restricted investments in carbon-intensive fossil fuels, according to the International Energy Agency.The $1 billion Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund, founded by Gates, Bezos and other philanthropists, has invested in 14 companies involved in everything from battery storage to fusion energy.

ACLU challenges South Dakota pipeline protest legislation

AP News | Posted on April 4, 2019

The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging a new law signed by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem aimed at potential protests against the planned Keystone XL oil pipeline. The ACLU filed a federal lawsuit Thursday on behalf of groups and individuals planning to protest the pipeline or encourage others to do so.Noem signed the act on Wednesday that allows officials to pursue money from demonstrators who encourage violence. The Republican governor also signed another bill requiring pipeline companies to help pay extraordinary expenses such as the cost of policing during protests, but the ACLU is not challenging that new law.

EPA Science Panel Considering Guidelines That Upend Basic Air Pollution Science

NPR | Posted on April 4, 2019

Several members of a powerful science panel for the Environmental Protection Agency expressed doubt at a hearing about the long-established scientific consensus that air pollution can cause premature death. The panel was meeting to consider recommendations that would fundamentally change how the agency analyzes the public health dangers posed by air pollution and could lead to weaker regulation of soot. The recommendations concern how the EPA regulates microscopic soot known as particulate matter, which causes and exacerbates respiratory diseases such as asthma. Determining exactly how much particulate matter is safe to breathe requires complex analysis of an enormous — and growing — body of scientific literature.Before the EPA disbanded it last year, a 20-person subcommittee called the Particulate Matter Review Panel was responsible for helping the agency decide how much air pollution is safe for Americans to breathe. With that group gone, only the seven-member Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee is left to make recommendations.

Shell to quit U.S. refining lobby over climate disagreement

Reuters | Posted on April 2, 2019

Royal Dutch Shell became the first major oil and gas company to announce plans to leave a leading U.S. refining lobby due to disagreement on climate policies.In its first review of its association with 19 key industry groups, the company said it had found “material misalignment” over climate policy with the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) and would quit the body in 2020.

Trump issues new executive order for stalled Keystone XL pipeline

Press Herald | Posted on April 1, 2019

Moving defiantly to kick-start the long-stalled Keystone XL oil pipeline, President Trump on Friday issued a new presidential permit for the project – two years after he first approved it and more than a decade after it was first proposed. Trump said the permit issued Friday replaces one granted in March 2017. The order is intended to speed up development of the controversial pipeline, which would ship crude oil from tar sands in western Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast. A federal judge blocked the project in November, saying the Trump administration had not fully considered potential oil spills and other impacts. U.S. District Judge Brian Morris ordered a new environmental review.


‘Would you want the mess?’ Some residents of two coal towns want ban on nearby surface mining

Lexington Herald Leader | Posted on April 1, 2019

Surface mining on steep slopes overlooking two historic coal towns in Eastern Kentucky could damage their water sources and hurt the potential to boost their economies though tourism, residents said at a hearing Friday.Residents from Benham and Lynch, in Harlan County, urged the state to bar surface mining around the towns.“It’s literally going to destroy the water coming off the mountain,” Carl Shoupe, a former underground miner from Benham, said of proposed mining near the town.