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Trump’s EPA says Obama’s climate plan would save thousands of lives each year

The Washington Post | Posted on November 2, 2017

A sweeping Obama-era climate rule could prevent up to 4,500 premature deaths per year by 2030, the Trump administration has found in its analysis of the plan, projecting that the plan could save more lives than the Obama administration said it would. The Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency is moving to repeal the plan.The rule in question is the Clean Power Plan, which consists of regulations on U.S. power plants aimed at decreasing the country’s contribution to global climate change by reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. In practice, the rule is projected to move the energy sector away from coal-fired power plants and toward more natural gas-fired power plants, as well as wind and solar power sources.But when President Trump’s EPA released a draft analysis of its repeal of the plan last month, it said that in one scenario, the plan would prevent 1,900 to 4,500 premature deaths per year by 2030.That scenario is based on a 2017 “annual energy outlook” by the federal Energy Information Administration — which contained projections for the evolution of the U.S. power sector with, and without, the Clean Power Plan. It’s a more recent analysis than the ones EPA used under the Obama administration.

Awaiting Trump's coal comeback, miners reject retraining

Reuters | Posted on November 2, 2017

When Mike Sylvester entered a career training center earlier this year in southwestern Pennsylvania, he found more than one hundred federally funded courses covering everything from computer programming to nursing. He settled instead on something familiar: a coal mining course.”I think there is a coal comeback,” said the 33-year-old son of a miner.Despite broad consensus about coal’s bleak future, a years-long effort to diversify the economy of this hard-hit region away from mining is stumbling, with Obama-era jobs retraining classes undersubscribed and future programs at risk under President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget. Trump has promised to revive coal by rolling back environmental regulations and moved to repeal Obama-era curbs on carbon emissions from power plants.“I have a lot of faith in President Trump,” Sylvester said.But hundreds of coal-fired plants have closed in recent years, and cheap natural gas continues to erode domestic demand. The Appalachian region has lost about 33,500 mining jobs since 2011, according to the Appalachian Regional Commission.Coal miners are resisting retraining without ready jobs from new industries, but new companies are unlikely to move here without a trained workforce. The stalled diversification push leaves some of the nation’s poorest areas with no clear path to prosperity.

USDA proposes lifting mining ban near Grand Canyon

Reuters | Posted on November 2, 2017

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday proposed lifting a mining ban on land near Grand Canyon National Park as part of the Trump administration’s broader effort to sweep away regulations impeding development.“Adoption of this recommendation could re-open lands to mineral entry pursuant to the United States mining laws facilitating exploration for, and possibly development of, uranium resources,” the department wrote in a report to the White House seen by Reuters.The area potentially affected by the reopening is managed by the department’s Forest Service.

Lawmakers and local activists support environmental justice bill

The Sun Chronicle | Posted on November 1, 2017

Clean air and water are guaranteed rights under the Massachusetts Constitution, and lawmakers and activists hope these rights will soon become law. The Legislature is considering bills to protect low-income, minority and other at-risk populations from the effects of pollution. Local activists hope the proposals will help their communities and increase awareness of this issue.Almost three years ago, then-Gov. Deval Patrick signed an executive order authorizing environmental justice, which is defined as the “right to be protected from environmental pollution and to live in and enjoy a clean and healthful environment regardless of race, income, national origin or English language proficiency.”

St. Louis, Long a Coal Capital, Votes to Get All of Its Power From Clean Sources

NBC | Posted on November 1, 2017

St. Louis became the 47th American city to set a goal of getting all of its electricity from clean, noncarbon sources with a vote by local lawmakers Friday — a significant watershed given its long-standing ties to the fossil fuel industry. The unanimous vote by the Board of Aldermen commits the city to transition to solar, wind and other renewable energy sources by 2035. The city will assemble a group — made up of workers, environmentalists, business people, utility representatives and others — to draw up a plan by December 2018 for reaching the benchmark.

Oil Drilling—Coming to a National Park or Monument Near You?

Sierra Club | Posted on November 1, 2017

You know that a proposed oil and gas lease is really, truly an awful idea when even Governor Gary Herbert, Utah’s normally pro–fossil fuel development leader, is against it. This summer, Herbert wrote to federal officials, asking them to defer planned oil and gas lease sales near Dinosaur National Monument and Zion National Park. While the Bureau of Land Management did eventually decide to delay two planned lease sales near Dinosaur National Monument and defer the auctions on another three parcels near the entrance to Zion, conservation groups and some former National Park Service officials remain on high alert. They warn that the Trump administration’s rush toward “energy dominance” and its promise to increase oil, gas, and coal extraction on federal lands threatens dozens of protected sites across the country.In North Dakota, federal officials are considering auctioning a 120-acre parcel adjacent to Teddy Roosevelt National Park for oil and gas exploration, a site that is already ringed with the oil infrastructure that popped up on the prairie during the Bakken boom. In New Mexico, new oil and gas development might be coming soon to the desert lands surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park. According to the National Parks Conservation Association, the government is also considering offering new oil and gas leases at sites near Hovenweep National Monument, on the Utah-Colorado border; near the Fort Laramie National Historic Site in Wyoming; near Capitol Reef National Park in Utah; and in proximity to New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns National Park

How Fossil Fuel Allies Are Tearing Apart Ohio's Embrace of Clean Energy

Inside Climate News | Posted on November 1, 2017

Bill Seitz, a charismatic Republican, took to the floor of the Ohio House to make a case for gutting a 2008 law designed to speed the adoption of solar and wind as significant sources of electricity in the state. The law, he warned, "is like something out of the 5-Year Plan playbook of Joseph Stalin." Adopting a corny Russian accent, he said, "Vee vill have 25,000 trucks on the Volga by 1944!'" Nine years before, Seitz and his colleagues, Republicans and Democrats alike, had voted overwhelmingly for the measure he now compared to the work of a Communist dictator. It made Ohio the 25th state to embrace requirements and inducements to lure utilities away from coal, a major contributor of the gases fueling global climate change. Studies suggested the law would help create green energy jobs and boost the Ohio economy—and it has.Now, Seitz said, it was obsolete. Natural gas, rapidly displacing coal, was the resource Ohio ought to foster, he said. He also argued the law gives an unfair advantage to wind and solar when the state's last nuclear plant is fighting for its life. Most important, Seitz insisted, the government had no business telling anyone what kind of energy to buy. By the time he was done, he had secured a veto-proof majority to undo key parts of the law.

Dept of Energy Subsidy plan for coal and nuclear plants 'will cost US taxpayers $10.6bn a year'

The Guardian | Posted on November 1, 2017

A Trump administration plan to subsidize coal and nuclear energy would cost US taxpayers about $10.6bn a year and prop up some of the oldest and dirtiest power plants in the country, a new analysis has found. The Department of Energy has proposed that coal and nuclear plants be compensated not only for the electricity they produce but also for the reliability they provide to the grid. The new rule would provide payments to facilities that store fuel on-site for 90 days or more because they are “indispensable for our economic and national security”. Just a handful of companies, operating about 90 plants on the eastern seaboard and the midwest, would benefit from the subsidies, the report found.

Senators from refinery states request Trump meeting on biofuels

Reuters | Posted on November 1, 2017

Nine U.S. senators from states that have oil refineries sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging changes to the country’s biofuels policy and asking for a meeting to discuss the issue. The letter reflects growing tensions between refiners that oppose the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard - a law requiring them to blend increasing amounts of ethanol into the nation’s fuel each year - and the Midwest corn lobby that supports it.

VT:Legislators Approve Tighter Wind Turbine Sound Standards

US News and World Report | Posted on November 1, 2017

A Vermont legislative panel has approved a proposal that sets more strict sound limits for wind turbines.Vermont Public Radio reports the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules voted 5-2 Thursday to keep nighttime sound levels no greater than 30 decibels inside a home.The vote did not please either side of the argument for tight sound standards. Public health advocates say the new rule is not strict enough, while business and clean energy supporters say the limits will make it difficult for future wind development.The Public Utility Commission created the proposal, and they say the 30 decibel standard will protect public health. The commission says the new rule will not completely rule out utility-scale wind energy.