(de)regulation nation: two weeks of better, good, and great news edition
“So I will not beg the world leaders to care for our future. I will instead let them know change is coming, whether they like it or not."
|Emily J Gertz||Dec 14, 2018|
Welcome to (de)regulation nation, the newsletter tracking environmental news in the Trump era.
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As promised, here’s the upbeat companion to Wednesdays “all bad news” edition of (de)regulation nation. If you know of any stories that I’ve missed, please point me at ‘em in the comments, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next week I’ll return to the regular format.
Onward with the better, good, and great news.
At the international climate conference in Poland, the Trump administration has tried to obstruct constructive discussions and commitments. But a host of blue-chip corporations are talking strong climate action, including American firms Microsoft and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. They’ve been joined by the C40 alliance of American mayors, a group that has helped push cities into the forefront of U.S. climate action. "Forward-thinking companies are forging ahead on electric vehicles to demonstrate leadership, reduce their emissions and ready their business operations for a low-carbon economy," said a spokeswoman for a business climate group. "Despite uncertain times internationally the economic opportunities are vast, and business is simply getting on with it.” Read more in Greenbiz.
According to a report released at the Poland talks this week, over 1,000 groups representing almost $8 trillion worth of investment funds have divested from fossil fuels. The movement may now be the largest divestment campaign in history. Read more in Earther.
Back in Trump’s backyard…
The $867 billion Farm Bill has emerged from both the House and Senate with never-before-seen emphasis on projects to reduce food waste nationally. Decomposing food piles up in landfills, becoming a major source of climate-heating carbon pollution that could be diverted to biogas-powered energy or composting. The bill also funds the Department of Agriculture to “conduct a study on food waste that looks at measurement methodologies, contributing factors, financial costs, the effectiveness of current donation liability protections and other relevant areas.” Read more in WasteDive.
Although President Trump has threatened to trash tax incentives for consumers purchasing electric cars, his “incendiary rhetoric and fossil-fuel-friendly policies have failed to even slow down America’s transition to a clean-energy economy,” writes Michael Grunwald in Politico. There’s a long way to go in freeing the nation’s auto fleet from dependence on gasoline. But with the House transitioning to Democratic control next year, and support for the progressive wing’s “Green New Deal” increasing, it’s unlikely Congress will be eliminating the EV tax credit.
Dozens of Congressional Democrats this week signed a letter to President Trump stating their worry that “time is running out for the United States” to act effectively on curbing the worst of climate change. The missive sets the stage for ramping up climate policy moves in the House next year. Read the letter.
Between the recent, deadly, and devastating California wildfires and the new group of progressive Democrats in the House, climate change could emerge as the “sleeper issue of the new political cycle,” according to an opinion writer at The Wall Street Journal. There’s something snarky to be said here about how much death and destruction it’s taken for the WSJ’s op-ed page to begin reversing its longtime climate denial.
Meanwhile, in the laboratories of democracy:
New York State’s Public Utility Commission has voted to implement the country’s most ambitious energy storage target: 1,500 megawatts by 2025 and 3,000 by 2030. It also more than doubled energy efficiency targets for investor-owned utilities. Increasing the amount of energy that utilities can store (via batteries or other methods) is crucial to reducing the state’s carbon pollution, by winding down the state grid’s dependence on coal-fired power plants. Read more in UtilityDive.
A federal judge upheld Washington State’s denial of a key permit for construction of a coal export terminal. If built as planned, it would be the largest coal export dock on the West Coast, the point of departure for 44 million tons of Rocky Mountain coal to Asian markets. Read more in the Longview Daily News.
Around a dozen companies have so far pledged $285 million for three leases off the coast of Massachusetts. It’s far and away the most ever bid for offshore wind rights in the United States, and the auction hasn’t even ended yet. Read more in Bloomberg.
A public meeting regarding permits for a proposed plastics factory in Louisiana became “a referendum on environmental racism.” Residents of St. James Parrish, which is majority African-American, and environmentalists voiced opposition to the project for over three hours before representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as well as Louisiana environmental and natural resources officials. “Sharon Lavigne, a St. James resident and director of RISE St. James, a recently formed community organization, pointed out that the promised improvements to neighborhood parks and schools are of little use when nearby industrial pollution already threatens community members’ lives.” Read more at DeSmogBlog.
In South Dakota, energy regulators approved a plan for a 61-turbine, 220-megawatt wind farm in Bon Homme, Charles Mix and Hutchinson Counties. Commissioners sought to balance the needs of wind supporters with those of residents who don’t want to live near the wind farms by creating noise level restrictions and other conditions. Read more in The Daily Republic.
A major American utility has announced plans to cut its carbon emissions 80 percent by 2030, and to zero them out entirely by 2050. Xcel Energy’s goal is an industry first, and will touch power supplies across eight states. ““This risk of climate change isn’t going away and we want to be the company that does something about it and hopefully inspire others to do something about it too,” Xcel’s CEO told reporters. Read more in the (journalist-owned, reader-supported) Colorado Sun.
Clean-energy jobs now outnumber fossil fuel jobs across much of the rural Midwest. A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council found that there 158,000 jobs and growing in wind and solar across 12 mid-America states 2017, with renewable work outpacing fossil fuels in all but two: Kansas and North Dakota. Read more in InsideClimate News.
Thanks for reading (de)regulation nation, a production of Brooklyn Radio Telegraph LLC.
This newsletter is written by me, Emily J Gertz. I’m an environmental journalist. Learn more about me and see some of my work at my web site.
This week’s quote is by Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teen climate activist who has inspired tens of thousands of young people worldwide to take political aim at foot-dragging politicians. Read more about her truth-to-power speech at the Poland climate talks this week in The Hill, and check out this brief profile of Thunberg in The New Yorker.
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