Flint talks continue as clock ticks on Senate bill

Source: Geof Koss, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

The leaders of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee are working to keep their bipartisan energy package alive, while discussions continue on possible aid to help the residents of Flint, Mich., cope with their lead-contaminated drinking water. In a joint statement yesterday afternoon, Energy Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said they worked over the weekend to “clear a path” for the bill, which became bogged down last week over Democrats’ demands that aid for Flint be included.

Pope Francis ramps up environmental message

Source: Amanda Reilly, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, February 8th, 2016

Pope Francis today urged people to protect their “common home” from environmental degradation in a new video message. While not mentioning climate change specifically, the pope’s message in the video carries the same themes as his papal encyclical last year that discussed the scientific basis for climate change and called for urgent action to protect the planet.

U.S. reaches ‘turning point’ in low-carbon growth

Source: Daniel Cusick, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, February 8th, 2016

The United States has reached a watershed in efforts to decarbonize its energy economy, setting records in 2015 for natural gas and renewable energy production, alongside rising investment in energy efficiency and the continued retirement of dozens of older coal-fired power plants. Experts say the drivers behind the shifts, outlined in the “2016 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook,” stem from policy directives at the national and international levels, as well as technological revolutions in the gas industry and increasingly attractive economics for renewables such as wind and solar power.

FERC ruling seen as boon for Clean Power Plan

Source: Robin Bravender, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, February 8th, 2016

The Supreme Court’s recent move to uphold a federal energy conservation rule bodes well for the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, environmental lawyers say. With U.S. EPA’s rule to cut power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions already mired in lawsuits and widely expected to wind up in the Supreme Court, lawyers on both sides are scouring the justices’ recent environmental decisions for clues about how they’ll handle the case.

Built Up by Oil Boom, North Dakota Now Has an Emptier Feeling

Source: By JACK HEALY, New York Times • Posted: Monday, February 8th, 2016

The “man camps” sprang up from the prairie, rows of trailers and modular steel boxes that housed thousands of workers chasing their fortunes in North Dakota’s oil fields. But these days, the man camps are missing something: men. Roughly eight years ago, at the peak of the last recession, oil drilling began to transform these remote corners of the plains into an economic beacon, attracting billions of dollars in new investments and thousands of workers in search of good-paying jobs and an escape from America’s economic pain. But now, as oil prices have skidded to $30 a barrel, new drilling has dried up here, and the flood of wealth and workers is ebbing.

States, industries make final pleas to Supreme Court

Source: Robin Bravender, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, February 8th, 2016

Dozens of states, utilities and coal groups Friday made their final arguments in an attempt to urge the Supreme Court to block the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The request to the court to step in and block the controversial rule as a lower court weighs the case is widely seen as an unusual legal maneuver, but that shouldn’t stop the court from taking action, a coalition of more than two dozen states led by West Virginia said in its filing to the justices.

Obama using final budget request to push for action against climate change

Source: By Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian • Posted: Monday, February 8th, 2016

Barack Obama called on Congress to double funding for clean energy research on Saturday, using his final budget request – and one of the last high-profile moments of his presidency – to push for action against climate change. The president said his final budget on Tuesday would propose doubling clean energy research spending from $6.4bn to $12.8bn by 2020.

NYC mayor wants to boost solar power capacity five-fold

Source: BY JONATHAN LEMIRE, ASSOCIATED PRESS • Posted: Friday, February 5th, 2016

Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to increase the solar power capacity of city-owned buildings five-fold from what it is now, mayoral aides said Wednesday. The push comes as part of an ambitious plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the country’s most populous city by 80 percent by 2050. De Blasio plans to make the announcement in his State of the City address Thursday in the Bronx.

Lawmakers Warn Buffett’s Coal May Hurt California’s Goals

Source: By Mark Chediak, Bloomberg News • Posted: Friday, February 5th, 2016

California lawmakers expressed concerns in a letter Thursday that allowing a utility of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. to join the state’s power grid may undermine the state’s clean energy goals by connecting it to coal plants. Adding Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s PacifiCorp utility to the grid run by California Independent System Operator Corp. would bring with it states “heavily invested in coal and other high greenhouse gas emitting resources,” according to the letter to California Governor Jerry Brown. It was signed by six state lawmakers including Democratic State Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin De Leon and Speaker-Elect of the State Assembly Anthony Rendon.

Obama proposes $10-a-barrel oil tax to pay for clean tech

Source: Ariel Wittenberg, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, February 5th, 2016

President Obama will ask Congress to set a $10-per-barrel oil tax to help invest in clean transportation infrastructure, the White House announced today. In a preview of the president’s fiscal 2017 budget, which will be released Tuesday, the White House outlined a plan to make oil companies pay fees that would then be used to invest in enhanced transportation options like low-carbon technologies and intelligent transportation infrastructure.