EPA sets aside $12M for buyouts

Source: Kevin Bogardus, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, May 19th, 2017

U.S. EPA is setting aside millions of dollars to offer its staff in early retirement and buyout packages. An internal budget memo obtained by E&E News shows EPA has slated $12 million in incentive payments for the remainder of this fiscal year to encourage employees to leave the agency. “Senior leadership made decisions to allocate the carryover funds set aside earlier this year to address agency’s priorities for incentive payments for workforce reshaping,” said the memo, which was signed by David Bloom, EPA’s acting chief financial officer.

Trump’s budget expected to massively slash research on renewable energy — and ‘clean coal’

Source: By Chris Mooney, Washington Post • Posted: Friday, May 19th, 2017

The Trump administration is expected to propose massive cuts to federal government research on wind and solar energy next week, according to current and former Energy Department officials familiar with budget discussions. The department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), which funds research on advanced vehicles as well as other aspects of clean energy, would face a roughly 70 percent cut in 2018, carving about $ 1.45 billion from its $2.09 billion 2017 budget.

150 groups call on senators to reject DOI deputy secretary pick

Source: Corbin Hiar and Kellie Lunney, E&E News reporters • Posted: Thursday, May 18th, 2017

A bloc of conservation groups today called on senators to reject the George W. Bush administration official-turned-lobbyist who is now President Trump’s pick to serve in the second-most powerful position at the Interior Department. “We are writing to express our strong opposition to the recent nomination of David Bernhardt for deputy secretary of the Interior,” the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and 148 other groups said in a letter. “After spending years lobbying for the oil and gas industry, big agribusiness and water profiteers, Mr. Bernhardt is laden with conflicts of interest that raise serious questions about his ability to act in the public interest.”

Panel mulls incentives, public-private options for $1T plan

Source: Camille von Kaenel, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, May 18th, 2017

State and local government officials urged lawmakers to incentivize local partners to help bolster an expected increase in federal infrastructure spending. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has said the administration’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan could land in Congress in weeks. Though it will include $200 billion in direct federal funds over 10 years, it would largely rely on measures aimed at triggering additional private and nonfederal funds, she said.

Graham, Whitehouse optimistic for bipartisan climate compromise

Source: Sam Mintz, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), frequent across-the-aisle collaborators, are talking up the possibility of cooperation on climate change in their chamber. The lawmakers have different ideas on the exact way to approach the issue, but both agree there are possibilities to bridge what is otherwise a deep partisan divide. “There are people of goodwill who are widely respected Republicans who are willing to get to work on this,” Whitehouse said during an event on Capitol Hill yesterday about energy and security.

Many Nations Pin Climate Hopes on China, India as Hopes for Trump Fade

Source: By Alister Doyle, Reuters • Posted: Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Many countries are pinning their hopes on China and India to lead efforts to slow climate change amid a growing sense of resignation that U.S. President Donald Trump will either withdraw from a global pact or stay and play a minimal role. Delegates at the May 8-18 negotiations in Bonn on a detailed “rule book” for the 2015 Paris Agreement, the first U.N. talks since Trump took office, say there is less foreboding than when Washington last broke with global climate efforts in 2001.

Grassley slams Perry’s grid study as anti-wind

Source: Daniel Cusick, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley (R), one of the Senate’s most ardent supporters of wind power, openly challenged the value of a forthcoming Energy Department analysis on grid reliability, calling it “a hastily developed study” that “appears geared to undermine the wind energy industry.” In a letter sent yesterday to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Grassley said he was concerned that the upcoming report, due in mid-June, “will not be viewed as credible, relevant or worthy of valuable taxpayer resources,” adding that a similar study completed by the Obama administration took two years to complete.

DOE will make contentious grid study public

Source: Hannah Northey and Christa Marshall, E&E News report • Posted: Thursday, May 18th, 2017

The Energy Department plans to make public a contentious internal study on the U.S. electrical grid that has riled up renewable groups and Democrats who have questioned its underlying intent. Although DOE has drawn attention for not reaching out to other grid overseers and experts in conducting the study, agency spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said in an email that the department is “committed to conducting a thorough review — one that relies heavily on the research and institutional knowledge of the Department’s experts from all relevant program offices and National Laboratories.”

Iowa senator slams energy chief for grid study undermining wind energy

Source: By Valerie Volcovic, Reuters • Posted: Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Iowa’s Republican senator on Wednesday raised concerns that U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has commissioned a “hastily developed” study of the reliability of the electric grid that appears “geared to undermine” the wind energy industry. In a letter sent to Perry, Senator Chuck Grassley asked a series of questions about the 60-day study he commissioned. Grassley also said the results were pre-determined and would show that intermittent energy sources like wind make the grid unstable.

Miners increase green energy use to power their pits

Source: By Barbara Lewis, Reuters • Posted: Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Major mining companies, including some of the world’s biggest suppliers of fossil fuel, are seeking to use more renewable energy themselves as they strive to drive down costs and curb emissions. Glencore, the world’s biggest shipper of seaborne coal, said in Tuesday’s 2017 sustainability report that it gets 19 percent of its energy from renewable sources, up a percentage point from last year’s report.