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March 30, 2018

Energy – SciPol Weekly, March 24 – March 30

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Government

E&E News – A year after Trump's energy order, rollbacks inch forward

A year ago today, the president appeared onstage in U.S. EPA headquarters in Washington and answered those questions with a crushing blow to his predecessor's environmental legacy. Flanked by coal miners and Cabinet officials ready to flex their deregulatory muscle, Trump signed the "energy independence" order aimed at boosting domestic fossil fuels by lifting regulatory burdens on the coal and oil and gas industries.

Greentech Media – An Interview With Gina McCarthy: Pruitt, Coal Politics and the Unstoppable Rise of Clean Energy

Gina McCarthy isn't happy watching Scott Pruitt dismantle the climate plan that she helped President Obama build. But she doesn't think Pruitt will be successful. "They've made a lot of announcements; they haven't made a lot of progress," she said in an interview on The Interchange podcast. McCarthy predicted that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will keep getting "slapped back" by legal challenges.

Smartcities Dive – 180 US mayors call for use of solar energy in updated letter

A focus on renewable energy has become top-priority across the U.S., as dozens of cities have committed to getting 100% of their power from renewables. And while committing to increased solar usage is a significant step forward for these 180 cities, tangible actions will need to be taken for such cities to reach their goals. Searson explained Environment America will prioritize working with mayors who are interested in "actually backing up their signature on this letter with some real action on solar energy, so we want to be helpful in that area moving forward."

Utility Dive – Smart transmission: How FERC can spur modernization of the bulk power system

The world's largest machine needs an upgrade — and it's costing consumers big money.  America's 7 million miles of transmission and distribution system wires, often called the planet's biggest networked machine, have an estimated value as high as $2 trillion. Built up over a century, the network supports the world's largest economy, but there are mounting worries it is not keeping up with the times. 

Vox – Trump’s crude bailout of dirty power plants failed, but a subtler bailout is underway

Last year, the Trump administration attempted a ham-handed bailout of the US coal industry. In a nutshell, Rick Perry’s Department of Energy told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to guarantee the profits of coal plants. FERC, to its eternal credit, responded: No. No, thank you. That is a very dumb idea, and we shan’t be doing that. It was a rare bright spot in this bleak last year, a blow struck for reasoned, empirically informed policy.

Industry

Charlotte Business Journal – Duke Energy tells shareholders it could be out of the coal-power business in next 30 years

Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE: DUK) tells shareholders in a new report its carbon reduction plans through 2030 “is consistent with a pathway to achieve a science-based two-degree target” for mitigating climate change laid out in the Paris Accords. That is an effort to assure shareholders on whether Duke faces a significant risk from the possibility of carbon regulation in the future. The message, says Duke executive Cari Boyce, is that the Charlotte-based company recognizes the problem and is moving in the right direction. It has already reduced carbon production by 31% from 2005 levels and targets a 40% reduction by 2030.

Greentech Media  – Is Offshore Wind a Better Deal With Batteries?

A partnership between developer Bay State Wind and NEC Energy Solutions this month highlighted a growing push to pair energy storage with offshore wind.Bay State Wind said it will work with NEC Energy Solutions to add batteries to an 800-megawatt offshore wind farm planned for 15 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.  The project will represent the world’s largest wind‐paired energy storage system for commercial‐scale energy, said Bay State Wind, which is a joint partnership between the Danish power company Ørsted, formerly known as Dong, and U.S. transmission builder Eversource. 

Scientific American – Oil Giant Accepts Climate Consensus, Denies Responsibility for Warming

Chevron Corp. walked a narrow line yesterday in acknowledging humans’ role in climate change while highlighting uncertainties that could help shield it from cities’ claims for damages stemming from sea-level rise. The California-based oil giant fielded questions from a federal judge on its understanding of climate change science, while the other four oil companies named by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland as contributing to climate change stayed silent.

Other

Vox – It’s not just elections: Russia hacked the US electric grid

A huge story about Russian hacking got lost amid all the Trump administration staffing drama and Stormy Daniels news over the past week: On March 15, the US government released a report describing a massive Russian hacking campaign to infiltrate America’s “critical infrastructure” — things like power plants, nuclear generators, and water facilities.