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While Ohio coal employment falls, solar jobs double in Cleveland area

Midwest Energy News | Posted on March 30, 2017

Solar industry jobs doubled in the Cleveland, Ohio area last year, driving about half of the state’s total job growth in the sector, according to new data released today by The Solar Foundation.  However, the industry’s future growth in Cuyahoga County and elsewhere in the state could be jeopardized by ongoing uncertainty over Ohio’s renewable portfolio standards.  The detailed data are a follow-up to a nationwide report released by the group last month. In addition to each state’s solar job totals, data posted by the organization at SolarStates.org include information about minority participation, breakdown of jobs within the industry, patents, per capita ranking and more.


Policy Shift Helps Coal, but Other Forces May Limit Effect

The New York Times | Posted on March 29, 2017

Many fossil fuel executives are celebrating President Trump’s move to dismantle the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. But their cheers are muted, because market forces and state initiatives continue to elevate coal’s rivals, especially natural gas and renewable energy. In coal’s favor, there is the new promise that federal lands will be open for leasing, ending an Obama-era moratorium. Easing pollution restrictions could delay the closing of some old coal-fired power plants, slowing the switch by some utilities to other sources.And with the government pendulum swinging from environmental concerns back to job creation and energy independence, share prices of many energy companies, particularly coal producers, soared Tuesday on the news.For coal executives, however, optimism and expansion plans remain guarded. Regulatory relief could restore 10 percent of their companies’ lost market share at most, they say — nowhere near enough to return coal to its dominant position in power markets and put tens of thousands of coal miners to work.


Maryland Senate approves fracking ban; governor to sign bill

UPI | Posted on March 29, 2017

Maryland's Senate approved a ban on fracking in the state, a bill Gov. Larry Hogan has pledged to sign. Maryland would join Vermont as the only states that ban fracking through legislation. Vermont does not have the shale formations containing natural gas where fracking could be done but Maryland has it in the western part of the state.


Oil spill in creek originally underestimated, making it one of largest in North Dakota history

Bismarck Tribune | Posted on March 28, 2017

An oil pipeline spill that contaminated a tributary of the Little Missouri River last December is now estimated to be three times larger than originally thought, making it one of the most significant pipeline spills in North Dakota history.Belle Fourche Pipeline Co. reports about 12,615 barrels, or 529,830 gallons, of oil spilled as a result of a pipeline leak the company now believes started on Dec. 1 and was discovered by a landowner on Dec. 5, said spokeswoman Wendy Owen.The spill contaminated a hillside and Ash Coulee Creek about 16 miles northwest of Belfield.An earlier estimate put the spill at 4,200 barrels, or 176,400 gallons, but was revised after the company was able to pinpoint when the spill started and review metering data, said Owen.


Peabody Bankruptcy Deal Leaves Taxpayers With Mine Cleanup Bill

Institute for Energy Economics | Posted on March 28, 2017

Peobody's debt-cutting plan will leave taxpayers facing a bigger bill for cleaning up nearly two dozen hazardous sites primarily in the central U.S., including a swath of northeast Oklahoma that once produced lead ore for bullets in both World Wars. The 22 properties will be shed by miner Peabody Energy Corp. when it leaves bankruptcy with a plan that shifts cleanup costs to the government. Peabody’s chapter 11 plan, approved Friday by a federal judge, and related settlements allow the company to provide about 2% of as much as $2.7 billion in environmental liabilities asserted by federal, state and tribal authorities for the sites polluted from lead and zinc mining that ended decades ago. But the gap between what governmental authorities sought from Peabody and what they will get at the end of the bankruptcy means the cost of cleaning up the sites will fall to governments and taxpayers. That comes as state budgets are stretched thin and the Environmental Protection Agency faces a 31% funding cut under President Donald Trump’s budget proposal.


California regulators launch new campaign against harmful climate pollutants

Los Angeles Times | Posted on March 28, 2017

California opened another front in its fight against global warming on Thursday, launching a new strategy for slashing so-called super pollutants that have an outsize impact on the climate. The plan targets emissions such as methane from cow manure, black carbon from diesel exhaust and hydrofluorocarbons from refrigerators. Regulators at the Air Resources Board, which approved the strategy, and other government agencies will now need to write detailed rules for achieving the reductions.


A 'carbon law' offers pathway to halve emissions every decade

Science Daily | Posted on March 28, 2017

The authors argue a carbon roadmap, driven by a simple rule of thumb or "carbon law" of halving emissions every decade, could catalyse disruptive innovation. Such a "carbon law," based on Moore's Law in the computer industry, applies to cities, nations and industrial sectors. The authors say fossil-fuel emissions should peak by 2020 at the latest and fall to around zero by 2050 to meet the UN's Paris Agreement's climate goal of limiting the global temperature rise to "well below 2°C" from preindustrial times. A "carbon law" approach, say the international team of scientists, ensures that the greatest efforts to reduce emissions happens sooner not later and reduces the risk of blowing the remaining global carbon budget to stay below 2°C. Moore's Law states that computer processors double in power about every two years. While it is neither a natural nor legal law, this simple rule of thumb or heuristic has been described as a "golden rule" which has held for 50 years and still drives disruptive innovation. The paper notes that a "carbon law" offers a flexible way to think about reducing carbon emissions. It can be applied across borders and economic sectors, as well as both regional and global scales.


The Trump administration wants to kill the popular Energy Star program because it combats climate change

The Washington Post | Posted on March 28, 2017

Under President Trump, the Environmental Protection Agency is on the chopping block. Both the president’s proposed budget and his executive orders on cutting regulations would shrink the EPA. But of the 38 EPA programs that the Trump administration has proposed cutting, at least one is quite surprising: the popular — and voluntary — Energy Star program. It’s not a mandatory regulation, nor a “job killer.” We can only assume that it’s on the list because its strong connection with climate change mitigation. Let us explain. Launched in 1992, Energy Star sets energy efficiency standards for appliances, electronics, and houses and buildings. But it’s not exactly a regulation. Businesses decide on their own whether to design products that comply with these standards. The EPA claims that Energy Star has lowered consumers’ electricity bills by $430 billion (contrast this with the annual administrative cost of the program of about $57 million). This lower energy consumption has prevented 2.7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.


U.S. biodiesel industry calls out illegal trading by Argentina and Indonesia

Biodiesel | Posted on March 28, 2017

Today the National Biodiesel Board filed an antidumping and countervailing duty petition, making the case that Argentine and Indonesian companies are violating trade laws by flooding the U.S. market with dumped and subsidized biodiesel. The petition was filed with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission on behalf of the National Biodiesel Board Fair Trade Coalition, which is made up of the National Biodiesel Board and U.S. biodiesel producers.  “The National Biodiesel Board and U.S. biodiesel industry is committed to fair trade, and we support the right of producers and workers to compete on a level playing field,” said Donnell Rehagen, National Biodiesel Board CEO. “This is a simple case where companies in Argentina and Indonesia are getting advantages that cheat U.S. trade laws and are counter to fair competition.  NBB is involved because U.S. biodiesel production, which currently support more than 50,000 American jobs, is being put at risk by unfair market practices.”  Because of illegal trade activities, biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia surged by 464 percent from 2014 to 2016. That growth has taken 18.3 percentage points of market share from U.S. manufacturers. “The resulting imbalance caused by unfair trade practices is suffocating U.S. biodiesel producers,” Rehagen explained. “Our goal is to create a level playing field to give markets, consumers and retailers access to the benefits of true and fair competition.”Based on NBB’s review, Argentine and Indonesian producers are dumping their biodiesel in the United States by selling at prices that are substantially below their costs of production.  This is reflected in the petition’s alleged dumping margins of 23.3percent for Argentina and 34.0 percent for Indonesia.  The petition also alleges illegal subsidies based on numerous government programs in those countries.This is not the first time that Argentine and Indonesian biodiesel producers have been charged with violating international trade laws.  In 2013, the EU imposed 41.9 to 49.2 percent duties on Argentina and 8.8 to 23.3 percent duties on Indonesia.  Just last year, Peru imposed both antidumping and countervailing duties on Argentine biodiesel.


Multiple state, federal bills introduced to stop the spread of E15

Hemmings Daily | Posted on March 28, 2017

Despite the ongoing rollout of E15 fuel nationwide, a handful of bills introduced in legislatures in D.C. and elsewhere aim to put a halt to sale of the fuel blamed for causing damage to older vehicles. The most extreme of those bills, H.R. 1314, which Virginia Representative Robert Goodlatte introduced, calls for the elimination of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the portion of the Clean Air Act enacted in 2005 that provides for minimum volumes of renewable fuels to be blended into the country’s fuel supply. At the same time, Goodlatte introduced H.R. 1315, the RFS Reform Act of 2017, which would keep ethanol blending amounts at current levels and ban the the production and sale of any fuel with a blend of more than 10 percent ethanol. The bill essentially resurrects two similar bills that Goodlatte introduced in prior sessions of Congress and that died in committee. Similarly, H.R. 119, the Leave Ethanol Volumes at Existing Levels Act, which Texas Representative Michael Burgess introduced, would cap ethanol fuel blends at 10 percent. measures to restrict ethanol-blended fuel sales in the state. The first, S.B. 115, calls for the prohibition of all ethanol-blended fuels while the second, Senate Resolution 205, asks the U.S. Congress to eliminate all requirements for the use of ethanol as a fuel.


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