By 2040, rainfall on wheat, soybean, rice and maize will have changed, even if Paris Agreement emissions targets are met; projections show parts of Europe, Africa, the Americas and Australia will be drier, while the tropics and north will be wetter.
Two bills allowing the state of South Dakota to prosecute pipeline demonstrators and their funders — and use money from damages to fund law enforcement and pipeline costs — moved to the Senate floor on Wednesday. Introduced by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, R, on Monday, the bills would protect the 1,179-mile-long Keystone XL pipeline, a planned TransCanada project that would slice through the state carrying 830,000 barrels of crude oil a day. The Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association has opposed the bills, representing the leaders of 16 tribes in the region, none of whom were consulted for the legislation.
President Trump proposed significant budget cuts to the government agencies responsible for overseeing the nation’s energy and environmental policies, including a 31 percent reduction in spending at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The fiscal 2020 budget proposal to Congress marks the latest effort by the administration to slash funding for science and enforcement programs.The document, titled "A Budget for a Better America," requests $31.7 billion for the Department of Energy, an 11 percent decrease from current funding, while the Interior Department would see a 14 percent cut, to $12.5 billion.
The Trump administration on Tuesday advanced a plan meant to expand the U.S. market for corn-based ethanol and place trading restrictions on credits that refiners use to prove they are using biofuel. The Environmental Protection Agency proposal is a first step in fulfilling President Donald Trump’s promise to unleash sales of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol and deliver at least a symbolic victory to corn farmers in the Midwest who have been battered by his trade fight with China. Air pollution requirements currently block sales of that E15 gasoline from June 1 to Sept. 15 in areas where smog is a problem, and the EPA proposal would effectively lift those restrictions so it could be sold year round.
The New Mexico State House on Tuesday passed Senate Bill 489 44-22, requiring the state to generate 100% of its electricity from carbon-free resources by 2045. The Energy Transition Act, introduced in February and approved by the State Senate last week, also increases the state's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2040, echoing Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's campaign promises. It also includes securitization provisions to help recover the costs of coal plant retirements and allocates funds toward transitioning mining communities. The bill follows Grisham's January executive order, which committed the state to the U.S. goals under the Paris Climate Agreement — reducing carbon emissions by at least 45% below 2005 levels by 2030. She is expected to sign the bill soon.
An environmental group has published 18 leaked memos by government scientists that outline gaps in knowledge about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The group claims the information should have been included in the Bureau of Land Management’s report on possible impacts from oil and gas leasing in the refuge.
As gas tax revenue declines, proposals would raise or create new fees for hybrids and electric vehicles.Frustrated with falling gas tax revenue, lawmakers in Iowa and Minnesota are looking to drivers of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles to help fill budget gaps.In Minnesota, a bill by Republican state Sen. Jeff Howe would raise the state’s $75 annual charge on hybrids and electric vehicles to $125 and $250, respectively, but is unlikely to make it out of a solidly Democratic House.In Iowa, though, legislation to create $65 and $130 annual fees on hybrids and electric vehicles has already passed out of House and Senate committees. The bills came in response to a state transportation report that estimated Iowa lost at least $317,000 in gas tax revenue last year due to hybrid and electric vehicles.
As political battles persisted on federal biofuels policy throughout 2018, ethanol producers in the United States exported a record number of gallons, according to the latest data from the USDA, U.S. Census Bureau, and U.S. Department of Commerce. New data released on Wednesday shows U.S. ethanol exports eclipsed the previous record set in 2017 by 25% to 1.7 billion gallons. The U.S. exported ethanol to more than 80 countries. Nearly 11% of total U.S. ethanol production was exported last year.Brazil was the leading U.S. export destination at 513.2 million gallons, or 30% of the total. Canada was second with 349.6 mg, followed by India at 156.8 mg. The three countries accounted for 60% of total ethanol exports. The European Union, South Korea and the Philippines were other top markets in 2018. Export volumes to nine of the top 10 destinations saw increases above 2017 volumes, with Brazil, the Netherlands, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Colombia showing the largest gains.
Modern coal-fired power stations produce more ultrafine dust particles than road traffic and can even modify and redistribute rainfall patterns, a new 15-year international study shows. The study indicates filtration systems on modern coal-fired power stations are the biggest source of ultrafine particles and can have considerable impacts on climate in several ways.
However, not everyone is a fan of wind farms or the look of the wind turbines dotting the skyline across the Lone Star State. This has led to an interesting question: Can claimed negative aesthetic impact of a wind project by a neighboring landowner constitute a nuisance under Texas law?In Rankin v. FPL Energy, LLC, neighbors of the Horse Hollow Wind Farm in Taylor County, filed a lawsuit against the farm claiming it constituted a nuisance. One of the the plaintiffs’ key claims was that the “wind farm’s aesthetic impact” and the emotional impact of the loss of the unimpeded view of neighboring landowners was a condition that could be considered by a jury in determining whether a nuisance existed. The plaintiffs claimed that the 400-foot-tall turbines significantly diminished the area’s scenic beauty and, therefore, the enjoyment of their property. One plaintiff claimed that because of the wind farm, they abandoned their plan of opening a bed and breakfast due to the view of the wind farm.The court rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that the aesthetic impact created a nuisance. Although the court recognized the wind farm’s impact on the view and the emotional reaction this could cause, it simply did not constitute a nuisance. Texas case law limits a nuisance action “when the challenged activity is lawful to instances in which the activity results in some invasion of the plaintiff’s property and by not allowing recovery for emotional reaction alone.” Thus, Texas courts do not provide a nuisance action for damage to aesthetic impact.