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Continued sea-level rise on East and Gulf coasts detailed

Science Daily | Posted on February 27, 2019

Interactive plots provide annual sea-level projections to 2050 for 32 localities along the US coastline from Maine to Alaska. These web-based charts -- available online at https://www.vims.edu/research/products/slrc/index.php -- project sea level out to the year 2050 based on an ongoing analysis of tide-gauge records for 32 localities along the U.S. coastline from Maine to Alaska. Release of this year's cards was delayed by the 35-day government shutdown, which precluded compilation of and access to NOAA's latest tide-gauge records.


Fishing group accepts Vineyard Wind deal

Cape Cod Times | Posted on February 27, 2019

A Rhode Island fishing board Saturday voted in favor of a revised compensation offer from offshore wind developer Vineyard Wind in a decision that boosts the New Bedford company’s chances of securing a key approval from state coastal regulators later this week. In a unanimous vote at the special meeting, the Fishermen’s Advisory Board accepted the new offer that includes $4.2 million in payments over 30 years for direct impacts to commercial fishermen from Vineyard Wind’s 84-turbine wind farm proposed south of Martha’s Vineyard — as well as the creation of a $12.5-million trust set up over five years that could be used to cover additional costs to fishermen resulting from the project.The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council is now set to vote tonight on whether it believes the $2 billion project is consistent with state coastal activities, including fishing. With the vote by the fishermen’s board, the prospects of Vineyard Wind winning approval appear much improved from just weeks ago when the two sides were mired in negotiations.But the board’s decision does not amount to an endorsement of the 800-megawatt proposal, which is aiming to be the first large-scale offshore wind farm in the nation, following the completion two years ago of a test project off Block Island.Even though every member of the fishermen’s board voted for the agreement, each spoke out against a process regulated by the federal government that they argued is weighted in favor of offshore wind development, to the detriment of the fishing industry. And each expressed reservations about their decision.


Iowa looks to be the next battleground for solar net metering policy

Energy News Network | Posted on February 27, 2019

Iowa clean energy advocates are bracing for another legislative setback this year as the state’s largest utility takes aim at solar net metering. A bill (HSB 185) introduced by a House committee chairperson last week would slash the payments customers receive for unused solar power they generate.A spokeswoman for MidAmerican Energy said the current policy forces customers who don’t own solar panels to unfairly subsidize those who do.“We support customers having private generation, but not the cost shift that’s created when they don’t pay for their use of the grid,” a spokeswoman said.The question of cost-shifting, however, has never been studied in Iowa and has been disproven in states that have examined the value of distributed solar on the grid.


Renewable energy and jobs up in rural areas

Canton Daily Ledger | Posted on February 27, 2019

While an ambitious “Green New Deal” to convert the country to 100-percent renewable energy by 2030 is discussed in Washington, the rural Midwest is already heading that way, according to a new report verified by area experts. Renewable energy is growing, says “Green Energy Sweeps across Rural America,” an 18-page study from the Natural Resources Defense Council, with support from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The report shows how wind, solar and other energy-efficiency efforts are dominating the rural economy, growing jobs and investment.Such green-energy sources outnumber coal, gas and oil, combined, says the study, using 2017 data from the Dept. of Energy. In Illinois, for example, the percentage of fossil-fuel jobs fell to 0.8 percent of all jobs; clean-energy jobs grew to 2.6 percent.
“Clean energy plays an outsize role in rural areas relative to the size of rural economies,” say the report’s chief authors, Arjun Krishnaswami and Elisheva Mittelman. “In 2017, more people in the rural Midwest were employed by clean energy than by fossil fuel power plants, extraction, refinement and transportation combined in 10 of 12 midwestern states.


America's strongest climate governor might be a Republican

E&E News | Posted on February 27, 2019

During his first run for governor, Charlie Baker sat for a meeting with a group of leading environmentalists in Massachusetts. It quickly turned combative. Baker, a Republican who was challenging Gov. Deval Patrick (D), voiced doubts about the veracity of climate science and the high cost of renewable energy. He singled out Cape Wind as an overpriced offshore wind project proposed for Nantucket Sound. The project died years later, in 2017.Recounting the meeting to The Boston Globe, the environmental leaders recalled Baker using a whiteboard to lecture them about the shortcomings of their position. The greens were shocked. Baker, a former state budget official, municipal leader and health care executive, had a reputation as a technocrat. They assumed he accepted the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate.He did not."I'm not saying I believe in it. I'm not saying I don't," Baker told the Globe in 2010. "You're asking me to take a position on something I don't know enough about. I absolutely am not smart enough to believe that I know the answer to that question."He lost the race.


Pay attention to the growing wave of climate change lawsuits

VOX | Posted on February 27, 2019

In 1998, 46 states and the District of Columbia signed on to the largest civil litigation settlement in US history, the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. Stunning in its scope and scale, the agreement forced the four largest tobacco companies to stop advertising to youth, limit lobbying, restrict product placement in media, and fund anti-smoking campaigns. It also required them to pay out more than $206 billion over 25 years. Tobacco companies had in previous decades successfully swatted down hundreds of private lawsuits. But states found an opening by suing companies for the harm they caused to public health. 


Former Iowa Sen. Danielson to lobby for wind energy group

AP News | Posted on February 27, 2019

Former Iowa Sen. Jeff Danielson says he has taken a job as a regional state policy director for the American Wind Energy Association, a national trade group for the wind energy industry. Danielson, who unexpectedly resigned Feb. 14 after 15 years in the Senate, says in a statement he will lobby to help expand wind power in the organization’s 12-state central region.By state law he is prohibited from lobbying Iowa lawmakers for two years and the AWEA says it will “comply with any and all state regulatory requirements.”


Texas Taxpayers Pay The French Government For Wind Power And Then Pay The Grid To Take It

Forbes | Posted on February 26, 2019

At least 57 times in 2017, and many more last year, Georgetown’s residents paid EDF, a company owned 84.5% by the government of France, around 6 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity produced in the middle of the night when demand was low—so low, in fact, that because of tax incentives and government subsidies, the price for power was negative. Put simply: Texas taxpayers paid the French government for power and then, to add insult to injury, paid the grid to take the excess power off their hands.


Under Trump's Tariffs, The US Lost 20,000 Solar Energy Jobs

Forbes | Posted on February 26, 2019

2016 was the best year on record for solar energy in the United States. A report from the U.S. Department of Energy at the time showed that solar energy was responsible for a much larger share of employment in the electric power sector (43%) than the whole of the fossil fuel industry combined (22%). With such robust numbers, it seemed as though solar energy, and renewables more broadly, were about to revolutionize the energy sector in the United States and lead the push towards cleaner energy and lower carbon emissions.However, solar energy jobs have stagnated and dipped for two consecutive years since the Department of Energy’s initial report, with a loss of 10,000 jobs in 2017 followed by a further 8,000 in 2018. Although some job losses were foreseen as a result of project finalizations in several states, the biggest contributing factor was President Trump’s tariffs on solar panels . The first shot fired in what would become a wide-ranging trade war with China in 2018, the U.S.’ decision to add a 30% tariff on foreign-produced solar panels had a negative effect on its domestic solar industry, which heavily relies on cheap imports.


Icahn-Backed Refiner Saves $189 Million on EPA's Biofuel Tweaks

Bloomberg | Posted on February 26, 2019

CVR Energy Inc., backed by billionaire investor Carl Icahn, saved $189 million under the U.S. biofuels mandate last year. That’s largely thanks to a campaign he helped ignite to lower costs for compliance. CVR Energy, an independent oil refiner majority owned by Icahn Enterprises LP, spent $60 million on biofuel credits necessary to fulfill the mandate in 2018 -- a 76 percent drop from the company’s $249 million tab in 2017, a Feb. 21 regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission shows. Other oil refiners also have highlighted a decline in prices for the credits in quarterly filings and conference calls.Icahn was for a time the public face of a push to overhaul the Renewable Fuel Standard. The 2007 energy law compels refiners to blend escalating amounts of biofuel with petroleum or instead buy credits, known as Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs). The price of those credits surged to record levels in 2016, prompting Icahn to send a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in August of that year decrying the market as “rigged” and “the mother of all short squeezes.”


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