Morning Consult Energy: Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to Get New Protections
 

Energy

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July 16, 2021
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  • As anticipated, the Biden administration said it will issue protections for the Tongass National Forest in Alaska with an eye toward promoting new recreational activities in the region and eliminating the carbon emissions connected to felling the old-growth trees, a reversal of former President Donald Trump’s most prominent public lands decision to promote road development in the forest. The restrictions will include a ban on large-scale old-growth logging and a potential block on road development on 9 million of the forest’s 16.7 million acres. (The Washington Post)
  • After record-breaking rainfall, a devastating flood in western Germany and the surrounding areas has resulted in a death toll of over 100 people, and at least 1,300 missing as the rescue mission continues. (Bloomberg) Climate scientists, who have long linked human-generated emissions to extreme weather but have said it is too soon to say anything definitive about the flood, said they are shocked by the scale of the devastation, saying they did not expect disaster records to be broken so substantially this soon, or over such a wide area. (The Guardian)
  • Higher temperatures have led to 20,000 more workplace injuries than are recorded in California’s official data, through causing accidents like falling, being hit by vehicles or mishandling machines, according to a new working paper led by R. Jisung Park, a professor of public policy at the University of California at Los Angeles. The study, which was cited in congressional testimony, shows that these injuries are concentrated among poor workers, exemplifying how climate change is further exacerbating economic inequality, in this case via lost wages and higher medical bills. (The New York Times)
  • In German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to the White House, she and President Joe Biden butted heads once again on the wisdom of allowing the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to operate, but Biden said that “good friends can disagree.” The two leaders did emerge from the meeting with a partnership focused on climate action, energy technologies and energy transitions in emerging economies. (Politico)
 

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What Else You Need to Know

General
 

Senate nears pivotal vote on bipartisan infrastructure deal that’s still unwritten

Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett, Politico

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday he will tee up a vote on the agreement as its authors race to turn a framework into text.

 

What the budget deal means for climate policy

Nick Sobczyk et al., E&E News

Many Democrats were in high spirits yesterday after agreeing to a $3.5 trillion budget resolution that will lay the groundwork for an array of climate priorities, but their celebrations will be short-lived as they begin jockeying over policy specifics and the complex rules that govern the reconciliation process.

 

EPA Looks to Outside Help to Button Up Scientific Integrity

Stephen Lee, Bloomberg Law

The EPA chemicals office will soon hire an outside vendor to help it better understand problems employees face with scientific integrity, according to an internal email reviewed by Bloomberg Law.

 
Climate Change and Emissions
 

China Opened a National Carbon Market. Here’s Why it Matters.

Chris Buckley, The New York Times

The program may help China eventually curb greenhouse gas pollution. But making emissions markets work is tricky.

 

How the pandemic foretells the climate crisis

Simon Kuper, Financial Times

‘The destruction of the Amazon is climate’s Delta variant. When Brazilian rainforests shrink, rich countries heat up too.’

 

UK watchdog criticises lack of central co-ordination on climate goals

Camilla Hodgson, Financial Times

NAO report finds serious weaknesses in Whitehall’s approach to working with local authorities.

 

The EU’s technical tangle in making carbon border measures WTO-legal

Alan Beattie, Financial Times

Brussels will have to fight its own instincts on exporting regulation and raising cash.

 

Powell Says Fed Likely to Require Banks to Test for Climate Risk

Rich Miller, Bloomberg

The Federal Reserve will probably end up requiring banks to conduct tests to judge their vulnerability to the effects of climate change, Chairman Jerome Powell suggested on Thursday.

 

Oregon wildfire displaces 2,000 residents as blazes flare across U.S. West

Deborah Bloom, Reuters

Hand crews backed by water-dropping helicopters struggled on Thursday to suppress a huge wildfire that displaced roughly 2,000 residents in southern Oregon, the largest among dozens of blazes raging across the drought-stricken western United States.

 

What Climate Scientists Are Saying About This Catastrophic Summer

Sofia Andrade, Slate

“The community hasn’t done as good of a job projecting how bad climate impacts would be at 1.2 degrees Celsius,” one scientist said.

 

The current drought is worldwide. Here’s how different places are fighting it

Celina Tebor, Los Angeles Times

The world is facing unprecedented levels of drought. In the U.S., nearly half the mainland is currently afflicted, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. The situation is especially dire in the Northwest, which is facing some of its driest conditions in over a century following a heat wave that killed hundreds of people. No continent, except Antarctica, has been spared, according to the SPEI Global Drought Monitor.

 

‘In hell’: Nowhere has been drier than this stretch of Texas

Daniel Cusick, E&E News

Ten years ago this month, two North Texas counties began to feel the squeeze of what farmers in the Southern Great Plains call a “long dry spell.”

 

Let’s say we stop burning fossil fuels. What happens next?

Eve Andrews, Grist

All that CO2 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

 
Renewables and Storage
 

Building Solar Farms May Not Build the Middle Class

Noam Scheiber, The New York Times

Some of the wealthiest companies in the world are investing in the green economy. But they’re not investing in paying union wages.

 

U.S. seeks to speed rooftop solar growth with instant permits

Nichola Groom, Reuters
The Biden administration on Thursday will roll out a tool that enables instant local permitting of rooftop solar installations, addressing a major source of industry delays and possibly lowering costs for homeowners, the Energy Department said.

 
Oil, Gas and Alternative Fuels
 

U.S. FERC to hear Total alleged $214 mln natgas manipulation case

Reuters

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said on Thursday an Administrative Law Judge will determine whether units and traders at French energy company Total, now TotalEnergies SE, manipulated the natural gas market in 2009-2012.

 

OPEC sees world oil demand reaching pre-pandemic level in 2022

Alex Lawler, Reuters

OPEC forecast on Thursday that world oil demand would rise in 2022 to reach a level similar to before the pandemic, led by growth in the United States, China and India.

 

Exxon Mobil signs MOU to participate in Scotland’s Acorn CCS project

Nina Chestney, Reuters

Exxon Mobil has signed a memorandum of understanding to participate in a carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in Scotland, the U.S. oil and gas producer said on Friday.

 

Greenland suspends oil exploration because of climate change

The Associated Press

The left-leaning government of Greenland has decided to suspend all oil exploration off the world’s largest island, calling it “a natural step” because the Arctic government “takes the climate crisis seriously.”

 

Antsy Industry Awaits Interior Oil Lease Sale After Court Order

Bobby Magill, Bloomberg Law

Oil and gas industry-aligned lawyers say the Interior Department could be held in contempt of court if it doesn’t soon comply with a Louisiana federal judge’s order to restart federal oil and gas leasing.

 
Transportation
 

Greens Fear Biden Will Go Easy on Automakers Over Emissions

Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Bloomberg

Environmentalists are increasingly worried the Biden administration will yield in coming days to automaker pressure and adopt modest limits on greenhouse gas emissions from cars, instead of the strict standards they say are necessary to combat climate change.

 

Amazon, Exelon, others press Congress on EV incentives amid growing focus on potential grid role

Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Congress should include support for medium and heavy-duty vehicle electrification in the infrastructure package now being developed, a group of corporate fleet owners with more than 1 million vehicles between them said in a July 14 letter to lawmakers.

 

Business, labor groups teaming in high-speed rail push

Mychael Schnell, The Hill

A coalition of businesses and labor groups is calling on Congress to include hundreds of billions of dollars of funding for high-speed rail in the forthcoming infrastructure bills.

 
Electricity, Utilities and Infrastructure
 

Democrats Eye Penalties for Utilities That Miss Climate Targets

Ari Natter and Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Bloomberg

Senate Democrats are proposing to penalize utilities that don’t meet clean-energy targets, while rewarding those that do, as part of a mandate for carbon-free power they are preparing to move through their $3.5 trillion tax-and-spending package.

 

Texas Grid Operator Wants State Aid for $3 Billion Blackout Cost

Mark Chediak and Joe Carroll, Bloomberg Law

The main operator of the Texas power grid will ask the state for loans and permission to issue bonds to cover the billions of dollars of debt stemming from historic blackouts that crippled the state in a February freeze.

 

Senators clash over policy to increase FERC transmission siting authority

Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

An attempt to derail Senate efforts to give federal regulators more authority over transmission siting prompted a debate over power line expansion on Wednesday.

 

ERCOT, Caught in Political Crossfire, Releases Reliability ‘Roadmap’

Sonal Patel, Power

​​The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has unveiled a roadmap outlining crucial improvements designed to enhance grid reliability, taking into account recent legislation, regulatory mandates, and a recent push by the state’s governor for market incentives that will help the grid bulk up on “adequate and reliable” resources, like natural gas, coal, and nuclear power.

 
Environment, Land and Resources
 

New data on ‘forever chemicals’ prompts calls for more transparency

Sharon Udasin, The Hill

A recent trove of data on so-called forever chemicals is spurring calls for more transparency around the use of toxic fluids by fracking companies.

 

Detroit’s prison population will soon be stuck living next to a toxic site

Jena Brooker and Adam Mahoney, Grist

“Living in Detroit has given me a deep understanding that fights against the prison system and police are also fights against poverty and pollution.”

 

The US city that proves replacing lead water lines needn’t be a pipe dream

Lynne Peeples, The Guardian

Newark, New Jersey, has removed more than 20,000 lead water lines while the White House pushes national plan.

 
Coal/Nuclear
 

Tapping into coal, US could become net exporter of rare earths – DOE official

Taylor Kuykendall, S&P Global Market Intelligence

The United States could eventually become a net exporter of the rare earth materials crucial to making an array of products, including many electronics, wind turbines, energy storage devices and electric vehicle batteries, a top official at the U.S. Energy Department said.

 
Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives
 

It Seems Odd That We Would Just Let the World Burn

Ezra Klein, The New York Times

I spent the weekend reading a book I wasn’t entirely comfortable being seen with in public. Andreas Malm’s “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” is only slightly inaptly named. You won’t find, anywhere inside, instructions on sabotaging energy infrastructure. A truer title would be “Why to Blow Up a Pipeline.” On this, Malm’s case is straightforward: Because nothing else has worked.

 

Europe sets pace for global climate policy

Editorial Board, Financial Times

Comprehensive approach is sensible but faces political challenges.

 
Morning Consult