Energy

Coal Takes a Nosedive

Despite Trump’s efforts to save it, the most environmentally destructive fuel is fading quickly.

In the 2016 election, Trump pledged to save coal. Since then, his Administration has pulled out all the stops in this effort, including repeal of dozens of environmental regulations.  All for naught. In 2021, U.S. coal use will be 30% below what it is when Trump took office. Coal’s immediate situation is even worse, due …

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BP’s Surprising Pivot

An oil giant decides to face the future instead of fighting it.

With all that’s going on, it’s easy to miss what would in normal times be major news. On Tuesday, BP announced it was beginning to turn away from the oil business. The most significant thing may be this: BP stock rose after the announcement. BP has already sold its petrochemical business. It also announced that …

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NEPA, emergencies and executive power

Once more we need to ask, can Trump do what he claims to be doing?

Late Thursday, the White House issued another in a seemingly endless series of administrative orders. Under the typically overblown title “EO on Accelerating the Nation’s Economic Recovery from the COVID-19 Emergency by Expediting Infrastructure Investments and Other Activities,” it was touted by the President’s team as a way to speed infrastructure permitting and another step …

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Climate Action in the States

Climate progress continued despite Trump

Trump’s election in 2016 didn’t halt or even slow action in the states on renewable energy and climate change.  Things have hit “pause” during the pandemic, but that should be only temporary. All of this ferment at the state level should help lay the groundwork for future federal action.  Here’s what’s been happening in some …

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Remember “Beautiful, Clean Coal”? Trump Apparently Doesn’t.

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but Trump has stopped talking about coal.

One of Trump’s iconic campaign photos showed him with a sign saying “Trump Digs Coal.”  He vowed to bring back the coal industry. Even after his election, he delighted in photo ops with coal miners ( many of whom turned out to be coal company executives) wearing their helmets. But those days are gone. I …

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Guest Blogger Sharon Jacobs: The Coronavirus and Our Energy System

Coronavirus effect on alternative energy uncertain

Uncertainty is the New Normal

The novel coronavirus’s impact on our energy system is (understandably) not top of mind for most people right now. But the pandemic and its economic fallout have important implications for some of the most pressing energy issues today including the green transition, energy justice, and even the fate of bankrupt investor-owned utility PG&E in Northern …

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Deregulating Methane No Matter What

Emmett Institute faculty submit letter opposing Trump’s proposed rollback on methane regulations

Recently, my colleague Sean Hecht and I jointly submitted a comment letter opposing a new EPA Proposed Rule that would roll back standards limiting methane emissions from oil and natural gas production, processing, transmission, and storage facilities. This Proposed Rule essentially revokes two Obama-era regulations, finalized in 2012 and 2016, that first established these methane …

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Going Nuclear?

Nuclear has some serious problems, but it may be worth hedging our technology bets.

Nuclear power has been an important source of zero-carbon energy, though it has been plagued by other problems.  Does it have a future in our effort to decarbonize the grid? According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a third of U.S. nuclear plants, or about twenty percent of the nation’s total nuclear capacity, are …

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Climate Politics Down Under

Australia is leaping from the frying pan into the fire.

Australian climate politics has been strange if not chaotic.  And in terms of climate policy, things seems to be going from bad to worse. This is partly a function of general political upheaval. In an enlightening 2018 paper, three University of Melbourne law professors (Baxter. Milligan, and McRae) traced the developments from 2007 to 2016. …

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Putting the Squeeze on Coal

It’s not enough to eliminate coal-fired plants. We have to cut back on coal production and sale.

Coal use by American utilities has declined sharply and will continue to decline. But we shouldn’t focus solely on U.S. emissions. But the industry also exports coal, and there’s been a big surge in coal exports in the past two years, much of it involving India. So it’s not enough to curtail coal use in …

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