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Climate Action Alliance of the Valley climate, energy news roundup: April 3

Climate Action Alliance of the ValleyThe Climate Action Alliance of the Valley Weekly Roundup of Climate and Energy News for the week ending April 2 follows. Please forward the Roundup to anyone you think might be interested.  For an archive of prior posts, visit the CAAV website.

Politics and Policy

Legislation:

  • Biden’s $2+ trillion dollar “American Jobs Plan would rebuild roads, highways and bridges; confront the climate crisis and curb wealth inequality.” Methane emission reductions efforts would create jobs to make that happen. Not everyone believes the massive infrastructure plan goes far enough; others believe it’s too much or bad policy.  (The Guardian, VA Mercury, NYTimes, CNBC, Inside Climate News, Washington Post, Washington Post, Bloomberg, Washington Post)
  • California’s legislature is “leaning into” sea level rise, considering bills to slow its impacts and address the underlying cause. (San Diego Union‑Tribune)
  • Several states are considering or enacting legislation to prohibit localities from banning new natural gas hookups. (KUT–TX, WSAV—GA, Energy News Network–NC, E&E News–MA)
  • Texas legislators are “adding fees on solar and wind electricity production in the state in hopes of boosting fossil fuels.” (Houston Chronicle)
  • Several “coal states” want to “make it harder to shut down coal-fired power plants even as clean energy becomes cheaper.” (Bloomberg)
  • Indiana is grappling with whether and how to pursue the opportunities wind energy could bring. (Inside Climate News)

Administration, regulations and analysis:

  • The fossil fuel industry is rethinking its opposition to carbon pricing, given Biden’s effort to reconsider federal oil and gas leasing. (Independent)
  • The EPA withdrew a key permit for the Key Limetree Bay Refinery on St. Croix after an accident spewed an oil and water mist over the nearby area. It didn’t order the plant closed; the situation “presents one of the earliest tests of … Biden’s vow to clean up pollution in … disadvantaged communities.”  The EPA moved to dismiss members of two scientific panels appointed during the prior administration.  The EPA is “making major changes to the way it evaluates the safety of new chemicals.”  Biden appointed his Environmental Justice panel. (Washington Post, Inside Climate News, Washington Post, c&en, The Hill)
  • The Biden administration is making a “big push” for off-shore wind along the East Coast. (Washington Post, NYTimes, Reuters)
  • The auto industry wants Biden to go big on a “comprehensive EV plan”. (Reuters, Washington Post)
  • The Energy Department plans to revamp the energy efficiency processes and rules of the prior administration. (NRDC, The Hill, AEEE)
  • FEMA tweaked its proposed increases in federal flood insurance–illustrating one of many tough choices the Biden administration will make. (The Hill, NYTimes)

Financial sector:

  • A former Blackrock chief investment officer said “green investing” isn’t “going to work” in free markets because “the system is built to extract profits.” (The Guardian)
  • Economists worldwide believe “economic benefits from net-zero emissions by 2050 would outweigh the cost of achieving it.” (Al Jazeera)
  • The Federal Reserve Chair said “Climate change poses [an] ‘existential threat’ to financial markets.” The World Bank is hedging.  (Politico, Reuters)
  • “Diversify or divest” is the message to oil producers from a recent study. (The Guardian)
  • Biden’s infrastructure plan seeks to “green the financial sector.” What does that mean?  (The Atlantic)

Climate and Climate Science

Drought, flooding, hurricanes, fires, oceans and rivers:

  • Sea level rise is occurring at the fastest rate in two millennia. (com)
  • Relatively low “maximum” Arctic sea ice is “the new normal.” (Arctic Today)
  • Without “transformative intervention,” Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is probably doomed. (The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • The Interior Department will provide Louisiana $110 Million from oil revenue funds to address “coastal restoration and hurricane protection.” (The Times‑Picayune)
  • Canada’s Maritime Provinces experience hurricanes. A new study says more areas of the country need to prepare for hurricane-force winds. (CBC)
  • California is pessimistic about its summer drought prospects because of lower snowfall. North Dakota, reeling from a lengthy drought, declared a state of emergency because of current wildfires; 2021 has already seen over “140 wildfires … [and] over 30,000 [burned] acres….” (The Sacramento Bee, CNN)

Plastics, chemicals and waste:

  • A major sandstorm brought more than sand to Beijing, “turning [the] sun blue and [the] sky yellow, thanks in part to the accompanying pollutants. (The Guardian)
  • Bromide poisoning is thought to be the cause of bald eagle deaths. In Canada, “Decades of arsenic poisoning produced by Giant Mine has caused irreversible damage to Dene First Nation land.”  Fracking in northwest New Mexico on Navajo lands resulted in 3,600+ “oil spills, fires, blowouts and gas releases” since 2009, and contamination of drinking water. Farmers’ deployment of pesticides and herbicides has harmed pollinators and invertebrates and land plants more than mammals and birds.  (New Scientist, Capital Current, Capital and Main, AAAS)
  • “A former Syngenta scientist calls the failures to heed his warnings about the deadly pesticide ‘a conspiracy within the company to keep this quiet.’” Numbers of people who ingested the pesticide, which acts quickly on plants and is also toxic to humans, committed suicide.  (The Intercept)
  • A 9-month investigation of US water in multiple locations revealed high levels of “arsenic, lead and toxic chemicals”. Pittsboro, North Carolina is one example.  (The Guardian, The Guardian)
  • An upstate New York project showed we can lessen road salt’s negative environmental and other effects by using less, timing its placement, and using alternative treatments and equipment. (Undark)
  • An environmental medicine and public health professor warns that human reproductive capability is at risk from chemicals in our environment. (The Guardian

Environment:

  • The burning of tropical forests continued apace in 2020, putting world climate goals at risk. (Washington Post, NYTimes, Mongabay, Grist)
  • Can farms actually assist wildlife? Homeowners? Rivers? (Grist, NYTimes, Mongabay)
  • What if we could block some of the sun’s energy by radiating it back into space? The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine think we should study if this solar geoengineering is possible.  A test flight “for sun blocking research” was cancelled after objections.  (NYTimes, The Guardian, NYTimes)
  • Pittsburgh’s temperatures have warmed enough that it’s one of the worst areas for plant and pollen allergies. Northern Siberia has warmed so much it’s now the quickest-to-warm-area world-wide.  “Thaw-triggered landslides are a growing hazard in the warming North.” (Pittsburg Post‑Gazette, The Barents Observer, Arctic North)
  • Climate change has erased agricultural production gains of the past 60 years. (Environmental Health News)
  • NASA “has proven what is driving climate change through direct observations — a gold standard in scientific research.” Spoiler alert: It’s us.  (CBS News)

Energy

Renewables:

  • Clean energy + battery storage can yield “the same energy security as coal, research finds.” (The Guardian)
  • West Virginia’s Senate wants to promote wind and solar as a use for reclaimed lands. Its House wants to incentivize energy efficiency.  (Charleston Gazette‑Mail, Charleston Gazette-Mail)
  • A Scottish windfarm’s success is signaling “global potential.” “Big Wind Turbines Prove No Deadlier to Wildlife Than Small Units.” (The Guardian, Bloomberg)

Transportation:

  • Thinking about buying an electric vehicle (EV)? Here are details. (Washington Post)
  • EV battery technology includes minerals and metals. Increasing demand may mean extraction of US resources will increase.  (Energy Storage News
  • North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality is continuing its EV rebate program “for Level 2 charging projects,” using funding from the state’s Volkswagen settlement. (WWAY)
  • Biden’s infrastructure plan is betting on EVs. (NYTimes)
  • A relatively few number of travelers account for most of air travel emissions: Data “from the countries with the highest aviation emissions, shows a worldwide pattern of a small group taking a large proportion of flights”.  (The Guardian)
  • Biden’s “infrastructure plan calls for $80 billion for rail. It could transform passenger service.” Could the plan also assist communities previously harmed by past projects?  What about Americans’ preference for cars?  (Washington Post, NYTimes, NYTimes)

Fossil fuels and extraction:

  • West Virginia’s Senate “will consider a bill aimed at maintaining a place for coal in … [its] energy production.” China accounted for half the world’s 2020 coal-fired generation.  (Metro News, Reuters)
  • What if carbon capture and storage could work? “Shopify, the Canadian company that runs e-commerce sites, wants to … pay … a Texas venture to pull carbon dioxide from the sky and store it underground.”  The Energy Department announced it’s developed a solvent that would greatly cut carbon capture costs.  (Grist, E&E News)
  • Pipelines put communities, human health, and flora and fauna at risk. Russia is a leader in oil leaks.  Memphis property owners continue their fight against the proposed Byhalia pipeline.  (DW, Grist, CBS News, WREG News, Climate XChange)

Potpourri

  • What if your house was your energy storage system? [Note the publication date:  April 1, 2021] (VA Mercury)
  • An Icelandic writer and poet spent years penning his book On Time and Water to explain just how critical our climate crisis is, hoping to get more people to understand. It’s now in English. The American author of Under the Sky We Make says what we do can make a difference, especially “if you’re rich.” (Grist, Grist)
  • You, and your kids, can share ideas about restoring the earth by entering Earth Day Every Day’s art contest; hurry, April 11 is the deadline for submissions. (Augusta Free Press)
  • A Brooklyn man founded BlocPower to help residents of low-income buildings lower energy bills through solar and efficiency improvements. He’s done so well he’s planning to expand to other large cities.  (Washington Post)
  • A new book traces past and current migratory bird patterns. It offers wondrous details and sobering realities. (NYTimes)
  • Ever listened to Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”? It’s been updated by “composers, scientists, [and] designers” for our “climate change era.”  (Yale Climate Connections)
  • Did you know that planting oaks will do a lot more than sequester carbon? (NYTimes)

Closing Thought

“Scientists note nine planetary boundaries beyond which we can’t push Earth Systems without putting our societies at risk: climate change, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, ozone depletion, atmospheric aerosol pollution, freshwater use, biogeochemical flows of nitrogen and phosphorus, land‑system change, and release of novel chemicals.”  This Earth month, consider how well we’ve done.  (Mongabay)

Compiled by Joy Loving, CAAV Steering Committee


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