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Climate Action Alliance of the Valley climate, energy news roundup: March 28

Climate Action Alliance of the ValleyThe Weekly Roundup of Climate and Energy News for the week ending March 26. For an archive of prior posts, visit the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley website.

Politics and Policy

International:

  • NATO is joining the Pentagon in examining climate change threats to its personnel and operations. (Washington Post)
  • Canada’s Supreme Court found its carbon tax legal, despite objections from some of its provinces. Its Conservative Party refuses to consider the climate threat as real.  (NYTimes, The Guardian)
  • China’s carbon reduction goals haven’t stopped its coal addiction. (Yale Environment 360)

Legislature and litigation:

  • A review of Biden’s climate action track record on energy and the environment in his first 100 days—43 days early—and Congressional, Executive Branch, and state/local responses: A mixed picture. The plans place clean energy front and center.  One reporter explores the chances, given that the Democrats have a “second bite at the apple.” (Environmental Health News, NYTimes, Rolling Stone)
  • The proposed infrastructure bill could have a major role in climate action. Biden’s plan is complicated and challenging, calling for $3Tn in investments “in infrastructure, education, work force development and fighting climate change, with the aim of making the economy more productive.” Example:  a jobs creation and repair program for impoverished areas near leaking oil wells.  The pandemic has illustrated many infrastructure failings but the price tag could be an obstacle.  Republicans have begun raising objections to the massive bill. (E&E News, Washington Post, NYTimes, Climate and Main, NBC WFLA, Washington Post, NYTimes)
  • Biden’s early executive order—for reexamining “Trump-era fuel economy and emissions standards … and its rule blocking California from setting its own standards”— raised questions about what the new administration would consider doing. (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy)

Administration, regulations, lawsuits, and analysis:

  • Using BP money, Louisiana plans to slow sea level rise and its resulting flooding, in part due to the shutdown of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico. (Grist, KLFY)
  • Louisiana politicians are beginning to confront the legacy of its “Cancer Alley”. But the state has a long way to go; it joined other states in suing over Biden’s oil and gas leasing moratorium.  (The Guardian, ProPublica, The Center Square, AP News, USA Today)
  • FERC “assessed a natural gas pipeline project’s contribution to climate change for the first time ever.” (E&E News)
  • The EPA will examine the Trump-era attacks on climate science. (NYTimes)
  • California is considering a program to purchase homes at great risk from coastal flooding. Residents of poor Houston communities are wrestling with the dilemma of having achieved the “American Dream” of home ownership… in a flood zone.  (OBP NPR, NYTimes)
  • Pennsylvania’s governor announced a plan to have half the state government’s electricity to be solar-powered by 2023. (Pittsburgh Post‑Gazette)
  • The Interior Department reversed a prior decision to remove jurisdiction over part of the Missouri River from a Native American tribe. (The Hill)
  • A proposed Texas highway expansion may not happen because of environmental justice concerns about displacement of “more than 1,000 disproportionately Black, brown and low-income households.” (The Guardian)
  • Car companies may join tobacco and oil companies as targets of lawsuits about their role in the climate crisis. (E&E News)
  • A recent Supreme Court ruling may signal its unwillingness to support Executive Branch efforts to safeguard “environmentally sensitive lands, especially those underwater, in the future.” Chief Justice Roberts wrote the opinion.  (Slate)
  • NASA has a newly appointed climate science advisor. (NYTimes)

Financial sector:

  • A recent study suggests many countries could see their credit ratings sink by 2030 due to global warming. (Reuters)
  • The Federal Reserve will convene panels to examine risks of climate change to financial systems. (CNBC)
  • The world’s largest banks have continued bankrolling “oil, gas, and coal” projects since 2016, to the tune of $3.8Tn. (Huff Post, The Guardian)
  • Despite increasing investor desire for “good corporate sustainability data”, most companies aren’t supplying it. (Fast Company)
  • Wall Street may prove a Biden ally in the “climate fight.” RMI’s leader says CEOs need to answer four key questions to make that happen.  (The Breeze, RMI)

Climate and Climate Science

Oceans, waterways, and drought:

  • An in-depth look at Bangladesh’s flooding challenges gives a glimpse into the future of many coastal and island countries—and what “climate migration” means. (Environmental Health News)
  • Australia’s floods are wreaking havoc, with thousands evacuated. In addition to the many problems Australians are facing, they have to contend with massive numbers of spiders that don’t like flood water either.  (The Guardian, Reuters, NYTimes)
  • The first ocean story: An unexpected result of ocean warming is that juvenile great white sharks are being seen in Central California, hundreds of miles north of their (previously) usual haunts.  The second:  A recent study showed the importance of sharks to the oceans’ well-being; a stable ecosystem depends on this apex predator.  And a third: “New research says preserving more of the world’s waters would lead to healthier marine life, better fishing and increased carbon absorption.” (NPR, The Guardian, Washington Post)
  • Four more: Warming oceans will mean more than sharks moving northward:  “Climate Refugees [and] Ocean Benefits” plus migration of other marine species and threats to Arctic residents’ lives and livelihoods from sea ice loss. “Conservation, sustainable fishing, and carbon sequestration” could be good for the oceans.  A young Mauritian activist recently protested underwater in the Indian Ocean to bring attention to the importance of seagrass and the threats to it. (Inside Climate News, CBC, NYTimes, CBC Radio)
  • Nitrogen pollution from agriculture is a source of waterway contamination. What would prioritizing major sources accomplish?  (Civil Eats)
  • Long-standing drought conditions in the US southwest are prompting some states to consider cloud seeding to produce rain. (The Guardian)

Environment:

  • Dutch engineers want to “turn the [Sinai] desert green” again (it once was), so it can support farming, wildlife, and wetlands. (The Guardian)
  • Maple producers in New York’s Finger Lakes region are successfully harvesting maple sugar despite the effects of climate change and Covid‑19. (Fox40 WICZ)
  • Would it be good if summer was six months long? (CNN)
  • Warming temperatures may extend grape growing and wineries northward, but there are challenges. (Eater)

Energy

Renewables and biomass:

  • A “unique hydroelectric pumping station” inside a Tennessee mountain keeps electricity flowing even during ice storms. (News 19 Huntsville)
  • Biomass isn’t “green energy.” Felling trees to make wood chips isn’t sustainable and contributes to global warming.  (Politico)
  • Floating solar next to offshore wind? Expensive but maybe….  (PV Magazine)

Transportation:

  • Automakers want to come up with “solid state” battery technology for electric vehicles (EVs) so batteries will weigh less and take up less space. (Inside Climate News)
  • A British company will build a factory in North Carolina to build delivery EVs for UPS. (CNBC, Arrival)
  • Duke Energy and other utilities are focusing on the potential economic benefits of EVs to their bottom lines. (Utility Dive)
  • Volkswagen wants to overtake Tesla in EV sales and may be making headway. (Inside Climate News)

Fossil fuels and extraction:

  • Memphis residents facing a proposed pipeline that would lie atop its water systems already have an air pollution problem and adverse health effects. A nearby county that owns land the pipeline would need to run through decided against selling it. (Commercial Appeal, MLK50)
  • Georgians living near a coal power plant are experiencing similar problems. (ProPublica)
  • What are the pros and cons of leaving in place an inactive Gulf of Mexico oil rig that is a habitat for marine life? (Bloomberg)
  • What if companies had to pay the costs of damages to climate and health their operations and products cause? (Reuters)
  • A coal company’s bankruptcy may leave communities with huge costs for cleaning up abandoned mines. (3 WFPL)
  • A new report questions the profitability of the fracking industry. (Gizmodo)

Plastics and waste:

  • A Florida chemical plant and plastics producer said it would reduce its carbon emissions. Did it?  The company isn’t saying much.  (Inside Climate News)
  • Algae in lakes isn’t always a good thing, but it can catch plastic, making it easier to remove. (Environmental Health News)
  • Camels are confusing plastic bags for food, with deadly results. (Washington Post)
  • A proposed new plastics plant in Louisiana’s “cancer alley” may not happen, in part because of lessening market demand. (Inside Climate News)

Utilities and electricity grid:

  • What role did clean energy play in Texas’ recent grid problems? “It is an extreme weather problem, not a clean power problem.”  Though grid weatherization is generally thought necessary, there isn’t consensus on the role of renewables.  (Augusta Free Press, S&P Global)
  • Analysts and researchers are trying to understand the scope of the grid threats climate change poses. Not surprisingly, it’s complicated.  Not much comfort to an Austin apartment complex’s residents, without power a month later.  (Bloomberg, Austin American‑Statesman)
  • Duke Energy’s 15-year energy plan is receiving very high interest. So many North Carolina residents, agencies, and companies want to comment that the regulator postponed a virtual meeting until it could determine how to accommodate them.  (Energy News Network)

Potpourri

  • Hard hats will be the new symbol of climate change action, say environmental activists pushing for Biden’s new infrastructure plan. (Grist)
  • Check out eight wonderful US public gardens, New York City’s abundant wildflowers, and a Dorset designer’s private garden. (NYTimes, NYTimes, NYTimes)
  • Georgia voting rights activist Stacey Abrams is also a climate activist. The Environmental Voters Group wants climate activists to vote. (Grist, Grist)
  • Backyard Foodbank is a Harrisonburg citizen’s effort to help people learn to grow their own food. (The Citizen)
  • Washington Post Live interviewed 3 champions of clean drinking water, including actor Matt Damon. (Washington Post)
  • Is “bingeing Netflix” bad for the climate? The company is looking at ways to reduce its carbon footprint.  It’s presenting “Seaspiracy” about human threats to marine life and “global corruption” behind them.  (Independent, Netflix)
  • Seven “emerging technologies” to “tackle the climate crisis”. Green Cement, Hydrogen Ships, Tree Corridors, …  (Rolling Stone)

Closing Thought

“The best protection for forests?  The people who live in them.”  (Inside Climate News)

Compiled by Joy Loving, CAAV Steering Committee


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