Climate, energy news roundup: July 11
The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV), a non-profit, grassroots group of volunteers in the Central Shenandoah Valley, produces “The Weekly Roundup of Climate and Energy News” to inform legislators and the public. Here is an excerpt from a recent Roundup; full Roundup is on the CAAV website.
Politics and Policy
The House of Representatives weighed in with its Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy and Just America. The “report outlines a plan to reach the target of net-zero economy-wide emissions by 2050”. A joint Biden‑Sanders Task Force included recommendations around the climate “emergency”, setting “a number of specific near-term benchmarks that Democrats would promise to reach.”
Gizmodo highlighted policy proposals from the Movement for Black Lives, indicating they and “Environmentalists Are Finding Common Ground”. Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam announced the “’Clean Energy Virginia’ Initiative to Drive Investment in Renewable Energy, Support Jobs of the Future”.
Rocky Mountain Institute announced the launch of its Center for Climate‑Aligned Finance to “enable FIs [Financial Institutions] to actively help shape the transformation of carbon intensive sectors alongside their clients on the journey to net zero global emissions by 2050.” Forbes reported on Amazon’s launch of “a new $2 billion venture capital fund … that will invest in clean energy and other technologies to reduce the impact of climate change”.
The Houston Chronicle reported on the Secretary of Energy’s assertion that “COVID-19 brought oil and gas down, but Trump is powering a comeback”.
Climate and Climate Science
The Narwahl offered “One key solution to the world’s climate woes? Canada’s natural landscapes”. The Revelator described projects to identify areas to become “Climate Refugia”—“Areas with natural buffers from the effects of climate change” that could “play a vital role in conservation efforts”.
Scientists’ strategy of assisted migration is to help trees survive climate change by planting species like the loblolly pine farther north, in areas more like the ones they have historically had.
National Geographic described the connection between the Horseshoe Crab and Covid-19 treatment research, noting concerns that harvesting hundreds of thousands of these crabs “may imperil the crabs and the marine ecosystems that depend on them.”
The New York Times said the warm US Southwest spring caused rapid melting of snowpack, and less than full reservoirs now are leading to renewed concerns about megadrought. The Guardian warned that the Navajo Nation and Arizona, “Hit hard by Covid-19, [face] heightened danger from smoke, flames and possible evacuations”.
The UN weather agency’s warning: “World could hit 1.5-degree warming threshold by 2024,” noting “the target set in Paris, of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), [is] ideally no more than 1.5 C, by the end of the century.” The Guardian: “The amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere is approaching a level not seen in 15m years…, [adding] Last time CO2 was at similar level temperatures were 3C to 4C hotter and sea levels were 20 metres higher.”
BIG news this week: Dominion Energy’s and Duke Energy’s decision to abandon the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Many articles followed. Here are several headlines, representing a small part of the media items:
Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Dominion cancels Atlantic Coast Pipeline, sells natural gas transmission business”
Fortune: “Warren Buffett’s buy-on-fear strategy will be tested with his latest bet on fossil fuels”
The News and Advance: “’We won the impossible fight’: Nelsonians react to news of Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s demise”
WDBJ7: “Cancellation of Atlantic Coast Pipeline buoys opponents of another controversial project”
Utility Dive: “Natural gas pipeline developers aim to differentiate from Atlantic Coast and avoid its fate”
Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Dominion takes financial hit as company jettisons pipeline and gas transmission business”
Greentech Media: “As Fossil Fuel Pipelines Fall to Opposition, Utilities See Renewable Energy as Safe Bet. Atlantic Coast and Dakota Access pipeline woes underscore trends pushing utilities toward clean power as a less risky business”
New York Times: “The Next Energy Battle: Renewables vs. Natural Gas”
Roanoke Times: “Mountain Valley Pipeline’s ‘uphill climb’ gets a little easier”
The Virginia Mercury: “With the Atlantic Coast Pipeline dead, it’s time to topple remaining fossil fuel monuments”
Bacon’s Rebellion: “Brace Yourself for a Zero-Carbon Electric Grid”
The Wall Street Journal documented a debate raging about oil prices. Noting the $0 per barrel price earlier in 2020, WSJ said “Investors and analysts are now trying to work out what the rest of the decade holds in store.”
Many oil and gas companies have declared bankruptcy because of the decline in prices, and that trend is likely to continue despite the recent rebound to $40/barrel. Colorado Newsline talks about the environmental repercussions of abandoned oil and gas wells as companies declare bankruptcy. BP and Shell announced “they plan to lower the official value of their assets by several billion dollars due to declining oil and gas prices”. This may mean they will leave those assets in the ground for now.
Several environmental groups joined forces to sue West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection over inadequate funding for coal mine site reclamation, believing the agency failed “to adhere to federal reporting requirements for a coal mine reclamation fund”.
The Barents Observer described fears of northern Finland’s Sámi families … in Tarvantovaara wilderness area … [that] the world’s hunger for metals to ramp up the green economy will destroy their indigenous way of life”.
The Washington Post described a Lake Erie clean energy project that has some folks crying “fowl”. The headline asserts the project “faces stiff head winds because of warblers and waterfowl”. The paper also reported that “Spreading rock dust on farmland could pull enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to remove about half of the amount of that greenhouse gas currently produced by Europe.”
The Daily Climate cautioned: “Beyond the “silver lining” of emissions reductions: Clean energy takes a COVID-19 hit” and “With job loss and stifled development in the renewable energy sector, economists, politicians, and advocates say policy action is necessary to stay on track.”
Blogpost from The Plastocene about “Wizards, Prophets, and Profits…. (on the Way to Clean Energy)”
Time article: “Why the Larger Climate Movement Is Finally Embracing the Fight Against Environmental Racism”.
Rolling Stone: Reflections on Dakota Access Pipeline court decision by Adam Killsalive, a young man from the Standing Rock Reservation.
New York Times: Farhad Manjoo exclaimed “I’ve Seen a Future Without Cars, and It’s Amazing”.
Southern Environmental Law Center/“Broken Ground” podcast: “Takes listeners to two Southern coastal cities among the most threatened by rising tides: Norfolk, Virginia, and Charleston, South Carolina.”
Joy Loving for Les Grady, CAAV Steering Committee