Energy in the News: Friday, January 20

Friday, January 20, 2017

Will President Obama’s clean energy legacy endure?

The Conversation, feat. Mark Barteau

In the closing days of President Obama’s second term, he and leaders in the Executive Branch worked feverishly to articulate their views of the administration’s legacy – and to cement that legacy as much as possible.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the areas of energy, climate and environment, where, as EPA Administrator Gina McCarty had said since well before the election, the plan was to “run through the tape” at the end of this administration.

Ordinarily, one might examine how an incoming administration and Congress could set new priorities or undo the actions of the previous administration. But this is no ordinary transition.

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Confirming Team Trump: Governor Perry comes to Washington

Brookings, feat. Barry Rabe

Hope springs eternal that the upcoming wave of confirmation hearings for leadership roles in the Trump Administration provide a serious, thoughtful, and Twitter-free process for deliberation. At its best, these hearings can weed out nominees who are simply unsuited for the proposed role or better prepare them for their future service through serious engagement with senior legislators.

In practice over recent decades and multiple presidencies, these hearings routinely under-perform. Instead, nominee proponents from the President’s party generally attempt to move things along smoothly and secure a confirming vote as quickly as possible. Opponents will try to open cracks in the case and trip the nominee into saying something awkward and regrettable.

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Northland may gain 'mild' days in spring, fall

Duluth News Tribune, feat. Mark Barteau

For years the discussion about global climate change has been about how warm it's going to get in many areas, or how wet, how dry or how stormy.

But scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Princeton University wanted to answer a different question: How will worsening climate change impact nice weather?

Their answer, for much of the United States and indeed across the Earth, was that there will be far fewer "mild days" in the near future than there has been in the recent past.

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Earth sets heat record in 2016 - for the third year in a row

Los Angeles Times, feat. Richard Rood

It’s official: 2016 was the hottest year on record since scientists began tracking Earth’s temperature more than 100 years ago, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The 1.69-degree jump over the 20th-century average, according to NOAA, marks the third year in a row that global temperatures have reached record-shattering levels. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration added that the global average temperature for 2016 was 1.78 degrees higher than a baseline period between 1951 and 1980.

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Universities must help educate woefully uninformed lawmakers

Wired, feat. Sridhar Kota

"Universities can work to ensure that expert faculty members translate their policy-relevant ideas into the types of media that members of Congress read. This means going beyond the ivory tower and academic journals and instead training and inspiring scholars to publish action-oriented op-eds in popular Hill publications," co-wrote Sridhar Kota, professor of mechanical engineering.

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Q&A: Advocate upbeat about Midwest as Trump administration looms

Midwest Energy News, feat. EAB member Howard Learner

Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center based in Chicago, spent the 1980s fighting for fair housing laws and civil rights protections during the Reagan administration.

On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, Learner lamented how he feels like the clock has turned back three decades, and he’s again in the position of fighting for basic protections and rights that many Americans have long embraced.

But Learner said he is up for the battle, and confident that public opinion, state and local politics and economics are on his side.

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China cancels 103 coal plants, mindful of smog and wasted capacity

The New York Times

China is canceling plans to build more than 100 coal-fired power plants, seeking to rein in runaway, wasteful investment in the sector while moving the country away from one of the dirtiest forms of electricity generation, the government announced in a directive made public this week.

The announcement, made by China’s National Energy Administration, cancels 103 projects that were planned or under construction, eliminating 120 gigawatts of future coal-fired capacity. That includes dozens of projects in 13 provinces, mostly in China’s coal-rich north and west, on which construction had already begun. Those projects alone would have had a combined output of 54 gigawatts, more than the entire coal-fired capacity of Germany, according to figures compiled by Greenpeace.

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British scientists to Theresa May: Urge Trump to support climate research

The Washington Post

In the final week leading up to the presidential inauguration, British scientists are urging their prime minister to stand up for climate science in the U.S. An open letter signed by 100 leading climate researchers in the United Kingdom warns of the incoming Trump administration’s skeptical stance on climate change and points to “worrying media reports that the incoming administration may severely weaken climate change research and data-gathering undertaken by federal organizations in the United States.”

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Electricity now flows across continents, courtesy of direct current

The Economist

Wind turbines can generate electricity from them at rock-bottom prices. Unfortunately, the local electrical grid does not serve enough people to match this potential supply. The towns and cities which could use it are far away.

So Oklahoma’s wind electricity is to be exported. Later this year, lawsuits permitting, work will begin on a special cable, 1,100km (700 miles) long, between the panhandle and the western tip of Tennessee. There, it will connect with the Tennessee Valley Authority and its 9m electricity customers. The Plains and Eastern Line, as it is to be known, will carry 4,000MW.

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A big test for big batteries

The New York Times

In Southern California in the fall of 2015, a giant natural gas leak not only caused one of the worst environmental disasters in the nation’s history, it also knocked out a critical fuel source for regional power plants.

Energy regulators needed a quick fix.

But rather than sticking with gas, they turned to a technology more closely associated with flashlights: batteries. They freed up the utilities to start installing batteries — and lots of them.

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