Energy in the News: Friday, March 17

Friday, March 17, 2017

Trump budget blueprint eviscerates energy programs

Climate Central, feat. Mark Barteau

The White House’s proposed “America First” budget forcefully kicks many federal climate-related energy programs to the curb, representing a possible turn away from renewable energy and a broad disinvestment in the research and development needed to transform the U.S. energy system into one better able to adapt to climate change.

The budget “blueprint,” released Thursday morning by the White House Office of Management and Budget, proposes to fully eliminate or drastically reduce funding for a wide swath of federal clean energy programs and energy efficiency efforts. In all, it would cut more than 50 programs from the Environmental Protection Agency, including the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s signature effort to fight climate change.

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LSA town hall unpacks controversy surrounding Dakota Access Pipeline

The Michigan Daily, feat. Adam Simon and Mark Barteau

Students and faculty discussed ways to manage the nation’s energy requirement and protect the rights of both Native Americans and the environment during a town hall hosted Tuesday evening by LSA Student Government. The town hall was sprouted out of the national controversy surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline.

About 35 people met in the Michigan League to listen to four panelists: Mark Barteau, director of the University of Michigan Energy Institute, Philip Deloria, professor of history and American culture, who is an expert of Native American studies, LSA senior Jayson Toweh, president of Students for Clean Energy and Adam Simon, associate professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

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University of Michigan professors discuss Trump's fuel economy review

MLive, feat. Barry Rabe and Anna Stefanopoulou

University of Michigan professors believe Trump's announcement to re-examine federal requirements that regulate the fuel efficiency of new cars and trucks could benefit the auto industry - particularly in Michigan - but would stunt progress in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

The EPA under Obama's stewardship had promulgated a rule for cars and trucks requiring a fleet-wide average of 54.5 mpg by 2025, according to the Associated Press.

Trump campaigned on eliminating "job killing" regulations, and the administration is expected to take additional steps in the coming days to roll back environmental regulations.

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Reactions to President Trump's auto regulation decision

Detroit Free Press, feat. Anna Stefanopoulou

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will resume a "mid-term" evaluation of emissions and regulatory standards.

The action reverses the EPA's decision in January to leave tough fuel economy standards adopted under the Obama administration in place from 2021 to 2025.

While the automotive industry embraced the decision as a return to a realistic, "data-driven" review process, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters said the move is an "attack on fuel efficiency standards, threatens health, air quality and job creation."

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Lighting gasoline

BreakingViews, feat. research by John DeCicco

The biofuels policy is ripe for rethinking. The government required ethanol be added to gasoline in 2005 to cut oil imports and improve the environment. It also didn’t hurt that the policy helped corn farmers in Iowa, home of the first battle in the nation’s presidential campaign. Domestic oil production has surged in recent years, though, crimping imports. And recent studies, including one by the University of Michigan, suggest ethanol may actually increase, rather than decrease, carbon-dioxide emissions that cause climate change. The European Union in November proposed halving its use in transportation fuel, while the EPA increased it

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US manufacturing plants cleaner as overseas suppliers do dirty work

University of Michigan News

Toxic emissions from manufacturing plants in the United States have dropped as the production of more pollution-intensive goods shifted to low-wage countries, says a University of Michigan researcher.

"We found that domestic plants pollute less on American soil as their parent firm imports more from low-wage countries. They also shift production to less pollution-intensive industries, produce less waste and spend less on pollution abatement," said Yue Maggie Zhou, assistant professor of strategy at U-M's Ross School of Business.

Zhou and co-author Xiaoyang Li of Shanghai Jiaotong University found that when a U.S. plant's owner increases imports from low-wage countries by 10 percent, the plant's toxic emissions at home fall 4 to 6 percent.

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Outer wrap coating has failed on parts of Line 5, Enbridge confirms

MLive

Enbridge directors say there are no areas where bare Line 5 metal is exposed to Great Lakes water but admitted during a Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board meeting the outer coating layer has failed in places and the company doesn't usually repair that kind of protection system.

Kurt Baraniecki, Enbridge director of pipeline integrity, told the state board on Monday, March 13 that anticorrosion protections on the controversial pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac are "working as designed," but there are 18 places where there is coating "delamination."

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Curbing climate change has a dollar value — here’s how and why we measure it

The Conversation

President Trump is expected to issue an executive order soon to reverse Obama-era rules to cut carbon pollution, including a moratorium on leasing public lands for coal mining and a plan to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.

Trump and his appointees argue that these steps will bring coal miners’ jobs back (although coal industry job losses reflect competition from cheap natural gas, not regulations that have yet to take effect). But they ignore the fact that mitigating climate change will produce large economic gains.

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Work begins on MSU solar energy array project

WLNS

Construction is underway on a new solar array project that is more than a cost saving effort on campus.

It true that the solar array panels could save the university $10 million over 25 years and help keep tuition in check because of the added energy savings.

But people who park in the five different lots across campus will have shade in the summer and less snow cover in the winter because of the solar panels.

The structures will cover most of the parking spaces in each lot and provide partial protection from inclement weather for most cars including taller vehicles, such as RVs, for weekend tailgating.

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Solar experiment lets neighbors trade energy among themselves

The New York Times

Brooklyn is known the world over for things small-batch and local, like designer clogs, craft bourbon and artisanal sauerkraut.

Now, it is trying to add electricity to the list.

In a promising experiment in an affluent swath of the borough, dozens of solar-panel arrays spread across rowhouse rooftops are wired into a growing network. Called the Brooklyn Microgrid, the project is signing up residents and businesses to a virtual trading platform that will allow solar-energy producers to sell excess-electricity credits from their systems to buyers in the group, who may live as close as next door.

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Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising at the fastest rate ever recorded

The Washington Post

For the second year in a row, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have climbed at a record pace. According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, carbon dioxide levels jumped by three parts per million in both 2015 and 2016 and now rest at about 405 parts per million.

It’s the biggest jump ever observed at the agency’s Mauna Loa Baseline Atmospheric Observatory in Hawaii, where the measurements were recorded. Similar observations have been recorded at stations all over the world, said Pieter Tans, who leads the Carbon Cycle Greenhouse Gases group at NOAA’s Greenhouse Gas Reference Network.

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Trump may help US coal output, but jobs are another story

Bloomberg

Natural gas prices are higher than a year ago, making coal more competitive in the power sector. China’s trimming its own production, boosting prices for metallurgical coal used in steelmaking. And America’s output is up 15 percent from 2016, suggesting this bruised and battered industry may be on the mend.

Bringing jobs back to levels anywhere near the sector’s heyday, however, may be a promise impossible to keep. Trump can free coal companies from the burden of environmental regulations. He can open federal lands for mining. But stoking fresh demand for the fossil fuel in an era of cheap, bountiful shale gas will be key, analysts at the CERAWeek by IHS Markit energy conference said in a Thursday panel. Even if that were to happen, the link between U.S. coal production and jobs started fraying decades ago when companies developed technologies to mine more tons with fewer workers.

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