March news digest: U-M Faculty on energy policy

Friday, March 31, 2017

Trump just approved the Keystone XL pipeline

Climate Central, feat. Andrew Hoffman

President Trump signed an executive order on Friday greenlighting the Keystone XL pipeline after it cleared State Department review to bring tar sands oil from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

The Trump administration’s approval represents an about face from President Obama’s stance on an issue that has pitted environmentalists and local communities against Transcanada, which plans to build the pipeline that will shuttle up to 800,000 barrels of oil a day.

In its decision recommending approval, the State Department said it “considered a range of factors, including, but not limited to, foreign policy; energy security; environmental, cultural and economic impacts; and compliance with applicable law and policy.”

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Easing coal rules unlikely to make US energy independent

Associated Press, feat. Mark Barteau

The Trump administration is gutting Obama-era regulations opposed by the coal industry, but the strategy isn't likely to have much effect on U.S. energy independence.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he was ushering in "the start of a new era" in energy production by signing an executive order that seeks to block, reverse or review several of President Barack Obama's initiatives to limit climate change. Some will take effect immediately; others could take years and face long court challenges.

A new era in U.S. energy began a decade ago, when drilling companies used new techniques to extract vast amounts of natural gas and oil beneath Texas, New Mexico, North Dakota, the Rockies and other regions of the country. And still the country imports millions of barrels each day of the oil it consumes each day to power its cars, trucks and factories. The moves Trump announced will do little to change that equation.

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Trump can scrub the Clean Power Plan, but the West will stay green

Wired, feat. Barry Rabe

The West likely will continue greening its electricity supply despite President Donald Trump’s executive order today aimed at wiping out much of former President Barack Obama’s consequential actions to rein in climate change. But progress will be slower and spottier than it would have been.

The president ordered agencies to rewrite rules that were intended to slash greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas drilling, lift a moratorium on leasing coal from federal lands, and stop considering impacts on climate change when making major government decisions. But perhaps most significantly, he ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to undo the Clean Power Plan, which was designed to slash greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

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What you can do about climate change

The New York Times, feat. Michael Sivak

What can you — just one concerned person — do about global warming?

It may feel like a more urgent problem these days, with proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and each year warmer than the previous one.

You could drive a few miles fewer a year. Reduce your speed. Turn down your thermostat in winter. Replace your incandescent light bulbs with LEDs. Reduce your meat consumption. Any one of those actions would help.

But none would come close to doing as much as driving a fuel-efficient vehicle.

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President Trump signs executive order rolling back Obama-era environmental regulations

Time, feat. Mark Barteau

President Donald Trump signed a sweeping executive order Tuesday intended to shift the direction of U.S. environmental policy and begin the process of undoing some of the most significant Obama-era environmental regulations.

The executive order, billed as a measure to promote "energy independence" and create jobs, will target a slew of environmental measures aimed at combating climate change including the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of President Obama's global warming efforts. Some directives take effect immediately, like the end to a moratorium on new leases for coal mining on federal land, while others, like the review of the Clean Power Plan, require a rule making process that could take years to complete.

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Trump signs executive order rolling back regulation on carbon emissions

National Public Radio, feat. Mark Barteau

President Trump today signed a sweeping executive order designed to undo many of the Obama administration's efforts to combat climate change.

This took place at the Environmental Protection Agency's headquarters. As a sign of how key this issue is to the administration, Trump was joined by his vice president and the EPA administrator, the Energy secretary and the Interior secretary. Also in the room were about a dozen coal miners.

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Trump’s budget plan hurts Michigan, Great Lakes cleanup

The Detroit News, feat. Barry Rabe, Brad Cardinale and Jim Diana

President Donald Trump revealed his first budget blueprint on Thursday, proposing to eliminate a cleanup program for the Great Lakes Basin, legal aid for the poor, low-income heating assistance and other federal funds that would affect Michigan.

Trump’s budget plan would slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by nearly a third, including reductions for the agency’s enforcement and compliance office and ending the $300 million-a-year Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, among other regional efforts. The president's budget director argued the proposal fulfills Trump's promises to shrink the role of government, trim waste and root out redundant functions.

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Trump wants deep cuts in environmental monitoring

Scientific American, feat. Barry Rabe

Even EPA staff who are not directly involved in monitoring help run grant programs for outside groups that track the environment, and they review those groups’ monitoring data—and a number of those positions could get cut as well. “It’s very draconian in the EPA’s case,” says Barry Rabe, professor of environmental policy at the University of Michigan. “It really doesn’t spare anything—almost every area is targeted.”

In addition to the general cuts, the Trump administration’s proposal hits specific EPA programs that conduct environmental monitoring.  It reduces the Superfund budget—a program for cleaning up some of the nation’s most polluted sites and which includes monitoring efforts—by $330 million, dropping it by almost a third from the previous year.

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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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