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April 20, 2018

Energy – SciPol Weekly, April 14 – April 20

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Government 

Desert Sun – The Trump vs. California environmental fight nobody's talking about

For years, an energy company wanted to build a 29,000-acre solar-and-wind energy project in the Silurian Valley, adjacent to the dry lake. The Obama administration rejected the solar component of that plan in 2014, then designated the area for conservation under a sweeping land-use plan for the California desert. But the Trump administration may now undo that plan, which protects million of acres of public lands in the Golden State.

Energy News Network – Michigan to replace net metering program with avoided-cost tariff

Michigan utility customers who put surplus electricity they generate back onto the power grid will be paid a lower, avoided-cost rate after June 1. The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) issued an order Wednesday replacing the state’s net metering policy with an avoided-cost tariff based on how much utilities would pay to build the same amount of generation themselves.

Industry

Economic Times – Court rules Exxon Mobil must provide documents in climate probe

 Exxon Mobil must hand over documents related to a state investigation into whether the company misled investors and consumers about what it knew about the link between fossil fuels and climate change, Massachusetts' highest court has ruled.

Inside Climate News – Carbon Markets Pay Off for These States as New Businesses, Jobs Spring Up

Nine years after its launch, the nation's first mandatory carbon-trading program is still boosting the economy and creating jobs while continuing to cut power plant emissions in its nine-state region, a new report shows. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, wasn't designed for economic development, but that's been an important outcome, the Analysis Group, an economic research firm, reported Tuesday.

NBC News – Workers are climbing wind turbines to the middle class

The Webb Consolidated Independent School District, which serves Bruni and a handful of other tiny towns, is launching what might be the nation’s first wind turbine technician program for high school students. Starting next year, students at Bruni High School will be able to take coursework that will give them a jump start on an associate degree in wind, which they can finish at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen, two and half hours down the road. 

Science

NBC News – Wind energy takes a toll on birds, but now there's help

But all that clean, renewable energy comes with a high cost to the nation's wildlife. Researchers estimate that 140,000 to 328,000 birds are killed every year in collisions with the turbines' spinning rotor blades and support towers. The risk to birds is highest at night, when the blades and towers are cloaked in darkness. Now researchers at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, have hit upon what could prove to be a simple way to protect birds from wind turbines.

Vox – These huge new wind turbines are a marvel. They’re also the future.

The declining price of solar power gets more press, but there are big things happening in wind technology too. And I mean big. GE Renewable Energy announced that it will be investing $400 million to develop a new monster turbine: the Haliade-X, which will be (at least until the next big announcement) the biggest, tallest, and most powerful in the world. The first units are expected to ship in 2021. 

Other

Smithsonian – Is a Texas Town the Future of Renewable Energy?

Dale Ross, the mayor of Georgetown, Texas, has a big smile, a big handshake and a big personality. But the thing that is winning him international renown is straight out of the liberal playbook—green power. Thanks to his (big) advocacy, Georgetown (pop. 67,000) last year became the largest city in the United States to be powered entirely by renewable energy.

The New York Times – Environmentalists and Nuclear Power? It’s Complicated

Historically, environmental groups in the United States haven’t been big fans of nuclear power. But in recent years, the threat of climate change and a shifting energy landscape has made the nuclear question — well, a lot more complicated. 

The Times-Picayune – Bayou Bridge Pipeline owners had 527 hazardous incidents over 16 years, environmental groups say

Pipelines owned and operated by the companies that are building the Bayou Bridge Pipeline through Louisiana's fragile Atchafalaya Basin had 527 hazardous incidents, including spills, between 2002 and 2017, according to a report released Tuesday by environmental groups citing data compiled by federal and state regulators.

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