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The Federal Electric Vehicle Tax Credit Is a Bipartisan Success Story, Which House Republicans Want to Undo

By Ben Jervey

As the House and Senate develop their respective versions of a tax reform bill, the $7,500 federal electric vehicle (EV) tax credit is positioned to be a potential bargaining chip. The House's version of the bill, the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act," includes a repeal of the EV tax credit. The Senate's newly introduced version, at the moment, doesn't kill the credit.

Current policy calls for an already-scheduled phase out of the credit over the two calendar quarters after each automaker surpasses 200,000 total plug-in vehicle sales. The new House proposal would eliminate the tax credit entirely at the end of this year—only EVs registered on or before Dec. 31 would qualify.

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Climate Denier Lamar Smith: Geoengineering Can Curb Impacts of Climate Change

By Steve Horn

Geoengineering, hailed in some circles as a potential techno-fix to the climate change crisis, has taken a step closer to going mainstream.

The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology held a rare joint subcommittee hearing on Nov. 8, only the second ever congressional hearing of its kind on the topic (the first was held in 2009). The committee invited expert witnesses to discuss the status of geoengineering research and development. Geoengineering is a broad term encompassing sophisticated scientific techniques meant to reverse the impacts of climate change or pull greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

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Exxon Mobil refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

Exxon Refinery Catches Fire Day After Government Settles Over Pollution From Other Gulf Plants

By Julie Dermansky

Early morning skies Wednesday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, were alight from a fire that started around 2:30 a.m. at an ExxonMobil refinery. The blaze, though contained before the sun came up, is a reminder to the surrounding community of yet another danger of living next to refineries and chemical plants.

Exxon's refinery is located along the stretch of Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans known as "Cancer Alley" due to the high number of chemical plants and refineries—and illnesses possibly connected to emissions—along the river's banks.

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Politics

7 Reasons Why Jeff Flake Is Awful on Climate Change and Energy Justice

This week, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) made national headlines by dramatically announcing his retirement on the U.S. Senate floor. Flake focused his speech on the erratic behavior of President Donald Trump and the nationalistic, anti-immigration turn taken by some Republican Party politicians in recent years.

"I have decided that I will be better able to represent the people of Arizona and to better serve my country and my conscience by freeing myself from the political considerations that consume far too much bandwidth and would cause me to compromise far too many principles," said Flake. "To that end, I am announcing today that my service in the Senate will conclude at the end of my term in early January 2019."

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Energy
LNG tanker. kees torn, CC BY-SA 2.0

GOP Senators, Fueled by Industry Cash, Propose Bill to Expedite Small Scale LNG Exports

By Steve Horn

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) have introduced a bill to fast-track the regulatory process for the export of small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The bill, titled "Small Scale LNG Access Act," was introduced on Oct. 18 and calls for amending the "Natural Gas Act to expedite approval of exports of small volumes of natural gas." The proposed legislation follows in the footsteps of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) proposed rule which would assume that all U.S. small-scale exports of LNG, with the gas mostly obtained via hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"), is in the "public interest" as defined by the Natural Gas Act.

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Roengrit Kongmuang / Greenpeace

Top Trump Official for Pipeline Safety Profits from Selling Oil Spill Equipment

By Itai Vardi

A newly appointed federal regulator charged with overseeing pipeline safety personally profits from oil spill responses, a DeSmog investigation has found.

Drue Pearce is the acting administrator for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), an agency in the Department of Transportation responsible for ensuring oil and gas pipeline integrity. However, she is also associated with a company specializing in the sale of oil spill equipment.

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Climate
Texas Army National Guardsmen assist residents affected by flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston. Lt. Zachary West

Poll Shows Most Americans Want Government Action on Climate Change, but There’s a Catch

By Farron Cousins

New polling data provides some inspiring news about the prospects for climate change action in the U.S.

According to public policy polling conducted by AP-NORC and the Energy Policy Institute at The University of Chicago, 61 percent of American citizens believe that climate change is a threat that the federal government should actively work to prevent. The poll also reveals that majorities in both major political parties—Democrats and Republicans—accept the fact that climate change is actually happening and that human activity is making it worse.

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China Is Showing the World What Renewable Energy Dominance Looks Like

By Ben Jervey

The growth of solar energy continues to outpace forecasts and this growth, according to a report published Wednesday by the International Energy Agency, (IEA) "is a China story."

While China today is far and away the global leader in solar generation, a decade ago, the country had just 100 megawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed. That's nothing. For reference, it's actually less than is currently installed in the city of San Antonio. By the end of 2016, China had increased its solar PV capacity by nearly 800 times, with more than 77 gigawatts currently installed.

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Ric Lander‏ / Twitter

Scotland Bans Fracking After 'Overwhelming' Public Opposition

By Simon Roach

The Scottish government has said fracking is set to be permanently banned following "overwhelming" public support for outlawing the controversial process, it was announced Tuesday.

Unlike in England, fracking has been under a temporary halt in Scotland since 2015, and an extensive public consultation on its long-term future was carried out earlier this year.

Speaking to members of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, the Scottish Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse said the ban should be extended "indefinitely" and that "the Scottish government will not support the development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland."

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