The Trump administration's efforts to prop up the coal industry hit another bump as one-time power giant Murray Energy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, as NPR reported.
- ACLU to Coal CEO Suing John Oliver: 'You Can't Sue People for ... ›
- 'It's About Economics': Two Coal Plants to Close Despite Trump's ... ›
- Trump Administration Seeks to Gut Water Pollution Safeguards ... ›
- New EPA Rule Would Sabotage Clean Water Act - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Presidential hopeful Joe Biden announced a $2 trillion plan Tuesday to boost American investment in clean energy and infrastructure.
- Green New Deal Champion AOC Will Serve on Biden Climate Panel ... ›
- Biden-Sanders Unity Task Forces Unveil Improved Climate Policy ... ›
By Johnny Wood
A group of Danish companies are joining forces to build one of the world's largest facilities producing synthetic fuels. The unique partnership aims to help decarbonize the country's transport sector by manufacturing sustainable alternatives to fossil-based fuels like gas and diesel.
Generating Hydrogen<p>In the project, <a href="https://www.energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-production-electrolysis#:~:text=Electrolysis%20is%20a%20promising%20option,a%20unit%20called%20an%20electrolyzer." target="_blank">hydrogen will be produced using electrolysis</a>, a process that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen.</p>
What electrolysis looks like. U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy<p>When an electrolyzer is powered by renewable energy sources like offshore wind, <a href="https://oilandgas.mhi.com/stories/hydrogen-powering-a-net-zero-future/?_ga=2.38535141.775327741.1591182039-1110157552.1562745288" target="_blank">the hydrogen produced is emissions-free</a>. Unlike fossil-based fuels like gas or diesel, when hydrogen combusts it doesn't produce carbon dioxide emissions.</p>
Global demand for pure hydrogen, 1975-2018. IEA, Paris
Cutting Costs<p>This sort of industrial scale is key to bringing down the cost of sustainable fuels – and meeting climate targets, like Denmark's moves to cut <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-climatechange-denmark/denmark-should-sharply-increase-carbon-tax-to-meet-emissions-target-government-adviser-idUKKBN20W1M6" target="_blank">carbon emissions to 70% of 1990 levels</a> by the end of the decade.</p><p>The group behind the project believe that to be competitive the production of these fuels will need to see similar cost reductions as offshore and onshore wind and solar.</p>
Falling cost of renewables. IRENA<p>But challenges remain. The COVID-19 crisis has paused some countries' efforts toward renewable energy. Resulting economic downturns could create barriers to the types of investments needed to make these shifts a reality. Additionally, as the IEA explains, a broad portfolio of clean energy technologies will be needed to truly decarbonize all parts of a country's economy.</p><p>As part of its Shaping the Future of Energy and Materials platform, the World Economic Forum has set up the<a href="https://www.weforum.org/projects/accelerating-clean-hydrogen" target="_blank"> Accelerating Clean Hydrogen</a> initiative to help overcome these challenges by helping forge new collaborations to scale clean hydrogen.</p>
- Denmark Outdoes Rest of Europe With Ambitious Emissions ... ›
- 5 Countries Leading the Way Toward 100% Renewable Energy ... ›
- Samso: World's First 100% Renewable Energy-Powered Island Is a ... ›
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney made two controversial announcements about the 2020 Group of Seven (G7) summit: it will be hosted at one of President Donald Trump's golf resorts in Miami and it won't feature any discussion of the climate crisis.
- Trump privately clashed with G7 leaders over reinviting Putin ... ›
- Mike Pompeo Jokes About Trump's Self-Dealing at Trump Hotel Event ›
- Shrugging off allegations of self-dealing, Trump picks his Doral ... ›
- Trump's move to host the G7 at his Doral resort takes self-dealing to ... ›
- Trump's empty chair at G7 climate meeting marked the end of ... ›
- Trump news - live: Latest G7 summit updates as president skips ... ›
By Jo Harper
Investment in U.S. offshore wind projects are set to hit $78 billion (€69 billion) this decade, in contrast with an estimated $82 billion for U.S. offshore oil and gasoline projects, Wood Mackenzie data shows. This would be a remarkable feat only four years after the first offshore wind plant — the 30 megawatt (MW) Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island — started operating in U.S. waters.
Corporates Shift<p>Helping to drive offshore growth, U.S. corporate buyers <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/cities-leading-the-transition-to-renewables/a-42850621" target="_blank">are increasingly relying on wind energy to power their businesses</a>. Walmart and AT&T are the two top corporate wind buyers, while 14 newcomers entered the wind market in 2019, including Estée Lauder and McDonald's.</p><p>"Oil and gas companies have jumped into the U.S. offshore wind market, where they can transfer expertise in offshore fossil fuel development to clean energy investments," says Max Cohen, principal analyst, Americas Power & Renewable research at Wood Mackenzie. Many international oil and gas companies have already recognized this huge potential and entered the US offshore wind market, including Orsted, Equinor and Shell.</p><p>"Given the recent tumult in oil prices, fossil fuel companies may more and more be looking to diversify their portfolios, particularly with assets that are contracted or offer returns uncorrelated with oil and gas," Cohen says. "Offshore wind is an area where they may have a comparative advantage, and they can then leverage the experience with that technology to make the leap to onshore wind, solar, and other renewable technologies," he says.</p>
East Coast leads the way<p>"There is enormous opportunity, especially off the East Coast, for wind. I am very bullish," said former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. "Market excitement is moving towards offshore wind. I haven't seen this kind of enthusiasm from industry since the Bakken shale boom," he said.</p><p>Offshore wind initiatives require excessive upfront spending: a 250 MW venture costs about $1 billion, based on International Energy Agency data, but as costs fall the tipping point after which costs fall faster gets nearer</p><p>"The opportunity has been created by Northeastern states seeing the large price declines for offshore wind in Europe," says Cohen. Onshore wind is historically the lowest cost renewable resource, but is at its most expensive in the Northeast, he adds. "But costs are falling slower than for other technologies," he says.</p>
Jobs and Coastal Revitalization<p>U.S. wind energy now supports 120,000 US jobs and 530 domestic factories. A study by the University of Delaware predicted that the supply chain needed to build offshore turbines to feed power to seven East Coast states by 2030 would generate nearly $70 billion in economic activity and at least 40,000 full-time jobs. An American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA's) March 2020 report estimated that developing 30,000 MW of offshore wind along the East Coast could support up to 83,000 jobs and $25 billion in annual economic output by 2030.</p><p>Having said that, not all of the jobs are American jobs. The offshore wind developers with commercial leases in the US are all foreign companies. There is growing interest from the shipbuilding sector in the Gulf of Mexico in partnering with offshore wind companies to provide services. As a result, some of the US oil trade associations have submitted comments supporting certain aspects of offshore wind. "However, it is unclear to what extent offshore wind developers plan to use US vessels and crew, and the existing projects did not incorporate US vessels or labor at all," Hawkins says.</p>
- World's Cheapest Offshore Wind Farm to Power 600,000 Homes ... ›
- Offshore Wind Power Could Produce More Electricity Than World ... ›
By Jessica Corbett
Despite mounting pressure on the party to craft a 2020 platform that includes ambitious climate policies, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez on Monday announced a drafting committee that, in the words of journalist Emily Atkin, "snubs progressive climate activists again."
- Climate Change Committee Likely to Be Revived by Democratic ... ›
- House Democrats Hold First Climate Change Hearings in More ... ›
- Democrats Compete Over Strong Stance on Climate Action at ... ›
- Over 300 Groups Oppose Duckworth Water Privatization Bill - EcoWatch ›
Supreme Court Rules Atlantic Coast Pipeline Can Cross Appalachian Trail, but the Battle Might Not Be Over
The Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 Monday that the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) can pass underneath the Appalachian Trail.
The ruling removes one barrier to the pipeline, which has been delayed six years, but it still requires eight other permits, and environmental groups vowed to keep fighting.
"With the ACP still lacking 8 permits, this decision is just plugging just one hole on a sinking ship," director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign Kelly Martin said in a statement. "Nothing in today's ruling changes the fact that the fracked gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a dirty, dangerous threat to our health, climate and communities, and nothing about the ruling changes our intention to fight it."
Supreme Court decision today is dissapointing, but proposed fracked gas pipeline still lacks eight needed permits.… https://t.co/9ZsZ6IPguI— Kelly Sheehan Martin (@Kelly Sheehan Martin)1592248189.0
At stake in Monday's decision is the part of its route that would cross the Appalachian Trail in Central Virginia where the trail overlaps with the George Washington National Forest.
The Forest Service granted the pipeline a permit for the crossing in 2018, but a coalition of environmental groups led by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) sued, arguing that the trail crossing was under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and tossed the Forest Service permit in December of that year.
But the companies appealed and the Supreme Court ruled in their favor Monday, arguing that the Forest Service controlled the land and had just granted the National Park Service a right of way to maintain the trail.
"If a rancher granted a neighbor an easement across his land for a horse trail, no one would think that the rancher had conveyed ownership over that land," Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority, NPR reported.
Only Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan disagreed.
"In her noteworthy dissent, Justice Sotomayor clearly gets what should be obvious: that the Appalachian Trail is land in the National Park system," Natural Resources Defense Council Climate & Clean Energy Program attorney Gillian Gianettti said in a statement. "And under federal law, a pipeline plainly cannot cross land in the National Park system."
Here’s why we’re fighting the #AtlanticCoastPipeline every step of the way: https://t.co/AculcWu8FP— NRDC 🌎🏡 (@NRDC 🌎🏡)1592257093.0
Dominion celebrated the court's decision.
"Today's decision is an affirmation for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and communities across our region that are depending on it for jobs, economic growth and clean energy," the company said in a statement reported by Reuters. "We look forward to resolving the remaining project permits."
However, SELC said the remaining permits could be a major hurdle to the project. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the Forest Service permit on three other grounds not covered by the Supreme Court decision, NPR reported. The project also lacks permits relating to its impacts on endangered species, air and water, SELC pointed out.
The organization also pointed out that the decision comes as both Virginia and North Carolina are moving away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy. Virginia passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act in April, which requires utilities to shut down all gas plants by 2045. And North Carolina's Clean Energy Plan requires the state to reduce emissions to 70 percent of 2005 levels by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. A pending case before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will determine if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was correct in determining the ACP necessary when it granted it a permit in 2017.
"This is not a viable project," SELC program director DJ Gerken said. "It is still missing many required authorizations, including the Forest Service permit at issue in today's case, and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will soon consider the mounting evidence that we never needed this pipeline to supply power. It's time for these developers to move on and reinvest the billions of dollars planned for this boondoggle into the renewable energy that Virginia and North Carolina customers want and deserve."
"This is not a viable project," with 8 permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline still in question, despite today's S… https://t.co/5e32mv1tid— SELC (Environmental Law) (@SELC (Environmental Law))1592248927.0
The Supreme Court decision could greenlight another contested Appalachian pipeline however, Reuters pointed out. The Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would run 300 miles from West Virginia to Southern Virginia, also crosses the Appalachian Trail in the Jefferson National Forest. It is almost finished, but construction at the trail crossing was halted to await the outcome of the ACP case.
- 'Important Victory' for Historic Black Community Over the Atlantic ... ›
- Atlantic Coast Pipeline Canceled Following Years of Legal Challenges - EcoWatch ›
- Environmental Racism in Action: The Trump Administration's Plans ... ›
- Latino Voters Worried About Climate Change Could Swing 2020 ... ›
Today is the United Nations Climate Action Summit, a gathering called by UN Secretary General António Guterres to encourage climate action ahead of 2020, the year when countries are due to up their pledges under the Paris agreement.
By Emily Dao
We constantly hear the narrative that climate change impacts us all. And while that's true, the issue is disproportionately impacting people of color, especially Black, Latino, and Native Americans. And when it comes to environmental justice, we just aren't talking about social equity enough.
Flint Serves as One of the Most Popular Instances of Denied Environmental Justice.<p>Perhaps your first time being exposed to environmental racism was when you learned about Flint, Michigan. In fact, University of Michigan researcher Paul Mohai called it "the most egregious example of environmental injustice in recent U.S. history."</p><p>When residents complained about contaminated water supply, state officials quickly and publicly dismissed citizens' claims. Residents almost immediately noticed a change in their water supply back in April 2014. Flint is a city of nearly 100,000 people. But, the state waited over a year to address the issue, finally doing so in October 2015…a full eighteen months.</p><p>Let's look at some numbers. Black Americans made up <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/22/us/a-question-of-environmental-racism-in-flint.html" target="_blank">only 14% of Michigan</a>. However, the most heavily polluted zip code in Michigan is 84% Black. For Flint and their Republican-controlled state government, <em>NYT </em>report John Eligon said it meant the city had "little political power."</p><p>A state report by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission verified that racism was a contributing factor in the water crisis. Government inaction led to a major Legionnaire's outbreak from the poisoned water. This disease is a severe form of bacterial pneumonia. Michigan reported at least 90 citizens were sickened and 12 died. However, a PBS FRONTLINE investigation found that <a href="https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/interactive/how-we-found-dozens-of-uncounted-deaths-during-flint-water-crisis/" target="_blank">115 people actually died</a> in Flint.</p><p>In January, over 30,000 Flint residents have filed lawsuits against city and state regulators for reparations. But, <a href="http://unclear%20if%20anyone%20will%20ever%20face%20trial%20for%20the%20flint%20water%20crisis./" target="_blank">NPR says</a> it's "unclear" if anyone will ever face trial for this injustice.</p><p>"The people in Flint, in terms of justice, holding people accountable and compensation…we are batting zero," Flint resident Claire McClinton told NPR.</p><p>So, it's no surprise that people often refer to Flint when it comes to environmental racism.</p>
Lacking Social Equity: Underserved Communities Experience More Exposure to Dangerous Air.<p>Overwhelmingly, <a href="https://therising.co/2020/05/28/environmental-racism-covid-19/" target="_blank">Latino and Black Americans</a> live closer to toxic waste facilities, coal plants, or other areas not compliant with federal air pollution regulations. These instances, in turn, are associated with significant respiratory problems among these marginalized groups.</p><p>An analysis in California from the <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/inequitable-exposure-air-pollution-vehicles-california-2019" target="_blank">Union of Concerned Scientists</a> affirmed this idea. In the study, they found that U.S., Black, Latino, Asian, and low-income communities suffered the most from poor air quality — and impacted Black Americans the most.</p><p>They experience 43% more exposure to PM2.5 pollution than White Californians. (Fine particulates from PM2.5 pollution are smaller in width than human air and form from diesel exhaust, smokestacks, construction projects, etc. Exposure to PM2.5 pollution is actually the <a href="https://undark.org/breathtaking/" target="_blank">6th leading cause of death</a> in the world.) And you'd think that more would be done to fix this as a respiratory virus, COVID-19 ravaged the world. Instead, the EPA <a href="https://therising.co/2020/05/15/nine-states-suing-the-epa-covid-19/" target="_blank">stopped enforcing air pollution rules</a> during the virus. This, among other reasons, explains why people of color are at <a href="https://therising.co/2020/05/28/environmental-racism-covid-19/" target="_blank">higher risk</a> of contracting COVID-19.</p><p>Tragically, those hit hardest by pollution contribute the least. The same study found that California households without a personal vehicle were actually exposed to higher levels of air pollution. This is because these households are usually in urban areas, which are typically surrounded by heavy traffic.</p><p>Those living in low-income households already are at <a href="https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/social-determinants-health/interventions-resources/poverty#:~:text=Residents%20of%20impoverished%20neighborhoods%20or,mortality%2C%20and%20lower%20life%20expectancy.&text=Some%20population%20groups%20living%20in,adverse%20health%20outcomes%20than%20others." target="_blank">increased risk</a> of a lower life expectancy. They're also more likely to contract chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. So, for poor communities, living near polluting facilities only makes them more vulnerable to dangerous health effects.</p>
Low-Income Households, People of Color Are Left in the Dark.<p>The transition to renewable energy revealed a lack of equity for the poor and people of color. (Minority groups often overrepresent impoverished neighborhoods. A study by the U.S. <a href="https://aspe.hhs.gov/report/overview-community-characteristics-areas-concentrated-poverty/racial-and-ethnic-minorities-are-overrepresented-concentrated-poverty-population-and-concentrated-poor-communities-metropolitan" target="_blank">Department of Health and Human Services</a> found that 40% of Americans living in poverty are black. Take in mind, Black Americans make up less than 20% of the U.S. population).</p><p><a href="https://therising.co/2020/04/15/energy-infrastructure-is-hurting-underserved-communities-most/" target="_blank">840 million people in the world</a> still suffering from energy poverty. Overwhelmingly in the U.S., those struggling to pay for rising energy costs tend to be low-income Black and Latino Americans.</p><p>Given that many underserved communities don't even have reliable power, it makes sense that they're also less likely to have access to clean or energy-efficient technologies.</p>
Time and Time Again, Research Reveals Inequity in Clean Energy.<p>University of Michigan Professor, <a href="https://e360.yale.edu/features/why-low-income-households-need-to-be-part-of-the-clean-energy-revolution" target="_blank">Tony Reames</a> found financial inequity in clean energy. His study revealed that upgrading to energy-efficient lightbulbs cost twice the amount in low-income neighborhoods compared to more affluent areas. And, for every dollar, Michigan spent on energy efficiency programs for low-income customers? The state spent $4.34 on high-income customers.</p><p><span></span>Additionally, in New Orleans,<em> Grist</em> reported that 20% of residents' income <a href="https://therising.co/2020/04/15/energy-infrastructure-is-hurting-underserved-communities-most/" target="_blank">went to their energy bills</a>. It's no wonder that the city, which has one of the nation's highest poverty rates, is also one of the least energy-efficient in the U.S.</p><p>And unfortunately, extreme rising temperatures due to climate change will only continue threatening power grids. This will result in heightened cases of blackouts. California's series of wildfires last year also hurt low-income households the most.</p><p>Last year, the <a href="https://www.sfchronicle.com/california-wildfires/article/Power-outages-hit-some-of-state-s-poorest-14804853.php" target="_blank">California Department of Social Services</a> reported that almost 51,000 households relying on food assistance lived in areas heavily impacted by planned outages to mitigate wildfires. For some, blackouts can definitely be an inconvenience. But, they can be devastating — and even deadly — to the poor and elderly.</p>
Natural Disasters Disproportionately Impact Poorer Communities.<p>Natural disasters caused <a href="https://therising.co/2020/01/07/natural-disasters-damages-2019/" target="_blank">over $80 billion in damages</a> in 2019. While disasters don't discriminate which areas they affect, recovery is much harder for the poor.</p><p>In times of despair, people tend to rally together. However, there's not an even dispersion of aid and attention. <em><a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/01/why-natural-disasters-are-worse-poor/580846/" target="_blank">The Atlantic</a></em> pointed out that private and public aid often "accrue to the haves more so than the have nots."</p><p>Brad Kieserman, VP of Disaster Logistics and Operations at the American Red Cross, discussed this after the Camp Fire wildfire.</p><p>"Disasters, for most communities, exacerbate already existing issues, which is why we often see in shelters what we sometimes refer to as the least, the last, and the lost'," he told the Atlantic. "The people who had the least, who were the last to get services, who were already at the end, who were lost beforehand, especially financially."</p>
Environmental Justice a Big Challenge for the Native American Community.<p>According to <em><a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/natural-disasters-by-location-rich-leave-and-poor-get-poorer/" target="_blank">The Conversation</a></em>, 90 years of data show poverty rates climbing by 1% after natural disasters, impacting the poor most. For them, resiliency after devastations might not be possible.</p><p>"Our research suggests that the rich may have the resources to move away from areas facing natural disasters, leaving behind a population that is disproportionately poor," it wrote.</p><p>Then, when applying for recovery aid, <a href="https://publicintegrity.org/environment/one-disaster-away/when-disaster-strikes-indigenous-communities-receive-unequal-recovery-aid/" target="_blank">Native Americans struggle most</a>. Extreme heat and droughts harm plants and wildlife. They also create higher risks of wildfires and habitat loss. Since Native Americans depend heavily on natural resources, plants, and animals, it makes them <a href="https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2012/06/native-americans-and-a-changing-climate/" target="_blank">vulnerable to climate change</a>.</p><p>Yet, the National Congress of American Indians revealed that tribal citizens only received $3 on average for recovery efforts. Conversely, U.S. citizens received $26. Nelson Andrews Jr., Emergency Management Director for Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe discussed this with High Country News.</p><p>"It's basically like you're [Congress] setting us up to fail," he said.</p>
The Importance of Your Vote in Achieving Environmental Justice.<p>After the <a href="https://therising.co/2019/08/25/bernie-sanders-green-new-deal-is-the-most-ambitious-climate-change-stance-of-the-2020-race/" target="_blank">Green New Deal</a> was introduced back in 2019, AOC's sweeping proposal helped put climate policy on the map. One reason this outline got so much traction was that it heavily confronted social issues. This emphasis on social justice proved its important role in the climate narrative.</p><p>Although the Green New Deal did receive significant backlash over its feasibility, it did reinforce the idea that social justice and climate cannot exist as separate battles. In order for us to make significant progress in the fight against climate change, <a href="https://therising.co/2020/05/17/earthx-sustainability-event-trammell-crow/" target="_blank">everyone must reap the benefits</a> of a cleaner world.</p><p>The environment is the <a href="https://therising.co/2020/02/27/swing-voters-environment-presidential-election/" target="_blank">third most important issue</a> in swing states. However, just focusing on the environment is not enough. When creating these solutions, poor, vulnerable communities must also be taken into consideration. We must demand environmental justice to enact real change. </p><p>Now more than ever is the time to use your voice, get loud, and stand up for what you believe is right. Now is the time to vote for our future.</p>
- Environmental Racism in Action ›
- Environmental Negligence vs. Civil Rights: Black and Hispanic ... ›
- Lead Poisoning Reveals Environmental Racism in the US - EcoWatch ›
- Latino Voters Worried About Climate Change Could Swing 2020 Election ›