ELECTRIC VEHICLES: A California bill is amended to scrap plans to spend $3 billion to boost rebates for electric vehicles, and will instead direct the state’s Air Resources Board to conduct studies on EV rebate legislation. (Los Angeles Times)
• Solar-powered cars are inching closer to reality, with Audi and Tesla already working on the technology. (Motley Fool)
• National labor regulators order Tesla to respond to several complaints filed by employees about poor working conditions and efforts to hinder unionization. (Los Angeles Times)
• West Virginia State Parks is working to become the first parks system to have electric vehicle charging stations installed at all of its guest lodges. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
• Solar module efficiency is increasingly important for the survival of solar manufacturers.
NOTE TO READERS: U.S. Energy News is taking a break for Labor Day. The email digest will return on Tuesday, September 5. COAL:
• A judge says the Trump administration violated the law by delaying an Obama-era rule intended to increase royalty payments to taxpayers from fossil fuel extraction on federal lands. (Associated Press)
• Vice President Mike Pence tells attendees at a chamber of commerce event in West Virginia that “the war on coal is over” and the fuel is up 19 percent over last year. (Herald-Dispatch)
CLEAN POWER PLAN: A group of 14 attorneys general and local officials send a letter urging the EPA to retract a “legally incorrect” letter that told states they don’t have to comply with the Clean Power Plan.
POLLUTION: More than one million pounds of emissions above legal pollution limits have been released following Hurricane Harvey, and it’s posing a threat to human health. (New Republic, Quartz)
• Meanwhile, there are “millions of contaminants” brewing in Houston’s floodwater. (New York Times)
• Knoxville, Tennessee, has met EPA air quality standards for the first time in 20 years, in part due to reductions in coal use. (Knoxville News Sentinel)
OIL & GAS:
• Flood waters force more oil refineries to close along the Texas Gulf Coast, shifting global oil flows. (USA Today, Associated Press)
• A Democratic senator asks President Trump to tap into emergency oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to “help protect consumers from price spikes at the pump” after Hurricane Harvey.
OIL & GAS: Flooding in Texas and Louisiana has shut down nearly 20 percent of the country’s oil-refining capacity. (Reuters)
• ExxonMobil says Hurricane Harvey damaged two of its Texas refineries, causing the release of hazardous pollutants. (Washington Post, Politico)
• Hurricane Harvey has shut a significant portion of shale production in Texas, and the industry may be slow to bounce back. (Wall Street Journal)
• As the aftermath of Harvey moves into Louisiana, heavy rains and flooding are threatening oil refineries there. (Washington Post, Oil and Gas Investor)
• Recent hurricane damage to Texas’ oil and gas industry raises questions about the area’s role as a hub for environmentally sensitive industries.
SOLAR: President Trump reportedly asked his economic advisers to “bring me some tariffs,” which may be good news for two U.S. solar manufacturers who are petitioning the federal government for solar tariffs, but a “worrying sign” for the majority of the industry. (Greentech Media)
• The first utility-scale solar project on the Navajo Nation begins producing electricity in Arizona. (Associated Press)
• State efforts to change the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) are causing a stir in the U.S. solar market. (Greentech Media)
• A chain of supermarkets in the Houston area have successfully maintained power in the wake of Hurricane Harvey by using natural gas-powered microgrids. (San Antonio Business Journal)
• An Arizona utility builds a 63-megawatt microgrid on a rooftop in Phoenix. (Utility Dive)
UTILITIES: A wide-ranging agreement between American Electric Power in Ohio and several groups calls for multiple new clean energy investments, though consumer advocates are opposed because it would “lock-in subsidies for its power plants, subsidies for special interests, and various other charges.” (Columbus Dispatch)
• A newly released Department of Energy study on the reliability of the U.S. electric grid could impact wholesale power markets, FERC and electric policy, according to power sector experts.
OIL & GAS: A Category 4 hurricane causes massive flooding in Texas and knocks out a quarter of U.S. oil production from the Gulf of Mexico. (New York Times, Reuters)
• Hurricane Harvey forces Royal Dutch Shell to shut down one of Texas’ largest refineries.(Houston Chronicle)
• Lightning from Hurricane Harvey hits an oil storage tank in Texas and causes about five barrels of crude to spill near a sensitive state wildlife park. (Houston Chronicle)
• Some people in the oil and gas industry are worried that the Trump administration’s rapid deregulation efforts could backfire by setting the stage for an environmental disaster. (Politico)
PIPELINES: In a blow to environmental groups and property rights advocates, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approves a $2 billion pipeline that will carry natural gas from Appalachia to Michigan and Canada. (Associated Press)
• Murray Energy’s CEO says the company is facing imminent bankruptcy if the federal government doesn’t step in to save the merchant generation arm of FirstEnergy, which is one of its key customers.
• Five million U.S. businesses could lower their monthly power bills by installing batteries, according to a study that analyzed over 10,000 utility rate plans. (Bloomberg)
• Los Angeles-based Romeo Power raises $30 million in seed funding to complete a manufacturing facility and ramp up production of lithium-ion battery packs for electric vehicles and stationary storage applications. (L.A. Biz)
RENEWABLES: California lawmakers will consider legislation requiring the state to obtain 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045. (NBC)
SOLAR: Comcast strikes a 40-month agreement to make Sunrun the exclusive residential solar provider for its cable division. (Philadelphia Business Journal)
WIND: Apple says the large amount of wind energy developed in Iowa was “paramount” to the company’s decision to build two new data centers there.
CLIMATE: Nine East Coast states pledge to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent between 2020 and 2030 as part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), marking a “major victory” against climate change. (Washington Post, Huffington Post)
• A controversial grid study commissioned by Energy Secretary Rick Perry recommends that federal regulators make licensing and permitting easier for facilities “such as nuclear, hydro, coal, advanced generation technologies, and transmission.” (New York Times, Associated Press)
• The same Department of Energy report says cheap natural gas has been the “biggest contributor” to coal and nuclear plant closures, not renewables or environmental regulations. (E&E News)
• A group of 27 solar equipment manufacturers write a letter asking the International Trade Commission to reject a call for new import tariffs. (Greentech Media)
• A private equity firm has revived the bankrupt Sungevity brand, which was the fifth-largest residential solar installer earlier this year. (Greentech Media)
RENEWABLE ENERGY: A representative for solar power plant developer sPower told a Utah legislative committee to boost the state’s portfolio of utility-scale renewable power generation, saying it will draw major corporations to the state.
CLIMATE: ExxonMobil misled the public on what it knew about climate change and its link to fossil fuels, according to a new analysis of the company’s communications. (InsideClimate News)
• Long commutes and cheap gas are boosting vehicle emissions in California, according to a new report. (InsideClimate News)
• The Trump administration is giving few details over how it plans to enforce restrictions on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. (E&E News)
CAP-AND-TRADE: California raised more than $640 million this month as the state’s pollution permits reached their highest price ever, selling at nearly $1 higher than last quarter. (Associated Press)
POLICY: Researchers look at how states are replacing grid investments with energy efficiency and distributed energy, which could ultimately help distributed energy resources get paid as an integral part of the grid.
COAL: The Interior Department orders a federal agency to halt a study on the health affects associated with living near surface mining sites in Appalachia, drawing criticism from environmental groups and Democrats. (Washington Post, New York Times)
• The Trump administration rebuffs an industry request to use an emergency order to protect coal plants. (Associated Press)
• It isn’t likely that any major coal-fired plants will be built, even though the Trump administration vowed to revive the declining coal industry. (E&E News)
• A firm has filed a lawsuit against Duke Energy over coal-ash byproducts, saying the utility is reneging on a supply agreement. (Triangle Business Journal)
• Two neighboring Native American tribes in Montana are taking opposite approaches on whether to open their lands to coal mining. (Reuters)
• Residents brace for battle over a $3 billion natural gas pipeline project in rural Pennsylvania. (The Intercept)
• Energy Transfer’s Rover pipeline has racked up more environmental violations than other major interstate natural gas pipelines built in the last two years.