Energy secretary pick pledges to support renewables

POLITICS: Former Texas governor and secretary of energy nominee Rick Perry reverses his position on eliminating the Department of Energy and says he supports the advancement of renewable energy, but Donald Trump may have other plans. (Greentech Media)

CLIMATE:
• Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees are reversing their positions on climate change, while still sowing doubt about humans being the cause. (Christian Science Monitor)
• During his Senate confirmation hearing, secretary of energy nominee Rick Perry says he now believes in human-caused climate change, but won’t commit to calling it a crisis. (Climate Central, Huffington Post)

***SPONSORED LINK: The Smart Cities International Symposium, January 24-25 in Chicago, examines the latest technology advances and business models for the 21st Century connected city. Explore implementation strategies, case studies, and the successful financing of key initiatives.

Massive Wyoming wind farm receives federal approval

WIND: The Bureau of Land Management approves the first phase of a 1,000-turbine wind project in Wyoming, which is slated to be the country’s largest onshore wind farm. (Associated Press)

SOLAR:
• A county councilman withdraws legislation to regulate solar facilities on rural lands outside Baltimore, Maryland, following ongoing disagreements over size limits for such projects. (Baltimore Sun)
• A bill backed by Missouri’s electric cooperative association could make net metering less available and more costly for solar customers. (Midwest Energy News)

***SPONSORED LINK: Connect with more than 650 of the region’s best and brightest at MEEA’s 2017 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference, February 22-24 in Chicago, featuring unparalleled networking, insightful panels and more. Register today!***

CLIMATE:
• 2016 was the hottest year in 137 years of record keeping, and the third year in a row to take the top slot.

Interior nominee remains evasive on climate change

POLITICS: Interior secretary nominee Ryan Zinke says humans “influence” climate change but “there’s debate on what that influence is,” while also voicing support for drilling and mining on federal lands. (Washington Post, New York Times)

COAL:
• Thirteen states ask a federal appeals court to issue an injunction to block the “Stream Protection Rule,” which is designed to minimize the impact of coal mining on streams. (Associated Press)
• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduces legislation to keep healthcare benefits for retired union coal miners. (Associated Press)

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Wyoming bill seeks to block wind and solar energy

RENEWABLE ENERGY:
• A bill sponsored by pro-coal politicians in Wyoming seeks to block utilities from providing electricity that comes from large-scale wind and solar projects. (InsideClimate News)
• Employment in the electric power sector rose 13 percent in 2016, mostly due to construction on solar, natural gas and wind power projects, according to a new Department of Energy report. (Greentech Media)

SOLAR:
• Tesla is planning to install a massive 70-megawatt solar rooftop array at its Gigafactory in Nevada, which would be the world’s largest rooftop solar project. (Tech Times)
• A judge grants a preliminary injunction against a Colorado solar installer for allegedly scamming 15 customers out of $450,000 for solar systems that were never installed. (Denver Post)
• Wyoming’s first major commercial solar project could be approved for construction by early next year.

New York proposes 2,400 MW of offshore wind by 2030

NOTE TO READERS: U.S. Energy News will not be publishing on Monday in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We will return on Tuesday, January 17. WIND: New York’s governor announces plans for up to 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2030, including a 90 megawatt project already under development. (Reuters)

ALSO:
• Ten North Carolina legislators send a letter asking Donald Trump’s incoming administration to shut down a nearly completed wind farm, alleging the “political correctness” prevented the Pentagon from opposing the project. (Associated Press)
• MidAmerican Energy announces the sites of two new wind farms in Iowa.

Feds recommend increasing royalties on coal mined on public land

COAL:
• A year-long Interior Department report on the federal coal leasing program recommends that the royalty rate on coal mined from public land be increased, but the ultimate decision will be made by Donald Trump’s administration. (The Hill)
• A bill introduced in Kentucky would give state utilities burning Kentucky coal a tax credit of $2 per ton of coal purchased. (Platts)
• A federal judge orders the U.S. EPA to determine whether actions taken under the Obama administration directly resulted in coal industry job losses. (The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register)

PIPELINES:
• Protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline are transitioning to local efforts in multiple states. (Associated Press)
• Enbridge Inc. could face a tough legal challenge should it fight to keep a 64-year-old pipeline on tribal lands in Wisconsin after a Native American tribe voted against renewing land use agreements.

Over 630 companies ask Trump to uphold climate policies

CLIMATE: Over 630 companies send a letter urging Donald Trump’s administration to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement and increase investments in renewable energy, saying “failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk.” (Huffington Post)

EMISSIONS: Colorado’s governor scraps the idea of using an executive order to cut in greenhouse gas emissions from state power plants by one-third after criticism from Republicans. (Associated Press)

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CAP-AND-TRADE: The governor of California announces a plan to solidify the state’s cap-and-trade program using a two-thirds vote in both houses of the state legislature. (Los Angeles Times)

REGULATION: Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva urges fellow Democrats to defend a coal mining rule and a regulation on methane leaks at oil and gas wells, saying repealing them would be “for the sole benefit of the oil, gas and coal industries.”

Obama: The trend toward clean energy is irreversible

RENEWABLE ENERGY:
• President Obama writes an article in the journal Science defending his administration’s energy policies, saying “the trend toward clean energy is irreversible.” (Washington Post)
• States’ renewable energy standards could save $97 billion through health and environmental benefits, more than making up for the costs of investing in renewables, according to a recent study. (EnergyWire)

CLEAN TECH: Student-led startups compete to win investment funding from a Chicago-based clean tech accelerator. (Midwest Energy News)

***SPONSORED LINK: The Smart Cities International Symposium, January 24-25 in Chicago, examines the latest technology advances and business models for the 21st Century connected city. Explore implementation strategies, case studies, and the successful financing of key initiatives.

Dark-money nonprofit lines up support for EPA nominee

EPA: In addition to backing from fossil fuel industries, President-elect Trump’s nominee to lead the EPA, Scott Pruitt, now has support of a nonprofit that doesn’t have to disclose its donors. (Politico)

ALSO:
• Campaign finance rules would allow Pruitt’s PAC to continue raising money from industries he would oversee as EPA administrator. (EnergyWire)
• Many of Trump’s cabinet nominees have not completed background checks or ethical disclosures. (Washington Post)

***SPONSORED LINK: Connect with more than 650 of the region’s best and brightest at MEEA’s 2017 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference, February 22-24 in Chicago, featuring unparalleled networking, insightful panels and more. Register today!***

NUCLEAR:
• The Indian Point nuclear plant in New York will shut down by 2021 in a new agreement with the state.

Report: U.S. to become net energy exporter by 2026

OIL & GAS: The U.S. is projected to become a net exporter of energy by 2026 due to rising natural gas exports and falling petroleum imports, while greenhouse emissions are not expected to change radically, according to a new report. (Reuters/Climate Central)

ALSO:
• The Koch brothers are quietly courting minorities as they plan for a fossil fuel resurgence under Donald Trump. (New York Times)
• A fire burns for about four hours on an oil production platform in the Gulf of Mexico before being extinguished. (Associated Press)

***SPONSORED LINK: The Smart Cities International Symposium, January 24-25 in Chicago, examines the latest technology advances and business models for the 21st Century connected city. Explore implementation strategies, case studies, and the successful financing of key initiatives.