Maryland regulators approve two offshore wind farms

WIND: Maryland’s Public Service Commission approves two offshore wind farms totaling 368 megawatts. (The Hill)

SOLAR:
• The founder and former CEO of SunEdison gives his perspective on current trends in the solar industry. (GreenBiz)
• This summer’s solar eclipse is expected to trigger a 6,000-megawatt shortfall in California’s solar-powered grid, posing a unique challenge to grid operators. (Greentech Media)
• A Minnesota-based solar module manufacturer says it will discontinue its current operation and terminate many of its services, citing pricing pressures and difficult market conditions. (PV-Tech)

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Senate votes to keep Obama-era rule limiting methane emissions

REGULATION: The U.S. Senate narrowly rejects a resolution to repeal an Obama-era regulation limiting harmful methane emissions from oil and gas wells on public lands, but the Interior Department says it will now fight to overturn the rule. (New York Times, Huffington Post)

CLIMATE POLICY:
• Numerous experts tell a California Senate committee that the state’s cap-and-trade program must be improved going forward. (Associated Press)
• California’s climate change efforts have failed to curb pollution in many low-income neighborhoods. (Ensia)

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States sue over Trump’s move to revive federal coal lease program

COAL: Four states are suing the Trump administration over its decision to restart the sale of coal leases on federal lands, saying it could worsen the effects of climate change and shortchanges states for coal. (Associated Press)

ALSO:
• EPA administrator Scott Pruitt signs off on a proposal that would make North Dakota the first state to regulate underground wells used for storing carbon dioxide captured from coal-fired power plants. (Associated Press)
• A Democratic pro-coal group says rolling back regulations and ignoring climate change will do little to help the industry. (Midwest Energy News)

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White House meeting on Paris climate accord postponed again

CLIMATE: A White House meeting over whether the U.S. should withdraw from the Paris climate agreement is postponed for the second time. (Associated Press)

ALSO:
• Retired senior military officers send a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis asking them to continue their support for the Paris climate accord, saying “climate change poses strategically significant risks to U.S. national security.” (Bloomberg)
• The U.S. sent only seven participants to a United Nations meeting on the Paris climate agreement this week, as world leaders urge the Trump administration to remain in the agreement. (Washington Post, Reuters)

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EPA administrator recuses himself from Clean Power Plan case

CLEAN POWER PLAN: EPA administrator Scott Pruitt recuses himself from several cases that he pursued as Oklahoma attorney general, including challenges to the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. (New York Times)

POLITICS:
• A top Republican lawmaker wants to cut $1 million a year from the budget of Colorado’s energy office and shift its mission away from promoting renewable energy. (Denver Post)
• EPA administrator Scott Pruitt replaces half of the members on a scientific review board that advises the agency on whether its research has sufficient rigor and integrity. (Washington Post)

***SPONSORED LINK: Solar Summit 2017 is 10! Join GTM May 16-18 for three days of packed networking opportunities and a unique mix of market intelligence with engaging panel sessions among industry leaders.

Analyst: Renewable energy in U.S. has gone ‘mainstream’

RENEWABLES: Speaking at a conference last week, the founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance explains that renewable energy has gone “mainstream” compared to just three years ago. (ThinkProgress)

CLIMATE:
• A White House official says President Trump’s top advisers will meet Tuesday afternoon to discuss whether the U.S. will stay in the Paris climate agreement. (Politico)
• An architect of the Paris agreement says “the text is very clear” that the U.S. cannot lower its target. (E&E News)
• Scientists say “there was no cause for a wholesale review” of the EPA’s climate change site, which has been taken offline for updates “to reflect EPA’s priorities under the leadership of President Trump.” (Washington Post)
• A small group of Republican lawmakers is backing a bipartisan House bill that seeks to establish a commission to search for economically viable solutions to climate change.

Environmental groups sue to block Trump administration’s offshore drilling order

ADVOCACY:
• A coalition of environmental groups is suing the Trump administration over an executive order seeking to expand offshore drilling, saying the move is illegal and “asserts authority that Congress did not give.” (The Hill)
• About a dozen environmental and public health groups file a lawsuit against the EPA to stop it from overturning regulations that limit water pollution from coal-fired power plants. (Associated Press)

CLIMATE: A dozen governors send a letter asking President Trump not to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, saying “climate change will cost the world’s nations several trillion dollars in damages.” (Los Angeles Times)

OIL & GAS:
• The company responsible for a fatal home explosion in Colorado caused by a leaking gas line says it is “very saddened” by the event, while the governor predicts a revived debate about buffer zones between new homes and oil and gas wells. (Longmont Times-Call, Denver Business Journal)
• Ohio legislators add a budget provision that would allow the legislature to control appointments to the state’s Oil and Gas Commission instead of the governor, a move critics say could open up drilling and fracking in state parks. (Reuters)
• Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company takes 100 percent ownership of North America’s largest oil refinery in Texas. (Washington Post)
• A 2015 explosion at an Exxon Mobil refinery in California was caused by the use of outdated equipment and procedures, according to a federal agency finding.

Wind installations surge as developers race tax credit phaseout

WIND: The country’s wind industry reported the largest number of first-quarter installations in eight years, as developers seek to maximize tax credits. (Reuters)

SOLAR:
• Indiana’s governor signs a bill that slashes net metering rates for residential solar customers to about 4 cents per kilowatt hour. (Nexus Media)
• As solar prices continue to drop, consumers have more choices and industry transparency is greater than ever before, according to a new report. (Greentech Media)

***SPONSORED LINK: Solar Summit 2017 is 10! Join GTM May 16-18 for three days of packed networking opportunities and a unique mix of market intelligence with engaging panel sessions among industry leaders.

Budget compromise saves EPA, Energy Dept. funding

POLITICS:
• A budget compromise reached by Congress will salvage funding for the EPA and federal clean energy research done by the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). (Utility Dive)
• A group of Senate Democrats say a Department of Energy study on grid reliability is biased and designed to boost coal and nuclear energy at the expense of renewables. (The Hill)

COAL:
• In what’s being hailed as a “huge victory,” Congress agrees on a budget bill that provides $1.3 billion for permanent healthcare to over 22,000 retired miners and their widows, although the bill does not address the pensions they were also promised. (The Hill, Reuters)
• West Virginia’s coal industry is seeing an upswing, but it’s unclear how long it will last. (Bloomberg)
• Mississippi Power again delays the completion date for its Kemper County power plant, which is over three years behind schedule and $4 billion over budget.

Federal court suspends Clean Power Plan lawsuit

CLEAN POWER PLAN: The fate of litigation challenging the Clean Power Plan remains uncertain after a federal appeals court suspends lawsuits challenging the plan on Friday, a move that some say could make it easier to repeal the rules entirely. (E&E News, Washington Post)

REGULATION: A commissioner announces that she will retire from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in June, leaving only one remaining commissioner on the normally five-member body. (The Hill)

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