Senate votes to repeal coal pollution rule that protected streams

REGULATION: The Senate votes to reverse the Stream Protection Rule, which protected waterways from coal mining pollution, following a House vote for repeal on Wednesday. (New York Times)

COAL:
• An Arizona regulator calls an emergency meeting to look for ways to save a troubled coal-fired power plant and coal mine, which both provide jobs to the Navajo and Hopi people. (Arizona Republic)
• A deeper look at the “stream protection rule” and why Republicans wanted to kill it. (Vox)
• Charlotte-based Duke Energy sends letters to about 1,000 homeowners living near its coal ash pits in North Carolina, saying residents will have to waive their rights to sue the company over groundwater issues if they accept $5,000 “goodwill” payments. (Associated Press)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join the Midwest Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC) at the Energy Storage Conference, February 15 in Milwaukee.

Senate confirms former Exxon CEO as secretary of state

POLITICS: Former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson is confirmed as secretary of state, receiving a historic number of votes against him. (New York Times)

ALSO:
• The Senate postpones a committee vote on EPA chief nominee Scott Pruitt after Democratic members boycott the meeting, saying Pruitt denies “the urgency to act on climate change.” (Reuters)
• President Obama’s former EPA chief says the Trump administration’s actions “are extremely disappointing.” (The Hill)

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POLICY: The House passes a resolution to scrap a transparency rule requiring fossil fuel companies to release more information about business payments made to foreign governments.

Trump team failed to reach consensus on EPA climate authority

POLITICS: A Senate committee advances Rick Perry’s nomination for Secretary of Energy; the full Senate is expected to confirm him in the coming weeks. (The Hill)

CLIMATE:
• A Trump transition team failed to reach a consensus over whether the administration should seek to overturn the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases. (ClimateWire)
• A Florida Republican has drafted a bill that would “completely abolish” the U.S. EPA. (Huffington Post)
• The president of the National Academy of Sciences says “organized retreat” – protecting communities and key assets from climate change impacts – should be part of the broader discussion. (Scientific American)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join the Midwest Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC) at the Energy Storage Conference, February 15 in Milwaukee.

Trump signs order aimed at cutting regulations

REGULATION:
• President Trump signs an executive order requiring agencies to eliminate at least two regulations for each new regulation added. (Washington Post)
• By filling 114 vacant federal judge positions, President Trump could make it harder for future administrations to pass new climate rules and environmental regulations. (Climate Central)

POLITICS: Senators will vote today on whether to approve Rep. Ryan Zinke for interior secretary and former Texas governor Rick Perry for energy secretary. (The Hill)

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CLIMATE:
• Scientists at national laboratories are worried that their climate change research may be under threat from the Trump administration.

House Republicans to vote on coal and methane rules

REGULATION: House Republicans will vote on whether to scrap two pollution rules – one protecting streams from coal mining waste and one to cut methane emissions at oil and gas drilling sites. (The Hill)

PIPELINES:
• Federal regulators approve a $450 million pipeline project that will transport more natural gas from New Jersey through New England. (MassLive)
• With only two commissioners in office, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission currently lacks the power to decide controversial gas pipeline projects. (Bloomberg)
• In addition to fighting the Trump administration, Dakota Access Pipeline protesters are facing division within their own movement. (Los Angeles Times)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join the Midwest Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC) at the Energy Storage Conference, February 15 in Milwaukee.

Company submits application to revive Keystone XL pipeline

PIPELINES: The Canadian company behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline submits a new presidential permit application to revive the project. (Associated Press)

ALSO:
• What the Keystone XL pipeline could mean for the environment, the U.S. oil industry and Canada. (New York Times)
• Companies behind the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which is slated to run from West Virginia to North Carolina, say they “are very encouraged” by the Trump administration’s support of oil and gas infrastructure projects. (Triangle Business Journal)
• Environmental advocates say a 138,600 gallon diesel spill in Iowa this week highlights the risk posed by pipelines. (Associated Press, The Guardian)
• The leader of North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux tribe sends a letter asking President Trump to reconsider his order to revive the Dakota Access Pipeline, saying the decision can’t be made “simply by the president’s whim.”

Regulators approve largest offshore wind farm in U.S.

WIND: Regulators approve the nation’s largest offshore wind farm off the coast of Long Island, with plans for 15 turbines. (New York Times)
SOLAR:
• The Department of Energy’s SunShot goal to bring solar prices down to $1 per watt, once thought overly aspirational, has been achieved three years early. (Greentech Media)
• The solar industry employs more people in the U.S. than the coal, gas and oil industries combined, according to a new report from the Department of Energy. (Independent)
• More solar installation companies are interested in selling battery storage, according to a new survey that concluded “no other new product or service was nearly as popular.” (Greentech Media)
• Minnesota’s first state sustainability director talks about solar and where he sees opportunities for more clean energy investment.

Trump signs orders to revive controversial pipelines

PIPELINES: President Trump signs orders to revive the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, as opponents vow to fight back. (Reuters)

ALSO:
• President Trump’s decision to revive the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines is sending a clear message that energy firms and their projects are back in favor. (Los Angeles Times)
• Over 250 people attend a heated public-comment session over a proposed gas pipeline that would run through New Jersey’s protected Pinelands forest. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join the Midwest Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC) at the Energy Storage Conference, February 15 in Milwaukee. This conference will explore recent advances in energy storage technologies, as well as the applications and in-field examples of the role of energy storage.

Senate committee approves former Exxon CEO for secretary of state

POLITICS: Former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson narrowly wins approval from a Senate committee for the position of secretary of state. (Associated Press)

ALSO:
• No one knows what Rex Tillerson actually believes or what he may do as secretary of state. (Vox)
• The Trump administration orders the EPA to freeze all grants and contracts and tells federal agencies to halt hiring in all areas on the executive branch except for the military, national security and public safety. (Washington Post)
• The Trump administration hires a former mining industry lobbyist and former researchers from pro-drilling think tanks for his new EPA transition team. (Reuters)

***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.

California proposes massive emissions reduction

CLIMATE: California proposes the most ambitious climate goal in North America, with a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. (The Hill)

ALSO:
• President Trump’s America First Energy Plan is “replete with misinformation and specious claims about climate and energy policy.” (Climate Central)
• The White House says eliminating climate rules and other environmental regulations would increase wages “by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years” – a figure taken from a 2015 paper that was written for a fossil fuel industry group and not peer reviewed. (Climate Central)

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