• Nearly two-thirds of coal-producing states lost coal mining jobs in 2017, while West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania saw modest gains. (Reuters)
• Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who was convicted for his role in a deadly 2010 coal mine explosion, launches his U.S. Senate campaign by telling a crowd in West Virginia that President Trump presents a real opportunity for jobs in the state. (Associated Press)
OIL & GAS:
• A Philadelphia utility says consumption of natural gas is hitting new records in the city’s suburbs due to unusually low temperatures. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
• U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, says he will block three Interior Department nominees until his state is formally removed from the Trump administration’s offshore drilling expansion plan. (Platts)
• Virginia’s U.S. senators call for public hearings on offshore drilling plan.
SOLAR: President Trump says when other countries dump subsidized solar panels in the United States, “then everybody goes out of business.” He says he will announce a decision on whether to impose tariffs “pretty soon.” (Reuters)
• Trade experts say the implementation of solar tariffs could be delayed 90 days if the Trump administration decides to pursue a “negotiated settlement.” (Greentech Media)
• The CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) makes a personal plea to the president for him not to impose solar tariffs, saying the move would “lead to the layoff of tens of thousands of workers.” (Washington Examiner)
• Outgoing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie “pocket vetoes” a bill that would have raised the state’s solar standard, meaning the legislature cannot override it. (PV Magazine)
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SOLAR: The executive director of the International Energy Agency says solar energy is “on track” to become the cheapest source of electricity. (Houston Chronicle)
• Shell becomes the largest shareholder of Nashville-based Silicon Ranch, acquiring 44 percent of the solar company. (Greentech Media)
• A California-based company is trying to prove that concentrated solar plants can meet electricity demands as well as coal and gas plants. (InsideClimate News)
• The NAACP will install solar panels on households and community centers and train 100 people in solar job skills. (Grist)
• Families are moving into what’s being called America’s first solar-powered town, about half an hour northeast of Fort Myers, Florida.
OIL & GAS: A cold snap earlier this year led to record-breaking withdrawals of natural gas, topping the polar vortex that hit the East Coast four years ago. (Houston Chronicle)
• Two Los Angeles City Council members want to sue big oil companies for climate change-related damages, saying they did “nothing to stop their destructive ways.” (Los Angeles Times)
• The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency tells federal energy regulators it is concerned about potential spills from the company drilling for the Rover natural gas pipeline. (Reuters)
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• Seven governors talk to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke about removing their states from a Trump administration plan to expand offshore drilling around the country. (The Hill)
• New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is the latest coastal governor to urge the Trump administration to exempt his state from a plan to expand offshore drilling. (Associated Press)
COAL: The number of power plants burning coal from Montana could drop to 14 by 2030, compared to 50 in 2012.
OFFSHORE DRILLING: A Trump administration plan to expand offshore drilling is uniting opposing lawmakers from both parties. (Los Angeles Times)
• A U.S. senator from Washington state says the Interior Department’s decision to exempt only Florida from a nationwide offshore drilling expansion may be illegal. (Associated Press)
• Florida is no longer included in the offshore drilling plan, but there could be wiggle room, depending on how “Florida” is defined. (Bloomberg)
• Governors in Rhode Island, Washington and New Jersey are asking Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to exempt their state’s waters from oil and gas exploration. (Associated Press, Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer)
• U.S. senators and representatives from New England introduce legislation to bar offshore drilling along their coasts.
CLIMATE: New York City plans sell billions in fossil fuel investments from its pension funds and launch a lawsuit against five oil companies for contributing to climate change. (New York Times, Washington Post)
• The Trump administration has systematically removed and buried climate change information across government websites, according to a new analysis. (New York Times)
• ExxonMobil is combating a series of climate change lawsuits brought by coastal California communities by using the Texas court system. (InsideClimate News)
• Republican Gov. Larry Hogan tells the U.S. Climate Alliance that Maryland will join the group in supporting the Paris climate accord. (Washington Post)
RENEWABLES: Clean energy advocates are hopeful a newly appointed member of Missouri’s Public Service Commission will support policies that spur renewable energy development.
COAL: U.S. coal production will continue to decline in 2018 and 2019, thanks to cheap natural gas and coal plant retirements, according to predictions by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. (Washington Post)
• The CEO of coal giant Murray Energy slams federal regulators for rejecting a DOE plan to prop up coal and nuclear plants, calling the decision a “bureaucratic cop-out.” (Washington Post)
• In a win for environmentalists, commissioners at the Port of Vancouver in Washington vote to end a lease with developers seeking to build a giant oil terminal. (Portland Business Journal)
• Duke Energy will pay an $84,000 penalty and work to stop waste from three North Carolina coal plants from leaking into groundwater and rivers under a deal with state regulators. (Associated Press)
• After meeting with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says he will remove Florida from the Trump administration’s plan to open nearly all U.S. coastal waters to oil and gas drilling. (Bloomberg)
• The removal of Florida from the White House’s plan to expand offshore oil and gas exploration underscores its deep unpopularity.
POLICY: Federal regulators reject a Trump administration plan to prop up coal and nuclear plants, saying there’s is no evidence it will make the electric grid more reliable. (Greentech Media)
POLITICS: A Trump administration proposal to expand offshore drilling will likely be an important issue in Florida’s upcoming elections. (Washington Post)
MICROGRIDS: Puerto Rico energy regulators propose rules for future microgrid installations on the island. (Greentech Media)
• The U.S. Forest Service will allow 11 miles of transmission lines to be buried in a national forest in New Hampshire. (Associated Press)
• Proposed cross-border power lines between Texas, Mexico and other states could place the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) – which is currently independent from federal regulation – under FERC jurisdiction. (Utility Dive)
UTILITIES: Ohio-based American Electric Power forgot to notify the public about hearings on its latest case that will set rates and rider fees through 2024 for its customers, adding an element of uncertainty to the proposal.
GRID: A recent cold snap produced few electricity disruptions, undercutting arguments by Energy Secretary Rick Perry that coal and nuclear plants need government support to keep lights on during cold weather events. (Washington Post, The Hill)
• Weak natural gas prices are hurting coal and nuclear operators more than renewable energy, according to a new report that could have implications for a DOE proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear. (Utility Dive)
• The Trump administration’s efforts to help coal and nuclear plants are drawing backlash from other energy sectors. (Reuters)
POLITICS: Colorado’s governor wants to restore state funding for the Colorado Energy Office, which has been a political football for Republican and Democratic lawmakers. (Denver Post)
UTILITIES: Baltimore Gas and Electric plans to pass roughly $82 million in annual tax savings on to customers by decreasing rates.
OIL & GAS: The Trump administration proposes opening nearly all U.S. offshore waters to oil and gas drilling, dealing a blow to environmental groups and lawmakers in coastal states. (New York Times, Common Dreams, Huffington Post)
• The plan would allow the first federal lease sales off California since 1984, sparking opposition from state officials and green groups. (Los Angeles Times)
• The offshore drilling proposal could make 2018 an even tougher election year for Republicans in coastal states. (McClatchy)
• Louisiana lawmakers praise the proposal’s potential to boost the economy and energy security. (The Advocate)
• Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard responds to an estimated 2,500 gallons of oil spilled into the Mississippi River in Louisiana.