Feds grant permit for Keystone XL pipeline

PIPELINES:
• The Trump administration approves a construction permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, according to the project’s developers. (New York Times)
• A federal judge dismisses a lawsuit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission brought by environmentalists who accused the agency of being biased toward approving natural gas pipelines. (E&E News)

POLLUTION:
• Texas regulators fine an oil and gas company over $100,000 for failing to clean up spilled oil and toxic water. (FuelFix)
• Coal slurry leaks from a burst pipe into a waterway south of Charleston, West Virginia. (Associated Press)

***SPONSORED LINK: The 2nd Grid Modernization Forum, April 3-5 in Chicago, examines key lessons from top utilities including Eversource, Alliant Energy, Con Edison, National Grid, Ameren and many others.

Exxon says it lost emails sent by secretary of state and former CEO

CLIMATE:
• As part of a climate fraud investigation, an attorney for Exxon Mobil tells a New York state court that emails sent by former Exxon CEO and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson from an alias email account have gone missing due to a “unique issue.” (Huffington Post)
• A Maine state representative introduces a bill to protect climate change deniers from “discrimination,” saying it’s intended to protect against “a faith-based ideology of climate change hysteria.” (Portland Press Herald)

RENEWABLES:
• California lawmakers introduce a bill requiring utilities to deploy more clean energy during peak demand times. (Utility Dive)
• Frustrated by high electric bills and frequent shutoffs, one of Colorado’s poorest cities passes a resolution to generate 100 percent of its power from renewables by 2035. (Nexus Media)

***SPONSORED LINK: The 2nd Grid Modernization Forum, April 3-5 in Chicago, examines key lessons from top utilities including Eversource, Alliant Energy, Con Edison, National Grid, Ameren and many others.

White House: Trump administration is not considering a carbon tax

CARBON TAX:
• A White House official says the Trump administration is not considering a carbon tax, despite urgings to do so by a group of Republican elder statesmen. (Reuters)
• The debate over a carbon tax has put moderates at odds with hardline conservatives within the White House. (Politico)

POLICY:
• Democrat and Republican energy policy experts give differing opinions of what the Trump administration’s budget cuts could mean for clean energy. (Greentech Media)
• What President Trump is expected to include in his executive order targeting Barack Obama’s “stupid” climate change policies. (New York Times)

***SPONSORED LINK: Stay current on the newest developments in the energy economy by attending the Advancing Renewables in the Midwest Conference this coming April 24th & 25th in Columbia, MO.

Trump preparing executive actions to help coal miners, industry

COAL: At a rally in Kentucky, President Trump promises to transform the EPA “from a job-killer into a job-creator” and put coal miners back to work using new executive actions. (Courier-Journal, Reuters)

ALSO:
• An Ohio electric utility announces the closure of two coal-fired power plants, saying they “will not be economically viable beyond mid-2018.” (The Hill)
• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vows to fight proposed budget cuts to
the Appalachian Regional Commission, which helps revitalize economies hurt by coal’s decline. (Associated Press)

OIL & GAS: Companies in Texas are rushing to build infrastructure projects to help meet Mexico’s growing demand for gasoline, diesel and other oil products. (San Antonio Business Journal)

***SPONSORED LINK: Stay current on the newest developments in the energy economy by attending the Advancing Renewables in the Midwest Conference this coming April 24th & 25th in Columbia, MO. For registration and details: www.AdvancingRenewables.org.***

PIPELINES:
• The Dakota Access pipeline developer says the project is on track to start moving oil this week, despite recent “attacks” that threatened “physical safety and the environment.” (Associated Press)
• Washington state fines a natural gas company $1 million for breaking pipeline safety rules.

Maryland governor reverses course, calls for statewide fracking ban

FRACKING: In a “stunning reversal,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan changes his stance on fracking and calls for a statewide ban because the “environmental risks of fracking simply outweigh any potential benefits.” (Bay Journal)

COAL:
• A judge approves coal giant Peabody Energy’s plan to emerge from bankruptcy after the company agrees to create a $43 million trust to manage environmental liabilities stemming from a dormant gold and metal mining subsidiary. (Reuters)
• Despite a small rebound in the coal industry, coal-fired power plants are continuing to shut down and job prospects are bleak. (Washington Post)
• Nearly 84 percent of North Carolina voters say Duke Energy, not customers, should pay to clean up its coal-ash ponds. (Charlotte Business Journal)
• Critics of Nevada’s last remaining coal plant are using economic arguments in their battle to shut down the facility, saying “NV Energy has been squandering customers’ money on an outdated power source.” (Associated Press)

OIL & GAS: An appeals court refuses to grant an emergency order to stop oil from flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline, meaning the project could be operational as early as Monday. (NBC)

POLLUTION: The idea that air pollution doesn’t kill people is gaining momentum within the Trump administration.

Trump’s budget plan aims to revive Nevada nuclear waste site

NUCLEAR:
• The Trump administration’s new budget proposal calls for restarting the licensing process for Nevada’s stalled Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, drawing strong opposition from Nevada lawmakers. (Reuters, Las Vegas Review-Journal)
• A bill introduced in Connecticut would treat nuclear power as a renewable resource, making the state’s only nuclear plant eligible for a five-year power purchase agreement. (Utility Dive)

SOLAR: Nearly 80 percent of all U.S. rooftops have enough unshaded area for solar panels, according to calculations by Google’s Project Sunroof. (Engadget)

***SPONSORED LINK: Stay current on the newest developments in the energy economy by attending the Advancing Renewables in the Midwest Conference this coming April 24th & 25th in Columbia, MO. For registration and details: www.AdvancingRenewables.org.***

WIND: Low prices are causing a boom in wind energy, but transmission remains a challenge.

New White House proposal cuts EPA budget by 31 percent

EPA: The Trump administration proposes slashing the EPA’s budget by 31 percent, which would eliminate 3,200 agency jobs and kill more than 50 programs. (Washington Post)
REGULATION: President Trump announces a rollback of Obama-era fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, which will require more than a year of reviews by the EPA and the Transportation Department before taking effect. (New York Times)

CLIMATE:
• The Trump administration is asking U.S. energy companies for their opinion on the Paris climate agreement, and many have said they would prefer if the country remains in the pact, according to two anonymous sources. (Reuters)
• A group of 17 congressional Republicans sign a resolution vowing to seek “economically viable” ways to stave off global warming. (The Hill)

***SPONSORED LINK: Stay current on the newest developments in the energy economy by attending the Advancing Renewables in the Midwest Conference this coming April 24th & 25th in Columbia, MO. For registration and details: www.AdvancingRenewables.org.***

SOLAR:
• Why residential solar company Sungevity went bankrupt despite a growing industry.

Trump to sign sweeping executive order aimed at climate policies

CLIMATE: President Trump plans to scrap an Obama-era policy that requires government agencies to factor climate change into their environmental reviews, along with signing other anti-climate directives, according to a source familiar with the plan. (Bloomberg, Washington Post)

ALSO:
• Grand Marais becomes the second city in Minnesota to adopt a “climate inheritance resolution,” which calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and including “the youth voice” in future decisions involving the environment and climate change. (Midwest Energy News)
• At least half a dozen former aides to James Inhofe — the climate-denying Oklahoma Senator who once brought a snowball to the Senate floor — have been hired into top positions at the EPA and White House. (Washington Post)

***SPONSORED LINK: Stay current on the newest developments in the energy economy by attending the Advancing Renewables in the Midwest Conference this coming April 24th & 25th in Columbia, MO. For registration and details: www.AdvancingRenewables.org.***

EMISSIONS: Natural gas power plants are emitting up to 120 times more methane than EPA officials previously calculated, according to a recent study.

Sources: Trump will reopen review of fuel economy standards

REGULATION:
• President Trump will travel to Michigan on Wednesday to announce plans to reassess Obama-era fuel economy standards, according to sources. (Washington Post)
• California promises to fight the Trump administration’s plan to weaken emissions regulations for cars and trucks. (San Francisco Chronicle)

SOLAR:
• Rooftop solar continues to decline on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, with permits dropping 66 percent since last February to the lowest number in over five years. (Pacific Business News)
• The residential solar company Sungevity files for bankruptcy and will sell its assets to the venture capital firm Northern Pacific Group. (Greentech Media)
• A promising microgrid experiment in Brooklyn allows residents and businesses to trade solar energy from a network of arrays spread across rowhouse rooftops.

Volkswagen agrees to pay $4.3 billion for emissions cheating

EMISSIONS: Volkswagen pleads guilty to a scheme to cheat vehicle emissions standards and agrees to pay $4.3 billion in criminal and civil penalties. (Associated Press)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES:
• By rolling back electric vehicle incentives, states could put the industry in a precarious position. (New York Times)
• Researchers in California are developing a process to create renewable solar fuel using water and sunlight. (E&E News)
• In a push to help Tesla sell electric cars in Texas, state lawmakers introduce a bill that allows vehicle manufacturers to sell directly to customers, bypassing car dealerships. (Texas Tribune)

***SPONSORED LINK: The 2nd Grid Modernization Forum, April 3-5 in Chicago, examines key lessons from top utilities including Eversource, Alliant Energy, Con Edison, National Grid, Ameren and many others.