EPA official under scrutiny for fossil fuel ties

FOSSIL FUELS: The EPA’s inspector general will investigate allegations that the agency’s former air quality chief violated ethics rules by meeting with former clients from the oil, gas and coal industries. (The New York Times) 

ALSO:
• Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke dismisses ethics inquiries as “BS” as he goes to work for companies regulated by his former department. (Bloomberg)
• An appeals court will not reopen a lawsuit challenging federal regulators’ analysis of greenhouse gas emissions from pipelines. (E&E News)
• Dozens of California cities, including San Francisco, look to follow Berkeley’s lead in limiting new natural gas connections. (InsideClimate News, KRON)

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Study: Methane from buildings could surpass drilling leaks

OIL & GAS: A new study suggestions fugitive natural gas leaks from homes and businesses could represent a far bigger problem than methane leaks from drilling. (Science)

ALSO:
• Federal energy regulators are divided about how climate change should factor into decisions about pipelines and other gas infrastructure. (Axios)
• Industry watchers say the Trump administration’s policies on liquified natural gas overlook the risk of catastrophic explosions. (E&E News)
• Clean energy groups will protest a Florida utility’s plan to transition a coal-fired power plant to natural gas. (WMNF)

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Solar developers stockpile panels before tax credit fades

SOLAR: The country’s largest solar developers are stockpiling solar panels before a 30% federal tax credit starts to phase out next year. (Reuters)

OFFSHORE WIND:
• New York awards two contracts to build 1,700 MW of offshore wind off Long Island, the largest such contracts in the U.S. to date. (New York Times)
• Massachusetts’ Vineyard Wind says its 800 MW offshore wind project is at risk if federal regulators delay an environmental impact statement more than six weeks. (CommonWealth Magazine)

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EMISSIONS: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs the most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction law in the country.

Feds propose fewer inspections for aging nuclear plants

NUCLEAR: A federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission report suggests fewer and less stringent inspections are needed for the nation’s nuclear power plant fleet. (New York Times)

ALSO:
• There is a growing consensus among utilities and policymakers that nuclear power is key for a carbon-free future. (Utility Dive)
• Nevada’s governor and congressional delegation call on the Energy Department to re-evaluate seismic risk at the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site. (Nevada Appeal)

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RENEWABLES:
• The state agency responsible for procuring power for Illinois utilities says the state is falling short of meeting renewable energy targets with existing funding and incentives.

Trump power plant rule isn’t affecting coal retirements

COAL: An analysis finds the Trump Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule isn’t impacting plans for coal plant retirements. (Wyoming Public Media)

ALSO:
• An energy think tank blasts a carbon capture proposal for a New Mexico coal plant, saying the plan has “a lot of flim-flam in it.” (NM Political Report)
• Researchers find coal-dependent communities are inadequately prepared for the industry’s further decline. (ThinkProgress)
• Blackhawk Mining, a coal company with 2,800 employees in West Virginia and Kentucky, files for bankruptcy. (Lexington Herald-Leader)

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OIL & GAS:
• The Trump administration’s leases to oil and gas drillers could result in more annual greenhouse emissions than the entire European Union emits, according to an environmental group’s new report.