Carbon accounting loophole drives wood pellet boom in Southeast

BIOMASS: The wood pellet business is booming across the Southeast, driven by European policies that reward burning wood due to what scientists say is a dangerous carbon accounting loophole. (InsideClimate News)

SOLAR:
• A remodeled McDonald’s designed to generate all of its own power on site opens near Disney World with over 1,060 rooftop solar panels. (Orlando Sentinel)
• Duke Energy says it’s open to changes to its popular rooftop solar rebate program to make it more effective. (Triad Business Journal, subscription required)

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Oil industry ends week with legal win on Alaska drilling

OIL & GAS: The future of the U.S. oil and gas boom is in doubt after recent setbacks involving major pipeline projects. (Associated Press)

ALSO:
• A federal appeals court rules that drilling can resume in a sensitive Alaskan reserve without updating an environmental assessment that was completed four years before oil was discovered in the area. (Courthouse News)
• As Microsoft vows to eliminate its carbon footprint within a decade, its retirement program is pumping millions into the fossil fuel industry. (E&E News)
• Texas residents raise concerns about a law that allows oil and gas drilling to take place in backyards, vacant lots and other urban areas. (Houston Chronicle) 

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Democrats tighten timeline for eliminating carbon emissions

CLIMATE: A Democratic Party “unity task force” unveils a climate plan that calls for 100% carbon-free power by 2035 — 15 years earlier than former Vice President Joe Biden’s previous position. (The Hill) 

GRID: U.S. economic growth appears to be decoupling from energy generation, with electricity production increasing 40% since 1990 as the GDP more than doubled, according to a new McKinsey study. (Quartz)

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COAL:
• U.S. power sector carbon emissions fell 8% from 2018-2019 as a result of coal plant closures, according to a new report.

Climate activists see turning point in pipeline fight

PIPELINES: Climate activists sense a turning point as three major pipeline projects are either stalled or canceled, and environmental and Indigenous groups mount increasingly sophisticated legal attacks. (InsideClimate News, New York Times) 

ALSO:
• Court decisions this week together highlight and raise the energy stakes of November’s election, which could decide the fate of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. (Axios)
• A federal judge declines to reverse his decision ordering the Dakota Access pipeline to be shut down. (The Hill)

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“My reaction was ‘hallelujah.’” Activists celebrate pipeline victories

PIPELINES: Southeast activists who spent six years fighting the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline celebrate developers’ decision over the weekend to abandon the project amid mounting delays and legal uncertainty. (NBC News)

ALSO:
• On Monday, a federal judge ruled the Dakota Access pipeline must be shut down and emptied of oil by Aug. 5 pending an environmental review. (NPR)
• Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Trump administration request to allow construction on parts of the Keystone XL pipeline. (New York Times)
• The Supreme Court also reinstated an Army Corps of Engineers program that’s used to fast-track water crossing permits for pipelines.