Trump launches lame-duck fight over Arctic drilling  

OIL & GAS: The Trump administration proposes a rule that would limit large banks from pulling their financing from Arctic oil and gas projects after several banks announced policies prohibiting such investments. (Anchorage Daily News)

• President-elect Biden faces several obstacles to fulfilling his pledge to permanently protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from drilling. (The Hill)
• An oil and gas analyst says the industry is “cautiously positive” about the impact of President-elect Biden and notes that a president who manages a gradual shift from oil might be better for business in the medium term compared to President Trump’s climate denialism. (NPR)

PUBLIC LANDS: The New Mexico congresswoman reportedly being considered for Interior Secretary under President-elect Joe Biden says leasing practices for federal lands need to change to encourage more clean energy. (S&P Global)

OHIO: Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairman Sam Randazzo resigns days after the FBI searched his home as part of an investigation into the state’s power plant subsidy law bribery scandal.

Deal reached for largest dam removal in U.S. history

HYDROPOWER: A new agreement among tribes, PacifiCorp, and the states of Oregon and California will advance plans to remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River, which, if approved by federal regulators, would be the largest dam removal in U.S. history. (Associated Press)

• Environmental groups criticize President-elect Biden’s selection of Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond as a senior advisor, citing his ties to the oil industry. (The Hill)
• The Biden administration will likely include the Agriculture and Transportation departments in efforts to fight climate change. (The Hill)

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Nashville mayor backs major solar project

SOLAR: The city of Nashville announces a massive solar project in partnership with Vanderbilt University that will get it one-third of the way toward its goal of powering government operations with 100% renewable energy. (Tennessean)

• The power supplier for South Carolina’s electric cooperatives votes to add as much as 363 MW of solar capacity through power purchase agreements. (WBTW)
• A West Virginia county zoning board commission approves plans for a solar farm despite some residents’ concerns about spoiling natural views. (WVVA)
• A Virginia city council approves an agreement to partner with Dominion Energy on a 1.4 megawatt solar facility. (WHSV)
• A Virginia county board of supervisors unanimously approves a permit to extend the construction date for a planned 20 MW solar farm.

President-elect Biden begins transition planning for EPA, DOE 

POLITICS: President-elect Biden names his energy and environment transition team members, including academics, Obama administration alumni, and representatives of labor and environmental groups. (S&P Global)

• Former Iowa Gov. Chet Culver is reportedly under consideration for a possible senior role in the Energy Department, according to sources. (Bloomberg)
• Biden is expected to name Ronald Klain as his White House chief of staff; the longtime aide is vocal on climate change and viewed as an ally by progressive environmental groups. (E&E News, subscription)
• Despite President Trump’s refusal to concede, energy companies are not waiting to congratulate and lobby the incoming Biden administration in hopes of helping to shape its climate plans. (Washington Post)

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Massive layoffs at nation’s largest oil company

OIL & GAS: Exxon Mobil plans to lay off an estimated 14,000 employees globally, about 15% of its workforce, due to the collapse in oil demand. (Reuters)

• An Exxon analyst says he was pushed out of the company after raising the subject of climate change at an employee town hall meeting. (Vice)
• Environmental groups sue the U.S. EPA for failing to update and enforce rules for flaring, or burning off excess gases. (Houston Chronicle)
• Colorado regulators propose to eliminate flaring at oil wells by early 2022, a move that is supported by large producers. (Denver Business Journal, subscription)

EQUITY: Renewable energy companies have made unprecedented statements on race and equality, but it remains to be seen whether it will translate into action that overcomes systemic racism within the industry.