U.S. energy use set a record in 2018

EMISSIONS: U.S. energy use hit a record high in 2018, with 80 percent coming from fossil fuels, according to federal data released this week. (Vox)

COAL: Former U.S. EPA head Scott Pruitt registers as an energy lobbyist in Indiana as fossil fuel companies seek to block the planned closure of coal plants. (Indianapolis Star)

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Are nuclear plants ready for climate change?

NUCLEAR: Documents show the nation’s nuclear plants are increasingly at risk from flooding and other weather events fueled by climate change, and critics say the Trump administration is failing to take steps to adapt. (Bloomberg)

ALSO: FirstEnergy officials tell Ohio lawmakers that closing two nuclear plants would increase electric bills and emissions. (Toledo Blade)

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Interior secretary says it’s not his job to address climate change

OVERSIGHT: New Interior Secretary David Bernhardt says it the agency’s job is not to address climate change, but to “maximize sustained yield” from energy development. (E&E News, subscription)

ALSO: As state lawmakers consider subsidies for the FirstEnergy’s power plants, the company has spent millions of dollars on campaign contributions, lobbying, and public relations in Ohio since 2017. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

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New Interior secretary is already under investigation

PUBLIC LANDS: A federal court strikes down a Trump administration rule that cut royalties paid to taxpayers for coal and petroleum extraction on public lands. (Reuters)

ALSO:
• Four days after being confirmed by the Senate, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is under investigation for potential ethics violations involving conflicts of interest with former lobbying clients. (Associated Press)
• Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren proposes a “total moratorium” on new fossil fuel leases on federal land. (CNBC)

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Solar developers win lawsuit against Montana utility, regulators

SOLAR: Solar developers prevail in a lawsuit against a Montana utility and state regulators, with a judge finding both entities set unfair terms that made solar projects uneconomical. (Billings Gazette)

GRID: The Southwest Power Pool has taken a formal step toward expanding its energy market to the western U.S. (RTO Insider)

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UTILITIES: California Gov. Gavin Newsom criticizes PG&E’s new CEO and board picks, saying they lean too heavily toward “Wall Street interests” and not safety. (Greentech Media)

COAL: A conservation group says holding a Montana power plant to a high standard for coal ash cleanup could employ more than 200 people for a decade.