‘This is suicidal’: UN issues stark warning on climate change

CLIMATE: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says humanity’s “waging war on nature” is “suicidal,” as a new report projects 2020 will be the third hottest year on record. (Associated Press)

• A new report warns that climate change is already posing a public health threat in the U.S. (New York Times)
• Two Democratic senators say there are still climate policies that could advance through a Republican-controlled Senate. (Grist)
• Lower-level agency appointments will be critical in ensuring Biden administration climate policies can survive legal challenges. (Bloomberg Law)

• A nonprofit funded by American Electric Power gave $900,000 over three years to two “dark money” groups at the center of the state’s power plant subsidy law scandal. (Dayton Daily News)
• Four former ComEd officials plead not guilty to federal bribery charges as top Illinois Republican lawmakers call on House Speaker Michael Madigan to resign.

Two more California cities approve natural gas bans

ELECTRIFICATION: San Jose and Oakland both approve measures banning natural gas connections in new buildings, with San Jose becoming the largest city in the U.S. to do so. (San Jose Spotlight, San Francisco Chronicle)

POLLUTION: A review of data finds that government air quality monitors routinely miss major pollution releases, including an explosion at a Philadelphia refinery last year that was visible from space. (Reuters)

EQUITY: A Chicago neighborhood shows how community development plays a key role in advancing clean energy on former industrial sites. (Energy News Network)

OHIO: Utility and fossil fuel interests’ influence on Ohio politics is resurfacing as officials seek to replace a member of the state’s utility commission and environmental groups seek to revisit prior utility cases. (Energy News Network)

TRANSPORTATION: Ford encourages other automakers to withdraw from a lawsuit challenging California’s right to set tailpipe emissions standards.

And then there were 5: New FERC commissioners approved

OVERSIGHT: The Senate confirms two nominees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, bringing the commission back to a full five members. (The Hill)

ALSO: The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio begins the process of replacing former Chairman Sam Randazzo after he abruptly resigned last month following an FBI search of his home. (Cleveland.com)

• President-elect Biden has multiple options, and car industry support, for reversing the Trump administration’s rollback of car emissions rules. (E&E News)
• One of Biden’s key economic advisers has said that gasoline prices fail to account for the harm caused by emissions. (E&E News, subscription)
• GM scales back a planned partnership with Nikola that includes scrapping plans to manufacture the EV startup’s battery powered pickup truck.

Federal review of Vineyard Wind delayed again

OFFSHORE WIND: Federal regulators reviewing the Vineyard Wind offshore wind proposed off Massachusetts say they need another month and will render a decision in mid-January. (WBUR) 

ALSO: A delay in developing offshore wind in New Jersey until mid-decade has implications on whether the state should leave PJM over disputes on clean energy policies. (NJ Spotlight)

• A new report from Maine regulators says that if all solar projects currently proposed in the state are built, a combination of lost utility revenue and increased costs to connect the developments could raise consumer bills. (Maine Public)
• An aquaculture company in Maryland is using solar energy to power its operation using barges that require less space than in open water to grow and harvest oysters. (WTOP)

TRANSPORTATION: Massachusetts’ energy secretary says the state is fully committed to a regional program to cut vehicle emissions, countering more cautious comments recently made by Gov. Charlie Baker.

Corporate allies could help Biden in climate fight

CLIMATE: The Biden administration will face less resistance on climate policy from corporations, including some oil companies, thanks to public commitments to reduce emissions. (E&E News)

• A Trump administration proposal to limit banks’ ability to refuse to finance fossil fuel projects faces opposition from free-market advocates. (The Hill)
• Maine’s Climate Action Plan set for release tomorrow would require a substantial commitment from state residents to lessen the impact of climate change, as advocates now tackle finding ways to pay for it. (Energy News Network)

POLLUTION: The EPA estimates more than a half-million diesel pickup trucks in the U.S. have been illegally modified to override pollution controls, which one advocate calls “far more alarming and widespread than the Volkswagen scandal.” (New York Times)

OVERSIGHT: EPA scientists have been resisting the Trump administration’s final efforts to weaken the agency, which may prove helpful to President-elect Biden. (New York Times)

• Energy experts say the Biden administration could help the U.S. oil and gas industry compete globally by bringing it in line with climate standards.