‘Open license to pollute’ as EPA relaxes power plant rules

POWER PLANTS: The U.S. EPA cites the coronavirus pandemic as justification for a sweeping relaxation of environmental rules that will allow power plants to determine for themselves if they are meeting air and water pollution rules. (New York Times)

• Clean energy legislation stalls in many states as legislatures cut sessions short or shift attention to other issues due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Utility Dive)
• California sets a new emissions goal for its electric sector that would double the state’s clean energy capacity by 2030. (Reuters)
• After celebrating a major legislative victory this month, Virginia renewable companies now face uncertainty because of the pandemic. (Virginia Mercury)

WIND: The nascent offshore wind industry could see major setbacks because of the coronavirus.

Stimulus bill leaves out tax credit extensions for wind and solar

POLICY: The U.S. Senate passes a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill that excludes tax credit extensions for wind and solar industries and climate provisions for bailed out airlines. (Greentech Media, Bloomberg) 

• A federal judge orders an environmental review of the Dakota Access pipeline nearly three years after it started transporting oil, potentially opening the door for it to be shut down. (NPR)
• A federal judge rejects a challenge by environmental groups and fishermen of permits for the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana. (E&E News, subscription)

• The oil price war and uncertainty from the coronavirus mean serious challenges for North Dakota’s oil and gas industry. (Washington Post)
• A law firm with deep ties to the Democratic Party is helping oil companies lobby for exemptions from federal greenhouse gas emission regulations.

Push to ban new natural gas hookups stalls amid coronavirus pandemic

ELECTRIFICATION: Efforts to impose natural gas bans in new construction in several states stall as activists are limited to virtual meetings and officials are preoccupied by the coronavirus pandemic. (S&P Global)

• Coal miners in West Virginia are told to keep working during the coronavirus pandemic despite the fact they’re in close quarters and many have damaged lungs. (Washington Post)
• A new study concludes that methane emissions from coal mines could be more than double previous estimates and exceed the oil-and-gas sector. (Carbon Brief)
• Another analysis finds a proposed carbon capture project at a New Mexico coal plant is not economically feasible. (E&E News, subscription)

• The chances of coronavirus causing a widespread power outage are low, experts say, with the greatest concern being infected plant workers.

Solar industry warns pandemic slowdown could cut workforce in half

SOLAR: The solar industry is lobbying to extend federal tax credits, streamline state permitting rules, and classify its workforce as “essential” amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Utility Dive, Greentech Media)

• A solar trade group warns that the pandemic threatens to slash the industry’s workforce in half as it tries to negotiate tax credit extensions. (Bloomberg)
• Meanwhile, solar developers have been hiring installers who are new to the industry, offering on-the-job training and long-term employment for projects. (PV Magazine)

• Efforts to address climate change and the clean energy sector are among the factors delaying a $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill in Congress. (NPR)
• Illinois legislation backed by Ameren focuses on utility-scale solar in the southern part of the state that the utility could own.

Utilities plan to house key workers at power plants during pandemic 

• Utilities plan to house key personnel at power plants to ensure facilities remain online during the coronavirus pandemic. (POWER)
• New Hampshire’s Seabrook nuclear plant is operating with limited staff during the outbreak, with regulators doing some inspections remotely. (Eagle-Tribune)

• As coal-fired power plants are shut down for good, companies see opportunity in redeveloping abandoned fossil-fueled sites. (Energy News Network)
• The U.S. coal industry asks for royalty relief, tax cuts and other breaks to help companies weather the economic slowdown from coronavirus. (Associated Press)
• West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says coal mining is an “essential” service during the coronavirus pandemic.