U.S. Energy News

Budget compromise saves EPA, Energy Dept. funding

POLITICS:
• A budget compromise reached by Congress will salvage funding for the EPA and federal clean energy research done by the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). (Utility Dive)
• A group of Senate Democrats say a Department of Energy study on grid reliability is biased and designed to boost coal and nuclear energy at the expense of renewables. (The Hill)

COAL:
• In what’s being hailed as a “huge victory,” Congress agrees on a budget bill that provides $1.3 billion for permanent healthcare to over 22,000 retired miners and their widows, although the bill does not address the pensions they were also promised. (The Hill, Reuters)
• West Virginia’s coal industry is seeing an upswing, but it’s unclear how long it will last. (Bloomberg)
• Mississippi Power again delays the completion date for its Kemper County power plant, which is over three years behind schedule and $4 billion over budget. (Associated Press)

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OIL & GAS:
• The American Petroleum Institute says opening up drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico “would spur investment and economic activity that could create thousands of jobs.” (The Hill)
• Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signs an order instructing the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to create a five-year plan for drilling rights sales, with a focus on offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Coast and the entire Gulf of Mexico. (The Hill)
• A global surplus will make it difficult for the Trump administration to meet its goal of making the U.S. the world’s leading exporter of natural gas. (New York Times)

PIPELINES:
• The issue of eminent domain is providing an opportunity for environmentalists to join forces with conservatives who are passionate about property rights. (OZY)
• The governor of North Dakota sends an email asking President Trump for $38 million in federal funds to reimburse state costs related to protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline. (Associated Press)

FRACKING: A Democratic lawmaker in Maine asks to scrap his proposed bill to regulate fracking, saying the state’s Department of Environmental Protection already regulates such activities. (Portland Press Herald)

RENEWABLES: The Atlanta city council approves a measure to power the city entirely by renewable energy by 2035. (Huffington Post)

WIND: Three companies will consider possible bids to develop the first offshore wind farm in Massachusetts, which must provide at least 400 megawatts of power. (Associated Press)

SOLAR:
• An environmental advocacy group will appeal a decision by Maine’s public utilities commission to reduce financial incentives for residential solar. (Portland Press Herald)
• Dominion Virginia Power plans to add 5,200 MW of solar over the next 25 years, but critics say the announcement is little more than fanfare. (Virginian-Pilot)

STORAGE: With 36 percent of the country’s battery storage capacity, California will serve as test case for states seeking to expand their renewable energy capacity. (Time)

UTILITIES: Critics say a bill in the North Carolina legislature backed by Duke Energy would “crush renewables” by restricting the number of projects allowed from independent producers. (Southeast Energy News)

GRID: The new president of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association explains how rural co-ops can help lead the smart grid transition. (Midwest Energy News)

NUCLEAR: How troubled nuclear projects in Georgia and South Carolina bankrupted Westinghouse Electric. (Reuters)

CAP-AND-TRADE: Democrats in the California Senate want to toughen the state’s cap-and-trade program by increasing prices for releasing greenhouse gas emissions and no longer accepting offset payments. (Los Angeles Times)

POLICY: An overview of 23 environmental rules that have been rolled back during President Trump’s first 100 days in office. (New York Times)

COMMENTARY:
• With renewable energy now cheaper and faster than nuclear power, there’s no reason to promote more nuclear energy in the U.S., says the head of the environmental organization Friends of the Earth. (San Diego Union-Tribune)
Pursuing advanced technologies will help secure coal’s future, says West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. (Washington Times)

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