PUBLIC LANDS: After a contentious confirmation process, Rep. Deb Haaland is confirmed as Interior Secretary, making her the first Native American to lead a cabinet agency, with four Republicans joining Democrats in the vote. (New York Times)

ALSO:
• Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith calls out double standards in how Haaland was treated by some opponents: “Once again, a woman and a woman of color is being held to a different standard, and we need to name it.” (HuffPost)
Indigenous leaders welcome Haaland’s confirmation, but some have misgivings about her ability to effect lasting change in an agency with a long history of harming Native people. (Los Angeles Times)
Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan were among the four Republicans supporting Haaland, while senators from Wyoming and Colorado did not vote on the confirmation. (Alaska Public Media, Senate.gov)

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EPA: New EPA administrator Michael Regan says his first priorities are to rebuild the agency’s morale and to “restore the scientific integrity and the utilization of data” as the agency accelerates work on climate change. (Washington Post)

CLIMATE:
• A new study finds neighborhoods historically subjected to the racist practice of redlining are at greater risk of flooding, compounding the risks of climate change for people of color. (Bloomberg)
• The Securities and Exchange Commission is seeking public comment as it considers requiring companies to more fully disclose their climate impacts to investors. (The Hill)
• The Massachusetts Senate passes an amended climate bill that incorporates some of Gov. Charlie Baker’s technical suggestions but rejects his most serious objections on timelines and net-zero buildings. (WBUR)

COAL:
• Congress’ nonpartisan watchdog is investigating a multibillion-dollar subsidy for so-called “clean coal” after a media investigation found the chemically treated fuel let off more pollution than untreated coal. (Reuters)
• U.S. power plants are slated to use 16% more coal this year than in 2020, effectively negating last year’s pandemic-induced emissions drop, the U.S. Energy Information Administration says. (Bloomberg)
• A Wyoming environment and natural resources expert says Gov. Mark Gordon’s challenge to the state to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 is “far too optimistic” as deploying carbon capture at scale is fraught with difficulties. (E&E News)

SOLAR: U.S. solar installations added 19.2 gigawatts of capacity to the grid during 2020, and capacity is expected to quadruple over the next decade, an industry body says. (CNBC)

RENEWABLES: Southwest Power Pool sets a record renewable energy penetration level at 81%, causing wholesale power prices to dive. (S&P Global)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Virginia becomes the first state in the South — and the 15th overall — to adopt California’s clean car standards, which one advocate calls “the single biggest step Virginia has taken to cut carbon emissions.” (Energy News Network)

OIL & GAS:
Approximately 4.4 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas pipeline entered service between November 2020 and January 2021 as projects were completed in the Midwest and Texas, the EIA says. (Energy Information Administration)
The Interior Department will publish monthly reports disclosing new oil and gas permits as Bureau of Land Management staffers resume processing the permits, after two months when only senior officials handled the process. (Reuters)

EFFICIENCY: A coalition of states and utilities call on the U.S. Department of Energy to continue setting appliance standards and ensuring agency rules save energy. (Utility Dive)

ELECTRIFICATION:
A series of bills in Ohio would block local governments’ attempts to limit natural gas use and prevent bans on oil and gas pipelines. (Cleveland.com)
A North Carolina environmental advocate sets the record straight on wind energy’s role in last month’s Texas energy crisis, and says  North Carolina should not shy away from investing in the renewable power source. (Coastal Review Online)

Ken Paulman

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.