U.S. Energy News

Interior nominee remains evasive on climate change

POLITICS: Interior secretary nominee Ryan Zinke says humans “influence” climate change but “there’s debate on what that influence is,” while also voicing support for drilling and mining on federal lands. (Washington Post, New York Times)

COAL:
• Thirteen states ask a federal appeals court to issue an injunction to block the “Stream Protection Rule,” which is designed to minimize the impact of coal mining on streams. (Associated Press)
• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduces legislation to keep healthcare benefits for retired union coal miners. (Associated Press)

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OIL & GAS:
• Over 60 percent of Americans don’t want increased oil drilling on public lands and say the EPA’s powers should be preserved or strengthened under Donald Trump, according to an online poll of nearly 10,000 people. (Reuters)
Natural gas surpassed coal as a main source of electricity for the first time in 2016, generating 34 percent of the country’s electricity, according to an analysis by the Department of Energy. (FuelFix)
• A federal rule designed to reduce emissions from oil and gas operations on public lands takes effect. (Denver Post)

PIPELINES:
• The company behind the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline asks a federal judge to block an environmental study on the impact of laying pipe under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota. (Associated Press)
Three protesters are arrested in North Dakota for trespassing along the Dakota Access Pipeline construction site. (Reuters)

FRACKING: EPA chief nominee Scott Pruitt – who is testifying before the Senate today – has failed to address the problem of fracking-related earthquakes in Oklahoma during his time as attorney general. (USA Today, ThinkProgress)

UTILITIES:
• Businesses and consumer groups are denouncing a bill that would allow a Minnesota-based utility to build a 786-megawatt natural gas plant without regulatory approval. (Midwest Energy News)
• Virginia’s Supreme Court will hear arguments over who sets and reviews rates for the state’s utilities as part of a legal challenge over a 2015 law that protects electric utilities from rate reviews by regulators for five years. (Southeast Energy News)

BIOFUEL: By burning a mix of wood pellets and coal in coal-fired power plants, the U.S. could improve air quality while saving thousands of mining jobs, according to a global expert on pellet fuels. (Portland Press Herald)

MICROGRIDS: By using microgrids on military bases instead of diesel backup generators, the U.S. military could save hundreds of millions of dollars annually and enhance security, according to a new report. (Greentech Media)

RENEWABLE ENERGY:
• A number of Republican leaders are beginning to embrace renewable energy standards as a pathway for job growth. (Utility Dive)
• Renewable energy and energy efficiency businesses create the equivalent of 34,000 full-time jobs in North Carolina and generate $6.4 billion in annual revenue, according to an industry group report. (Charlotte Observer)

SOLAR:
• A Florida electric utility adds three 74.5-megawatt solar power plants to the grid and plans to build four more. (South Florida Business Journal)
• A mapping tool helps a Michigan nonprofit identify nearly 80 brownfield sites in the Upper Peninsula that could host over 750 megawatts of solar. (Midwest Energy News)

WIND: A New York utility will vote on a plan to build a 90-megawatt, 15-turbine wind farm off the coast of Long Island. (Associated Press)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Electric vehicles sales fall by 80 percent in Georgia after lawmakers replace a $5,000 tax credit with a $200 registration fee. (Utility Dive)

REGULATION: Repealing an EPA rule to limit emissions from oil and gas operations and killing the stream protection act are top priorities for the incoming Trump administration. (Washington Post)

COMMENTARY: States like California and New York are failing to provide the leadership needed to fight climate change. (New York Times)

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