U.S. Energy News

Obama to halt new coal leases on public lands

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COAL: President Obama is expected to announce today a moratorium on new coal-mining leases on public land as the administration seeks to overhaul the program. (New York Times)

ALSO:
• Environmental groups hope Arch Coal’s bankruptcy will finally settle a decades-long debate over the need for a mining facility and rail expansion in Montana. (Greenwire)
The Republican majority in the West Virginia legislature has few options to aid the state’s embattled coal industry. (SNL)

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NUCLEAR: As the threat of cyberattacks grows, a watchdog group says 20 nations around the world don’t have regulations requiring minimal protection of nuclear power plant facilities. (New York Times)

NATURAL GAS:
• The utility responsible for the ongoing leak from a natural-gas storage site in California has been understating the amount of a cancer-causing chemical being released. Experts say long-term health impacts to residents are still unclear. (Associated Press)
Elevated methane levels are now being detected as far as 8 miles from the source of the leak. (InsideClimate News)
Experts say continued attempts to plug the ongoing leak in California are creating significant risk for a blowout and further environmental damage. (Los Angeles Times)

SOLAR:
 Minnesota residents are quickly buying up shares in the first community solar projects being developed there, showing early signs of high demand for the statewide program. (Midwest Energy News) 
• A new industry report seeks to explain state and regional solar price variations among different customer classes, which could be valuable to utilities. (Utility Dive)
Defying the jobs vs. the environment narrative, “solar is emerging as a significant job creator in a shifting energy economy.” (Christian Science Monitor)

RENEWABLES: Environmental and community groups celebrate a decision by San Francisco regulators to create a program that offers renewable energy at lower rates to commercial and residential customers throughout the city. (San Francisco Bay View)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: A Southern California utility will develop a $22 million pilot program to expand the number of electric-vehicle charging stations. (Los Angeles Times)

EFFICIENCY: An ordinance in Chicago that requires some building owners to report efficiency data saw a five-fold increase in participants in its second year. (Sustainable Chicago)

OIL AND GAS: The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts the oil and gas industry is unlikely to recover until well into 2017. (EnergyWire)

POLICY: Environmental and industry groups alike are speculating what President Obama’s next directives on fossil fuels will be following his State of the Union speech. (ClimateWire)

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BIOFUELS: The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers will intervene in the biofuel industry’s lawsuit against the U.S. EPA’s decision to lower renewable fuel standards. (Biofuels Digest)

COMMENTARY:
• Following wins in Paris and on tax credit extensions, solar advocates should now turn their attention to national carbon pricing. (Greentech Media)
• Independent power producers, following a tough year for business due to low wholesale power prices, may find new ways to shift costs onto ratepayers. (Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis)

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