U.S. Energy News

U.S. renewable investments surged in 2019 to record $55 billion

RENEWABLES: U.S. wind and solar companies rushing to qualify for federal tax credits invested a record $55.5 billion in the sector last year. (Bloomberg)

EMISSIONS:
• Microsoft pledges to remove as much carbon as it has emitted in its 45-year history, though questions remain about the technology. (Reuters)
A new report indicates that California will have to nearly double its current rate of emissions reductions to achieve its goal of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. (Monterey Herald)

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POLITICS:
• House Republicans discuss climate policy and again conclude that innovation, not taxes or regulation, is the best way to address the crisis. (E&E News)
Texas’ 2020 elections could be pivotal for the oil and gas industry as younger voters are more concerned about climate change. (E&E News, subscription)

OIL & GAS:
• Energy companies have spent $30 million lobbying the Interior Department since their former lobbyist became its secretary. (Mother Jones)
• The Interior Department’s top lawyer told Congress he had not been in contact with his former clients, but emails show that was not true. (HuffPost)
Philadelphia residents near a now-closed oil refinery were exposed to benzene 21 times the federal limit during and after its operations, in what one scientist calls “a classic environmental justice issue.” (E&E News, NBC News)
The head of the Texas Oil and Gas Association clarifies his comments about climate change and defends the industry. (Texas Standard)

COAL:
• The backers of the country’s only proposed new coal-fired plant abandon plans to build the $2.2 billion project in Kansas. (Wichita Eagle)
Iowa regulators will require an analysis of Interstate Power & Light’s coal fleet as part of a recent rate case decision. (Energy News Network)
• An Indiana bill would block utilities from retiring coal plants early or reducing operations unless directed to by the Trump administration. (Utility Dive)
• Murray Energy drops its defense of a company worker bonus program that federal regulators found put production over safety. (E&E News, subscription)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Dominion Energy prepares for its first phase of a large electric school bus initiative in Virginia, with plans to deploy 50 electric buses to 16 municipalities by the end of 2020. (WHSV)

EFFICIENCY: New York regulators approve a $2 billion five-year plan to boost energy efficiency and switch energy use away from natural gas. (Albany Times Union)

STORAGE: Battery vendors say California’s main storage incentive to protect against planned power shutoffs needs more flexibility than those currently proposed by regulators. (Greentech Media)

WIND: The last remaining wind project in Vermont ceases development, citing a hostile political and regulatory environment. (news release)

BIOFUELS: U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa says EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler should be fired if new federal ethanol blending requirements aren’t upheld. (Iowa Starting Line)

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ACTIVISM:
• Harvard Law School students disrupt a recruiting event for a law firm that represents Exxon and other fossil fuel clients. (Vox)
• A small Detroit nonprofit has played a key role in raising environmental justice concerns and advocating for community solar. (Detroit Free Press)

COMMENTARY:
• “Seismic” is the only word to describe the recent decision by BlackRock to stop investing in coal companies, Bill McKibben writes. (The New Yorker)
The devil may be in the details for BlackRock’s new policy restricting investments in coal companies, write an activist and investor. (Greentech Media)
• The president of the Environmental Defense Fund says methane rules are good for the industry and asks why more companies don’t support them. (Bloomberg) 

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