Senate confirms Gina Raimondo as Commerce secretary

Source: By Rob Hotakainen, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

The Senate voted overwhelmingly this afternoon to sign off on President Biden’s nomination of Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo and former chair of the Governors’ Wind & Solar Energy Coalition to lead the Commerce Department. Senators backed Raimondo by a margin of 84 to 15. “Gina Raimondo will soon become the former governor of Rhode Island,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor, adding that the Senate “will continue to confirm more nominees as quickly as possible.”

Top Dems unveil sweeping climate, environmental justice bill

Source: By Nick Sobczyk, Jeremy Dillon and E.A. Crunden, E&E News reporters • Posted: Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats yesterday rolled out an enhanced version of their climate bill, an ambitious effort to overhaul the power sector and decarbonize the economy. At the center of the new “CLEAN Future Act” is a clean electricity standard that would shoot for 80% clean energy by 2030 and 100% by 2035. It’s paired with more than $500 billion in spending authorizations and a wide range of environmental justice, transmission and environmental cleanup provisions.

Reversing Trump, Interior Department Moves Swiftly on Climate Change

Source: By Lisa Friedman, New York Times • Posted: Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

As the Interior Department awaits its new secretary, the agency is already moving to lock in key parts of President Biden’s environmental agenda, particularly on oil and gas restrictions, laying the groundwork to fulfill some of the administration’s most consequential climate change promises. Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico, Mr. Biden’s nominee to lead the department, faces a showdown vote in the Senate likely later this month, amid vocal Republican concern for her past positions against oil and gas drilling. But even without her, an agency that spent much of the past four years opening vast swaths of land to commercial exploitation has pulled an abrupt about-face.

How Green Are Electric Vehicles?

Source: By Hiroko Tabuchi and Brad Plumer, New York Times • Posted: Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

Around the world, governments and automakers are promoting electric vehicles as a key technology to curb oil use and fight climate change. General Motors has said it aims to stop selling new gasoline-powered cars and light trucks by 2035 and will pivot to battery-powered models. This week, Volvo said it would move even faster and introduce an all-electric lineup by 2030. But as electric cars and trucks go mainstream, they have faced a persistent question: Are they really as green as advertised?

Biden faces steep challenges to reach renewable energy goals

Source: By Patrick Whittle and Cathy Bussewitz, Associated Press • Posted: Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

President Joe Biden wants to change the way the U.S. uses energy by expanding renewables, but he will need to navigate a host of challenges — including the coronavirus pandemic and restoring hundreds of thousands of lost jobs — to get it done. The wind and solar industries have managed to grow despite a less-than-supportive Trump administration, which favored fossil fuels such as coal. They have a new ally in the White House in Biden, who has set a goal of 100% renewable energy in the power sector by 2035. Now comes the hard part — making it happen.

Power shift sparks clean energy lobbying frenzy

Source: By Timothy Cama, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

The rush to push the case for new policies to benefit wind, solar, nuclear or other low- or zero-emitting energy sources appears at least somewhat related to new optimism that federal officials are listening and sympathetic. Biden and Democrats in Congress have promised to make climate change a top-tier issue in how they govern, and significant new pro-clean-energy provisions and spending are likely to be part of any new policies they pass, like greenhouse gas regulations, new tax incentives or new mandates.

SCOTUS won’t review Minnesota “right of first refusal” law

Source: BY KELSEY TAMBORRINO AND MATTHEW CHOI, Politico • Posted: Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear LS Power’s challenge to a 2012 Minnesota law giving transmission companies with a presence in the state a “right of first refusal” to build electric lines in their service areas, a law passed in the wake of FERC’s Order 1000 to facilitate new transmission to link regions across the U.S.

Big Oil Faces Off Against Clean-Energy Giants

Source: By Rochelle Toplensky, Wall Street Journal • Posted: Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

If renewables roll out at anything like the rate required to limit climate change according to the 2016 Paris agreement, there should eventually be enough growth to meet everyone’s ambitions. In the short run, however, there could be bottlenecks as the supply of assets and infrastructure struggle to match the rollout plans. Permits for new production sites and electricity lines aren’t always easy to obtain. As many oil companies have partnered with or bought existing developers, some in the green-energy industry argue it is simply the same old competitors with a different name. However, the oil majors add to the equation deep pockets, a high risk tolerance and a new strategic rationale to do deals.

Better Cables Could Halve U.S. Grid Emissions by 2030, Gates-Led Group Says

Source: By Will Mathis and Akshat Rathi, Bloomberg • Posted: Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

The U.S. could cut emissions from its electricity grid in half within the next decade through investments in renewables and transmission, according to a research team backed by Bill Gates. At a cost of $1.5 trillion, the U.S. could reach 70% carbon-free electricity and reduce its emissions by 42% by 2030. The new model comes from Breakthrough Energy Sciences (BES), a division of the Gates-founded organization that works to promote innovation that will help eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.

After Historic Fall, Carbon Emissions Are Now Coming Back Fast

Source: By Eric Roston, Bloomberg • Posted: Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

Pandemic restrictions in 2020 caused the largest absolute drop in carbon-dioxide pollution from energy use since World War II. But lockdowns eventually lifted, and as economic activity picked up, emissions resumed very quickly by year’s end. In December, worldwide emissions were 2% higher than the same month in 2019, according to new data from the International Energy Agency.