Energy in the News: Friday, January 27

Friday, January 27, 2017

Most of DOE's home page erased after inauguration

E&E EnergyWire, feat. Barry Rabe

Shortly after President Trump's swearing in Friday, most of the content on the Department of Energy's home page disappeared into the ether.

The changeover was much more abrupt than the transition between presidents George W. Bush and Obama in 2009. Back then, the incoming administration dropped in a photo of the new Energy secretary, Steven Chu, and added a small box giving an overview of Obama's energy plan. (See the before and after.)

The Trump administration's DOE immediately removed most of the elements of the home page, including blog entries, news updates, information boxes and a video.

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Trump sends an unmistakable signal on pipelines: Big oil is back

Los Angeles Times, feat. Andrew Hoffman

The hotly contested Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects that President Trump brought back to life with the stroke of a pen Tuesday may still never get built — but for Trump, that isn’t necessarily the point.

The projects have become among the country’s most potent symbols of the clash between an oil and gas industry seeking to maintain the old order of energy production and the climate change movement pushing for a different direction.

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Separating fact from fiction in the newest US federal ethanol study

The Energy Collective, feat. John DeCicco

Debates about the merits of biofuels have been going on for at least a generation. My favorite clip from the early, oil-crisis era ethanol push was Nicholas Wade’s article, “Oil pinch stirs dreams of moonshine travel,” published by Science in June 1979. Save for one topic, the terms of the debate — the costs of producing biofuels, whether ethanol took more energy to make than it delivered, the extent to which it really helps energy security, the hope for cellulosic biofuels and the food-versus-fuel dilemma — were the same nearly forty years ago as they are today.

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The decline of the driver’s license

The Atlantic, feat. Michael Sivak

Young people are not getting driver’s licenses so much anymore. In fact, no one is. According to a new study by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, the percentage of people with a driver’s license decreased between 2011 and 2014, across all age groups. For people aged 16 to 44, that percentage has been decreasing steadily  since 1983.

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In Midwest, a vow to continue clean energy push under Trump

E&E EnergyWire, feat. EAB member Howard Learner

Across the Midwest, clean energy advocates will go to work today like they would on any other Monday.

They'll engage with legislators, regulators and utilities on policies to advance wind, solar and energy efficiency and curtail emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants that affect the environment and public health.

Moving forward, of course, there is one obvious change. While green groups generally had backing from the White House over the last eight years, they now face a brisk headwind with Friday's inauguration of President Trump.

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Power grid taking on more renewables amid policy, technical challenges

Midwest Energy News

Renewable energy accounted for nearly two-thirds of new power sources on the U.S. electric grid in 2016, according to data released this month by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). It marks the third consecutive year that wind, solar and other renewables made up more than half of new generating capacity on the shifting U.S. power system.

Energy companies added 24 gigawatts of capacity — roughly the equivalent of a dozen new Hoover Dams — to the power grid last year, according to EIA’s preliminary data. Sixty-three percent of the new capacity was based on renewable technologies.

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Solar-energy jobs are growing 12 times as fast as the US economy

Business Insider

If you're looking to switch careers, you may want to listen to the wind.

A new report says wind turbine technician is the fastest-growing profession in the US.

The growth in wind power is just one example of the rising employment numbers associated with the clean energy and sustainability sector. According to the report, published by the Environmental Defense Fund's Climate Corps program, the industry now has at least 4 million jobs, up from 3.4 million in 2011.

The report estimates that solar and wind jobs are growing at a rate 12 times as fast as the rest of the US economy and suggests that 46% of large firms have hired additional workers to address issues of sustainability over the past two years.

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Who installs more solar power? Republicans and Democrats are pretty much tied

Grist

Clean energy might be a partisan issue in D.C., but rooftops in the rest of the country suggest otherwise, according to a new study that compared home solar rates for donors to both Republican and Democratic political causes.

The results? Surprisingly close! In fact, in solar-heavy Hawaii, Republican donors actually have higher rates of installed home solar than Democratic ones.

In the top 20 solar states altogether, Democrats come in with a slight home solar advantage: 3.06 percent of donors as opposed to 2.24 percent of Republican donors.

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Besieged by climate controversy, ExxonMobil puts a climate scientist on its board

The Washington Post

Besieged by court battles over its past positions on climate change, ExxonMobil has added a climate scientist to its board of directors. Some environmental groups see that as a positive thing; others call it too little, too late to make amends for contributing to global warming.

The oil giant announced that it had added Susan Avery, a physicist and atmospheric scientist, and former president and director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. During her career, Avery authored or co-authored more than 80 peer-reviewed articles on atmospheric dynamics and variability, the company said.

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Trump can make the deal of the century on climate

The Washington Post

As President Trump takes the reins of power, anxiety and uncertainty are the order of the day for those concerned about the threat of climate change. Trump has ranged from disbelieving (climate change is a Chinese “hoax”) to dismissive (we should “cancel” the 2015 Paris agreement) to open (“I’m looking at it very closely. . . . I have an open mind to it”) on the issue.

The truth is that the climate challenge Trump faces is large and the stakes are high, but he has been dealt a very good hand if he is willing to play it.

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