Energy in the News: Friday, August 18

Friday, August 18, 2017

Red team-blue team? Debating climate science should not be a cage match

The Conversation, feat. Richard Rood

Scott Pruitt, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, has called for a “red team-blue team” review to challenge the science behind climate change. “The American people deserve an honest, open, transparent discussion about this supposed threat to this country,” he said on a radio show, adding he hoped to hold the exercise in the fall.

Most commonly, red team-blue team reviews are used as a mechanism to improve security of information systems or military defenses. The blue team is associated with an institution, the owner of an asset or a plan. The red team is charged with attacking the blue team, with the goal of revealing vulnerabilities.

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Gas severance tax won’t have big impact in Pennsylvania, says researcher

StateImpact Pennsylvania, feat. Daniel Raimi

A natural gas severance tax has been a hot-button issue in Harrisburg for nearly a decade, but the plan recently approved by the state Senate is unlikely to have a major impact–  either in terms of government revenue, or drilling company investment decisions, according to a researcher from the nonpartisan environmental economic think tank, Resources for the Future.

The severance tax is now in the GOP-controlled House where its future is uncertain. Republican legislative leaders have argued over the years it would harm the state’s economy. Yet passing the tax has been a major focus of Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat.

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The United States plans to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. So what happens now?

Michigan Radio, feat. Andrew Hoffman and Donald Zak

President Donald Trump has announced the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. If Trump follows through on those plans, the country would pull out of the international agreement in November 2020. So what does that mean for Michigan, both now and in the future?

As part of Michigan Radio’s Issues & Ale event series, climate experts gathered on Tuesday night at Bill’s Beer Garden in Ann Arbor to discuss just that.

The discussion began with the “cliff notes” version of what exactly the Paris Climate Accord is.


Column: Emission standards benefit Detroit

The Detroit News

Recently, in an announcement that appeared to signal its intent to weaken vehicle emission standards, the Environmental Protection Agency restarted its review of the standards. As independent automotive analysts, we wanted to cut through the noise to ask a simple question: Are strong gas mileage requirements good or bad for Detroit?

Our new analysis finds that fuel economy standards have not hurt the legacy automakers’ financial performance. And weakening fuel economy standards would only damage U.S. automakers and suppliers as they try to compete in a fast-evolving market.

It’s no secret that American consumers want to go farther on every gallon of gas. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers’ own polling shows support for strong fuel economy targets, with two-thirds of respondents saying the government should set high standards. And under strong standards, economies of scale will reduce the costs of fuel savings technology.

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Brooklyn's social housing microgrid rewrites relationships with utility companies

The Guardian

Residents of a social housing complex in Brooklyn, New York, can’t stop another tempest like Superstorm Sandy from crashing through their city, but they can feel secure that it won’t cause a power cut.

In June, the 625-unit Marcus Garvey Village cut the ribbon on its very own microgrid, a localised network of electricity production and control. Rooftop solar panels produce clean power when the sun is up; a fuel cell takes in natural gas and churns out a steady current all day; when it’s more valuable to save the electricity for later, the largest lithium-ion battery system on New York City’s grid does just that.

These contraptions – which cost $4m (£3m) to install – reduce the community’s monthly power bill by 10% to 20%.

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States are using social cost of carbon in energy decisions, despite Trump’s views

InsideClimate News

The social cost of carbon was an arcane but important tool in the federal climate toolbox until President Donald Trump targeted it in his sweeping March 2017 executive order to weaken climate actions.

Now, states are taking up the metric.

Policymakers and regulators in several states, including New York, Minnesota, Illinois and Colorado, are using the social cost of carbon to measure and reduce CO2 impacts from their power grids. Some are using it to compensate rooftop solar panel owners who feed low-carbon power in the grid. Others use it to incentivize nuclear power and renewable energy. Their efforts, aimed at reducing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, come as Congress and the Trump administration try to restrict its use.

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US wind and solar power helped prevent up to 12,700 deaths

The Independent

The massive increase in wind and solar energy helped prevent the premature deaths of up to 12,700 people over a nine-year period in the US, according to new research which illustrates the wider benefits of ditching fossil fuels beyond limiting global warming.

The lower carbon emissions were worth billions of dollars as a result of the avoidance of the range of problems caused by fossil fuels, according to a paper about the study published in the journal, Nature Energy.

The UK Government has pledged that the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned from 2040 – a deadline criticised by environmentalists as being too far in the future to make a difference. In contrast, Norway plans to phase out such vehicles by 2025.

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Three renewable energy numbers to impress your friends with: 7, 43, 50

Union of Concerned Scientists

Next time you’re talking with a friend about the exciting things happening in our electricity sector (aren’t you always?), here are three easy numbers for remembering how we’re doing: 7, 43, and 50.  That’s: wind energy’s progress, solar energy’s growth, and the number of states making it happen.

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Nuclear power’s woes imperil U.S. national security, Moniz says


The decline of the U.S. nuclear-power industry puts America’s security at risk, according to a report being released Tuesday by former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz that calls for greater federal investment.

The report from the Energy Futures Initiative and obtained by Bloomberg News says a commercial atomic power sector is necessary to keep uranium-processing technology away from terrorists and other bad actors as well as support nuclear-powered Navy vessels.

The report by Moniz, a nuclear scientist who served as energy secretary under President Barack Obama, calls for expanded government loan guarantees, tax incentives and research on nuclear technology. The report doesn’t mention President Donald Trump, who is proposing cutting nuclear research funding and killing the loan guarantee program.

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