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Trump Admin. Continues to Weaken Climate Change Laws Amid Pandemic (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
Climate Change
Date: 2020-04-27
"Most American are probably unaware of how aggressively the Trump administration is rolling back environmental laws. Just recently, the administration implemented a far-reaching climate change rollback that dismantled an Obama-era clean air standard. Unfortunately, that rollback, as well as other rollbacks, have received little media attention -- and understandably so -- because most news outlets are preoccupied with Covid-19.

"However, this pandemic does not provide decision makers with a license to haphazardly reverse decades of environmental progress and climate change laws. Unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening as the administration is seemingly using the pandemic as a 'red herring' to gut numerous laws. This misguided attempt to undermine climate change policy is particularly troublesome especially when considering that 64 pct of Americans believe climate change is a serious threat and/or a crisis.

"Surfrider believes it is unconscionable to gut environmental laws while most Americans are deeply concerned about the global pandemic and will be less likely to engage in civics. Not only are these rollbacks underhanded, but they contribute more air and water pollution which will impact residents with health conditions, making them more susceptible to Covid-19. A new Harvard study found that air pollution can be significantly linked to higher rates of death in people with Covid-19.

"It should be noted that some rollbacks were proposed prior to Covid-19, and are part of a broader pattern of environmental deregulation under the Trump administration. Yet, the most recent rollback is particularly troubling because it dramatically weakens vehicle emissions standards that were hard-fought over the past decade. Another attempt to undermined climate change efforts came when the administration proposed to revoke California's authority's to set higher air quality standards than the federal government. Of course, California promptly sued and the case is making its way through the courts.

"The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a paramount environmental law that mandates climate change review, has also become another target. The Trump administration brazenly proposed a rule that climate change impacts should not be considered under NEPA. The proposal has met significant opposition in Congress where a Democrat and Republican co-authored a bipartisan sign on letter opposing the administration's plan. Moreover, the courts have a long history of requiring government agencies and businesses to weigh climate change impacts during decision-making and implementing large projects.

"Then there are oil and gas production rollbacks. For years, the DoI has drastically weakened offshore drilling safety regulations. To add insult to injury, the administration launched a controversial plan to open up roughly 90 pct of U.S. waters to oil drilling, which Surfrider and our partners have helped stall. Most recently, the administration auctioned off 78 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to oil/gas producers despite cries to halt sales until after the pandemic.

"Right now, our global community is experiencing two crises -- Covid-19 and climate change -- and we should be applying the same lessons to each crisis. While times have been challenging the past several weeks, there are positive lessons to embrace that relate to climate change:

  • Global society can work together to stave off 'worst case scenarios.' With sufficient leadership, we can take the necessary (albeit painful) collective steps to avoid catastrophe. A similar global response is needed to tackle climate change.

  • There is undeniable strength in science. At first, Covid-19 was framed as being no worse than the flu (some alluded it was a hoax). Once clear facts and science were embraced, the situation was taken more seriously.

  • A deeper appreciation for nature is emerging. Since people have been staying home, the great outdoors has never been so appealing.

  • The earth has appreciated the pause. Satellites images show air pollution over major worldwide cities has significantly dropped. In fact, in the northeast U.S. there was a 30 pct drop in pollution.

    Needless to say, it shouldn't take a global pandemic for us to make bold reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The threats posed by climate change have become abundantly clear and the solutions are right in front of us. Please join Surfrider in opposing environmental rollbacks and urging our government leaders to take bold action on climate change. (Source: Surfrider Foundation, Sefanie Sekich-Quinn, Blog, 23 April, 2020) Contact: Surfrider Foundation, Stefanie Sekich-Quinn, California Policy Manager, ssekich@surfrider.org, www.surfrider.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Climate Change,  


  • Harvard's $40.9Bn Endowment Aims for Carbon Neutrality (Ind Report)
    Harvard College
    Date: 2020-04-24
    In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University is reporting a new pledge to reduce carbon and other GHG emissions by monitoring its $40,9 billion endowment investment portfolio with a view to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The net-zero pledge is a first among U.S. endowments. Harvard's is the world's largest educational endowment fund.

    The university's governing body, the Harvard Management Company (HMC), which administers the endowment, plans to reach net-zero by 2050 through a collaboration with faculty and other experts and careful work with asset managers to examine their portfolio's transparency and emission levels. HMC expects to formulate detailed plans to achieve net-zero emissions before the year end.

    Harvard's new pledge aligns with HMC's sustainable-investing framework, which was adopted in 2014 when Harvard signed on to the U.N.-sponsored Principles for Responsible Investment, a six-point outline for a global standard. (Source: Harvard Gazette, 21 April, 2020) Contact: Harvard Management Company, www.hmc.harvard.edu

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Carbon-Neutra,  ,  Carbon Emissions,  


    Forest-Woody Biomass Carbon Benefits Stressed (Ind. Report)
    US Industrial Pellet Association
    Date: 2020-02-26
    As previously reported, the Richmond, Virginia-based not-for-profit US Industrial Pellet Association (USIPA) is lauding the National Association of University Forest Resource Programs (NAUFRP) for its letter signed by more than 100 scientists and researchers calling on policymakers to consider key fundamentals related to forest-woody biomass and the benefits of wood energy.

    The letter, which noted that the "carbon benefits of sustainable forest biomass are well established", cites a report from UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) which notes -- "In the long term, a sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, fibre or energy from the forest, will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit. Demand for wood helps keep land in forest and incentivizes investments in new and more productive forests, all of which have significant carbon benefits."

    Reviewing more than 30 years of scientific research on forest biomass utilization, scientists from Yale, Harvard, and Georgia to Washington, Idaho, Berkeley and others identified four fundamentals for science-based decision-making on biomass energy production:

  • The carbon benefits of sustainable forest biomass energy are well established.

  • Measuring the carbon benefits of forest biomass energy must consider cumulative carbon emissions over the long term.

  • An accurate comparison of forest biomass energy carbon impacts with those of other energy sources requires the use of consistent time-frames in the comparison.

  • Economic factors influence the carbon impacts of forest biomass energy. (Source: The US Industrial Pellet Association, 25 Oct., 2019) Contact: The US Industrial Pellet Association, Deth Ginter, Exec. Dir., J. Marcus, (804) 775.5894, JMarcus@theusipa.org, www.theusipa.org; National Association of University Forest Resource Programs, www.naufrp.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Forest Biomass,  Woody Biomass,  


  • Woods Hole Developing Arctic Carbon Monitoring System (Ind. Report)
    Woods Hole Research Center
    Date: 2020-02-24
    In the Bay State, the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC), in partnership with the Arctic Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (BCSIA), reports it aims to develop a comprehensive monitoring and projection system for Arctic Carbon Cycling, complete with interactive web visualization, modeling, and policy engagement.

    Carbon emissions from thawing permafrost are omitted from the models and reports that inform international climate policy formulation by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Considering that permafrost carbon emissions will likely "use up" much of the remaining allowable carbon budget, incorporating these emissions into a policy framework is an immediate priority and will probably reveal the need for substantial reductions in allowable emissions from other sources.

    The ability to model and predict this potentially ruinous climate feedback is far from adequate today because of poor understanding of the processes that govern permafrost thaw and subsequent carbon emissions. These monitoring gaps severely limit the ability to integrate observations across the Arctic using remote sensing and modeling and thus to provide scientists and policy makers with reliable assessments and projections of current and future carbon emissions from a warming Arctic.

    Access Arctic Carbon Monitoring and Prediction System details HERE and HERE. (Source: Woods Hole Research Center, Feb., 2020) Contact: Woods Hole Research Center, 508-540-9900, 508-540-9700 - fax, info@whrc.org, wwwwhrc.org; Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, 617-495-1155, www.belfercenter.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Woods Hole,  Woods Hole Research Center,  Permafrost,  Methane,  Climate Change,  


    Forest-Woody Biomass Carbon Benefits Stressed (Ind. Report)
    US Industrial Pellet Association
    Date: 2019-10-28
    The Richmond, Virginia-based not-for-profit US Industrial Pellet Association (USIPA) is lauding the National Association of University Forest Resource Programs (NAUFRP) for its letter signed by more than 100 scientists and researchers calling on policymakers to consider key fundamentals related to forest-woody biomass and the benefits of wood energy.

    The letter, which noted that the "carbon benefits of sustainable forest biomass are well established", cites a report from UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) which notes: "In the long term, a sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, fibre or energy from the forest, will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit. Demand for wood helps keep land in forest and incentivizes investments in new and more productive forests, all of which have significant carbon benefits."

    Reviewing more than 30 years of scientific research on forest biomass utilization, scientists from Yale, Harvard, and Georgia to Washington, Idaho, Berkeley and others identified four fundamentals for science-based decision-making on biomass energy production:

  • The carbon benefits of sustainable forest biomass energy are well established.

  • Measuring the carbon benefits of forest biomass energy must consider cumulative carbon emissions over the long term.

  • An accurate comparison of forest biomass energy carbon impacts with those of other energy sources requires the use of consistent time-frames in the comparison.

  • Economic factors influence the carbon impacts of forest biomass energy. (Source: The US Industrial Pellet Association, 25 Oct., 2019) Contact: The US Industrial Pellet Association, Deth Ginter, Exec. Dir., J. Marcus, (804) 775.5894, JMarcus@theusipa.org, www.theusipa.org; National Association of University Forest Resource Programs, www.naufrp.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News IPCC,  US Industrial Pellet Association ,  Woody Biomass,  Wood Pellet,  


  • Harvard Mass. Opts for !00 pct Wind Energy (Ind. Report)
    National Grid
    Date: 2019-08-30
    In the Bay State, the town of Harvard Select Board reports it has, om behalf of the community's roughly 6,600 residents and businesses, approved a switch to 100 pct wind generated electricity. To that end, the towns present electric power supplier National Grid will be replaced by an as yet identified company whose electricity is generated entirely by the wind, and at a lower cost per kilowatt hour than their current rate. More than 120 other Massachusetts communities have enacted similar Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) plans. The town's initiative is in accordance with the state's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, which prescribes how much of a utility's electricity must come from renewable energy, but is cheaper than the 100 pct renewable plan.

    National Grid will remain the distributor, providing the transmission lines and equipment by which electricity is delivered, regardless of source. (Source: Town of Harvard, Harvard Press, 29 Aug., 2019) Contact: Town of Harvard, www.harvard.ma.us

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Renewable Energy,  Wind,  National Grid,  


    Notable Quote -- Obama Clean Power Plan v.s. Trump Affordable Clean Energy Plan
    Obama Clean Power Plan
    Date: 2019-07-12
    "You can see just with that comparison (with the Obama Clean Energy Plan) that the Trump (Affordable Clean Energy) plan is actually designed to do almost nothing to deal with carbon pollution from the electric power sector.

    "It's very interesting that a rule that purports to be trying to reduce pollution -- by their own projection -- might increase it. There is a part of the proposal that would allow coal plants to update, allowing them to run longer without putting any pollution controls on. That's kind of a life extension project for coal plants.

    "So a policy that says that it's supposed to be reducing pollution actually increases it under certain projections. And I think a court might have a hard time with that and say how could this be defended as a rational plan." -- Jody Freeman, Former Obama White House Counselor for Energy and Climate Change; founder of the Harvard University Environment and Energy Law Program (Source: NPR News, 12 July, 2019)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Obama Clean Power Plam news,  Trump Afordable Clean Energy Plan news,  


    Harvard Economists Join Baker-Schultz Climate Change Policy Plan (Ind. Report)
    Harvard Climate Leadership Council
    Date: 2019-02-27
    The Harvard Crimson is reporting more than 3,300 economists, including 27 Nobel Laureates, four former Federal Reserve Chairs, 15 former Chairs of the Council of Economic Advisers, and two former Secretaries of the Treasury, and several Harvard professors and affiliates, have inked the Economists' Statement on Carbon Dividends calling for a bipartisan climate change solution.

    The economists are specifically supporting the Baker-Schulz plan authored by former Republican U.S. Secretaries of State James Baker and George Schultz in 2017. The statement comprises four main pillars: gradually increasing a carbon fee; returning all proceeds from the fee to Americans via dividends; instituting border carbon adjustments; and eliminating regulations that are no longer necessary upon the fee's enactment. The Economists' Carbon Dividends Plan aims to be a first step in solving climate change through a carbon tax based on basic economic principles. (Source: Climate Leadership Council, Harvard Crimson, 25 Feb., 2019) Contact: Harvard Climate Leadership Council, www.clcouncil.org; Tackling Climate Change, Harvard University, www.harvard.edu/tackling-climate-change; Climate Leadership Council, www.clcouncil.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Climate Change,  Carbon Tax,  Climate Leadership Council,  


    New "Direct Air" Carbon Capture Technology Touted (Ind. Report)
    Carbon Engineering
    Date: 2018-06-08
    Scientists from Harvard University and Squamish, British Columbia-based, privately held Carbon Engineering are reporting they have cut the cost of an existing "direct air capture" technology for the capture of CO2 from the atmosphere. The new technique would reduce the cost of direct air capture from about $600 per ton of carbon dioxide to as little as $94 per ton, according to Carbon Engineering.

    If the new technique proves commercially viable, it could "transform how humanity thinks about the problem of climate change", according to Carbon Engineering. (Source: Carbon Engineering, Harvard Univ., CBC News, Examiner, 7 June, 2018) Contact: Carbon Engineering, info@carbonengineering.com, www.carbonengineering.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Carbon Engineering,  


    Gates Backing Carbon-Neutral A2F Fuel Project (New Prod & Tech)
    Greyrock,Carbon Engineering
    Date: 2018-02-12
    Following up on our October 7, 2016 coverage, A new carbon-neutral fuel project that extracts carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and converts it into a new transportation fuel is being touted by its developers Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, Sacramento-based Carbon Engineering, and Harvard physicist David Keith, is being developed and tested in Squamich, BC.

    The project, which is being funded by Bill Gates, involves the capture of air and technology involving water electrolysis and fuels synthesis to make a liquid, carbon-neutral synthetic fuel.

    Carbon Engineering's prototype plant will extract 1 tpd of pure CO2 for a year. The company is working with Greyrock Energy and directly synthesizing CO2 and hydrogen split from water with clean electricity, and a mixture of petrol and diesel, to create a process called Air-to-Fuels (A2F). (Source: Carbon Engineering, GreenerIdeal, 10 Feb., 2018) Contact: Carbon Engineering, Geoff Holmes, Dir. Business Dev., gholmes@carbonengineering.com, www.CarbonEngineering.com; Greyrock Energy, Robert Schuetzle, CEO, Charles Nelson, VP Sales & Marketing, cnelson@greyrock.com, www.greyrock.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News A2F,  Carbon Neutral Fuel,  Greyrock,  Bill Gates,  Carbon Engineering,  


    Lanzatech, TeslaGen Announce AI Collaboration (Ind. Report)
    LanzaTech,TeselaGen
    Date: 2018-01-26
    San Francisco-based enterprise software developer TeslaGen Biotechnologies reports LanzaTech will license its cloud-based "informatics" solution to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities into its design process. It's hoped that the newly announced collaboration will extend waste-to-fuel specialists LanzaTech's biological design platform, in turn accelerating the design process.

    LanzaTech's process uses patented microbes to convert carbon-rich wastes into renewable fuels and chemical products through gas fermentation. According to the company, the process can be applied to municipal waste, as well as wastes and residues from the steel, manufacturing, oil refining and chemical production industries.

    TeselaGen's team of molecular biologists, computer scientists, physicists and engineers hail from the University of California, Stanford, Harvard, and both Catolica University and the University of Chile in Santiago, according to the company website. (Source: TeselaGen Website, Others, 24 Jan., 2018)Contact: TeselaGen Biotechnology, Mike Fero, CEO, www.teselagen.com; LanzaTech, Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO, (630) 439-3050, jennifer@lanzatech.com, www.lanzatech.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News LanzaTech,  Waste-to-Fuel,  


    SEAL Awards Announces Carbon Research Grants (R&D, Funding)
    SEAL Awards
    Date: 2017-12-20
    The SEAL (Sustainability, Environmental Achievement & Leadership) Awards is reporting the opening of its 2018 Environmental Research Grant program. In 2017 SEAL awarded grants to 8 researchers studying forest carbon offsets, carbon capture through salt marshes, corporate greenhouse gases, the politics of environmental policy, and the public health impacts of climate change. Institutions represented included Harvard, Marine Conservation Institute, MIT, and UCLA.

    The SEAL Awards launched in 2017 is an awards-driven environmental advocacy organization that believes environmental progress requires leadership, leadership deserves recognition, and recognition is a form of accountability,

    SEAL Awards information and grant applications are HERE. (Source: Seal Awards, PR, 19 Dec., 2017) Contact: Seal Awards, Matt Hamey, Founder, (619) 878-9015, wwwsealawards.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Carbon Emissions ,  Forest Carbon,  CCS,  


    ExxonMobil Expands Methane Emissions Reduction Program
    ExxonMobil
    Date: 2017-10-06
    Fort Worth-headquartered oil giant ExxonMobil has announced an enhanced program to reduce methane emissions from its production and midstream facilities nation wide. across the United States.

    The program prioritizes actions at sites operated by subsidiary XTO Energy and includes efforts to develop and deploy new, more efficient technologies to detect and reduce facility emissions. The program includes a commitment to phase out high-bleed pneumatic devices over three years, extensive personnel training, research, and facility design improvements for new operations.

    XTO's efforts include research conducted with ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company and third-party equipment manufacturers to develop efficient, state-of-the-art equipment to detect, quantify and reduce emissions at production sites. These research efforts build on an extensive portfolio of more than two dozen existing methane research projects and pilots already under way.

    ExxonMobil recently participated in methane emissions studies conducted by the University of Texas and Environmental Defense Fund and is active in ongoing methane research, including participation in a methane measurement reconciliation study with the DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and in supporting research currently underway at Harvard, the University of Texas Energy Initiative, and Stanford University's Natural Gas Initiative. (Source: ExxonMobil, 29 Sept., 2017) Contact: ExxonMobil, Media, (972) 444-1107, www.exxonmobil.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News ExxonMobil,  Climate Change,  Methane,  


    Harvard Study Assess Oil Giant's Climate Change Communications -- Report Attached (Ind. Report)
    ExxonMobil
    Date: 2017-08-28
    A newly published study by Dr. Geoffrey Supran and Dr. Naomi Oreskes of Harvard University marks an important advance in the examination of fossil fuel companies' responsibility for climate change. The study presents an empirical document-by-document textual content analysis and comparison of 187 climate change communications from petroleum giant ExxonMobil, including peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed publications, internal company documents, and paid, editorial-style advertisements ('advertorials') in the New York Times. The paper examine whether these communications sent consistent messages about the state of climate science and its implications, Specifically, the report compares ExxonMobils' positions on climate change as real, human-caused, serious, and solvable.

    The paper concludes that ExxonMobil contributed to advancing climate science -- by way of its scientists' academic publications -- but promoted doubt about it in advertorials and thus misled the public.

    Download the report HERE. (Source: IOP Science, Union of Concerned Scientists, 23 Aug., 2017)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Climate Change,  ExxonMobil,  


    SunPower Solar Helps Mass. Schools Cut Energy Costs (Ind. Report)
    SunPower
    Date: 2017-06-07
    The Bay State, which is among the top U.S. states for the most solar capacity, adding 6.9 MW of solar bringing the state's total installed and operating solar capacity to 1,487 MW. Solect Energy and Green Street -- members of SunPower's national dealer network -- will installthe additional 6.9 MW of solar energy with the installation of high-efficiency SunPower® solar systems at 10 Massachusetts schools.

    In Easton, Solect Energy has constructed a 2.8-MW SunPower solar carport system at Stonehill College. The college will buy electricity generated by the system at a competitive rate under a power purchase agreement (PPA) arranged by SunPower which requires no upfront investment.

    In Bridgewater, Green Street has developed a 4.1-MW SunPower® Helix™ Roof system at Ajax United Drive, LLC. Green Street will own the offsite solar power system and renewable energy credits while Attleboro Public Schools will purchase the power through a 20-year PPA. Energy from the system is expected to meet about 75 pct of electricity needs for five elementary schools, three middle schools and one high school.

    SunPower solar technology has also helped a number of Massachusetts schools save on energy costs, including Cape Cod Community College, Clark University, Edgerly School, Harvard University, and University of Massachusetts Lowell. (Source: SunPower Corp., PR, Stockhouse, June, 2017) Contact: Solect Energy , www.solect.com; SunPower, Nam Nguyen, Exec. VP, www.sunpower.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News SunPower,  Solar,  

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