Dogs sniff out wildlife smugglers; Trump wants Arctic drilling leases auctioned now

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first_img• Airbus releases three designs for zero-emission, hydrogen-powered commercial planes it hopes will be flying by 2035.• Global consultants made it appear that fossil fuel groups it designed, staffed, and ran were powered by the grassroots: There was the pro-fracking Texans for Natural Gas urging voters to “thank a roughneck.” There was the Arctic Energy Center pushing for drilling in offshore Alaska and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. There was the Main Street Investors Coalition that attacked climate activism, which it claimed doesn’t help small investors in the stock market. Hiroko Tabuchi reports that the three seemed to be separate groups promoting the views of rank-and-file people. Turns out they were part of a network of “influence campaigns” put together by FTI Consulting by some of the world’s giant oil and gas companies. Her investigation of FTI uncovered a concerted effort to influence public views while concealing industry’s role. Of course, that’s hardly new. Climate science denialism has for more than three decades been spurred by money from fossil fuel operations, including the notorious Koch Industries. In addition to its other efforts, FTI monitored environmental activists online, even creating a fake Facebook persona—“an imaginary, middle-aged Texas woman with a dog — to help keep tabs on protesters.” FTI staffed two websites—Energy In Depth and Western Wire—with people who wrote pro-industry articles on controversial matters like fracking. Former employees of Energy In Depth told Tabuchi that FTI client Exxon Mobil had directed some of that content.• San Francisco follows San Jose’s lead and bans new natural gas hookups: The ban, which takes effect in June 2021, prohibits use of natural gas in new buildings, requiring them to use electricity instead. In a unanimous vote, the city’s board of supervisors approved the ordinance Tuesday. It will apply to the more than 54,000 homes and 32 million square feet of business space that are slated to be constructed in the next few years. It’s estimated that about 40% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions come from natural gas, and buildings generate 80% of those emissions. The largest city so far to ban new natural gas hookups is San Jose, 60 miles south of San Francisco.- Advertisement – at E&E Daily reports that Democratic Rep. Mike Levin of California and Republican Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona yesterday introduced the “Solar Jobs Preservation Act.” Noting delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the two representatives propose to extend the phaseout schedule for the solar investment tax credit through 2022. Since the ITC was first introduced in 2006, the solar industry has grown more than 10,000% and created tens of thousands of jobs. But currently, about half a million clean energy workers are still out of work because of the pandemic. In 2015, a bipartisan deal set the ITC at 30% in 2019 with a phaseout that by 2022 becomes a permanent 10% credit for commercial and utility-scale solar and zero percent for residential installations. In a statement, Levin said, “As we continue to confront the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating effects on our economy, we cannot forget about the climate crisis and the need to preserve clean energy jobs that help us protect our planet. The solar industry plays a critical role in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and driving economic growth, which is why we must support them during this pandemic and extend the investment tax credit. I appreciate Congressman Schwekiert’s partnership on this important legislation, and look forward to working with the rest of my colleagues in the House to pass this bill.” – Advertisement – • New FERC chairman cancels electric vehicle meeting: Former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Neil Chatterjee is no enemy of fossil fuels, but he did take actions favorable to carbon pricing and and distributed energy resources. That tinge of green was apparently a key reason Donald Trump booted him out Nov. 5 and turned the chairmanship over to James Danly, the former FERC general counsel who was appointed to the commission in March. Chatterjee had set up a Dec. 3 roundtable on electric vehicles and their potential impacts on the electric grid and wholesale power markets. On Thursday, a brief notice stated the roundtable has been canceled. • Tyson Foods says it plans to reduce risk of deforestation, but critic say it’s not enough: The giant meatpacker is focusing on four commodities—cattle and beef, palm oil, paper, and packaging. Analysts found about 6% of the company’s products are associated with deforestation, which is a major factor in environmental degradation and the climate crisis. Said Tyson Chief Executive Dean Banks, “We are asserting our ambition to make protein more sustainable and look forward to working with our supply chain partners, customers and other stakeholders to do our part on this important issue.” Last year, Green Century Capital Management Inc., a Boston investment firm that focuses on environmental issues, promoted a shareholder proposal to push Tyson to get deforestation out of its supply chain, but withdrew it when Tyson said it was working on a plan to deal with this. But Green Century said Thursday that Tyson’s deforestation plans are too drawn out, some of them for more than a decade.center_img – Advertisement – Area 1002 of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain, looking south toward the Brooks Range mountains.The ANWR coastal plain• Trump in big hurry to get drilling leases for Arctic approved before Biden ousts him: Unlike executive orders, leases are contracts that aren’t that easy to yank once they are issued. Biden has vowed to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where drilling has not been allowed since the land was set aside 60 years ago by President Dwight Eisenhower. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter okayed drilling on 1.56 million acres of the ANWR coastal plain, but only if Congress authorized it. Since then, Republicans and a few Democrats in Congress tried more than 50 times to allow drilling in the refuge, but could not overcome opposition that included presidential vetoes. In December 2017, Congress finally passed authorization to drill in parts of coastal plain. Without a Democratic majority in the Senate, Biden might have difficulty fulfilling his pledge to bar the drilling. But the immediate problem could come as early as Monday when the Department of the Interior will issue a “call for nominations” for auctioning of drilling leases on the coastal plain. Leases auctioned before Jan. 20 would be hard to break. However, even if they have leases, low oil prices, reduced demand, and the harshness of the ANWR environment likely will deter companies from drilling any time soon. • Environment America launches Greener Together project: Right now, people across the country are turning to the outdoors and nature as a refuge. Nature can calm us and reconnect us with ourselves, with other people and with the world around us. As people are practicing social distancing, with and without kids at home, we want to provide opportunities to connect with the natural world and other like-minded people through engaging events, fun activities and helpful guides to help foster this connection.- Advertisement –last_img

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