Climate and Energy News Roundup 3/19/2021

Thanks to Joy Loving for compiling this week’s news roundup in Les Grady’s absence!

Politics and Policy


  • Biden administration is weighing how to make climate essential to foreign policy but has other urgent priorities. (NYTimes)
  • China’s announced goals—peak its CO2 emissions before 2030 and attain net carbon neutrality before 2060—are at odds with its coal dependence, because of which it is “the world’s top-polluting nation in recent decades.”  (NYTimes)
  • US companies continue to ship plastic waste outside the US despite the 2020 180‑country trade agreement that rich countries would not export plastic pollution to poorer ones.  (NYTimes)
  • India is considering setting a net-zero carbon goal rivaling those set by China and the US.  (Reuters)
  • The EU wants to work with the US to reduce aviation emissions.  (Reuters)
  • The International Renewable Energy Agency said “[r]enewable electricity production needs to grow eight times faster than the current rate to help limit global heating.”  (The Guardian)


  • Joe Manchin, West Virginia’s senator, will play a key role in whether Biden’s proposals to address climate change will go anywhere.  He plans to negotiate with both sides of the aisle to achieve results he wants. (Slate, Axios, Vox)
  • House Republicans put forth a plan to include more nuclear and natural gas and methane reductions as part of the “clean energy future”.  (The Hill)
  • Senate Majority Leader Schumer stalled FEMA plans to increase flood insurance premiums for property owners in coastal floodplains.  (NYTimes)
  • Congress is investigating an existing ”multibillion-dollar subsidy for chemically treated coal … meant to reduce smokestack pollution, after evidence emerged that power plants using the fuel produced more smog not less.” (Reuters)
  • 35 Pennsylvania lawmakers are urging the state to act following a study showing harmful chemical exposure to Pennsylvanians living near fracking wells.  (Daily Climate)

Administration, regulations, and analysis:

  • Deb Haaland was sworn in as Interior Department Secretary, the first Native American and third woman to hold that post.  (Washington Post, The Guardian)
  • EPA Secretary Regan announced the agency is working on regulations to control power plant and vehicle emissions to reduce smog, among other results.  (NYTimes, E&E News, Reuters)
  • The EPA restored the climate change website removed by Biden’s predecessor.  (Washington Post)
  • 12 states’ attorneys general challenged Trump-era energy efficiency regulations they consider inadequate.  (The Hill)
  • Georgia advocates want the EPA to block construction of a wood-pellet plant, “arguing its permit was secured without community input and threatens public health.”  (The Hill)
  • Some Democrats want Biden to “revoke permits for [a] big Louisiana plastics plant” because of its adverse effects on the local Black community.  Louisiana Senator Cassidy objected.  (The Advocate)
  • FEMA is assessing its programs that “distribute billions of dollars to states after major disasters and are thought by some analysts and lawmakers to favor affluent communities and individuals.”  (E&E News)
  • The US leads in the number of cities that have enacted some type of fossil fuel ban.  (Gizmodo)
  • Energy Secretary Granholm plans to make the department’s $43Mn loan guarantee program available to help decarbonize the grid.  Potential applicants have some reservations.  (Politico)
  • DOD Secretary Austin said the department is incorporating the security threats posed by climate change into its planning.  (The Christian Science Monitor)

Financial sector:

  • The pressure on financial institutions and corporations to incorporate climate into their planning, investments, and operations yielded different responses from legislators and regulators.  (Texas Tribune, The Guardian)
  • US “regulators are pushing corporate America to reckon with the cost of climate change, arguing that global warming poses significant peril not only to the environment but also to the U.S. economy.” Some Republicans disagree with the Federal Reserve action to “further environmental objectives.”  (Washington Post, Washington Post)
  • Investors are urging a large EU steel producer reduce the industry’s CO2 and other emissions.  (NYTimes)

Climate and Climate Science

Water and sea level rise:

  • Florida legislators’ funding for projects to protect the state from flooding doesn’t include managed retreat or address its root cause, climate change. (Grist
  • Avon, North Carolina residents are wrestling with how to save their village from rising seas and how to afford to try.  (NYTimes)
  • “Wetlands Can Help Prevent Property Damage and Save Lives During Floods”.  (Circle of Blue)
  • The changing climate is altering rivers world-wide with respect to water flow.  (Futurity)
  • Neighborhoods redlined in the 1930s face much higher flood risks than those not so designated.  (Bloomberg)


  • Indigenous peoples could assist multi-nation efforts to protect 30% of earth’s land and water by 2030. (NYTimes)
  • Quebec’s seals and its seal tourism industry are struggling because “there’s no ice”. (The Guardian)
  • Last month’s fierce storms in the south, with the resultant power outages, caused major disruption to Jackson, Mississippi’s water supply.  Its residents still don’t have reliable water service.  (Slate)
  • Some of the loss of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest can be attributed to China’s appetite for beef.  (The Guardian)
  • Two adjacent states have different opinions about meat.  Colorado declared a “Meat Out” day, while neighboring Nebraska countered with its “Meat on the Menu” day.  (NYTimes)
  • US 2020 wildfire smoke wiped out clean air gains from the pandemic.  (Washington Post)
  • Almost half of the US is in drought; NOAA said that will continue and worsen.  (CNBC)
  • 10% of poor neighborhoods in 20 southwest US urban areas experience 4oF average higher temperatures than wealthier areas.  (AZ Central)
  • The warming Pacific Ocean threatens Northern California’s sea kelp; sea otters are among those helping to save it.  (Inside Climate News)
  • 10Mn people were displaced during 6 months of climate disasters in 2020, most in Asia.  (Reuters)
  • Soil below the Greenland ice sheet revealed exciting information about plant life thousands of years ago.  The bad news?  The soil’s contents showed the ice sheet had melted before.  Could it do so again?  (Washington Post, Inside Climate News)



  • The Biden administration okayed the Vineyard Wind project off Martha’s Vineyard. (Grist)
  • An Environmental Defense Fund manager believes North Carolina “has much to gain from [offshore] wind power.”  (Coastal Review Online)
  • Who knew?  Bladeless turbines can produce wind power.  (The Guardian)
  • Residents of Wainscott, in New York’s Hamptons, are at odds about the proposed South Fork wind farm 35 miles offshore.  “[A] cable to connect the wind farm would have to burrow underneath the hamlet’s beach and several of its streets to join with a substation further inland.”  (The Guardian)
  • So many wind turbines—where can we put them?  (Inside Climate News)
  • A new report touted the “promise and potential” of offshore wind for the US.  (Environment America)
  • New technology is on the horizon to make solar more efficient. (Grist)
  • Solar power is growing rapidly and providing a substantial source of US power.  Virginia ranked 4th in 2020 solar installations nationally (Clean Technica, Virginia Mercury, Houston Chronicle)
  • Underway:  “The Race to Scale Up Green Hydrogen to Help Solve Some of the World’s Dirtiest Energy Problems.  (Inside Climate News)


  • A plan to operate a “green hydrogen” cargo ship is facing an obstacle—not enough fuel. (Grist)
  • How quickly will electric vehicles (EVs) “take over” US roads? (NYTimes, Yale Environment 360, Clean Technica)
  • Taking its first steps to join the EV bandwagon, Virginia enacted clean car standards comparable to those in California and established an as-yet unfunded rebate process to incentivize Virginians to purchase EVs.  (Energy News)

Fossil fuels and Extraction:

  • Kern County California continues its reliance on oil, despite current pollution levels there. (Grist)
  • A proposed new approach to carbon capture and storage:  Pipe carbon dioxide produced from ethanol manufacture from Midwest sites to North Dakota, use some to make ethanol, and pump most of it deeply underground. (Grist)
  • A proposed natural gas pipeline in the Memphis Tennessee area has raised loud voices about its violation of environmental justice.  (Commercial Appeal, WFPL,)
  • Owners of the Transco Pipeline filed suit against Mountain Valley Pipeline owners who want to take land through eminent domain that Transco previously acquired the same way.  (The Roanoke Times)
  • The founder of a national parks travel guide described in detail his objections to the proposed oil drilling at Big Cypress National Preserve, urging the Biden Administration to prohibit it.  Other groups also object; the permit allows only “exploratory drilling.”  (National Parks Traveler, Tallahassee Democrat)
  • Following Biden’s cancellation of a March oil lease in the Gulf of Mexico, “Louisiana officials say the state’s oil and gas industry is in danger.” (KLFY)
  • The Bureau of Land Management is moving forward to allow oil and gas leasing in New Mexico’s San Juan Basin, despite objections of tribal leaders who say they haven’t been adequately informed or consulted.  (Capital & Main)
  • A Nevada rancher filed a lawsuit over proposed lithium mining on BLM lands because of the environmental dangers it poses. (Grist)
  • Trackers of CO2 and methane found that massive amounts of colorless, odorless methane are leaking from pipelines in the Texas Permian Basin.  (CNN)
  • Indigenous people in Minnesota argued the proposed re-routing of an aging pipeline—Line 3 project—would violate a US treaty with the Ojibwe nations.  (The Guardian, The Relevator)
  • The bottom‑trawling fishing industry may produce as much CO2 as global aviation.  (NYTimes)

Electricity Grid:

  • Texas recent grid management challenges and its regulatory policy demonstrated the need to ensure 24/7/365 performance regardless of weather conditions—and many critiques and proposed solutions are on offer.  (Houston Chronicle, CNBC, Inside Climate News)
  • Officials at an Arkansas power plant powered by hydro, contend its power source helped keep the lights on during last month’s fierce weather.  (Arkansas Democrat Gazette)


  • A Harrisonburg-area resident is eager to help the American chestnut return to the Central Shenandoah Valley.  (The Harrisonburg Citizen)
  • Check out Virginia’s outlook for solar job growth by 2050.  (Climate Central)
  • “Women’s Leadership is Central to the Climate Fight”.  (ClimateXChange)
  • The great-granddaughter of an Idaho farmer who lived in the early 20th century believes wise agricultural stewardship, such as he practices, can help local communities in their resilience planning.  (NYTimes)
  • There’s more than one way for the US to attain net-zero by 2050.  (The Guardian)
  • Would you consider living in a building that’s 300 feet underground—if it doesn’t disturb contaminated soil, saves energy, and is heated and cooled with the help of solar?  (Fast Company)

Closing Thought

  • A Nashville-based opinion writer found some reasons to be optimistic, or at least hopeful, about the planet’s future.  “Hope is not a license to relax. Hope is only a reminder not to give up. As bad as things are, it is far too early to give up.” (NYTimes)

Compiled by Joy Loving

CAAV Steering Committee