Trump Admin Begins Rollback of Clean Power Plan

Following through on a campaign promise, the Trump administration signed a rule this week to repeal the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever national limit on carbon pollution from existing power plants. An historic public health regulation, which wasn’t scheduled to begin implementation until 2022, the Clean Power Plan was projected to save Americans $12 billion to $34 billion in health cost savings.

By setting modest carbon reduction goals and providing maximum compliance flexibility, including carbon reductions achieved through increased use of natural gas and nuclear, the Clean Power Plan established a balance of environmental and economic development goals. In fact, the rule would have provided relief in the form of utility bill savings, with an estimated $7/month savings realized by 2030 thanks to reduction in power demand thanks to increased energy efficiency.

Seeking Southern Climate Champs – Are You In?

The attacks to clean energy are in full force. President Trump is pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, halting EPA’s Clean Power Plan, and placing dirty pipelines back on the table. Here in the Southeast, wind energy development is under attack, and offshore drilling and seismic blasting are, once again, a threat to our coasts.

Leaders in U.S. Economy Say “We Are Still In’ on Paris Climate Agreement

A grand total of 1,219 governors, mayors, businesses, investors, and colleges and universities from across the U.S. or with significant operations in the U.S., representing the broadest cross section of the American economy yet assembled in pursuit of climate action, today declared their intent to continue to ensure the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing carbon emissions. Together, these leaders are sending a strong signal to the international community and the 194 other parties to the Paris Agreement about the continued commitment of the U.S. to ambitious action on climate change absent leadership at the federal level. In the aggregate, the signatories are delivering concrete emissions reductions that will help meet America’s emissions pledge under the Paris Agreement.

Pruitt EPA Should Deny New Utility Move to Weaken Federal Coal Ash Rule

Like last month’s stay on the water discharge rule, a potential stay on the Coal Ash Rule extends unconscionable risk for the people who live near coal ash pits, which can rupture or leak toxics into drinking water, while pandering to corporate utilities that have gotten away with dangerous waste handling for decades.

Pruitt EPA’s Water Pollution Delay Extends Uncertainty for Southeast Coal Plants

Since 1982, little has changed about the toxic pollution coal-fired power plants are allowed to dump in water, although change was on its way. Unfortunately, if EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has his way, our waterways and our health will remain threatened by our nation’s leading source of toxic water pollution – coal fired power plants. We will have to keep on waiting for modern, updated protections and coal plant operators face continued uncertainty over their compliance obligations – uncertainty that may actually accelerate coal’s decline. In early May, Environmental groups challenged the legality Administrator Pruitt’s stay.

In the Southeast, many power plants’ operators were already preparing to meet new 2015 standards, which would go into effect in 2018, updating pollution control technology at their plants and working with state agencies to update state water discharge permits. The 2015 Effluent Limitation Guidelines (ELGs), which represents the first update to these regulations since 1982, nearly eliminates dumping of ash-contaminated wastewater, and for the first time, limits the discharge of toxic heavy metals that come from removing toxics from the air pollution stream and trapping them in sludge as part of the wastewater stream.

New Executive Order Threatens US Progress on Climate Action

Given his appointment of Scott Pruitt as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – a man with a long history of challenging health-based environmental regulations in court – President Trump’s Energy Independence Executive Order, released today, is not unexpected.

Cloaked in a patriotic narrative, President Trump’s executive order does more to threaten our nation’s energy independence than support it. Renewable energy has a critical role to play in strengthening our country’s energy independence, yet this executive order is aimed at weakening our ability to incorporate more clean energy resources into our national energy portfolio.

It also doubles down on the false claim that the coal industry can be saved by dialing back public health regulations. In truth, coal is being beaten in the free market by cheaper natural gas and cheap renewable energy.

Today’s executive order – coupled with the President’s recently proposed large budget cuts to the EPA and Department of Energy (DOE) clean energy, smart grid and storage technology research programs – makes it clear that this Administration is not serious about protecting our health, our climate or our national security.

First Government-Owned Plant “Off the Island:” Florida’s Coal Plant Reality Show Heats Up

Who will be voted off the island next? Florida’s dwindling cast of coal plant survivors just lost two stalwart characters, government-owned St. Johns River Power Park Units 1 and 2. While this definitely refutes the new administration’s hopes for a coal revival, we are optimistic that JEA is the first of several Florida government agencies to finally give up on wasteful coal plants.

Washington agrees: let’s fix our infrastructure

Every so often, amidst partisan rancor, a glimmer of hope emerges where both sides want the same thing. In these rare instances, it’s an opportunity for all of those legislators who came to Washington to get things done to really get to work.

This just happened with infrastructure, and electricity transmission in particular.

Black History Month Energy Leaders Blog Series: Lynn Evans Becomes First African American Woman to Lead TVA Board

For the first time in its 83-year old history, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has an African-American woman leading its Board of Directors. It is also the first time someone from Memphis, which is home to TVA’s largest customer Memphis Light, Gas and Water (MLGW), has held the Board chair. V. Lynn Evans was named as the new TVA Board Chair after the former TVA Board Chair, Joe Ritch, ended his term on January 3, 2017. In these polarizing times, we celebrate the fact that one of our largest utilities in the Southeast has appointed a qualified leader like Ms. Evans – and broken with history by appointing a woman to Board chair for the first time. As one local Memphis publication put it – Ms. Evans is “a ‘first’ on three fronts.”

How the Trump Administration and Congress Should Use Science to Govern

This blog is a guest post by Peter Frumhoff of the Union of Concerned Scientists. The original post ran here on November 30, 2016.

The election of Donald Trump raises many questions about the future role of science and evidence in policy making. Many of us are deeply troubled that some transition team members, senior administration officials and people nominated to head up federal agencies have a history of attacking scientists and misrepresenting science.