Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy: US greenhouse gas emissions fell in Trump’s first year | EPA delays decision on science rule | Trump scolds California over wildfires

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GREENHOUSE GASES DROP IN 2017: United States greenhouses gas emissions decreased during President Trump’s first year in office, according to new a Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report released Wednesday.

U.S. emissions of the gases that cause global warming dropped by 2.7 percent from 2016 to 2017, continuing a downward trend that’s been apparent since 2007, according to data collected through the agency’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.

The report also found that emissions from larger power plants dropped 4.5 percent since 2016.

{mosads}Experts have largely attributed the new trend to the cheaper price of natural gas, which is cleaner when burned than traditional coal and emits less carbon. Coal is a top contributor to greenhouse gas emissions globally.

In 2017, coal made up 14 percent of U.S. energy consumption, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Coal consumption in the U.S., the top consumer of the energy source, peaked in 2007 and has declined since. Natural gas became the main source of energy use in the U.S. in 2016.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said President Trump deserves credit for the drop, despite his actions to roll back or repeal numerous climate regulations.

“Thanks to President Trump’s regulatory reform agenda, the economy is booming, energy production is surging, and we are reducing greenhouse gas emissions from major industrial sources,” Wheeler said in a statement.

“The Trump Administration has proven that federal regulations are not necessary to drive CO2 reductions. While many around the world are talking about reducing greenhouse gases, the U.S. continues to deliver, and today’s report is further evidence of our action-oriented approach.”

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EPA SCIENCE RULE SLATED FOR 2020: The EPA’s rule to overhaul how it evaluates science won’t be made final until 2020, the Trump administration said.

The agency has put the regulation, called Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, on its “long-term actions” list in the latest edition of the Trump administration’s regulatory agenda, released Wednesday by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The EPA now expects to make the rule final around January 2020, and dozens of other regulatory projects are in line in front of the science rule.

Wednesday’s regulatory agenda also provided updated timelines for numerous major EPA initiatives, like repealing the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan and Clean Water Rule.

The highly controversial science rule would mandate that for regulations and other decisions, the EPA can only use scientific data and findings for which all of the underlying data can be made publicly available and reproducible.

Critics, including environmentalists, many scientists and Democrats, say it would set the bar unnecessarily high and prevent the EPA from using many high-quality studies, which would lead to fewer regulations.

An EPA spokesman said the rule is still under development, but the agency is taking its time sifting through the nearly 600,000 comments it received.

“This is not a delay. The agency is continuing its internal rulemaking development process for this action,” spokesman Michael Abboud said, noting that the prior regulatory agenda, published this past spring, did not have any timeline for a final version of the rule.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) nonetheless celebrated Wednesday’s move as a victory.

“We recently filed strong opposition to a proposed regulation by the EPA that would restrict EPA’s access to critical scientific data. EPA just shelved this misguided proposal. Now they should get back to their core mission of protecting human health and the environment,” he said in a statement.

Also in the regulatory agenda: March 2019 will be a big month for EPA’s deregulatory actions. That’s when the EPA plans to finalize its Clean Power Plan repeal, its Clean Water Rule repeal and its American Clean Energy rule, the replacement for the Clean Power Plan, according to the agenda.

At the Interior Department, the Trump administration plans to roll back parts of a major 2016 offshore drilling safety rule in December.

The Fish and Wildlife Service’s trio of rules to change how it implements the Endangered Species Act, proposed this summer, will be made final in November, the administration said.

Also on the back burner: The EPA’s proposal to repeal the Obama administration’s 2016 rule limiting the sales of high-polluting trucks with rebuilt engines — known as glider trucks — is also in the “long-term” category on the new agenda.

But unlike the science rule, the glider rule has no date for finalization, and is only listed as “to be determined.”

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TRUMP SLAMS CALIFORNIA ON FORESTS, WILDFIRES: President Trump on Wednesday appeared to threaten to withhold funding to fight wildfires in California if the state doesn’t remove more “old trees” from forests.

“California’s a mess. We’re giving billions and billions of dollars for forest fires in California,” Trump said during a Cabinet meeting at the White House, shortly after Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told him about the Forest Service’s efforts to prevent fires.

“They are leaving them dirty,” Trump said of California’s forests. “Old trees are sitting there, rotting and drying. And instead of cleaning it up, they don’t touch them, they leave them. And we end up with these massive fires that we’re paying hundreds of billions of dollars for to fix, and the destruction is incredible.”

“I think California ought to get their act together and clean up their forests and manage their forests,” he continued.

“It’s costing our country hundreds of billions of dollars because of incompetence in California,” Trump said. “It’s hurting our budget, it’s hurting our country. And they just better get their act together.”

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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will hold its monthly meeting.



The United Kingdom is supporting a proposal to create the world’s largest wildlife reserve on Antarctica, the Guardian reports.

Oil prices settled Wednesday at less than $70 per barrel for the first time in a month, Reuters reports.

Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures is opening a $116 million investment fund for European green energy companies, Bloomberg reports.



Check out Wednesday’s stories …

– EPA in talks with Volvo over faulty emissions part in trucks

– Trump: California ‘better get their act together’ on wildfires

– Greenhouse gas emissions dropped nearly 3 percent in Trump’s first year

– EPA puts science ‘transparency’ rule on back burner

– Dems damp down hopes for climate change agenda

Tags Donald Trump Sonny Perdue Xavier Becerra

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