Hot News: January 12, 2017 - The Years Project

Hot News: January 12, 2017

By Climate Nexus

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Tillerson Keeps it Vague: ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson reconfirmed his belief that greenhouse gas emissions are changing the world’s climate during his Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of State Wednesday. However, Tillerson wiggled out of elaborating on how severe of a threat he thinks climate change is or providing thoughts on policy solutions. On international action, Tillerson asserted that the US must “[maintain] its seat at the table about how to address the threat of climate change” and mentioned the US was “better served” by staying in the Paris Agreement. Scroll down to the Denier Roundup for full coverage of the hearings. (New York Times $, Washington Post $, The AtlanticClimate HomeTimeMother JonesClimate CentralNatureGreenwire $. Commentary: Bloomberg, Eric Roston analysisThe Hill, Rush Holt & Tom Wang op-ed.)

As Tillerson Waffles, Exxon Must Show Its Cards: A Massachusetts judge ruled Wednesday that Exxon Mobil must turn over 40 years of documents related to its internal research on climate change to state AG Maura Healey. The decision marks a major victory for Healey and others seeking answers on how much Exxon knew about climate change based on internal scientific research, and how much the company hid from the public and stakeholders. At his Wednesday hearing hours before the judge’s announcement, Tillerson repeatedly backed away from answering questions around the Exxon investigation and called scientists’ ability to predict the effect of increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere “very limited.” (Judge: APReutersHuffington PostFortuneBoston Globe $. Tillerson: CNN MoneyVoxMashableThinkProgress.)

Fossil Fuels Make Guest Appearance at Sessions Hearing: Despite the numerous race-related skeletons in Sen. Jeff Sessions’s closet, some time was spent at his confirmation hearings discussing his various financial ties to the fossil fuel industry and how that might affect his approach to environmental and energy issues as Attorney General. Sessions was questioned on his failure to disclose oil income on land he owns in a national wildlife refuge, first reported this week by the Washington Post. Sessions also waffled back and forth on climate change during his hearing, acknowledging it is “plausible” but questioning “how much is happening and what the reaction would be to it.” Sessions has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from fossil fuel industries and an Alabama Power-owned utility is his largest corporate donor. Next week, the oil and gas parade continues: mark your calendars for EPA chief nominee Scott Pruitt’s confirmation hearing, announced for Wednesday the 18th. (Sessions leases: MotherboardThinkProgress Climate change: LA Times $. Utility: BloombergGrist. Pruitt date: Greenwire $. Commentary: The Hill, Judith Browne Dianis, and Erich Pica op-ed.)

New DOE Policy to Strengthen Scientists: Outgoing Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced a new “scientific integrity policy” Wednesday, which may indicate a midnight move from the Obama administration to protect scientists and scientific work from a possibly hostile Trump presidency. “The cornerstone of the scientific integrity policy at DOE,” the eight-page memo reads, “is that all scientists, engineers, or others supported by DOE are free and encouraged to share their scientific findings and views.” While Moniz did not mention Trump or the future administration in his remarks, DOE refused to provide the names of scientists working on climate last month in response to an ominous questionnaire sent by the Trump transition team. (Washington Post $, Politico Pro $, The VergeE&E $)

A Carbon Sink the Size of New York: New scientific mapping has revealed the world’s largest carbon sink in a peat swamp in the Congo Basin in central Africa. The swamp, measuring larger than New York State, is estimated to contain the equivalent of twenty years worth of US greenhouse gas emissions in carbon – roughly 30 billion tonnes, or 30% of the world’s peatland carbon reserves. Scientists emphasize the need to keep this peat forest intact and protected from agricultural developments in order to keep the massive amount of carbon in the ground. (New York Times $, Washington Post $, GuardianReutersMashable)

US News
  • Report seeks improvements to social cost of carbon as GOP plans its doom (Politico Pro $)
  • Sources: EPA to lock in 2022-25 fuel emissions standards this week (Politico Pro$)
  • For companies torn between industry and climate, the heat is on (Bloomberg)
  • Perry touts carbon cuts in Hill meetings (E&E $)
  • Volkswagen to plead guilty, pay $4.3 billion in emissions scheme settlement (Politico Pro $, BloombergNPRThe Hill)
  • Extraordinary storms blitz West with 100-plus inches of snow, flooding rains (MashableNPRUSA Today)
  • Barack Obama, in late flourish, steps up preservation (WSJ $)
  • Perry vows to sever financial ties to Dakota Access (Greenwire $)
  • New York is betting on renewables to replace a major nuclear power plant (Nexus Media News)
  • BHP holds talks with Trump amid concerns on tariff, climate (Bloomberg)
  • Tenn. lab discovers method to remove carbon from air (Knoxville News Sentinel)
  • Report ranks Iowa as top state for corporate access to clean energy (Midwest Energy News)
  • One of the largest battery energy systems in the world planned for Hawaii (Pacific Business News)
  • Sununu sets sights on lowering N.H.’s electric bills – but getting there won’t be easy (NHPR)
  • Before pipeline disaster, ADEM was backing out of oil-spill cleanup role (The Anniston Star)
  • Thousands of Sabal Trail Pipeline protesters will gather at Suwannee River this weekend (Orlando Weekly)
  • Trump taps well of protest with calls for more drilling in national parks (Reuters)
  • Electric plant operator Homer City files for bankruptcy (Wall Street Journal $)
  • An aging pipeline has driven this Native American tribe into an unprecedented move (Fusion)
  • How and why Las Vegas embraced solar energy (Greentech Media)
  • Climate change escalates despite our partisan politics (WOUB)
  • How will Ryan Zinke manage federal lands as head of the Interior Department? (Utility Dive)
  • All of Las Vegas’s city-owned buildings now run on renewable energy (Motherboard)

World News
  • UN lauds launch of market tool assessing firms’ climate risk (AP)
  • Trump, rising populism threaten to slow climate action, analyst says (Reuters)
  • Guterres: tackling climate will prevent global conflict (Climate Home)
  • British Columbia approves oil pipeline to coast from Alberta (AP)
  • Bird species vanish from UK due to climate change and habitat loss (Guardian)
  • France seeks 20 billion Euros for green projects in bond market (Bloomberg)
  • Canadian automakers urge moves to offset carbon emissions costs (Reuters)
  • Victoria’s plans for hydrogen exports to Japan are ‘way of making brown coal look green’ (The Guardian)
  • India’s solar prices set to drop amid competition, lower costs (Bloomberg)
  • 70% of coral in Japan’s largest coral reef have died (Mashable)
  • WEF: environment dominates threats to global economy (Climate Home)
  • Canada’s vast source of climate pollution may go bust (Climate Central)
  • Devastating global warming is inevitable due to inaction of international community, says leading economist (Independent)
  • Renewable energy to dominate Dubai’s energy mix by 2050 (Clean Technica)
  • UN lauds launch of market tool assessing firms’ climate risk (AP)

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