Biden Must Confront Three Sources of Global Warming


New York Times reporter Coral Davenport.

New York Times reporter Coral Davenport talking of President Biden’s climate policy challenges on The Daily says:

There are three main sources of planet warming greenhouse gases in the U.S. economy…you have to drastically cut each one of these…pollution from cars. That is a number one contributor to greenhouse gases in the U.S. It’s a little over a third. Number two, pollution from power plants, how we turn on the lights, and number three, weird, but it’s a big deal is leaking methane emissions from oil and gas wells.

She says that cutting pollution from vehicles, given that auto makers are coming on board, will probably be Biden’s greatest legacy in reducing climate change.

Closing coal fired power plants via policy changes is a lot more iffy and the administration, probably without congressional support, is still trying to figure out a path forward.

On the methane and leaky oil and gas wells issue, Obama put into place an executive order to plug up the leaks, then Trump rescinded it. Davenport says:

it’s almost cut and paste. The Biden people can go back in, take that Obama rule, and put it back. It’ll probably take a year or two before it is implemented, but the expectation is there’s a pretty clear path to do it, and it won’t be too hard.

Davenport says Biden’s plan is:

…exactly in line with what scientists say is required to avoid the most devastating effects of a warming planet…

You can listen to the Daily story or download its transcript here.

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Maine Decree Could Benefit Small Woodlot Owners

Maine Governor Janet Mills established a task force:

…to develop a voluntary, incentive-based program for woodland owners of 10 to 10,000 acres and forestry practitioners to increase carbon storage in Maine’s forests.

“Maine Forest” by Michelleyyy is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Maine Forest Carbon Program task force decree and who will serve on it can be found in full here.

Small landowners in Maine could reap profits from the plan by helping sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

The Bangor Daily News reports:

A variety of groups are ramping up efforts to open up the multi-billion dollar carbon offset market to small forest landowners. They want their efforts to financially boost small landowners while also enlisting more corporate polluters to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change on the nation’s most forested state.


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GM to End Petroleum Vehicle Production by 2035

The New York Times reports:

General Motors said Thursday that it would phase out petroleum-powered cars and trucks and sell only vehicles that have zero tailpipe emissions by 2035, a seismic shift by one of the world’s largest automakers that makes billions of dollars today from gas-guzzling pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles.

GM plans to become carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040 and has committed to setting science-based targets to achieve carbon neutrality. (Photo by Steve Fecht for General Motors)

The announcement is likely to put pressure on automakers around the world to make similar commitments.

The article adds:

The company plans to spend $27 billion over the next five years to introduce 30 electric vehicles, including an electric Hummer pickup truck that it expects to start delivering to customers this year. Currently its main fully electric offering in the United States is the Chevy Bolt, a small car. The company sells several electric models in China.

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Nice Solar, Wind, EV, Battery Surprises in Covid Relief Bill

There were several climate friendly provisions in the Covid-19 relief bill that Congress passed in December, 2020, including extending tax credits for solar and wind power projects and plenty of research and development (R&D) funding.

EnergySage reports: 

The 2020 spending bill extends the solar ITC at its current level of 26% for two additional years, through the end of 2022, before decreasing to 22% in 2023 and disappearing for residential properties in 2024. The spending bill maintains the 10% ITC for solar on commercial & industrial properties after it sunsets for residential properties.

Offshore wind power got a boost,  according to WindPower. On the R&D side, Greentech Media (GTM) reports:

The bill contains about $35 billion in funding over the next five years across Energy Department programs, through a collection of programs…Solar power will get $1.5 billion for programs to improve solar PV energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness, boost solar panel manufacturing and recycling, and better integrate solar power into the grid. Wind power will get $625 million to fund materials and design research, manufacturing and deployment efficiency improvements, and technologies to integrate wind power at the transmission grid and distribution grid scale. Geothermal energy research will get $850 million, and hydropower and marine power will get $933 million.

Along with these RD&D funds, the act will direct the Interior Department to set a target of at least 25 gigawatts of solar, wind and geothermal production on public lands by 2025, according to the summary.

Energy storage will receive $1.08 billion over five years in funding for the research and commercialization of a range of technologies needed to integrate intermittent renewables into the grid.


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Biden: Replace US Government Fleet with EVs

News outlets like Reuters are reporting that:

President Joe Biden on Monday vowed to replace the U.S. government’s fleet of roughly 650,000 vehicles with electric models as the new administration shifts its focus toward clean-energy.

CleanTechnica reports on some of the challenges in making it happening, but saying first:

While the overall goal is probably not 100% possible during Biden’s 4 or 8 years, it is definitely possible to electrify most federal government vehicles if done over time and in conjunction with massive improvements to charging infrastructure (another Biden campaign promise).

The article notes that Biden’s campaign pages promise:

.. 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations — to create good jobs in industries supporting vehicle electrification.

Challenges noted by CleanTechnica  include:

  1. Practical: Some of the federal government’s fleet works in remote areas that are unlikely to ever have the infrastructure needed for the EVs.
  2. Legal: Biden can probably, through executive order, make this happen. If he tried to mandate states to transition to EVs for federal funding, he would probably have to go through Congress.
  3. Infrastructure: Biden will have to make good on the his promise of 500,000 charging stations. Alas,”Even with funding, it’s going to take a lot of time to get all those stations put in…The planning, permitting, electrical work, approvals, and activation are all slow processes for high-powered DC fast charging stations. Even a completed station could take months at times to be turned on at the end. Don’t count on this all happening in Biden’s first four years, and be very surprised if it starts to really take shape in two terms.
  4. Political: “In the time it would take to get this plan going really well, a lot can happen. There are elections in 2022, 2024, 2026, and 2028. Any of these elections could create setbacks for this ambitious program…To get anything done, a coalition would have to agree to the plan.”
  5. Industry: Biden wants union jobs, Tesla for example opposes unions. So who gets the contracts?

Will it happen? CleanTechica writer   thinks it will, writing:

Even if everything doesn’t go perfectly right for this plan, there is a lot of inertia behind it…Cost benefits over the lives of federally owned vehicles are also extremely hard to ignore… It will only be increasingly hard for fiscal conservatives to justify the purchase of anything but EVs as prices continue to fall.

Despite the challenges, Biden’s plan is likely to succeed, but the challenges must be planned for and planned around to make the program a success. 

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EV Global Sales Rose 43% in 2020; Tipping Point Near

The Guardian reports:

Electric vehicles are close to the “tipping point” of rapid mass adoption thanks to the plummeting cost of batteries, experts say.

“Grand Canyon National Park Electric Vehicle Charging Stations: Yavapai Lodge 6654” by Grand Canyon NPS is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Global sales rose 43% in 2020, but even faster growth is anticipated when continuing falls in battery prices bring the price of electric cars dipping below that of equivalent petrol and diesel models, even without subsidies. The latest analyses forecast that to happen some time between 2023 and 2025.

In Norway EVs make up 54% of all new car sales. The article continues that EVs:

…are already cheaper to run, their higher purchase price is a barrier to mass uptake. The other key factor is “range anxiety”, but this week the first factory production began of batteries capable of giving a 200-mile charge in five minutes

BloombergNEF’s analysis predicts lithium-ion battery costs will fall to the extent that electric cars will match the price of petrol and diesel cars by 2023…

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Biden Immediately Makes Climate Friendly Decrees

In a sentence the Washington Post provides an  excellent summary of how President Joe Biden will immediately take aggressive action to face the world’s climate crisis. It reads:

President Biden speaks at an event in Jackson, MS standing in front of an American flagBiden’s push includes blocking the Keystone XL pipeline, restarting climate diplomacy and shifting the nation away from fossil fuels

The story adds:

During his first moments in the Oval Office on Wednesday, President Biden returned the United States to the Paris climate accord and directed federal agencies to begin unraveling Donald Trump’s environmental policies…

Here is another Washington Post story with a list of pending climate related reversals of Trump policy.

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French Oil Company Ends Ties with American Trade Group

Last week marked another sign that big oil’s stand on climate change is faltering. This from the Washington Post:

French oil giant Total said Friday that it is quitting the American Petroleum Institute, becoming the first major petroleum company to leave the trade group.

Total said it was acting in line with the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change and that it could not reconcile differences with API over carbon pricing, subsidies for electric vehicles and the regulation of methane emissions.


Total also criticized API for supporting candidates during the recent U.S. elections who argued against U.S. participation in the Paris agreement.

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Biden Wants Clean Air, Trump EPA Moves to Prevent It

Politico reports:

“Factory-Smoke-from-Sugarcane-Company-Florida” by Captain Kimo is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In a surprise move, the Environmental Protection Agency …will unveil a climate rule that will effectively prohibit the future regulation of greenhouse gases from any stationary industry other than power plants.

The rule comes just eight days before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who has pledged a multitrillion-dollar initiative that would combat climate change by making sharp cuts in the United States’ carbon dioxide pollution. The new regulation could hamstring much of that agenda, for example by prohibiting Biden’s EPA from setting carbon limits on oil and gas wells or refineries.

Here is what environmentalists said:

“EPA is perverting the Clean Air Act to ensure that no industry other than the power sector ever has to cut its climate pollution,” said David Doniger, senior strategic director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate & Clean Energy program.

“This unlawful rule is a transparent attempt to erect roadblocks to protecting public health and the environment for the new administration,” said Jay Duffy, an attorney for a group called the Clean Air Task Force.

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WSJ: More Investment Money Than Ever Flows to Clean Energy

The Wall Street Journal reports: More Money is Flowing into Green Energy Than Ever Before. Here’s Why:

Investors have been pouring more money than ever into renewable energies such as solar and wind. WSJ looks at how the pandemic, lower energy costs and global politics have driven the rally–and whether it can last.

See its video to learn more.



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