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Pennsylvanians who live near fracking are more likely to be depressed

Environmental Health News | Posted on July 31, 2018

eople who live near unconventional natural gas operations such as fracking are more likely to experience depression, according to a new study.They found that people living near fracking-related operations are more likely to be depressed than the general population, and that stress and depression went up among people living closest to more and bigger natural gas wells.

Administration predicts ‘moderate’ impacts from new Keystone XL route

The Hill | Posted on July 31, 2018

The Trump administration released a new environmental review for a portion of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, predicting some “moderate” impacts from its construction and operation. In its 300 page draft report, the State Department found that some of the biggest impacts from the project’s new route in Nebraska include injuries to wetlands and vegetation, but says much of the impact would be temporary. Monday’s release is just the latest development in a years-long, contentious fight over the Keystone pipeline. Keystone XL once was at the center of environment and energy policy in the United States, and President Trump acted swiftly after his 2017 inauguration to approve it, fulfilling a campaign promise. The report was required because of the Nebraska Public Service Commission’s vote in November 2017 to allow TransCanada Corp. to build the controversial pipeline only on an alternative route, not the one that it had preferred and that the Trump administration had initially approved earlier that year.

Local governments take up effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, combat climate change

Wisconsin State Journal | Posted on July 31, 2018

Local municipalities are taking up the reins to combat global climate change as scientists around the world continue to sound alarm bells warning of the possibly irreversible effects of using greenhouse-gas emitting sources of energy.The Middleton City Council passed a resolution this month setting goalposts for utilizing renewable energy sources in 100 percent of energy consumption city-wide — for the city government’s operations but also for community residents and companies.Middleton’s plan is just one in the region either laid out or in the works.Dane County, which boasts 100 percent renewable electricity use for government functions, hopes to complete and roll out an expanded sustainability plan in the spring. In March 2017, the Madison City Council passed a resolution to develop a plan laying out goals for zero-carbon emissions energy use in city operations and methods to reach those goals.

FirstEnergy won’t say what it’s done with Ohio grid modernization money

| Posted on July 31, 2018

Ohio regulators let FirstEnergy collect $168 million a year from ratepayers with virtually no strings attached for how it is spent.Ohio ratepayers have paid FirstEnergy’s utilities roughly a quarter of a billion dollars since January 2017 under a distribution modernization rider. The mandate for consumers to pay the rider is currently on appeal before the Supreme Court of Ohio. Meanwhile, FirstEnergy’s utilities have been collecting the $168 million per year, and regulators could renew the charge for another two years after 2019.“To date, FirstEnergy has stymied the efforts of the state-designated advocate of its consumers to discover information about its subsidy charges,” Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Bruce Weston and assistant counsel Zachary Woltz said in a July 13 brief.  

Russian Hackers Reach U.S. Utility Control Rooms, Homeland Security Officials Say

Wall Street Journal | Posted on July 26, 2018

Hackers working for Russia claimed “hundreds of victims” last year in a giant and long-running campaign that put them inside the control rooms of U.S. electric utilities where they could have caused blackouts, federal officials said. They said the campaign likely is continuing.

Indiana cancellation of efficiency program took heavy toll, study says

Energy News Network | Posted on July 26, 2018

A report released by an Indiana watchdog group confirms what many consumer and energy efficiency advocates had long feared: that the rollback of Indiana’s energy efficiency mandate in 2014 has had serious costs. An analysis commissioned by the Citizens Action Coalition found ratepayers and utilities have missed out on almost $150 million in savings that would have accrued between 2015 to 2019. It also concluded that the legislation meant to replace the canceled program has done little to fill the gap.

Mountaintop Mining Is Destroying More Land for Less Coal, Study Finds

Inside Climate News | Posted on July 26, 2018

Using satellite images, researchers tracked the scars spreading across Appalachia. They found 3 times more land being stripped per ton of coal than in the 1980s.

EPA to keep pursuing biofuel changes under new leadership: Wheeler

Reuters | Posted on July 26, 2018

 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s acting administrator said he would follow up the work of his predecessor to overhaul the nation’s biofuel policy, including pursuing changes strongly opposed by the powerful corn lobby like counting ethanol exports toward annual biofuels quotas. The biofuel industry had been hoping that Andrew Wheeler would drop some of former Administrator Scott Pruitt’s overhaul efforts, which were aimed at helping the oil industry, and instead prioritize the interests of farmers in the U.S. heartland to expand domestic markets for corn-based fuel.

Poet to develop new 80 MMgy ethanol plant in Indiana

Ethanol Producer | Posted on July 26, 2018

On July 23, Poet LLC received an approval from the Shelbyville, Indiana, planning commission that will allow it to proceed with the development of an 80 MMgy ethanol plant at a site approximately 5 miles northwest of the city.

How the oil industry learned to love Massachusetts v. EPA

E & E News | Posted on July 25, 2018

The oil industry will lose a powerful legal weapon if a more conservative Supreme Court reverses a landmark 2007 climate change decision. Retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy was the key vote in the 5-4 ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA, which gave EPA power to police greenhouse gas emissions and set the stage for Obama-era policies to limit climate change.The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and other conservative groups hope the Supreme Court might reconsider the case when Kennedy's replacement is on the bench. At least two conservative justices — Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas — have called for it to be overturned.But Massachusetts serves as the linchpin for a high court precedent embraced by oil companies as they fight climate lawsuits from cities and counties.In American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that corporations cannot be sued for greenhouse gas emissions because EPA regulates those through the Clean Air Act — power that came through Massachusetts.