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Technology Daily on Energy: Climate change is gaining on the economy as a top issue

21:05  14 february  2020
21:05  14 february  2020 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

Democrats' Christmas gift to Trump: Green debate extremism

  Democrats' Christmas gift to Trump: Green debate extremism President Trump's campaign team must have loved Thursday night's 2020 Democratic presidential debate. After all, Trump's 2020 opponent was almost certainly on the stage last night. But when asked how far they would go to fight climate change, each of the Democrats gave a variation on the same answer. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); And not an answer that will serve them well in the general election.Front-runner Joe Biden went on about charging stations to nowhere.

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CLIMATE CHANGE IS GAINING ON THE ECONOMY AS A TOP ISSUE: As the economy has improved, Americans feel better about kitchen table issues and are prioritizing protecting the environment and combating climate change.

Nearly as many people say protecting the environment should be a top policy priority (64%) as those who say this about strengthening the economy (67%), according to a Pew Research Center poll of 1,504 adults nationwide released Thursday. That’s the first time that gap has been so narrow between the economy and the environment as measured by Pew surveys since nearly two decades ago.

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A smaller share, 52%, rate global climate change as a top priority, but that is 14 percentage points higher than three years ago.

Notably: Climate change now ranks above jobs (49%) as a top priority.

Republicans are less worried: Republicans are less concerned about environmental issues and climate change than Democrats are.

Dealing with climate change ranks at the bottom of the list of 18 policy priorities for Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (just 21% call it a “top priority, unchanged from a year ago).

This is despite other polls showing growing concern about climate change among young Republicans, a development that has prodded the congressional GOP to put forward climate change policy proposals.

Fewer than half of Republicans (39%) consider environmental protection as a “major priority,” according to the Pew poll, which is actually the largest share of Republicans saying this in the research center’s surveys over the past decade.

Republicans came to the table on climate this year

  Republicans came to the table on climate this year “The days of ignoring this issue are over,” one GOP senator said.In the whirlwind that is our current political environment, you might have missed one particular gust that swept through Congress this year: elected Republicans have shifted dramatically on climate change. The change is due in part to encouragement from conservative voters. Today, we see Republicans in Congress getting engaged on the issue, bringing to the table conservative solutions that protect hardworking Americans and ensure prosperity in our economy.

By contrast, climate change is near the top of important issues among Democrats and Democratic leaners (78% call it a top priority). That mirrors what voters are saying in the Democratic presidential primary, where climate change has ranked as a top two issue in the first two voting states, Iowa and New Hampshire.

Thought bubble: The responses by Republicans show that President Trump’s new rhetoric about protecting the environment, while still avoiding mentioning climate change, may be sufficient for most GOP voters.

Welcome to Daily on Energy, written by Washington Examiner Energy and Environment Writers Josh Siegel (@SiegelScribe) and Abby Smith (@AbbySmithDC). Email jsiegel@washingtonexaminer.com or asmith@washingtonexaminer.com for tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. If a friend sent this to you and you’d like to sign up, click here. If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email, and we’ll add you to our list.

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NOTE TO READERS: Daily on Energy will not be published Monday, Feb. 17 in observance of Presidents’ Day. We will back Tuesday, Feb. 18. Until then, Happy Valentine’s Day, from the legendary Andre 3000.

NATURAL GAS PRICES DROP TO LOWEST LEVEL SINCE 2016: Natural gas prices fell to their lowest level since 2016 this month, representing the lowest February prices in 20 years.

This Monday, the near-month natural gas futures price at the New York Mercantile Exchange closed at $1.77 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), the lowest price in any month since March 8, 2016, the Energy Information Administration reported Friday. In addition, the daily spot price at the Henry Hub national benchmark was $1.81/MMBtu on Monday, the lowest price in real terms since March 9, 2016.

Prices are so low generally because warm winter weather (last month was the hottest January on record) has reduced demand for natural gas for home heating, the EIA says. Natural gas production growth has outpaced demand growth.

In January, the U.S. experienced the third-highest monthly natural gas production.

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DELTA FLIES AHEAD WITH CARBON-NEUTRAL PLEDGE: Delta is pledging to spend $1 billion over the next decade to become the first carbon-neutral airline, the company announced Friday.

That means it wants to cancel out its future emissions starting from March by purchasing carbon emission reductions offsets and investing in environmental projects such as planting trees or other carbon capture techniques to compensate for emissions produced from its flights.

Most airlines rely on offsets to reduce emissions because there is not a widespread lower-carbon alternative to traditional jet fuel. Another major airline, JetBlue, announced last month it plans to be carbon-neutral on all domestic flights by July by increasing its purchase of offsets. Airlines represent about 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

“We will continue to use jet fuel for as far as the eye can see,” Ed Bastian, Delta’s CEO, told CNBC on Friday. “We’ll be investing in technologies to reduce the impact of jet fuel, But I don’t ever see a future where we’ll eliminate jet fuel from our footprint.”

However in an acknowledgement that technologies funded by offsets need to be improved, Delta is also pledging to allocate some of its $1 billion to research innovations such as carbon removal.

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“Carbon offsets are not the solution, we need to be investing in projects that make a difference,” Bastian said. “That’s not really helping our planet.”

FEDS LEAVING WATER UTILITIES HIGH AND DRY ON CLIMATE: Water and wastewater utilities are increasingly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, but the federal government isn’t doing much to help them plan ahead for it.

A new report released Thursday by the Government Accountability Office says four federal agencies — including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency — are in a position to do much more, including providing more financial assistance and coordinating long-term planning efforts for new and existing water infrastructure.

To date, federal efforts, mostly from the EPA, have been limited to small-scale and pilot assistance, and EPA officials told the GAO a water sector council the agency chairs has focused mostly on short-term threats to water infrastructure such as disasters and counterterrorism rather than climate resilience.

The consequences: Not helping water utilities plan for a warming future will cost the government more money. Already, from 2011 to 2018, the government spent at least $3.6 billion to help drinking water and wastewater utilities after natural disasters, according to the GAO.

EPA’S LATEST ENFORCEMENT NUMBERS ARE A MIXED BAG: The number of civil enforcement cases the EPA has initiated and concluded dropped for the third year in a row, to its lowest level in a decade, according to new data released by the agency on Thursday.

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The EPA also conducted the fewest inspections and evaluations for the decade in fiscal year 2019. That number has been falling since 2012, according to the EPA data.

Criminal enforcement is a different story: The EPA boasted opening an increasing number of criminal cases for the second year in a row. It also required facilities to address the highest level of pollution, around 347 million pounds per year, in the last four years.

More industries are self-disclosing violations, too, a push that has been a priority for the Trump EPA team. In fiscal year 2019, more than 600 entities came forward voluntarily to disclose violations with environmental laws, a 20% bump from the year prior.

PRESS SECRETARY LEAVING EPA: The agency’s press secretary, Michael Abboud, is leaving EPA to join the State Department, he told reporters in an email Friday.

Abboud joins fellow EPA alum James Hewitt, a former communications staffer who left the agency for the State Department in June.

CONSERVATIVE TEAMS UP ON LONG-DURATION STORAGE BILL: Republican Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona joined Democrats Thursday to release a bill bolstering long-term energy storage.

The Joint Long-Term Storage Act, also sponsored by Chris Pappas of New Hampshire and Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, would establish a program between the Defense and Energy Departments to integrate their efforts to develop storage technologies that can hold excess wind and solar power for a longer period of time.

“We continue to see innovative technologies that benefit both our national security and the environment, and I am pleased to be a part of this effort to further collaboration between the DOD and DOE that have the potential to scale up this technology,” said Schweikert, a leading member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who is leading figure shaping the House GOP’s climate change agenda.

Companion legislation has already been introduced by Senators Martha McSally, an Arizona Republican, and Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats.

The Rundown

New York Times Trump’s path to weaker fuel efficiency rules may lead to a dead end

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Calendar

TUESDAY | FEB. 18

House and Senate are out

US energy secretary: Brazil showing commitment on climate .
U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette said Sunday the far-right government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is demonstrating its commitment to the fight against climate change by promoting nuclear energy. Bolsonaro, a climate skeptic, has been criticized internationally for pledging to open the vital Amazon rainforest to development and agribusiness, and make major changes to the South American country's environmental policy.

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