In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • Environmental groups are suing the Trump administration over a California oil and gas drilling plan.
  • 47% of Americans are willing to pay more for green energy.
  • Germany’s carbon dioxide emissions fall in 2019 as energy use declines.

The Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB): A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Trump administration sued for drilling and fracking plan

The Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit yesterday that challenges the Trump administration’s plan to open up 725,500 acres of public lands and mineral estate in California to fracking and drilling.

According to the Hill, the Trump administration earlier this month approved the plan, ending California’s five-year oil and gas drilling moratorium. (The photo above is an official White House photo, approved for public domain.)

The lawsuit reads:

Defendants failed to consider meaningful alternatives to the plan amendment, failed to analyze and disclose the environmental impacts, and denied the public the opportunity to comment on its environmental analyses as the law requires.

It also says the plan opens the land up to “dangerous and polluting techniques like steam injection and hydraulic fracturing.”

Jenny Binstock, a Sierra Club campaign representative, said:

The Trump administration is putting California’s communities and our climate at risk as they prioritize fossil fuel industry profits over our public lands and the health and safety of our families. Today we are continuing the fight to protect our public lands from the Trump administration’s reckless fracking expansion.

Which Americans will pay for green energy (and which won’t)?

A poll of 2,000 registered American voters found that 47% of respondents said they would be willing to pay more for green energy to get off fossil fuels. The majority of that 47% were under age 44, lived in cities, college-educated, and moderate and liberal Democrats. In contrast, 50% of respondents said they were willing to pay nothing.

The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication conducted the surveys between November 2018 and April 2019.

They asked the following question:

How much more, if any amount, would you be willing to pay each month on your electricity bill to purchase 100% of your electricity from clean, renewable sources (such as wind and solar)?

Here’s a sample of what they found:

By age

  • 18-29: $19 a month
  • 30-44: $22 a month
  • 45-59: $14 a month
  • 60+: $11 a month

(Millennials will spend the most on green energy, for the most part, followed by Gen Z.)

By income

  • < $50K: $15 a month
  • $50K to $100K: $16 a month
  • $100K to $150K: $18 a month
  • $150K+: $16 a month

The study concludes, “People who earn more money are not more likely to be willing to pay more for renewable energy, indicating that willingness to pay more is not primarily a question of the ability to afford it.”

People who earn more money are generally less affected by environmental problems than people who make less money. The people of Flint, Michigan, or coal miners come to mind. So people with lower incomes are already paying more for dirty energy, just in costs associated with health and environmental damage rather than their utility bills.

By ethnicity

  • Black: $23 a month
  • Other: $19 a month
  • Hispanic: $18 a month
  • White: $14 a month

Perhaps the researchers should have posed the question, “How much extra are you willing to pay to use oil, gas, and coal?” in the poll. It won’t be long before all renewables become cheaper than fossil fuels.

Germany reduces fossil-fuel energy use

A sharp drop in Germany’s coal consumption has resulted in an overall decline in energy use by 2% in the country in 2019. Further, the reduction of coal has unsurprisingly resulted in a drop in carbon dioxide emissions, too, according to Clean Energy Wire:

This would put total emissions in 2019 at about 825 million tonnes [metric tons of] CO2 equivalents, or a 5% decrease compared to 2018. In 2018, Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions saw their largest drop since the 2009 recession, after largely stagnating for 10 years.

Germany still has work to do, but the country’s projection for 2020 of 33% reduction compared to 1990 levels may be attainable if they stay the course. For example, Germany has one of the highest solar power outputs in the world.

Clean Energy Wire has some really good infographics that illustrate Germany’s progress, as well as more detail of their plan to reduce carbon emissions. Click here to read the article.

Photo credit: Official White House photo by D. Myles Cullen

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