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EGEB: 23 US states sue Trump administration over fuel-efficiency rollback

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

  • 23 US states are suing the Trump administration over its reversal of fuel-efficiency standards.
  • Houston is going to power its government buildings with 100% green energy by July.
  • The EU releases the “world’s biggest green stimulus”: What’s in it for renewables?

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

Fight for fuel-efficiency standards

Nearly half the states in the US have banded together to sue the Trump administration over its reversal of fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. The rollback is known as the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles (SAFE) rule.

As Electrek‘s Bradley Berman wrote on March 30:

Trump’s cabinet is expected to reduce the fuel-efficiency increases from about 5% through 2026 to about 1.5%. The step will fulfill long-stated Trump goals to undercut Obama-era standards that practically ensured a massive shift to EVs in the US.

On March 31, 2020, the Trump Administration announced its final rule rolling back the Obama-era Clean Car Standards.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is leading the lawsuit. Becerra’s press release, made public yesterday, states:

The Trump Administration’s misguided Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles (SAFE) rule stops this progress in its tracks, hurting the economy and public health at a time when the country can least afford it. In the lawsuit, the coalition will argue that the final rule unlawfully violates the Clean Air Act, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

The states (and the District of Columbia) suing the Trump administration include Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. The California Air Resources Board, the Cities of Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Denver, and the Counties of San Francisco and Denver also joined the coalition in filing the lawsuit.

GM and Toyota defend the rollback, but Ford, Honda, BMW, and Volkswagen say they will adhere to higher standards. This battle is expected to end up in the Supreme Court.

Becerra said:

Vehicles are the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in America, and pollution-related respiratory illnesses make people more susceptible to COVID-19.

Houston — from oil to renewables

Did you know that Houston buys more green energy than any other city in the US? According to Bloomberg, the Texas city currently powers 92% of its city properties with mostly wind and some solar. “Houston will begin a new five-year contact in July with NRG Energy Inc. to power all of its city-owned properties, from fire stations to airports, with renewable energy.”

And that will bring city buildings to 100% renewable power. Thats pretty good news for the US’ fourth-largest city, who is also building 1,800 miles of bicycle lanes and working on a climate action plan.

Before we get too excited, city properties only account for 1% of electricity consumed in Houston. But “solar installations for homes and businesses in Houston have doubled over the past two years, ending 2019 with 42.5 megawatts, according to the watchdog group Environment Texas.” It’s also working on increasing its solar capacity with new solar farms, although it’s had some trouble moving forward with that in the past due to tanking crude oil prices.

Mayor Sylvester Turner, who is pitching for Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Tesla business, said to Bloomberg:

All they see in the city of Houston is Chevron and Shell and Exxon. They kind of look past the city of Houston, but there are some incredible things that are happening in the city of Houston when we start talking about renewables.

The EU’s green recovery plan

The European Commission unveiled its €750 billion green recovery package from the pandemic yesterday. It will need to be approved by the EU and the 27 EU governments. Specifics will be released today, but here’s a summary of what’s in the draft for green energy and plans to tackle climate change [via Reuters]. In short, a lot.

Building renovations: €91 billion per year in EU grants and loan guarantees for renovations such as rooftop solar panels, insulation, and renewable heating systems. €5 billion of guarantees for “green mortgages,” tying low-carbon renovations into property sales. Schools, hospitals, and social housing get priority.

Clean hydrogen: €1.3 billion for the EU clean hydrogen support scheme.

Green energy: €25 billion of expected investments for a tender of 15 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity in the next two years. Renewable projects will also receive support from a European Investment Bank pot of €10 billion loans.

Electric and hydrogen vehicles: A two-year, €20 billion EU scheme of grants and guarantees for clean vehicles, with 2 million electric and hydrogen vehicle charging stations to be installed by 2025.

There may also be €20 billion for cities’ cycling infrastructure and clean public transport, and a €40-60 billion fund for investments in zero-emission trains.

Photo: Grace Dadson/Unsplash

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.