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

  • China said it will adhere to its Paris Agreement emissions reduction pledge.
  • Trump administration limits states’ rights to block pipelines that cross their waterways.
  • Will the Florida Keys lose the battle against rising sea levels? This video discusses options.

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

China says it will stay on course

China’s environment ministry said today that the country is committed to adhering to its Paris Agreement targets, but it didn’t provide specific figures.

Liu Youbin, spokesman for the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said today:

China’s carbon emission reduction will not change with the occurrence of the epidemic.

He said that China will “100%” fulfill its nationally determined contributions (NDCs) on climate change.

Reuters reports:

China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouses gases, pledged to cut ‘carbon intensity’ – the amount of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP – by 40-45% from 2005-2020 as part of the Paris pact it signed in 2015. It said last year it would set a more ambitious target, without giving figures.

Provided the Chinese government follows through with its announcement, this is very good news, as China is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, and there are fears that the country will double down on heavy industry that emits a lot of carbon as it attempts to play catchup after the coronavirus shutdown.

Another EPA Clean Water Act

In the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) own words:

The Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters.

Under the CWA, EPA has implemented pollution control programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry. EPA has also developed national water quality criteria recommendations for pollutants in surface waters.

The CWA made it unlawful to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained.

The CWA gives states veto power over potentially water-polluting projects. Or at least, it did until yesterday. Because the Trump administration has done away with Section 401, which lets states halt projects that risk hurting their water quality.

Jon Devine, director of federal water policy at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said:

Enforcing state and federal laws is essential to protecting critical lakes, streams, and wetlands from harmful pollutants and other threats. But the Trump administration’s rule guts states’ and tribes’ authority to safeguard their waters, allowing it to ram through pipelines and other projects that can decimate vital water resources.

This is a dangerous mistake. It makes a mockery of this EPA’s claimed respect for ‘cooperative federalism.’

This action undermines how our foundational environmental laws work. The federal government should be setting baseline standards, while states apply and enhance them to the benefit of their unique natural resources and residents.

EPA chief Andrew Wheeler said states’ rights to their own waterways “held our nation’s energy infrastructure projects hostage.”

Keys under threat

“At some point the Keys are going to be gone.” That is a shocking statement, which Electrek reported about in December. As we wrote, Monroe County officials said roads, businesses, and homes in the Florida Keys will be claimed by the sea in just 20 years as the sea level rises due to climate change.

So Yale Climate Connections spoke to University of Wisconsin scientist Andrea Dutton (who made the above statement) about resiliency and the options South Florida officials are weighing up as sea levels rise. Watch the five-minute video below:

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