News Roundup: Coal, oil, solar (+ snow)
On Biden's indecisive approach to public lands; and a new avalanche tool
In commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr., day, the following tweet from the folks that brought you Bears Ears National Monument:
During the last several weeks, the Biden administration has handed down a number of important decisions regarding public lands, the climate, and the environment. In so doing the administration continues a zig-zag, often contradictory approach to these issues, as if they are trying to please everyone, perhaps, or are just pulled in too many directions, by too many factors, at once. The environmental community’s reaction to the vacillation similarly has been conflicting—a melange of cautionary praise, damnation, and simple bewilderment.
THE NEWS: On the one hand, Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency rejected a bid to allow a Wyoming coal plant to keep running without pollution controls in violation of a regional haze permit, thus sparking a backlash from Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon and Sen. Cynthia Lummis. On the other hand, the Interior Department decided to uphold two separate Trump-era decisions regarding coal leasing on public lands, drawing the ire of conservationists.
THE CONTEXT: When Biden took office a year ago, it might have seemed as if the coal industry wouldn’t make it to 2022. Coal consumption had been dropping steadily for the previous decade, coal plant retirements were coming fast and furious, and measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 hit energy markets hard, precipitating a 20 percent plunge in coal consumption for power generation. Biden’s first-day executive orders promising boldly to tackle climate change would be coal’s death knell. Or so it seemed.