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EXECUTIVE ORDER TIMELINE: President Joe Biden broke new ground yesterday with an executive order laying out his vision to have the federal government lead the rest of the nation on the path toward net-zero emissions.
Biden’s EO directs federal agencies to reduce their emissions footprint and to procure products with low or no emissions output to support reaching net-zero across all federal operations by 2050.
The order envisions:
- Use of 24-hour, 100% carbon emissions-free electricity by 2030, with at least 50% coming from “within the same regional grid where the energy is consumed.” Agencies are also directed to use their own property assets, including rooftops and adjoining lands, to enable power generation and storage.
- Acquisition of a 100% zero-emission federal vehicle fleet by 2035. The target for light-duty vehicle acquisitions is 2027.
- Achieving net-zero emissions from federal procurement of goods and services by 2050.
- Accomplishing a 50% emissions reduction among federal buildings by 2032 and achieving net-zero building emissions by 2045.
- Accomplishing a 65% emissions reduction in emissions for all federal government operations by 2030 and becoming net-zero by 2050.
Notably, the EO also envisions the government driving down its emissions footprint at a rate faster than Biden’s national targets, adjusting the 100% carbon emissions-free electricity by 2035 target he established for the nation to a 2030 target for the federal government. The 65% emissions reduction by 2030 is also a swifter reduction than the minimum 50% reduction Biden is targeting for the nation economy-wide.
A “for” view: Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, said the order reflects “real leadership” on the part of the Biden administration to drive the transition to clean energy and gave special emphasis on the carbon-free electricity component.
“The government has the same capability that big companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook do to decide what kind of electricity they want to buy and use their market leverage to save money and ensure a cleaner electrical supply,” Wetstone told Jeremy.
“That trend among big corporations to going out and buying their own clean electricity has really already had a big impact on the nation's grid, and adding the full might of the federal government — which has 300,000 buildings, 600,000 vehicles, and a lot of purchasing power — is going to make a real difference,” he added.
And an “against”: Republican Sen. John Barrasso, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and frequent critic of the Biden administration’s energy policies, hit the order as a project to “build bigger bureaucracy.”
“With this action, he’s telling millions of Americans who provide most of the energy we use every day that he thinks they should be thrown out of work,” Barrasso said in a statement. “What’s worse, he wants to use the power of the federal government to do it.”
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HOUSE BILL TARGETS NRC FEES: Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzalez and Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria introduced legislation yesterday that would eliminate review fees that advanced reactor project developers have to pay to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for their license applications.
The Accelerating Nuclear Innovation through Fee Reform Act would cut the fees for nuclear projects using both fission and fusion. The lawmakers in statements pitched their measure as a means of enabling innovation of technologies that Congress supported with $2.5 billion in funding the bipartisan infrastructure law.
TESLA LEADS CLIMATE INVESTMENT INDEX: Investment advisory firm Carbon Collective released an updated index of leading “climate solution stocks,” and electric vehicle powerhouse Tesla stands at the top of the pack.
Carbon Collective gave Tesla its highest possible rating due to the fact that it “generates 100% of its revenue from Drawdown solutions,” or solutions that drive emissions downward, with its electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage products.
HOUSE APPROVES UYGHUR FORCED LABOR BILL: House lawmakers in bipartisan fashion passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act yesterday, which would bar products, including solar imports, from the Xinjiang region without proof from importers that the they were not manufactured with forced labor.
While Republican and Democratic lawmakers hailed the vote as a check on Chinese human rights abuses, the measure has potential to disrupt the import of materials needed to construct solar panels, a key piece of Democrats’ energy and climate agenda. China produced 68% of the world’s polysilicon, the most common semiconductor material used in panels’ photovoltaic cells, in 2019, per the International Energy Agency. In 2020, that number rose to around 80%, with about half of that estimated to have come from Xinjiang.
Biden administration officials have recognized the inherent tensions between its energy goals, maintaining the global solar supply chain, and holding China accountable for treatment of the Uyghur minority, with Climate Envoy John Kerry acknowledging in May, “It is a problem.”
Since, national security adviser Jake Sullivan has said that Biden “believes that we can both take a strong stand against forced labor, against slave labor anywhere it occurs, including in Xinjiang, and at the same time, cultivate and develop a robust, resilient, effective solar supply chain.” That would require a major boost in domestic polysilicon production, as the U.S. accounted for only about 6% of global output of the material in 2019.
TRADE COMMISSION RECOMMENDS SOLAR TARIFF EXTENSION: The U.S. International Trade Commission has recommended that Biden extend tariffs on solar cell and module imports, most of which come from Asia, that former President Donald Trump imposed while in office.
USITC made a determination last month that “import relief provided beginning in 2018 to the U.S. industry producing crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells … continues to be necessary” to keep domestic manufacturers competitive. The commission formally sent its recommendation to Biden yesterday.
Abigail Ross Hopper, who heads the Solar Energy Industries Association, said an extension “will hold us back” from Biden’s clean energy goals and urged him to support policies incentivizing domestic production of solar inputs rather than issuing duties on imports on which U.S. solar panel installers rely.
YOUNGKIN TO TAKE VIRGINIA OUT OF REGIONAL CAP-AND-TRADE MARKET: Republican governor-elect Glenn Youngkin plans to withdraw Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the carbon cap-and-trade market among mid-Atlantic and New England states.
“RGGI describes itself as a regional market for carbon. It is really a carbon tax that is fully passed on to ratepayers,” Youngkin told the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, according to the Washington Post.
Financial Times Oil and gas majors compete to recruit talent in shift to greener future
Associated Press Food waste becomes California’s newest climate change target
THURSDAY | DEC. 9
1:30 p.m. 210 Cannon The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will hold a hearing entitled “Cleaner, cheaper energy: Climate investments to help families and businesses.”