Grid nationalization discussion in the UK

National Grid says state ownership would delay UK’s move to green energy Many publications report on reaction to the Labour Party’s plans, if elected, to renationalise the energy network. Reuters reports that UK energy network firms have been “rattled” by the proposal. National Grid has said in a statement that “proposals for state ownership of the energy networks would only serve to delay the huge amount of progress and investment that is already helping to make this country a leader in the move to green energy”, according to Reuters. Press Association reports further comments from National Grid, which describes Labour’s plans as “an enormous distraction” to efforts to decarbonise.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the news of Labour’s energy plans “wiped more than £500m off SSE and National Grid”, while the Daily Mail reports that the plans “would hit pensions”. The Sun says the plans would mean “Britain faces black outs”. The Guardian reports that the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said the move “would make the country poorer” and “hinder efforts to tackle climate change”. Matthew Fell, the CBI’s chief UK policy director, tells the Guardian: “Much-needed investment is drying up under Labour’s threats, which seriously risks hampering efforts to tackle climate change, and puts in doubt the innovation that will deliver a net-zero carbon economy.“ However, the Labour party says it considers nationalisation “a central part” of its plans to tackle climate change, the Guardian adds, “with the party arguing that the profits generated from [energy] infrastructure should be invested in the green economy rather than given to shareholders in the form of dividends”. The Labour Party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow energy secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey will officially present the party’s energy proposal later today, BBC News reports. BusinessGreen also covers Labour’s plans for nationalising the energy network.

Elsewhere, several UK publications report on another key part of Labour’s energy plans. The party has pledged to install solar panels on the rooftops of more than one million social and low-income homes, the Times reports. Labour said the programme, which is also due to be announced later today, would “would create 16,900 jobs and save 7.1m tonnes of CO2 a year, equivalent to taking 4m cars off the roads”, the Guardian reports.

Corbyn told the Guardian: “In this country, too often people are made to feel like the cost of saving the planet falls on them. Too many think of green measures as just another way for companies or the government to get money out of them, while the rich fly about in private jets and heat their empty mansions.” He added that Labour’s plans for a “green industrial revolution” would “benefit working-class people with cheaper energy bills, more rewarding well-paid jobs and new industries to revive the parts of our country that have been held back for far too long”. The Daily Mirror covers the story with the headline: “Labour want to install 2million solar panels on your homes to cut energy bills.

States aren’t waiting for the Trump administration on environmental protections The Washington Post | Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin

More than a dozen states are moving to strengthen environmental protections to combat a range of issues from climate change to water pollution, opening a widening rift between stringent state policies and the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda. In recent months, Hawaii, New York and California have moved to ban a widely used agricultural pesticide linked to neurological problems in children, even as the administration has resisted such restrictions. Michigan and New Jersey are pushing to restrict a ubiquitous class of chemical compounds that have turned up in drinking water, saying they can no longer wait for the Environmental Protection Agency to take action. Colorado and New Mexico have adopted new policies targeting greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel drilling and limiting where these operations can take place. And more than a dozen states have adopted policies that would force automakers to produce more fuel-efficient cars than required by federal standards. The growing patchwork of regulations is creating uncertainty for American businesses as state lawmakers vie to change rules that, in past administrations, were more likely to be set at the federal level. “At the end of the day, I think regulated entities want to know what the expectations are,” said Wendy Heiger-Bernays, an environmental health professor at Boston University. “They’d prefer not to have two different standards – one in one state and another in another state.” Local officials say the jumble of policies also threatens to create disparities, not only in obligations placed on businesses but also in the level of protections guarding human health in different communities. “It is difficult to communicate to your customers that New Jersey or Minnesota or Vermont has evaluated the risk to their residents differently, and that one state places a lower value on protection of public health than another,” Brian Steglitz, the water treatment manager for Ann Arbor, Mich., said last week in testimony before a panel of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. […] In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown (D) is expected to sign a bill this week to codify federal clean air and clean water standards that were in place before Trump took office, making them enforceable under state law even if the White House rolls them back. […] At least a half-dozen states have pushed forward with their own plans to limit a class of compounds known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, saying ample evidence exists to regulate them. The lab-made compounds have long been used in consumer products such as nonstick pans, water-repellent fabrics and firefighting foams. Long-term exposure has been associated with an array of health problems, including thyroid disease, weakened immunity, infertility and certain cancers, though researchers continue to study the human health implications. Because PFAS do not break down in the environment, they have become known as “forever chemicals.” Catherine McCabe, an EPA veteran, is now the top environmental official in New Jersey, which has proposed one of the nation’s most stringent standards for PFAS in drinking water. The state also is trying to compel five chemical manufacturers, including 3M and Dupont, to fund tests for the chemicals and to clean up contamination. […] Given the health threat, however, McCabe said the need for action is urgent. “I would love to wait if [federal officials] were moving quickly, but they are not,” she said. “We can’t wait any longer.”

Trump’s EPA shifts more environmental enforcement to states Associated Press | Ellen Knickmeyer

For years, when Bokoshe residents were outside, the powdery ash blowing from the trucks and the ash dump on the edge of town would “kind of engulf you,” Holmes said. “They drove by, and you just couldn’t breathe.” Over three decades, the ash dump grew into a hill five stories high. Townspeople regard the Environmental Protection Agency as the only source of serious environmental enforcement. Whenever people took their worries about ash-contaminated air and water to state lawmakers and regulators, “none of them cared,” Holmes said. […] Around the country, the EPA under Trump is delegating a widening range of public health and environmental enforcement to states, saying local officials know best how to deal with local problems. Critics contend federal regulators are making a dangerous retreat on enforcement that puts people and the environment at greater risk. One administration initiative would give states more authority over emissions from coal-fired power plants. Another would remove federal protections for millions of miles of waterways and wetlands. Some states and counties say the EPA is also failing to act against threats from industrial polluters, including growing water contamination from a widely used class of nonstick industrial compounds. Michigan, New Jersey and some other states say they are tackling EPA-size challenges – like setting limits for the contaminants in drinking water – while appealing to the real EPA to act. In Houston’s oil and gas hub, local officials and residents say a lax EPA response to toxic spills during Hurricane Harvey left the public in the dark about health threats and handicapped efforts to hold companies responsible for cleaning up. Nationwide, EPA inspections, evaluations and enforcement actions have fallen sharply over the past two years, some to the lowest points in decades, or in history. […] Then and now, some states lack the resources and legal authority to police big polluters. And crucially, Ruckelshaus said, some states just don’t want to. They see routine environmental enforcement as a threat to business and jobs. […] Congressional Democrats allege Trump is selective in his passion for state sovereignty and has blocked states that want tighter environmental enforcement. They point to the president’s call to revoke California’s authority under the Clean Air Act to set tougher mileage standards than those Trump wants, among other examples.

Louisiana’s new climate plan prepares for resilience and retreat as sea level rises InsideClimate News | Sabrina Shankman

When the storms keep coming, when the land below your feet erodes and the industry that has sustained you starts to disappear, how do you stay in the place you call home? How do you leave-where do you even go? Since Hurricane Katrina battered Louisiana in 2005, followed by a series of disasters linked to climate change and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, these questions have plagued coastal parts of the state. In a sweeping plan released Wednesday, the state issued a blueprint for coping with the impacts of a warming planet, including a human migration that has already begun. […] The plan, Louisiana’s Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments (LA SAFE), looks at future flood risks in six coastal parishes and recommends a series of policy changes that could help mitigate those risks-from enhanced transportation routes to elevated houses and new urban centers. […]Louisiana is among the most flood-prone states in the nation. It has lost nearly 2,000 square miles of land since the 1930s, and could lose 4,000 square miles more over the next 50 years, according to the report. It’s not just along the coast, either-every one of the 64 parishes in the state has flooded in the past five years. With global warming fueling sea level rise, and land in the delta subsiding, local leaders need to be prepared to support “planned retreats from areas that are becoming unsustainable,” the state plan says. That means being prepared to offer safe, affordable housing, job training and other economic opportunities, as well as basic services. The plan also stresses the importance of addressing the “complex social and culture needs” of coastal communities and residents who are forced from their homes by rising water, and developing “a sense of place that helps build community.”