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Politics

Biden’s LNG Permitting Pause Is No More

On liquified natural gas exports, BYD vs. Tesla, and heat protections

Biden’s LNG Permitting Pause Is No More
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: Raging wildfires are forcing evacuations on several Greek islands • More rain is forecast for China’s sodden rice growing regions • Temperatures in Death Valley could reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit early next week.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Judge blocks Biden’s LNG permitting pause

A federal court last night blocked President Biden’s pause on permits for new liquefied natural gas export terminals. The administration issued a temporary moratorium on new LNG approvals in January, allowing the Energy Department to study what effect terminals have on the climate, a move seen as a big win for climate activists. But it was quickly followed by a lawsuit from 16 states accusing the administration of violating federal law. A Trump-appointed judge in Louisiana agreed that the pause was hurting states, and said it was “completely without reason or logic and is perhaps the epiphany of ideocracy [sic].” The Energy Department disagreed with the ruling and is considering its next steps. Some early reaction and analysis to the news:

  • “The ruling represents the latest example of how the judiciary is increasingly constraining President Biden’s climate goals at the behest of conservative and corporate challengers.” –Maxine Joselow at The Washington Post.
  • A “major victory for American energy.” –Louisiana Attorney General Liz Murrill.
  • “We remain committed to informing our decisions with the best available economic and environmental analysis, underpinned by sound science.” –White House spokesman Angelo Fernández Hernández.
  • “Although the court order immediately enjoins the pause, the short-term practical effects are likely to be minimal.” –Jennifer A. Dlouhy at Bloomberg News.

2. Hurricane Beryl gains strength and aims for Jamaica

Hurricane Beryl has strengthened into a monster category 5 storm, the earliest storm of that magnitude ever to form in the Atlantic in recorded history. The system slammed into Grenada’s Carriacou Island, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines, leaving catastrophic damage in its wake. “In half an hour, Carriacou was flattened,” Grenada’s Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell said. The National Hurricane Center said the storm had maximum sustained winds of 165 miles per hour and was “still intensifying” this morning as it headed toward Jamaica. “Hurricane Beryl could never have formed where and when it did were it not for the unprecedented heat in the Atlantic Ocean,” wrote Jake Bittle at Grist, noting that surface temperatures are as much as 3 or 4 degrees Fahrenheit above average.

3. Analysts expect Q2 drop in Tesla deliveries

Tesla is expected to report Q2 deliveries today. Analysts think the EV maker will show a 6% drop in deliveries compared to the same period last year, marking the second declining quarter in a row. The company has “few excuses for its sales slowdown,” wrote Dana Hull and Kara Carlson at Bloomberg. The problem is straightforward, they added: “Tesla’s older lineup of vehicles is having a harder time keeping up with fresher offerings from rival EV manufacturers.”

Meanwhile, Chinese EV powerhouse BYD just reported its highest ever monthly sales of new energy vehicles, and a 21% rise in EV sales for the second quarter. The total number of vehicles sold (426,039) is about 12,000 short of what is expected from Tesla, but the gap is closing.

4. Biden administration proposes federal rules to protect workers from heat

The Biden administration today put forward a proposal to “establish the nation’s first-ever federal safety standard addressing excessive heat in the workplace.” The rules would require employers to identify heat hazards, have response plans for heat illness and heat emergencies, and provide access to shade, water, and rest breaks. New workers would also need to be acclimatized to higher temperatures. A White House official toldThe Associated Press that we’d see more penalties for heat-related violations in workplaces. If finalized, the rule would apply to about 36 million workers and reduce heat-related health problems in the workplace significantly. The plan is “likely to face legal challenges from businesses and lobbying groups that have staunchly opposed such a measure,” The Guardianreported.

Also today, the EPA will publish a new report outlining how climate change continues to affect the U.S., so be on the lookout for that.

5. ITER fusion project completes its magnet system

An international fusion mega-project long in the making has received a delivery of 19 massive, 56-foot-tall magnets that are essential for controlling and confining the reactions that will take place inside its tokamak. Here is a rendering of the magnets surrounding the tokamak (human for scale!):

ITER

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, which is under construction in southern France, will be the world's largest experimental fusion facility once completed. It is designed to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion power, which is the process by which stars produce energy and, if harnessed on Earth, could provide abundant clean energy. While the delivery of the magnets is a big step, the ITER project is struggling with delays and mounting costs. Its first fusion reaction was slated to happen next year but that timeline was recently pushed back by 10 years to 2035. Another large fusion reactor called JT-60SA fired up last October in Japan.

THE KICKER

A new bill set to be signed into law in Michigan will prohibit the state’s homeowners’ associations from banning projects that improve a home’s energy efficiency, like rooftop solar or EV chargers.


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Jessica  Hullinger profile image

Jessica Hullinger

Jessica Hullinger is a freelance writer and editor who likes to think deeply about climate science and sustainability. She previously served as Global Deputy Editor for The Week, and her writing has been featured in publications including Fast Company, Popular Science, and Fortune. Jessica is originally from Indiana but lives in London.

Politics

AM Briefing: A Quick RNC Energy Recap

On Doug Burgum’s speech, green steel, and electric jets

What Republicans Have Been Saying About Energy at the RNC
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: The Acropolis in Greece was closed yesterday due to excessive heat • The Persian Gulf International Airport recorded a heat index of 149 degrees Fahrenheit • Recent flooding in Brazil exposed a 233-million-year-old dinosaur fossil.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Republicans slam Biden energy policy at RNC

Energy hasn’t dominated the conversation at the Republican National Convention this week, but it’s certainly been a talking point. Last night North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum gave a speech focusing on the topic. “Teddy Roosevelt encouraged America to speak softly and carry a big stick,” Burgum said. “Energy dominance will be the big stick that President Trump will carry.” He accused President Biden of making Russia and Iran “filthy rich” with his energy policies, blamed him for higher electric bills and grid problems, and said “four more years of Joe will usher in an era of Biden brownouts and blackouts.” Oh, and he promised that Trump would “let all of you keep driving your gas-powered cars.” CNN called the speech “Burgum’s audition to be energy secretary.”

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Technology

Florida’s Climate Tech Hub Has a Florida Problem

One of the most vulnerable states in the U.S. wants nothing to do with “climate change.”

A Florida postcard.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

The Biden administration loves a hub. There are the hydrogen hubs, the direct air capture hubs, and now there are the tech hubs. Established as a part of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, the $10 billion program has so far seeded 12 such hubs across the country. Four of these are focused on clean energy and sustainability, and one is located in the great state of Florida, which recently passed legislation essentially deleting the words “climate change” from state law.

The South Florida ClimateReady Tech Hub did not, in the end, eliminate climate from its name. But while Governor Ron DeSantis might not approve, the federal government didn’t seem to mind, as the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration awarded the hub $19.5 million to “advance its global leadership in sustainable and resilient infrastructure.”

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Climate

America Wasn’t Built for This

Why extreme heat messes with infrastructure.

Teton Pass.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

America is melting. Roads are buckling everywhere from Houston to Aurora, Colorado, and in June caused traffic jams in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Last week, a New York City bridge that had opened to let a ship pass got stuck after expanding in the heat, forcing thousands of commuters to detour. The mid-June heat wave led to thousands of flight delays; more recently, even Toronto’s Pearson International Airport warned travelers to brace for heat-related complications. Commuters along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor have been harried by heat-induced delays for weeks.

The train delays have affected an especially large population. The Northeast Corridor is the most trafficked commuter rail system in the country, with over 750,000 daily commuters. In late June, Amtrak notified customers that trains in the corridor could face delays of up to an hour in the coming weeks as heat interfered with tracks and overhead power lines. Since it issued that warning, tens of thousands of people have experienced heat-related delays.

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