Sign In or Create an Account.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy

Politics

Will SCOTUS Block a Major Air Pollution Rule?

On being a good neighbor, Rivian’s results, and China’s emissions

Will SCOTUS Block a Major Air Pollution Rule?
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: Heavy rain caused extreme flooding outside Rio de Janeiro • Japan is enduring record-breaking warm winter weather • It’ll be 72 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny at Peoria Stadium in Arizona for the MLB’s first spring training game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Supreme Court weighs challenge to EPA pollution rule

The Supreme Court this week has been hearing arguments in what CNN called “the most significant environmental dispute at the high court this year,” and things aren’t looking good for the Environmental Protection Agency. Several states and energy companies want to block the EPA’s “good neighbor” plan, which seeks to impose strict emissions limits on industrial activities in 23 states in an effort to prevent pollution from drifting across state lines and forming dangerous smog. Challengers say the regulation is overreaching and want its implementation delayed. Yesterday the court’s conservative majority appeared skeptical of the EPA’s authority, citing the fact that lower court decisions have paused the regulation in 12 states.

Environmental groups worry a ruling against the EPA here could set a dangerous precedent. “The Supreme Court — if it were to block this rule — would effectively be saying to industry, ‘Look, any time you face costs from a regulation, come on up and take a shot. We might block that rule for you,’” Sam Sankar, senior vice president for programs at Earthjustice, told E&E News.

2. Rivian to cut 10% of salaried workers

Rivian released its Q4 earnings yesterday, and the results were a mixed bag. The company saw $4.4 billion in annual revenue, up 167% from 2022, but it still lost more money per vehicle ($43,000) in Q4 than in the two quarters prior. It also forecast no growth in vehicle production for 2024, and said it will cut 10% of its staff as EV sales growth slows. “We firmly believe in the full electrification of the automotive industry, but recognize in the short-term, the challenging macro-economic conditions,” CEO RJ Scaringe said. The company is expected to unveil its smaller, more affordable R2 electric SUV in two weeks. Scaringe has called the vehicle “Rivian’s version of the Tesla Model 3.”

3. America will soon get its first Stellantis EV

In more EV news, Stellantis announced that its first U.S.-bound electric vehicles have rolled off the assembly lines in Italy this week and will arrive stateside by the end of the first quarter. The first dealer allocations of the Fiat 500e models sold out in less than a week. The car is lightweight, has a range of about 150 miles, and is one of the cheapest EVs in the U.S., starting at $32,500. Globally it has sold more than 185,000 units, but Stellantis seems to know Americans like big cars, and reportedly plans to launch electric pickups, SUVs, and muscle cars.

Fiat 500eStellantis

4. China’s climate targets in jeopardy as CO2 emissions rise

China’s carbon emissions increased by 12% between 2020 and 2023, putting its 2025 climate goals in jeopardy, according to analysis from Carbon Brief. One reason for the emissions uptick is that drought has reduced output from hydropower, forcing China to rely more on coal. “China has approved 218 GW of new coal power in just two years, enough to supply electricity to the whole of Brazil,” reportedReuters. But at the same time, huge amounts of renewable energy are coming online. This presents a strange contradiction: Coal plants will see less use, which could spark outcry from all the new coal plant operators, and “potential pushback against the energy transition,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst for the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air. China is the world’s biggest CO2 emitter.

5. ‘World’s most sustainable company’ sued for pollution

Radius Recycling, the metal recycling giant that research firm Corporate Knights last year dubbed the “world’s most sustainable company,” is being sued by an environmental group for allegedly polluting the San Francisco Bay with heavy metals and other pollutants, Reutersreported. Radius makes “some of the lowest-carbon emissions steel made in the world,” but has recently pivoted to focus more on recycling metals. The lawsuit, brought by San Francisco Baykeeper, accuses the company of failing to limit pollution from its operations. Last year Radius settled in three similar lawsuits.

THE KICKER

Sales of plug-in hybrids increased by 83% in China last year, compared with 21% growth for fully-electric battery powered vehicles.

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. Read More

Read More
Climate

A Big Week for Batteries

Texas and California offered intriguing, opposing examples of what batteries can do for the grid.

A battery.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

While cold winters in the south and hot summers across the country are the most dramatic times for electricity usage — with air conditioners blasting as weary workers return home or inefficient electric heaters strain to keep toes warm from Chattanooga to El Paso before the sun is up — it may be early spring that gives us the most insight into the lower-emitting grid of the future.

In California, America’s longtime leader in clean energy deployment, the combination of mild temperatures and longer days means that solar power can do most of the heavy lifting. And in Texas — whose uniquely isolated, market-based and permissive grid is fast becoming the source of much of the country’s clean power growth — regulators allow the state’s vast fleet of natural gas power (and some coal) power plants to shut down for maintenance during the mild weather, giving renewables time to shine.

Keep reading...Show less
Electric Vehicles

The Cybertruck Recall Is Different

Tesla has dealt with quality control issues before — but never with a robotaxi on the horizon.

The Tesla logo.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

You have to give TikTok user el.chapito1985 credit for not panicking. In a video posted a few days ago, he explained how the cover on his Tesla Cybertruck accelerator pedal came loose and then wedged itself in just the right spot to leave the pedal stuck in floor-it position.

The poster said he managed to stop the truck by slamming the brake, which overrode the accelerator, and putting the vehicle in park. But his experience certainly explains Tesla’s newest predicament: It will recall all the Cybertrucks currently on the road to fix the sticky accelerator issue.

Keep reading...Show less
Blue
Offshore wind.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Things are looking down again for New York’s embattled offshore wind industry.

The state is abandoning all three of the offshore wind projects it awarded conditional contracts to last October, after failing to secure final agreements with any of the developers, Politico reported Friday.

Keep reading...Show less
Blue