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IF YOU NOAA, YOU KNOW: Obama NOAA leader joins Biden White House in climate role
Jane Lubchenco, who was the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) during the Obama administration is joining the White House to help lead climate and science efforts.
Lubchenco, who held the top role at the NOAA from 2009 to 2013, will take on the newly created position of deputy director for climate and environment at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
A statement from the White House said that she will bring an approach that connects climate and environment with health, economic recovery, equity and sustainability in an office that oversees major initiatives including the National Climate Assessment.
What’s next? That assessment is a major report that comes out every four years, previous versions of which have produced serious warnings about the limited time the U.S. has to act in order to prevent the most significant consequences of climate change.
“I’m eager to work with the stellar team at the White House and across the federal government to craft evidence-based solutions to climate and environmental challenges,” Lubchenco said.
Read more about the announcement here.
HEAT CRED: Climate change could reduce more than 60 countries’ credit ratings, says study
Dozens of countries could see a credit rating downgrade as a result of climate change, according to a study from researchers at the University of Cambridge, the University of East Anglia and SOAS University of London.
“We find that 63 [nations] suffer climate-induced downgrades of approximately 1.02 notches by 2030, rising to 80 sovereigns facing an average downgrade of 2.48 notches by 2100,” the researchers wrote.
The hardest-hit countries range all over the world, with China, Chile, Malaysia and Mexico among those projected to see downgrades of up to six notches by the end of the 21st century.
The U.S., along with Germany, Canada, India, Peru and Australia, are among those projected to see closer to four notches.
But researchers say everyone will be affected: “Our results show that virtually all countries, whether rich or poor, hot or cold, will suffer downgrades if the current trajectory of carbon emissions is maintained,” the report states.
Read more about the study here.
GIVE ME SOME SPACE: NASA climate official says agency has ‘renewed emphasis’ on practical science applications
NASA is seeing a “renewed emphasis” on practical applications of science under the Biden administration, the agency’s acting senior climate advisor Gavin Schmidt said Friday.
“The federal government doesn’t pivot on a dial quite as much as one thinks it should sometimes, but I think there is this renewed emphasis on making sure that the science that is being done is being done in the service of practical things that we need to be doing,” Schmidt, who is also director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, said in an interview.
The climate advisor role was created in February, and its duties include providing recommendations for agency leadership on climate-related science, technology and infrastructure programs.
What kind of things is NASA up to? Schmidt said that areas that have already been part of the agency’s climate portfolio include trying to reduce flight emissions and capturing carbon that’s emitted into the air.
“We’ve been doing stuff in aeronautics in terms of more efficient flying, we’ve been doing stuff with biofuels to get emissions down,” he said. “We’ve been doing stuff on direct air capture which turns out to be important for the space station but maybe that can be extended to [a] larger scale.”
Reminder: Schmidt said he’s just in the role in an acting capacity for now, because the agency didn’t want to do anything permanent before its leadership was established.
On Friday, President BidenJoe BidenThe Hill’s Morning Report — Presented by Facebook — Biden delivers 100 million shots in 58 days, doses to neighbors Advocates demand transparency in Biden migrant facilities The Memo: America faces long war with extremism MORE officially nominated former Florida Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonThe Hill’s Morning Report — Presented by Facebook — Biden delivers 100 million shots in 58 days, doses to neighbors Biden to nominate Bill Nelson to head NASA: reports The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by Facebook – Divided House on full display MORE (D) to lead NASA.
Read more from our interview with Schmidt here.
POWER RANKINGS: Nuclear, gas-generated electricity surpassed coal for first time in 2020
Nuclear-powered electricity generation surpassed coal-fired generation for the first time on record last year, according to an analysis released Thursday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
In 2020, natural gas generated 1.6 billion megawatt-hours (MWh) and nuclear power plants generated 790 million MWh, while coal-fired electricity was third with 774 million MWh, according to the EIA.
As of 2020, nuclear power in the U.S. had 97 gigawatts of capacity, less than half that of coal, but with a 93 percent capacity factor, more than that of coal.
Last year was the first time since at least 1949 that coal was neither the largest nor second-largest source of annual electricity generation in the country, according to the EIA.
Why the decline?: Coal-fired electricity generation has been on a decline in recent years as numerous coal-fired facilities have been retired or converted. Thursday’s report estimates coal-fired generation has declined 61 percent over the past 12 years.
Meanwhile, over the past decade, nuclear-powered generation has remained steady, with several plants retired, but several others increasing output after federal regulators increased the maximum power level at which they can operate.
Read more about the analysis here.
ELECTRIFYING: Ocasio-Cortez, Warren introduce bill to put $500 billion toward electric public transit
A measure introduced by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHave Biden and the Democrats already hit their high water mark? The Memo: Biden team’s Obama criticisms draw some blowback #MeWho? The hypocritical silence of Kamala Harris MORE (D-N.Y.) and Andy LevinAndrew (Andy) LevinAmazon union battle comes to Washington Democrats under pressure to deliver on labor’s ‘litmus test’ bill Democrats unveil bill to end tax break for investment managers MORE (D-Mich.) in the House and Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill’s Morning Report — Presented by Facebook — Biden delivers 100 million shots in 58 days, doses to neighbors Elizabeth Warren: Filibuster ‘has deep roots in racism’ Senate Democrats reintroduce bill to create financial transaction tax MORE (D-Mass.) and Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyHow to bridge the digital divide without widening partisan divides Rubio and bipartisan group of senators push to make daylight saving time permanent Activists sue facial recognition company over alleged privacy violations MORE (D-Mass.) in the Senate would put $500 billion toward electric public transportation infrastructure.
The Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development and Generating Renewable Energy to Electrify the Nation’s (Build Green) Infrastructure and Jobs Act includes $500 billion in grants over the next decade to electrify public transportation, including rail systems, buses and fleet vehicles. Local governments, port authorities, states and tribes would all be eligible to apply for grant funding.
Of the funds, at least $150 billion would be allocated for electric rails and vehicles and vehicle charging equipment.
Read more about the bill here.
ON TAP NEXT WEEK:
- The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing titled ” Building Back Better: Examining the Future of America’s Public Lands”
- The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing on the status of provisions from the Water Resources Development Act of 2020.
- The House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the January failure of Texas’ power grid
- The House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on the remediation and impact of PFAS. Erin Brockovich is slated to appear.
- The House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the CLEAN Future Act
- The Senate Indian Affairs committee will hold a hearing on water infrastructure needs for Native communities.
- The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on “incorporating natural infrastructure in western water management”
WHAT WE’RE READING:
Exclusive: Trump rule imperils more than 40,000 waterways, E&E News reports
‘In the dark of night’: Trump’s Interior chief snuck Murkowski an 11th-hour win, Politico reports
Wall Street May Finally Be Taking Climate Change Seriously, Mother Jones reports
Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyHaaland to travel to Utah to visit monuments shrunk under Trump Tensions flare over Senate filibuster A number of Republican lawmakers are saying no to COVID-19 vaccines MORE leans in on carbon tax to spur clean energy technology breakthroughs, The Washington Examiner reports
ICYMI: Stories from Thursday night and Friday…
Obama NOAA leader joins Biden White House in climate role
Nuclear, gas-generated electricity surpassed coal for first time in 2020
Ocasio-Cortez, Warren introduce bill to put $500 billion toward electric public transit
NOAA warns of water use cutbacks, fires and low levels in reservoirs amid significant drought
Study: Climate change could reduce more than 60 countries’ credit ratings
De Blasio touts city’s new climate bills: ‘This will make New York City safer, stronger’
US seeking to boost electric vehicle material production in Canada: Reuters
Haaland sworn in wearing traditional Native American skirt, moccasins
NASA climate official says agency has ‘renewed emphasis’ on practical science applications