Wednesday's energy & environment stories

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Apr 7, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Report: Energy jobs pay far above the national average

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Data: Energy Futures Initiative et al. report; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

New data shows both the promise and peril of the White House push to speed deployment of renewables while also accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels.

Driving the news: A report on energy industry wages across sectors shows that they're far above the national median and more likely to provide healthcare and retirement benefits than the national average.

Drought stokes fears of severe fire season in West

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Reproduced from the U.S. Drought Monitor; Chart: Sara Wise

It's only early April, but parts of the West are already at mid-July levels of dryness — and scientists are warning that the upcoming fire season could be destructive.

Why it matters: This summer will mark one year since the West Coast experienced a historic spate of wildfires. The prospect of another severe fire season, along with concerns about water supplies, is raising questions about how to prepare the region for the ravages of climate change.

White House claims climate credibility before summit

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The White House is making the case that its climate moves to date create enough credibility to press other nations to bolster their commitments at an upcoming summit.

Where it stands: Congress has barely begun digesting President Biden's proposed $2.2 trillion infrastructure package that's stuffed with the biggest clean energy investments any president has put forward. But a top official hinted Tuesday that it would rely on all the climate policy moves it has set into motion when Biden convenes world leaders for a virtual White House climate summit on April 22-23.

Cold snap caused most Texas outages during storm, grid operator says

The U.S. and Texas flags fly in front of high voltage transmission towers in Houston in February. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Weather-related problems were the leading cause of Texas power plants going offline during February's record cold snap that left millions of Texans in the dark, a preliminary report published Tuesday states.

Why it matters: These initial findings from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the flow of electric power in the state, indicate that many facilities were unable to cope with the extreme weather.

PG&E faces 33 criminal charges for 2019 wildfire

A vehicle burned out by the Kincade Fire in Geyserville, Calif. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A California prosecutor on Tuesday filed 33 criminal charges against Pacific Gas & Electric for the 2019 Kincade Fire, which injured six firefighters, destroyed hundreds of homes and forced nearly 200,000 people to evacuate.

Driving the news: Cal Fire concluded that the October 2019 fire was caused by a jumper cable on a PG&E transmission tower that broke due to high winds. PG&E on Tuesday acknowledged that its transmission line caused the fire, but the company did not agree that a crime was committed.

Apr 6, 2021 - Economy & Business

GM to build electric Chevy Silverado pickup in Detroit

2021 Chevrolet Silverado. An electric version is coming soon. Photo: GM

General Motors announced Tuesday it will introduce an electric version of its popular Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck that will be built at the company’s Factory ZERO assembly plant in Detroit.

Why it matters: GM is rapidly expanding its portfolio of battery-operated vehicles, with a plan to deliver more than 1 million EVs globally by 2025. It just unveiled the GMC Hummer electric SUV last weekend, joining the previously announced GMC Hummer electric pickup.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Apr 6, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Biden's climate balancing act with China

Data: Global Carbon Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

Partner? Rival? When it comes to China and climate policy, the White House answer to both questions seems to be yes.

Driving the news: The last few days underscore the delicate role that China is playing in White House climate efforts.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Apr 6, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Think tank launches climate news outlet powered by former Greentech Media staff

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The clean energy think tank RMI just launched a nonprofit journalism arm called Canary Media that's staffed by well-known names in energy and climate reporting.

The big picture: Canary will be "at the forefront of the clean energy transition" with a mission to cover global efforts to fight climate change, per RMI, formerly the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Australian scientists sound alarm over Paris climate goals

A car is seen half submerged in the flood on March 24, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Flavio Brancaleone/Getty Images

The Australian Academy of Science quietly released a report on March 31 that underlines the stakes of President Biden’s April 22 climate summit and the next U.N. climate confab in Glasgow.

The big picture: The report, produced by Australia’s equivalent to the Royal Society of London, heaps doubt upon the feasibility of the Paris Agreement's target of limiting global warming to “well below” 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) compared to preindustrial levels by 2100.

Updated Apr 6, 2021 - World

New Zealand to open quarantine-free "travel bubble" with Australia

Australian Prime Minster Scott Morrison and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Sydney, Australia, in February last year. Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images

New Zealand will open a quarantine-free "travel bubble" with Australia from 11:59pm on April 18, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: New Zealand tourism industry official Chris Roberts and Michael Barnett, an NZ Chamber of Commerce director, told Axios the plan could serve as a model for other countries.