Wednesday's energy & environment stories

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jun 9, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The Keystone XL pipeline is officially dead

A tanker truck trailer in a field along the Keystone XL pipeline route near Oyen, Alberta, Canada, on Wednesday, Jan. 27. Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images

The developer of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline abandoned the project Wednesday after a decade-plus effort.

Why it matters: TC Energy's decision ends one of the century's highest profile battles over climate change and energy. But the move is unsurprising.

Biden pushes for increased protections for streams and waterways, reversing Trump-era rollback

Lake Okeechobee in Florida. Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Biden administration is pushing to increase federal environmental protections for "streams, marshes and other wetlands," effectively reversing a Trump-era rollback, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: The move is likely to restart a "decades-long battle over how far federal officials can go to stop contaminants from entering small streams and other wetlands," per the Post.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jun 9, 2021 - Energy & Environment

EVs are surging, but not enough to meet climate goals

Data: BloombergNEF; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

A new analysis finds the outlook for electric vehicle deployment is "getting much brighter," but it's off pace for meeting aggressive midcentury targets for cutting carbon emissions from transportation.

Why it matters: The research firm BloombergNEF provides closely watched analyses on the evolution of the battery-electric and fuel cell sector — not only passenger cars but also buses, heavy trucks and more.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jun 9, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Shell vows faster climate push after Dutch court ruling

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Shell said Wednesday it would accelerate its clean energy and climate efforts following a major Dutch court ruling last month that ordered faster greenhouse gas emissions cuts.

Why it matters: CEO Ben van Beurden's announcement signals how the landmark court ruling could tangibly affect one of the world's most powerful oil giants, even though Shell plans to appeal the decision.

Lordstown Motors warns it may go out of business

Photo: Dustin Franz/Getty Images

Lordstown Motors had plans to build its first electric pickup trucks this year, but the company revealed in a regulatory filing Tuesday that it doesn't have enough cash to begin production. The company's stock dropped more than 16% on the news.

Why it matters: Lordstown is one of several pre-revenue EV companies that public market investors have begun to view more critically after they went through SPAC (special purpose acquisition) mergers last year.

Study: Greenhouse gases from food systems vastly underestimated

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases from activities connected to growing and consuming food have been significantly underestimated, and may be twice as large as previously thought, new research finds.

Why it matters: Agriculture is already known to be one of the largest contributors to human-caused global warming. If the sector's emissions are larger than thought, it could mean the world will see more warming than anticipated.

Tyson Foods to aim for net-zero emissions by 2050

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Tyson Foods announced this morning that it will strive to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across its global operations and supply chain by 2050.

Why it matters: Tyson is the largest meat producer in the United States. And agriculture, including livestock and manure emissions, is the largest source of methane emissions in the U.S.

NZ report recommends drastic methane emissions cuts to meet climate goals

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a May news conference in Queenstown, New Zealand. Photo: Joe Allison/Getty Images

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a speech Wednesday that the climate crisis was a matter of "life or death," as a blueprint for meeting her government's ambitious green targets was unveiled.

Driving the news: The Climate Commission, an independent body advising the government, outlines in its report what the country needs to do to meet its target for 2050 of producing zero carbon emissions — including reducing biogenic methane emissions by 24% to 47%, with no new household gas connections by 2025.

U.S. Navy uses drone to refuel in midair for the first time

Photo: U.S. Navy

The U.S. Navy has used a drone to refuel a fighter jet in midair for the "first time ever," according to a statement.

Why it matters: The test shows that drones can now be used for tasks beyond reconnaissance missions or shooting targets, freeing up the Navy's costly crewed fighter jets for other operations.

As early season heat roasts U.S., records tumble in Middle East

The "Misery Index" on June 6,, showing extremely hot conditions across the Middle East and parts of South Asia. (Earth.nullschool.net)

At the same time as much of the Lower 48 states are seeing temperatures soar through the 90s, an unusually severe heat wave for this time of year has also struck the Middle East.

Why it matters: While these extreme weather events have roots in various weather systems, human-caused climate change is raising the odds and worsening the severity of extreme heat events worldwide.

Alaska Native group reaches deal to protect land from massive Pebble Mine project

The Newhalen River, located about 20 miles from the proposed Pebble Mine site. Photo: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Pedro Bay Corporation, an Alaska Native group that owns land near Bristol Bay, sold conservation easements on more than 44,000 acres to the environmental nonprofit Conservation Fund, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The deal makes a large portion of the land, where backers of the Pebble Mine had hoped to build a gold mining road, off-limits to future development, standing in the way of Pebble Limited Partnership's massive project.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jun 8, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The huge gap between today's policies and Paris goals

Data: Resources for the Future report; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

The think tank Resources for the Future on Tuesday released its latest report comparing various projections and scenarios around emissions, energy demand and more.

The big picture: The energy analyst hive mind is pretty united around the conclusion that nations' current and planned climate policies won't come close to meeting the goals of the Paris climate deal.

Exclusive: New York project to combine solar power with high-speed broadband

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A new type of housing initiative kicking off in New York City seeks to address two major problems facing the U.S. today: The lack of widespread, high-speed broadband access for low-income residents, and the need to more widely deploy clean energy technologies.

Why it matters: The project is a unique marriage between two of the Biden administration's top infrastructure policy goals, except on a local level.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jun 8, 2021 - Energy & Environment

White House vows new moves to shore up battery supply chain

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The White House is pledging a multi-agency push to spur more U.S. battery manufacturing and sustainable mining — both domestically and abroad — of raw materials used in battery tech.

Why it matters: The administration wants to speed U.S. market growth of electric cars and grid storage, but a global scramble for batteries and materials poses hurdles for companies and governments alike.