News Roundups

Solar jobs must quadruple, Kerry says we have to end fossil fuel subsidies, and more

Weekly news headlines about the stimulus and recovery from May 7, 2021

US Climate Envoy John Kerry Says 'We Just Have to End' Fossil Fuel Subsidies

John Kerry, President Joe Biden's Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, said Tuesday that "we just have to end the subsides" for fossil fuels to tackle the climate emergency.

Kerry made the remarks during a virtual panel—entitled "aising the Bar on Climate Ambition: Road to COP 26"—which was part of the Asian Development Bank's annual meeting.

"It's illogical," Kerry said of the subsidies, "at a moment we all know we have to incentive alternative, renewable, sustainable" energy.

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To Meet Biden's Clean Energy Target, Solar Jobs Must Grow Fourfold

President Joe Biden, as part of his infrastructure proposal, reiterated a campaign goal of reaching 100% carbon-free or clean electricity throughout the U.S. by 2035. Establishing a workforce will be a necessary step in reaching those goals, and according to a new report, more than 900,000 workers will be needed in the solar industry alone to support the 2035 target – four times higher than where the workforce stands today.

"We now have an opportunity to quadruple our workforce, adding diversity and supporting underserved communities by taking policy steps that incentivize solar and storage deployment and provide long-term certainty for solar businesses," said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, in a release about the report.

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New Survey Finds Surprisingly High Percentage Of Unionized Solar Jobs

Every year, the industry-backed Solar Foundation puts out a job census based on surveys of companies manufacturing, selling and installing photovoltaic panels across the country. For the past several years, the annual report has excluded how many solar workers belong to unions. 

“The last time we were tracking union labor, it was something like 3% of the overall workforce,” Ed Gilliland, the foundation’s senior director, told HuffPost in 2019. “It was a small number. We think it’s probably still pretty small.”

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Energy Transfer Made $2.4 Billion From Texas Winter Storm

Energy Transfer LP, the pipeline giant controlled by billionaire Kelcy Warren, has emerged as the biggest winner so far from the deadly winter storm that paralyzed Texas in February.

The company saw a positive earnings impact from the extreme weather of about $2.4 billion, it said Thursday in its first-quarter earnings statement. Energy Transfer raised its full-year earnings guidance to as much as $13.3 billion, from up to $11 billion previously. The stock jumped as much as 4.9% in after-hours trading.

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Oil Reaches Seven-Week High With Demand Revival Gaining Traction

Oil climbed to the highest since the middle of March as reopening efforts and vaccination pushes from the U.S. to Europe underpin hopes for a return to normal demand in the world’s largest economies.

Futures in New York gained 1.9% on Tuesday, the biggest daily jump in nearly three weeks, while gasoline futures settled at the highest since July 2018. The U.S. is setting a new target of 70% of U.S. adults receiving at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot by July 4, while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his country’s lockdown rules are set to be scrapped in seven weeks. That’s offsetting concerns about weaker oil consumption in parts of Asia, including key importer India, where Covid-19 remains rampant.

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North Dakota lawmakers throw lifelines to the coal industry

Preserving North Dakota's declining coal industry was a priority mission for state lawmakers when they arrived in Bismarck on Jan. 5, and in the months since, the Legislature has taken historic steps to slash taxes on coal producers and rewrite regulations to keep the fossil fuel source economically competitive.

Across the United States, coal power is on the wane. Hundreds of coal-fired power plants have been shuttered or slated for retirement in the last decade in the face of competition from cheap natural gas and an accelerating national transition toward renewable resources such as wind and solar.

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Proposed federal funds could help clean abandoned oil, gas wells in New Mexico

Roughly 700 abandoned oil and gas wells are scattered throughout the San Juan and Permian basins, many of them posing environmental hazards and all marring the landscape.

Also known as “orphaned” wells, they are unsightly reminders that not all operators have prospered in New Mexico’s lucrative fossil fuel industry. Some faded like ghosts and left taxpayers to clean up the mess.

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