Daily Digest

White House considers weakening offshore oil drilling regulations

REGULATIONS: President Trump is considering whether to relax safety rules for offshore oil drilling that were put in place after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. (NPR)

SHALE: U.S. crude oil production is nearing record highs, thanks to drilling in major shale oil fields around the country, including in West Virginia. (Washington Post)

COAL ASH:
• A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against Kentucky Utilities over coal ash pollution in one of the state’s lakes, saying it should be addressed by state regulators and not the court. (WFPL)
• Tennessee regulators say it should not cost ratepayers more money or take as long as the TVA utility has estimated to conduct a court-ordered coal ash cleanup. (Associated Press)

NUCLEAR:
• Research economists predict fallout from South Carolina’s failed Summer nuclear plant project will enter a new stage as power companies, regulators and lawmakers continue to pick up the pieces. (Post and Courier)
• Work has quietly continued on Georgia’s Vogtle nuclear plant project and included a major milestone as state regulators considered – and ultimately approved – proceeding with the long-delayed and significantly over-budget construction. (Savannah Morning News)

UTILITIES:
• An analysis funded by opponents shows if the sale of a West Virginia coal-fired plant goes through, manufacturers, schools, and hospitals in the state would pay about $230 million more on their utility bills over 15 years. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
• A South Carolina newspaper examines how utility companies have wined and dined the public officials who set rates for water, electricity and natural gas and also approved rate hikes for the state’s now-failed nuclear project. (Post and Courier)

SOLAR:
• Solar advocates in North Carolina agree on a Duke Energy nominee to run a new bidding program, which, if approved by regulators, could advertise for new solar construction in May. (Charlotte Business Journal, subscription)
• A 20 MW solar farm is now connected to the energy grid in Tallahassee, Florida, and generates 2 percent of the city’s total power supply. (Tallahassee Democrat)

WIND: Environmentalists are blaming the federal utility TVA for the failure of a $2.5 billion effort to bring more renewable energy into the Tennessee Valley. (Times Free Press)

PIPELINES: A list of major events in the development of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project during 2017. (Wilson Times)

POLICY: Environmental advocates in North Carolina say a new governor and changes within the Department of Environmental Quality have positively impacted issues including coal ash and offshore drilling. (Coastal Review Online)

COAL: A West Virginia coal miner was killed on the job on Dec. 29, bringing the total number of U.S. coal mining fatalities to 15 for 2017. (West Virginia Public Broadcasting)

COMMENTARY:
• A Forbes contributor predicts around 35 states will have natural gas as their main source of electricity by 2022, adding that nowhere is this more clear than in Florida.
• Tech journalist Clive Thompson says clean energy is “the new Silicon Valley—filled with giddy, breathtaking ingenuity and flat-out good news.” (Wired)

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