Heat pump the brakes!
PRESENTED BY THE MCLAUGHLIN CARRIAGE CO.
The Department of Energy has released its final rule for efficiency standards for new gas stoves. Thanks to a fossil-fueled campaign of right-wing hysterics, the rule went from a proposal that would have disqualified half of the gas stoves on the market to a mostly toothless 3 percent of gas stoves.1
However, Benoît Morenne and Jennifer Hiller write, the gas frackers are going electric:
In the country’s busiest oil field, frackers are devouring nearly as much electricity as four Seattles every day—and they are clamoring for more.
In the past few years, power-hungry Permian producers have erected their own electric substations—essentially building parts of the grid themselves.
They have also successfully lobbied the Texas legislature for more infrastructure. Last year, Texas lawmakers passed a bill mandating the state’s Public Utility Commission to develop a reliability plan for electrification in the Permian and beefing up the grid there.
So that’s great and not sickly ironic! Not all of the new renewable electricity is going to accelerating the carbonization of the atmosphere, though; much of it is also feeding bitcoin miners and AI data farms.
And now, a message from our sponsor:
ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICE: Human Rights Watch has found that babies born in Lousiana’s Cancer Alley, where the Permian Basin’s renewably fracked gas is processed into petrochemicals, have rates of low birthweight triple the national average. “To uphold their human rights obligations, all governments should rapidly phase out fossil fuels,” report author and long-time environmental journalist Antonia Juhasz concludes.
Meanwhile, in North Carolina, Tom Perkins reports that The Guardian has found dangerous levels of toxic chemicals in the air around Chemours’ PFAS manufacturing plant in North Carolina. Chemours and North Carolina officials have claimed the plant stopped polluting the chemicals in 2022, but they only test for 50 out of 15,000 possible PFAS compounds. And the conditions within the plant are effectively guaranteed to be much more toxic. The current administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Michael Regan, was the N.C. environmental official responsible for ordering a cleanup in 2019.
And local activists are continuing the fight against the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which was fast-tracked as part of the dirty deal with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to pass the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). On Monday, Madeline ffitch chained herself to an MVP drill to halt construction, and other protesters gathered at a Wells Fargo branch in Blacksburg, Virginia to protest the bank’s financing of the project.
Forest fires are raging in Colombia as the country faces one of its hottest Januaries in recorded history; meanwhile Anchorage has been hit by more than 100 inches of snow.
And now, some good news: the Department of Energy’s challenge to manufacturers to design heat pumps that can operate in sub-freezing temperatures is paying off. As Eric Niiler reports, heat pumps that work down to 7°F are now on the market, a leap above the typical 35°F units, which makes them a much greater replacement for traditional oil and gas boilers. And the IRA has added up to $8,000 in tax credits for installing heat pumps.
And Sabrina Valle has the story of how California’s long history as a big oil producer is coming to an end, with both ExxonMobil and Chevron winding down their operations. “California today has six times more clean-energy as oil-related jobs,” Valle notes.
EPA official Zealan Hoover provided a master class in how to testify to Congress in today’s hearing on the EPA Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, clearly prepared for the bad-faith GOP questions while discussing the broad vision of the Biden clean-energy agenda. For more details on the hearings, check out the weekly roundup.
Hearings on the Hill:
10 AM: House Energy and Commerce
Energy, Climate, and Grid Security
Plans for the Removal of the Lower Snake River Dams
10:30 AM: House Energy and Commerce
Oversight and Investigations
Oversight of the EPA Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund
2 PM: House Science, Space, and Technology
Research and Technology
From Risk to Resilience: Reauthorizing the Earthquake and Windstorm Hazards Reduction Programs
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Specifically, the proposed rule would have limited gas stoves to using 1.2 million BTUs of energy per year; the final rule is 50 percent weaker, allowing 1.77 million BTUs per year.