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energy

Kevin Butt's job is to find cleaner ways to power Toyota. One of the hardest places to do that is at the automaker's sprawling plant in central Kentucky, a state where nearly 90 percent of electricity still comes from coal.

Butt points out a new engine assembly line, where a conveyor belt moves in a slow circle. He says it was specially designed with a more efficient motor. There are also enormous fans overhead and LED lights, all changes that save millions.

Northwest rivers are running high as all that winter snowpack melts into spring runoff.

And that means the region is producing too much of a good thing: carbon-free, renewable energy in the form of both dam-generated hydropower along with electricity from spinning wind-farm turbines.

That's prompted the federal government to take an action it avoided during the last four years of drought conditions: shutting down wind power.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson
KUOW photo/Amy Radil

Attorneys general from 11 states are taking new action against the Trump Administration over energy efficiency standards. They are working to protect an Obama-administration rule they think is in jeopardy.

New efficiency standards for coolers and fans were supposed to go into effect by now. However, the Trump Administration has put them on hold until Sept 30.

An EnergyGuide sticker on a television includes the EnergyStar seal, meaning it's an efficient set.
KUOW photo/Gil Aegerter

The Trump administration wants to end the EnergyStar program – you might know it from labels that mark the most energy-efficient appliances when you shop for a TV, refrigerator or computer.

Nives Dolsak and Aseem Prakash of the University of Washington told KUOW’s Emily Fox that ending the program doesn’t make sense, for a number of reasons.


President Trump promises coal workers their jobs will come back as he signs an executive order to scale back federal energy regulations.
EPA.gov

No one said the word “climate” on stage this week when President Trump signed an executive order aimed at scuttling the Clean Power Plan.

West Coast energy regulators met Tuesday in Seattle to renew their pledge to join forces in reducing the region's shared carbon footprint.

The chairs of the Washington, Oregon and California utility commissions cited as one of their goals the improved integration of the West Coast's power grids.

Washington's peak energy draw happens when people turn up their thermostats in the winter. Meanwhile, Californians' heavy reliance power is during the summer, when air conditioners are running, said Dave Danner, chair of the Utilities Commission of Washington.

The route for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline, which links up with the Bakken Pipeline.
Energy Transfer Partners release

The City of Seattle promised last month that it would stop banking with Wells Fargo, because the bank pledged hundreds of millions in loan money to build the Dakota Access Pipeline.

America’s energy future is often cast as a battle that pits fossil fuels such as coal and gas against wind, solar and other renewable energy sources. But in the Pacific Northwest, we've already slashed greenhouse gas emissions — and saved big bucks — with a clean energy source that often doesn't even get mentioned in policy debates.

Dan Cunningham is installing an adjustable metal frame, covered in red fabric, in the open front door at a house in Ashland, Oregon.

The High Mercury tanker, part of a fleet co-owned by Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross, in Haro Strait with Vancouver Island in the background Feb. 15.
Courtesy of Jane Cogan

If one thing is clear from Wilbur Ross's financial disclosure forms, it's that the billionaire nominee for Secretary of Commerce lives in a world most Americans can only fantasize about.


In a surprising move, China's commerce ministry has announced that the country would be suspending its coal imports from North Korea. China released a statement Saturday saying that the freeze in imports will begin Sunday and will be in place through the end of the year.

There have been no executive orders yet to undo President Barack Obama's signature climate plan, but many officials and environmental groups consider it as good as dead. The Clean Power Plan is on hold while a legal battle plays out, and even if an appeals court upholds it — a decision could come any day — the Trump administration is likely to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The state of New York decided to forge ahead anyway. Like a number of other mostly liberal states, it is continuing with efforts to drive down the carbon emissions that drive climate change.

C-SPAN

Efforts to rein in planet-warming pollution in Washington state could be hindered by federal officials once Donald Trump becomes president.

Governor Jay Inslee.
Flickr Photo/GovInslee (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed a carbon tax within weeks of Washington voters' rejecting what would have been the nation's first such tax. Inslee's proposal is a big part of his plan to raise $4 billion in new revenue, with $3 billion of it going to improve education.

Updated 7:51 a.m. ET Dec. 14 with official announcement of Perry's nomination.

It's a good thing former Texas Gov. Rick Perry once forgot he wanted to eliminate the Department of Energy, because President-elect Donald Trump is nominating him to lead the agency.

“For a lot of Americans the image they carry in their imagination of Indian peoples is teepees, war bonnets, and Sitting Bull at Wounded Knee and Custer’s last stand – these are those people. This is that place,” said Seattle Times reporter Lynda Mapes, describing the scene of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest.

“Once again, here we are. They’re getting chased off a piece of land that’s in the path of a pipeline.”


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