Extreme Temperature Diary- Friday March 19th, 2021/ Main Topic: Doing The Hard Part…Going Beyond Commitments And Implementing Change

The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track planetary extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉

Main Topic: Doing The Hard Part…Going Beyond Commitments And Implementing Change

Dear Diary. When we were young children we would often make promises that weren’t kept. For example, we would promise to do homework only to delay it so much that we would have to hurriedly write a term paper the night before the due date, or have to beg the teacher to give us an extension on other such assignments, not to mention getting in trouble with our parents. Fast forward to adulthood, and we aren’t that much better. In my opinion, we still are getting a failing grade on our climate due to procrastination, leading to broken promises.

It’s very easy to make a promise through a signed treaty but very hard, it seems, to do the hard work involving implementation. Today let’s look at two separate climate crisis related issues to see how we are progressing.

First, environmentalists were elated when President Biden promised to axe the Keystone Pipeline project. Now comes the hard part when Republicans and lobbyists from big money oil press hard against the administration to to save the pipeline. More from The Hill:


21 states sue Biden for revoking Keystone XL permit

BY RACHEL FRAZIN – 03/17/21 07:19 PM EDT

A coalition of states with Republican attorneys general sued President Biden on Wednesday over his decision to revoke a key permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The lawsuit from 21 states, led by Texas and Montana, argues that revoking the cross-border permit is a “regulation of interstate and international commerce” that should be left to Congress and that Biden’s move was an overreach.

The Republican attorneys general also argued that the decision was arbitrary and capricious. 

Some of the states represented in the lawsuit have Democratic governors, including Kentucky and Kansas, though all of them have Republican attorneys general.

“Cabinet Defendants’ actions … have the possibility of depriving States and local governments of millions of dollars in revenues. Yet, far from providing a reasoned explanation for why they are taking their actions, they have not provided any reason at all,” the suit states.

Republicans have long complained about Biden’s move on his first day in office to revoke the permit for the U.S.-Canada pipeline, while environmentalists cheered him on.

In a statement on the lawsuit, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen (R) called Biden’s cancellation of the permit “an empty virtue signal to his wealthy coastal elite donors.”

“The power to regulate foreign and interstate commerce belongs to Congress – not the President. This is another example of Joe Biden overstepping his constitutional role to the detriment of Montanans,” he added.

In his executive order revoking the permit, Biden argued that the pipeline “disserves” the U.S. national interest and that “leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives.”

The proposed 1,200-mile pipeline would have carried oil from Canada to the U.S.

Its opponents argue that the country shouldn’t be importing oil that’s produced from carbon-intensive tar sands. Tribes have also expressed opposition, saying the Trump administration ignored their treaty rights when approving the pipeline. 

Supporters, however, say the project would have brought jobs and revenue. 

Next here is most of an Inside Climate News report involving our commitment to wind energy. Will enough of this infrastructure be built to serve our needs while saving our climate. You decide.

Inside Clean Energy: Where Can We Put All Those Wind Turbines?

Local limits on wind turbines could shift the path and cost of decarbonization, new research shows.

By Dan Gearino March 18, 2021

Wind turbines generate electricity at the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm near Palm Springs, California. Credit: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Wind turbines generate electricity at the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm near Palm Springs, California. Credit: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Onshore wind energy could do much of the heavy lifting in a low-carbon grid, but first developers need to find places to put tens of thousands of turbines—and that may be challenging.

New research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory uses high-resolution satellite data to provide insights into how much space there is in the United States for wind energy, and the outsized role that local restrictions can play.

The country now has about 120 gigawatts of wind energy capacity, which produced 8 percent of the country’s electricity last year. Those numbers are going to grow, but there is a wide range of potential outcomes for how much. If local restrictions mean fewer wind farms are built, the result is likely to be higher costs for consumers, said Trieu Mai, a senior energy analyst for NREL.

“We know that renewables are going to have to increase to help decarbonize the power system, and we know that they’ll probably have to increase by significant measures compared to where we sit today,” he told me. “What has not been studied well is, can we deploy these things at the locations where we need them (in a way) that gives us the highest efficiency and power output?”

He was part of a team of researchers that used satellite images to look at where turbines could be placed in relation to roads, buildings, waterways and other obstructions. The researchers cross-referenced this terrain with state and local rules on how far wind turbines need to be from nearby structures, and then did additional analysis about costs.

“Advancements in our data have really enabled us to pin down the siting challenges for wind (in ways) we haven’t been able to before,” said Anthony Lopez, a geospatial science researcher for NREL who also was part of the team.

The results, published in two recent papers in the journal Energy, show three main scenarios based on the extent of restrictions:

  • The “reference case” is similar to current rules, and has room for 7,827 gigawatts of wind energy capacity, which is about 65 times the current level.
  • The “open access” scenario shows minimal local restrictions, and has room for 15,175 gigawatts, which is about 110 times the current level.
  • The “limited access” scenario shows heightened restrictions, and has room for 2,280 gigawatts, or 19 times the current level.

All three scenarios would have enough room for onshore wind to be a major part of a cleaner grid. But the energy transition would be easier to execute if developers have as many locations as possible to consider for projects.

A lot is riding on how much development takes place. The researchers show that as wind power increases, electricity prices are likely to decrease because wind is one of the least expensive sources of electricity, even as restrictions on wind power possibly lead to higher prices.

There also are regional differences among the scenarios. As restrictions increase, onshore wind farms would be more concentrated in the sparsely populated parts of the Mountain West and Southwest, and less likely to be in the Great Lakes, Southeast and other regions where cities are closer together.

This concentration would lead to higher costs per unit of energy because the wind farms would need to deliver their electricity longer distances to get to population centers.

The NREL research is arriving at a time when some state and local governments face pressure from residents to impose limits on wind turbines, a situation complicated by the varying requirements and authorities in the states. The limits often take the form of setback requirements, which specify the minimum distance required between a turbine and nearby structure, property line or road.

Ohio increased its setback requirements with a 2014 law that nearly tripled the distance. The result has been a near freeze in new wind farms as developers find that projects make less economic sense if there is less room for turbines in leased areas.

In January, Madison County, Iowa, officials passed an ordinance that banned construction of new wind farms, responding to residents who were upset with how wind energy development was affecting the views in their rural county. 

Considering that calls for wind farm restrictions appear to be growing, I think the most likely scenario is somewhere in between the “reference case” and “limited access.” I asked Mai and Lopez whether they agreed, and they said this was a reasonable inference, but beyond the scope of their research.

The larger point is that restrictions on wind energy matter to an extent that was not as clear before. The United States has an abundance of wide-open spaces, but land is still a limited resource, and we’re going to need a lot of it to produce renewable energy.

For much more please click this link to the article:

We will keep you apprised in these two fronts involving promises as we get deeper into this very important decade for change.

Highly related:

Here is some more February 2021 climatology:

Here is more climate and weather news from Friday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)

Now here are some of today’s articles and notes on the horrid COVID-19 pandemic:

(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.) 

Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”

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