Energy & Environment — California OKs nation’s loftiest offshore wind goal

·5 min read

While California once again spearheads climate targets, the Department of Health and Human Services has launched an environmental justice calculator. Also, President Biden signed the military burn pit bill into law.

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California adopts most ambitious offshore wind goal

The California Energy Commission voted on Wednesday to adopt the country’s most ambitious offshore wind development targets — the latest move in a statewide drive to accelerate the clean electricity transition.

The targets involve the deployment of 3 gigawatts to 5 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030 and 25 gigawatts by 2045, as recommended by the commission’s initial report, which was issued in May.

What does that mean? These quantities of wind production could power the equivalent of 3.75 million homes initially and 25 million by midcentury, according to the commission.

  • “These ambitious yet achievable goals are an important signal of how committed California is to bringing the offshore wind industry to our state,” commission Chair David Hochschild said in a statement.  

  • “This remarkable resource will generate clean electricity around the clock and help us transition away from fossil fuel-based energy as quickly as possible while ensuring grid reliability,” Hochschild added.

Touting California as “home to some of the best offshore wind resources in the country,” a commission announcement described wind as a critical nighttime energy source that complements daytime solar production.

The commission developed the targets in coordination with federal, state and local stakeholders, including tribal nations, fisheries and other ocean users, the announcement said.

What’s next: The next steps for commission staff members will involve studying the economic benefits of offshore wind and creating a roadmap to develop a permitting process for offshore facilities. According to California Assembly Bill 525, the commission must submit the entire plan to the legislature by June 2023.

Read more from The Hill’s Sharon Udasin.

HHS starts environmental justice hazard calculator

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Wednesday formally launched its Environmental Justice Index (EJI), which will assign communities numerical scores based on the health burdens of environmental conditions.

How does it work? The EJI is based on data from the individual census tract and assigns an overall environmental score based on 36 factors. The tool also includes data for individual possible hazardous sites within a community, such as coal mines or lead mines, and planned and built environmental features that can alleviate environmental burden, such as walkability or houses built after 1980.

For example, the EJI analysis for Flint, Mich., the site of an ongoing water crisis as a result of lead contamination in drinking water, shows that its individual neighborhoods have more severe cumulative environmental impacts than 85 percent of American communities.

Zooming in further, the county’s 26th census tract, which has a population of
2,616, has an 0.93 percent total rank out of a possible 1, with a score of 0.98 for the presence of treatment, storage and disposal sites, and a score of 0.83 for water pollution.

In St. James Parish, La., part of an area that has become known as Cancer Alley, census tract 403 has a 1.00 for cancer risk from air toxicity, the maximum possible score, and an 0.90 for walkability—in other words, residents have few options but to increase pollutants by driving.

Read more about the tool here.

Biden signs veterans toxic exposure bill into law

President Biden on Wednesday signed into law a bill to expand benefits for millions of veterans who were exposed to toxins during service and are suffering illnesses as a result.

The Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act also expands presumptions of service connections for a variety of conditions related to toxic exposure, meaning veterans don’t have to prove their illness was service-connected.

  • “This is the most significant law our nation has ever passed to help millions of veterans who are exposed to toxic substances during the military services,” Biden said in remarks from the East Room.

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  • “You know, Secretary McDonough can tell you I was going to get this done come hell or high water,” the president continued, referring to Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough.

Biden’s signature comes after a months-long legislative journey that culminated in the bill earning bipartisan support.

The upper chamber initially passed the bill in June by a vote of 84-14, and the House later passed the bill by a vote of 342-88 in July, sending it back to the Senate due to technical changes.

But in late July, the upper chamber came five votes short of the 60 votes needed to advance the bill, with 25 Republicans who voted to pass the bill earlier changing their vote. The Senate later passed the measure 86-11 on Aug. 2, with all “no” votes coming from Republicans who cited concerns about the cost of the bill.

Biden was joined by McDonough, members of Congress, veterans who had been exposed to toxins and representatives of Veterans Service Organizations. He was introduced by Danielle Robinson and Brielle Robinson, the surviving wife and daughter of Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson, after whom the PACT Act is named.

Read more from The Hill’s Jordan Williams.

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • Methane ‘Loophole’ Shows Risk of Gaming New US Climate Bill (Bloomberg)

  • Hotter nights could cause a spike in deaths, study says (Grist)

  • Ford, DTE ink renewable energy deal to power carmaker’s Michigan plants (The Detroit News)

  • Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia: UN chief condemns ‘suicidal’ shelling around nuclear plant (CNN)

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