Coal Use Falls in China, Rises in India
China announced it will close 1,000 coal mines this year and initiate a moratorium on new mines for three years. Meanwhile, India announced it will double coal production to aid the country’s economic development.
Ongoing Methane Leak in California
An unprecedented natural gas well leak in Southern California has released at least 90,000 metric tons of methane, along with benzene and other chemicals, into the atmosphere since October. The disaster increased California’s methane emissions by 25 percent within the first few weeks.
Premature Births Linked to Fracking
Pregnant women living near natural gas wells in Pennsylvania have a higher risk of pregnancy complications, a Johns Hopkins study reports. Women living near the most active fracking wells in the state have a 40 percent higher chance of prematurely giving birth and a 30 percent increased chance of a high-risk pregnancy, among other concerns.
A Freeze on Federal Coal Leases
The U.S. Department of the Interior announced it will review the program that allows coal companies to operate on publicly-owned lands in several western states. The agency halted new leases during the review process to ensure the program delivers a fair return to the federal government and accounts for impacts to the environment and the climate.
Renewable Energy Tax Credits Extended
The 2016 budget bill signed by President Obama in December keeps in place critical federal incentives for for solar and wind projects. Extended for three years, the Investment Tax Credit will spur up to 20 gigawatts of solar power, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance — more than the total amount of solar installed in the nation prior to 2015.
Solar Jobs Overtake Oil and Gas
Solar companies created more jobs last year than the oil and gas industry, according to The Solar Foundation. Overall solar jobs in the United States grew by 20 percent in 2015.