Jobs in Solar Outnumber Coal in Virginia
A report from Virginia Public Radio says that in 2016 the number of solar jobs in the commonwealth was higher than the number of coal jobs, with 3,236 and 2,866 jobs respectively. The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy reports that there was a 40 percent drop in coal employment over the past five years, while the Solar Foundation reports that the jobs in solar have risen by about 65 percent in the past year.
Duke Withdraws Chemical Plan
Duke Energy withdrew its request to add more chemical compounds in multiple coal-fired plants that would cause an increase in contamination and threaten drinking water in Charlotte, N.C.
The chemical compounds were intended to reduce the amount of air pollution from the plants. In 2014, bromides in the drinking water from a separate chemical used by Duke Energy caused community concerns, the Charlotte Observer reports.
Dept. of Interior Plans to Increase Oil and Gas Drilling on Federal Land
On July 6, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke released his plan for an accelerated application process for drilling oil and gas from federal lands, where permits are to now be approved within 30 days. Some environmental groups have indicated it’s unnecessary to accelerate oil and gas permitting on public lands because so much land is already leased to drilling oil companies but is going unused, according to InsideClimate News.
Feds Look to Coal for Rare Elements
The U.S. Department of Energy announced in early July that it would invest $6.9 million to research extracting rare earth elements from coal and coal by-products. These elements are crucial for producing technology like smartphones, transportation and national defense. The United States currently imports most rare earth elements.