A new UN report says Earth’s ozone layer is slowly recovering. Meanwhile, a House Democrat condemns a proposed rule on public lands and New England faces an electricity crisis.
This is Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news on energy, the environment and more. For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Has anyone forwarded this newsletter?
Ozone layer on the road to recovery: UN report
The ozone layer — the atmospheric shield that prevents harmful ultraviolet light from reaching Earth’s surface — is on track to recover, United Nations (UN) scientists said Monday.
What do they say? In the report, which appears every four years, the UN says that the ozone layer has recovered and will return to 1980 levels in the coming decades.
- The ozone layer prevents exposure to ultraviolet light, which can cause skin cancer and other health problems. It can also be harmful to animals and plants.
- Human use of substances that deplete the ozone layer, such as the chemicals used in refrigeration and firefighting, eroded the protective barrier and caused global concern for years.
What changed? In 1987, countries including the US agreed to the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement to reduce the consumption and production of ozone-depleting substances.
The new report says this agreement was particularly important for the current path to recovery, which most of the world believes will occur by 2040.
However, recovery around the Arctic and Antarctic will take longer, by 2045 and 2066, respectively, according to the report.
The report specifically noted that China had reduced its emissions of certain substances in recent years, contributing to the overall decline.
Read more about the update here.
Grijalva destroys the provision of public land property
The top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee has quashed a provision in the proposed House Rules Package that would make it easier to hand over public lands, calling it an indication that the new GOP majority is planning a broadly pro-industrial agenda pursue.
The proposed rulebook, made public Friday, includes a provision that streamlines the process by which federal land ownership passes from the federal government to states or municipalities. The provisions are similar to those passed during the 115th Congress, the last session in which Republicans controlled the House, Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) told The Hill Monday.
What they say: “The whole process of this rule is to devalue public land,” Grijalva said. “You are actually handing over [land] across to the industries, whatever they are… [lands] disappears, and that completely changes its complexion.
In 2019, after the Democrats won control of the chamber, they passed a set of rules that overturned the previous rule.
- “Republicans are determined to ensure that federal land management best reflects the needs of local populations closest to these lands, and this provision is not a giveaway to private industry, as Mr. Grijalva claims,” said a spokesman for the presumptive chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, Bruce. Westerman (R-Ark.) told The Hill in an email.
- “It only applies to transfers to other government agencies and will ensure that the House can pass legislation that actually benefits the federal government by reducing maintenance costs and increasing tax revenue.”
Read more about the controversy here.
New England faces skyrocketing electricity rates
New Englanders are battling some of the highest electricity rates in the country this winter as they weather the transatlantic ripple effects of a global gas crisis.
Residents of the six New England states have so far enjoyed a relatively mild winter with no continuous blackouts. But skyrocketing tariffs — fueled by rising natural gas prices and the war in Ukraine — are taking their toll on a region accustomed to ramping up the heat.
“Natural gas prices have not been this high in New England since 2008 — before the fracking revolution, the mortgage crisis and the Great Recession sent energy prices crashing,” Tanya Bodell, an energy consultant and partner at consulting firm StoneTurn, told The Hill.
- New England faced stiff competition from the European Union over supplies of liquefied natural gas (LNG) after Russia began curtailing gas pipelines to the EU in response to sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
- Last year, with an uncertain winter ahead, the EU became a major bidder in the global race to build up LNG supplies. And the bloc’s success in averting a looming energy crisis has hit hard across the Atlantic, where residents rely heavily on gas to both power and heat their homes.
Onshore natural gas pipelines can “reach peak supply capacity during a subset of the coldest days in winter” — a challenge New England has typically addressed by seeking relief through LNG deliveries, Bodell explained. Now, however, demand for the resource has “soared in response to sanctions against Russian energy,” she added.
Read more from The Hill’s Sharon Udasin.
WHAT WE READ
- With a stroke of the pen, Ohio governor defines natural gas as green energy (Cleveland.com)
- Hundreds of Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells in Southern California Could Soon Be Clogged (The Los Angeles Daily News)
- Power outages in Sacramento affect more than 300,000 customers (The Sacramento Bee)
- The state of Washington has just started limiting carbon emissions. This is how it works. (grist)
- EPA Ink Deal to Clean Up Keystone Leak (E&E News)
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Energy & Environment page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.