Impeachment continues to dominate the news in Washington. The Senate is in session and is currently debating the rules of engagement in the trial phase of Trump’s impeachment. It will be a while yet before the actual trial begins.

There are some contentions to be answered, e.g., will witnesses be allowed to testify? If yes, who. Will they be asked to testify in person or by video or written questions and answers. As rigged as the outcome seems to be, there’s a lot riding on the optics for both Republicans and Democrats.

The full House is back next week. This week members involved in the impeachment proceedings are the ones hard at work.

Tree’s company. Trump tried out a new storyline in his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It involved both a rejection of prophecies of doom and reforestation.

“Fear and doubt is not a good thought process because this is a time for tremendous hope and joy and optimism and action…But to embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse,” Trump told his audience.

Trump again declared himself an “environmentalist,” and committed the U.S. to joining a 1 trillion trees initiative launched at the forum.

The initiative encourages countries to collectively plant 1 trillion trees to absorb carbon dioxide in order to combat climate change.

Trump did not mention climate change in his remarks; he spoke in general about the importance of better managing trees and forests. (Washington Examiner)

Tree’s not enoughThe teenage climate activist also delivered a message to the World Economic Forum Tuesday.

Thunberg, 17, addressed the forum on Tuesday at the annual gathering of world leaders in Davos. During her second appearance before the Forum, Thunberg ripped world leaders for not doing enough to protect their children from climate change.

She also suggested planting trees is insufficient relative to imposing policies that mitigate emissions. (Washington Examiner)

At it again. California is suing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over its plan to open up public lands in the state to oil and gas drilling, including fracking, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) announced Friday. (The Hill)

The basis of the case is a deficient impact statement by BLM.

The administration has an awful record in court—often because of inadequate statements.

The agencies use the same argument the White House uses—we’re the executive branch, and it’s in our power to do what we want.

Amazing. The Trump administration has reconsidered its original plan to cap mileage and vehicle emissions requirements for six years after the 2020 model year and is now proposing annual 1.5 percent increases in the stringency of the requirements for 2021-26 vehicle years, according to three people familiar with the measure. The draft final rule, which was sent to the White House for review Jan. 14, would also limit emissions credit changes for automakers and maintain a modified provision that benefits plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles, the people said. (Bloomberg )

Why amazing? I couldn’t find a time when the administration changed its mind on—well, almost anything having to do with environmental protection.

The administration has felt much pressure from the auto industry, states, consumers, and others not to freeze the standards.

The companies can meet the 54.5 mpg target they agreed to with the Obama administration. What they were looking for from this administration was flexibility in meeting it.

The 1.5 percent/year proposal is far from adequate.

The administration is entirely out of step with the auto industry. The industry is going green.

There also is the issue of California’s right to set more stringent standards than the feds, which is now in the courts.

For a more detailed discussion, click here.

Got gas? The Appalachian region has spearheaded a historic expansion, turning the U.S. into the world’s biggest producer while slashing prices for consumers and sounding the death-knell for domestic coal. But the dark side of the boom is increasingly difficult to ignore. (Bloomberg)

Shh. The Trump administration is about to distribute billions of dollars to coastal states, mainly in the South to help steel them against natural disasters worsened by climate change.

But states that qualify must first explain why they need the money. That has triggered linguistic acrobatics as some conservative states submit lengthy, detailed proposals on how they will use the money, while mostly not mentioning climate change.

Texas’ draft proposal is 306 pages long, and it doesn’t use the phrases climate change and global warming once.

Now really, is this any way to run a government?

Ya think? BlackRocks Vice-Chairman Philipp Hildebrand says the fight against climate change will require a joint effort between governments and the private sector.

“We should have no illusion about this, ultimately climate change cannot be tackled by just the private sector,” Hildebrand said in an interview with Bloomberg TV at the Swiss resort of Davos. “This is a government problem; it will require sustained coordinated government responses. There will be laws, there will be regulation, and the private sector adapts to that.” (Bloomberg)

Big if’n dealHouse Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) met with his colleagues to discuss climate proposals to reassure voters that Republicans care about climate change after a decade of dismissing it.

McCarthy — along with GOP Reps. Garret Graves of Louisiana, the top Republican on the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, and Bruce Westerman of Arkansas — sat down with Axios for an exclusive interview after hosting a caucus-wide event on the topic Thursday on Capitol Hill.

There’s not going to be an overall target to reduce emissions, which is likely to stoke skepticism from critics. But the plan will likely include other kinds of specific targets related to these three areas:

  1. Capturing carbon dioxide emissions, with a focus on trees.
  2. Clean-energy innovation and funding.
  3. Conservation, focusing on plastic. (Axios)

Trump seems to have gotten the word about the woods.

It’s great that House Republicans are meeting on climate change.

Their proposals are dated, however.

The real news will come if the Rs and Ds enter into good faith negotiations.

I think it’s a big IF.

WOTUS, WOTUS, everywhere. Before it’s even signed, the Trump administration’s replacement for an Obama-era clean water rule is already battling multiple claims that it contradicts established science.

A group of more than 40 current and former Environmental Protection Agency employees are accusing political appointees at the agency of silencing career staff experts and scientists, violating the EPA’s scientific integrity policy. They’re asking the EPA’s inspector general to open an inquiry into the final replacement for the Waters of the U.S., or WOTUS, rule, which the Trump administration could unveil as soon as this week.

The EPA’s own science advisers, many of them appointed in this administration, have also said the Trump EPA proposed changes to which waters qualify for federal protection “without a fully supportable scientific basis.”

The Trump administration’s rule would sharply limit the types of waters considered “navigable waters,” and thus qualifying for federal pollution protections. Trump, in a speech over the weekend, touted his rollback of the WOTUS rule, saying the Obama-era rule gave the government “virtually unlimited authority.” (Washington Examiner)

Try these on for size A new report from Information Technology and Innovation Foundation identified several bills across ten so-called priorities for action — like carbon capture, utilization and storage or advanced renewables — that have already passed out of House or Senate committees with bipartisan support. The report argues the bills could make up a bipartisan energy package with a realistic chance of passage, and includes ARPA-E Reauthorization (S. 2714 (116)/H.R. 4091 (116) ); Clean Industrial Technology Act (S. 2300 (116)/H.R. 4230 (116)) and Better Energy Storage Technology Act (S. 1602 (116)/H.R. 2986 (116)).

Wrong wall! The giant barrier is the largest of five options the Army Corps of Engineers is studying to protect the New York City area as storms become more frequent and destructive on a warming Earth. The proposals have sparked fierce debate as New York, like other coastal cities, grapples with the broader question of how and to what degree it must transform its landscape and lifestyle to survive rising seas.

It’s a sign of the times that communities on and off the coast are starting to deal with adaption and resiliency measures.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, and at some point, protection monies are going to eat heavily into other budget items, e.g., schools, infrastructure outside of the danger zones, etc.

There’s a danger too that resilience and adaptation programs come to dominate other climate discussions, e.g., combating emissions at their source.

Pedal to the metal. Germany will pay utility companies billions of euros to speed up the shutdown of their coal-fired power plants as part of the country’s efforts to fight climate change, the government said Thursday.

The agreement reached after late-night deliberations between federal ministers and representatives of four coal-mining states removes a key hurdle in Germany’s plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades. (AP)

Some solution that was. A former solar company executive pleaded guilty to defrauding investors of $1 billion, leaving in the company’s wake a string of lawsuits from buyers, suppliers and fired employees.

DC Solar Solutions, a Benicia firm, made solar generators mounted on trailers that provided event lighting and emergency power for communications companies. It worked with T-Mobile to power cell phone towers during wildfires, the carrier confirmed. It let Mills College in Oakland use generators free of charge, a college spokeswoman said. It sponsored NASCAR races, according to news reports.

But, after an FBI investigation, the company imploded at the end of 2018. Prosecutors allege DC Solar sold the generators through special funds for investors to get federal tax credits. The company then purported to lease those generators to third parties to generate revenue, little of which it actually made, prosecutors say; instead, they say, early investors were paid with funds from later investors — a classic Ponzi scheme.

These incidents are never good for the industry. Remember Solyndra.

Solar, wind, and other renewables are held to a higher standard than say coal companies.

You would think after all these years, and by looking at the size of these industries that deniers wouldn’t still try to use incidents like this to call into question whether solar is reliable or a tax hustle.

The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board ran a smarmy piece (paywall) that starts:

Government planning and subsidies will make America the world’s green-energy super-power, create millions of jobs, and supercharge the economy-or, so we’re told. The reality is closer to Crescent Dunes, a Nevada solar-energy plant that has gone bust after receiving a $737 million federal loan guarantee.

Got gas? Everywhere you look, it seems there’s another ad trying to persuade people that natural gas is the key to a clean energy future. The American Petroleum Institute (API) is running a seven-figure campaign touting its climate benefits, despite the fact that natural gas is a fossil fuel with a significant carbon footprint.

Go Boris. Britain’s prime minister has appointed outgoing Bank of England Governor Mark Carney to a special advisory role ahead of the U.N. climate change conference to be held in Scotland in November.

Boris Johnson said Carney would offer expertise in mobilizing businesses and investors across the financial system in supporting the “net-zero revolution,’’ the effort to reach net-zero carbon emissions. Ahead of the summit, Britain is pushing for other nations to toughen their targets on cutting emissions.

Carney was recently named as the U.N. Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance. Advising Johnson is a part-time role that will be undertaken on a pro bono basis. (Marketwatch)

Downwind. New York and Connecticut filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration on allegations that the Environmental Protection Agency is not enforcing a provision in the Clean Air Act that requires the agency to intervene to address pollution coming from neighboring states. The lawsuit says New York has some of the lowest emission levels of nitrogen oxides, but about 65 percent of its population is subject to pollution coming from Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. (Reuters)

Falling back. California hit its 2020 emissions targets a few years early, but it’s falling short of where it needs to be to hit its more ambitious 2030 targets, a new report says. Whether or not the state succeeds has big impacts across the rest of the nation and other countries, which often copy California’s environmental laws. (Mercury News)

How divided are we? Eighty-two percentage points separated Republicans’ (89%) and Democrats’ (7%) average job approval ratings of President Donald Trump during his third year in office. This is the largest degree of political polarization in any presidential year measured by Gallup, surpassing the 79-point party gap in Trump’s second year in office.

Trump’s first year also ranks among the 10 most polarized years, along with the last five years of Barack Obama’s presidency and several of George W. Bush’s years in office.