Table Of Contents

    This map, done by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows the how the period of 2011-2014 compares to the 20th century average. Image courtesy of



    In State of the Union, President Obama Pushes for Revamp of Fossil Fuel Management

    On January 12, President Obama gave his final State of the Union address, in which he pledged to "accelerate the transition away from dirty energy," in part by changing the way oil and coal reserves are managed, to "better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet." Some analysts have interpreted this to mean that the president will offer reform on fossil fuel extraction leasing programs on public lands. President Obama added that we need to invest in communities that rely on fossil fuels to help them going forward. The president also emphasized the need for technology to help address climate change, saying that climate change threatens national security, vulnerable countries, and our children.

    For more information see:

    InsideClimate News (1, 2), SOTU

    Department of Interior Announces It Will Review Coal Leasing Program on Public Lands

    On January 15, the Department of Interior announced it would conduct a comprehensive review of its coal leasing program, using a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS); all new coal leases will be placed on moratorium until this review is complete. According to Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, "We haven't undertaken a comprehensive review of the program in more than 30 years, and we have an obligation to current and future generations to ensure the federal coal program delivers a fair return to American taxpayers and takes into account its impacts on climate change."

    For more information see:


    New Poll Shows Young Americans Want More Renewables and Climate Action

    On January 11, USA TODAY released the results of a USA TODAY/Rock the Vote poll finding that eight-in-ten millennials (those aged 18-34) want the next president to support renewable energy. Many polled also consider climate change to be a top ten issue. "With millennials surpassing the Baby Boomer generation for the first time this year, nearly 40 million millennials are expected to vote in the 2016 election," commented Bob Dickey, the president and CEO of Gannett. The poll is part of USA TODAY’s One Nation initiative and used online interviews of 1,141 adults age 18 to 34, from January 4-7.

    For more information see:

    USA TODAY, Time, Business Wire

    Climate Activist Asks President Obama to Focus on Climate Change in State of the Union

    On January 11, The Guardian reported that billionaire activist Tom Steyer has called on President Obama to use his State of the Union address as a platform for climate action. Steyer told reporters that Obama’s final State of the Union speech is a high-visibility moment for the president to appeal to the American public, to support the transformation of the U.S. energy sector. Steyer said 2015 was an important year for climate policy, as the Paris climate agreement, the failure of the Keystone XL pipeline, a relative ban on Arctic drilling, and the finalization of the Clean Power Plan all pushed forward the fight against climate change. According to Steyer, “This is a great opportunity to make that case and make sure that the moves we made are decisive and irrevocable.”

    In related news on January 11, Tom Steyer's organization NextGen Climate released a report, "Threat Multiplier: Climate Change & the State of Our Union," which emphasizes the security and public health risks of climate change.

    For more information see:

    The Guardian

    Arch Coal Files for Bankruptcy

    On January 11, Bloomberg reported that Arch Coal Inc., owners of the second-largest coal reserve in the United States, filed a chapter 11 petition for creditor protection. The company says most of its senior lenders have agreed to remove $4.5 billion in debt from its balance sheet to keep the company operating as usual. Arch Coal blamed environmental regulations for making it more costly for businesses to use coal. Some citizens groups worry that Arch Coal's bankruptcy filings will allow it to stop or slow its mine-cleanup activities, although Arch has stated that it will continue to fulfill its reclamation obligations. Arch mines coal in West Virginia, Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland and Virginia.

    In related news, on January 8, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that U.S. coal production hit a 30-year low in 2015, falling 10 percent below 2014's levels. EIA said that the low prices of natural gas, low international coal demand and environmental regulations have all contributed to its decline. Central and Northern Appalachian coal production saw the largest decline.

    For more information see:

    Bloomberg, U.S. Energy Information Administration, Climate Central

    Crude Oil Prices Sink Further, Raising Bankruptcy Concerns

    On January 11, crude-oil prices hit a 12-year low of $31.41 a barrel, posing a bankruptcy threat to as many as a third of U.S oil producers, according to Wolfe Research. Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup have stated they expect the price of oil to fall into the $20 range soon, due to a weak Chinese stock market, the appreciation of the U.S. dollar, and a continuing oversupply of oil. Law firm Haynes & Boone has reported that over 30 small oil companies which collectively owe $13 billion in debt have already filed for bankruptcy protection. A report from AlixPartners found that North American oil and gas production companies are losing close to $2 billion a week due to low prices.

    For more information see:

    Wall Street Journal, AlixPartners, Reuters


    Climate Change Causing Economic Losses in World’s Middle Class

    On January 11, Swiss financial services firm UBS published a report indicating that climate change contributed to $1.5 trillion in economic losses from 1980 to 2014. In addition, climate change was linked to another $32 billion loss during the first half of 2015. The report further found that in cities where climate change has raised environmental risks, the middle class spent $800-$1,600 more per year on housing, displacing household spending on entertainment, luxuries and durable goods. Paul Donovan, a managing director at UBS, commented, "The middle class has two important qualities that make them critically important to the conversation about climate change: substantial assets and political influence. If the effects of climate change significantly hurt the middle class, the inevitable reaction should in turn elicit a strong response from policy makers."

    For more information see:

    The Economic Times, Business Line, Reuters, UBS


    U.S. Economic Boom is Lifting Global Carbon Markets

    On January 11, Thomson Reuters Point Carbon found that the value of global carbon markets increased nine percent, to $52.8 billion in 2015, due to higher prices on emission allowances and offsets in most markets. In the report "Carbon Market Monitor," Thompson Reuters revealed the value of North American carbon markets rose 220 percent to $11.59 billion, mainly driven by the California-Quebec carbon trading market called the Western Climate Initiative, which expanded its scope by including transport fuel emissions this year. “Assuming prices to also end higher than in 2015, we forecast the overall value of carbon markets to grow by a quarter . . . in terms of transactions, Europe and North America will continue to represent more than 95 percent [of the market],” the report says. The report adds that when China’s national carbon market launches in 2017, global market value will increase further.

    For more information see:

    Climate Home, Thompson Reuters, Environmental Leader


    Enormous Icebergs May Help Slow Climate Change

    On January 11, new research published in Nature Geoscience found that icebergs may help sequester small amounts of carbon. When glaciers slide across land towards the ocean, they erode the underlying surface, picking up minerals like iron. When part of the glacier breaks off and begins to melt, the iron is released into the ocean. Since the Southern Ocean is an iron-deficient environment, more iron leads to increased growth of microscopic phytoplankton, which engage in photosynthesis and pull carbon from the atmosphere. As these tiny organisms die off and fall to the ocean floor, they sequester the stored carbon on the seafloor. Unfortunately, the carbon sequestrated via this mechanism is relatively small in comparison with the amount of carbon emitted annually.

    For more information see:

    The Washington Post, Nature Geoscience



    California Governor Orders SoCalGas to Purchase Climate Offsets

    Beijing to Shut 2,500 Firms This Year to Fight Pollution

    Oklahoma Earthquakes Raise Calls for Restrictions on Energy Firms

    A Promising New Material Can Convert a Major Greenhouse Gas into Clean Energy

    Will Climate Change Affect Your Health?

    Could TPP Spark Keystone-Like Lawsuits Against the U.S.?

    U.S. Climate Policies Giving the Economy a $2.2 Billion Boost in 2013



    2016 NASEO Energy Policy Outlook Conference
    February 9 - 11, 2016
    The Fairmont
    Washington, DC
    EESI is a supporting sponsor 

    NASEO’s Energy Policy Outlook Conference is the national forum to connect with and learn from state energy officials working on innovative energy policies and programs, and to engage with federal officials on priority energy issues. OnFebruary 9-11, 2016, explore how State and Territory Energy Offices’ efforts are “Powering Economies” and serving as an engine for growth and productivity. NASEO’s 2016 Energy Policy Outlook Conference program will feature experts and strategists from government, business, and advocacy groups focused on sharing new ideas and partnership models that promote energy affordability, infrastructure resilience, clean energy technologies, and economic opportunity.



    Authors: Taotao Luo, Anthony Rocco

    Editor: Laura Small