The four biggest energy issues for 2017

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With a self-confessed climate change denier about to assume the role of US President, the world is on the cusp of a potentially difficult year for energy policy and climate change. Alternet offered some thoughts on the critical energy issues to watch over the next 12 months.
 
As the article notes, most people that President-elect Donald Trump has filled his cabinet with either doubt or reject climate change science. The new administration disregards the connection between global warming and the use of fossil fuels, and heralds fossil fuel as the key to energy independence and prosperity.
 
While there's only so much Trump can do in his year of office, these energy policy developments are worth watching:
 
1. Repealing the Clean Power Plan
 
The Clean Power Plan, which would limit carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants in the US, was a landmark section of the Paris Climate Agreement - showing the world that America was serious about reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, it also riled Trump. With passionate climate change denier Myron Ebell leading the transition team for the US Environmental Protection Agency, it seems Trump plans to stick to his word of pulling the US out of the pact. If Congress can't stop the Clean Power Plan, they could decline to enforce it, refuse to defend it, or start the process of undoing it.
 
2. Removing the coal leasing moratorium
 
When energy companies want to mine for coal, drill for oil or frack public lands for natural gas, they have to bid for the right to lease the minerals, before obtaining a permit following an environmental review. Trump has said that he wants to streamline this process and make it easier for companies to extract fossil fuels. The moratorium that the Obama administration placed on coal leasing in early 2016 is one of the first restrictions that's likely to be dealt with by Trump and his team. Their energy plan states that this is necessary to improve the declining coal industry.
 
3. Plans for renewables
 
The new administration will have full control over the leasing of renewable energy on federal land and water, so early action will shape the development of renewables in those areas in the years to come. Trump has openly criticised renewable power, and with America's young offshore wind industry depending entirely on federal government co-operation, it could be bad news. However, some experts say it's too soon to conclude that Trump is anti-offshore wind; most proposed wind farms for the US are miles offshore and out of view, and the growing popularity of renewables means it's also where the money, jobs and votes lie.
 
4. State responses
 
It will be interesting to see how states respond to attempts to cull energy and climate policies. Carbon-cutting options are likely to be limited, and states may have to devise their own renewable standards and energy efficiency plans with little support from Washington. Some states are already making progress on their own, such as New York and California, who have both established renewable and greenhouse gas standards. Even Texas has the largest wind power industry in the nation, providing 11.7% of electricity to the state grid in 2015.
 
While it's likely that the transformations already underway in the US will continue, predicts energy economist Danny Cullenward, without federal climate change policy the US will not be on track for compliance with the Paris agreement.
 
Trump energy policy

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