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EGEB: 21 states sue Trump over lifted coal restrictions, Seattle passes its own Green New Deal, more

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • 21 US states sue Trump administration over relaxed coal restrictions.
  • Seattle passes its own Green New Deal.
  • A new study has confirmed that solar is now cheaper than grid electricity in China.
  • Helsinki, Finland, has launched the Think Sustainably program.

EGEB: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Twenty-one states have filed a lawsuit over the Trump administration’s eased coal power-plant restrictions. The states were joined by Boulder, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and South Miami, according to Time.

The Environmental Protection Agency canceled the Clean Power Plan in June and replaced it with a plan that gives states more room to upgrade coal power plants. The article states:

The lawsuit, filed in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, says the new rule violates the federal Clean Air Act because it does not meaningfully replace power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions.

The EPA’s analysis of the new rules predicts an extra 300 to 1,500 people will die each year by 2030 because of additional air pollution from the power grid. But EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in June said Americans want “reliable energy that they can afford,” adding he expected more coal plans to open as a result.

Seattle City Council passes a Green New Deal

The clean-energy local movement continues: Seattle has passed its own Green New Deal, according to Bloomberg Environment. Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution on August 12. The five goals of the resolution, according to SCC Insight, are:

  • Make Seattle free of pollutants that have climate impacts by 2030
  • Prioritize investments most harmed by economic, racial, and environmental injustices
  • Advance an equitable transition from an extraction-based economy to one based on “regeneration and cooperation”
  • Ensure that those with the least amount of power and wealth are positioned to lead during the transition
  • Create stable, living-wage jobs that prioritize local hiring, and protect jobs with Project Labor Agreements and Labor Harmony Agreements

You can find specific details of the city’s extensive green energy initiatives included in the resolution — such as limiting construction of fossil-fuel infrastructure and increasing building energy efficiency — on the SCC Insight post.

China: solar now cheaper than grid electricity

Solar power is now cheaper than grid electricity in China. A new paper published in Nature Energy “concludes a combination of technological advances, cost declines, and government support has helped make grid parity a reality in Chin[a] today,” according to Carbon Brief. Grid parity is when solar costs the same as electricity from the grid.

China is now the world’s biggest installer of solar panels and generator of solar power. The paper states that Chinese government subsidies have accelerated the solar industry, but have also resulted in “redundant construction and overcapacity.”

Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis at BloombergNEF, said to Carbon Brief that the study’s findings have already been known for at least a year. She said that the exciting development came earlier this year in China, “when the Chinese government developed a policy for ‘subsidy-free solar’.”

This involved guaranteeing the current coal-fired power price to solar plants for 20 years, creating what is essentially a low feed-in tariff and leading to what she describes as “a lot of nice, low-risk projects.”

Helsinki launches sustainability program

After a 2018 survey conducted in Helsinki revealed that two-thirds of residents “identified the climate climate crisis as their major concern when thinking about the future of the city,” the Finnish city launched Think Sustainably, a local sustainability program, according to SmartCitiesWorld.

Think Sustainably claims to be the world’s first online service that enables citizens to make sustainable choices as easy as using an app.

The service provides residents, visitors, and business owners with practical tools to rethink their daily behavior and make more sustainable lifestyle and business decisions.

Included in Think Sustainably is a route planner, which provides CO2 emissions in grams per person per trip. The current version is a pilot, which will be further developed.

Helsinki has a target of 2035 to become carbon-neutral. It was the first European city to voluntarily report its implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to the United Nations.

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.