Overnight Energy & Environment — Snow leaves 750K without power

Welcome to Monday’s Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup

Today we’re looking at a snowstorm knocking out power for more than 750,000 households, Germany drawing a line on nuclear energy and the latest on the Biden administration’s conservation initiative.

For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Write to us with tips: rfrazin@thehill.com and zbudryk@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @RachelFrazin and @BudrykZack

Let’s jump in. 

Winter storm hits South, mid-Atlantic

More than 750,000 people were without power on Monday as a winter storm battered the South and mid-Atlantic. 

Roughly 757,000 people in Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas did not have power as of 3:45 p.m. EST on Monday, according to PowerOutage.US

Virginia recorded 444,600 outages on Monday, the highest number in the country. North Carolina followed with more than 110,000 outages, according to PowerOutage.US, which examines live power outage data from utilities across the U.S.  

How much snow are we talking, exactly? The outages come as a winter storm is slamming a number of states. In the center of the storm’s heavy snow between 6 and 12 inches could accumulate, according to AccuWeather

The storm first broke out Sunday night in the lower part of the mid-Atlantic region and has since moved up the East Coast, according to AccuWeather. 

And that’s not all: The inclement weather conditions are also causing flight cancellations. As of 3:55 p.m. eastern time more than 2,900 flights within, into or out of the U.S. have been canceled on Monday, according to FlightAware

Airlines issued more than 4,600 delays within, into or out of the U.S. on Monday as well. 

Read more about the storms here.

Boulder County picks up pieces after storm 

Residents of Colorado’s Boulder County are scrambling to recover from the wreckage of an unprecedented suburban firestorm that burned down about 1,000 homes and required thousands of residents to flee the area this weekend, The Hill’s Sharon Udasin reports from the area.

At least 991 structures were destroyed by the Marshall Fire, which began on Thursday amid wind gusts of up to 100 mph, while an additional 127 incurred damage, a preliminary report from the Boulder County Sheriff said on Saturday.

One of three missing individuals was found on Sunday, while authorities were still searching for the two others and investigating the precise cause of the fire, according to local media reports. 

Read Sharon’s full report here.

 

LOOKING FOR ANSWERS

The Biden administration is still seeking answers to key questions that will inform how it approaches its goal of conserving 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.  

As part of this goal — sometimes called “30 by 30” — it asks what type of stewardship actions should be considered conservation, per a Federal Register notice announced on Monday.  

It also asks what kinds of features the included lands and waters should have. 

The questions were asked as part of an effort to form an “Atlas” that collects baseline information on the amount and types of land and waters that are being conserved or restored. 

The notice, which opens up a formal comment period in which the public can weigh in, also announced three listening sessions that will take place in January.  

Last month, the administration said it was making “significant progress” in a status report on its efforts.  

PARABLE OF THE SEWER

Beaches were closed in the Los Angeles area this weekend following a historic spill of up to 7 million gallons of untreated sewage. 

A 48-inch sewer main line failed on Thursday, sending millions of gallons into the Dominguez Channel, which flows into the Los Angeles harbor, the city of Long Beach said in a Friday press release

After the spill, Los Angeles County ordered the closure of multiple beaches, ABC 7 reported. The city of Long Beach temporarily closed 7 miles of its beaches and Orange County closed off Seal Beach. 

Sewage even made its way into city streets after the spill. 

Reporter Jessica De Nova wrote on Twitter that one neighborhood was “filled w/awful odors & this river of raw sewage running through their street Thursday,” adding that residents “hope their government leaders do more to improve quality of life here.” 

Germany calls nuclear power ‘dangerous’  

The German government on Monday said it will reject a European Union (EU) plan classifying some forms of nuclear energy as renewable, calling the technology “dangerous.” 

The EU announced the proposal Sunday, saying the European Commission “considers there is a role for natural gas and nuclear as a means to facilitate the transition towards a predominantly renewable-based future.” 

“[T]his would mean classifying these energy sources under clear and tight conditions (for example, gas must come from renewable sources or have low emissions by 2035), in particular as they contribute to the transition to climate neutrality,” the commission added. 

But Germany’s not having it: On Monday, however, German government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit told reporters “[w]e consider nuclear technology to be dangerous” and said the government “expressly rejects” designating it as a renewable, according to The Associated Press

Germany has repeatedly emphasized that nuclear energy can only be considered a renewable power source if there is a plan to dispose of nuclear waste, according to The New York Times

Hebestreit’s comments echo those of German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, who also serves as climate and economic minister. In a statement to the German news agency dpa, Habeck said “we can’t foresee an approval for the new proposals from the EU Commission.” 

Read more about the announcement here.

 

WHAT WE’RE READING

And finally, something offbeat and off-beat: New year’s off to a strong start.

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s energy & environment page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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