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  • President Obama's deal with China to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions may go down as one of his lasting legacies once everything is said and done with his Administration. The deal, which was announced at a joint press conference, set far reaching goals of reducing carbon emissions that surprised most everyone over how much the two countries agreed to cut.
  • California Gov. Jerry Brown’s unprecedented fourth term in office is going to be all about fighting climate change. In an inaugural address delivered Monday afternoon, the governor celebrated the “bold commitments to sustain our environment, help the neediest and build for our future” made since he first took office 40 years ago, and announced his intentions to push those reforms further, with an emphasis on environmental goals. Specifically — and in a move that’s already being hailed by environmental groups — Brown pledged to help California derive a full 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. That’s a big step up from the state’s already commendable mandate for utilities to purchase a third of their energy from renewables by 2020, which it’s already on track to meet.
  • Back in 2007, Congress passed a law that would push the United States to use more and more ethanol and other biofuels derived from plants. This is known as the Renewable Fuel Standard, and the hope was that it would help reduce America's dependency on oil. Under the law, gasoline refiners and blenders were supposed to mix 16.55 billion gallons of ethanol into the gasoline they produced by 2013 (the vast majority of this was ethanol made from corn). That amount was supposed to keep rising until it hit 36 billion gallons in 2022.
  • If you ask the people who run America's electric utilities what keeps them up at night, a surprising number will say solar power. Specifically, rooftop solar. That seems bizarre at first. Solar power provides just 0.4 percent of electricity in the United States — a minuscule amount. Why would anyone care? But utilities see things differently. As solar technology gets dramatically cheaper, tens of thousands of Americans are putting photovoltaic panels up on their roofs, generating their own power. At the same time, 43 states and Washington DC have "net metering" laws that allow solar-powered households to sell their excess electricity back to the grid at retail prices.

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