February 22 News: Likely EPA Nominee Vows More Action on Climate Change

Gina McCarthy, the current Environmental Protection Agency’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation and the front-runner to fill the top vacancy at the EPA pledged to push ahead with actions to confront climate change during a speech on Thursday. [The Hill]

McCarthy discussed a list of emissions rules rolled out during Obama’s first term, touting them for their public health benefits and effects on tackling climate change.

Among the rules were stronger fuel economy standards for vehicles, proposed rules for new coal-fired power plants and limits on mercury and other toxic air pollutants. […]

Republicans have slammed the emissions standards, calling them economically burdensome.

McCarthy said, however, that tackling climate change “hasn’t hurt the economy,” and that “there are tremendous opportunities to address climate change that build the economy, that grow jobs.”

She challenged those in the audience to “be clear on the cost and benefits on all these programs moving forward.”

An analysis of weather station data shows that the coldest American states are warming the fastest, and across the country winter warming since 1970 has been more than four-and-a-half times faster per decade than over the past 100 years. [Climate Central]

The boom in cheap natural gas is undercutting the development of American nuclear power. Since 2010, the amount of electricity generated from U.S. nuclear reactors has fallen about 3 percent. [WaPo]

According to a paper published Thursday in Science, the melting of northern permafrost and consequent release of carbon dioxide could come sooner, and be more widespread, than experts previously believed. [Climate Central]

Time is running out to avert a third summer of drought in much of the High Plains, West and Southwest, unless significant bouts of heavy snow and rain come in the remaining days of winter. [Climate Central]

Affordable solar power is starting to make its way down the income ladder, and a pair of statewide California solar programs show how that’s good news for utility customers and taxpayers, too. [Clean Technia]

A new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance uncovers a litany of biases in financial regulation that tilt markets in favor of conventional energy, and could potentially hold back the flow of investment into renewable energy technologies. [BusinessGreen]