Lawsuit Challenges Trump Administration’s Suppression of Grid Study Bolstering Clean Energy Transition

Energy Department Blocked Release of Research Detrimental to Fossil Fuels

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Trump administration today for failing to release documents about a $1.5 million study that examined how grid improvements can bolster renewable energy access.

Today's lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., challenges the Department of Energy's suppression of information about the Interconnections Seam Study prepared by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The publicly funded study was submitted to the DOE months ago, but the department refuses to release it.

The study, researchers say, found that strengthening connections among the nation's three largely independent electricity grids could deliver more than $160 billion in economic gains by moving wind- and solar-generated power to high-population areas.

"Blocking this grid research seems like a desperate attempt by the Trump administration to suppress clean energy and prop up dirty fossil fuels," said Howard Crystal, a Center attorney. "The public has a right to see this study, even if the coal industry and natural gas companies don't like the science. With California burning and the Southeast flooding, there's zero time for these antics in this climate emergency."

In October 2019 the Center filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the study records. The Energy Department has not produced any of the documents.

One vital benefit of improving connections across the U.S. grid will be expanding the availability of intermittent resources like wind and solar to locations where the energy can be immediately used. Wind power produced east of the Rockies, for example, could be used on the West Coast.

"This study seems to offer crucial information about getting clean energy to the places it's needed most," said Crystal. "The climate crisis demands a wholescale reform of our grid system, and step one is bringing more renewable energy online as fast as possible."

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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