Low-emission metal, green hydrogen and electric buses

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Welcome to Climate Point, your weekly guide to climate, energy and environment news from around the Golden State and the country. In Palm Springs, Calif., I’m Mark Olalde.

COVID-19 numbers in the U.S. are once again trending very much in the wrong direction. We first hit a peak number of cases in April. Then we hit a higher peak in July. Now, after making progress, we’re going backwards, with the number of new cases identified each day edging back toward the summer high.

Against that backdrop, USA Today Network reporters teamed up to dig into inequities across the country that are fueling the virus’ spread through low-income communities and neighborhoods predominantly populated by people of color. Too often, we’re seeing that environmental woes and public health are intertwined. In this must-read series, reporters found that factors such as proximity to heavily polluting industries seem to be making the pandemic worse.

Bishop Antoine Jasmine of Choice International Ministries poses for a portrait in front of a photo of his parents, who both lived in Reserve, LA, and died four hours apart from COVID-19 complications in April.  (Photo: Jasper Colt, USA TODAY)

Here’s some other important reporting….

MUST-READ STORIES

Can green go blue? The jury’s still out on hydrogen’s place in the clean-energy world, as forming hydrogen gas is an energy-intensive process that can come with heavy carbon emissions. But there is “green hydrogen,” where hydrogen is pulled from water using power from renewables. If that can be scaled, it could be an important slice of a green future. Bloomberg reports that Spain recently committed $10.5 billion to spur development in this field. In related news, CNBC reports that a hydrogen fuel cell plane with room for several passengers flew a maiden trip, signaling another step forward in the use of hydrogen for power.

Uprooted. For reasons ranging from long-standing legal rights to an often traditional connection to the area, indigenous land holders are one of the strongest defenses against widespread development. But that truism is losing some of its hold in the Amazon, where Mongabay reports a new study found mining now covers more than 20% of indigenous land. While in some cases it’s indigenous groups living in poverty who are doing the mining themselves, in more instances the disparity comes from federal governments loosely enforcing land rights and providing minimal policing of land appropriation.

When the wells run dry. We’re at a turning point in the history of oil and gas. Even petroleum companies predict we’ve hit — or aren’t far off from — peak oil, which is the moment demand begins to finally drop. As this global shift coincides with temporary demand drop due to COVID-19 and an ill-timed price war, the name of the game is bankruptcy, with dozens of companies going under recently. For The Desert Sun, I’ve been tracking California Resources Corp., which is teaching investors some hard lessons. It was given the green light to emerge from bankruptcy this week, but how long will