U.S. Energy Secretary coming to Chattanooga for Novonix ceremony and more business news

Staff file photo / Novonix, a maker of synthetic graphite used in electric vehicle batteries, plans to relocate to this former Alstom factory off Riverfront Parkway in Chattanooga.

U.S. Energy secretary coming to Chattanooga

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is slated to be in Chattanooga on Monday to mark the retrofitting of a facility at The Bend where Novonix will invest $160 million and employ 290 people.

Novonix produces ultra-long-life, high-performance anode material for the lithium-ion battery market, which includes electric vehicles and other storage applications.

Along with local officials, other energy leaders slated to attend Monday's event include Dr. Chris Burns, chief executive of Novonix; Andrew Liveris, a Novonix board member and chairman of Lucid Motors, and Zhanna Golodryga, another Novonix board member who is a Phillips 66 senior vice president and chief digital and administrative officer.

Rail transport of LNG gets new regulatory review

Federal regulators have proposed suspending a Trump administration rule that would have allowed railroads to haul liquefied natural gas while they take a closer look at the potential safety risks.

The rule, which was backed by both the natural gas and freight rail industries, had already been on hold because several environmental groups and 14 states filed lawsuits challenging it.

The federal Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said the uncertainty about the rule also kept companies from investing in the specialized rail tank cars that were required, so railroads haven't actually handled any shipments of the flammable and odorless liquid known as LNG since the rule was issued last summer.

The rule would have required enhancements - including a thicker outer tank made of steel with a greater puncture resistance - to the approved tank car design that, for decades, has been approved for shipments of other flammable cryogenic materials, such as liquid ethylene and liquid ethane.

But in their lawsuit, environmental groups argued that those new railcars, which have yet to be built, were untested and might not withstand high-speed impacts, increasing the threat of an explosive train derailment along rail lines that cross directly through the heart of most cities.

"We don't believe that LNG by rail should have ever been authorized in the first place, so we look forward to the authorization being suspended," said Bradley Marshall, who is a senior attorney with Earthjustice which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the environmental groups.

U.S. faces default Dec. 15 if debt ceiling not raised

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Congress Tuesday that she believed she would run out of maneuvering room to avoid the nation's first-ever default soon after Dec. 15.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Yellen said that she believed Treasury could be left with insufficient resources to keep financing the government beyond Dec. 15.

Yellen's new date is slightly later than the Dec. 3 date she provided to Congress in a letter to Congress on Oct. 18. That letter was based on the fact that Congress had just passed a $480 billion increase in the debt limit as a stop-gap measure.

As she has done in the past, Yellen urged Congress to deal with the debt limit quickly to remove the possibility of a potential default on the nation's obligations.

"To ensure the full faith and credit of the United States, it is critical that Congress raise or suspend the debt limit as soon as possible," Yellen wrote to congressional leaders.

Wyoming city picked for TerraPower nuke

A small city in the top U.S. coal-mining state of Wyoming will be home to a Bill Gates-backed experimental nuclear power project near a coal-fired power plant that will soon close, officials announced Tuesday.

Bellevue, Washington-based TerraPower will build its Natrium plant in Kemmerer, a southwestern Wyoming city of 2,600 where the coal-fired Naughton power plant operated by PacifiCorp subsidiary Rocky Mountain Power is set to close in 2025.

"Our innovative technology will help ensure the continued production of reliable electricity while also transitioning our energy system and creating new, good-paying jobs in Wyoming," TerraPower President and CEO Chris Levesque said in a statement.

The project will employ as many as 2,000 people during construction and 250 once operational in a state where the coal industry has been shedding jobs.

If it's as reliable as conventional nuclear power, the 345-megawatt plant would produce enough climate-friendly power to serve about 250,000 homes. The announcement came days after officials from the U.S. and other countries pledged at a global climate-change summit in Scotland to continue working to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Twitter adds new warning for misleading, false tweets

Twitter users will soon see new warning labels on false and misleading tweets, redesigned to make them more effective and less confusing.

The labels, which the company has been testing since July, are an update from those Twitter used for election misinformation before and after the 2020 presidential contest. Those labels drew criticism for not doing enough to keep people from spreading obvious falsehoods.

The redesign launching worldwide on Tuesday is an attempt to make them more useful and easier to notice, among other things.

- Compiled by Dave Flessner