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Apple, Microsoft, Google and Others Pledge Support for Paris Climate Deal

Jul 27, 2015

Major companies, including tech giants Apple, Microsoft and Google have teamed up with the White House to urge international governments to reach a strong climate change agreement in Paris this December.

They're taking action. On Monday, more than a dozen large companies announced a new partnership with the White House to expand renewable energy use and cut greenhouse gas emissions and water use. The companies, which also include Cargill, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, UPS and Walmart, agreed to back a strong international climate change agreement that is to be negotiated in Paris in early December.

The Paris talks are viewed as the last chance to limit man-made global warming to an upper limit of 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. By implication, the companies are also endorsing — or at least not objecting to — the Obama administration's own climate goals, which are to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28% by 2025 compared to 2005 levels.

Hillary Clinton Previews Plans to Combat Climate Change

Jul 27, 2015
(Wall Street Journal)

Hillary Clinton sought to elevate the issue of climate change in the 2016 political debate Sunday as she announced two “bold national goals” to expand clean-energy production.

Mrs. Clinton pledged to take steps as president to ensure that within a decade, the U.S. will produce enough clean, renewable energy to power every home in the country. And she set a target of half a billion solar panels installed in the U.S. by the end of her first term.

The announcements Sunday evening were the start of what the Clinton campaign said would be a monthslong rollout of a broader energy and climate strategy. The focus on these issues allows Mrs. Clinton to draw sharp contrasts with GOP presidential candidates and respond to challenges from her left flank.

Clinton's climate plan

Wealthy Donor Tom Steyer Announces New Climate Litmus Test for Candidates

Jul 24, 2015
(New York Times)

Tom Steyer, the billionaire environmentalist who emerged as the single biggest individual political donor in the 2014 midterm elections, is ramping up his efforts to make climate change a major issue for candidates in 2016.

On Friday, Mr. Steyer’s advocacy group, NextGen Climate Action, will announce that for a 2016 candidate to receive its financial backing, he or she must pledge to enact an energy policy that would lead to the generation of half the nation's electricity from renewable or zero-carbon sources by 2030 – more than tripling the current use of such sources – and 100 percent from clean sources by 2050.

White House Threatens Veto of Bill to Weaken Coal Ash Regulations

Jul 23, 2015
(International Business Times)

The Obama administration is threatening to veto a House bill that would weaken new federal limits on coal ash, the toxic byproduct of coal-fired power plants. Legislators are set to vote Wednesday on the measure, which senior White House advisers say will “undermine the protection of public health” if passed.

H.R. 1734 targets a suite of coal-ash regulations adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in December. The rules aim to prevent massive spills and protect drinking water by forcing faulty dumps to close and keeping new facilities out of wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas.

Obama Admin OKs Arctic Drilling, but Imposes Big Constraints on Shell

Jul 22, 2015
(Houston Chronicle)

The Obama administration on Wednesday gave Shell permission to bore two new exploratory wells in the Arctic Ocean, but imposed major restrictions that could keep the company’s drill bits from reaching potential oil-bearing rock thousands of feet below the surface.

Under the new drilling permits from the Interior Department, Shell could begin working within days on its planned wells in the Chukchi Sea northwest of Alaska, but it can only focus on one at a time. And it will have to halt those efforts thousands of feet above potential oil and gas, at least until a damaged company-contracted icebreaker returns from repairs in Oregon.

Another Month, Another Global Heat Record Broken—by Far

Jul 21, 2015

Earth dialed the heat up in June, smashing warm temperature records for both the month and the first half of the year.

Off-the-charts heat is "getting to be a monthly thing," said Jessica Blunden, a climate scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. June was the fourth month of 2015 that set a record, she said.

"There is almost no way that 2015 isn't going to be the warmest on record," she added.

NOAA calculated that the world's average temperature in June hit 61.48 degrees Fahrenheit (16.33 Celsius), breaking the old record set last year by 0.22 degrees (.12 degrees Celsius). Usually temperature records are broken by one or two one-hundredths of a degree, not nearly a quarter of a degree, Blunden said.

Oil Spill Confirmed Off Great Barrier Reef

Jul 17, 2015
(Brisbane Times)

Specialist aircraft will leave Cairns early Saturday on an urgent mission to determine the extent of an oil spill near the Great Barrier Reef.

The slick was discovered in waters off Townsville by a fisherman Friday morning and confirmed Friday evening by the state government.

Pollution clean-up teams have now been placed on alert.

A Townsville fisherman told the Townsville Coast Guard on Friday morning that he had seen an oil spill between 800 metres to 1000 metres long about 18 nautical miles NNE of Cape Upstart.

Pipeline Leak in Alberta Spills 5 Million Liters, One of Largest in Province's History

Jul 17, 2015
(CBC News)

One of the largest leaks in Alberta history has spilled about five million liters of emulsion from a Nexen Energy pipeline at the company's Long Lake oilsands facility south of Fort McMurray.

The leak was discovered Wednesday afternoon.

Nexen said in a statement its emergency response plan has been activated and personnel were onsite. The leak has been stabilized, the company said.

June Hottest on Record: Japan Meteorological Agency

Jul 15, 2015
(Sydney Morning Herald)

Last month was the hottest June on record by a wide margin, Japan Meteorological Agency said, increasing the likelihood that 2015 will also be the warmest.

Global surface temperatures were 0.41 degrees above the 1981-2010 average in June, the largest such anomaly in records going back to 1891, according to preliminary data from the state agency.

The previous warmest June came just last year, when the departure from the long-run average was 0.33 degrees, indicating a sizeable jump in 2015.

Plains All American Pipeline Suffers Second Significant Oil Spill This Year

Jul 13, 2015
(Fuel Fix)

Workers are still using containment booms and vacuum trucks to corral and clean up crude that spilled from a Plains All American Pipeline pump station in Illinois.

Although Plains said flows through the Pocahontas pump station on its 20-inch Capwood Pipeline were shut off within two minutes of a spill report Friday morning, some 4,200 gallons of oil had already been released. After some of the oil entered a nearby creek, first responders hustled Friday to deploy protective boom and keep it out of Highland Silver Lake, which supplies drinking water to Highland, Illinois.

The incident marks the second significant spill this year for Houston-based Plains, which is still working to clean up crude on Southern California beaches contaminated after more than 100,000 gallons of oil escaped a pipeline in May.