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Republicans Craft 2015 Plan to Force Obama's Hand on Keystone Pipeline

Oct 2, 2014
(Reuters)

Republicans plan to put approval of the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline on a fast track early next year if they win a U.S. Senate majority in November, finally forcing President Barack Obama to make a tough call on the controversial plan.

The $10 billion Keystone project to connect Canadian oil sands with U.S. refineries will top the list of Republican energy priorities if they gain control of the Senate after the Nov. 4 midterm elections. It could come as a stand-alone measure or attached to must-pass legislation such as a government spending or transportation bill, according to senators and congressional aides.

EPA: Greenhouse Gases From Major Polluters Grew Last Year

Sep 30, 2014
(The Hill)

Large industrial facilities emitted 20 million more metric tons of greenhouse gases, or a 0.6 percent increase, last year over 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said.

The EPA attributed the emissions gain to an uptick in the use of coal for power generation.

"Climate change, fueled by greenhouse gas pollution, is threatening our health, our economy, and our way of life — increasing our risks from intense extreme weather, air pollution, drought and disease," EPA head Gina McCarthy said in a statement.

Controversial Natural Gas Export Plan in Maryland Gets U.S. Approval

Sep 30, 2014
(Fuel Fix)

Dominion Energy received federal approval late Monday to export liquefied natural gas from its Cove Point terminal on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.

In its decision, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission concluded that the project, as approved with conditions, would minimize potential adverse impacts on landowners and the environment.

FERC has approved three other LNG export projects, but this is the first one on the East Coast. The others are in the Gulf of Mexico.

Global Wildlife Populations Down by Half Since 1970

Sep 30, 2014
(Reuters)

The world populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles fell overall by 52 percent between 1970 and 2010, far faster than previously thought, the World Wildlife Fund said on Tuesday.

The conservation group's Living Planet Report, published every two years, said humankind's demands were now 50 percent more than nature can bear, with trees being felled, groundwater pumped and carbon dioxide emitted faster than Earth can recover.

"This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live," Ken Norris, Director of Science at the Zoological Society of London, said in a statement.

Oil Company Occidental Petroleum Cuts Ties With ALEC

Sep 29, 2014
(National Journal)

A large oil and natural gas company is parting ways with the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Occidental Petroleum sent a letter Friday to an investment management company indicating its intention to sever ties with ALEC, a conservative coalition of state legislators and major corporations that actively opposes environmental regulations.

"There are no plans to continue Occidental's membership in, or make further payments to, ALEC," the company said in a letter to Walden Asset Management obtained by National Journal. Occidental declined to comment on the letter.

In a statement, ALEC attempted to downplay the departure.

Beijing Says Emissions Fell During First Year of Carbon Trading

Sep 29, 2014
(Reuters)

Carbon dioxide emissions from Beijing's major polluters fell 4.5 percent in 2013 as a nascent emissions trading scheme cut compliance costs for firms, the Chinese capital's municipal government said on Monday.

Beijing is one of seven cities and provinces in China that have launched pilot emissions trading schemes ahead of a national market to be launched in the world's biggest-emitting nation in 2016.

The Beijing market began in November, but with caps on CO2 emissions for participating companies backdated to the beginning of the year.

Canada: Federal Appeals Court to Hear First Nation's Challenge to Tar Sands Pipeline

Sep 28, 2014
(The Canadian Press)

A First Nation from British Columbia's North Coast says the Federal Court of Appeal has agreed to hear its legal challenge of the Northern Gateway pipeline project.

The Gitxaala (git-HAT-lah) Nation filed the court action in July over a federal cabinet decision to approve the project that would link Alberta oilsands with a marine terminal on the B.C. coast.

The Gitxaala say it has now been given the green light for a judicial review of the controversial $7-billion pipeline project proposed by Calgary-based Enbridge.

 

Keystone XL Foes Claim Victory as Statoil Delays Oil Sands Plan

Sep 26, 2014
(Reuters)

Six years after the Keystone XL oil pipeline was first proposed, environmental groups are celebrating their most tangible victory in their crusade to stop the line from delivering Canadian oil sands crude to U.S. refiners.

On Thursday, Norwegian oil firm Statoil said it will postpone its 40,000 barrels-a-day Corner project for at least three years, possibly indefinitely.

While a handful of other projects have also been delayed or canceled this year, due in part to rising costs, Statoil is the first company to explicitly cite the issue of "limited pipeline access" as a reason. Its decision drew a direct link to the contentious and growing battle between producers seeking access to global markets and environmentalists seeking to block every export avenue for Canada's oil sands.

Americans Growing More Worried About Climate Change, New Polls Reveal

Sep 26, 2014
(Huffington Post)

Americans are getting increasingly worried about climate change and its impacts, according to results from at least two nationwide polls released this week.

A New York Times/CBS News poll found that nearly half of Americans believe that global warming is causing a serious impact now, while about 60 percent said that protecting the environment should be a priority "even at the risk of curbing economic growth."

Fifty-four percent of those surveyed said that global warming is caused by human activity. This, the New York Times notes, is the "highest level ever recorded by the national poll."

Those results echo those of another survey conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which found that more than 70 percent of Americans believe climate change is either a critical or an important threat "to the vital interests" of the country, while more than 80 percent said that combating climate change is either a "very important" or "somewhat important" goal for the U.S.

California Drought Has 14 Communities on Brink of Waterlessness

Sep 26, 2014
(Los Angeles Times)

Under the blistering Central Valley sun, Filiberta Sanchez and her toddler granddaughter strolled down a Parkwood sidewalk lined with yellow weeds, dying grass and trees more fit for kindling than shade.

"It was very pretty here, very pretty," said Sanchez, 56, as little Jenny crunched a fistful of parched dirt and pine needles she grabbed from the ground. "Now everything's dry."

Parkwood's last well dried up in July. County officials, after much hand-wringing, made a deal with the city of Madera for a temporary water supply, but the arrangement prohibited Parkwood's 3,000 residents from using so much as a drop of water on their trees, shrubs or lawns. The county had to find a permanent water fix.