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Price of Gas in U.S. Rises as Refiners Export More to Other Countries

Apr 23, 2014
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))

Drivers in the U.S. are facing rising gasoline prices ahead of summer-vacation season, just as refiners here are shipping more gas to other countries.

A new pipeline, built to release a glut of crude oil that was stuck in the middle of the country, is now feeding oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast that churn out gasoline and diesel. While these fuels still make their way to the Southeast and the East Coast, growing amounts are being sold to Mexico, the Netherlands, Brazil and other countries.

The push into these markets has been spurred by the U.S. oil boom. Rising oil output had been flooding the nation's oil market in recent years, keeping U.S. crude prices low relative to world prices. Facing tepid fuel demand in the U.S., refiners have been ramping up exports, creating more global competition for U.S.-produced fuel.

Canada Strips N. Pacific Humpback Whale of 'Threatened' Status, Removing Hurdle to Tar Sands Pipeline

Apr 22, 2014
(Vancouver Sun)

The Harper government is downgrading the protection of the North Pacific humpback whale despite objections from a clear majority of groups that were consulted.

Critics say the whales could face greater danger if two major oilsands pipeline projects get the go-ahead, since both would result in a sharp increase in movement of large vessels on the West Coast that occasionally collide with, and kill, whales like the humpback.

The decision was made under the Species At Risk Act (SARA), and declares the humpback a "species of special concern" rather than "threatened."

Horses, Teepees Arrive on National Mall for Keystone XL Protest

Apr 22, 2014
(Politico)

Horses, Daryl Hannah, sacred fires and Neil Young—these are some of the things you're likely to see on the National Mall starting Tuesday as part of the latest protest against the Keystone XL pipeline.

The "Reject and Protect" protest is a weeklong event hosted by the Cowboy and Indian Alliance, a group of ranchers, farmers and leaders of seven Native American tribes. Protesters said activists also plan to project anti-pipeline messages onto the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday night, hold an interfaith ceremony outside the Georgetown home of Secretary of State John Kerry and stage an unspecified "bold and creative" bit of civil disobedience.

They're estimating that as many as 5,000 activists will take part in a march past the Capitol on Saturday. The rest of the week is expected to be more intimate.

Things kick off Tuesday morning with a short 24-horse ride from the Capitol to a reserved area near the Reflecting Pool.

State Dept Delays Keystone XL Review Pending Neb. Court Decision

Apr 18, 2014
(AP)

The State Department is giving federal agencies more time to review the Keystone XL pipeline before deciding whether to issue a permit.

That could push a decision about the controversial oil pipeline until after the midterm elections in November.

The State Department is citing a recent decision by a Nebraska judge that overturned a state law that allowed the pipeline's path through the state. The State Department says that created uncertainty and ongoing litigation.

Va. Supreme Court Rules for Michael Mann in Global Warming FOIA Case

Apr 17, 2014
(Washington Post)

Unpublished research by university scientists is exempt from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled Thursday, rejecting an attempt by skeptics of global warming to view the work of a prominent climate researcher during his years at the University of Virginia.

The ruling is the latest turn in the FOIA request filed in 2011 by Del. Robert Marshall (R-Prince William) and the American Tradition Institute to obtain research and e-mails of former U-Va. professor.

Federal Appeals Court: EPA Can Force Power Plants to Cut Mercury Emissions

Apr 16, 2014
(Washington Post)

A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld regulations adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency to cut mercury and other emissions from large power plants, a setback for states and energy trade groups that have been challenging Clean Air Act regulations during the Obama administration.

The decision by a three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit means that coal- and oil-fired plants must purchase scrubbers and other equipment to prevent 91 percent of mercury from being released into the air during the burning of coal.

States led by conservative governors—among them Michigan, Idaho, Ohio, Alaska and Kansas—joined trade groups in claiming that EPA overstepped its authority by crafting the mercury rule without considering its $9.6 billion per year cost to the economy, risking 16,000 jobs.

When Congress granted EPA the authority to limit emissions of hazardous air pollutants in 1990, lawmakers were more concerned with the impact on human health than costs, Judge Judith W. Rogers wrote in the opinion.

Oil Sands Company Given Four Months to Halt Emissions in Alberta

Apr 16, 2014
(CBC News)

Families forced from their homes in the Peace Country, received some welcome news today when the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) ordered an oil sands company to capture all harmful emissions.

Almost two years ago, seven families in northwest Alberta abandoned their homes after they began getting sick.

On Tuesday the AER accepted all recommendations from a public inquiry into the emissions and gave Baytex Energy four months to capture all emissions or face consequences.

"It can depend on the infraction and the seriousness of it, but it could certainly result in a shut in of the well or facility," said spokesperson Carol Crowfoot.

Northern Gateway Pipeline Rejected By B.C. First Nation

Apr 14, 2014
(The Canadian Press)

A group of First Nations with territory covering a quarter of the route for the proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline met with federal representatives Friday to officially reject the project.

Officials with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the National Energy Board and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans met with the four clans of the Yinka Dene in Fort St. James, and listened as dozens of elders, hereditary and elected chiefs said "No."

"We do not, we will not, allow this pipeline," Peter Erickson, a hereditary chief of the Nak'azdli First Nation, told the six federal bureaucrats.

"We're going to send the message today to the federal government and to the company itself: their pipeline is dead. Under no circumstances will that proposal be allowed.

"Their pipeline is now a pipe dream."

Senate Dems Urge Obama to Decide on Keystone XL Pipeline by May 31

Apr 10, 2014
(Bloomberg)

A group of 11 Senate Democrats, including five seeking re-election this year, urged President Barack Obama to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline by May 31.

"This process has been exhaustive in its time, breadth, and scope," the Democrats wrote in a letter sent to Obama today. "It has already taken much longer than anyone can reasonably justify. This is an international project that will provide our great friend and ally, Canada, a direct route to our refineries."

Senate Democrats Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Warner of Virginia -- all up for re-election -- signed the letter. All previously backed the Keystone project.

Divestment Activists Claim Victory as Harvard Adopts Green Investment Principles

Apr 8, 2014
(Guardian)

Harvard has become the first American university to sign on to a United Nations-backed code of responsible investment – in a move to assuage a carbon divestment campaign.

Six months after explicitly rejecting calls to divest from fossil fuels, managers of Harvard's $33bn endowment will now be guided by a set of investment principles taking into account environmental and social factors such as water and human rights, the university announced on Monday.

The new guidelines, set by the Principles of Responsible Investment organization, do not commit Harvard to selling existing holdings in fossil fuels.

But campaigners still claimed the step as a victory for a divestment movement that has now spread to more than 500 university campuses and other institutions across America and Europe.

Nine colleges have so far divested fossil fuels, the campaign said.

“A year ago Harvard was no way no how. But science is pushing everyone in the direction of action; students should be proud they've breached the dam of resistance,” said Bill McKibben, a Harvard graduate and founder of 350.org, which has led the campus divestment movement.

Campaigning organisation Divest Harvard in its statement noted that the university still had millions invested in fossil fuels.“We need to divest from the problem as we invest in new solutions,” it said.

Under the new initiatives announced by Harvard president, Drew Gilpin Faust, the university will ask alumni and donors to help raise $20 million for climate research.

The university will also join the Carbon Disclosure Project, requiring Harvard to report on its carbon footprint.