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

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


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

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

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

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

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.

Heathrow Airport Disrupted as Climate Activists Protest on Runway


Climate change activists have chained themselves together on the northern runway at Heathrow, with the airport warning of some delays and cancellations for passengers.

Thirteen demonstrators from direct action group Plane Stupid cut through a perimeter fence and entered the northern runway at 3.30am on Monday. Activists wore armlocks and lay on the runway, where police brought heavy machinery to cut them free.

Plane Stupid said the protesters – one of whom was dressed as a polar bear – were campaigning against runway expansion and further protests would follow.

Canadian Premiers Set to Fast-Track Oil Pipelines While Watering Down Climate Goals

Globe and Mail

Canada's premiers are poised to sign an agreement to fast-track new oil sands pipelines while watering down commitments to fight climate change.

The Canadian Energy Strategy will be finalized and unveiled at a premiers’ conference in St. John’s beginning Wednesday. But The Globe and Mail has obtained a draft of the plan that reveals the key points and stumbling blocks.

Carbon Cuts at Local Level Could Avoid Dangerous Global Warming, Study Says


A landmark climate change conference in Paris this December has triggered commitments on carbon emissions curbs from most of the world’s major polluters – but those pledges will still not be enough to bring about the reductions scientists say are necessary.

A new report published on Tuesday shows that the remainder of the needed reductions in carbon can be found if actions are taken at a local level, deforestation is halted, and other greenhouse gases are tackled.

The New Climate Economy, a group of experts and academics, said that if its recommendations were followed, between nearly two-thirds and 96% of the extra carbon cuts needed to avoid dangerous global warming could be found.

White House Solar Plan Aims at Low- and Middle-Income People

New York Times

The Obama administration on Tuesday will announce an initiative to help low- and middle-income Americans gain access to solar energy, part of a series of steps President Obama is taking to tackle climate change, according to administration officials.

The administration will announce that it intends to triple the capacity of solar and other renewable energy systems it installs in federally subsidized housing by 2020, make it easier for homeowners to borrow money for solar improvements and start a nationwide program to help renters gain access to solar energy, the officials said.

The actions are to be announced in Baltimore by Brian Deese, Mr. Obama’s senior adviser for climate issues, and Representative Elijah E. Cummings, the Democrat who represents the city.

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