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Judge Finds BP 'Reckless' in Oil Spill; May Levy $18B Fine

Sep 4, 2014
(New York Times)

A federal judge ruled on Thursday that BP was grossly negligent in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil well blowout that killed 11 workers, spilled millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and soiled hundreds of miles of beaches.

"BP's conduct was reckless," United States District Court Judge Carl J. Barbier wrote in his sternly worded decision. Judge Barbier also ruled that Transocean, the owner of the rig, and Halliburton, the service company that cemented the well, were negligent in the accident.

U.N. Chief Tries to Kick-Start Sagging Enthusiasm for Climate Deal

Sep 4, 2014
(Reuters)

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon this month hopes to reinvigorate the years-long effort to forge a global climate deal, even as concerns grow over whether the final pact will be rigorous enough to address threats to the environment.

Ban wants heads of state at a Sept. 23 gathering in New York to outline how their countries will contribute to a mutual goal to contain rising temperatures, said Selwin Hart, the Barbadian diplomat helping to spearhead the conference. The final deal is due to be signed in Paris in 2015.

Hart said the event will avoid some of the thornier questions surrounding the ultimate outcome of the Paris summit, but should give a good indication of how serious countries are.

High-Volume Fracking to Be Banned in Nova Scotia

Sep 4, 2014
(CBC News)

Nova Scotia will introduce legislation to prohibit high-volume hydraulic fracturing for onshore shale gas this fall, Energy Minister Andrew Younger said Wednesday. 

The decision follows an independent panel review that recommended the government proceed slowly. Younger said the ban is not permanent, but would not say how long it will last. 

Younger said the public have "overwhelmingly expressed concern" about allowing hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking. "And we need to respect that. We need to respect the trust the people have put in us," he said.

Obama Administration May Force Drillers to Cut Methane Leaks, EPA Chief Says

Sep 3, 2014
(Bloomberg)

The Environmental Protection Agency is considering rules that would force oil and gas producers to cut methane emissions, its chief said, stepping up efforts to curb the most potent greenhouse gas linked to climate change.

Gina McCarthy, the EPA administrator, told investors at a New York forum today the agency will decide this year whether to issue regulations mandating emission cuts, or to rely only on voluntary steps.

"We are looking at what are the most cost-effective regulatory and-or voluntary efforts that can take a chunk out of methane in the system," McCarthy said. "It's not just for climate, but for air quality" reasons, she said.

 

Video: UN Predicts Climate Hell in 2050 With Imagined Weather Forecasts

Sep 2, 2014
(Reuters via Guardian)

The United Nations is warning of floods, storms and searing heat from Arizona to Zambia within four decades, as part of a series of imagined weather forecasts released on Monday for a campaign publicizing a UN climate summit.

"Miami South Beach is under water," one forecaster says in a first edition of "weather reports from the future", a series set in 2050 and produced by companies including Japan's NHK, the US Weather Channel and ARD in Germany.

The UN World Meteorological Organization, which invited well-known television presenters to make videos to be issued before the summit on 23 September, said the scenarios were imaginary but realistic for a warming world.

A Zambian forecaster, for instance, describes a severe heatwave and an American presenter says: "The mega-droughtin Arizona has claimed another casualty."

Some, however, show extreme change. One Bulgarian presenter shows a red map with temperatures of 50C (122F) – far above the temperature record for the country of 45.2C (113F) recorded in 1916.

More Arsenic in Texas Water Wells Near Gas Drilling, Study Finds

Sep 2, 2014
(AP via Fuel Fix)

North Texas water wells within two miles of active gas drilling sites contain higher concentrations of arsenic and other carcinogens, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

In the study, University of Texas at Arlington biochemists measured 100 wells across the Barnett Shale, believed to hold one of the largest natural gas reserves in the U.S., and compared the results to a similar study undertaken before hydraulic fracturing technology and higher natural gas prices opened the area to drilling.

Some 30 percent of the wells within 1.8 miles of gas drilling sites showed an increased amount of arsenic and other heavy metals, the study said, and 29 wells exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum arsenic limits of 10 parts per billion.

China's National Carbon Trading Market to Start in 2016

Sep 1, 2014
(Reuters)

China plans to roll out its national market for carbon permit trading in 2016, an official said Sunday, adding that the government is close to finalizing rules for what will be the world's biggest emissions trading scheme.

The world's biggest-emitting nation, accounting for nearly 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, plans to use the market to slow its rapid growth in climate-changing emissions.

China has pledged to reduce the amount of carbon it emits per unit of GDP to 40-45 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

Shell Canada: Tar Sands Mines May Not Meet Toxic Waste Targets

Aug 29, 2014
(Wall Street Journal, sub. req'd.)

The head of Royal Dutch Shell PLC's Canadian unit Wednesday said the company may not be able to meet promised targets for reducing toxic wastes from oil sands and called for greater regulatory flexibility.

Shell, which operates two major oil-sands surface mines in northern Alberta, had committed to cutting the amount of waste generated by its heavy-oil extraction projects in Canada. But the company and other producers have struggled to meet reduction targets mandated by the government and now face the prospect of penalties if those goals remain unmet.

"It's going to be very challenging" to achieve mandated reduction targets next year, said Lorraine Mitchelmore, president of Shell Canada Ltd.

3rd Colorado City Loses Court Fight Over Fracking

Aug 28, 2014
(AP)

Colorado's oil and gas industry has again won another court battle against a town that banned or limited fracking.

A Boulder District Court judge on Wednesday tossed out a voter-approved fracking ban in Lafayette. The ban was adopted last year.

The Colorado Oil & Gas Association challenged the fracking ban.

Judge D. D. Mallard also struck down a voter-approved fracking ban in Longmont. She said in both decisions that local governments cannot regulate drilling.

Blast Shakes BP's Tar Sands Refinery in Indiana

Aug 28, 2014
(Reuters)

An explosion shook BP Plc's Whiting, Indiana refinery, its largest in the United States, on Wednesday night but a resulting fire had been contained as of 9:30 pm local time (0230 GMT Thursday), according to a report by WFLD-TV.

Local officials did not know which unit was involved and a BP spokesman said the company was preparing a statement.

There were reports from local media that at least one person was taken to an area hospital. Other reports said no injuries had been reported in the blaze.