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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.

Enbridge First to Confirm Plans to Export Canadian Oil Via United States

Apr 7, 2014
(Reuters)

Enbridge Inc. has become the first company to confirm plans to re-export Canadian oil from the United States, a move that could fuel debate over U.S. trade policy and intensify opposition to new oil sands pipelines.

Its U.S. subsidiary Tidal Energy Marketing has received a U.S. government license to export "limited quantities" of Canadian-origin oil from a U.S. port, Enbridge said, confirming weeks of market rumors and speculation about such shipments. Market sources say they expect the first 40,000-tonne cargoes to set sail from Texas ports to Europe later in April.

Re-exports from the United States are rare but allowed as an exception to a contentious ban on exports of its own oil imposed since the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s.

Draft IPCC Report Suggests 15-Year Window for Affordable Climate Action

Apr 7, 2014
(AFP)

Government envoys and scientists gathered under the UN banner in Berlin Monday to hammer out a list of options for curbing carbon emissions driving dangerous climate change.

Fresh from issuing its starkest-ever warning about the impacts of global warming on Earth's weather system, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will meet until Friday to vet the choices meant to inform policymakers.

A draft of the document, seen by AFP, suggests there is a 15-year window for affordable action to safely reach the UN's warming limit of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times.

The report, the product of four years' work by hundreds of experts, aims to provide governments with the latest science on climate change.

Enbridge Targets May 1 for Start-Up of Pipeline That Ruptured in 2010

Apr 4, 2014
(Reuters)

Enbridge Inc, Canada's largest pipeline company, said on Thursday it was targeting May 1 for the start-up of its expanded Line 6B, which carries crude oil from Griffith, Indiana, to Sarnia, Ontario.

The company's $1.6 billion Line 6B replacement program will raise the capacity of the pipe to 500,000 barrels per day from 240,000, bringing additional supplies of Canadian crude to refineries in Michigan, Ohio and eastern Canada.

The company had an initial April 1 start-up date, with the delay coming as Enbridge dealt with technical issues with the existing pipe while filling the new line with oil.

Exxon Agrees to Disclose Fracking Risks

Apr 4, 2014
(Wall Street Journal)

Exxon Mobil Corp. agreed to publicly disclose more details on the risks of hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells, reversing a long-held opposition after negotiations with environmental groups and investors.

The Texas oil company's decision is the latest evidence of a shift by Exxon's top executives to address growing environmental worries about fracking, a contentious energy production technique in some North American communities.

Exxon's disclosures are a response to a shareholder proposal brought by the New York City comptroller and social-responsibility advocate As You Sow, which agreed to withdraw the measure ahead of the company's annual meeting next month.

The move is hardly a surrender to environmental interests, but does indicate a greater push by executives to press their case for oil and gas development at a time when public opposition to domestic drilling has unnerved some in the industry.

TransCanada Sets Deadline for Keystone Pipeline Easement Offers

Apr 3, 2014
(Lincoln Journal Star)

Landowners along the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline received letters Wednesday warning them that current easement offers will be pulled after May 14—and future offers will be significantly less lucrative.

TransCanada Corp., the Calgary-based company seeking to build the pipeline, has made offers as high as $250,000, including up-front crop damage payments and land-use compensation.

After the deadline, the company said, compensation packages will be refigured to reflect actual land values and commodity prices.

TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard said the deadline is a standard business practice, and the company has made efforts to negotiate in good faith.