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California Joins 7 Other States to Put 3.3M Zero-Emission Vehicles on Road

May 29, 2014
(Mercury News)

California leads the nation in electric vehicle sales, and now is joining forces with Oregon and several Northeastern states to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025.

Gov. Jerry Brown and his counterparts in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont signed a set of agreements Thursday that includes adding zero-emission vehicles to public fleets and harmonizing building codes to make it easier to install electric-vehicle charging stations.

"This is not just an agreement but a serious and profoundly important commitment," Brown, long a champion of electric vehicles, said in a statement. "From coast to coast, we're charging ahead to get millions of the world's cleanest vehicles on our roads."

Pipeline Defects Lead to New Safety Requirements for Keystone XL

May 28, 2014
(AP)

Safety regulators have quietly placed two extra conditions on construction of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline after learning of potentially dangerous construction defects involving the southern leg of the Canada-to-Texas project.

The defects — high rates of bad welds, dented pipe and damaged pipeline coating — have been fixed. But the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration wants to make sure similar problems don’t occur during construction of the pipeline’s controversial northern segment, which is on hold pending a decision by the Obama administration.

One condition requires TransCanada to hire a third-party contractor chosen by the pipeline safety agency to monitor the construction and make reports to the safety administration on whether the work is sound.

Koch Bros. Company Files to Develop Oil Sands Project

May 26, 2014
(The Globe and Mail)

The Canadian oil arm of the conglomerate owned by the U.S. billionaire Koch brothers has begun initial regulatory work on a multibillion-dollar oil sands project after an asset-sales effort two years ago left it holding a number of leases.

Koch Oil Sands Operating LLC, the Calgary-based unit of Koch Industries Inc., has made an initial filing with Alberta regulators and has been in consultation with the nearby Fort McKay First Nation regarding the proposed development.

"We intend to develop a bitumen recovery project identified as the Dunkirk In Situ Project and have submitted the proposed Terms of Reference for an Environmental Impact Assessment to Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development," Paul Baltzer, spokesman for the Wichita, Kan.-based company, said in an e-mail.

Billionaire Climate Activist to Spend $100M on Races From Florida to Colorado

May 22, 2014
(Wall Street Journal)

Billionaire Tom Steyer's environmental group, NextGen, revealed the seven major races it is targeting this fall, drawing on the $100 million that Mr. Steyer has pledged to raise to tip midterm elections toward environmental-friendly candidates.

The races include the gubernatorial election in Florida and Senate contest in Colorado.

In a meeting with reporters Wednesday, NextGen political strategists said the organization will campaign on "household-level" climate-change issues to persuade voters to support Democrats.

U.S. Cuts Estimate of Recoverable Monterey Shale Oil by 96 Percent

May 21, 2014
(Los Angeles Times)

Federal energy authorities have slashed by 96% the estimated amount of recoverable oil buried in California's vast Monterey Shale deposits, deflating its potential as a national "black gold mine" of petroleum.

Just 600 million barrels of oil can be extracted with existing technology, far below the 13.7 billion barrels once thought recoverable from the jumbled layers of subterranean rock spread across much of Central California, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.

The new estimate, expected to be released publicly next month, is a blow to the nation's oil future and to projections that an oil boom would bring as many as 2.8 million new jobs to California and boost tax revenue by $24.6 billion annually.

InsideClimate News Wins Deadline Club Award for 'Bloomberg's Hidden Legacy'

May 21, 2014
(InsideClimate News)

The Deadline Club announced Monday that InsideClimate News reporters Katherine Bagley and Maria Gallucci won in the category of independent digital media for "Bloomberg's Hidden Legacy: Climate Change and the Future of New York City."

"Bloomberg's Hidden Legacy" chronicles the historic effort by Mayor Bloomberg, his staff and other city leaders to make New York City the world leader in the fight to tackle climate change and reduce emissions.

The 10-chapter book is based on extensive, exclusive interviews with the key players on Bloomberg's team, including Bloomberg himself. It contains key moments that help readers understand the human side of the massive urban rethink, with real people making tough decisions, facing sleepless nights, contending with resistance and disappointment, and still pushing ahead into uncharted territory.

The Deadline Club said at the awards ceremony, "In Bloomberg's Hidden Legacy, the climate change issue is highlighted through New York City Mayor Bloomberg's environmental policy, which was shoved into the spotlight after Superstorm Sandy. Through a command of facts, context and fine storytelling, the writers show the next mayor's challenge in maintaining the city's sustainability and protecting its residents from the next disaster."

The Deadline Club is the largest chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Its annual contest is one of the longest-running and most prestigious journalism awards in New York City. This year there were a record 547 entries.

The two finalists for the Independent Digital Media category were Sasha Chavkin of The New York World for "How New York City Failed the Vulnerable During Sandy," and The Crime Report's Lisa Riordan Seville and Graham Kates for "A Home of Their Own: An Investigation of New York's 'Sober Home' System."

"Bloomberg's Hidden Legacy" is available on our free ICN Books app, enhanced with audio and video. It can also be dowloaded from the Kindle store or read on our website.

Gas Explosions Appear Inevitable, Given State of Nation's Pipelines

May 21, 2014
(Wall Street Journal)

On January 25, 2009, a police officer in Gloucester, Mass., came home after a shift, greeted his dog, Penny, and flipped on the lights. Then his house blew up.

The blast killed Penny, left patrolman Wayne Sargent badly burned and destroyed the house his grandfather built.

Investigators quickly identified the cause: natural gas from a cracked cast-iron distribution line with a recent history of leaks. It was installed in the street in 1922.

The U.S. Transportation Department three years ago issued a "Call to Action" urging gas companies to replace thousands of miles of decrepit iron pipe. But it could take some utilities until 2050 to get up to snuff.

Why? After decades of neglect, replacing the huge backlog of old gas pipe is nearly impossible, says Mark McDonald, a pipeline-safety consultant and president of the New England Gas Workers Association. Digging up the aging lines and putting in new ones is so expensive and time consuming, there is not enough manpower—or materials—to get it done in short order.

Climate Change Threatens Nation's Historic, Cultural Landmarks, Study Finds

May 20, 2014
(USA Today)

Climate change is putting historic and cultural landmarks around the USA at risk, according to a report released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a non-profit science advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.

"Sea-level rise, coastal erosion, increased flooding, heavy rains and more frequent large wildfires are damaging archaeological resources, historic buildings and cultural landscapes across the nation," says the report, "National Landmarks at Risk."

The report, which was not a peer-reviewed study, includes 30 at-risk locations, including places where the "first Americans" lived, the Spaniards ruled, English colonists landed, slavery rose and fell, and gold prospectors struck it rich.

The full report:

 

EPA Tightens Decades-Old Oil Refinery Pollution Rules

May 16, 2014
(Houston Chronicle)

New federal rules would force oil refiners to adopt more aggressive measures for reducing hazardous air pollution, including the first mandatory monitoring of their fence lines for cancer-causing benzene.

The Environmental Protection Agency's move Thursday to revamp the nearly 20-year-old rules comes after residents from Houston, Port Arthur and other cities complained about toxic emissions from nearby refineries.

The sweeping proposal introduces a requirement that refiners measure benzene levels at their perimeter and provide the information in real time to the public. The rules also call for limits on releases of the harmful chemical that drift over the fence line and into neighborhoods.

Pipeline Rupture Spills 50,000 Gallons of Oil in Los Angeles

May 15, 2014
(Reuters)

An estimated 50,000 gallons of crude oil spilled over a half-mile area due to a break in an above-ground pipeline in Los Angeles on Thursday, the fire department said on Thursday.

No injuries were reported, the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a statement. The pipeline was shut off remotely, and the incident shut down a section of the Atwater Village area of the city, a local NBC affiliate reported.

"Oil is knee-high in some areas," the fire department said. "A handful of commercial businesses are affected."