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Duke Energy, EPA Work to Halt Coal Ash Spill in N. Carolina

Feb 5, 2014
(Charlotte Observer )

EDEN Dump trucks and backhoes filed into Duke Energy's Dan River power plant Tuesday as officials worked to plug a leaking storage pond that dumped enough coal ash into the river to fill 20 Olympic swimming pools.

Pond water continued to leak from a 48-inch stormwater pipe that broke Sunday, washing at least 50,000 tons of ash carried by 24 million gallons of water into the Dan. Coal ash contains metals that can be toxic at high concentrations.

Engineers and contractors searched for a permanent way to fix the break before turning their attention to a cleanup.

TransCanada Pipeline Rupture Report Kept Secret for 3 Years

Feb 4, 2014
(CBC News)

A CBC News investigation has unearthed a critical report that the federal regulator effectively buried for several years about a rupture on a trouble-prone TransCanada natural gas pipeline.

On July 20, 2009, the Peace River Mainline in northern Alberta exploded, sending 50-metre-tall flames into the air and razing a two-hectare wooded area.

Few people ever learned of the rupture — one of the largest in the past decade — other than the Dene Tha’ First Nation, whose traditional territory it happened on.

EPA Scrutiny Could Be Linchpin in Keystone XL Review Process

Feb 4, 2014
(Reuters)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's critical assessment of the proposed northern leg of the Keystone pipeline could have outsized influence on the final decision of whether to approve the project, experts familiar with the process said.

Friday's State Department report contained the EPA's evaluation that crude produced from Canada's oil sands, which the pipeline would carry, are 17 percent more greenhouse gas intensive than average oil used in the United States. The EPA also said oil sands imports would be 2-10 percent more greenhouse-gas intensive than imported oil from Mexico or Venezuela that would probably replace it.

Tar Sands Air Pollution May Be 2-3 Times Higher Than Industry Reported

Feb 4, 2014
(The Canadian Press)

A new study suggests the environmental health risks of oilsands operations in Alberta's Athabasca region have probably been underestimated.

Researchers say emissions of potentially hazardous air pollution that were used in environmental reviews done before approving some projects did not include evaporation from tailings ponds or other sources, such as dust from mining sites.

The study, by the University of Toronto’s environmental chemistry research group, looked at reported levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) — chemicals which can be released into the air, water and soil when bitumen-rich oilsands are mined and processed.

Billionaire Climate Activist Steyer Urges Review of 'Defective' Keystone Report

Feb 3, 2014
(Bloomberg)

Billionaire Tom Steyer, a Democratic Party donor and Keystone XL foe, called on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to begin a review of the "defective" environmental analysis on the pipeline released last week.

The final environmental impact statement on Keystone "has suffered from a process that raises serious questions about the integrity of the document, Steyer, who hosted President Barack Obama at his San Francisco home in April, wrote to Kerry yesterday in a letter.

The letter:

 

Train Carrying Fuel Oil Derails in Mississippi, Forcing Evacuation of Residents

Jan 31, 2014
(Reuters)

A Canadian National Railway Co train carrying fuel oil and other hazardous materials derailed and was leaking in southeast Mississippi on Friday, forcing the evacuation of nearby residents, officials said.

No one was injured in the incident which involved the derailment of 21 railcars, eight of which have spilled their contents, a Canadian National Railway spokesman said.

Keystone XL Report Said Likely to Disappoint Pipeline Opponents

Jan 31, 2014
(Bloomberg)

The U.S. State Department is preparing a report that will probably disappoint environmental groups and opponents of the Keystone pipeline, according to people who have been briefed on the draft of the document.

While the report will deviate from a March draft in some ways to the liking of environmentalists, the changes won't be as sweeping as they had sought, several people familiar with the government's deliberations over the review told Bloomberg News. Changes could still be made to the report before its release, which may come tomorrow.

 

Mayor Bloomberg Tapped to Be U.N. Cities, Climate Change Envoy

Jan 31, 2014
(Reuters )

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been tapped to be U.N. special envoy for cities and climate change, sources familiar with the situation said on Thursday.

Barring any last minute changes, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon - who is seeking to re-energize the global climate change debate and boost the United Nations' role - could make the announcement as early as Friday, the sources said on the condition of anonymity.

Bloomberg, a billionaire philanthropist who left office last month, made combating climate change a key focus during his 12 years leading the United States most populous city. He also advocated for national climate change legislation.

READ: Bloomberg's Hidden Legacy: Climate Change and the Future of New York City, the story behind the historic effort by Mayor Bloomberg to safeguard New York from the effects of climate change.

Tests Found Formaldehyde in West Virginia Tap Water

Jan 30, 2014
(New York Times)

Tests on the water supply in Charleston, W. Va., a week after a chemical spill tainted the city's water system turned up traces of formaldehyde, suggesting that "there's a lot more we don't know" about the consequences of the spill, an environmental expert told a state legislative committee on Wednesday.

That expert, Scott Simonton, a member of the state's Environmental Quality Board, told the panel that he could guarantee that some West Virginians were breathing formaldehyde gas when they showered, news reports said.

He did not specify the level of formaldehyde found in the sample, which The Charleston Daily Mail reported was taken from the tap water at a downtown restaurant on Jan. 13. Nor was it clear why he was certain that city water remained contaminated more than two weeks later.

Obama on Energy and Climate Policy in 2014 State of the Union

Jan 29, 2014
(InsideClimate News)

Here are the parts of President Obama's 2014 State of the Union address that were about energy and climate change issues, taken from the delivered text. In his remarks, Obama defended his "all-of-the above" energy strategy—pursuing all power sources, fossil and clean fuels—crediting the policy with bringing the nation closer to energy independence. Environmental groups have slammed the approach as being at odds with the president's climate goals.

President Obama:

...Now, one of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy. The "all the above" energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today America is closer to energy independence than we have been in decades. (Applause.)

One of the reasons why is natural gas. If extracted safely, it's the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change. (Applause.) Businesses plan to invest almost a hundred billion dollars in new factories that use natural gas. I'll cut red tape to help states get those factories built and put folks to work, and this Congress can help by putting people to work building fueling stations that shift more cars and trucks from foreign oil to American natural gas. (Applause.)

Meanwhile, my administration will keep working with the industry to sustain production and jobs growth while strengthening protection of our air, our water, our communities. And while we're at it, I'll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations. (Applause.)

Now, it's not just oil and natural gas production that's booming; we're becoming a global leader in solar too.

Every four minutes another American home or business goes solar, every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can't be outsourced. Let's continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don't need it so we can invest more in fuels of the future that do. (Cheers, applause.)

And even as we've increased energy production, we've partnered with businesses, builders and local communities to reduce the energy we consume. When we rescued our automakers, for example, we worked with them to set higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars. In the coming months I'll build on that success by setting new standards for our trucks so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump.

And taken together, our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet. Over the past eight years the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth. (Applause.)

But we have to act with more urgency because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought and coastal cities dealing with floods. That's why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air.

The shift -- (applause) -- the shift to a cleaner energy economy won't happen overnight, and it will require some tough choices along the way.

But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. (Applause.) And when our children's children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did. (Cheers, applause.)