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Pope Francis Warns of Destruction of World's Ecosystem in Leaked Encyclical

Jun 15, 2015
(Guardian)

Pope Francis will this week call for changes in lifestyles and energy consumption to avert the "unprecedented destruction of the ecosystem" before the end of this century, according to a leaked draft of a papal encyclical.

In a document released by an Italian magazine on Monday, the pontiff will warn that failure to act would have "grave consequences for all of us."

Francis also called for a new global political authority tasked with "tackling … the reduction of pollution and the development of poor countries and regions." His appeal echoed that of his predecessor, pope Benedict XVI, who in a 2009 encyclical proposed a kind of super-UN to deal with the world's economic problems and injustices.

According to the lengthy draft, which was obtained and published by L’Espresso magazine, the Argentinean pope will align himself with the environmental movement and its objectives. While accepting that there may be some natural causes of global warming, the pope will also state that climate change is mostly a man-made problem.

White House Approves EPA's Plan to Regulate Airplane Emissions

Jun 10, 2015
(The Hill)

The White House has approved a plan that would allow the Obama administration to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from airplanes.

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review is the last step before the Environmental Protection Agency releases the finding publicly.

EPA will solicit public comments on the finding after its release, and then proceed to write a regulation.

OMB on Wednesday announced it had approved the EPA "endangerment finding" that analyzed the extent to which carbon from planes is harmful.

Obama Administration Bans Offshore Oil Drilling Along New Stretch of California Coast

Jun 10, 2015
(San Jose Mercury News )

In the largest expansion of national marine sanctuaries in California in 23 years, the Obama administration on Tuesday more than doubled the size of two Northern California marine sanctuaries, extending them by 50 miles up the rugged Sonoma and Mendocino coasts.

Under the dramatic move by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the boundaries of the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries expand from Bodega Bay to Point Arena, permanently banning offshore oil drilling along that stretch of coast.

Court Dismisses Challenge to EPA Carbon Rules

Jun 9, 2015
(National Journal)

In a major victory for the Obama administration, a panel of federal judges has blocked a challenge to the EPA's planned efforts to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

Tuesday's ruling does not limit the ability to challenge the rules in the future, but states that the challenge came too early, as the EPA has not yet finalized its climate rule. That action is expected later this summer.

The case brought by conservative states and coal companies was an early skirmish in the high-stakes legal battle over the rules, which are at the centerpiece of President Obama's second-term climate change agenda.

G-7 Calls for End of Fossil-Fuel Use by 2100

Jun 8, 2015
(AP)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the Group of Seven wealthy democracies have agreed that the world should phase out the use of fossil fuels by the end of this century.

Merkel said Monday that the G-7 leaders committed themselves to the need to "decarbonize the global economy in the course of this century."

That is a technical term for ending the use of oil, gas and coal — but not nuclear power — and replacing them with alternative sources of energy such as wind and solar power.

Merkel had pressed for the G-7 to agree on the goal so it can be put forward at a summit on climate change later this year in Paris. Burning carbon-based fuels such as oil and gas releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is blamed for global warming.

Oil Pipeline Spills 21,000 Gallons Off California Coast

May 20, 2015
(Reuters)

A pipeline ruptured along the scenic California coastline on Tuesday, spilling some 21,000 gallons (79,000 liters) of oil into the ocean and on beaches before it could be secured, a U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman said.

The pipeline, which runs parallel to Highway 101 near Santa Barbara, left a slick extending about four miles (6.4 km) along Refugio State Beach, extending about 50 yards (46 meters) into the water, Petty Officer Andrea Anderson of the Coast Guard said.

Anderson said the company responsible for the 24-inch (61- cm) pipeline was identified as Plains All American Pipeline , which had brought in a company to begin cleaning up the spill. Refugio State Beach was closed.

White House Gives Conditional Approval for Shell to Drill in Arctic

May 11, 2015
(New York Times)

The Obama administration gave conditional approval on Monday to allow Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc. to start drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic Ocean this summer.

The approval is a major victory for Shell and the rest of the petroleum industry, which has sought for years to drill in the remote waters of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, which are believed to hold vast reserves of oil and gas.

“We have taken a thoughtful approach to carefully considering potential exploration in the Chukchi Sea, recognizing the significant environmental, social and ecological resources in the region and establishing high standards for the protection of this critical ecosystem, our Arctic communities, and the subsistence needs and cultural traditions of Alaska Natives,” Abigail Ross Hopper, director of the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said in a statement.

Obama's Pipeline Safety Agency Without a Leader for 214 Days

May 8, 2015
(Politico)

President Barack Obama has blown past the legal deadline to name a permanent boss for the agency that oversees the safety of the nation’s oil trains and fossil-fuel pipelines — while potentially life-or-death regulations continue to sit in limbo.

It's part of a pattern for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, where an internal structure that gives deference to industry has helped stymie safety initiatives for years, even as pipeline accidents have caused more than 170 deaths, 670 injuries and $5 billion in property damage during the past decade. Critics say the agency is in dire need of an overhaul — and want Obama to appoint a leader who’s willing to carry one out.

 

Amount of Carbon Dioxide in Air Keeps Rising, Hits 400 PPM Milestone

May 7, 2015
(AP)

Global levels of carbon dioxide, the most prevalent heat-trapping gas, have passed a daunting milestone, federal scientists say.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says in March, the global monthly average for carbon dioxide hit 400.83 parts per million. That is the first month in modern records that the entire globe broke 400 ppm, reaching levels that haven't been seen in about 2 million years.

"It's both disturbing and daunting," said NOAA chief greenhouse gas scientist Pieter Tans. "Daunting from the standpoint on how hard it is to slow this down."

He said it is disturbing because it is happening at a pace so fast that it seems like an explosion compared to Earth's slow-moving natural changes.

Left-Leaning Party Sweeps to Power in Canada’s Oil-Rich Alberta

May 6, 2015
(Wall Street Journal)

The longtime ruling party of Canada’s energy-rich Alberta province lost its four-decade hold on power on Tuesday, ushering in a left-leaning government that has pledged to raise corporate taxes and increase oil and gas royalties.

The Alberta New Democratic Party swept enough districts to form a majority, taking most of the seats in both the business center of Calgary and the provincial capital of Edmonton, according to preliminary results from Elections Alberta. The outcome was a blow to Premier Jim Prentice’s Progressive Conservative party and one that threatens to roil the province’s economy amid a slump in energy prices.

“We need to start down the road to a diversified and resilient economy. We need finally to end the boom-and-bust roller coaster that we have been riding on for too long,” NDP leader Rachel Notley, who is expected to succeed Mr. Prentice as Alberta’s premier, said at a news conference.

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