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

Jun 8, 2015

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

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

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

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.

North Dakota Town Evacuated After Oil Train Derailment

May 5, 2015
(CBS News)

An oil train derailed and caught fire early Wednesday in a rural area of central North Dakota, prompting the evacuation of a nearby town where about three dozen people live.

No injuries were reported in the accident, which happened near Heimdal, about 115 miles northeast of Bismarck. The residents who left were staying with family and friends, Wells County Emergency Manager Tammy Roehrich said.

Ten tanker cars on the BNSF Railway train caught fire, creating thick black smoke, state Emergency Services spokeswoman Cecily Fong said.

"The engine and cars that aren't burning have been decoupled and moved to safety," she said.

EPA's Clean Power Plan Will Save Thousands of Lives, Study Finds

May 4, 2015
(New York Times)

New carbon emissions standards that were proposed last year for coal-fired power plants in the United States would substantially improve human health, according to a new study, and prevent more than 3,000 premature deaths per year.

The study, led by researchers at Syracuse and Harvard Universities, used modeling to predict the effect on human health of changes to national carbon standards for power plants. The researchers calculated three different scenarios using data from the Census Bureau and detailed maps of the more than 2,400 fossil-fuel-fired power plants across the country.

Supreme Court to Review U.S. Electricity Market Efficiency Rule

May 4, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Monday to review the legality of an Obama administration regulation aimed at encouraging efficiency in the electricity market by having electrical grid operators pay users to reduce consumption at peak times.

The court said it will hear an appeal filed by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission seeking to reverse a May 2014 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that threw out the rule. The regulation, aimed at improving grid reliability and encouraging clean energy, remains in effect as the litigation continues.

FERC chairman Norman Bay said in a statement that the program is "important to the nation's competitive wholesale electricity markets and reliable electric service."

Green Groups Get Their Man in Bernie Sanders

Apr 30, 2015
(Washington Examiner)

Environmental groups now have the coveted candidate they think will push Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton to the left on climate change while elevating the issue in the national dialogue in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is expected to officially announce his bid as a Democratic presidential candidate Thursday. And it's clear that environmental groups are pleased with his presence in the race.

"He has the best climate policies out of anybody in the field and we think that only raises the profile of climate," Karthik Ganapathy, spokesman with 350.org, told the Washington Examiner.