For the first time, the Supreme Court of Canada has recognized a First Nation's title to a specific tract of land -- a historic decision with major implications for contentious energy projects like the Northern Gateway pipeline.
Thursday's unanimous 8-0 decision, which overturned an appeal court's ruling, will essentially make it easier for First Nations to establish title over lands that were regularly used for hunting, fishing and other activities.
The landmark ruling is the Supreme Court's first on aboriginal title and will apply wherever there are unresolved land claims.
State regulators gave their final approval Wednesday to a $2.6 billion pipeline project that could transport nearly a quarter-million barrels of crude oil daily to market.
The three-member North Dakota Public Service Commission voted unanimously in favor of the Sandpiper project during the commission's meeting at the state Capitol.
Canadian company Enbridge will oversee the construction. The 616-mile project, between 24 inches and 30 inches in diameter, would be able to move up to 225,000 barrels per day from a facility south of Tioga to an existing terminal in Superior, Wis. About half the pipeline mileage would be in North Dakota.
Federal regulators recently gave the project the green light on their end.
Hundreds of scientists and scholars have signed a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper that says the recent report on the Northern Gateway pipeline is so flawed, it's essentially useless.
The university professors, from both the natural and socials sciences, say the joint review panel (JRP) report has so many systemic errors and omissions that it can't be used to make decisions on whether the pipeline is beneficial to the public.
The 300 signatories from across Canada and around the world say the panel's recommendation to approve the proposed pipeline from the oilsands in Alberta to the north coast of B.C. was based on a "flawed analysis of the risks and benefits to B.C.'s environment and society."
"We urge you in the strongest possible terms to reject this report," says the letter.
Loveland voters on Tuesday struck down a proposed moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial oil and gas extraction process that has been restricted in several cities along Colorado's Front Range.
More than 20,000 ballots were cast, but ultimately the moratorium failed by about 900 votes, said city spokesman Tom Hacker. Results came in just after 10 p.m., making the Loveland election one of the last Colorado races to be decided Tuesday .
"Fortunately that means the Loveland citizens have spoken and that common sense prevailed," said BJ Nikkel, director of the Loveland Energy Action Project, a group that campaigned against the moratorium.
The Obama administration cleared the way for the first exports of unrefined American oil in nearly four decades, allowing energy companies to start chipping away at the longtime ban on selling U.S. oil abroad.
In separate rulings that haven't been announced, the Commerce Department gave Pioneer Natural Resources Co. and Enterprise Products Partners LP permission to ship a type of ultralight oil known as condensate to foreign buyers. The buyers could turn the oil into gasoline, jet fuel and diesel.
The shipments could begin as soon as August and are likely to be small, people familiar with the matter said. It isn't clear how much oil the two companies are allowed to export under the rulings, which were issued since the start of this year. The Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security approved the moves using a process known as a private ruling.
Disclosures from railroads about volatile oil shipments from the Northern Plains show dozens of the trains passing weekly through Illinois and the Midwest and up to 19 a week reaching Washington state on the West Coast.
The Associated Press obtained details on the shipments Tuesday under public records requests filed with state emergency officials. They offer the most detailed insights to date on the increasing volumes of crude being moved across North America by rail in the wake of a domestic shale oil boom.
The disclosures from railroads also underscore an unsettling fact: Many of those shipments pass through highly urbanized areas where the consequences of an accident would be most severe.
One year after President Barack Obama rolled out his climate change action plan, the administration is putting fresh emphasis on its environmental agenda.
The White House plans to host two roundtable discussions this week on the economic threats that climate change poses and the "opportunities to overcome those risks," a White House official said in an email Monday night, which emphasized the potential costs of not addressing planet-warming emissions.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and White House leaders also plan to meet with billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson on Wednesday to discuss a report they will release this week titled, "Risky Business," which assess the economic costs of climate change. Steyer and Paulson are the co-chairs for the report.
Driven by exceptionally warm ocean waters, Earth smashed a record for heat in May and is likely to keep on breaking high temperature marks, experts say.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Monday said May's average temperature on Earth of 59.93 degrees Fahrenheit (15.54 degrees Celsius) beat the old record set four years ago. In April, the globe tied the 2010 record for that month. Records go back to 1880.
May was especially hot in parts of Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Spain, South Korea and Australia, while the United States was not close to a record, just 1 degree warmer than the 20th century average. However, California is having a record hot first five months of the year, a full 5 degrees above normal.
The Supreme Court has just partially upheld and partially rejected a set of early EPA greenhouse gas regulations for major pollution sources, following a legal challenge brought by the utility industry.
The 5-4 ruling does not affect the much more sweeping regulations the agency issued June 2 requiring cuts in carbon emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants. Nor does it limit the agency’s overall ability to regulate greenhouse gases — the Supreme Court has twice ruled that EPA has that authority.
Still, the case has some symbolic importance, given that it focused on EPA's interpretation of the Clean Air Act.
Today's case — Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA — debated whether EPA’s earlier decisions to consider greenhouse gases as pollutants under the Clean Air Act and to regulate vehicles’ carbon emissions automatically triggered requirements to regulate greenhouse gases under other air programs.
Environmental officials and work crews were preparing Saturday to remove oil-stained soil from an area where 7,500 gallons of crude leaked from a flood-damaged storage tank into a northern Colorado river.
Todd Hartman, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, said Noble Energy crews and officials with the Environmental Protection Agency were cleaning the site and draining a nearby storage tank on the Poudre River near Windsor. He said oil has affected some standing water and vegetation near the site, but because waters have receded, the threat of any remaining oil entering the river is "very low."