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EPA Ozone-Pollution Standard Left Intact by Supreme Court

Oct 6, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court left intact ozone-pollution standards crafted under former President George W. Bush, rejecting an appeal by a business group that said the rules were too stringent.

The rebuff leaves intact a federal appeals court decision that said the Environmental Protection Agency had adequate scientific evidence to tighten the standards for ozone, an oxidant that is the principal component of smog.

The standards, which lowered the ozone threshold from 80 to 75 parts per billion, were attacked from both sides after being issued in 2008. The appeals court rejected most of the arguments from environmentalists, states and industry groups.

Cuomo Administration Edited and Delayed Key Fracking Study

Oct 6, 2014
(Capital New York )

A federal water study commissioned by the Cuomo administration as it weighed a key decision on fracking was edited and delayed by state officials before it was published, a Capital review has found.

The study, originally commissioned by the state in 2011, when the administration was reportedly considering approving fracking on a limited basis, was going to result in a number of politically inconvenient conclusions for Governor Andrew Cuomo, according to an early draft of the report by the U.S. Geological Survey obtained by Capital through a Freedom of Information Act request.

A comparison of the original draft of the study on naturally occurring methane in water wells across the gas-rich Southern Tier with the final version of the report, which came out after extensive communications between the federal agency and Cuomo administration officials, reveals that some of the authors' original descriptions of environmental and health risks associated with fracking were played down or removed.

Republicans Craft 2015 Plan to Force Obama's Hand on Keystone Pipeline

Oct 2, 2014

Republicans plan to put approval of the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline on a fast track early next year if they win a U.S. Senate majority in November, finally forcing President Barack Obama to make a tough call on the controversial plan.

The $10 billion Keystone project to connect Canadian oil sands with U.S. refineries will top the list of Republican energy priorities if they gain control of the Senate after the Nov. 4 midterm elections. It could come as a stand-alone measure or attached to must-pass legislation such as a government spending or transportation bill, according to senators and congressional aides.

EPA: Greenhouse Gases From Major Polluters Grew Last Year

Sep 30, 2014
(The Hill)

Large industrial facilities emitted 20 million more metric tons of greenhouse gases, or a 0.6 percent increase, last year over 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said.

The EPA attributed the emissions gain to an uptick in the use of coal for power generation.

"Climate change, fueled by greenhouse gas pollution, is threatening our health, our economy, and our way of life — increasing our risks from intense extreme weather, air pollution, drought and disease," EPA head Gina McCarthy said in a statement.

Controversial Natural Gas Export Plan in Maryland Gets U.S. Approval

Sep 30, 2014
(Fuel Fix)

Dominion Energy received federal approval late Monday to export liquefied natural gas from its Cove Point terminal on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.

In its decision, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission concluded that the project, as approved with conditions, would minimize potential adverse impacts on landowners and the environment.

FERC has approved three other LNG export projects, but this is the first one on the East Coast. The others are in the Gulf of Mexico.

Global Wildlife Populations Down by Half Since 1970

Sep 30, 2014

The world populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles fell overall by 52 percent between 1970 and 2010, far faster than previously thought, the World Wildlife Fund said on Tuesday.

The conservation group's Living Planet Report, published every two years, said humankind's demands were now 50 percent more than nature can bear, with trees being felled, groundwater pumped and carbon dioxide emitted faster than Earth can recover.

"This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live," Ken Norris, Director of Science at the Zoological Society of London, said in a statement.

Oil Company Occidental Petroleum Cuts Ties With ALEC

Sep 29, 2014
(National Journal)

A large oil and natural gas company is parting ways with the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Occidental Petroleum sent a letter Friday to an investment management company indicating its intention to sever ties with ALEC, a conservative coalition of state legislators and major corporations that actively opposes environmental regulations.

"There are no plans to continue Occidental's membership in, or make further payments to, ALEC," the company said in a letter to Walden Asset Management obtained by National Journal. Occidental declined to comment on the letter.

In a statement, ALEC attempted to downplay the departure.

Beijing Says Emissions Fell During First Year of Carbon Trading

Sep 29, 2014

Carbon dioxide emissions from Beijing's major polluters fell 4.5 percent in 2013 as a nascent emissions trading scheme cut compliance costs for firms, the Chinese capital's municipal government said on Monday.

Beijing is one of seven cities and provinces in China that have launched pilot emissions trading schemes ahead of a national market to be launched in the world's biggest-emitting nation in 2016.

The Beijing market began in November, but with caps on CO2 emissions for participating companies backdated to the beginning of the year.

Canada: Federal Appeals Court to Hear First Nation's Challenge to Tar Sands Pipeline

Sep 28, 2014
(The Canadian Press)

A First Nation from British Columbia's North Coast says the Federal Court of Appeal has agreed to hear its legal challenge of the Northern Gateway pipeline project.

The Gitxaala (git-HAT-lah) Nation filed the court action in July over a federal cabinet decision to approve the project that would link Alberta oilsands with a marine terminal on the B.C. coast.

The Gitxaala say it has now been given the green light for a judicial review of the controversial $7-billion pipeline project proposed by Calgary-based Enbridge.


Keystone XL Foes Claim Victory as Statoil Delays Oil Sands Plan

Sep 26, 2014

Six years after the Keystone XL oil pipeline was first proposed, environmental groups are celebrating their most tangible victory in their crusade to stop the line from delivering Canadian oil sands crude to U.S. refiners.

On Thursday, Norwegian oil firm Statoil said it will postpone its 40,000 barrels-a-day Corner project for at least three years, possibly indefinitely.

While a handful of other projects have also been delayed or canceled this year, due in part to rising costs, Statoil is the first company to explicitly cite the issue of "limited pipeline access" as a reason. Its decision drew a direct link to the contentious and growing battle between producers seeking access to global markets and environmentalists seeking to block every export avenue for Canada's oil sands.