Pulitzer winning climate news

Breaking News

TransCanada Begins Proceedings to Acquire Keystone XL Land

Jan 20, 2015
(Lincoln Journal Star)

TransCanada, the company that wants to build the $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline, filed court documents Tuesday in nine Nebraska counties starting eminent domain proceedings to get the 12 percent of easements it still needs here.

The Canadian company had until Thursday to begin the condemnation process or lose its eminent domain powers given by former Gov. Dave Heineman when he approved the pipeline route in Nebraska two years ago.

Last week, landowners filed lawsuits seeking to stop eminent domain and invalidate the 2012 law that gave the governor power to approve the pipeline route. An earlier lawsuit that brought up similar arguments was thrown out by the Nebraska Supreme Court on a technicality, letting the law stand by default.

Drinking Water Trucked Into Montana City After Yellowstone River Oil Spill

Jan 20, 2015
(AP via Guardian)

Truckloads of drinking water were being shipped to the Montana city of Glendive on Monday after traces of a major oil spill along the Yellowstone River were detected in public water supplies.

Preliminary tests at the city’s water treatment plant indicated that at least some oil got into a water supply intake along the river, according to state and federal officials. About 6,000 people are served by the intake, Glendive mayor Jerry Jimison said.

Officials stressed that they were bringing in the shipments of drinking water as a precaution and did not know yet whether there was any health threat. Results of further tests to determine the scope of the danger were expected in coming days.

Pipeline Breach Spills Oil Into Yellowstone River

Jan 19, 2015

Montana officials said Sunday that an oil pipeline breach spilled up to 50,000 gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River near Glendive, but they said they are unaware of any threats to public safety or health.

The Bridger Pipeline Co. said the spill occurred about 10 a.m. Saturday. The initial estimate is that 300 to 1,200 barrels of oil spilled, the company said in a statement Sunday.

Some of the oil did get into the water, but the area where it spilled was frozen over and that could help reduce the impact, said Dave Parker, a spokesman for Gov. Steve Bullock.

"We think it was caught pretty quick, and it was shut down," Parker said. "The governor is committed to making sure the river is cleaned up."


Human Activity Has Pushed Earth Beyond 4 of 9 'Planetary Boundaries'

Jan 16, 2015
(Washington Post)

At the rate things are going, the Earth in the coming decades could cease to be a "safe operating space" for human beings. That is the conclusion of a new paper published Thursday in the journal Science by 18 researchers trying to gauge the breaking points in the natural world.

The paper contends that we have already crossed four "planetary boundaries." They include the extinction rate; deforestation; the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; and the flow of nitrogen and phosphorous (used on land as fertilizer) into the ocean.

Obama Administration Unveils New Methane Emission Rules

Jan 14, 2015

The Obama administration today officially unveiled a new initiative to cut methane emissions in the energy industry, including plans for the EPA to regulate future oil and gas wells.

The plan, the details of which were leaked out on Tuesday, falls well short of the cuts that activists say are needed to reach the administration's international climate change pledges. But the rules, which are expected to be finalized in 2016, will leave the door open to further regulation of the powerful greenhouse gas.

The plans, the latest executive action in President Barack Obama's effort to combat climate change, are an offshoot of last year's methane emission strategy that is designed to tackle the gas that is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in causing climate change.

Obama to Call for Increased Methane Regulation in State of the Union Address

Jan 13, 2015

Barack Obama will unveil a new plan to cut methane from America’s booming oil and gas industry ahead of the State of the Union address, in an attempt to cement his climate legacy during his remaining two years in the White House.

The new methane rules – expected ahead of the State of the Union speech next week – are the last big chance for Obama to fight climate change, campaigners said.

"It is the largest opportunity to deal with climate pollution that this administration has not already seized," said David Doniger, director of the climate and clean air programme at the Natural Resources Defence Council.

Methane is the second biggest driver of climate change, after carbon dioxide. On a 20-year timescale, it is 87 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas.

US officials acknowledge that Obama will have to cut methane if he is to make good on his promise to cut US greenhouse gas emissions 17% from 2005 levels by 2020, and by 26% to 28% by 2025.

"It is the largest thing left, and it’s the most cost-effective thing they can do that they haven't done already, and all the signs are there that they intend to step forward on that," Doniger said.

U.S. House passes Keystone XL bill, Senate to debate next week

Jan 9, 2015

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Friday to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, despite a threat by the White House to veto legislation on the project. 

The bill passed, 266-153, with 28 of the House Democrats voting for the pipeline, down three from a similar vote in November. The Senate will debate a similar bill early next week. 

President Barack Obama has said the State Department should finish its assessment of the project before he decides whether to approve it. TransCanada Corp's pipeline would help transport more than 800,000 barrels per day of mostly Canadian tar sands oil to refineries along the Gulf Coast. (Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Bill Trott)

Nebraska Supreme Court Backs Keystone XL Pipeline Route

Jan 9, 2015

The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday approved the route for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, reversing a lower court that had blocked the proposal and clearing the way for a U.S. State Department ruling on the plan. 

The court said it was divided and could not reach a substantive decision, leaving in place legislation that favored TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO) and its claim to build a crude oil pipeline across the state.

"(B)ecause there are not five judges of this court voting on the constitutionality of (the legislation), the legislation must stand by default," the court said in its ruling.

Oil Sands Must Remain Largely Unexploited to Meet Climate Target, Study Finds

Jan 8, 2015
(Globe and Mail)

As U.S. President Barack Obama and a Republican-led Congress spar over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, a new analysis of worldwide fossil-fuel reserves suggests that most of the Alberta oil the pipeline is meant to carry would need to remain in the ground if nations are to meet the goal of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius.

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, does not single out the Alberta oil sands for special scrutiny, but rather considers the geographic distribution of the world’s total fossil fuel supply, including oil, coal and natural gas reserves, and their potential impact on international efforts to curb global warming.

Advocates of Keystone XL point out that the oil sands are not as large a contributor to climate change as other fuel reserves elsewhere in the world, particularly coal. The study does not disagree with this assessment, but makes clear that a concerted global effort will be needed to maintain at least a 50-per-cent chance of staying under the two-degree limit – a goal agreed to by the majority of nations, including Canada, under the 2009 Copenhagen accord.

White House: Obama Will Veto Keystone XL Bill

Jan 6, 2015
(Fuel Fix)

President Barack Obama will not sign legislation approving the Keystone XL pipeline, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday, even as congressional Republicans advanced the bill.

The comment came hours after Sens. John Hoeven and Joe Manchin on Tuesday introduced legislation to approve Keystone XL, formally kicking off the latest congressional push to authorize the pipeline.

Hoeven, a Republican from North Dakota, and Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said the TransCanada Corp. project is essential to keep crude moving through North America.