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TransCanada’s Donation to Canadian Town Means Silence on Pipeline

Jul 6, 2014
(Bloomberg)

TransCanada Corp. (TRP) provided an Ontario town along the proposed Energy East pipeline route with cash to buy a rescue truck on conditions that include the municipality not comment on the company's operations.

TransCanada gave Mattawa C$30,000 ($28,200) under its community engagement program, according to an agreement appended to the agenda of the town council's June 23 meeting. The city agreed to "not publicly comment on TransCanada's operations or business projects" for five years as part of the agreement, the document showed.

Calgary-based TransCanada plans to apply for a permit this year for Energy East, which would supply crude to the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf Coast as well as European and Asian markets. The 1.1 million barrel per day pipeline would consist of a converted natural gas line that passes near Mattawa as well as new pipe installed farther east.

Cape Wind Gets $150M Boost in DOE Loan Guarantees

Jul 3, 2014
(Boston Globe )

The U.S. government is promising to back the controversial Cape Wind project with $150 million, federal officials said, signaling a vote of confidence that the offshore wind farm will get built.

The support will come in the form of a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. With this federal commitment, which still needs to be finalized, Cape Wind would have raised $1.45 billion, or nearly 60 percent of the estimated $2.5 billion it will take to build more than 100 turbines in Nantucket Sound.

"All of it has been coming together," said Peter W. Davidson, executive director of the Energy Department's Loan Programs Office. "It's a great project, and we believe it will give birth to a very important industry."

NASA Launches Satellite to Monitor Climate Change After 2009 Failure

Jul 2, 2014
(AP)

A rocket carrying a NASA satellite lit up the pre-dawn skies Wednesday on a mission to track atmospheric carbon dioxide, the chief culprit behind global warming.

The Delta 2 rocket blasted off from California at 2:56 a.m. and released the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 satellite in low-Earth orbit 56 minutes later, bringing relief to mission officials who lost a similar spacecraft five years ago.

The flight was "a perfect ride into space," said Ralph Basilio, the OCO-2 project manager, at a post-launch press conference.

3 Consecutive Months of CO2 Levels Above 400 PPM

Jul 2, 2014
(Climate Central)

April fell first. It lasted through May. Now June will be the third month in a row with average carbon dioxide levels above 400 parts per million.

Atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas, which helps drive global warming, haven't been this high in somewhere between 800,000 and 15 million years.

And while the 400 ppm mark is somewhat symbolic (as the increase in warming between 399 ppm and 400 ppm is small), it serves to show how much carbon dioxide has been put into the atmosphere since preindustrial times, when concentrations were around 280 ppm. The increase in this and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has warmed Earth's average temperature by 1.6°F since the beginning of the 20th century. World leaders agreed at a U.N. summit in 2009 to limit warming to 3.6°F, but prominent climate scientists like James Hansen have said that amount of warming will still be too much.

While other scientists differ on pinpointing particular numbers and limits, many who study climate change agree that some kind of action is needed.

“It is urgent that we find a way to transition to non-carbon fuels as our source of primary energy,” said Pieter Tans, a climate scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The world first passed the 400 ppm milestone on May 9, 2013. The first 400 ppm measurement of 2014 came two months earlier. CO2 concentrations at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii, which have been monitored since 1958, have been steadily above that level since the beginning of April, which marked the first full month with an average CO2 level above 400 ppm.

While concentrations of CO2 have begun their seasonal decline from their May peak (which was just shy of 402 ppm), the daily averages have stayed consistently above 400 ppm. With the month almost at an end, June’s average will be above 400 ppm.

Russia's Gazprom Neft Starts Arctic Oil Drilling

Jul 1, 2014
(UPI)

A subsidiary of Russian energy company Gazprom Neft said it started drilling its single-well program in the arctic waters of the Pechora Sea.

The subsidiary, Gazpromneft-Sakhalin, started exploratory work in the Dolginskoye field on the continental shelf in the Pechora Sea.

The company said it was working on the field during ice-free months of the summer.

New York Towns Can Prohibit Fracking, State's Top Court Rules

Jul 1, 2014
(New York Times)

In a decision with far-reaching implications for the future of natural gas drilling in New York State, its highest court ruled on Monday that towns can use zoning ordinances to ban hydraulic fracturing, the controversial extraction method known as fracking.

Since the issue arose about six years ago, there has been a statewide moratorium on fracking, and the State Health Department is currently studying its potential health effects. But in recent years some towns, worried that the state would eventually allow the practice, have taken matters into their own hands by banning fracking within their borders. Among them, two towns — Dryden, in Tompkins County, and Middlefield, in Otsego County — amended their zoning laws in 2011 to prohibit fracking, on the basis that it would threaten the health, environment and character of the communities.

California Low-Carbon Rule Survives Big Legal Challenge

Jun 30, 2014
(Sacramento Bee)

California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard, one of the centerpieces of the state's fight against global warming, survived a significant legal challenge today when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a lawsuit brought by oil-industry and out-of-state farm groups.

The court's decision lets stand a 2013 decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the state’s low-carbon fuel standard. But opponents of the law said there will be more litigation against the standard under different legal theories. "I don't think this closes the door," said Anthony Francois of the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative Sacramento group that filed court briefs on behalf of the plaintiffs.

The standard became law in 2007 by executive order of then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. It requires fuel producers to reduce the "carbon intensity" of their products by 10 percent by 2020.

Rate of Deforestation in Indonesia Overtakes Brazil, Study Says

Jun 30, 2014
(Guardian)

Indonesia has greatly under-reported how much primary rainforest it is cutting down, according to the government's former head of forestry data gathering.

UN and official government figures have maintained that the country with the third biggest stretch of tropical forest after the Amazon and Congo was losing 310,00 hectares of all its forest a year between 2000 and 2005, increasing to 690,000 hectares annually from 2006 to 2010.

Exact rates of Indonesian deforestation have varied with different figures quoted by researchers and government, but a new study, which claims to be the most comprehensive yet, suggests that nearly twice as much primary forest is being cut down as in Brazil, the historical global leader.

Belinda Arunarwati Margono, who was in charge of data gathering at Indonesia's Ministry of Forestry for seven years and is now on secondment at South Dakota university, calculates that nearly 1m extra hectares of primary forest may have been felled in the last 12 years than was recorded officially.

In the paper in the journal Nature Climate Change published on Sunday, Margano says primary forest losses totaled 6.02m hectares between 2000 and 2012, increasing by around 47,600 hectares a year over this time. Because previous estimates of forest loss have included the clearing of pulp plantations and oil palm estates the real loss of primary forest has until now been obscured.

In 2012, she calculates, Indonesia lost 840,000 hectares of its primary forest, compared to 460,000 hectares in Brazil, despite its forest being roughly a quarter the size of the Amazon. This, says Margano, was the most lost by any country.

Oil Spill at Albany, N.Y. Port Contained by Crews

Jun 30, 2014
(AP)

Environmental clean-up crews have responded to an oil spill at the Port of Albany after 100 gallons of oil spilled out of a rail car.

Richard Hendrick, general manager at the port, said the spill was contained by Sunday afternoon and that no oil went into the Hudson River.

Hendrick says crews from the state Department of Environmental Control responded quickly to the incident.

Albany's river port has emerged as a major hub for rail and barge shipments of crude oil, prompting concerns about spills and fires from some residents and environmental groups.

Unitarian Universalists Vote to Divest From Fossil Fuels

Jun 29, 2014
(Providence Journal)

Delegates to the 53rd annual General Assembly of Unitarian Universalist Association voted overwhelmingly Saturday to divest from major producers and processors of fossil fuels, and pursue investment in clean-energy technologies, said spokeswoman Rachel Walden.

Of the 2,000 delegates, "it was a very small portion who voted 'No' on the business resolution," Walden said. The vote was held at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center after a half-hour discussion.

Ed Horch, of Somerville, N.J., was among those voting to divest.

"This is one tactic in an overall strategy in working against overdependence on fossil fuels," Horch said. "It's not going to cause ExxonMobil to go broke, but that’s not what it’s intended to do."