An educational program funded by Ohio’s oil and gas industry and sponsored by Radio Disney has environmental activists — and some parents — up in arms over what they say is a hijacking of public education by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) interests, in a state sitting on billions of dollars’ worth of gas-rich shale.
The program, called Rocking in Ohio, went on a 26-stop tour of elementary schools and science centers across the state last month. It involves interactive demonstrations of how oil and gas pipelines work, and is led by three staffers from Radio Disney’s Cleveland branch. It is entirely funded by the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP), which gets its money from oil and gas companies.
The Obama administration is pushing back on skeptics who say the polar vortex proves climate change is a hoax.
In a new video to be posted on the official White House website Wednesday, President Obama's science adviser, John Holdren, warns against buying into the idea that a cold snap disproves that the earth is getting warmer overall.
"If you've been hearing that extreme cold spells, like the one we're having in the United States now, disproves global warming, don't believe it," he says in the video.
A CN freight train carrying dangerous goods has derailed and caught fire in northwest New Brunswick, not far from the U.S. border.
Jim Feeny, director of public and government affairs for CN Rail, said 16 cars are believed to have derailed, including four carrying propane and four carrying crude oil.
The train derailment happened just after 7 p.m. AT about five kilometres outside of Plaster Rock in Wapske, N.B. Feeny said the train was coming from central Canada and heading to Moncton.
"There is a fire burning in the area, but we have not confirmed if those cars are actually involved in the fire," he said. "The reason we haven't been able to confirm is because of the fire, and the caution being expressed by first responders. They can't approach too closely at this point."
The Environmental Protection Agency will finally publish notice of new proposed rules limiting greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants on Wednesday, more than three months after announcing the rules last September.
The rules are scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Jan. 8. The lag time between the announcement of the rules on Sept. 20 and their publication has prompted conjecture as to the reason for the delay, from prosaic possibilities like the government shutdown in October to more significant ones, like potential problems discovered in the legal underpinnings for the rules.
While the ongoing cold snap is breaking records from Minnesota to Florida, it will not go down in history as the most significant Arctic outbreak in U.S. history, not even by a longshot. Scientists said the deep freeze gripping the U.S. does not indicate a halt or reversal in global warming trends, either. In fact, it may be a counterintuitive example of global warming in action.
Researchers told Climate Central that the weather pattern driving the extreme cold into the U.S. — with a weaker polar vortex moving around the Arctic like a slowing spinning top, eventually falling over and blowing open the door to the Arctic freezer — fits with other recently observed instances of unusual fall and wintertime jet stream configurations.
Such weather patterns, which can feature relatively mild conditions in the Arctic at the same time dangerously cold conditions exist in vast parts of the lower 48, may be tied to the rapid warming and loss of sea ice in the Arctic due, in part, to man-made climate change.
Arctic warming is altering the heat balance between the North Pole and the equator, which is what drives the strong current of upper level winds in the northern hemisphere commonly known as the jet stream. Some studies show that if that balance is altered then some types of extreme weather events become more likely to occur.
During the past week, while much of North America has seen frigid temperatures, weather maps show a strip of orange and red hues, indicating above-average temperatures, across parts of the Arctic, Scandinavia, Europe and Asia.
The forecast high temperature in Fairbanks, Alaska, on Monday was in the 20s Fahrenheit — warmer than many locations in Georgia and Alabama. That fits in with the so-called "Arctic Paradox" or "Warm Arctic, Cold Continents" pattern that researchers first identified several years ago. Such patterns bring comparatively mild conditions to the Arctic while places far to the south are thrown into a deep freeze.
"I do think that what has happened in the North America, including the U.S. this winter, so far fits under the paradigm of 'warm Arctic cold continents,'" Judah Cohen, a climate forecaster at Atmospheric and Environmental Research in Massachussetts, said in an email.
In at least four states that have nurtured the nation's energy boom, hundreds of complaints have been made about well-water contamination from oil or gas drilling, and pollution was confirmed in a number of them, according to a review that casts doubt on industry suggestions that such problems rarely happen.
The Associated Press requested data on drilling-related complaints in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Texas and found major differences in how the states report such problems. Texas provided the most detail, while the other states provided only general outlines. And while the confirmed problems represent only a tiny portion of the thousands of oil and gas wells drilled each year in the U.S., the lack of detail in some state reports could help fuel public confusion and mistrust.
The US Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a safety alert to shippers and carriers, emergency responders, and the general public that Bakken crude should be handled carefully because it may be more flammable than other grades.
The Jan. 2 notice followed preliminary inspections after recent rail derailments involving Bakken crude in North Dakota, Alabama, and Lac Megantic, Que., PHMSA said. It reinforces the requirement to properly test, characterize, classify, and where appropriate sufficiently degasify hazardous materials prior to and during transportation, it said.
The advisory followed one PHMSA and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) jointly published on Nov. 20, 2013.
The full advisory:
Coverage of climate change issues jumped in 2013, fueled by reporting on energy issues – fracking, pipelines, oilsands – and a heavy dose of wacky weather worldwide.
The climb, 30 percent above 2012 levels, marks the end of a three-year slide in climate change coverage and is the first increase in worldwide reporting on the topic since 2009, based on analysis of The Daily Climate's aggregation database.
Last year The Daily Climate aggregated 24,000 news articles, opinions and editorials on climate change from "mainstream" media outlets globally. That's well above the 2012 low of 18,546 stories, but still below the highs from 2007 through 2009, when the Daily Climate aggregated an average of nearly 29,000 a year.
"The climate issue is not seen anymore as something that lives inside a green bubble," said David Sassoon, editor of the Pulitzer-prize winning news site Inside Climate News. More and more, he said, climate change "is intimately connected to every major energy and extreme weather story you'd care to look at. The dots are finally being connected more responsibly, something that's long overdue."
After three fiery accidents involving trains carrying crude oil out of North Dakota's Bakken Shale, regulators and industry officials are trying to figure out why the oil is exploding.
Crude is flammable, but before being refined into products such as gasoline it is rarely implicated in explosions.
Yet earlier this week, when a BNSF Railway Co. train hauling 104 tank cars filled with Bakken crude struck another train, some of the cars exploded one after the other, releasing fireballs that blazed several stories above the frozen prairie.
"Crude oil doesn't explode like that," said Matthew Goitia, chief executive of Peaker Energy Group LLC, a Houston company that is developing crude-by-rail terminals.
The blast in Casselton, N.D., 25 miles west of Fargo, is just the latest explosion involving crude pumped out of the Bakken. Federal investigators and railroad and energy-company officials are probing whether additives to the oil or mislabeling of the liquid contributed to the series of explosions.
Authorities urged residents to evacuate a small North Dakota town late Monday after a mile-long train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded after colliding with another train. The plume of smoke from the continuing fires is visible for 25 miles.
The collision occurred just before 2:20 p.m., when a westbound BNSF train carrying grain derailed and was then hit by an eastbound BNSF train carrying oil, according to a public information officer with North Dakota Emergency Services.
The BNSF railroad companies are subsidiaries of Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway Inc.