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MIT Study: Climate Policies Slash Health Care Costs

Aug 26, 2014
(CBC News)

Massive savings to health-care spending can be had if governments implement a cap-and-trade carbon reduction program, say researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

In their study, the MIT researchers examined three types of carbon reduction policies in the U.S. and their effect on health-care spending and published their findings in the journal Nature Climate Change.

While previous studies have found that death rates from emphysema, asthma and pneumonia fell dramatically as air quality improved, they did not examine the economics of emission reduction policies.

Keystone XL Stances Are Key in Tight Race for Nebraska Governor

Aug 24, 2014
(Omaha World Herald)

When it comes to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project, Nebraska's two gubernatorial candidates would have to search long and hard to find common ground.

Republican Pete Ricketts and Democrat Chuck Hassebrook hold polar opposite views on whether or not the pipeline should be built: Ricketts is a yes, Hassebrook a no.

They also differ sharply on several of the issues that flow from the pipeline.

Ricketts is "skeptical" of the idea that mankind is behind climate change, while Hassebrook believes that science has settled the case against fossil fuels.

Global Warming's 'Missing' Heat Is Being Stored in the Atlantic Ocean, Scientific Study Says

Aug 22, 2014
(Guardian)

The key to the slowdown in global warming in recent years could lie in the depths of the Atlantic and Southern Oceans where excess heat is being stored – not the Pacific Ocean as has previously been suggested, according to new research.

But the finding suggests that a naturally occurring ocean cycle burying the heat will flip in around 15 years' time, causing global temperature rises to accelerate again.

The slowdown of average surface temperature rises in the last 15 years after decades of rapid warming has been seized on by climate change sceptics and has puzzled scientists, who have hypothesised that everything from volcanic eruptions and sulphur from Chinese power stations to heat being trapped deep in the oceans could be the cause. Several studies have focused on the Pacific as potentially playing a major role.

The new study, published in the journal Science on Thursday, concludes that the Pacific alone cannot explain the warming "hiatus" and that much of the heat being trapped by greenhouse gases at record levels in the atmosphere is being sunk hundreds of metres down in the Atlantic and Southern Oceans.

Ka-Kit Tung, author of the paper and University of Washington professor, said: "The finding is a surprise, since the current theories had pointed to the Pacific Ocean as the culprit for hiding heat. But the data are quite convincing and they show otherwise."

"We are not downplaying the role of the Pacific. They are both going on [the oceans having an effect on temperatures]; one is short term [the Pacific], one is long term [the Atlantic]," he told the Guardian.

A shift in the salinity of the north Atlantic triggered the effect around the turn of the century, the study says, as surface water there became saltier and more dense, sinking and taking surface heat down to depths of more than 300 metres.

Using temperature data from floats across the world, Tung found the Atlantic and Southern Oceans "each account for just under half the global energy storage change since 1999 at below 300m." The study's result, he says, does not support the "Pacific-centric" view of earlier work on whether heat is being stored.

"We were surprised to see the evidence presented so clearly. When you go with the energy, you cannot argue with that," said Tung.

Enbridge Avoids Keystone-Like Review With Plan to Swap Crudes at the Border

Aug 22, 2014
(Bloomberg)

Enbridge Inc. (ENB) said it found a way to ship more Alberta oil to the U.S. that doesn't require a Keystone XL-like review: switching crude from one pipeline to another before it crosses the border.

The State Department, responsible for approving cross-border energy projects like the Alberta Clipper and the proposed Keystone XL line to the U.S. Gulf Coast, said in a statement that Enbridge can go forward with its plan under authority granted by previously issued permits.

The plan drew criticism today from environmental groups, including the National Wildlife Federation, opposed to new imports from Canada's oil sands because mining and processing the fuel releases more climate-warming carbon than other types of crude.

First Enbridge Trial Begins Over 2010 Michigan Dilbit Spill

Aug 21, 2014
(BattleCreekEnquirer.com)

Two Michigan men testified Wednesday that a 2010 oil spill into the Kalamazoo River destroyed their business and they want Enbridge Inc. to pay for it.

Charles Blakeman, Jr. of Bellevue and Robert Patterson of Mason said they were prevented from guiding disabled veterans on deer hunts in Fort Custer Recreation Area because of the spill and that they lost thousands of dollars.

But Enbridge is arguing that the company, Extreme Adventures, did not have any business before the spill and didn’t lose money because of it.

Microsoft Ends Its Relationship With ALEC Over Anti-Clean Energy Agenda

Aug 20, 2014
(Eclectablog)

The Sustainability Group, a group aimed at fostering socially responsible investment, along with Walden Asset Management, which offers portfolio management services to socially responsive investors, have been working with Microsoft to encourage it to end its relationship with the corporatist group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC.)

The Sustainability Group was successful. From a statement released today:

Last year, The Sustainability Group of Loring, Wolcott and Coolidge and Walden Asset Management engaged Microsoft over its affiliation with the controversial model legislation group American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Microsoft is a leader on carbon issues – in 2012, it committed to becoming carbon neutral, and is one of the largest corporate purchasers of renewable energy. Thus, we believe that its affiliation with ALEC, which is actively fighting policies that promote renewable energy, was incongruous. In addition, there were numerous other ALEC actions that conflicted directly with Microsoft’s values.

We are pleased to report Microsoft is no longer a member of ALEC and is not financially supporting the organization in any way.

Oregon Agency Rejects Coal Export Permit, Dealing Major Blow

Aug 19, 2014
(Oregonian)

Oregon's Department of State Lands on Monday dealt a serious blow to Ambre Energy's proposed coal terminal, denying a key permit needed for a project to export 8.8 million tons of coal annually to Asia.

The state agency said despite a two-year review, Australia-based Ambre Energy hadn't done enough to analyze alternatives that would avoid harming tribal fisheries at the Port of Morrow in Boardman, where the company had proposed to build a dock to load coal onto barges.

The project, the state agency said in a press release, "is not consistent with the protection, conservation and best use of the state's water resources."

"This application has been scrutinized for months," said Mary Abrams, state lands director. "We believe our decision is the right one, considering our regulatory parameters laid out in Oregon law, and the wealth of information we have received from the applicant and the public."

Oil Spills From 50-Foot Pipe Found in the Hudson River

Aug 17, 2014
(AP)

New York state authorities are investigating an oil spill from a pipe found floating in the Hudson River south of Albany.

State police say there were called by Columbia County 911 dispatchers to assist local firefighters with a reported oil spill near a boat launch in Germanton, 35 miles south of Albany.

Troopers say a boater spotted a 50-foot-long flexible transfer pipe floating in the river with oil spilled nearby. A state police helicopter was used to help the state Department of Environmental Conservation determine the extent of the spill.

Tar Sands Among Riskiest Energy Plays in the World, Study Says

Aug 16, 2014
(The Canadian Press)

Some of the world's costliest energy projects are in Alberta's oilsands and some could be cancelled without higher oil prices, according to a new report by a London-based financial think-tank that focuses on climate risk.

The study by the Carbon Tracker Initiative highlighted 20 of the biggest projects around the world that need a minimum oil price of US$95 a barrel to be economically viable.

Most on the list require prices well north of US$110 a barrel and a few in the oilsands even need prices higher than US$150, said the report.

Crude for September delivery was at around US$97 a barrel in New York on Friday.

Total Shelves $11 Billion Alberta Tar Sands Mine

Aug 14, 2014
(Globe and Mail)

The Joslyn oil sands mine has been shelved indefinitely, a result of rising industry costs that made the $11-billion project financially untenable.

French energy powerhouse Total SA, along with its partners in the Joslyn north oil sands project, unanimously decided to put the project on hold because of rising cost pressures across the entire energy industry, said André Goffart, the head of Total's Canadian division.

"Joslyn is facing the same challenge most of the industry world-wide [is], in the sense that costs are continuing to inflate when the oil price and specifically the netbacks for the oil sands are remaining stable at best – squeezing the margins," he told reporters in a conference call.