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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.

Nebraska Court Ruling on Keystone XL Pipeline Not Expected Until 2015

Aug 13, 2014
(Reuters)

The Nebraska Supreme Court will soon hear arguments in a dispute over the planned route for the Keystone XL pipeline but a court ruling on the controversial project is likely to be delayed until the new year, lawyers and activists say.

The court has scheduled oral arguments for Sept. 5 in Lincoln over the proposed path of the 1,200-mile (1,900-km) pipeline from Canada to Texas.

Although it will be a talking point in several Congressional races, Keystone's fate is likely to remain in limbo during the Nov. 5 U.S. mid-term elections.

Oil Companies Fracking into Drinking Water Sources, Research Shows

Aug 13, 2014
(Los Angeles Times)

Energy companies are fracking for oil and gas at far shallower depths than widely believed, sometimes through underground sources of drinking water, according to research released Tuesday by Stanford University scientists.

Though researchers cautioned their study of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, employed at two Wyoming geological formations showed no direct evidence of water-supply contamination, their work is certain to roil the public health debate over the risks of the controversial oil and gas production process.

Groups Accuse EPA of Muzzling Science Advisers

Aug 12, 2014
(AP)

Journalist and scientific organizations accused the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday of attempting to muzzle its independent scientific advisers by directing them to funnel all outside requests for information through agency officials.

In a letter Tuesday, groups representing journalists and scientists urged the EPA to allow advisory board members to talk directly to news reporters, Congress and other outside groups without first asking for permission from EPA officials. An April memo from the EPA's chief of staff said that "unsolicited contacts" need to be "appropriately managed" and that committee members should refrain from directly responding to requests about committees' efforts to advise the agency.

Democrats Increasingly Backing Oil and Gas Industry

Aug 11, 2014
(Wall Street Journal)

When House Republicans took up a measure to speed the government's reviews of applications to export natural gas, a move long sought by energy companies, the unexpected happened: The bill won "yes" votes from 47 Democrats.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Cory Gardner (R., Colo.), anticipated some Democratic backing, but not that much. Rep. Steve Israel of New York, who leads the Democrats' House campaign arm, was a yes, as was House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland. Both had voted to restrict oil and natural-gas exports in 2012.

The energy boom is shaping a new kind of Democrat in national politics, lawmakers who are giving greater support to the oil and gas industry even at the risk of alienating environmental groups, a core of the party's base.

EPA Must Explain Costs of Its Rules Better, Federal Watchdog Says

Aug 11, 2014
(Washington Examiner)

The Environmental Protection Agency needs to do a better job explaining and disclosing the data it uses to determine the costs of proposed regulations, particularly those regarding climate change, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Monday.

While the agency adhered to many of the guidelines outlined by the White House Office of Management and Budget when describing the economic effects of proposed rules and potential alternatives, the report said the information EPA used was "not always clear."

"As a result, EPA cannot ensure that its [regulatory impact analyses] adhere to OMB's guidance to provide the public with a clear understanding of its decision making," the report said.

Keystone XL Could Mean More Global Warming Emissions Than Estimated, Study Says

Aug 10, 2014
(Los Angeles Times)

Building the Keystone XL pipeline could lead to as much as four times more greenhouse gas emissions than the State Department has estimated for the controversial project, according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change that relies on different calculations about oil consumption.

Emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide became central to the Obama administration’s review of a federal permit for Keystone XL, after the president announced in June 2013 that he would let the project proceed only if "it does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution."