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Tests Found Formaldehyde in West Virginia Tap Water

Jan 30, 2014
(New York Times)

Tests on the water supply in Charleston, W. Va., a week after a chemical spill tainted the city's water system turned up traces of formaldehyde, suggesting that "there's a lot more we don't know" about the consequences of the spill, an environmental expert told a state legislative committee on Wednesday.

That expert, Scott Simonton, a member of the state's Environmental Quality Board, told the panel that he could guarantee that some West Virginians were breathing formaldehyde gas when they showered, news reports said.

He did not specify the level of formaldehyde found in the sample, which The Charleston Daily Mail reported was taken from the tap water at a downtown restaurant on Jan. 13. Nor was it clear why he was certain that city water remained contaminated more than two weeks later.

Obama on Energy and Climate Policy in 2014 State of the Union

Jan 29, 2014
(InsideClimate News)

Here are the parts of President Obama's 2014 State of the Union address that were about energy and climate change issues, taken from the delivered text. In his remarks, Obama defended his "all-of-the above" energy strategy—pursuing all power sources, fossil and clean fuels—crediting the policy with bringing the nation closer to energy independence. Environmental groups have slammed the approach as being at odds with the president's climate goals.

President Obama:

...Now, one of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy. The "all the above" energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today America is closer to energy independence than we have been in decades. (Applause.)

One of the reasons why is natural gas. If extracted safely, it's the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change. (Applause.) Businesses plan to invest almost a hundred billion dollars in new factories that use natural gas. I'll cut red tape to help states get those factories built and put folks to work, and this Congress can help by putting people to work building fueling stations that shift more cars and trucks from foreign oil to American natural gas. (Applause.)

Meanwhile, my administration will keep working with the industry to sustain production and jobs growth while strengthening protection of our air, our water, our communities. And while we're at it, I'll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations. (Applause.)

Now, it's not just oil and natural gas production that's booming; we're becoming a global leader in solar too.

Every four minutes another American home or business goes solar, every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can't be outsourced. Let's continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don't need it so we can invest more in fuels of the future that do. (Cheers, applause.)

And even as we've increased energy production, we've partnered with businesses, builders and local communities to reduce the energy we consume. When we rescued our automakers, for example, we worked with them to set higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars. In the coming months I'll build on that success by setting new standards for our trucks so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump.

And taken together, our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet. Over the past eight years the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth. (Applause.)

But we have to act with more urgency because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought and coastal cities dealing with floods. That's why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air.

The shift -- (applause) -- the shift to a cleaner energy economy won't happen overnight, and it will require some tough choices along the way.

But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. (Applause.) And when our children's children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did. (Cheers, applause.)

Enviros to Pressure Obama by Parading 100-Yard Inflatable Pipeline Around Capitol

Jan 28, 2014
(The Hill)

Green groups hope to get President Obama's attention by parading a giant inflatable pipeline around the Capitol Tuesday before his State of the Union address.

It's the latest push by environmental groups, including 350.org and the National Wildlife Federation, to persuade Obama to reject the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil sands from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.

The 100-yard inflatable pipeline will have the message "Climate Champion or Pipeline President" scrolled across it.

In Frigid Manitoba, Thousands Face Days Without Heat After TransCanada Pipeline Explosion

Jan 27, 2014
(The Canadian Press)

Tanker trucks carried emergency supplies of compressed natural gas on Sunday to heat critical locations in southern Manitoba as thousands of residents have to contend with no heat.

The residents have been told that a pipeline explosion on Saturday means they could have to spend several days in frigid temperatures without fuel to heat their homes.

Natural gas service for an estimated 4,000 people in municipalities south of Winnipeg was interrupted following a huge explosion at a TransCanada Pipelines valve site near St. Pierre-Jolys.

Cash Offers Skyrocket as Much as Seven-Fold for Neb. Landowners Resisting Keystone

Jan 27, 2014
(The Canadian Press)

Cash offers have been skyrocketing, as much as seven-fold, for holdout Nebraska landowners who are willing to sign quickly to allow the Keystone XL pipeline onto their property.

The landowners say they've received written offers from pipeline builder TransCanada Corp. in the last few weeks offering exponentially more money than initially promised, on the condition that they sign soon.

One family says it was initially guaranteed US$8,900 in 2012 to allow the pipeline through its farm. Now, according to an offer sheet dated Jan. 13, 2014, the figure has surged to $61,977.84.

TransCanada Natural Gas Pipeline Explodes Near Winnipeg; 5 Homes Evacuated

Jan 25, 2014
(The Canadian Press)

Five homes have been evacuated as a precaution after a natural gas pipeline explosion early today near the southern Manitoba community of St. Pierre-Jolys.

TransCanada Pipeline says in a statement that a fire broke out around 1:15 a.m. local time on the Canadian Mainline natural gas pipeline system near the community about 25 kilometres south of Winnipeg.

It says the pipeline has been shut down and roads leading to the site have been closed.

NTSB to Industry: Reroute Oil Trains Away From Population Centers

Jan 23, 2014
(Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) expressed growing concern Thursday that accidents involving oil trains can cause “major loss of life,” and recommended that they be rerouted where possible to avoid populated areas.

The safety board's proposal, a direct response to last July’s oil train disaster in Quebec, reverberates in the Twin Cities, where 100-car crude oil trains have become a common occurrence.

But diverting oil tankers away from cities, especially historic rail hubs such as Minneapolis and St. Paul, represents a daunting challenge because most major tracks pass through urban areas.

Close Call on Philadelphia Oil Train Derailment Fuels Calls for Safety

Jan 22, 2014
(StateImpact)

It could be a few more days before crews finish clearing derailed train cars, including five crude oil tankers, from a bridge over the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.

As of Tuesday evening, crews were working continuously in snowfall to transfer oil from the derailed cars to empty tank cars nearby on the same tracks, according to the rail company CSX.

"CSX's priority is on safety and the environmentally responsible transfer operation," spokeswoman Melanie Cost said in an e-mailed update.

EU Calls for 40% Cut in Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2030

Jan 22, 2014
(Bloomberg)

The European Union proposed cutting the region’s greenhouse-gas emissions by 40 percent in 2030 to accelerate efforts to reduce global warming.

The European Commission outlined its strategy to reduce pollution and curb rising energy costs and called for an overhaul of the bloc's policies in the next decade, the EU’s executive arm said in a statement today. The current goal is to cut emissions by 20 percent in 2020 from 1990 levels.

Crude Oil Spills on U.S. Railways in 2013 Topped Total Since 1975

Jan 22, 2014
(The Washington Post)

More crude oil was spilled in U.S. rail incidents last year than was spilled in the nearly four decades since the federal government began collecting data on such spills, an analysis of the data shows.

Including major derailments in Alabama and North Dakota, more than 1.15 million gallons of crude oil was spilled from rail cars in 2013, according to data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.