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More Arsenic in Texas Water Wells Near Gas Drilling, Study Finds

Sep 2, 2014
(AP via Fuel Fix)

North Texas water wells within two miles of active gas drilling sites contain higher concentrations of arsenic and other carcinogens, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

In the study, University of Texas at Arlington biochemists measured 100 wells across the Barnett Shale, believed to hold one of the largest natural gas reserves in the U.S., and compared the results to a similar study undertaken before hydraulic fracturing technology and higher natural gas prices opened the area to drilling.

Some 30 percent of the wells within 1.8 miles of gas drilling sites showed an increased amount of arsenic and other heavy metals, the study said, and 29 wells exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum arsenic limits of 10 parts per billion.

China's National Carbon Trading Market to Start in 2016

Sep 1, 2014
(Reuters)

China plans to roll out its national market for carbon permit trading in 2016, an official said Sunday, adding that the government is close to finalizing rules for what will be the world's biggest emissions trading scheme.

The world's biggest-emitting nation, accounting for nearly 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, plans to use the market to slow its rapid growth in climate-changing emissions.

China has pledged to reduce the amount of carbon it emits per unit of GDP to 40-45 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

Shell Canada: Tar Sands Mines May Not Meet Toxic Waste Targets

Aug 29, 2014
(Wall Street Journal, sub. req'd.)

The head of Royal Dutch Shell PLC's Canadian unit Wednesday said the company may not be able to meet promised targets for reducing toxic wastes from oil sands and called for greater regulatory flexibility.

Shell, which operates two major oil-sands surface mines in northern Alberta, had committed to cutting the amount of waste generated by its heavy-oil extraction projects in Canada. But the company and other producers have struggled to meet reduction targets mandated by the government and now face the prospect of penalties if those goals remain unmet.

"It's going to be very challenging" to achieve mandated reduction targets next year, said Lorraine Mitchelmore, president of Shell Canada Ltd.

3rd Colorado City Loses Court Fight Over Fracking

Aug 28, 2014
(AP)

Colorado's oil and gas industry has again won another court battle against a town that banned or limited fracking.

A Boulder District Court judge on Wednesday tossed out a voter-approved fracking ban in Lafayette. The ban was adopted last year.

The Colorado Oil & Gas Association challenged the fracking ban.

Judge D. D. Mallard also struck down a voter-approved fracking ban in Longmont. She said in both decisions that local governments cannot regulate drilling.

Blast Shakes BP's Tar Sands Refinery in Indiana

Aug 28, 2014
(Reuters)

An explosion shook BP Plc's Whiting, Indiana refinery, its largest in the United States, on Wednesday night but a resulting fire had been contained as of 9:30 pm local time (0230 GMT Thursday), according to a report by WFLD-TV.

Local officials did not know which unit was involved and a BP spokesman said the company was preparing a statement.

There were reports from local media that at least one person was taken to an area hospital. Other reports said no injuries had been reported in the blaze.

Draft UN Report: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Are Growing, and Growing More Dangerous

Aug 26, 2014
(New York Times)

Runaway growth in the emission of greenhouse gases is swamping all political efforts to deal with the problem, raising the risk of "severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts" over the coming decades, according to a draft of a major new United Nations report.

Global warming is already cutting grain production by several percentage points, the report found, and that could grow much worse if emissions continue unchecked. Higher seas, devastating heat waves, torrential rain and other climate extremes are also being felt around the world as a result of human emissions, the draft report said, and those problems are likely to intensify unless the gases are brought under control.

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.