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Fracking Boom Will Not Tackle Global Warming, Nature Study Finds

Oct 16, 2014
(Guardian)

An unrestrained global fracking boom that unleashes plentiful and cheap gas will not tackle global warming by replacing coal and cutting carbon emissions, according to a comprehensive analysis that takes into account the impact on the rest of the energy supply.

Burning natural gas produces half the carbon dioxide released by coal, and shale gas proponents argue that gas can therefore be a “bridge” fuel, curbing emissions while very low carbon sources such as renewable and nuclear energy are ramped up.

But a new analysis published in the journal Nature shows that a gas boom would cut energy prices, squeezing out renewable energy, and is likely to actually increase overall carbon emissions. The researchers conclude that only new interventions, such as a long-sought international climate change deal or significant global price on carbon pollution, would be effective in tackling warming.

Pentagon Unveils Plan for Military's Response to Climate Change

Oct 13, 2014
(Los Angeles Times)

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel addressed the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas on Monday, unveiling a comprehensive plan for how the U.S. military will address the effects of climate change.

Rising global temperatures, increasing sea levels and intensifying weather events will challenge global stability, he said, and could lead to food and water shortages, pandemic disease and disputes over refugees and resources.

The Pentagon's "2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap" describes how global warming will bring new demands on the military.

Satellites See Hot Spot of Methane in U.S. Southwest

Oct 10, 2014
(AP)

A surprising hot spot of the potent global-warming gas methane hovers over part of the southwestern U.S., according to satellite data.

That result hints that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies considerably underestimate leaks of methane, which is also called natural gas.

The higher level of methane is not a local safety or a health issue for residents, but factors in overall global warming. It is likely leakage from pumping methane out of coal mines. While methane isn't the most plentiful heat-trapping gas, scientists worry about its increasing amounts and have had difficulties tracking emissions.

Glasgow Becomes First University in Europe to Divest From Fossil Fuels

Oct 9, 2014
(Guardian)

Glasgow University has become the first academic institution in Europe to divest from the fossil fuel industry, in a turning point for the British arm of the student-led global divestment movement.

After 12 months of campaigning, led by the Glasgow University Climate Action Society and involving over 1,300 students, the university court on Wednesday voted to begin divesting £18m from the fossil fuel industry and freeze new investments across its entire endowment of £128m.

Describing the result as "a dramatic beachhead for the divestment movement”, American environmentalist Bill McKibben said that it sent a powerful signal that Europe would be “just as powerful in this fight as Australia and North America."

Canada Has No Detailed Plan to Meet Its Emissions Goals, Federal Watchdog Warns

Oct 7, 2014
(Globe and Mail)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government is not doing enough to reduce carbon emissions, fight climate change and regulate oil and gas emissions, a series of audits from a federal watchdog have found.

The audits, contained in a report published Tuesday, say Canada has no detailed plan to meet its emissions reduction targets, is on pace to fall well short of missing them and has made no long-term commitment to environmental monitoring in the oil sands region, the fastest-growing source of emissions.

EU Drops Plan to Put Dirty Label on Tar Sands Crude

Oct 7, 2014
(CBC News)

A European Union plan to label crude from oilsands as highly polluting in its fight against climate change has been abandoned after years of opposition led by major producer Canada.

A proposal published by the European Commission on Tuesday removes an obstacle to Canada exporting oilsands crude to Europe and comes at a time when tensions between the EU and top oil supplier Russia are running high.

EU sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the desire for a trade deal with Canada had been a factor given the situation with Moscow.

EPA Ozone-Pollution Standard Left Intact by Supreme Court

Oct 6, 2014
(Bloomberg)

The U.S. Supreme Court left intact ozone-pollution standards crafted under former President George W. Bush, rejecting an appeal by a business group that said the rules were too stringent.

The rebuff leaves intact a federal appeals court decision that said the Environmental Protection Agency had adequate scientific evidence to tighten the standards for ozone, an oxidant that is the principal component of smog.

The standards, which lowered the ozone threshold from 80 to 75 parts per billion, were attacked from both sides after being issued in 2008. The appeals court rejected most of the arguments from environmentalists, states and industry groups.

Cuomo Administration Edited and Delayed Key Fracking Study

Oct 6, 2014
(Capital New York )

A federal water study commissioned by the Cuomo administration as it weighed a key decision on fracking was edited and delayed by state officials before it was published, a Capital review has found.

The study, originally commissioned by the state in 2011, when the administration was reportedly considering approving fracking on a limited basis, was going to result in a number of politically inconvenient conclusions for Governor Andrew Cuomo, according to an early draft of the report by the U.S. Geological Survey obtained by Capital through a Freedom of Information Act request.

A comparison of the original draft of the study on naturally occurring methane in water wells across the gas-rich Southern Tier with the final version of the report, which came out after extensive communications between the federal agency and Cuomo administration officials, reveals that some of the authors' original descriptions of environmental and health risks associated with fracking were played down or removed.

Republicans Craft 2015 Plan to Force Obama's Hand on Keystone Pipeline

Oct 2, 2014
(Reuters)

Republicans plan to put approval of the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline on a fast track early next year if they win a U.S. Senate majority in November, finally forcing President Barack Obama to make a tough call on the controversial plan.

The $10 billion Keystone project to connect Canadian oil sands with U.S. refineries will top the list of Republican energy priorities if they gain control of the Senate after the Nov. 4 midterm elections. It could come as a stand-alone measure or attached to must-pass legislation such as a government spending or transportation bill, according to senators and congressional aides.

EPA: Greenhouse Gases From Major Polluters Grew Last Year

Sep 30, 2014
(The Hill)

Large industrial facilities emitted 20 million more metric tons of greenhouse gases, or a 0.6 percent increase, last year over 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said.

The EPA attributed the emissions gain to an uptick in the use of coal for power generation.

"Climate change, fueled by greenhouse gas pollution, is threatening our health, our economy, and our way of life — increasing our risks from intense extreme weather, air pollution, drought and disease," EPA head Gina McCarthy said in a statement.