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Climate Week NYC: The Top 10 Places to Be

Don't know what's happening or where to go during this year's Climate Week NYC? Let ICN guide you with this infographic.

By Paul Horn and Katherine Bagley

Sep 8, 2014

On Sunday, Sept. 21, demonstrators from more than 1,000 organizations representing millions of people plan to demand that world leaders take action against global warming. The People's Climate March through midtown Manhattan will be the "largest climate march in history," according to its organizers. And it will kick off the sixth annual Climate Week NYC—with about 80 events focused on climate change such as high-level meetings, conferences, lectures and debates.

A United Nations summit in New York City will also take place during Climate Week, which will help lay the groundwork for climate-change treaty talks next year in Paris.

Here's a look at 10 top places to be during Climate Week (some open to the public, some not) and their locations, including the People's Climate March route:

Nebraska Supreme Court Holds the Key to Keystone XL's Future

Seven-judge panel to decide whether lower court decision in favor of landowners who oppose the pipeline should stand.

Sep 5, 2014

Nebraskan landowners who have fought the Keystone XL pipeline to a standstill there urged the state's Supreme Court on Friday to reaffirm that the legislature acted unconstitutionally when it allowed rubberstamp approval of the pipeline's proposed route across the region's fragile sandhills and vulnerable aquifers. 

Otherwise, said David Domina, the landowners' lawyer, the Canadian pipeline company TransCanada and its political allies would be free to run untrammeled over private landholders and the public interest without due process or judicial review.



Fracking's Wastewater, Poorly Understood, Is Analyzed for First Time

Researchers determined general chemical footprint of one liter samples, but not relative concentrations, and call for further study.

Sep 5, 2014

A new study in the journal Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts offers one of the most comprehensive analyses yet of what's in a type of waste called produced water, a poorly understood and controversial byproduct of fracking.

This peer-reviewed study by a pair of researchers at Rice University in Houston shows that while fracking-produced water shouldn't be allowed near drinking water, it's less toxic than similar waste from coal-bed methane mining. It also revealed how the contents of this waste differ dramatically across three major shale plays: Texas' Eagle Ford, New Mexico's Barnett and Pennsylvania's Marcellus.

Fracking involves injecting a slurry of water, chemicals and sand down a well to crack open shale bedrock and extract oil and gas. The study defines produced water as the water that flows out of a well after fossil fuel extraction starts. It includes some of the slurry first injected down a well, as well as naturally occurring water and materials from deep underground, such as salts, heavy metals and radioactive material.

Previous studies have examined the salinity of this waste and even some of the inorganic chemicals. Building from that, the Rice researchers identified 25 inorganic chemicals in the waste. Of those, at least six were found at levels that would make the water unsafe to drink—barium, chromium, copper, mercury, arsenic and antimony. Depending on the chemical, consuming it at high levels can cause high blood pressure, skin damage, liver or kidney damage, stomach issues, or cancer.

Frack-Free Leaders in Illinois, Hedging Their Bets, Shelve Calls for Ban for Now

Grassroots activists joined mainstream environmental organizations to help force the state to write tougher fracking rules; some aren't pleased about it.

Sep 4, 2014

Grassroots groups fighting hydraulic fracturing in Illinois have put aside their push for a moratorium or a ban in recent months in favor of seeking stronger industry regulations.

"Basically, we're hedging our bets," said Annette McMichael, spokeswoman for Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment (SAFE). "We are firmly against fracking, and yet we are willing to work within the legislative confines."

SAFE and other local organizations joined with national environmental groups to force the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to write tougher rules under 2013 legislation regulating fracking, a technique used to extract natural gas and oil from shale. The department issued its new regulations Friday. And yet, the decision to shelve demands for a moratorium or a ban has upset fellow grassroots activists who maintain that any fracking—even when highly regulated—is unsafe.

Oil and Gas Wastewater Pits Draw Fine for Toxic Releases

Facility in Utah doubles in size without a proper permit for emissions of volatile organic compounds, including benzene, toluene and xylene.

Sep 3, 2014

A commercial facility that disposes of oil and gas waste in Eastern Utah has been fined $50,000 for releasing excessive amounts of benzene and other volatile organic compounds without a state air emissions permit.

Rusty Ruby, compliance manager for Utah's Division of Air Quality Compliance, said the agency doesn't have "a lot of experience" when it comes to regulating waste pits because so little is known about them, a problem common in other states where hydraulic fracturing is generating vast quantities of contaminated waste water.  

"It's not like a smokestack that you can get a pretty good idea of what's coming out," Ruby said.

In this case, the violation became clear when Utah officials discovered that Danish Flats Environmental Services had nearly doubled the size of its operation without obtaining an emissions permit.  Ruby said the Colorado-based firm's unpermitted operation was exceeding emissions regulations under the federal Clean Air Act and state law.

Keystone Ads Mislead on Canada's Deep Cuts to Environmental Monitoring

Canada has cut nearly $3 billion in spending and up to 5,000 jobs from its science-based departments, according to a union representing federal scientists.

Sep 2, 2014

The ads were hard to miss for anyone taking the subway in Washington, D.C.—particularly someone working at the White House, the State Department or Congress.

They included images of children waving the American and Canadian flags, a green mountain with a river running through it, and construction workers building a new pipeline in Texas.

The ads in some of the capital's busiest Metro stations are but a small part of an aggressive, ongoing campaign that targets the most powerful people in Washington. The goal: President Obama's approval for the Keystone XL pipeline, a major expansion project that could bring more of Canada's carbon-intensive tar sands oil into the United States.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has set aside $22.7 million for an advertising blitz this year to promote oil and Canada's other natural resources in the United States, Europe and Asia. But scientists and environmental groups say the advertising message is misleading its target audience about the Canadian government's failure to clean up the oil sands, Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.

"Those [advertising] messages aren't accompanied by any changes in policy—they're basically defending Canada's current record, which we know to be quite poor when it comes to climate," said Danielle Droitsch, the Canada project director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, a U.S. environmental group that has criticized the Keystone pipeline project and the expansion of Canada's oil sands industry.

Colorado Town to Ask Higher Court to Uphold Its Fracking Ban

Longmont 'continues to imply that decades of established law on regulating oil and gas operations somehow doesn't apply to them,' says industry official.

Aug 29, 2014

Leaders of a Boulder, Colo. suburb on the front lines of the fight against gas drilling recently voted 7-0 to appeal last month's court ruling that overturned the city's ban on fracking.

The city council's unanimous vote not only brings the high-profile anti-fracking case back to court, but also guarantees the town of Longmont a few more years free of fracking. That's because of the last few sentences in the court ruling, which says the judge would agree to uphold the ban during the appeal if the town asked for it.

The city of Longmont—and the local and environmental groups that later joined the case—have until Sept. 11 to file the appeal.

Pauline Christensen, a Longmont city councilwoman who is happy to keep the lawsuit alive, told InsideClimate News: "I want to appeal this as far as we can."

Enbridge Faces Maximum Fine of $86 Million for Kalamazoo Spill

The company told regulators in a filing it expects to pay at least $22 million. The EPA, which will assess the fine, is mum.

Aug 28, 2014

12:30 PM ET on 8/28/204: This story has been updated with information from the EPA.

Pipeline giant Enbridge, Inc. has almost finished cleaning up its 2010 spill that sent hundreds of thousands of gallons of heavy crude oil into Michigan's Kalamazoo River.

Now the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must decide how much it will fine Enbridge for causing one of the biggest inland oil spills in U.S. history.

Enbridge spokesman Larry Springer declined to speculate on the amount of the fine. But according to the company's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last year, Enbridge expects it will be at least $22 million.

"Discussions are ongoing with the relevant government agencies, and it is premature to discuss negotiations at this time," Springer said.

Deepening Ties Between Exxon and Russia Run Counter to U.S. Efforts to Punish Putin

As its interests deepen in Russia, Exxon also stands to profit from the U.S. effort to fast-track oil and gas exports to 'stick it' to Putin.

Aug 27, 2014

As tensions mount and U.S. lawmakers push for stiffer sanctions on Russia for its role in the Ukraine crisis, oil giant ExxonMobil wants no part of it.  

On the contrary, America's second-largest public company recently deepened its ties to Russia and its vast energy deposits with a new natural gas export venture and by providing Russian President Vladimir Putin with enthusiastic—and very public—support.

The incongruity of Exxon's business-as-usual approach in Russia while U.S. officials talk of punishing Putin highlights a reality that politicians and the public tend to overlook: Corporate interests and the needs of the nation can—and do—sometimes diverge. Barring legal prohibitions, Exxon and other public companies are duty-bound to put shareholder interests first.  

It's a reality that remains obscured as energy lobbyists and Congressional lawmakers campaign for sweeping policy shifts and controversial projects, such as construction of the Keystone XL oil import pipeline, fast-tracking natural gas export plants and removing limits on domestic oil exports.

In Tight Florida's Governor's Race, Climate Change Is a Central Issue

Voter concern over vanishing beaches and fresh water may force GOP Gov. Rick Scott to run against his party's platform and his record.

Aug 27, 2014

1:30 PM ET on 8/27/204: This story has been updated with comment from Gov. Rick Scott's spokesperson.

The increasingly visible effects of climate change in Florida are putting Republican Gov. Rick Scott in a bind as he seeks re-election this November.

With rising water already eating away at the coastline and threatening cities, Florida is largely considered ground zero for climate change in the United States. Increased flooding in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, disappearing beaches and endangered fresh water supplies are making climate change a top issue in the governor's race, opinion polling shows.

Scott spent much of his first term dismantling the climate-change initiatives of his predecessor, Charlie Crist, who's now his Democratic opponent in the November election. Both men won nomination in Tuesday's primary. Voters, environmentalists, scientists and the media are joining Crist in pressing Scott to acknowledge the threat that climate change poses to the state. But if he does, he risks alienating the far right wing of the Republican Party, which helped elect him in 2010.

"He's caught in the crosshairs," said Frank Jackalone, the senior organizing manager for the Florida chapter of the Sierra Club.