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Today's Climate

November 21, 2014

(New York Times)
China plans to set a cap on coal consumption in 2020, an important step for the country in trying to achieve a recently announced goal of having carbon dioxide emissions peak by around 2030. The State Council, China's cabinet, released details of an energy strategy late Wednesday that includes capping coal consumption at 4.2 billion tons in 2020 and having coal be no more than 62 percent of the primary energy mix by that year.
The Canadian government has revealed it will give U.S.$265 million (C$300 million) to a U.N. fund aimed at helping the world's poorest countries invest in clean energy technologies and cope with the effects of climate change.
(The Globe and Mail)
Ontario and Quebec are forging a common strategy on TransCanada Corp.'s $12-billion Energy East pipeline project to address its impact on greenhouse gas emissions and to ensure that their natural gas customers will not be disadvantaged. Kathleen Wynne and Philippe Couillard are meeting in Toronto on Friday for a joint cabinet session. Officials confirmed that Energy East will be on the agenda, and the premiers plan to release a joint statement on the project.
(StateImpact Texas)
Congress' attempts to force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline have re-ignited debate over the project, which would allow more crude oil to flow from the tar sands of Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast. It's also re-ignited debate over what could happen to that oil once it gets to Texas.
Irving Oil has told regulators that recent air quality testing it commissioned around its oil-by-rail terminal in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada's largest such facility, shows no cause for public health concern.
(Think Progress)
Three top environmental groups released a report on Thursday detailing how the federal government could cut the country's methane emissions almost in half.
(Texas Tribune)
Bradford Gilde, a Houston lawyer, stumbled across some unexpected evidence as he was preparing to sue Aruba Petroleum on behalf of a North Texas couple who believed fumes from the company's natural gas wells were making them sick.
(Democrat & Chronicle)
About 350 New York state schools, including at least 63 in Monroe County, lie within a mile of railroad tracks used by trains carrying volatile crude oil, a coalition of environmental and other advocacy groups said Thursday.
(Washington Post)
Americans largely concur that God created the Earth. But when it comes to how he wants its environment treated, and how much he's willing to intercede–the agreement ends.
(Climate Central)
A surge of Arctic air has left much of the continental U.S. shivering in unusually bitter November cold. But this early foray into winter weather is just a small blip in the overall global picture, which is of a warming world that is still on track to see 2014 set the mark for hottest year on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.
(Fuel Fix)
Exxon Mobil might be secure as the largest energy company in the United States, but internationally the company lost ground this year, according to Petroleum Intelligence Weekly's annual rankings of the top 50 global oil firms.

November 20, 2014

The world must halt fossil-fuel emissions within the next six decades to stave off irreversible impacts that may stem from a warming planet, the United Nations said. Sometime between 2055 and 2070, any carbon dioxide produced as the result of burning oil, coal and natural gas should should be compensated with measures that suck the gas out of the atmosphere, the U.N. Environment Program said today in its annual "Emissions Gap" report. Those may include planting trees or using carbon-capture technology.
Britain will face a disaster if it adopts an "isolationist approach" to the environment, the energy secretary, Ed Davey, has warned as he announced the U.K. is to give £720m to an international fund to help poor countries cope with climate change.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
French President François Hollande urged nations to commit to ambitious and binding carbon-emission cuts ahead of next year's global climate talks in Paris, seeking to build on momentum created by surprise unilateral commitments from the U.S. and China.
(Latin American Herald Tribune)
Greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil amounted to 1.5 million tons in 2013, up 7.8 percent from 2012 and the highest total since 2008, non-governmental organizations said in a report released on Wednesday.The study by the Climate Observatory mainly attributes the increase in emissions to Amazon deforestation, increased use of thermoelectric plants and greater fuel consumption.
(New York Times)
NRG, which built a leading electricity business from coal and other conventional power plants, is aiming to reduce its carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and by 90 percent by 2050, the company planned to announce Thursday. David Crane, the company's chief executive, plans to make the announcement at a groundbreaking ceremony for the company's new headquarters in Princeton, N.J., conceived as a green-energy showcase that will open in 2016.
(Think Progress)
The House of Representatives voted 237-190 on Wednesday afternoon to pass a bill that would limit the type of scientific research the Environmental Protection Agency can use when crafting regulations to protect the environment and public health. Dubbed the "Secret Science Reform Act of 2014," the bill's intention is to increase transparency at the EPA by making it so the agency can't use any science that is "hidden and flawed," according to bill sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).
(National Journal)
Rep. Frank Pallone beat out Rep. Anna Eshoo on Wednesday for the top Democratic seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, a public defeat for returning Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and a victory for seniority as a primary factor driving committee races. Eshoo had been Pelosi's choice to succeed retiring Rep. Henry Waxman as the panel's ranking Democrat, but she was edged out by Pallone 100-90 in secret balloting by the entire Democratic Caucus. The Pelosi-controlled Democratic Steering and Policy Committee had endorsed Eshoo for the postion on Tuesday, 30-19.
Germany's government plans to stop short of an outright ban on the controversial technique of fracking for gas, bowing to pressure from industry, according to the latest draft of a law from the environment ministry seen by Reuters. Fracking or hydraulic fracturing to extract gas and oil has transformed the U.S. energy market, boosting domestic supplies. The process is banned in France on environmental grounds. It is allowed in Britain but has strict environmental and safety guidelines.
(Columbus Dispatch (sub. req'd))
Two environmental groups filed a lawsuit today accusing the Ohio Department of Natural Resources of illegally approving 30 sites to store and process fracking waste from shale drilling. The lawsuit filed in the Franklin County Court of Appeals asks the court to revoke illegally issued permits, thus closing the waste-handling sites, and order the agency to create legally required rules regulating the operations.
(Minnesota Public Radio)
Plans for a new oil pipeline across northern Minnesota are bringing increased scrutiny to Enbridge, the company that wants to build it. The Canadian-based company has more than 1,800 miles of pipeline in the state. It wants to build more than 600 miles more across North Dakota and northern Minnesota to deliver light crude from North Dakota's Bakken oil fields to eastern refineries.
(The Globe and Mail)
Trade association ramps up efforts to promote the province's fledgling liquefied natural gas industry.
Some of the country's first gas-pump warning labels about climate change are coming to Berkeley, a city with a long history of green and clean policies. The Berkeley City Council voted late Tuesday to draft a proposal by next spring that will put stickers on gas pumps citywide to warn consumers that burning fuel contributes to global warming.

November 19, 2014

(The Hill)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) will unveil new legislation that will put a price on carbon emissions. Whitehouse, a staunch environmentalist, will announce details of the bill during a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday.
(New York Times)
The European Union agreed last month to keep open until 2030 a loophole allowing some of its biggest atmospheric polluters to avoid bearing an increasing share of the costs of cutting global-warming emissions.
(National Journal)
Green groups say the Keystone XL pipeline is "game over" for the fight against climate change, but the groups are still willing to cut campaign checks to Democrats who back it. Fourteen Democrats sided with Republicans on Tuesday night to vote in favor of the Senate bill approving the oil-sands pipeline, which was defeated in a 59-41 vote. Collectively, those Democrats pulled in nearly $820,000 in contributions from environmental groups in the 2014 cycle, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Those totals include contributions to senators' campaign committees and leadership PACs, and reflect six-year terms.
Environmentalists and energy boosters alike welcomed a federal compromise announced Tuesday that will allow fracking in the largest national forest in the eastern United States, but make most of its woods off-limits to drilling. The decision was highly anticipated because about half of the George Washington National Forest sits atop the Marcellus shale formation, a vast underground deposit of natural gas that runs from upstate New York to West Virginia and yields more than $10 billion in gas a year.
(Fuel Fix)
Oil and gas producers need to do more than look at their own operations to address water supply problems in the areas where they drill, according to a report from consulting group Deloitte. Outlining the financial and political risks of the industry's growing use of water, the report suggests that the problems are often bigger than one single producer; Will Sarni, a director and practice leader at Deloitte Consulting LLP, said in the report that oil companies should look to work with residential water users and other industry in the same watershed.
(Midwest Energy News)
The "beneficial reuse" of coal ash, often touted as a way to keep the material out of landfills, is potentially causing serious contamination of drinking water in southeast Wisconsin and possibly across the state, according to a report released today by Clean Wisconsin.
(Think Progress)
A major Kentucky coal company falsified its pollution reports in the first quarter of 2014, according to multiple environmental groups that filed an intent to sue notice against the company this week.