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Today's Climate

December 22, 2014

(Reuters via Scientific American)
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday that construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to transport crude oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast would only nominally benefit American consumers and workers in perhaps his strongest comments on the Canada-to-U.S. pipeline to date.
(The Hill)
A group of bipartisan lawmakers is urging President Obama to withdraw the administration's climate regulation on carbon pollution from existing power plants. In a letter sent to Obama on Friday, 102 members of Congress argue the proposal would "dramatically" change the way "we generate, transmit and consume electricity in the United States."
The government's climate advisory body has delivered a stark assessment of the Coalition's policies, stating it was unlikely that its Direct Action policy would meet Australia's 5 percent emissions reduction target and calling for the renewable energy target (RET) to remain intact.
(Washington Post)
Less than five years after an explosion fueled by excess coal dust killed 29 men deep inside a West Virginia mine, the nation's coal mines are on pace for an all-time low in work-related deaths. Federal mine-safety officials credit changes they've made since the Upper Big Branch disaster in April 2010. They point to their more aggressive use of team inspections at problem sites and other measures, which they say have fostered more responsible behavior below ground.
(Forum News Service)
As North Dakota's government faces criticism for its alleged failure to regulate the oil and gas industry, state officials have sided with three oil companies in an ongoing lawsuit. The case, which has been in the works for several years, involves Daryl Peterson, a landowner from Bottineau County, who has complained that numerous saltwater spills on his property have not been properly cleaned up.
(Columbus Dispatch)
This hollow used to be peaceful. Not long ago, Randy Heater and his daughters would roam the Monroe County hills to hunt, setting up deer stands on quiet fall days when the air was still.
(San Antonio Express-News)
Gas flares in the Eagle Ford Shale burned more than 20 billion cubic feet of natural gas and released tons of pollutants into the air in the first seven months of 2014—exceeding the total waste and pollution for all of 2012.
(Minneapolis Star Tribune)
A state study of six alternative routes for a proposed northern ­Minnesota crude oil pipeline has found serious environmental risks with all of them.
(The Globe and Mail)
A Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. oilsands operation that has contaminated a groundwater aquifer is renewing questions about a technology that has already been linked to another serious leak in northern Alberta.
(National Journal)
A Republican lawmaker in Wyoming is taking a stand in favor of teaching climate science in the classroom. Republican state representative John Patton will introduce legislation early this week to overturn a state-wide ban on a set of K-12 science education standards that teach the scientific consensus on global warming.
(Think Progress)
A spokesperson for eBay Inc. has confirmed to Reuters that it will end its association with the conservative political group American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
In early October, Saudi Arabia's representative to OPEC surprised attendees at a New York seminar by revealing his government was content to let global energy prices slide.
(Greentech Media)
The global nuclear industry is in steady decline. Since hitting a peak in 1996 at nearly 18 percent of global energy production, the industry's share has dropped down to less than 11 percent.

December 19, 2014

(Wall Street Journal)
The White House is calling on federal agencies to consider the climate-change impact of a wide range of energy projects that require government approval. The draft guidelines, released Thursday by the White House's Council on Environmental Quality, are likely to affect fossil-fuel projects the most, such as pipelines, terminals that export coal and liquefied natural gas, and production of oil, natural gas and coal on public lands.
The surge in European carbon permit prices may just be beginning. The price of emission rights will rise 62 percent by June 30, according to the median of 16 trader and analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. UBS Group AG says costs may more than double in 2015. Carbon already jumped 44 percent this year, while the 22-member Bloomberg Commodities Index (BCOM) slid 14 percent.
Environmentalists and industry experts widely expect the first federal standards for the waste generated from coal burned for electricity to treat the ash like household garbage, rather than a hazardous material.
(The Hill)
House Republicans have created a new Oversight Committee subpanel to supervise the Obama administration's environmental and energy policies. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the committee's incoming chairman, announced that the new subcommittee will be chaired by Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.).
State Senate Republican leader Thomas Kean Jr. and state Sen. Richard Codey today announced they have introduced a resolution opposing the planned Pilgrim Pipeline, which would carry volatile oil through seven New Jersey counties over 178 miles from Linden to Albany, N.Y.
(West Virginia Public Radio)
Lyndia Ervolina stood in her front yard, 75 feet or so from Route 50 in Doddridge County. She pointed to several heavy trucks passing by. "They're hauling water, they're hauling sand, they're hauling that silica sand, they're hauling frac fluid. Anything you can think of," she said with a strained tone in her voice.
(Fuel Fix)
Across the state, drilling rigs are falling idle as plummeting crude prices knock a swaggering industry into uncertainty. But at the Capitol, lawmakers are pressing a showdown on a signature issue of petroleum's hydraulic fracturing era: Home rule. Disturbed by noise, pollution and even earthquakes, can cities say no to oil and gas companies?
(The Canadian Press)
The New Brunswick government is introducing a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing that the Premier says won't be lifted until five conditions are met. Those conditions include a process to consult with First Nations, a plan for waste water disposal and credible information about the impacts fracking has on health, water and the environment, Brian Gallant said Thursday.
Pennsylvania's fracking boom has led to record-breaking natural gas production, but its neighbor, New York, announced Wednesday it was banning the practice. Industry and environmental groups say New York's decision could be good for Pennsylvania.
(The Times-Picayune)
Individuals and businesses damaged by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill have six months left to file a claim under BP's multibillion-dollar settlement. In a Thursday (Dec. 18) statement, claims administrator Patrick Juneau set a June 8, 2015, deadline for all new claims for economic and property damages related to the spill. Any claims filed after that date will not be eligible for payment.
(Wyoming Public Radio)
The State of Wyoming may be getting into the coal export business. The Legislature will consider a bill during its upcoming session that would increase the Infrastructure Authority's bonding limit from $1 billion to $3 billion and also allow that money to be spent outside the state's borders.
(Los Angeles Times)
For the first time in five months, a majority of California is no longer considered to be in an exceptional drought, the most severe level possible under federal guidelines, the U.S. Drought Monitor announced Thursday.
(Washington Post)
The critical role that vast tropical forests like Brazil's Amazon play in suppressing climate change is well-known: They store huge quantities of carbon, acting as "carbon sinks."
NASA revealed the first-ever images of the global atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the key long-lived global warming gas. The imagery, taken over the course of three months, reveals details about springtime biomass being burned in the Southern Hemisphere, as well as photosynthesis from plants worldwide.

December 18, 2014

(Seattle Times)
Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday laid out an ambitious plan for cutting Washington's carbon emissions that would vault the state to the forefront of global efforts to combat climate change. The sweeping proposal drew cheers from a crowd of environmentalists, labor leaders and other supporters on hand for Inslee's climate-plan unveiling at Seattle's flagship REI store.
(The Canadian Press)
Canadian oil sands exporters narrowly survived a vote today in the European Parliament that could have once again labelled Alberta bitumen as dirty oil. A proposed fuel quality directive for European Union refineries has been the subject of a well-funded Canadian lobbying campaign for more than two years.
(Washington Post)
Crews swaddled in white biohazard suits have been dunking nozzles into streams of oil, racing to soak up the ooze seeping into the desert valley floor here, two weeks after a major spill threatened one of Israel's most precious habitats.