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Today's Climate

July 22, 2014

A Canadian National Railway Co. train struck another freight train as it rolled through a small village in Wisconsin, causing cars to derail, injuring two people and spilling thousands of gallons of diesel oil that prompted the evacuation of dozens of homes. The southbound Canadian National train struck several Wisconsin & Southern Railroad cars around 8:30 p.m. Sunday at a rail crossing in Slinger, according to Patrick Waldron, a Canadian National spokesman.
Sheriff's deputies in Utah arrested nearly two dozen environmental protesters who chained themselves to fences and construction equipment on Monday at a tar sands mining project in the remote Book Cliffs mountains, an activist group said. The Tar Sands Resistance group said about 80 activists set up a "blockade" at the PR Springs mine to highlight what it said would be huge environmental damage if it goes ahead.
(Columbus Dispatch)
A fracking company made federal and state agencies that oversee drinking-water safety wait days before it shared a list of toxic chemicals that spilled from a drilling site into a tributary of the Ohio River. Although the spill following a fire on June 28 at the Statoil North America well pad in Monroe County stretched 5 miles along the creek and killed more than 70,000 fish and wildlife, state officials said they do not believe drinking water was affected.
The U.K. will keep a target to cut greenhouse gases by half through 2025, Energy Secretary Ed Davey said, foiling the Treasury's effort to weaken the target. Revising the so-called carbon budget would be premature, given that the government's estimate of the U.K. and E.U. levels of ambition on carbon-cutting "are likely to be extremely close," Davey said today in a statement to Parliament.
(Climate Central)
The world just experienced its hottest June on record. The heat was driven in large by part by the hottest ocean temperatures since recordkeeping began more than 130 years ago. That makes this the third-warmest start to the year. The global temperature was 1.3°F above the 20th century average in June according to data released on Monday by theNational Climatic Data Center (NCDC). That bests the previous hottest June record, set in 1998, by 0.05°F.
(Washington Post)
The water could start at any time. Every few hours, Anita Pointon refreshes the Web site that tells when it's coming, because the work begins as soon as they know. Her husband, Chuck, 62, will set out to walk the farm with a moisture probe to see which fields are the driest. One run of water covers only about 18 acres of their 500, so they have to choose carefully.
Mickey Gniadek remembers the exact day when he stepped outside his Finleyville home and felt like a fish out of water. It was Dec. 4, 2013. Gniadek, who had no pre-existing conditions, gasped for air and nearly collapsed from what he believes was a suffocating mix of gases in the atmosphere.
(New York Times)
So much soot belched from the old power plant here that Mike Zeleny would personally warn the neighbors. "If the wind was blowing in a certain direction," Mr. Zeleny said, "we'd call Mrs. Robinson down the street and tell her not to put out her laundry."
Predicting global surface temperature changes in the short-term is a challenge for climate models. Temperature changes over periods of a decade or two can be dominated by influences from ocean cycles like El Niño and La Niña. During El Niño phases, the oceans absorb less heat, leaving more to warm the atmosphere, and the opposite is true during a La Niña.
(The Hill)
Climate change is impacting the next generation of hockey players directly, according to a report released Monday by the National Hockey League.The report, the first of its kind produced by a professional sports league in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council, details a plan for the NHL to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
In the late 1700s, when America was just an idea, some of Boston's most prominent leaders gathered in a red brick building called Faneuil Hall to discuss rebellion from England. Today, the building is one of the city's most popular tourist attractions. Boston's leaders hope it can serve as the symbol of a new revolution: a movement to accept that climate change is poised to have a major impact on coastal cities, and that those urban centers must take drastic steps to adapt and survive.

July 21, 2014

(Fuel Fix)
The Obama administration on Friday gave the oil industry the green light to use air guns and sonic sensors to search for possible oil and gas under Atlantic waters, overriding environmentalists concerned that the seismic research can harm whales and other marine life.
(NBC News)
Facing the sunrise on a frigid morning, Rosebud Sioux tribal leader Royal Yellow Hawk offered an ancient prayer in song, his voice periodically muffled by the whistling prairie wind. Behind Yellow Hawk was a cinematic scene from another century: 30-foot-tall tipis arranged in a half circle, quickly brightening in the morning light. This tipi encampment was erected this spring to be a visible and ongoing embodiment of opposition to the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, which, if constructed, would hug the reservation's territory in transporting diluted bitumen oil 1,179-miles from Canada's tar sands to Steele City, Nebraska.
Billionaire investor Tom Steyer gave $2 million last month to his super-political action committee, which is trying to raise climate change as an election issue in the November elections. San Francisco philanthropist Herbert Sandler gave $1 million as the only other donor in June to Steyer's super-PAC, NextGen Climate Action Committee, according to a report filed with the U.S. Federal Election Commission in Washington.
(Wall Street Journal)
A wildfire raging across seven heavily forested counties in the eastern part of Washington state grew through the weekend as officials reported at least one fatality and at about 150 homes destroyed.
(West Virginia Gazette)
More than $2.9 million in insurance money, and potentially funds from other assets of Freedom Industries, could be spent for health studies, water testing or other projects to benefit Kanawha Valley residents and businesses affected by the company's January chemical leak, under a new legal settlement proposal made public Friday.
(The Hill)
Republicans love fracking in Colorado—and it could help them flip a critical Senate seat this fall.  The onslaught against Democratic Sen. Mark Udall (Colo.) reached a fever pitch this week when Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) had to cancel a special legislative session meant to keep two hydraulic fracturing initiatives backed by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) off the November ballot.
(New York Times)
In a new oil field among the rolling hills near here, Chesapeake Energy limits truck traffic to avoid disturbing the breeding and nesting of a finicky bird called the greater sage grouse. To the west, on a gas field near Yellowstone National Park, Shell Oil is sowing its own special seed mix to grow plants that nourish the birds and hide their chicks from predators.
Three massive fires since the beginning of June have highlighted the threat lightning poses in the North Dakota oil patch, and in each case it was tanks that store the toxic saltwater associated with drilling - not the oil wells or drilling rigs - that were to blame.
(Times Union)
The summer party was in full swing at Ezra Prentice Homes, with the adults grilling hot dogs and burgers, the music thumping and kids playing basketball. Only a few yards away, on the other side of a flimsy chain-link fence, were what residents saw as uninvited interlopers—jet-black oil tanker rail cars, lined up by the dozens in a rail yard at the Port of Albany.
(San Francisco Chronicle)
No state has done more than California to fight global warming. But a deepening drought could make that battle more difficult and more expensive. A prolonged dry spell, stretching on for years, would slash the amount of power flowing from the state's hydroelectric dams, already running low after three parched winters.
(Climate News Network)
For years, the energy companies have been telling us not to worry. Yes, mounting carbon emissions threaten to heat up the world – but technology, particularly carbon capture and storage (CCS), will come to the rescue. The trouble is that there's been plenty of talk about CCS and little action, with few projects being implemented on a large scale.
(Think Progress)
A letter sent by ten Florida climate scientists to Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) appears to have generated real results. The missive was delivered to Scott's office on Tuesday by a group of prominent climate experts, ranging from professors at the University of Miami, to Florida State, to Florida International and Eckerd College.

July 18, 2014

(Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Minnesota regulators will study shifting some segments of a proposed northern Minnesota crude oil pipeline in the face of public concern about the risk to lakes, wetlands and the Mississippi River headwaters. But the state Commerce Department, which is overseeing an environmental review of Enbridge Energy's proposed Sandpiper pipeline, on Thursday said it doesn't endorse studying a wholesale reroute of the proposed $2.6 billion project to carry North Dakota crude oil.
(The Canadian Press)
An aboriginal group that lives in northern Alberta's oil sands region has withdrawn from a regulatory hearing into the proposed Grand Rapids crude pipeline, but the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation vowed to explore other ways to fight the $3-billion project. The ACFN announced late Tuesday it would no longer be participating in the Alberta Energy Regulator's process, which it criticized as too rushed and skewed in favour of the oil industry. Landowners along the proposed route raised similar concerns when hearings kicked off last month.
(The Hill)
Changes in the earth's climate are increasing at a steady rate, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warned Thursday in a new report.Greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels, global temperatures and super storms all are trending upward, NOAA said.
Australia's decision to repeal its levy limiting fossil-fuel pollution makes it the first nation to turn back from a market approach to fighting global warming. Prime Minister Tony Abbott's government won final approval from Parliament yesterday to scrap a levy about 300 companies paid for their carbon dioxide emissions.
Coal Ash might still be in the Dan River, but as far as the EPA and Duke Energy are concerned, cleanup is done—for now.
Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer is falling far short on his pledge to raise $50 million in outside money to make climate change a midterm-election weapon against the GOP. His super PAC, NextGen Climate Action, has raised just $1.2 million from other donors toward that goal, according to still-unreleased figures that his aides shared with POLITICO.
(New York Times)
When city leaders and state legislators agreed last year to fund roughly half the $1 billion cost of a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings, they attached the usual strings for such projects: It had to be architecturally iconic, employ steel made from Minnesota iron ore and offer at least a few cheap seats.