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Today's Climate

December 24, 2014

A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday handed environmental groups a win by throwing out federal regulations that gave local government agencies more leeway in meeting air quality standards for ozone.
(Scientific American)
In last week's pre-Christmas rush, the U.S. Congress slammed together the $1-trillion federal budget bill for 2015, just before funds ran out. But the bill wasn't all about the money. Congress took advantage of the fiscal scramble to change rules about the environment and energy, which do not belong in appropriation bills.
A proposed settlement fund for victims of the fiery train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Que., is nearly halfway to a goal of $500 million in funding commitments ahead of its filing next month, a bankruptcy trustee for defunct Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway said.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Prospects for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline are dimming amid two recent developments: lower gasoline prices and increased skepticism from President Barack Obama, whose administration has been reviewing the proposed pipeline for more than six years.
(Columbus Dispatch)
Crews regained control of a blown-out well in eastern Ohio yesterday, 10 days after the well shot a plume of natural gas into the atmosphere and caused about 30 homes to be evacuated.
(The Hill)
The majority of New York state voters agree with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) decision to ban hydraulic fracturing in the state, a new poll found.
Offshore oil-drilling contractors, who last year were able to charge record rates for their vessels, are now under pressure to scrap old rigs at an unprecedented pace.
(Fuel Fix)
BP's U.S. oil unit says high penalties for the Deepwater Horizon disaster would drain its available funds next year and dramatically weaken its finances amid plunging crude prices.
(New York Times)
Over just a few decades in the mid-20th century, this small country chopped down a majority of its ancient forests. But after a huge conservation push and a wave of forest regrowth, trees now blanket more than half of Costa Rica.
(The Canadian Press)
Frank Pokiak remembers long days on the land, camped at traditional hunting grounds under June's 24-hour sun, secure in the knowledge that sea ice would provide a safe highway back to his Tuktoyaktuk home. Those days are gone.
China's environmental regulators nearly doubled the number of cases they referred to police involving suspected polluters over the first three-quarters of this year compared to all of last year, amid a larger push by the government to crack down on the country's severe environmental problems, state media reported.

December 23, 2014

Greenhouse gas emissions by the world's top 500 companies rose 3.1 percent from 2010 to 2013, far off the cuts urged by the United Nations to limit global warming, a study showed on Monday. The top 500 firms by capitalization accounted for 13.8 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions and 28 percent of gross domestic product in 2013, according to the report, drawn up by the information provider Thomson Reuters and BSD Consulting, a global sustainability consultancy.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
The Environmental Protection Agency, along with the Department of Justice, have fined XTO, a subsidiary of ExxonMobile, $2.3 million for violating the Clean Water Act. The damage to streams and wetlands took place in West Virginia and includes an estimated $3 million remediation price tag.
(Lancaster Online)
In the days immediately following the re-election of his boss, U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts, an emboldened Tom Tillett phoned and e-mailed at least five landowners and key figures in a controversial pipeline project. The Congressman's chief of staff in Lancaster and Chester counties advised two of them to allow their properties to be surveyed by the Williams pipeline company, project opponents said.
(New York Times)
Across the giant Fayetteville shale gas field here, country roads that were clogged by truck traffic just a few years ago are empty again. Once aglow at night from the bright lights twinkling on drilling rigs, the roads are now dark under the starry Arkansas sky.
Total SA (FP) and its partners will use a record 16 ice-breaking tankers to smash through floes en route to and from the Arctic's biggest liquefied natural-gas development. They're still looking for a way around a freeze in U.S. financing.
(Fuel Fix)
Newly released documents suggest federal regulators are collaborating closely with Shell as the company pursues a new round of Arctic drilling next summer, even though an underlying sale of the region's oil leases is still in legal limbo.
Several hundred residents turned out Thursday evening to hear from an oil company that wants to drill on the southern shore of Oklahoma City's Lake Hefner.
(Bismarck Tribune)
The photographs were enough to send chills down the spine of anyone living near or along a railroad track: A fireball of churning flames rolling skyward, thick black smoke bellowing.
(Washington Post)
Argentine developer Alan Faena recently listed the most expensive condo in this city's history at $55 million. The Mid Beach penthouse features a private elevator, an infinity pool, an uninterrupted view of the Atlantic. The catch: The tower stands on what scientists call one of America's most vulnerable floodplains.
(Boston Globe)
A new state-sponsored report concludes that slapping a multibillion-dollar "carbon tax" on all fossil fuels used in the state—including oil and natural gas to heat homes and gasoline to power cars—would be an effective way of cutting carbon pollutants blamed for accelerating climate change.
(E&E Publishing)
Two decades ago, Benjamin Santer chose 12 words that changed his life forever: "The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate." That statement was part of the 1995 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report, and it was the first time the international scientific organization had linked human activity to climate change.
(Climate Central)
Chemical clues in skeletons produced by coral growing at Kiribati contain a newly discovered warning. They caution of a global climate system that's capable of drawing decades' worth of hoarded heat out of the Pacific Ocean, and belching it back into the atmosphere.
Global wheat yields are likely to fall significantly as climate change takes hold, new research has shown.

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.