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Today's Climate

October 21, 2014

The impact of Ban Ki-moon's New York summit on UN efforts to curb climate change faces its first test on Monday in Bonn, where envoys from over 190 countries meet for a week of negotiations.
One year after a pipeline rupture flooded a wheat field in northwestern North Dakota with more than 20,000 barrels of crude, Tesoro Corp. is still working around the clock cleaning up the oil spill—one of the largest to happen onshore in U.S. history.
(New York Times)
The chief executive of the French oil giant Total, Christophe de Margerie, was killed when a business jet collided with a snow plow during takeoff at Moscow's Vnukovo International Airport, the company and airport officials said. The collision occurred Monday, just minutes before midnight Moscow time, the airport said in a statement. A Dassault Falcon business jet carrying Mr. de Margerie had been due to travel to Paris.
(The Globe and Mail)
New Brunswick's new premier said Monday he's looking to assure Alberta's oilpatch that even though the government has changed, its support for the Energy East pipeline has not. Brian Gallant is visiting Calgary this week in his first official visit since being elected premier about a month ago.
An 80-year old Wisconsin man is boarding his bike and traveling across 16 counties in Wisconsin to raise awareness to what he sees as the threats Enbridge pipelines could have on public safety and the environment.  The 16 counties that he plans to ride through are counties that could see an Enbridge Pipeline 61 pass through them. The pipeline would start in Superior, Wis., making it way into Illinois.
(The Independent)
Customers of Britain's biggest banks are threatening to close their accounts unless the institutions cut all ties with coal, tar sands, fracking and other fossil-fuel industries as part of a new campaign launched today.
(Think Progress)
Floridians travelled to the state capitol Monday to call on Gov. Rick Scott to make a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Florida. State residents delivered a petition with 92,000 signatures to the governor's office Monday morning in an attempt to urge Scott to take action on carbon reductions proposed by the EPA's recent rule on power plant emissions. The petition, which was organized by state environmental group Florida's Clean Future, calls on the governor to invest in a plan for emissions reductions from power plants.
The Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday from 11 Louisiana parishes that wanted to revive their lawsuits over wildlife damage from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill. A rupture of BP's Macondo well and the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig killed 11 workers.
(Columbus Dispatch (sub. req'd))
About 40 percent of Ohio's natural treasures—its state parks, forests and wildlife and nature preserves—could be undermined in the quest to remove valuable coal, oil, natural gas and other minerals.
(Climate Central)
Burning crude oil as gasoline in vehicles is already one of the world's biggest sources of carbon dioxide emissions, and one of the United States' largest sources of crude oil is the Bakken shale in North Dakota. NASA satellite images showing bright lights in the Bakken fields illustrate a side effect of crude oil production there that is also problematic for the climate. All the light coming from those fields are thousands of flames burning off, or flaring, natural gas.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
A bill approved by the state House and Senate would change the way drillers report gas production figures. The measure now awaits Governor Corbett's signature. Under current state law, gas companies have to file reports twice a year with the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). House Bill 2278 would require monthly production reports—a common practice among other major gas-producing states.
The deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon has accelerated rapidly in the past two months, underscoring the shortcomings of the government's environmental policies. Satellite data indicates a 190 percent surge in land clearance in August and September compared with the same period last year as loggers and farmers exploit loopholes in regulations that are designed to protect the world's largest forest.
(E&E Publishing)
The Obama administration is pushing to make climate change a focal point as the United States becomes the new leader of the international Arctic Council, a move that is winning praise from environmentalists, even though it's unclear how it may translate into action. This week, senior Arctic officials from multiple countries will meet in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, to hear the United States present its agenda for its two-year chairmanship starting next year. The council is a forum for nations bordering on the Arctic.

October 20, 2014

(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Three widely cited state studies of air emissions at Marcellus Shale gas development sites in Pennsylvania omit measurements of key air toxics and calculate the health risks of just two of more than two dozen pollutants. State regulators and the shale gas drilling industry over the past four years have repeatedly used the regional studies to support their positions that air emissions from drilling, fracking wastewater impoundments and compressor stations don't pose a public health risk.
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
Pressure for the nation's leading universities to join the Australian National University and dump investments in fossil fuels will continue to mount despite the condemnation of such moves by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey.
EU leaders are likely to agree a new decade of climate and energy policy next week despite the "legitimate concerns" of several nations, Europe's climate boss said on Thursday. European Union leaders have set themselves a deadline of the end of October to agree on green energy goals for 2030 to follow on from 2020 policy.
(New York Times)
The prospects for building new nuclear reactors may be sharply limited, but the owners of seven old ones, in Pennsylvania, Virginia and South Carolina, are preparing to ask for permission to run them until they are 80 years old.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
India will start the process of auctioning more than 200 canceled coal-mining licenses in the next three months, a senior finance ministry official said Friday. "The coal blocks, which have been canceled, are being put to auction in the course of the next three months," Financial Services Secretary G.S. Sandhu told reporters.
India launched an index on Friday to measure air quality across the country, which is home to some of the most polluted cities in the world. It will measure eight major pollutants that impact respiratory health in cities with populations exceeding one million in the next five years and then gradually the rest of the country, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters. The Air Quality Index will warn residents when pollution levels shoot past dangerous levels.
(The Hill)
The Environmental Protection Agency moved to phase out chemicals that deplete the planet's ozone layer and exacerbate climate change.EPA chief Gina McCarthy signed a rule last night targeting hydrochloroflourocarbons (HCFCs), used in air conditioning and refrigeration equipment installed prior to 2010. 
(Living on Earth)
With crude prices sharply down and the future of the Keystone XL pipeline in doubt, energy companies are dubious about investing in oil from the Alberta Tar Sands.
The dustiest portion of my home library includes the 1980s books—about how Japan's economy would dominate the world. And then there are the 1990s books—about how the Y2K computer glitch would end the modern era.
Land in the Permian Basin, the busiest shale patch in the U.S. oil boom, is worth either $1,000 an acre or 50 times more, depending. On Sept. 29, Calgary-based driller Encana Corp. (ECA) announced plans to buy a company that owns a West Texas prospect for $7.1 billion, or about $50,000 an acre. One day later, Tokyo-based Sumitomo Corp. estimated its land in the same region was worth a fraction of that price when it took a $1.55 billion writedown on its investment.
(Texas Tribune)
Susan Combs, the state comptroller, stirred controversy last month when she said Texas' growing wind energy industry should "stand on its own two feet." "Billions of dollars of tax credits and property tax limitations on new generation helped grow the industry, but today they give it an unfair market advantage over other power sources," said Combs, a Republican, upon the release of a study meant to illustrate how energy policy affects Texans' wallets.
(Tampa Bay Times)
In January, Gov. Rick Scott stood in front of a room full of Department of Environmental Protection employees and praised their hard work. One accomplishment Scott singled out: making it easier than ever to obtain a permit for filling in wetlands, pumping water out of the aquifer or pouring pollutants into the water and air.

October 17, 2014

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has corrected a controversial claim that small amounts of global warming could have overall positive economic impacts, after I pointed out that it was based on inaccurate information.
Sweden has called on the European Union to adopt a greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 50 percent by 2030s, 10 percentage points higher than current proposals.
A group of Pacific Islanders joined an environmental protest blockading the Newcastle coal port on Friday, disrupting shipping traffic by paddling canoes across the harbour mouth. Members of the Pacific Climate Warriors action group traveled from nations including the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, Tokelau, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea to draw attention to the effects of climate change on their island nations, and to protest Australia's continuing commitment to coal.
(Washington Examiner)
The proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site in Nevada could safely store spent fuel long after its doors close, federal nuclear regulators said. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission determined that Yucca "meets the requirements" for long-term storage.
New York's highest court has rejected an attempt by the oil and gas industry to revive its fight against local fracking bans. In a precedent-setting decision last June, the Court of Appeals ruled that communities have the right to use local land-use authority to prohibit oil and gas operations within their borders. On Thursday, the court denied a motion by the trustee for bankrupt Norse Energy to reargue its case against the town of Dryden.