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Today's Climate

August 27, 2014

(New York Times)
The Obama administration is working to forge a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut their planet-warming fossil fuel emissions, but without ratification from Congress. In preparation for this agreement, to be signed at a United Nations summit meeting in 2015 in Paris, the negotiators are meeting with diplomats from other countries to broker a deal to commit some of the world's largest economies to enact laws to reduce their carbon pollution.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
A BNSF Railway Co. train carrying liquefied petroleum gas derailed Tuesday in southern Manitoba, leading to the evacuation of about 40 local residents, local officials said. There were no reports of injuries, leaks or fire.
(Reuters)
An Exxon Mobil Corp unit has agreed to pay $1.4 million to resolve U.S. government claims over a 2012 crude oil spill in Louisiana, the U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday.
(Bloomberg)
The first research into the effects of oil and gas development on babies born near wells has found potential health risks.
(The Record)
The recent boom in natural gas drilling across Pennsylvania has turned some property owners into millionaires. It also has forced some rural communities to endure swaths of denuded forest, spills of dangerous wastewater, and explosive methane leaking into their drinking water wells.
(Huffington Post)
Michigan will take a look at its radioactive waste disposal standards after criticism grew over an out-of-state company dumping fracking byproducts in a landfill near Detroit. On Monday, Mich. Gov. Rick Snyder (R) ordered the Department of Environmental Quality to assemble a panel to review standards for disposal of waste containing low levels of Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (TENORM). The panel will include experts from environmental groups, the waste disposal industry, the oil and gas industry and academia.
(Dallas Morning News)
Lawmakers said Monday that they're looking for money to add seismic monitors in areas with oil and gas production, following concerns about a series of earthquakes that rattled North Texas last winter.
(The Globe and Mail)
Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford vowed to introduce legislation requiring energy and mining companies to report all revenue paid to foreign and domestic governments, but said its impact on corporate payments made to First Nations will be delayed for two years while Ottawa consults aboriginal leaders.
(The Hill)
Former Vice President Al Gore lent his name to a fundraising email Tuesday as Democrats looked to rally support for their climate change agenda. Gore applauded President Obama's efforts, including his proposal to limit carbon pollution from power plants.
(Business Green)
The global divestment campaign has secured another victory, after the University of Sydney this week confirmed it is to halt future investments in coal firms and is considering offloading its current holdings in the industry.
(Fuel Fix)
Environmental activists who have persuaded universities and some churches to give up their investments in fossil fuels now are focusing their prayers on the pope. With a campaign and online petition launched Tuesday, 350.org is asking Pope Francis to make sure oil, gas and coal investments aren't part of the Vatican bank’s $8 billion portfolio.
(The Center for Investigative Reporting)
Below some of the world's most expensive real estate, in the heart of Silicon Valley, pipes and pumps suck thousands of gallons of contaminated water every hour from vast underground toxic pools.
(Columbus Dispatch (sub. req'd))
The cleanup of thousands of gallons of fuel oil spilled into the Ohio River from a power plant last week is mostly complete, and monitoring for any residual problems continues.

August 26, 2014

(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
India's Supreme Court ruled that all coal-mining licenses distributed since 1993 are illegal, creating uncertainty about where Indian power plants and steelmakers will get the coal they need and complicating the new government's efforts to improve the country's business environment. The three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice R.M. Lodha, on Monday said that coal allotments by previous governments weren't carried out in a transparent manner and didn't follow objective criteria.
(The Hill)
A government probe into the metric used by federal agencies to measure the "social cost of carbon" found no evidence that it was improperly developed, investigators said Monday. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) review was requested by a pair of congressional Republicans. The review concluded that a federal working group convened to revise the economic measurement of carbon pollution based its decisions on a consensus of its members' thinking and relied heavily on peer-reviewed science.
(Texas Tribune)
Jeff Salmon had never put much thought into the electric grid. But that changed in June 2012, when an electric bill put Frontier Texas—the Abilene museum and welcome center he runs to help patrons relive the Old West—nearly $3,300 over budget, a figure equivalent to entrance fees for an extra 620 visitors.
(Midwest Energy News)
As recently as two or three years ago, major cross-country pipelines typically did not begin construction until a federal environmental impact statement had been completed and found them acceptable. But as demonstrated last week, the times have changed.
(Omaha World-Bureau)
When it comes to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project, Nebraska's two gubernatorial candidates would have to search long and hard to find common ground. Republican Pete Ricketts and Democrat Chuck Hassebrook hold polar opposite views on whether or not the pipeline should be built: Ricketts is a yes, Hassebrook a no.
(Huffington Post)
New Hampshire Senate candidate Scott Brown has added his name to the list of Republicans who have dismissed the science behind climate change, despite previously stating that global warming is real.
(Newsweek)
If you jabbed at the center of a map of Oklahoma, your finger might land on Jones City, population 2,500. "Just a little piece of Americana," as Lewis Moore, the state representative for the area, calls it—Main Street has a firehouse, a pharmacy and a Sonic Drive-In, and beyond downtown are vast, flat fields of pasture. Jones City also happens to be at the epicenter of an unprecedented spate of earthquakes.
(Guardian)
The Labour party believes the rules covering fracking – or hydraulic fracturing – for gas are not tight enough and will attempt to strengthen regulation of the controversial drilling method by tabling a series of amendments to the infrastructure bill in the House of Lords on Tuesday. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) says there are adequate safeguards covering drilling for shale gas under existing rules or voluntary agreements. However, Tom Greatrex, the shadow energy minister, believes current agreements do not go far enough.
(The Times-Tribune)
In fall 2011, about a month after the flooded Meshoppen Creek spilled over its banks and into their basement, Pete and Sharon Morgan applied for federal flood assistance to help them move out of their home. They won't get it, at least not anytime soon, due to a little-known policy the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued May 5.
(New York Times)
The furious pace of energy exploration in North Dakota is creating a crisis for farmers whose grain shipments have been held up by a vast new movement of oil by rail, leading to millions of dollars in agricultural losses and slower production for breakfast cereal giants like General Mills. The backlog is only going to get worse, farmers said, as they prepared this week for what is expected to be a record crop of wheat and soybeans.
(Reuters)
Small island states facing a "frightening" rise in sea levels will seek investments in everything from solar energy to fisheries to boost their economies at a U.N. summit next week. Leaders will meet in Samoa in the Pacific from Sept. 1-4 to drum up partnerships with companies, development banks and donors on projects that bring in dollars and jobs while protecting oceans and environments, organizers said.
(Toronto Star)
Scientists are exaggerating the climate change crisis. There's no need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions because the benefits of warmer temperatures outweigh the costs.

August 25, 2014

(NBC News)
A construction boom of pipelines carrying explosive oil and natural gas from "fracking" fields to market—pipes that are bigger and more dangerous than their predecessors—poses a safety threat in rural areas, where they sometimes run within feet or yards of homes with little or no safety oversight, an NBC News investigation has found.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
The oil industry is gearing up for a postelection lobbying push to loosen the four-decade U.S. ban on exports of crude oil, saying that relaxing the prohibition would create jobs and stimulate the economy. But oil producers face several challenges in the effort, even if Republicans—frequent allies of the industry—win control of the Senate in this fall's elections.
(CBC News)
A spokesperson for TransCanada Corporation says the proposed Energy East pipeline would not endanger waterways, as a report released earlier this week suggests. Shawn Howard says the pipe would have special protective design features, including thicker walls, and would be buried well below the bottom of water bodies.
(CBS/AP)
Government officials and community groups say hundreds of rural San Joaquin Valley residents no longer can get drinking water from their home faucets because California's extreme drought has dried up their individual wells. The situation has become so dire that the Tulare County Office of Emergency Services had 12-gallon-per person rations of bottled water delivered on Friday in the community of East Porterville, where at least 182 of the 1,400 households reported having no or not enough water.
(Guardian)
The planet's two largest ice sheets–in Greenland and Antarctica–are now being depleted at an astonishing rate of 120 cubic miles each year. That is the discovery made by scientists using data from CryoSat-2, the European probe that has been measuring the thickness of Earth's ice sheets and glaciers since it was launched by the European Space Agency in 2010.