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Today's Climate

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.
(VICE)
In July, when the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) announced it would move forward with its plan to construct an "ice wall" around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant's failed reactors, it seemed like a step backwards. In June, the utility company in charge of decommissioning the plant—which was ravaged by a tsunami in March 2011—indicated that its initial attempt at installing a similar structure had flopped. Its pipes were apparently unable to freeze the ground, despite being filled with a -22°F chemical solution.
(The Globe and Mail)
Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio is ruffling feathers in Alberta after becoming the latest celebrity to visit the province and shine a critical spotlight on Canada's oil sands. Both the Alberta government and the oil industry came to the defence of the oil sands after Mr. DiCaprio travelled Friday to Fort McMurray, the heart of the oil-sands industry, as well as to the small community Fort Chipewyan, which has drawn world attention to health and environmental concerns.
(The Canadian Press)
Quebec police investigating the Lac-Mégantic train disaster say they've visited the United States four times to seize documents and to interview witnesses—and they expect to go back. A provincial police spokesman said Friday that investigators still have evidence to gather in the U.S. for analysis in Quebec.
(Houston Chronicle (sub. req'd))
The steady rumble of engines provides the soundtrack for operations at Anadarko Petroleum Corp.'s new "stim center," where five towering silos dispense silica into blending equipment and a dozen red tractor-trailers provide the horsepower to blast the resulting sand-water slurry deep underground.
(Denver Post)
On the second day of his vacation, surrounded by science fiction and comic book fans at Comic Con, Alan Salazar looked around the San Diego Convention Center for a quiet place so he could take a phone call from his boss.
(E&E Publishing)
A growing number of leaders are openly acknowledging that a 2015 international agreement to avert catastrophic global warming will surely fall short of what's needed to achieve that goal. But another consensus is also forming among top U.S. experts: that shortfall is OK, as long as the deal puts all major climate polluters on a serious, upward and transparent path to cutting greenhouse gases.
(New York Times)
Scientists have discovered methane gas bubbling from the seafloor in an unexpected place: off the East Coast of the United States where the continental shelf meets the deeper Atlantic Ocean. The methane is emanating from at least 570 locations, called seeps, from near Cape Hatteras, N.C., to the Georges Bank southeast of Nantucket, Mass. While the seepage is widespread, the researchers estimated that the amount of gas was tiny compared with the amount released from all sources each year.
(BusinessWeek)
Even as the shale-gas boom has dramatically changed America's energy mix and pricing, the U.S. still burns a lot of coal. Because the fleet of domestic coal-fired power plants includes many aging facilities, it isn't burned efficiently. A study by researchers at Duke University and the University of Calgary has compared coal burning in the U.S. and Korea and proposed a novel way to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions.

August 22, 2014

(The Hill)
The Environmental Protection Agency has made "substantial" progress in reducing toxic air pollution since 1990, reducing many pollutants by more than half, regulators told Congress Thursday. On a national basis, reductions include a 66 percent drop in benzene, a nearly 60 percent reduction in mercury from man-made sources and an 84 percent drop in lead.
(CBC News)
America and Canada are friends. That's the main message Americans got from phase one of the federal government's multimillion-dollar advertising campaign to promote Canadian oil in Washington and drum up support for the Keystone XL pipeline. That's no surprise to some Washington-based Canada-U.S. relations experts who say the first leg of the campaign was too polite and, well, too Canadian to have any real effect.
(Al Jazeera America)
Five-and-a-half years have passed since an earthen dam holding toxic coal ash from a coal plant failed in Harriman, Tenn., spilling more than a billion gallons of the ash into rivers and forests, and destroying several homes. The TVA Kingston Fossil Plant disaster was widely considered one of the worst in U.S. history, or at least one of the biggest by volume. And it’s still causing headaches, hundreds of miles away.
(Think Progress)
At least 10 percent of the contents of fracking fluid injected into the earth is toxic. For another third we have no idea. And that's only from the list of chemicals the fracking industry provided voluntarily. That's according to an analysis by William Stringfellow of Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, reported in Chemistry World.
(San Antonio Express-News)
The energy boom that transformed South Texas into an economic powerhouse also has created a prolific source of air pollution and wasted natural gas.   A yearlong investigation by the San Antonio Express-News shows that gas flares spreading across the Eagle Ford Shale are burning and wasting billions of cubic feet of natural gas.