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Today's Climate

July 23, 2014

(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
Pennsylvania environmental regulators have documented 209 cases where oil and gas operations negatively impacted water supplies since late 2007, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The new tally from the state Department of Environmental Protection comes asPennsylvania's Auditor General's Office releases a much-anticipated report faulting the agency for its response to drilling-related water complaints.
(The Canadian Press)
United States ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman had little to say Tuesday about a possible decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project, but that didn't stop Canada's U.S. ambassador from bluntly stating there's no proof that the pipeline shouldn't be built.
(Reuters)
North Dakota's biggest oil producers have picked a side and put money into an obscure election for the state's agriculture commissioner, hoping to ward off a rising Democratic challenger who could limit development of new wells and pipelines.
(Bloomberg)
In Canada’s economy there’s Alberta, and there’s everywhere else. The oil- and gas-rich western province was responsible for all of the country’s net employment growth over the past 12 months, adding 81,800 jobs while the rest of Canada lost 9,500. Alberta’s trade surplus, C$7.4 billion ($6.9 billion) in May, almost matched the deficit rung up everywhere else. If growth trends over the past decade continue, Alberta would pass Quebec to become the country’s second-largest provincial economy in three years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
(New York Times)
Exxon Mobil, which is assisting a Russian state energy company in exploring the Arctic Ocean for oil and natural gas, took a pivotal step to further this project over the weekend. A drilling rig to be operated by Exxon set sail from Norway on Saturday, two days after the downing of a passenger airliner in Ukraine led to mounting pressure in the United States and Europe for new sanctions against Russia. Those sanctions could target the country's important energy industry.
(Bloomberg)
Melting Arctic ice is widening a path for ships to deliver European oil to Asia, stoking South Korea's ambition to become a regional storage and trading hub. The country, whose proximity to China, Russia and Japan makes it an ideal conduit for oil arriving via the Arctic, plans to add tanks for storing almost 60 million barrels of crude and refined products by 2020, about the same as Singapore's current capacity.
(Guardian)
The U.K. and Germany lead a list of the E.U.'s most polluting coal-fired power stations compiled by environmental campaigners, who say coal emissions are undermining efforts to combat climate change. Both countries have nine of the so-called "dirty 30" and the campaigners say coal burning is increasing due to the relatively low price of the fuel compared to gas.
(Think Progress)
In a move likely to receive heavy backlash at least up to the U.N. climate conference (COP20) in Lima, Peru in December, Peru's government just rolled back environmental regulations in an effort to boost mining.
(AP)
President Barack Obama says a wildfire that has burned nearly 400 square miles in the north-central part of Washington state, along with blazes in other Western areas, can be attributed to climate change. Obama, speaking at a fundraiser Tuesday, offered federal help to deal with Washington’s wildfire, the largest in the state’s history.
(Reuters)
When the going got tough due one of with worst droughts in a century, the parched Texas city of Wichita Falls got going with its program to recycle sewage water for drinking. The city this month opened the spigots on a $13 million system that mixes 5 million gallons a day of treated waste water with area lake water to keep drinking water flowing for its 105,000 residents. Convincing them to drink it is another matter.
(The Hill)
President Obama has named two energy experts to fill soon-to-be openings at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).Obama on Tuesday said he intends to nominate Jeff Baran, current energy aide to retiring Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who is the ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to the commission. The president also plans to nominate Stephen Burns, who formerly served as general counsel to the NRC.

July 22, 2014

(AP)
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.
(Reuters)
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.
(Bloomberg)
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.
(Observer-Reporter)
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."
(Guardian)
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.
(WGBH)
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.
(Bloomberg)
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.
(AP)
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.