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Today's Climate

August 29, 2014

Six years into a natural gas boom, Pennsylvania has for the first time released details of 243 cases in which companies prospecting for oil or gas were found by state regulators to have contaminated private drinking water wells.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
A new study out this month reveals unconventional oil and natural gas workers could be exposed to dangerous levels of benzene, putting them at a higher risk for blood cancers like leukemia. Benzene is a known carcinogen that is present in fracking flowback water. It's also found in gasoline, cigarette smoke and in chemical manufacturing. As a known carcinogen, benzene exposures in the workplace are limited by federal regulations under OSHA. But some oil and gas production activities are exempt from those standards.
(The Hill)
Chemical manufacturer DuPont has agreed to pay $1.3 million in federal fines to settle charges from eight alleged releases of hazardous substances in West Virginia. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department said DuPont’s Belle, W.Va., facility released the toxic gases phosgene, methyl chloride and oleum between 2006 and 2010. One DuPont worker, Danny Fish, died in 2010 as a result of exposure to phosgene, which has been used as a chemical weapon.
(Wall Street Journal)
The head of Royal Dutch Shell RDSA.LN -0.31% PLC's Canadian unit Wednesday said the company may not be able to meet promised targets for reducing toxic wastes from oil sands and called for greater regulatory flexibility. Shell, which operates two major oil-sands surface mines in northern Alberta, had committed to cutting the amount of waste generated by its heavy-oil extraction projects in Canada.
(Fuel Fix)
Shell's campaign to resume Arctic drilling in 2015 took a major step forward Thursday, as the company gave federal regulators a broad drilling blueprint that lays out plans for boring new exploratory oil wells in the Chukchi Sea. The exploration plan filed with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in Anchorage keeps the door open for Shell Oil Co. to resume its Arctic drilling campaign as soon as summer 2015.
(Climate Central)
It seems straightforward to say that when you buy a new car by taking out a loan, you're committing to spending a certain amount of your income per month on that car for a specific period of time. Of course, by buying that car, you're also committing to polluting the atmosphere with some amount of carbon dioxide. But how often do car buyers make that calculation?
Power company Duke Energy Corp outlined plans to retire the remaining coal-fired stations at its Ohio plant by the end of the month as it looks to cope with tightening power plant emission regulations.
BP's 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico disrupted business all along the coastline. Through the end of July, the oil giant paid more than $13 billion to compensate people, businesses and communities affected. The company is disputing some of those claims in court battles that could drag on for years.
(New York Times)
Whenever overseas turmoil has pushed energy prices higher in the past, John and Beth Hughes have curbed their driving by eating at home more and shopping locally. But the current crises in Ukraine and Iraq did not stop them from making the two-hour drive to San Antonio to visit the Alamo, have a chicken fried steak lunch, and buy fish for their tank before driving home to Corpus Christi. "We were able to take a day-cation because of the lower gas prices," said Ms. Hughes.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will resume issuing oil and gas leases next year for federal lands in California after a new study found limited environmental impacts from fracking and other enhanced drilling techniques, the agency said Thursday.
In just 80 years, some 2,000 square miles of its coastal landscape have turned to open water, wiping places off maps, bringing the Gulf of Mexico to the back door of New Orleans and posing a lethal threat to an energy and shipping corridor vital to the nation's economy.

August 28, 2014

(The Hill)
The White House pushed back Wednesday against bipartisan criticism over reports the administration is seeking an international deal on climate change that would bypass the Senate. The administration defended its position by expressing concern that a formal treaty could fall victim to "dysfunction in Congress."
(Al Jazeera America)
Partly because of climate change, the U.S. government is protecting 20 types of colorful coral by putting them on the list of threatened species. As with polar bears, much of the threat to the coral species is because of problems expected in the future due to global warming, said David Bernhart, an endangered-species official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
(Chicago Tribune)
Highly anticipated rules to regulate hydraulic fracturing in Illinois are to be unveiled Friday. Once the rules go into effect, Illinois hopes to become the center of the next oil boom. Fracking, which involves injecting fluids and chemicals at high volumes to crack open shale rock and unleash oil and natural gas, could bring bring jobs to a struggling southern Illinois economy. Ilinois also is counting on tax revenue on extracted oil and gas to fatten state and county coffers.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane is reportedly widening her investigation into complaints of fraud from gas royalty owners. So far, the allegations have centered on the state's biggest gas driller, Chesapeake Energy. Now sources tell Capotolwire that Kane's office has issued subpoenas "throughout the energy industry" in Pennsylvania.
(Inside Energy)
North Dakota is in the middle of a historic oil boom, producing over one million barrels of oil each day. But it's producing a whole lot more of something else, something that's not valuable at all: saltwater, a waste product of drilling. The state has strict requirements for getting rid of the waste water. But as more and more wells are drilled, saltwater spills have increased dramatically.
(New York Times)
A hard-fought ballot referendum that would have overturned Alaska's system of taxing oil industry profits, put to voters last week but until now considered too close to call, has failed by a narrow margin, with absentee ballots counted this week nailing down the outcome.
(The Globe and Mail)
The Alberta government has jacked up the amount of money it expects to rake in from oil and bitumen royalties this year, but knocked down its expectations for natural gas and its more valuable by-products. The extra money will fatten the province's operational surplus, and the Progressive Conservative government intends to use the cushion to bring down the amount of money it originally intended to borrow.
(Washington Post)
For 51 years he'd lived in the same hollow and for two decades he'd performed the same job, mining coal from the underground seams of southern West Virginia. Then, on June 30, Michael Estep was jobless. His mine shut down, and its operator said "market conditions" made coal production unviable.
North Dakota is struggling to finance deteriorating public universities even as it experiences the biggest energy boom in its history, raising concern that less prosperous states will face more serious funding challenges. Students returning this week will attend classes in buildings without adequate ventilation or fire detection systems and in historic landmarks with buckling foundations. A space crunch is making it difficult for researchers to obtain grants and putting the accreditation of several programs at risk, administrators say.
A U.S. State Department lawyer who played a key role in the Keystone XL pipeline review is moving on, sources said on Wednesday, the latest departure of a senior official involved with the long-delayed project.
(Christian Science Monitor)
If you're stuck at a railroad crossing or trapped on a delayed Amtrak train, you might blame it on the U.S. oil boom. U.S. oil production is the highest in decades, and more and more crude is traveling by train. That is slowing shipments of grains, gravel, and even coal, as commodities and a resurgent oil industry compete for a finite amount of U.S. rail.
This Rust Belt state is one of the last places you might expect to wage a winning Senate campaign by trumpeting climate change to liberals at Netroots Nation and boasting about voting for cap and trade.

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.
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.
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.