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Today's Climate

December 18, 2014

(Seattle Times)
Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday laid out an ambitious plan for cutting Washington's carbon emissions that would vault the state to the forefront of global efforts to combat climate change. The sweeping proposal drew cheers from a crowd of environmentalists, labor leaders and other supporters on hand for Inslee's climate-plan unveiling at Seattle's flagship REI store.
(The Canadian Press)
Canadian oil sands exporters narrowly survived a vote today in the European Parliament that could have once again labelled Alberta bitumen as dirty oil. A proposed fuel quality directive for European Union refineries has been the subject of a well-funded Canadian lobbying campaign for more than two years.
(Washington Post)
Crews swaddled in white biohazard suits have been dunking nozzles into streams of oil, racing to soak up the ooze seeping into the desert valley floor here, two weeks after a major spill threatened one of Israel's most precious habitats.
(Los Angeles Times)
Six executives of a chemical company that spilled a coal-cleaning agent into a major West Virginia river in January, leaving 300,000 people without safe drinking water, were charged by federal authorities Wednesday with violating the Clean Water Act.
Canadian oil supplies to the U.S. Midwest were disrupted after Enbridge Inc. (ENB) shut a pipeline because of a leak. The company isolated its Line 4 pipe at the Regina terminal in Saskatchewan yesterday after about 1,350 barrels of oil were released within an on-site pumping station, according to a statement. The company is excavating the line around a pumphouse and hasn't provided an estimate for how long repairs may take, Gerard Kay, deputy chief of operations at Regina Fire and Protective Services, said by phone.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Chevron Corp. told Canadian regulators Wednesday that it has "indefinitely" suspended plans to drill for oil in Arctic waters, citing uncertainty over the outlook for crude prices.
(Al Jazeera America)
The Arctic and its future are looking dimmer every year, a new federal report says. In the spring and summer of 2014, Earth's icy northern region lost more of its signature whiteness that reflects the sun's heat. It was replaced temporarily with dark land and water that absorbs more energy, keeping yet more heat on already warming planet, according to the Arctic report card issued Thursday.
(The Hill)
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will meet with his Canadian counterpart on Thursday to talk about the safe transportation of crude oil by rail.
(Fuel Fix)
As many as 550 drilling rigs may have to sit on the sidelines of U.S. shale oil patches over the next few months, analysts say, as oil prices have folded nearly in half since this summer.
China’s largest coal-fired power plant has been violating national emission standards for chemicals that cause dangerous fine particulate matter pollution, official figures show. The Waigaoqiao coal-fired power plant located in Shanghai has been violating China's national standards for nitrogen oxides every week since new standards came into force in July, according to analysis of publicly available government data by researchers at Greenpeace East Asia.
A "green" bond market has taken root this year, with municipalities and corporations issuing new environmentally-focused bonds and money managers jumping in to buy them. But it's too soon to tell whether all the new activity - less than a sliver of the $91 trillion worldwide bond market - will send much new money to projects like efficient buildings and better water systems.
California is already in its third year of drought, and things aren't looking any sunnier. Two of the state's main river basins are now more than 11 trillion gallons (42 cubic kilometers or 10 cubic miles) of water below normal seasonal levels, says a team of NASA scientists. In other words, California needs 11 trillion gallons of water to end its drought, which is estimated to have cost the state $2.2 billion in losses this year.

December 17, 2014

(Columbus Dispatch)
About 25 families in eastern Ohio have been unable to live in their houses for the past three days because of a natural-gas leak at a fracking well that crews cannot stop. Bethany McCorkle, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the state agency that regulates oil and gas, said crews lost control of the Monroe County well on Saturday.
The Obama administration as soon as Wednesday will announce its plans for curbing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, which the United States must do to meet its 2020 target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, people familiar with the issue said Tuesday.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says approving the Keystone XL pipeline will top the Senate agenda in January. The issue could set up an early 2015 veto confrontation with President Barack Obama. Congressional Republicans have been pushing for approval of the pipeline for years. Obama has resisted because of environmental concerns.
(E&E Publishing)
The head of California's Senate plans to introduce legislation to require the state's public pension funds to get rid of their investments in coal equities.
(Christian Science Monitor)
Researchers say they have uncovered perennial freshwater lakes embedded within the upper layers of Greenland's ice sheet – previously unknown features that could play a role in the rate at which the sheet loses mass in a warming climate.
(Huffington Post)
How likely is it that climate change will leave your city in the dark? Researchers at Johns Hopkins University asked just this question, analyzing which cities will be more likely to suffer from hurricane-related power outages in the future.
Japan's regulator vouched for the safety of two more nuclear reactors today, this time in the key industrial area of Kansai, bolstering the government’s drive to switch on atomic plants idled after the Fukushima disaster. The approval for Kansai Electric Power Co. (9503)'s Takahama station units No. 3 and No. 4, is only the second that the Nuclear Regulation Authority has granted in almost four years since the meltdowns at the Fukushima atomic station.
The European Commission has stepped back from plans to scrap ambitious waste recycling and air quality targets, following an outcry after they were leaked, but both pieces of legislation will be heavily amended.
(The Globe and Mail)
Quebec's environmental bureau has dealt a setback to companies that want to use hydraulic fracturing techniques to develop the province's promising shale gas deposits, saying it appears the economic benefits would not outweigh the environmental costs.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
The surge in drilling has meant trillions of cubic feet of natural gas are being pumped out of Pennsylvania every year. And now billions of dollars are flooding into the state for new pipeline projects to move that gas to market.
(Midwest Energy News)
The piles of petroleum coke, or petcoke, on Chicago's Southeast Side that have created a furor over the past year and a half would become invisible under a plan that the Koch Industries subsidiary KCBX Terminals unveiled on Tuesday.

December 16, 2014

America and India will unveil joint efforts to fight climate change when Barack Obama visits New Delhi next month, as the U.S. tries to keep up the momentum of international negotiations.
(The Hill)
The White House wants healthcare providers to get serious about bulking up their defenses against climate change.
(Washington Examiner)
Republicans and Democrats filled out assignments for the Senate committees on Energy and Natural Resources and for Environment and Public Works. New GOP senators joining the energy committee, which oversees the Energy and Interior departments, include Cory Gardner of Colorado, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Steve Daines of Montana. All four are currently House members who won their respective races last month.
The Keystone XL pipeline has created a heated debate over climate change and energy independence. We visit York County, Neb., to speak to people for whom the pipeline could be a tangible reality.
(The Record)
Governor Christie has voiced strong support for the Keystone XL pipeline extension that would cross the middle of the United States, but he has been decidedly quiet on a proposed oil pipeline that could cut across a large portion of New Jersey. Christie's stance on the 178-mile Pilgrim Pipeline, which could run between Linden in Union County and Albany, N.Y., is crucial because state governments, rather than Washington, would have to approve it, energy experts and federal officials say.
Canadian heavy crude traded below $40 a barrel for the first time in five years just as surge of new projects are scheduled to start operation. A total of 14 new oil sands projects are scheduled to start next year with a combined capacity of 266,240 barrels a day, according to data published by Oilsands Review. That's 36 percent more than was started in 2014.
As oil prices go down, down, down (they've dropped 40 percent since June 2014), what most Coloradans notice is that they are paying less for gas. Other than that, the average person might not see much of an effect. That doesn't mean one isn't coming. As oil prices stay low or continue to drop, energy boom states like Colorado, Wyoming and North Dakota may soon see impacts on jobs and even state budgets. Here are a few key indicators that offer help in tracking the on-the-ground effect of falling oil prices.