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Today's Climate

December 19, 2014

(Wall Street Journal)
The White House is calling on federal agencies to consider the climate-change impact of a wide range of energy projects that require government approval. The draft guidelines, released Thursday by the White House's Council on Environmental Quality, are likely to affect fossil-fuel projects the most, such as pipelines, terminals that export coal and liquefied natural gas, and production of oil, natural gas and coal on public lands.
The surge in European carbon permit prices may just be beginning. The price of emission rights will rise 62 percent by June 30, according to the median of 16 trader and analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. UBS Group AG says costs may more than double in 2015. Carbon already jumped 44 percent this year, while the 22-member Bloomberg Commodities Index (BCOM) slid 14 percent.
Environmentalists and industry experts widely expect the first federal standards for the waste generated from coal burned for electricity to treat the ash like household garbage, rather than a hazardous material.
(The Hill)
House Republicans have created a new Oversight Committee subpanel to supervise the Obama administration's environmental and energy policies. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the committee's incoming chairman, announced that the new subcommittee will be chaired by Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.).
State Senate Republican leader Thomas Kean Jr. and state Sen. Richard Codey today announced they have introduced a resolution opposing the planned Pilgrim Pipeline, which would carry volatile oil through seven New Jersey counties over 178 miles from Linden to Albany, N.Y.
(West Virginia Public Radio)
Lyndia Ervolina stood in her front yard, 75 feet or so from Route 50 in Doddridge County. She pointed to several heavy trucks passing by. "They're hauling water, they're hauling sand, they're hauling that silica sand, they're hauling frac fluid. Anything you can think of," she said with a strained tone in her voice.
(Fuel Fix)
Across the state, drilling rigs are falling idle as plummeting crude prices knock a swaggering industry into uncertainty. But at the Capitol, lawmakers are pressing a showdown on a signature issue of petroleum's hydraulic fracturing era: Home rule. Disturbed by noise, pollution and even earthquakes, can cities say no to oil and gas companies?
(The Canadian Press)
The New Brunswick government is introducing a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing that the Premier says won't be lifted until five conditions are met. Those conditions include a process to consult with First Nations, a plan for waste water disposal and credible information about the impacts fracking has on health, water and the environment, Brian Gallant said Thursday.
Pennsylvania's fracking boom has led to record-breaking natural gas production, but its neighbor, New York, announced Wednesday it was banning the practice. Industry and environmental groups say New York's decision could be good for Pennsylvania.
(The Times-Picayune)
Individuals and businesses damaged by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill have six months left to file a claim under BP's multibillion-dollar settlement. In a Thursday (Dec. 18) statement, claims administrator Patrick Juneau set a June 8, 2015, deadline for all new claims for economic and property damages related to the spill. Any claims filed after that date will not be eligible for payment.
(Wyoming Public Radio)
The State of Wyoming may be getting into the coal export business. The Legislature will consider a bill during its upcoming session that would increase the Infrastructure Authority's bonding limit from $1 billion to $3 billion and also allow that money to be spent outside the state's borders.
(Los Angeles Times)
For the first time in five months, a majority of California is no longer considered to be in an exceptional drought, the most severe level possible under federal guidelines, the U.S. Drought Monitor announced Thursday.
(Washington Post)
The critical role that vast tropical forests like Brazil's Amazon play in suppressing climate change is well-known: They store huge quantities of carbon, acting as "carbon sinks."
NASA revealed the first-ever images of the global atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the key long-lived global warming gas. The imagery, taken over the course of three months, reveals details about springtime biomass being burned in the Southern Hemisphere, as well as photosynthesis from plants worldwide.

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.