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Today's Climate

June 26, 2014

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) pledged to restart reactors at the world's largest atomic plant, rejecting a bid by anti-nuclear shareholders to scrap the units over safety concerns after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. The company's annual general meeting voted down motions advanced by Greenpeace and other activist groups holding Tokyo Electric shares to decommission the reactors and to revise the company’s recovery plan to exclude nuclear power.
(Edmonton Journal)
A new bitumen pipeline, twice the size of the Northern Gateway pipeline to the West Coast, could be under construction this fall to bring 900,000 barrels a day into the Edmonton area, TransCanada Pipelines told a regulatory hearing Tuesday. The Alberta Energy Regulator is holding the hearing—its first into a pipeline project—after the National Energy Board turned down a request to have the federal regulator involved.
(The Globe and Mail)
No mention of Keystone XL. Not a word about oil sands from Canada. Exactly a year after President Barack Obama's dire warning that global warming would "condemn ... future generations to a planet that's beyond fixing" unless greenhouse-gas emissions from burning fossil fuels were cut drastically, the White House issued a progress report.
Vital parts of U.K. infrastructure are being neglected, with potentially severe impacts on national competitiveness and quality of life, according to a new study by engineers.
(Think Progress)
In a microcosm of the ongoing political fight over the validity of global warming science, an eastern Pennsylvania school director called a textbook's chapter on the subject "propaganda" at a school board meeting last night. And in an example of the shifting tides on the issue, the school board shot him down.
(High Country News)
The 2014 BP Statistical Review of World Energy, released this month, is a rather dry document made up of spreadsheets and a few charts filled with stats on global energy production and consumption during 2013. But look behind the numbers, and what you'll find is anything but dull: A detailed accounting of how much energy the globe's 7.2 billion people are using and where they are getting it.
The United States is the Saudi Arabia of coal. The only catch is that U.S. coal is buried too deep for conventional mining. In the tradition of fracking pioneers in the oil and gas industries, an Australian company working in Wyoming wants to use an unconventional technique to access that deep coal: burning it underground.
Dozens of mile-long trains loaded with crude are leaving western North Dakota each week, with most shipments going through the state's most populous county while en route to refineries across the country.
(Houston Chronicle)
The Commerce Department's decision to allow two Texas companies to export a minimally distilled variety of ultralight oil is a win for Eagle Ford Shale crude producers, at the expense of refiners and companies planning to build processing plants along the Gulf Coast. The agency effectively declared those types of ultralight oil—called condensates—are a petroleum product free for export as long as they have been run through a distillation tower. The ruling is likely to change the economics of some of the Gulf Coast's more expensive processing plants.

June 25, 2014

Kansas health officials on Monday were at the site of natural gas pipeline eruption in eastern Kansas, where crops and trees have withered since a dark, oily plume burst from the line while crews were trying to perform maintenance.
(The Hill)
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said Tuesday that Republicans are trying to push for a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline, after an up or down vote on the pipeline collapsed under Senate debate in May. Barrasso told reporters Tuesday that Republicans will call up a bill co-sponsored by Sens. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) that would approve the controversial oil sands pipeline Tuesday afternoon.
(Wall Street Journal)
The Obama administration cleared the way for the first exports of unrefined American oil in nearly four decades, allowing energy companies to start chipping away at the longtime ban on selling U.S. oil abroad. In separate rulings that haven't been announced, the Commerce Department gave Pioneer Natural Resources Co. and Enterprise Products Partners LP permission to ship a type of ultralight oil known as condensate to foreign buyers. The buyers could turn the oil into gasoline, jet fuel and diesel.
Koch Supply & Trading, a unit of Koch Industries Inc., will start buying and selling European electricity and expand its liquefied natural gas business to take advantage of a globalizing market for the fuel.
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
In an age of big, fast data, Pennsylvania takes its slow, sweet time collecting information on how much gas is produced from wells in the commonwealth. A bill in the state House of Representatives aims to change that by requiring companies that operate Marcellus Shale and other unconventional wells to report their gas production monthly rather than only twice a year.
Whenever an oil or gas well is drilled, the material that comes out of the well can include rocks and drilling mud and brine and water. New York and the other states in the Marcellus region allow that waste, which comes up before a well is fracked, into municipal landfills.
(Denver Post)
Colorado regulators shut down an oil and gas wastewater-disposal site in Weld County after a second earthquake in less than a month was detected. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission directed High Sierra Water Services to stop the underground injection of drilling waste after a 2.6-magnitude earthquake occurred Monday afternoon.
Feeling overly hormonal? Not hormonal enough? Just wait for frackers to move into your neighborhood and let them throw the medical dice for you. Fracking chemicals have been found to screw with many of the hormones that control a wide range of important bodily functions.
(StateImpact Texas)
In states with the most oil and gas drilling, including Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota, the U.S. Department of Labor has won back pay for over 4,000 energy industry workers in just the past year. It totaled $6.7 million dollars, accounting for a third of all such settlements by all types of industries nationwide.
(National Journal)
A bipartisan pair of former Treasury secretaries want the Securities and Exchange Commission to get more aggressive with corporate America when it comes to assessing the risks of climate change.
(Washington Post)
The dangers of climate change were revealed to Willo Kelly in a government conference room in the summer of 2011. By the end of the century, state officials said, the ocean would be 39 inches higher and her home on the Outer Banks would be swamped.
(Great Lakes Echo)
The Minnesota Court of Appeals has upheld a Winona County decision that no environmental impact statement is needed for a controversial frac sand mining project already operating in Saratoga Township.

June 24, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court gave the Environmental Protection Agency the green light to regulate greenhouse gases that are emitted from new and modified utility plants and factories on Monday. Greenhouse gases are blamed for global warming, and the court's 7-2 decision gave the EPA most of what it wanted. But in a separate 5-4 vote, the justices rejected the agency's broad assertion of regulatory power under one section of the Clean Air Act.
Nebraska landowners opposed to the proposed $5.4 billion Keystone XL pipeline urged the state's highest court to uphold a judge's ruling invalidating the route mapped by Governor Dave Heineman and TransCanada Corp. (TRP).
Prime Minister Tony Abbott reintroduced legislation to the Australian Parliament on Monday that would repeal a carbon tax that the nation's worst greenhouse gas polluters have to pay. The opposition center-left Labor Party and minor Greens party used their Senate majority in March to block the bills that would remove the 24.15 Australian dollar ($22.79) tax per metric ton of carbon dioxide that was introduced by a Labor government in July 2012. The bills were defeated 33 votes to 29.
Fighting climate change would help grow the world economy, according to the World Bank, adding up to $2.6tn (£1.5tn) a year to global GDP in the coming decades. The findings, made available in a report on Tuesday, offer a sharp contrast with claims by the Australian government that fighting climate change would "clobber" the economy.
In a shocking move, BP has decided to shut down its internal oil spill claims program, taking away an avenue for more than 10,000 claimants who have opted out of the oil giant's controversial settlement agreement or others who are not covered by it.
Environmentalists on Monday protested at the headquarters of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, calling on the agency to stop approving liquefied natural gas export facilities until the climate change impacts of the projects are better understood. The protesters blasted FERC's refusal to consider the greenhouse gas emissions that would result from the production, processing and shipment of natural gas abroad and said FERC must examine the matter before considering any new projects.
(Business Green)
The University of Dayton has become the wealthiest university to stop investing in fossil fuels, adding fresh impetus to the divestment movement. The Ohio-based university said on Monday that it will begin divesting coal and fossil fuels from its $670 million investment pool and is thought to be the first Catholic university in the U.S. to take the step.
(The Globe and Mail)
When Enbridge Inc. officials went to scope out a terminal site for their proposed Northern Gateway pipeline in Kitimat, they needed access to Crown land that is subject to land claims by the Haisla First Nation. With a provincial permit in hand, their crews pulled out chainsaws and felled ancient cedars to help with their mapping. Fourteen of the trees that were cut down had been marked in some way by the Haisla people long before British Columbia became a colony.
(Think Progress)
A county judge has temporarily blocked Mississippi's plans for offshore natural gas drilling, saying the Mississippi Development Authority did not properly evaluate the economic impacts the drilling would have in the state.