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Today's Climate

July 18, 2014

Coal Ash might still be in the Dan River, but as far as the EPA and Duke Energy are concerned, cleanup is done—for now.
Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer is falling far short on his pledge to raise $50 million in outside money to make climate change a midterm-election weapon against the GOP. His super PAC, NextGen Climate Action, has raised just $1.2 million from other donors toward that goal, according to still-unreleased figures that his aides shared with POLITICO.
(New York Times)
When city leaders and state legislators agreed last year to fund roughly half the $1 billion cost of a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings, they attached the usual strings for such projects: It had to be architecturally iconic, employ steel made from Minnesota iron ore and offer at least a few cheap seats.
(Boston Globe)
There are the signs. Stop the Pipeline. Protect our Common Wealth. No Fracked Gas in Mass. And there are the meetings.
(Fuel Fix)
Environmentalists have teamed up with Google to shine a spotlight on natural gas leaking from pipes buried under city streets in Boston, Indianapolis and Staten Island. Using sensors and other technology on Google Street View mapping cars, the Environmental Defense Fund and researchers at Colorado State University collected 15 million readings over thousands of miles of roadway.
(Christian Science Monitor)
A failed compromise on local fracking bans in Colorado this week makes the oil-and-gas-rich state the latest flashpoint in a nationwide fight over the controversial drilling process.
(Scientific American)
Hundreds of years after humans mastered the art of chimney venting so they could heat their houses, scientists have undertaken a major research project to better understand how Earth's atmosphere uses its very own version of a chimney. More than 40 researchers recently visited a sparsely populated part of the western tropical Pacific Ocean—near the island of Guam—known as the "global chimney."

July 17, 2014

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board said Wednesday that it looks like water seeping from holes in the roof of a tank loaded with crude MCHM caused the Freedom Industries spill which contaminated the drinking water supply for 300,000 West Virginians in January. Officials for the agency said, as they released their preliminary findings on the spill, it now looks like at least one other tank leaked.
(Texas Tribune)
When the Dallas County Medical Society asked Texas environmental regulators in October to increase pollution controls on coal-fired power plants, they knew it would be a tough sell.
(New York Times)
Opposition politicians and environmentalists in Australia reacted with dismay Thursday to the country's repeal of laws requiring large companies to pay for carbon emissions, saying that it made Australia the first country to reverse progress on fighting climate change. The Senate voted 39 to 32 on Thursday to repeal the so-called carbon tax after Prime Minister Tony Abbott's conservative government secured the support of a number of independent senators.
(Vancouver Sun)
Deputy premier Rich Coleman challenged Thursday the conclusions of a scientific panel into the environmental effect of shale gas development using fracking. The group of Canadian and U.S. scientists, appointed in 2011 by former federal environment minister Peter Kent to examine the sector's potential and risks across Canada, urge a cautionary, go-slow approach until more research is done on a relatively new sector.
(Portland Press Herald)
A controversial proposal that would ban tar sands oil from coming into the city won the Planning Board's endorsement Tuesday night. The board voted 6-1 to recommend that the City Council approve the proposal as being "in basic harmony" with the city's comprehensive plan.
(Denver Post)
The battle over local control of oil and gas drilling Wednesday swung from the statehouse to the ballot box in what is shaping up as Colorado's most expensive initiative battle ever. After months of talks, Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday abandoned his effort to get bipartisan legislation on local control of drilling to block the ballot measures.
(Los Angeles Times)
Frank and Wanda Leppell once lived on a quiet cattle ranch in the middle of a rolling prairie, the lowing of cattle and the chirping of sparrows forming a pleasant soundtrack to their mornings. No more.
Residents of modest neighborhoods near three of the largest oil refineries in California called on the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday to crack down on plant emissions, saying the pollution is choking their children and endangering their health.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
Bradford County's three commissioners have reached out to the federal Department of Justice, seeking its help investigating allegations gas driller Chesapeake Energy is cheating Pennsylvania landowners out of royalty money.
(Think Progress)
There is perhaps no national park more sacrosanct to America than Yellowstone. Anyone who has marveled at its Old Faithful Geyser or looked out at its large herds of roaming bison or stood in awe at its cascading waterfalls has, whether they knew it or not, been the beneficiary of a massively successful government program: conservation of public lands.
(Climate Central)
Weather- and climate-related disasters have caused $2.4 trillion in economic losses and nearly 2 million deaths globally since 1971 according to a new report. While the losses are staggering, the report also shows that we have learned from past disasters, lessons the world will need as development continues in hazardous areas and the climate continues to change.
(Washington Post)
A years-long drought and a warmer-than-average winter have Western states worried that they face extraordinary challenges in what by many estimates will be a record fire season. The National Interagency Fire Center says the threat of wildfires is already above normal in much of Oregon and California, and the high desert in Washington, Idaho and Nevada. Parts of Arizona remain under heightened threat, too.

July 16, 2014

(The Times-Picayune)
About 160 barrels of a crude oil and water mixture spilled on Monday near a residential community in Belle Chasse, according to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and State Police. While cleanup crews and DEQ officials remained on the scene Tuesday, residents were told that there was nothing to worry about in terms of health effects.
(The Canadian Press)
The City of Burnaby's refusal to cooperate with Kinder Morgan has forced a seven-month delay in a National Energy Board review of the company's proposed expansion of its Trans Mountain pipeline through British Columbia. The NEB announced Tuesday it has deferred the deadline for the final report to cabinet until Jan. 25, 2016, while Kinder Morgan completes necessary studies.
Japan's nuclear regulator vouched for the safety of two reactors in the country's south, setting in motion the re-adoption of atomic power even as most Japanese remain skeptical after the Fukushima disaster of 2011.
(The Hill)
In a slew of actions Wednesday, President Obama is unveiling new assistance tools for state, local, and tribal leaders that will better prepare them for climate change impacts. The unilateral actions, in line with Obama's year of action pledge and climate change agenda, will provide millions to tribes for adaptation training, establish awards for states to improve rural electric infrastructure, and make available mapping and data tools for climate resilience.
(Los Angeles Times)
Cities throughout California will have to impose mandatory restrictions on outdoor watering under an emergency state rule approved Tuesday. Saying that it was time to increase conservation in the midst of one of the worst droughts in decades, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted drought regulations that give local agencies the authority to fine those who waste water up to $500 a day.
Beverly McGuire saw the warning signs before the town well went dry: sand in the toilet bowl, the sputter of air in the tap, a pump working overtime to no effect. But it still did not prepare her for the night last month when she turned on the tap and discovered the tiny town where she had made her home for 35 years was out of water.
(Poughkeepsie Journal)
A state judge on Monday blocked attempts to force Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration to decide whether to authorize large-scale hydraulic fracturing. Acting Supreme Court Justice Roger McDonough of Albany County tossed a pair of lawsuits Monday afternoon, ruling that a group of upstate landowners and the bankruptcy trustee for a defunct oil-and-gas company lack the authority to bring the legal challenge.
(KQED Science)
Opponents of hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—have pushed for a statewide moratorium on the controversial oil production technique. With those efforts stalled in the state legislature, activists are taking the fight to the county level.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Carbon dioxide isn't just a greenhouse gas that federal officials want to curb: It is also highly prized by the energy industry, which injects it into aging oil fields to increase their output. Coal-fired power plants vent carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, while oil drillers generally have gotten their CO2 from underground caverns or industrial plants.
(Mississippi Watchdog)
The cost for Mississippi to meet proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations governing carbon dioxide emissions from coal power plants could run into the billions. Guess who'll be footing the tab? Everyone who pays an electric bill.
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Ameren Missouri says it must decide quickly on how to comply with proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules limiting carbon pollution. But with a state plan likely three years away, it's unclear which steps it should take and whether it can get credit for all of them.