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Today's Climate

July 29, 2014

(Toronto Star)
One of Washington's most influential lobbying firms made thousands of dollars in political contributions to key U.S. lawmakers last year as it worked on behalf of the Alberta government to drum up congressional support for the Keystone XL pipeline, documents reveal.
Get comfortable. An estimated 1,600 people are slated to sound off to the Environmental Protection Agency on its proposed climate change rule for existing power plants this week at a series of marathon public hearings.
Overwhelming opposition to the government's plans to expanding fracking across Britain was expressed by interest groups during an official consultation, whose results were released a day after ministers signalled a go-ahead for shale gas drilling around the country.
(Mother Jones)
As Ukraine sinks deeper into crisis, the oil and gas industry is pressing the United States to deploy its abundant natural gas supply as a weapon against Russia—and lawmakers of both parties are lining up behind the proposal. "We have this natural-gas boom," Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) said last week, after the downing of a Malaysia Airlines jet, allegedly by pro-Russian rebels. "We can use this newfound energy as a diplomatic tool to give the European leaders some backbone in standing up to the Russians."
(NBC News)
A sweeping survey of coral communities surrounding the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico shows that the catastrophe had a wider effect than scientists thought four years ago.
(Midwest Energy News)
When Houston-based Dynegy Inc. bought the E.D. Edwards coal plant near Peoria, Illinois last year, Gary Hall was among many local residents who were not happy. Ameren essentially paid Dynegy to take over the financially flailing plants. Given trends affecting coal plants nationwide, including pending EPA carbon rules and competition from cheap natural gas, many environmentalists and energy experts think the E.D. Edwards plant and other aging coal plants may close in coming years.
Along much of America's coasts, the type of flooding that is more annoying than dangerous has jumped more than fivefold in the last 50 years, the federal government reported Monday. Scientists blame rising seas, saying this is one of the ways global warming is changing everyday lives.
(National Journal)
One of the world's largest food companies says it's about to take a big bite out of global warming. General Mills, maker of Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Wheaties, said Monday that it will set a target to limit air pollution throughout its entire supply chain next summer.

July 28, 2014

(Fuel Fix)
A Texas refiner is suing a Utah county over its new ordinances imposing restrictions on underground pipelines. San Antonio-based Tesoro Corp. wants to build a 135-mile pipeline to carry crude oil from the Uinta Basin to Salt Lake City refineries.
(The Hill)
The United Healthcare Workers East and New York State Nurses Association vowed to rally thousands of members against the Keystone XL pipeline for a march in September.The two unions, which together represent half a million nurses and caregivers joined forces Thursday to express their frustration with the Keystone XL pipeline, calling for action on climate change.
(The Tyee)
A new independent technical review on the cause of a large and costly 2013 bitumen leak in northern Alberta found a form of hydraulic fracturing that injects steam into the ground to be the main culprit.
(Los Angeles Times)
Every weekday, about a dozen large garbage trucks peel away from the oil boom that has spread through western North Dakota to bump along a gravel road to the McKenzie County landfill.
(Pensacola News Journal)
A common ingredient in human laxatives and in the controversial dispersants that was used to break down oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill is still being found in tar balls four years later along Gulf Coast beaches including Perdido Key. This finding in a new study contradicts the message that the chemical dispersant quickly evaporated from the environment, which BP and EPA officials were telling a public who grew outraged over the widespread use of the chemicals in the Gulf of Mexico in the weeks following the April 20, 2010, oil spill disaster.
Firefighters in Northern California made progress Sunday against a wildfire that has destroyed 13 homes and forced hundreds of evacuations in the Sierra Nevada foothills, while a fire near Yosemite National Park that destroyed one home grew significantly overnight. East of Sacramento, the Sand Fire in the Sierra foothills has burned roughly 6 square miles of steep, rugged terrain near wine-growing regions in Amador and El Dorado counties since Friday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Climate change may threaten Australians' livelihoods, affect the viability of communities and put pressure on social stability, the co-chairman of a thinktank hoping to influence public health responses has warned. Emeritus professor Bruce Armstrong, of the University of Sydney's school of public health, told Guardian Australia the issue was both publicly and scientifically important.
(Washington Examiner)
Colorado campaigners have secured enough signatures to get two initiatives that would place restrictions on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the state on the November ballot. The measures need 86,105 signatures by Aug. 4, and Coloradans for Safe and Clean Energy said it has well surpassed that mark.
(Texas Tribune)
Debbie Ingram understands the importance of Texas' oil and gas industry, and she enjoys the look of a lit-up drilling rig rising in the nighttime sky. But a few months of living about 400 feet from a natural gas well—the source of a cacophony of noises and nauseating fumes that, at times, have overtaken her brick house—prompted her to join hundreds of others pushing back against the industry in this North Texas city.
(Denver Post)
Development of oil and gas shale formations has sparked drilling from Pennsylvania to California, and that is leading to a new wave of local oil and gas ordinances and bans. Towns and cities—from Robinson Township, Pa., population 13,354, to Dallas, population 1.2 million—are enacting rules to limit or control oil and gas development.
The U.K. will begin the bidding process today for the next set of onshore oil and gas exploration licenses, including shale gas, which is considered a cheaper and more secure energy source. Details will be set out by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. About half the U.K. will be open for bids, yet the areas considered to be shale gas prospects are smaller, and are already around half-covered by licenses.
Canada's energy regulator has ordered Enbridge Inc to halt maintenance work on its Line 3 crude oil pipeline near Cromer, Manitoba, after an inspection in early July revealed a number of environmental and safety concerns. The National Energy Board said Enbridge had failed to put in place measures to conserve topsoil, control erosion and manage drainage, resulting in damage to wetlands and agricultural lands and posing a safety hazard.
(Al Jazeera America)
Nearly six months after a pipe at a defunct Duke Energy coal plant in Eden, North Carolina, leaked at least 30,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River, environmentalists say Duke is walking away from its responsibility to clean up the waterway. Earlier this month, the company announced that it had finished cleaning out the river, saying workers had removed 2,500 tons of coal ash—the toxic byproduct from coal-burning that contains heavy metals and arsenic. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has been overseeing the cleanup, approved Duke's determination that the river was indeed clean.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Australia's repeal of a pioneering tax on carbon emissions has dealt a sharp blow to struggling international efforts to coordinate on global warming and comes ahead of key climate-change talks next year. On July 17, Australia's parliament pulled the plug on the 2012 tax, which charged 348 businesses such as steelmakers and power companies A$25.40 (US$24) per ton of carbon dioxide emitted.

July 25, 2014

Top air regulators from 13 states across the western U.S. met in private last week to talk about how they could work together on carbon-emissions cuts proposed by the Obama administration. California Air Resources Board chairman Mary Nichols, Nevada Environmental Protection administrator Colleen Cripps and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality director Henry Darwin attended the July 17 meeting in Denver, spokesmen for their agencies said.
(Christian Science Monitor)
A U.S. science advisory report says Japan's Fukushima nuclear accident offers a key lesson to the nation's nuclear industry: Focus more on the highly unlikely but worst case scenarios. That means thinking about earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, solar storms, multiple failures and situations that seem freakishly unusual, according to Thursday's National Academy of Sciences report. Those kinds of things triggered the world's three major nuclear accidents.
(Los Angeles Times)
The decision by a small coastal city in Maine to ban the export of crude oil from its harbor brought threats of lawsuits from the oil industry Tuesday and put South Portland on the front lines of a battle over development of Canada's huge and controversial tar sands deposits.
(Washington Post)
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and the two other members of the state Board of Public Works voted Wednesday to give Dominion Resources a tidal wetlands license, one more incremental approval needed by the power company as it aims to build a liquefied natural gas export facility in Calvert County.
(The Canadian Press)
Environmentalists and legal experts are criticizing the federal government's decision to leave toxic fracking chemicals off a list of pollutants going into Canada's air, land and water.
(The Hill)
President Obama will attend a one-day United Nations climate summit in New York on Sept. 23, according to a White House official. The summit will give world leaders the opportunity to share the steps their countries are taking to mitigate climate change.
(The Canadian Press)
The Arctic may be a hot commodity, with remarkable resource and tourism opportunities, but a conference has heard that Canada and the United States are barely out of the ice age when it comes to harnessing its growth. Business and political leaders from both countries heard that while Russia is building more than a dozen icebreakers to transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asia, jurisdictions in Alaska, the Yukon and Northwest Territories are still trying to organize business meetings.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Oil major BP PLC said on Thursday that its group managing director, Iain Conn, will step down by the end of the year, after 29 years' service and 10 years on the board.