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Today's Climate

November 11, 2014

(The Globe and Mail)
Long under attack by environmental groups, the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project is now being criticized by some economists. A report released Monday by Simon Fraser University and The Goodman Group Ltd., questions Trans Mountain's financial projections, arguing that the economic impacts of jobs and taxes have been overvalued, while the costs associated with possible spills have been understated.

November 10, 2014

(Business Green)
Former United States President Bill Clinton has issued a rallying call for countries to agree to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the century, backing the findings of a landmark climate science report issued earlier this month.
Australia needs to tell the world how it will calculate its medium-term greenhouse target for release early next year and should be looking at a 40 percent reduction by 2025, the Climate Institute think tank says.
(The Hill)
Senate Republicans are gearing up for a war against the Obama administration's environmental rules, identifying them as a top target when they take control in January. The GOP sees the midterm elections as a mandate to roll back rules from the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies, with Republicans citing regulatory costs they say cripple the economy and skepticism about the cause of climate change.
The shale-oil drilling boom in the U.S. is showing early signs of cracking. Rigs targeting oil sank by 14 to 1,568 this week, the lowest since Aug. 22, Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI) said yesterday. The Eagle Ford shale formation in south Texas lost the most, dropping nine to 197. The nation's oil rig count is down from a peak of 1,609 on Oct. 10.
(New York Times)
The British government said on Saturday that it would establish a sovereign wealth fund with the proceeds from extracting natural gas from shale. The announcement, which may be seen as premature because no shale gas production is likely to occur in the near future, is another step by the government of Prime Minister David Cameron to encourage development of a shale gas industry and overcome public opposition to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Broome locals opposed to a fracking program planned in the Canning Basin are gearing up for a wet season camp-out to try to stop Buru Energy's work in the area.
Perhaps Vladimir Putin should be worried when he arrives at the Asia Pacific Economic Conference in Beijing on November 9. Besides a scheduled meeting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott—who said he would use a "shirtfront" rugby tackle on Putin over the deaths of Australians in the downing of MH17 in eastern Ukraine—Putin is also set to discuss yet another mega gas contract with China.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Crude-oil investors have reasons to like China these days. Oil refiners aren't so enamored. According to trade data out Saturday, the world's second largest consumer of oil after the U.S. imported 18 percent more crude in October from the year before, faster than its 9 percent growth so far this year. As crude gets cheaper, China is on the bargain hunt.
(Bismarck Tribune)
LeMoine Hartel is the kind of man whose handshake is as good as his word. He says he's learned the hard way that some of the guys who come around for pipeline easements shake with one hand and cross their fingers with the other.
(Texas Tribune)
With much of the town sleeping, Tino Mendoza walked across a moonlit bus yard on a recent morning, preparing for his first trip of the day. While inspecting bus No. 32, he surveyed the latest casualty of this region's newfound oil and gas economy: a small but growing crack in the windshield. "We just replaced this one a month ago," Mendoza said. "Some of the roads, they just take their toll on it."
A year ago, Super Typhoon Haiyan tore through the Philippines, leaving a path of destruction. In the city of Tacloban, the damage is less visible, but the effects of the typhoon are still present.
(Washington Post)
The residents of Belle Harbor Manor spent four miserable months in emergency shelters after Superstorm Sandy's floodwaters surged through their assisted-living center on New York City's Rockaway peninsula. The home's disabled, elderly and mostly poor residents have a new headache: The Federal Emergency Management Agency has asked at least a dozen of them to pay back thousands of dollars in disaster aid.

November 7, 2014

(The Hill)
The White House said Thursday it would "consider" a rider approving construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline if it was offered in legislation that was able to pass both houses of Congress. But press secretary Josh Earnest also emphasized that the administration was "committed" to the "firmly established precedent" for such transnational projects, which includes the ongoing review at the State Department.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
One of the last major hurdles to restarting nuclear reactors in Japan was cleared Friday when a southern prefecture gave its approval, in a win for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government. Kagoshima prefecture's decision clears the way for two reactors operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co. to reopen as soon as early next year, giving the nation its first electricity from nuclear power since September 2013 when the last of 48 reactors went offline.
Australia is resisting a last-ditch push by the U.S., France and other European countries for G20 leaders at next week's meeting in Brisbane to back contributions to the Green Climate Fund.
United Nations climate envoys are considering how to slot Chinese provinces and U.S. states into the same global carbon market as nations after 2020, according to an International Energy Agency official.
Environmentalists spent more than $1.5 million in Oregon and Washington in bids to secure Democratic majorities in state legislatures—majorities they wanted for approving clean-fuel standards and a tax on carbon emissions. The plan worked in Oregon. It didn't in Washington.
Illinois lawmakers signed off Thursday on long-awaited rules regulating high-volume oil and gas drilling, clearing the way for companies to get "fracking" permits and unleash what they hope will be an energy boom in the southern part of the state. But a number of key details were not disclosed including how the state plans to fund the hiring of new workers to oversee the practice, which uses high-pressure mixtures to crack open rocks and release trapped oil and gas.
Members of a state commission who oversaw public hearings on fracking are recommending that rules be revised to allow unannounced inspections of hydraulic fracturing operations, according to a report released Wednesday.
(Charlotte Business Journal)
Duke Energy has set aside a $3.4 billion obligation in its accounting requirements for the costs of cleaning up its 32 ash ponds in North Carolina. Duke had estimated the cleanup could cost between $2 billion and $10 billion. Chief Financial Officer Steve Young emphasized to analysts this week that the obligation could rise or fall, depending on what is required in the cleanup.
(StateImpact Texas)
The federal government says the oil and gas industry is the largest industrial source of pollution that creates smog. In coming months, Texas drillers could learn what the government plans to do about it. New pollution rules could mean that thousands of oil and gas wells in Texas will have to have their leaks fixed.
(The Times-Picayune)
A panel of federal appeals court judges in New Orleans has refused to reconsider a ruling that BP and Andarko Petroleum Corp. must pay federal fines related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. BP and Anadarko, co-owners of the failed Macondo oil well, had sought to avoid penalties by blaming another company's failed equipment.
Despite the concerns about wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, it can be difficult to keep track of where the drilling fluids end up. Now a team of researchers claims to have figured out how to trace leaks and spills of fracking fluids—and even detect their presence in treated water.
(Washington Post)
It's notoriously difficult to make people care about climate change. It's a big, slow moving, long term problem that can rarely compete with everyday concerns—and it certainly doesn't help matters that most people have a difficult time distinguishing between climate change and their everyday weather.

November 6, 2014

(Washington Post)
Sen. James M. Inhofe, an the Oklahoma Republican who once compared the Environmental Protection Agency to the Gestapo, is likely to lead the Environment and Public Works Committee when the GOP takes control of the Senate next year. If approved, Inhofe would replace Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), an avowed environmentalist, producing one of the most stark post-election changes in the Capitol. Committee assignments will not be made until Senate party caucuses meet in Washington after the election recess.
(Think Progress)
Nebraska Rep. Lee Terry (R), dubbed by Anti-Keystone XL pipeline group Bold Nebraska as the state's "top climate denier," will no longer represent the state, after being unseated by his Democratic challenger Tuesday. Brad Ashford (D) won Terry's congressional seat after a tight race, which Terry conceded Wednesday afternoon. The race was being closely watched by national Democrats—the Pro-Democrat House Majority PAC contributed ad money to help Ashford win, and the DCCC put Ashford in its "Red to Blue" program, which supports Democrats in certain close races.
On election night in a hotel ballroom in Anchorage, Alaska, Sen. Lisa Murkowski picked up a chair and waved it over her head. "I am the chair-maaaaaaaaaaan!" she shouted.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
Now we know. Democrat Tom Wolf will indeed be taking the reins from Gov. Corbett in just over two months. For the first time since 1954, an incumbent Pennsylvania governor did not either win re-election or cede power to someone from their own party.
(Tampa Bay Times)
The biggest winner on the ballot Tuesday wasn't one of the candidates. It was Amendment 1, the proposal to set aside some $10 billion in tax money over the next 20 years, to be used for purchasing environmentally sensitive land and protecting wildlife and water resources.