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Today's Climate

March 21, 2014

(Los Angeles Times)
Occidental Petroleum Corp. shares dropped for two straight days after the city of Carson imposed a moratorium on all new drilling. The drilling ban, which was unanimously passed by the Carson City Council on Tuesday, disrupts plans by the oil and gas giant to bore more than 200 wells in the energy-rich city.
Growing demand for energy will put increasing pressure on the world's already strained water resources, particularly in developing and emerging economies, the UN has warned. "There is an increasing potential for serious conflict between power generation, other water users and environmental considerations," it says in the world water development report, published on the eve of world water day on Saturday.
(New York Times)
To power his plans for Japan's economic revival, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could soon return his nation to nuclear power for the first time since the Fukushima accident three years ago. But before he can, he will need the consent of the remote towns like this one that host Japan's idled nuclear plants.
(Think Progress)
After countless marches, arrests, Congressional votes, and editorials, the five-and-a-half year battle over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is nearing its end. If a recent ruling in Nebraska doesn't delay the decision further, America could find out as soon as this spring whether or not the pipeline, which has become a focal point in America's environmental movement, will be built.
Before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, there was the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, at the time the nation's largest oil spill. The 987-foot tanker, carrying 53 million gallons of crude, struck Bligh Reef at 12:04 a.m. on March 24, 1989. Within hours, it unleashed an estimated 10.8 million gallons of thick, toxic crude oil into the water. Storms and currents then smeared it over 1,300 miles of shoreline.

March 20, 2014

(Washington Post)
The White House plans to press ahead with more executive actions to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the coming weeks, including a government-wide strategy aimed at cutting methane emissions, according to top Obama advisers. Methane, the main component of natural gas, is about 25 times more powerful as a heat-trapping gas than carbon dioxide, the largest human contributor to climate change.
President Barack Obama's advisers are lining up against the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline. Top Democratic donors oppose the project. And Obama himself dismisses claims that it will create many jobs. Yet there's still one big obstacle to the president saying no to Keystone: election-year politics.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Greg Rickford, the man Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has selected to take over as Canada's Resources Minister, immediately takes on one of the biggest challenges facing the Canadian economy: the stalled effort to get approval for Keystone XL.
(New York Times)
President Obama wants Americans to see how climate change could deluge or destroy their own backyards—and to make it as easy as opening a web-based app. As part of an effort to make the public see global warming as a tangible and immediate problem, the White House on Wednesday inaugurated a website, climate.data.gov, aimed at turning scientific data about projected droughts and wildfires and the rise in sea levels into eye-catching digital presentations that can be mapped using simple software apps.
(Los Angeles Times)
The oil-rich city of Carson has imposed an emergency moratorium on all new drilling, halting efforts by a petroleum company to bore more than 200 wells near homes and a state university. The drilling ban, which runs for 45 days but could be extended up to two years, was driven by a fear that Occidental Petroleum would employ hydraulic fracturing to coax oil from one of the city's vast oil fields.
Air pollution led to genetic changes that may have sapped learning skills in children whose mothers were exposed to a Chinese coal-fired power plant before it was shuttered a decade ago, researchers found. Babies born in the southwestern Tongliang county just before the plant was shut in 2004 had significantly lower levels of a protein crucial to brain development in their cord blood than those conceived later, a March 19 report in the Plos One journal said.
(Minneapolis Star Tribune)
A Minneapolis legislator has introduced three bills to beef up Minnesota's emergency response to crude oil transportation disasters. The measures, sponsored by Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, would create a hazard incident preparedness grant program funded partly by $5 million in new fees assessed on railroads and pipeline companies based on their shipping levels in Minnesota.
Cleanup of an oil train derailment on the outskirts of a small southeastern North Dakota town "is all but complete," a state health official said Wednesday. "We've identified a couple of small spots that still smell of oil, but cleanup for the most part is done," said Dave Glatt, chief of North Dakota Department of Health's environmental health section.
(Houston Chronicle)
BP is bidding on new drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico for the first time in nearly two years, after a government contract suspension forced the oil giant to sit out on three government auctions of the territory. The company submitted 31 bids in the Interior Department's sale of tracts in the central Gulf of Mexico, set to begin Wednesday morning in New Orleans, joining 41 other oil and gas companies competing in the high-stakes auction.
(StateImpact Texas)
A case of alleged dumping of possibly thousands of gallons of chemicals into Odessa's sewer system has local officials wondering who's supposed to police the drilling industry. "We're finding that there's so much confusion in this area of law regarding who is responsible for what. So in Ector County, we have taken the lead upon ourselves to investigate the more serious illegal dumping cases and to prosecute those cases both civilly and criminally," said Susan Redford, the Ector County Judge.
The mayors of Duluth and Superior are throwing their support behind Enbridge Energy's plans for pipeline expansion. In a press conference Wednesday, the mayors announced their support in front of a room full of those who support and oppose pipeline expansion.
When Sarah McCoin woke that morning, she wondered what had happened in the middle of the night. Some commotion near the farm had disturbed her in the early hours—the sounds of emergency vehicles and helicopters—but there'd been no indication of what had brought them out. Was it a major crime? That seemed unlikely: After all, Kingston, Tennessee was a pretty sleepy town, with just under 6,000 residents.
(The Australian)
The Abbott government has failed in its first bid to scrap the carbon tax, with the Senate refusing to pass a package of bills to repeal the Gillard-era climate change policy. After three months of debate, the package of nine bills was finally put to a vote in the upper house today only to be swiftly rebuffed by Labor and the Australian Greens.

March 19, 2014

ExxonMobil released a report claiming that there are no environmental effects resulting from last year's massive oil spill in Mayflower. But one local agency says the oil giant is overreaching. Exxon has been making similar claims since the oil spill on March 29th of last year. But now the oil giant officially stands by its initial claims that there is no need for concern.
(Edmonton Journal)
A group of Peace River area families who left the their homes because of fumes from a nearby oil sands operation will be in court Wednesday to try to have the facility temporarily closed until air pollution equipment is installed. The families are taking the unprecedented step because Calgary-based Baytex Energy has not yet installed promised pollution controls on heated bitumen tanks in the Reno oilfield, said Brian Labrecque, whose father and brothers left their farms south of Peace River due to ill health they blamed on the emissions.
(New York Times)
President Obama wants Americans to see how climate change will remake their own backyards—and to make it as easy as opening a web-based app.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Tuesday he expects Duke Energy to fully compensate Virginia for a massive coal ash spill into the Dan River that turned collection basins at Danville's water treatment plant gray. McAuliffe spoke after he toured the city's treatment plant and was assured the drinking water for 18,000 customers were well within safe-drinking standards based on multiple municipal, federal and independent water testing.
(The Times-Picayune)
Environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit in New Orleans on Tuesday against United Bulk's coal export facility in Plaquemines Parish, alleging the facility is polluting the Mississippi River.
(Financial Times)
A bulldozer rumbles over a mountain of fine black powder amid the abandoned shells of long-shuttered steel mills in a poor neighbourhood on the far southeast side of Chicago. The powdery substance – familiar to locals as the black dust coating their houses, cars and, many say, lungs – is petroleum coke, a byproduct of the Canadian tar sands boom. It is stored at two terminals owned by KCBX on the banks of the Calumet River. A dust storm last autumn spurred the community to action.
A Hamilton County park could wait weeks to be cleaned after crude oil from an underground pipeline leaked on its grounds Monday night. Colerain Fire Department crews were dispatched at about 8 p.m. Monday after getting reports of an oil smell, and found "petroleum product" in the Oak Glen Nature Preserve near Blue Rock Road.
If the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline ever gains approval, Ronald Weber will watch from his farmhouse as workers lay the line beneath a half-mile of his cropland in northeastern Nebraska.
(Wall Street Journal)
A coalition of grassroots environmentalists are galvanizing around a fossil-fuel project and urging President Barack Obama to oppose it. Sound familiar? It's not the Keystone XL pipeline, but the parameters of the fight—and the arguments—are awfully similar to the fight that's been raging in Washington and throughout the country over the proposed pipeline for the last five years.
(Los Angeles Times)
Three Los Angeles City Council members want city, state and federal groups to look into whether hydraulic fracturing and other forms of oil and gas "well stimulation" played any role in the earthquake that rattled the city early Monday morning. The motion, presented Tuesday by Councilmen Paul Koretz and Mike Bonin and seconded by Councilman Bernard Parks, asks for city departments to team up with the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, the U.S. Geological Survey and the South Coast Air Quality Management District to report back on the likelihood that such activities contributed to the 4.4-magnitude quake.
(Houston Chronicle)
Companies will need to invest $641 billion over the next two decades in pipelines, pumps and other infrastructure to keep up with the gas, crude oil and natural gas liquids flowing from U.S. fields, according to a study released Tuesday. The analysis, prepared by ICF International for two natural gas advocacy groups, predicts that $30 billion worth of new midstream infrastructure will be needed each year through 2035—essentially triple the $10 billion in average annual investments over the past decade.
State actions on climate change are reducing emissions and offering templates for effective federal standards, according to Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board. "State successes are helping to lay the foundation for strong federal standards and those then reinforce the next round of state successes," Nichols said at a March 14 conference on "Navigating Climate Regulation on Dual Tracks: The Promises and Pitfalls of AB32 and the Clean Air Act."