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Today's Climate

September 15, 2014

(The Hill)
Democratic voters are nearly twice as like as Republicans to say the environment is "very important" in this year’s midterm elections, a new poll has found. Sixty-nine percect of Democrats said the environment was very important, making it the third most important issue for them behind healthcare, at 80 percent, and economic inequality, at 70 percent, the Pew Research Center said Friday.
Hundreds of firefighters spent a second day on Saturday battling a wildfire burning out of control in a national forest southeast of Los Angeles, as the region baked under triple-digit temperatures that prompted authorities to issue a "heat alert." The so-called Silverado Fire, which broke out in the Cleveland National Forest on Friday morning, had charred some 1,600 acres (647 hectares) by Saturday afternoon as it burned through brush and chaparral left bone dry by California's record drought.
(The Globe and Mail)
Plans by Enbridge, a Canadian pipeline company, to increase the flow of Alberta oil sands crude into the United States while—in the view of opponents—avoiding the presidential permitting process, have enraged environmentalists seeking to block development of Canada's vast reserves. Opponents to the Enbridge plan are threatening legal action and demanding the U.S. State Department reverse the green light given Enbridge.
Heavily-polluting industries are in line for a €5bn (£4bn) handout from Europe's taxpayers because of the way the EU is measuring their exposure to unregulated competitors outside the bloc, according to an unpublished report prepared for the European commission. Steel-making, cement and power plants have their greenhouse gas emissions capped by the emissions trading system (ETS), putting a price on carbon to encourage companies to cut emissions by trading allowances.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Skeptics of the U.S. energy boom say it can't last much longer because it requires drilling an ever-increasing number of wells. But the boom already has lasted longer than anyone would have imagined just a decade ago and has more room to run.
(Bloomberg BNA)
The Environmental Protection Agency's recently proposed regulations for cutting carbon dioxide emissions from the nation's existing power plants could help fast-track construction of new natural gas pipelines, according to Standard & Poor's Ratings Services. The sharp increase in domestic natural gas production in recent years is already driving more demand for new pipeline infrastructure. The EPA proposal could provide additional motivation—and potentially a new funding option—to build new assets sooner, Nora Pickens, an S&P analyst, said Sept. 11.
(Tulsa World)
The Cushing interchange, already one of the world's most important crude oil hubs, is going to get even bigger. One new pipeline is in operation, another almost completed and yet one more major project revealed this month. Tulsa-based NGL Energy Partners announced the Grand Mesa Pipeline, a joint venture with Rimrock Midstream LLC.
(Al Jazeera America)
Later this month, hundreds of delegates will gather inside the U.N. to talk about climate change. President Barack Obama plans to attend the climate summit, and reportedly wants work on a deal with other world leaders to "name and shame" countries that aren't actively pursuing serious climate action. But outside the U.N., thousands of activists will be protesting with one message: whatever Obama accomplishes at the U.N., it won't be enough to save his climate legacy.
The world's six multilateral development banks promised on Thursday to do more to help emerging nations fight climate change as part of efforts to reinvigorate flagging work on a U.N. deal to limit temperature rises. In a statement before a Sept. 23 summit on global warming to be hosted by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York, the World Bank and other banks said they had delivered $75 billion in financing since they started joint tracking of funds in 2011.
(New York Times)
Exxon Mobil's ambitions in Russia appear to have been dashed, at least until the Ukraine crisis is resolved. As part of the latest round of sanctions against Russia, the United States government took aim at Exxon's project in the Arctic Ocean, ordering American companies to cut off exports to Russian oil exploration within 14 days.
(Washington Post)
The discovery of oil deep beneath the waters of the North Sea has made this ancient port city an energy boom town, with some of the highest wages and lowest unemployment rates anywhere in Europe. Now, leaders of the campaign to break from Britain in a Thursday referendum are counting on the spoils of "Scotland's oil" to help spread prosperity across their newly independent nation, funding schools, health care and social welfare programs. Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has promised an oil fund, modeled on Norway's, to ensure that the country's wealth is broadly shared.
(The Advocate)
Texas Brine Co.'s push for a five-year state permit to discharge salty groundwater with traces of benzene and toluene into the Bayou Corne-area sinkhole has drawn concerns from environmentalists and landowners near the swampland hole in Assumption Parish. The process has been underway for a year through short-term permits to help remove potentially dangerous methane gas collecting beneath the Bayou Corne community.

September 12, 2014

(Los Angeles Times)
Some workers at oil and gas sites where fracking occurs are routinely exposed to high levels of benzene, a colorless gas that can cause cancer, according to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety. The agency, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommends that people limit their benzene exposure to an average of 0.1 of a part per million during their shift.
The calmest period in more than three years for the world's biggest carbon market is set to end. Citigroup Inc., Societe Generale SA and Commerzbank AG say prices will start swinging again after European lawmakers resumed talks this week on setting up a reserve to reduce a permit glut that drove the market to a record low. Sixty-day volatility for carbon futures surged by a quarter in April 2013 after politicians threatened to block a rescue plan designed to support prices.
A University of California panel announced recommendations on Wednesday to combat climate change and make the university more sustainable, but declined to endorse shedding its fossil fuel holdings from its $91 billion invesment portfolio.
(The Hill)
More than half the Senate called Thursday on the Obama administration to extend the deadline for public comment on a contentious Environmental Protection Agency proposal to impose new limits on carbon emissions from power plants. In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, 53 senators—including 10 Democrats—proposed a 60-day extension in light of the complexity and scope of the regulation.
Just two days after being appointed by Jean-Claude Junker, the E.U.'s new climate and energy commissioner is under pressure to drop his shares in two oil companies which members of European parliament say represent a conflict of interest. The MEPs say E.U.'s proposed new climate and energy commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete, must dispose of any oil company shareholdings before they consider giving his nomination a green light at European parliament hearings later this month.
(Washington Post)
During the first meeting of Virginia's newly reconstituted climate change commission, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) defended his support for a proposed natural gas pipeline, despite concerns from the environmental community. The group met Wednesday, about a week after McAuliffe, amid great fanfare, announced that a consortium of companies led by energy giant Dominion Resources wants to build a 550-mile pipeline through Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.
(Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Minnesota regulators on Thursday ordered a broader search for the best pathway to build a major new crude oil pipeline across the state. The 3-2 decision by the state Public Utilities Commission was a setback for Enbridge Energy, which wants to build the $2.6 billion Sandpiper pipeline through northern Minnesota to carry North Dakota oil to a terminal in Superior, Wis., that feeds refineries across the Midwest.
An oil pipeline called Flanagan South that is currently under construction would stretch nearly 600 miles across four Midwestern states, over three major rivers, and through about 2,000 wetlands. The pipeline would carry diluted bitumen, or dilbit—a corrosive and sticky type of oil derived from Canadian tar sands that's difficult to clean up. And it would be owned by Enbridge, a company notorious for spilling dilbit.
(The Globe and Mail)
World oil prices sank to their lowest intraday level in more than two years after the West's energy-security watchdog cut its forecast for demand growth, threatening the earnings momentum that had returned to the Canadian oil patch. The International Energy Agency said in its September oil market report that economic weakness in Europe and China prompted it to temper its outlook for global oil demand in 2014 and 2015.
(Inside Energy)
In 2013, 4,405 Americans died from workplace injuries, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And 112—or 2.5 percent—of them worked in the oil and gas industry in jobs like drilling and servicing wells, operating equipment, and machining parts.
(New York Times)
Keeping Ukraine warm keeps Andriy Kobolev up at night. Mr. Kobolev, the head of Ukraine’s state energy company, Naftogaz, is scrambling to keep gas flowing into his country as winter looms. Russia's energy giant, Gazprom, had provided a little more than half of Ukraine's total gas supply, but suspended its shipments in June in the face of fighting in eastern Ukraine between Russian separatists and the Ukrainian military, citing a price dispute. Europe—itself dependent on Russia but also expanding sanctions on the country—has not been able to fill the gap.
(E&E Publishing)
Since the end of the War of 1812, the U.S.-Canada border has been one of the more tranquil boundary areas in the world, populated by American and Canadian farmers mostly minding their own business. So what could happen to disrupt this peaceful environment? Well, climate change might.
(Climate Central)
When you've got tens of millions of people living close to more than 1,000 miles of coastline, it could help to closely track the slews of steps being taken to protect homes, ports, roads, and other infrastructure from rising seas.

September 11, 2014

(The Hill)
Fifteen GOP governors say President Obama's signature climate change regulation on carbon pollution from existing power plants "exceeds the scope of federal law."In a letter to Obama, the governors from states including North Carolina, Alaska, Arizona and Wisconsin said the rule, which requires the nation's fleet of existing power plants to cut carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030, is an overreach of authority.
China is looking to impose a national cap on coal consumption and a ban on the import of low-quality coal with a new air pollution law, the draft version of which has been released, aimed at strengthening the country's efforts to fight smog. The State Council, China's cabinet, on Tuesday published the draft version of the law which will tighten the regulation of major air pollutants that has catapulted the nation into an environmental crisis in the past few years. 
Earth's protective but fragile ozone layer is beginning to recover, largely because of the phase-out since the 1980s of certain chemicals used in refrigerants and aerosol cans, a U.N. scientific panel reported Wednesday in a rare piece of good news about the health of the planet. Scientists said the development demonstrates that when the world comes together, it can counteract a brewing ecological crisis.
(International Business Times)
U.S. crude oil production will hit its highest level since 1970 next year, federal energy forecasters say. The surge, driven by the boom in shale oil drilling, will lower oil and gasoline prices and curb the need for U.S. fuel imports. The U.S. Energy Information Administration now expects America's output to rise to 9.53 million barrels per day—up about 1 million barrels per day for a third consecutive year. Last month, the statistics agency predicted 2015 output growth would slow to 800,000 barrels, but it raised the figure amid steady shale production in North Dakota, Texas and other states.
(Mother Jones)
One icy morning in February 2012, Hillary Clinton's plane touched down in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, which was just digging out from a fierce blizzard. Wrapped in a thick coat, the secretary of state descended the stairs to the snow-covered tarmac, where she and her aides piled into a motorcade bound for the presidential palace. That afternoon, they huddled with Bulgarian leaders, including Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, discussing everything from Syria's bloody civil war to their joint search for loose nukes. But the focus of the talks was fracking.