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Today's Climate

August 11, 2014

(Fuel Fix)
Houston billionaire Richard Kinder is fusing all the pieces of his fragmented pipeline empire into one company, Kinder Morgan Inc., in a $44 billion transaction that ranks among the largest in U.S. history. In a move that would end nearly two decades of delegating its main operations to subordinate firms, Houston-based Kinder Morgan said Sunday it is planning to buy out three companies it controls indirectly for $44 billion in cash and stock, bringing its network of North American pipelines and energy storage terminals under one corporate roof. It also will assume $27 billion in debt.
(Columbus Dispatch)
Scientists say climate change is exacerbating toxic-algae problems in Lake Erie and across the country. They say more-intense storms are dumping heavy rains onto farm fields, causing more fertilizer runoff than in the past, and that lake-water temperatures are rising, making a perfect home for the toxic blue-green algae that plague Lake Erie every summer and caused Toledo's recent drinking-water woes.
(National Journal)
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy wants schools to include climate science in their curricula. Irish America magazine scored an interview with McCarthy, who grew up in a Boston area family with Irish roots. In one question, she was asked whether climate change should be part of the educational system.
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Despite the scientific consensus that global warming is occurring and caused by human activity, a new survey conducted for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette demonstrates that many Americans remain uncertain about the impact of climate change and the need for government action to address it.
(Washington Post)
Tuvalu's coastline consists of white and sandy beaches, green palm trees and mangroves. It is hard to imagine that anybody would want to leave this small island nation, located between Australia and Hawaii, voluntarily. But Tuvalu has become the epicenter of a landmark refugee ruling that could mark the beginning of a wave of similar cases: On June 4, a family was granted residency by the Immigration and Protection Tribunal in New Zealand after claiming to be threatened by climate change in its home country, Tuvalu.

August 8, 2014

Deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions of 40 to 70 percent by mid-century will be needed to avert the worst of global warming that is already harming all continents, a draft U.N. report showed.
(Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Minnesota regulators opened the door Thursday to considering an all-new route for Enbridge Energy's proposed Sandpiper crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota.
(New York Times)
Loving County is big, dry and stretches for miles, and is the perfect place, local officials say, to store high-level radioactive waste. Officials here hope to entice the federal government—with $28 billion to spend on the disposal of high-level radioactive waste—into considering the possibility.
Tribal leaders on an American Indian reservation in the heart of North Dakota's booming oil patch are proposing fees for companies that burn and waste natural gas. The Three Affiliated Tribes outlined its plan to impose fees in a six-page document sent to oil companies.
(The Coloradoan)
A Larimer County judge overturned Fort Collins' five-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing Thursday, offering yet another blow to voter-led guidance of Colorado's oil and gas development concerns. It has been a week of dashed hopes for grassroots groups and lawmakers pushing for voter-approved changes on both sides of the oil and gas debate.
(Denver Post)
The City of Longmont's adoption of oil and gas rules was the opening shot in Colorado's battle over local control of drilling and Thursday the state voted to call a truce.
(Poughkeepsie Journal)
The trustee for a defunct oil-and-gas company is attempting a last-ditch effort to revive a lawsuit challenging hydraulic fracturing bans by local governments in New York. The state Court of Appeals in June ruled in favor of the towns of Dryden, Tompkins County, and Middlefield, Otsego County, which saw their local natural-gas-drilling bans challenged by pro-fracking interests.
Plentiful supplies of coal used to generate electricity are poised to cap prices for the fuel near the lowest in five years, even as demand rises heading into the Northern Hemisphere winter. Power-station coal at the port of Newcastle in Australia, the world's second-biggest exporter, will be little changed in the three-month period starting Oct. 1, according to UBS AG and Bank of America Corp., even as utilities in Asia buy more toward the end of the year.
(Christian Science Monitor)
Shipping crude oil by rail has led to a coal shortage across the United States. Rail companies have more than doubled the amount of petroleum products being shipped each week, which has caused delays in shipping coal, corn, and grain.
(Minnesota Public Radio)
Tons of corn spilled into Locke Lake on a summer morning three years ago after a freight train derailed near Mary Jo Czaplewski's Fridley home. It turned the lake yellow. "I couldn't believe my eyes," she said, recalling the twisted mess of 17 railcars off the tracks and corn everywhere.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Kinder Morgan Energy Partners L.P. said on Thursday it will more than double the capacity of the rail-loading terminal for crude oil that it is building in Canada's oil sands, after signing new agreements with unidentified oil companies.
(The Canadian Press)
It's business as usual in a large swath of land in northwestern British Columbia, despite escalating tensions spurred by an eviction order from the Gitxsan First Nation. The First Nation issued notice last month to sport fishermen, forest companies and the Canadian National Railway that they would have to stop all activities in the 33,000 square kilometers of its territories near Terrace, B.C., by Aug. 4.
(Fuel Fix)
The energy industry and mining make up at least 10 percent of the economy in six states, including Texas, where a crude oil boom is happening in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas and Permian Basin in West Texas.
Two months before an algae-related toxin caused Toledo officials to impose a drinking-water ban, top city officials, including Mayor D. Michael Collins, were warned by a top state official that lagging plant repairs threatened the plant’s safe operation, according to documents obtained by The Blade.

August 7, 2014

Most freight railroad insurance policies couldn't begin to cover damage from a moderate oil train accident, much less a major disaster. And the Department of Transportation’s own database of oil train incidents is flawed because some railroads and shippers provide incomplete information that far understates property damage.
(CTV News)
The group spearheading a blockade of an Enbridge pipeline construction site in southwestern Ontario said Wednesday it will continue the protest until its concerns are addressed. Some 30 activists began their campaign early Tuesday in the community of Innerkip near Woodstock at the site for the pipeline called Line 9.
African climate negotiators attending the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington this week said leadership from the United States is critical to finalizing a global deal on measures to address climate change in 2015 after years of deadlock. Officials from Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Ethiopia said they were optimistic an agreement could be reached, even though many U.S. lawmakers, particularly Republicans, oppose signing a binding treaty requiring cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
(The Hill)
Adviser to President Obama John Podesta met with billionaires Tom Steyer and George Soros for a lunchtime meeting at the White House in February, according to meeting records.The White House visitor documents show that shortly after Steyer had committed to spend upward of $100 million on the 2014 election cycle for environmentally friendly candidates who helped put climate change on the map, he met with Podesta and Soros.
(Washington Post)
With a historic drought parching the state, California lawmakers are moving this week to begin rationing one of the last unregulated water sources that cities and agriculture interests need to keep the taps flowing. The state legislature is moving measures that would require cities and towns to begin imposing regulations that will ensure groundwater reserves are managed sustainably.
(Fuel Fix)
The U.S. Energy Information Administration on Wednesday unveiled a new mapping tool, giving the public a glimpse into flooding risks at the nation's power plants, oil refineries, pipelines and other critical energy infrastructure. The tool spun out of a request from the New York City mayor's office after Hurricane Sandy ripped through the East Coast, causing an estimated $65 billion in damage.
Energy companies are taking their controversial fracking operations from the land to the sea--to deep waters off the U.S., South American and African coasts. Cracking rocks underground to allow oil and gas to flow more freely into wells has grown into one of the most lucrative industry practices of the past century.
(Columbus Business First)
Ohio is about to drill well No. 1,000 since the start of the Utica shale boom. So far, 997 horizontal wells have been drilled, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, out of 1,428 fracking permits.
(New York Times)
Remember the population explosion? When population was growing at its fastest rate in human history in the decades after World War II, the sense that overpopulation was stunting economic development and stoking political instability took hold from New Delhi to the United Nations’ headquarters in New York, sending policy makers on an urgent quest to stop it.
(E&E Publishing)
President Obama's appeal for greater U.S. investment on the African continent was not major news in this booming East African capital where economic progress can be measured by glassy new office towers built for Chinese energy firms and the recent opening of Kampala's upscale Acacia Mall, where the main imprint of U.S. culture and business is a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant.
A Chinese coal company has been operating illegal open-pit mines in alpine meadows on the far-western Qinghai plateau, potentially endangering one of the country's largest rivers, a new investigation has found.