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Today's Climate

June 10, 2014

Environmental and wildlife officials in North Carolina and Virginia signed an agreement with Duke Energy Monday for the cleanup of toxic coal ash from the Dan River, which flows through the two states. The agreement requires Duke to pay any "reasonable" cost associated with the Feb. 2 spill at its power plant near Eden, which coated 70 miles of the river in gray sludge. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also a party to the deal.
Australia and Canada have poured cold water on the prospects of a global deal to tackle climate change. The Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, and his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper, met for talks on a range of issues including trade, investment and energy policy in Ottawa on Monday.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed on Monday House Bill 1714 (Act 83), a measure that establishes an interagency climate adaptation committee under the Department of Land and Natural Resources to develop a sea-level rise vulnerability and adaptation report addressing statewide impacts to 2050.
(The Times-Picayune)
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined a request from BP to block payments to businesses while the oil giant appeals its 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster settlement. For the time being, the decision upholds the ruling by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans that under terms of the settlement, businesses claiming damages from the undersea eruption need not prove direct harm.
(The Globe and Mail)
Federal Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford has failed to soften First Nation opposition to Enbridge Inc.'s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline despite a flurry of recent visits to British Columbia – and the strained relationship is now threatening to undermine talks about LNG development.
(New York Times)
An impassioned national debate over the oil-production technique known as fracking is edging toward the ballot box in Colorado, opening an election-year rift between moderate, energy-friendly Democrats and environmentalists who want to rein in drilling or give local communities the power to outlaw it altogether.
(Boston Globe)
A Houston energy company has proposed building a multibillion dollar pipeline that would connect Massachusetts to abundant natural gas from Eastern shale fields, entering the state through this small town on the New York border and stretching across dozens of municipalities into the Boston metropolitan area.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
The Supreme Court on Monday made it harder for residents in a handful of states to sue for financial damages and cleanup measures to address contamination that wasn't discovered until long after it took place.
(High Country News)
In February 2013, Scott Skokos was sitting in the North Dakota state capitol at a meeting of the Industrial Commission, the three-member body that approves every oil and gas permit in the state. Normally, says Skokos, a field organizer for the Dakota Resource Council, the commission green lights all the requests before them—public comment or protests are limited. But this meeting was different.
(E&E Publishing)
U.S. EPA's proposed rule for power plant carbon gives states wide latitude in controlling their emissions, embracing fuel switching, renewable energy and energy efficiency as building blocks on the path to carbon reduction. Given the pervasiveness of carbon dioxide as the result of modern power generation, that "all of the above" approach will be needed to meet the agency's stringent reduction targets, experts say.
Skip Stiles stands on the edge of a small inlet known as the Hague, near downtown Norfolk, Virginia. The Chrysler Museum of Art is nearby, as are dozens of stately homes, all threatened by the water. "We've got...[a] lot of old buildings around here: this apartment building, that church over there, been around since the turn of the last century," says Stiles, the executive director of Wetlands Watch, a Virginia-based environmental group.
(NBC News)
Military bases across the country have a new enemy to brace against: climate change. Naval Station Norfolk, located in Virginia near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, has long been known as the world's largest naval complex. But more recently it has become the poster child for a relatively new risk facing the U.S. military: how to protect bases around the country from rising seas, more severe storms, wildfires, droughts and other impacts tied to a shifting climate.
Producers in western Europe's biggest oil and gas exporter must brace themselves for a new legislative age that will disrupt the status quo, according to Norway's Green Party. After entering parliament last year, the Greens are now seeing evidence that lawmaking affecting the energy industry is changing to allow greater debate around processes that until now have been taken for granted. The oil lobby says that allowing the political debate to delay decision making will hurt Norway's biggest export industry.

June 9, 2014

Currently Europe imports about 4,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil, he said. A report by U.S.-based green group, the Natural Resource Defense Council, estimated that current imports of tar sands oil could skyrocket to more than 700,000 barrels per day by 2020 if planned pipelines in the U.S. and Canada are approved and built.
(Think Progress)
At least two, possibly three people were killed Friday in a massive explosion at a coal-fired power plant in Kosovo, a plant that the World Bank has deemed the worst polluter in Europe, according to multiple media reports.
The State Department on Friday corrected several errors it made in a key study evaluating the impact of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, including a understatement of how many people could be killed on railroad tracks if the project were rejected and oil traffic by rail increased.
(Houston Chronicle)
The United States produced enough energy to satisfy 84 percent of its needs in 2013, a rapid climb from its historic low in 2005, according to a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The nation produced 81.7 quadrillion British thermal units of energy last year and consumed 97.5 quadrillion, the highest ratio since 1987. The nation's energy output rose rose 18 percent from 2005 to 2013, as a surge in oil and gas production offset declines in coal. Meanwhile, total energy Americans used fell 2.7 percent during that period.
(Los Angeles Times)
Louisana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed a bill Friday to quash a landmark lawsuit brought by a local flood protection agency that sought damages from the oil and gas industry to restore the state's vanishing coastline.
On a recent afternoon, Scott McKenzie watched torrential rains and a murky tide swallow the street outside his dog-grooming salon. Within minutes, much of this stretch of chic South Beach was flooded ankle-deep in a fetid mix of rain and sea. "‘Welcome to the new Venice," McKenzie joked as salt water surged from the sewers.
(Denver Post)
A compromise bill the Hickenlooper administration made public on Friday that would give local governments greater power to regulate oil and gas activity has exposed a fracture in the industry. Backers will shop the measure around this weekend to build the bi-partisan legislative support needed to win approval in a special session and head off a costly fight over multiple ballot measures, sources said Friday afternoon.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
Regulators violated federal law by not considering the cumulative environmental impacts of multiple upgrades to a natural gas pipeline that runs from Pennsylvania to New Jersey, a federal appeals court said on Friday.
(Minneapolis Star Tribune)
A remote wetland near Itasca State Park, already undercut by three crude oil pipelines, is one of several fragile, isolated habitats along the proposed path of the 610-mile Sandpiper crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota.
(New York Times)
The E. W. Brown power plant rides like an ocean liner on a rolling ridge in Kentucky, its smokestacks and plumes visible across fields of corn and cattle for miles around. The coal-fired plant has lighted homes since Dwight D. Eisenhower was in office. But under the Obama administration's plan to fight global warming, its days could be ticking down.
(Columbus Dispatch)
Proposed federal rules that would cut carbon pollution by 30 percent nationwide drew complaints last week from coal and power companies, whose officials say that more government oversight is another dagger in the heart of an industry bound by regulations for decades. But both industries have survived regulations before, and the new limits won't strike a fatal blow, policy experts say.
(The Globe and Mail)
The federal government's backup plan in the event of a catastrophic oil spill in British Columbia's waters relies on using chemical dispersants that are currently banned from marine use by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak says her province is not prepared to sign off on the federal oil-tanker safety plan rolled out last month as part of an effort to address concerns about marine environmental safety in advance of Ottawa's Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline decision.
(Chicago Tribune)
The Flynns are weary of bright lights that flood their bedroom each night from a sand mine next door. A second neighboring mine is in the works, and yet another nearby field has just been sold for mining as well.
(International Business Times)
Think climate change won't affect you directly? According to the White House, Americans' health is already suffering. In a new health report, the administration outlines six major health issues that Americans could face because of rising global temperatures and its related effects. Some of these concerns—including an increase in heat strokes and the spread of infectious diseases—are already being felt in regions across the country.

June 6, 2014

(New York Times)
Federal safety regulators warned on Thursday that another disastrous offshore oil well blowout could happen despite regulatory improvements in the four years since a BP well explosion in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers and dumped millions of gallons of oil into the sea. The warning came with the release of a report by the Chemical Safety Board that placed much of the blame for the destruction of the Deepwater Horizon, the rig involved in the BP disaster, on a buckled steel drill pipe that interfered with the functioning of an emergency device in sealing the well.
(San Francisco Chronicle)
Billionaire Tom Steyer, the leading financial underwriter of campaigns to combat climate change, says he is putting up $2 million to start a fund for victims of wildfires and other "extreme weather events."
Finland has become the latest country to announce a new climate change act, which will put into law a long-term mitigation target of 80 percent emissions reduction by 2050.