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Today's Climate

July 21, 2014

(Wall Street Journal)
A wildfire raging across seven heavily forested counties in the eastern part of Washington state grew through the weekend as officials reported at least one fatality and at about 150 homes destroyed.
(West Virginia Gazette)
More than $2.9 million in insurance money, and potentially funds from other assets of Freedom Industries, could be spent for health studies, water testing or other projects to benefit Kanawha Valley residents and businesses affected by the company's January chemical leak, under a new legal settlement proposal made public Friday.
(The Hill)
Republicans love fracking in Colorado—and it could help them flip a critical Senate seat this fall.  The onslaught against Democratic Sen. Mark Udall (Colo.) reached a fever pitch this week when Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) had to cancel a special legislative session meant to keep two hydraulic fracturing initiatives backed by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) off the November ballot.
(New York Times)
In a new oil field among the rolling hills near here, Chesapeake Energy limits truck traffic to avoid disturbing the breeding and nesting of a finicky bird called the greater sage grouse. To the west, on a gas field near Yellowstone National Park, Shell Oil is sowing its own special seed mix to grow plants that nourish the birds and hide their chicks from predators.
Three massive fires since the beginning of June have highlighted the threat lightning poses in the North Dakota oil patch, and in each case it was tanks that store the toxic saltwater associated with drilling - not the oil wells or drilling rigs - that were to blame.
(Times Union)
The summer party was in full swing at Ezra Prentice Homes, with the adults grilling hot dogs and burgers, the music thumping and kids playing basketball. Only a few yards away, on the other side of a flimsy chain-link fence, were what residents saw as uninvited interlopers—jet-black oil tanker rail cars, lined up by the dozens in a rail yard at the Port of Albany.
(San Francisco Chronicle)
No state has done more than California to fight global warming. But a deepening drought could make that battle more difficult and more expensive. A prolonged dry spell, stretching on for years, would slash the amount of power flowing from the state's hydroelectric dams, already running low after three parched winters.
(Climate News Network)
For years, the energy companies have been telling us not to worry. Yes, mounting carbon emissions threaten to heat up the world – but technology, particularly carbon capture and storage (CCS), will come to the rescue. The trouble is that there's been plenty of talk about CCS and little action, with few projects being implemented on a large scale.
(Think Progress)
A letter sent by ten Florida climate scientists to Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) appears to have generated real results. The missive was delivered to Scott's office on Tuesday by a group of prominent climate experts, ranging from professors at the University of Miami, to Florida State, to Florida International and Eckerd College.

July 18, 2014

(Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Minnesota regulators will study shifting some segments of a proposed northern Minnesota crude oil pipeline in the face of public concern about the risk to lakes, wetlands and the Mississippi River headwaters. But the state Commerce Department, which is overseeing an environmental review of Enbridge Energy's proposed Sandpiper pipeline, on Thursday said it doesn't endorse studying a wholesale reroute of the proposed $2.6 billion project to carry North Dakota crude oil.
(The Canadian Press)
An aboriginal group that lives in northern Alberta's oil sands region has withdrawn from a regulatory hearing into the proposed Grand Rapids crude pipeline, but the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation vowed to explore other ways to fight the $3-billion project. The ACFN announced late Tuesday it would no longer be participating in the Alberta Energy Regulator's process, which it criticized as too rushed and skewed in favour of the oil industry. Landowners along the proposed route raised similar concerns when hearings kicked off last month.
(The Hill)
Changes in the earth's climate are increasing at a steady rate, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warned Thursday in a new report.Greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels, global temperatures and super storms all are trending upward, NOAA said.
Australia's decision to repeal its levy limiting fossil-fuel pollution makes it the first nation to turn back from a market approach to fighting global warming. Prime Minister Tony Abbott's government won final approval from Parliament yesterday to scrap a levy about 300 companies paid for their carbon dioxide emissions.
Coal Ash might still be in the Dan River, but as far as the EPA and Duke Energy are concerned, cleanup is done—for now.
Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer is falling far short on his pledge to raise $50 million in outside money to make climate change a midterm-election weapon against the GOP. His super PAC, NextGen Climate Action, has raised just $1.2 million from other donors toward that goal, according to still-unreleased figures that his aides shared with POLITICO.
(New York Times)
When city leaders and state legislators agreed last year to fund roughly half the $1 billion cost of a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings, they attached the usual strings for such projects: It had to be architecturally iconic, employ steel made from Minnesota iron ore and offer at least a few cheap seats.
(Boston Globe)
There are the signs. Stop the Pipeline. Protect our Common Wealth. No Fracked Gas in Mass. And there are the meetings.
(Fuel Fix)
Environmentalists have teamed up with Google to shine a spotlight on natural gas leaking from pipes buried under city streets in Boston, Indianapolis and Staten Island. Using sensors and other technology on Google Street View mapping cars, the Environmental Defense Fund and researchers at Colorado State University collected 15 million readings over thousands of miles of roadway.
(Christian Science Monitor)
A failed compromise on local fracking bans in Colorado this week makes the oil-and-gas-rich state the latest flashpoint in a nationwide fight over the controversial drilling process.
(Scientific American)
Hundreds of years after humans mastered the art of chimney venting so they could heat their houses, scientists have undertaken a major research project to better understand how Earth's atmosphere uses its very own version of a chimney. More than 40 researchers recently visited a sparsely populated part of the western tropical Pacific Ocean—near the island of Guam—known as the "global chimney."

July 17, 2014

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board said Wednesday that it looks like water seeping from holes in the roof of a tank loaded with crude MCHM caused the Freedom Industries spill which contaminated the drinking water supply for 300,000 West Virginians in January. Officials for the agency said, as they released their preliminary findings on the spill, it now looks like at least one other tank leaked.
(Texas Tribune)
When the Dallas County Medical Society asked Texas environmental regulators in October to increase pollution controls on coal-fired power plants, they knew it would be a tough sell.
(New York Times)
Opposition politicians and environmentalists in Australia reacted with dismay Thursday to the country's repeal of laws requiring large companies to pay for carbon emissions, saying that it made Australia the first country to reverse progress on fighting climate change. The Senate voted 39 to 32 on Thursday to repeal the so-called carbon tax after Prime Minister Tony Abbott's conservative government secured the support of a number of independent senators.
(Vancouver Sun)
Deputy premier Rich Coleman challenged Thursday the conclusions of a scientific panel into the environmental effect of shale gas development using fracking. The group of Canadian and U.S. scientists, appointed in 2011 by former federal environment minister Peter Kent to examine the sector's potential and risks across Canada, urge a cautionary, go-slow approach until more research is done on a relatively new sector.
(Portland Press Herald)
A controversial proposal that would ban tar sands oil from coming into the city won the Planning Board's endorsement Tuesday night. The board voted 6-1 to recommend that the City Council approve the proposal as being "in basic harmony" with the city's comprehensive plan.
(Denver Post)
The battle over local control of oil and gas drilling Wednesday swung from the statehouse to the ballot box in what is shaping up as Colorado's most expensive initiative battle ever. After months of talks, Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday abandoned his effort to get bipartisan legislation on local control of drilling to block the ballot measures.
(Los Angeles Times)
Frank and Wanda Leppell once lived on a quiet cattle ranch in the middle of a rolling prairie, the lowing of cattle and the chirping of sparrows forming a pleasant soundtrack to their mornings. No more.
Residents of modest neighborhoods near three of the largest oil refineries in California called on the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday to crack down on plant emissions, saying the pollution is choking their children and endangering their health.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
Bradford County's three commissioners have reached out to the federal Department of Justice, seeking its help investigating allegations gas driller Chesapeake Energy is cheating Pennsylvania landowners out of royalty money.
(Think Progress)
There is perhaps no national park more sacrosanct to America than Yellowstone. Anyone who has marveled at its Old Faithful Geyser or looked out at its large herds of roaming bison or stood in awe at its cascading waterfalls has, whether they knew it or not, been the beneficiary of a massively successful government program: conservation of public lands.