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Today's Climate

December 11, 2014

(Washington Post)
A slight increase in air temperature over the past half-century has caused waters to warm more than two degrees in tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay, a change that could reduce the expected benefits of the multibillion-dollar bay cleanup plan and eventually alter the behaviors of marine animals, a new study says.
(National Journal)
How should reporters write about lawmakers and others who dispute the scientific consensus that climate change is largely driven by humans? A group of 48 scientists, science writers, and other experts—including popular educator Bill Nye—have some strong views on the subject. The group issued a statement last week taking the media to task for using the phrase "climate skeptic," saying that the word "denier" is more accurate.

December 10, 2014

(New York Times)
Diplomats from 196 countries are closing in on the framework of a potentially historic deal that would for the first time commit every nation in the world to cutting its planet-warming fossil fuel emissions—but would still not be enough to stop the early impacts of global warming. The draft, now circulating among negotiators at a global climate summit meeting here, represents a fundamental breakthrough in the impasse that has plagued the United Nations for two decades as it has tried to forge a new treaty to counter global warming.
(Bismarck Tribune)
Regulations meant to reduce volatility of crude oil transported from the state were passed Tuesday by the North Dakota Industrial Commission. The new rules, with some changes having been made following an extended time for industry comment, will impact about 960 facilities in western North Dakota, according to Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources.
(Think Progress)
The company responsible for what many are calling Israel's worst-ever environmental disaster has admitted that the amount of oil it spilled in the Arava desert is about four times larger than it initially estimated, Haaretz reported on Sunday.
(Sydney Morning Herald)
The Abbott government has bowed to international pressure and will commit to a global fund to help developing nations deal with climate change. The government has also revealed the first detail of how it will review Australia's post-2020 emissions reduction targets, with a taskforce to be established in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Belgium will pledge 50 million euros ($62 million) on Tuesday to a new U.N. Green Climate Fund to help developing nations cope with global warming, a Belgian official said, bringing the total to a U.N. target of $10 billion. About 190 nations are meeting in Lima from Dec. 1-12 to work on elements of a draft agreement to combat greenhouse gas emissions. The deal is expected to be finalized in Paris in a year's time.
(CBC News)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper made it clear today that Canada will not regulate emissions from the oil and gas industry ahead of the United States. Harper took the unusual step of answering a question in Parliament about the environment, something he usually leaves to ministers or parliamentary secretaries.
India is planning to spend $100 billion or more on climate-related projects, an effort aimed at building confidence that the nation will join an international pact on global warming. "India is committed and ready to play its part in the international fight against climate change," Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said at United Nations climate talks in Lima, Peru, yesterday.
The current U.N. climate talks will be the first to neutralize all the greenhouse gas pollution they generate, offset by host country Peru’s protection of forest reserves, organizers say. Now the bad news: The Lima conference is expected to have the biggest carbon footprint of any U.N. climate meeting measured to date.
(The Hill)
The White House released "troves" of government data on Tuesday aimed at making ecosystems and water resources across the country more resilient to global warming. The data, released by the Interior Department and other agencies on climate.data.gov, includes water, ecosystem, and geospatial tools, the White House said.
(Los Angeles Times)
The U.S. House on Tuesday passed a California drought bill, despite a veto threat from the Obama administration and its expected demise in the Senate in the final days before Congress adjourns. The 230-182 vote was largely a symbolic gesture in the years-long effort by House Republicans to weaken endangered species protections that have restricted water deliveries from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to San Joaquin Valley agribusiness and urban Southern California.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
The Keystone XL pipeline was touted as a model for energy independence and a source of jobs when TransCanada Corp. announced plans to build the 1,700-mile pipeline six years ago.
(Midwest Energy News)
Even though they closed in 2012, Chicago's controversial Fisk and Crawford coal plants are making an encore appearance in this year's municipal elections, to be held Feb. 24. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's first televised campaign ad featured the mayor on a park bench talking with Kim Wasserman, one of the community leaders who worked for more than a decade to try to force the coal plants to clean up or shut down.

December 9, 2014

It's a rare thing when you can point to paragraphs in a United Nations climate negotiating text and feel they more or less match what most of the science says should become a reality.
A West Virginia executive faces charges of lying to protect his personal wealth from lawsuits after his company spilled chemicals into 300,000 people's water supply in January, according to a criminal complaint Monday. The complaint unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court in Charleston charges Freedom Industries President Gary Southern with bankruptcy fraud, wire fraud and lying under oath. If convicted of all the charges, he faces up to 30 years in prison.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Energy development projects that looked great earlier this year are looking less so now. Tumbling oil prices hit a fresh five-year low on Monday, pressuring some of the world's biggest energy companies to reconsider multibillion-dollar expenditures. The biggest worries: megaprojects requiring billions of dollars in investment and sophisticated engineering to tap resources capable of decadeslong oil or natural gas production.
(New York Times)
As the torrential rains of Typhoon Hagupit flood the Philippines, driving millions of people from their homes, the Philippine government arrived at a United Nations climate change summit meeting on Monday to push hard for a new international deal requiring all nations, including developing countries, to cut their use of fossil fuels. It is a conscious pivot for the Philippines, one of Asia's fastest-growing economies. But scientists say the nation is also among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and the Philippine government says it is suffering too many human and economic losses from the burning of fossil fuels.
Sorting out the complicated world of climate finance has long been talked of as a key goal for the UN climate talks currently taking place in Lima, Peru.
As Brig. Gen Duke Deluca wrapped up his 32-year career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in August, he contemplated the key to Louisiana's massive, 50-year, $50 billion effort to prevent the southeastern portion of the state from being swallowed by the Gulf of Mexico.
(NBC News)
Natural conditions, not human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases, are the driving force behind California's three-year dry spell, scientists on a federal task force concluded Monday. But the report came under fire from some experts who said it downplayed other factors that have humanity's fingerprints on them.
Europe is 10 times more likely to experience an unusually hot summer than at the turn of the century because of climate change, according to a new study. Researchers from the U.K.'s Met Office weather forecaster compared the periods of 1990-1999 to 2003-2012. They found that summers with temperatures 1.6 degrees Celsius (2.9 degrees Fahrenheit) greater than the historical average now happen every 5 years compared with 52 years for the earlier period, the report published today by Nature Climate Change said.
(Columbus Dispatch)
West Virginia has opened the Ohio River to fracking. The state government announced that companies can ask to drill beneath the Ohio River for natural gas and oil.
If BP didn't realize it before, the U.S. Supreme Court just made it unmistakably clear: The British oil producer has backed itself into a dangerously vulnerable position in the Gulf of Mexico spill-liability wars.
(Alaska Dispatch)
The company that operated both of the drill rigs used in Shell's ill-fated 2012 Arctic offshore season has agreed to pay $12.2 million in fines and community service payments stemming from environmental and safety violations aboard its vessels, the U.S. Department of Justice said Monday. Noble Drilling (U.S.) LLC, owner and operator of the Noble Discoverer and operator of the Shell-owned Kulluk, will plead guilty to eight felony offenses and will receive four years of probation and must implement a comprehensive environmental compliance plan for violating federal environmental and maritime law in 2012, under a settlement announced by Karen Loeffler, U.S. attorney for Alaska.
(Think Progress)
Shell Oil Co. is reportedly reconsidering its offer to pay $90 million to residents of a California town with widespread soil contamination, saying they had wanted the settlement to be kept confidential.

December 8, 2014

(Washington Post)
Oil, gas and coal interests that spent millions to help elect Republicans this year are moving to take advantage of expanded GOP power in Washington and state capitals to thwart Obama administration environmental rules. Industry lobbyists made their pitch in private meetings last week with dozens of state legislators at a summit of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an industry-financed conservative state policy group.
(Boston Globe)
Stung by intense local opposition to a proposed natural gas pipeline winding through western and central Massachusetts, a Houston energy company said Friday that it will pursue an alternative route that bypasses many Massachusetts communities by veering north and shooting across southern New Hampshire.
(National Journal)
A Republican House member is battling the skepticism toward climate-change science that's common in GOP ranks. And he wants to put lawmakers on record in the process. Rep. Chris Gibson said Thursday he plans to introduce a resolution on climate change that will help others "recognize the reality" of the situation. Gibson said the extreme weather he has witnessed in his own upstate New York district supports the science, and he wants to be a leader in spurring recognition of changing weather patterns.
When the U.S. and China agreed to a joint climate change initiative four weeks ago, it left the leaders of two of their major trading partners in an awkward position. For Australia, its strong growth of recent years has depended on China's voracious appetite for coal and other resources. For Canada, the U.S. is its largest energy market, and it has sought to keep its climate policies in close alignment.