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Today's Climate

September 17, 2014

(Houston Chronicle (sub. req'd))
On a cold January morning, Daniel Zambrano drove a company van with six co-workers from an isolated fracking site along Texas 72 in the Eagle Ford Shale, blasting the heat as he headed for a nearby hotel.
(The Canadian Press)
An Alberta woman has lost her appeal to sue the province's energy regulator over hydraulic fracturing on her property. Jessica Ernst launched a $33-million lawsuit against the Alberta government, the province's energy regulator and energy company Encana (TSX:ECA).

September 16, 2014

(New York Times)
A study of tainted drinking water in areas where natural gas is produced from shale shows that the contamination is most likely caused by leaky wells rather than the process of hydraulic fracturing used to release the gas from the rock. The study looked at seven cases in Pennsylvania and one in Texas where water wells had been contaminated by methane and other hydrocarbon gases. Both states have extensive deposits of gas-bearing shale that have been exploited in recent years as part of a surge in domestic energy production.
(The Hill)
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) increased the amount of coal-fired power plants that it estimates will be retired by 2025. The GAO, which serves as a watchdog for Congress, said Monday that the most current data points to 13 percent of 2012's coal-fueled electric generating capacity being retired by 2025, due to environmental regulations, increase competition from falling natural gas prices and decreasing demand for electricity.
(The Globe and Mail)
No matter how hard Imperial Metals works to clean up the Mount Polley disaster, B.C. salmon will be exposed to pollutants.
The operator of the long-delayed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline on Monday formally asked South Dakota's utility regulators to recertify the portion of the project that runs through the state. The Public Utilities Commission must recertify that the conditions for construction of that portion of the pipeline haven't changed since the permits were first issued in 2010. State rules dictate permits must be reapproved if the construction of the project does not start within four years of their issuance.
(The Nation)
If it wasn't for the cannons, the pond might be a tranquil sight: its rippling surface reflects the blue of the sky, diffusing the harsh midday light. But the cannons fire sporadically, a warning to migrating ducks not to land in this toxic soup of arsenic, mercury and carcinogenic hydrocarbons—1,600 ducks died after landing in one of these tailings ponds in 2008.
(Rolling Stone)
As the sun rises in mid-july over andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., Secretary of State John Kerry climbs quickly—he's positively bouncing—up the carpeted stairs of his blue-and-white government­issue 757. Kerry is heading to Beijing to talk with Chinese leaders about, among other things, one of President Obama's top priorities in the waning days of his second term: the urgent need to reduce carbon pollution and limit the damage from climate change.
(Climate Central)
While this summer may have felt like fall across much of the eastern half of the U.S., worldwide the overall picture was a warm one. This August was the warmest August on record globally, according to newly released NASA temperature data, while the summer tied for the fourth warmest.
(Los Angeles Times)
ficials plan to send a damage assessment team to the Northern California community of Weed on Tuesday, where a wildfire destroyed or severely damaged more than 100 buildings, including a church and the town sawmill. More than 1,500 residents were evacuated to the Siskiyou County fairgrounds as the Boles fire, last reported at 350 acres, tore through the town.
(Press Association)
The government has been given the "red card" for its efforts to cut air pollution, protect wildlife and prevent flooding, by a committee of MPs. The Environmental audit committee (EAC) has assessed 10 areas of environmental policy under the coalition, which David Cameron promised would be the "greenest government ever."
An oil drilling boom that has made the U.S. the world's leading oil and petroleum product producer has some people urging an end to the four-decade ban on exporting domestic crude. Some in the oil industry are launching a campaign to lift the ban and they hope to win over a skeptical public.
The deep injection of wastewater underground by energy companies during methane gas extraction has caused a dramatic rise in the number of earthquakes in Colorado and New Mexico since 2001, U.S. government scientists said in a study released on Monday. The study by U.S. Geological Survey researchers is the latest to link energy production methods to an increase in quakes in regions where those techniques are used.
(Citizen Times)
North Carolina's new regulations for disposing of coal ash leave Duke Energy with two options at its Lake Julian plant – make fundamental and costly changes or stop burning coal altogether. The legislation says Duke must stop using water to sluice away ash from coal turbines at the Lake Julian plant no later than the end of 2018. The utility could either shutter the coal turbines or convert to a "dry ash" disposal process, a switch that would require investing millions of dollars.

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.