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Today's Climate

October 10, 2014

(Climate Central)
That El Niño we've been tracking for months on end—the one that is taking its sweet time to form—still hasn't emerged, forecasters announced Thursday.

October 9, 2014

Two train derailments this week—one in the U.S., one in Canada—could have been a lot worse. A train carrying petroleum products and toxic materials crashed in rural Saskatchewan on Tuesday. No one was hurt, though the crash unleashed a chemical, toxic mess as tank cars filled with hydrochloric acid and caustic soda exploded and burned for hours. Twenty-six of the train's 100 cars derailed. Two of them carried petroleum distillates used in fuels and that can contain trace amounts of benzene. By last night, firefighters mostly had the fire put out.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
European lawmakers Wednesday night approved a former leader of the British House of Lords as the European Union's next financial-services czar, but overwhelmingly rejected Slovenia's recently defeated prime minister as the European Union's new energy chief, likely triggering a reshuffle of portfolios within the incoming European Commission of Jean-Claude Juncker.
Canadians are becoming less supportive of cooperating with the U.S. on energy policy amid delays over the Keystone XL pipeline, new polling from both countries shows. The share of Canadians who describe as important an integrated energy policy between the two countries fell to 75 percent from last year's reading of 78 percent and 84 percent in 2009, according to a study by Nanos Research and the State University of New York at Buffalo. Support in the U.S. for an integrated energy policy was unchanged at 84 percent.
(Toronto Star)
The Federal government isn't doing enough to combat climate change or to reduce pollution from Alberta's oil sands, says a scathing new report by the environment commissioner. But environment commissioner Julie Gelfand's most biting remarks are on the government's lack of preparation for increasing marine traffic in the Arctic. She warns there are outdated maps and surveys, inadequate navigational aids and icebreaking services that are stretched to the limit.
(New York Times)
A gleaming $23 million complex of office buildings, dormitories and workshops has risen from the boreal forest just outside town over the last decade, aimed at training workers for a natural gas pipeline that was supposed to snake from the Arctic to serve energy markets around the world and make Alaska rich all over again.
(The Hill)
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent potential changes to the standard for ground-level ozone to the White House Office of Management and Budget onn Wednesday. The EPA has not said whether it will try to lower the Bush administration's maximum limit of 75 parts per billion; it could simply reaffirm that standard. The EPA's staff and its scientific advisers have asked the agency to reduce to 60-70 parts per billion the allowable concentration of ozone, the main component of smog.
The European Union has approved Britain's bid to heavily subsidize a new nuclear power plant, overriding opposition from environmentalists and questions over the project's 24.5 billion pound ($39 billion) price tag.
(Denton Record-Chronicle)
The first round of campaign finance reports show the proposition against hydraulic fracturing inside the city is already the most expensive campaign in Denton's history, with both sides vying for the right to call themselves "grass roots." Two specific-purpose committees, one formed for and another against the ban, filed reports with the city secretary showing more than $280,000 raised since the City Council voted to put the proposition on the Nov. 4 ballot.
(Pittsburg City Paper)
Anti-fracking activists protesting a natural-gas conference in Philadelphia last fall were being monitored by a private security company that sent a photo of a demonstrator to the Pennsylvania State Police, according to an email obtained by Pittsburgh City Paper.
(Columbus Dispatch)
Disclosing chemical information before oil and gas companies break ground on a fracking site could better prepare emergency response teams for the worst fires, a Cleveland-based environmental and consumer organization contended today. Based on their study of a Monroe County well pad fire in June, the nonprofit Ohio Citizen Action Education Fund came up with recommendations for state government to clarify chemical disclosure laws for oil and gas companies working in Ohio.
Lego will not renew its marketing contract with Shell after coming under sustained pressure from Greenpeace to end a partnership that dates to the 1960s. The environmental campaign group, protesting about the oil giant's plans to drill in the Arctic, had targeted the world's biggest toy maker with a YouTube video that attracted nearly 6m views for its depiction of a pristine Arctic, built from 120kg of Lego, being covered in oil.
After intensifying into one of the most intense tropical cyclones on record, Super Typhoon Vongfong is maintaining its extraordinary Category 5 intensity on Wednesday as it moves westward over the open waters of the West Pacific. The storm is expected to start turning sharply to the north late on Wednesday or Wednesday night, U.S. time, putting the storm on course to make landfall or come very close to storm weary Japan.

October 8, 2014

(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
For the past decade, the U.S. shale boom has mostly passed by California, forcing oil refiners in the state to import expensive crude. Now that's changing as energy companies overcome opposition to forge ahead with rail depots that will get oil from North Dakota's Bakken Shale.
(Trib Total Media)
State regulators are aiming to levy a record fine against another shale gas company for leaks in its wastewater ponds. Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection announced Tuesday that it has filed a civil complaint, seeking to fine Pittsburgh-based EQT Production Co. a record $4.5 million for a 2012 impoundment leak in Tioga County. If the state Environmental Hearing Board approves the fine, it would be the largest given to a shale gas driller in the state.
So you're the Canadian oil industry and you do what you think is a great thing by developing a mother lode of heavy crude beneath the forests and muskeg of northern Alberta. The plan is to send it clear to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast via a pipeline called Keystone XL. Just a few years back, America desperately wanted that oil.
Dozens of America's east coast cities face routine tidal flooding under climate change, researchers said on Wednesday. Miami—where the habitues of South Beach are used to sloshing through water at high tide—will deploy new pumps this week to hold back the waters of the King Tides, the highest annual high tides, which are projected to crest at 3.5 feet (1.07m).
(Al Jazeera America)
In Sherry Gobble’s house, the water runs toxic. Gobble, who lives alongside Duke Energy's Buck Steam Station in a Rowan County community called Dukeville, discovered six months ago that water in her family's well contains the carcinogen hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium-6. Since then, they have armed themselves with bottled water and a growing pile of empty jugs they fill up across town where they know the water isn't tainted.
It probably won't cost as much to stay warm this winter because a repeat of the deep freeze that kept much of the nation shivering last winter is so unlikely. The Energy Department's annual prediction of winter heating costs released Tuesday says that Americans won't have to crank up the heat as much, so they'll pay less for energy.
(Fuel Fix)
Consumers in energy-rich Texas have plenty of fuel to burn, and they do so at a higher rate than most of the rest of the country, according to data analysis from a financial research website. According to WalletHub, which ranked consumers across the contiguous United States on measures of vehicle fuel efficiency and home energy use, Texas was the 45th least energy efficient out of the other 48 states. Only Kentucky, Louisiana and South Carolina ranked lower on WalletHub's list.
The U.S. shale boom is producing record amounts of new oil as demand weakens, pushing prices down toward levels that threaten to reduce future drilling. Domestic fields will add an unprecedented 1.1 million barrels a day of output this year and another 963,000 in 2015, raising production to the most since 1970, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
(New York Times)
The Singapore-flagged tanker BW Zambesi set sail with little fanfare from the port of Galveston, Tex., on July 30, loaded with crude oil destined for South Korea. But though it left inauspiciously, the ship's launch was another critical turning point in what has been a half-decade of tectonic change for the American oil industry.
(Climate Central)
It's official: Antarctic sea ice hit its annual winter maximum on Sept. 22, reaching a record area of 7.76 million square miles, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) announced Tuesday.
(National Journal)
Billowy and filled with life-sustaining water vapor, the cloud passes overhead without emitting a drop of rain. In times of severe drought, that cloud is a frustrating, lumbering tease. That cloud is tantalizing. Delicious even.  What that cloud needs is a kick start, a catalyst to squeeze the water out of it. It's not science fiction; it's called cloud-seeding. And in beyond-parched California, it may become a viable option to combat long-term water shortages.
(The Hill)
The Environmental Protection Agency moved on Tuesday to increase the amount of data made available to the public on regulated chemicals.The changes are being made to its "one-stop online tool" called ChemView, the agency said, which provides information on chemicals regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

October 7, 2014

(Washington Examiner)
Methane emissions from fracking on federal lands more than doubled between 2008 and 2013, according to a report by left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress.
The European Union made headway toward a deal on a strategy to shift to a low-carbon economy and boost security of energy supplies amid a natural-gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine.
An Australian pension fund worth $8 billion says it will ditch holdings in coal companies, branding climate change a "very real investment risk."
(CBC News)
Three activists chained themselves to a fence at Enbridge's Montreal headquarters Tuesday morning. Alyssa Symons-Bélanger is one of the protesters.
(Al Jazeera America)
Jenny Edwards' heart sank the day the Dan River ran black. For the environmentalist, who had spent seven years working to promote the river as a community treasure, the massive spill of coal ash from a shuttered Duke Energy power plant was her worst fear coming true.