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Today's Climate

December 15, 2014

Enterprise Products Partners is shelving a proposed pipeline that would have transported crude from North Dakota to Oklahoma, the company announced on Friday.
(Bismarck Tribune)
The State Health Department is proposing to remove a ban on placing radioactive waste into landfills in North Dakota by raising the acceptable level by a factor of 10 times. The proposed new rules will raise the allowable level in North Dakota from 5 to 50 picocuries.
(Baltimore Sun)
As expected, the O'Malley administration has moved ahead with regulations intended to ensure safe drilling for natural gas in western Maryland. It will be up to Gov.-elect Larry Hogan, though, whether they get imposed.
(Denver Post)
Suburban homes and oil wells are sprouting at a fast pace in this town on the northern Colorado plains. Buff- and tan-colored houses—to blend with hills—cover the land in developments with names like Pelican Lakes and Bison Ridge, at prices ranging to $1 million or more. About 300 wells have been drilled within town limits; there are eight approved permits for dozens more wells and a pending application for an additional 28 at a single site.
Greens who want President Barack Obama to kill the Keystone XL pipeline are adding a new weapon to their arsenal of protests and lawsuits—the world's glut of cheap oil.
The tumbling oil price has led to a trebling of insolvencies among U.K. oil and gas services companies so far this year, while £55 billion of further oil projects reportedly under threat. Brent crude closed below $62 a barrel on Friday, a five-and-a-half-year low, amid fears of falling demand and oversupply as the global economy slows down.
(Huffington Post)
It's a Wednesday morning in late August, the first day of classes at the Shishmaref School. The doors of the pale blue building haven't opened yet, and the new principal is hurriedly buttering toast in the kitchen for the students' breakfasts. Teachers are scrambling to make last-minute adjustments to their classrooms, while anxious kids, ranging from pre-K students through high schoolers, wait on the porch, their jackets zipped against the chill of the early-morning air. It's all so incredibly normal, you might not know that, just a few years ago, no one thought Shishmaref would be here anymore.
(Scientific American)
A global deal to combat climate change lurches toward reality in Lima, Peru, this week—and yet any politically feasible agreement will be insufficient to restrain continued warming of global average temperatures, perhaps uncomfortably high.
(Washington Post)
Yale University has funded an interesting new Associated Press poll that goes deep into Americans' attitudes towards climate change. Hopefully, its findings will encourage Democrats to talk as much as possible about the issue.

December 12, 2014

(Washington Post)
Secretary of State John F. Kerry gave a rhetorical shove to diplomats struggling to negotiate an international climate treaty Thursday, saying far greater urgency is needed in tackling a problem that could soon affect everyone on the planet.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday urged countries at U.N. climate talks in Lima to move away from using fossil fuels while demonstrators gathered outside the meeting urged him to reject the Keystone oil pipeline.
The Nebraska Supreme Court could rule as soon as Friday on a legal challenge to Keystone XL's proposed route through the state, potentially putting the issue back in the hands of President Barack Obama.
(Fuel Fix)
Four years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster dramatically illustrated the high price tag of cleaning up oil spills, the Obama administration hiked the amount of money companies must pay to reimburse economic damages from the incidents. The Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Thursday boosted the liability limit to $134 million from $75 million—the largest increase it could make on its own, without separate action by Congress.
(National Journal)
Two new members of the Senate Democratic leadership team—Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar—are pushing the Environmental Protection Agency in separate directions as the agency works to complete its major regulation to cut carbon emissions from power plants.
(BBC News)
The E.U. may scrap plans for legislation on air pollution and waste in a drive to boost the economy, according to a leaked document seen by BBC News.
Envoys at the United Nations climate talks enter their final day in Lima divided on how to put teeth into a deal that the biggest polluters have turned into a package of mostly voluntary measures.
Australia may be able to increase its industrial emissions by 26 percent by 2020 and still easily meet its Kyoto protocol targets, new analysis released at the Lima climate talks suggests.
(New York Times)
When it comes to global warming, the United States has long been viewed as one of the world's worst actors. American officials have been booed and hissed during international climate talks, bestowed with mock "Fossil of the Day" awards for resisting treaties, and widely condemned for demanding that other nations cut their fossil fuel emissions while refusing, year after year, to take action at home. Suddenly, all that has changed.
Yuma, Colorado, a farming town of 3,500 people near the Kansas border, celebrated last month as homegrown Republican Cory Gardner was elected to the U.S. Senate. Gardner, a high school football player and the son of a farm equipment dealer, defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall to help the GOP gain control of the Senate in the second-most expensive congressional race of all time.
The world's biggest oil companies faced ruin in the summer of 1931. Crude prices had plummeted. Wildcatters were selling oil from the bonanza East Texas field for a nickel a barrel, cheaper than a bowl of chili. On Aug. 17, Governor Ross Sterling declared a state of insurrection in four counties and sent 1,100 National Guard troops to shut down the fields and bring order to the market. A month later the Railroad Commission of Texas handed out strict production quotas.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
A report out today from the environmental advocacy group, PennEnvironment, outlines the threats posed to public parks and forests by expanding natural gas development. "Sadly, politicians from both sides of the aisle—Democrats and Republicans alike—have used their positions of power to press for opening up these public lands," says Lina Blount, a field associate with PennEnvironment.
(Denver Post)
It's not as much the audible sound that gets to Tiffany Taskey as it is the rattling inside her Erie home that has her up in arms about Encana Oil & Gas drilling in her neighborhood.

December 11, 2014

From the Amazon to the Andes, thousands of activists marched through the streets of Lima on Wednesday to demand a just solution to climate change. The march through the traffic-choked streets put a human face on the United Nations climate negotiations, a process largely confined to suited bureaucrats working behind the high walls of a military compound in a leafy neighbourhood of Lima.
(Think Progress)
Eleven United States Senators think the new federal rule cutting the nation's carbon emissions could go even further. Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Clean Power Plan, a new regulation aimed at reducing climate emissions from power plants by 25 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, and by 30 percent by 2030. The effort is part of a broader push by the White House to cut the country's emissions as a whole by 17 percent below the 2005 baseline by 2020.
The Canadian company responsible for a 2010 oil spill in southwestern Michigan has agreed to pay about $6.8 million to settle a class-action lawsuit. A federal judge must still approve the settlement reached last week by Enbridge, based in Calgary, Alberta. The company has agreed to pay about $2.2 million to residents and land owners of properties within 1,000 feet of the Kalamazoo River.
(Los Angeles Times)
A coalition of activists on Tuesday protested outside the office of the federal Bureau of Land Management in Reno to decry an auction of huge tracts of public land for private oil and gas exploration that they claim damages the environment and guzzles water in a time of drought.
(New York Times)
If the decision had been different, it might have made a dramatic headline: "Norway to sell out of oil companies." Instead, a panel of experts advising Norway's Finance Ministry recommended last week that the giant sovereign wealth fund that invests the country's petroleum wealth remain an active investor in oil and coal companies.
U.K. Energy Secretary Ed Davey called for a debate on forcing companies to disclose their exposure to fossil fuels so that investors know the risks they face as cleaner forms of energy are required. "There's a case for making it mandatory," Davey told reporters in Lima, Peru, where he was attending talks about global warming organized by the United Nations. "In the interests of pensioners, their precious savings, they need to know if there are extra risks that are attached as we transition to a low-carbon economy."
Once at the forefront of the fight again global warming, Japan is now facing calls from other big economies such as China to set fresh emissions targets as Tokyo increases its use of dirty coal energy to replace nuclear.
(CBC News)
Canada's carbon pollution target for 2020 could have been nearly met if the country had widely implemented some successful regional policies starting six years ago, a report by the David Suzuki Foundation suggests, adding that "serious headway" is still possible. If Canada had adopted some of these policies in all parts of the country in 2008, it would have lowered emissions by 77 million tons and put the country within 5.6 percent of its goal to cut greenhouse gases 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, says the report titled Building on the Best: Keeping Canada's Climate Promise.