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Today's Climate

October 8, 2014

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.
(National Journal)
More than 80 organizations on Tuesday will urge eBay to end its affiliation with the American Legislative Exchange Council.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, or PEMA, must release details about rail shipments of crude oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota. That's the word today from the state Office of Open Records. In May, federal transportation officials ordered railroads to report to state emergency planners the estimated number of Bakken crude shipments expected to travel through counties each week.
Chevron Corp (CVX.N) said on Monday it would sell a 30 percent stake in its Canadian oil shale holdings to Kuwait's state-owned oil company for $1.5 billion. The deal with Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Co helps Chevron reduce production risk and gives it more capital to increase drilling in Alberta's Duvernay shale formation, one of North America's largest shale deposits.
(Fuel Fix)
Few people have heard of the spot-tailed earless lizard, once common in South Texas. But the rare lizard's likely habitat includes large swaths of the Eagle Ford Shale, the prolific oil and gas field south of San Antonio. A 2010 petition by an environmental group to list the spot-tailed earless lizard as a federally protected species is hanging in limbo.
A South Dakota landfill that was considered ahead of the curve five years ago when it installed a system to capture gas given off by decomposing trash and turn it into energy now opposes proposed federal regulations that would require large landfills to control methane gas emissions.
(Houston Chronicle)
Several oil companies say they're continuing normal operations in West African nations battling to contain or prevent Ebola outbreaks, days after Exxon Mobil Corp. said virus-related concerns are delaying one of its projects there.

October 6, 2014

(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
State regulators did not consider available water chemistry test results and had limited knowledge of past spills and leaks at Range Resources' Yeager Farm shale gas development site in Washington County before deciding the operation did not contaminate the nearby private water supply of Loren Kiskadden, according to testimony last week in the ongoing case before the state Environmental Hearing Board in Pittsburgh.
A proposed $5 billion pipeline that would deliver natural gas to the Southeast is finding pockets of opposition along its planned path in West Virginia and Virginia, where it would carve through two national forests. The 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline is also seeing resistance in remote high-elevation sections of Virginia amid concerns it would traverse an environmentally sensitive landscape. Some landowners also object to plans for the pipeline to dissect their property.
(Denver Post)
It's been 18 years since Steve Mobaldi and his late wife, Chris, first got burning eyes and nosebleeds when oil and gas drilling came to their Garfield County neighborhood. In the interim, hundreds of others have complained about health problems. Dozens of studies have looked for a link between those problems and drilling.
BP Plc (BP/) is seeking to undo payments to some victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill in a move opposing lawyers warn could open the floodgates to challenging hundreds of thousands of individual damage-claim awards.
(New York Times)
Louisiana, the most common way to visualize the state's existential crisis is through the metaphor of football fields. The formulation, repeated in nearly every local newspaper article about the subject, goes like this: Each hour, Louisiana loses about a football field's worth of land.
(Climate Central)
The RV Kaharoa motored out of Wellington, New Zealand on Saturday, loaded with more than 100 scientific instruments, each eventually destined for a watery grave. Crewmembers will spend the next two months dropping the 50-pound devices, called Argo floats, into the seas between New Zealand and Mauritius, off the coast of Madagascar. There, the instruments will sink and drift, then measure temperature, salinity and pressure as they resurface to beam the data to a satellite. The battery-powered floats will repeat that process every 10 days—until they conk out, after four years or more, and become ocean junk.
(The Hill)
Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) Friday became the first Republican House candidate to get an endorsement from the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund (LCV) for the 2014 midterm elections. The LCV said LoBiondo has a strong record of protecting New Jersey's environment and supports measures to fight climate change and protect natural resources.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Royal Dutch Shell PLC has suspended development of unconventional oil in a Siberian field, its partner in the project said on Friday. Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russia's state-controlled natural gas monopoly Gazprom, said on its website that it will "continue to develop the shale oil deposits by itself."
(Texas Tribune)
On a recent afternoon, leaders of the V.V. Water Company visited Loving County officials to talk about how they could help the West Texas county meet its growing water needs.
(Los Angeles Times)
A few years ago a group of researchers used computer modeling to put California through a nightmare scenario: Seven decades of unrelenting mega-drought similar to those that dried out the state in past millennia. "The results were surprising," said Jay Lund, one of the academics who conducted the study.

October 3, 2014

(Washington Post)
"As soon as I came into office," President Obama boasted on Thursday in a speech at Northwestern University, "we upped our investments in American energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and strengthen our own energy security. And today, the number-one oil and gas producer in the world is no longer Russia or Saudi Arabia. It's America."
(Fuel Fix)
BP wants a federal judge to change his findings that the company was reckless in the days before the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill or grant it a new trial. In a motion filed with a district court in New Orleans overseeing a tangle of litigation surrounding the oil spill, the London oil company said the judge used evidence that was excluded at trial to support his conclusions, and should set his ruling aside.