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Today's Climate

October 14, 2014

(The Bellingham Herald)
BP Cherry Point has announced its rail terminal will no longer accept or unload any Bakken region crude oil from pre-2011 standard tank cars. By the first week in October, the facility had stopped using older DOT-111 cars for crude, BP spokesman Bill Kidd said.
The U.K. government plans to allow fracking companies to put "any substance" under people's homes and property and leave it there, as part of the Infrastructure Bill which will be debated by the House of Lords on Tuesday.
Bakken shale-oil producers are under pressure from tumbling prices to scale back their 2015 drilling plans in a region that accounts for one of every eight U.S. barrels of crude. Bakken oil fell 1 percent to $79.40 a barrel today, the first time it's dropped below $80 in 11 months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Crude prices have been declining worldwide as ample North American supplies tempered the U.S. appetite for imports and Persian Gulf producers signaled they're prepared to keep output high to protect their market shares in Asia.
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
A few months ago, a Marcellus Shale operator approached Leong Ying, business development manager at the radiation measurement division of Thermo Fisher Scientific, with a problem. The driller, whom Mr. Ying declined to name, was trying to dispose of oil and gas waste at area landfills but the trucks kept tripping radiation alarms.
When the state Department of Environmental Protection upgraded design standards for Marcellus Shale water impoundments in early 2011, Range Resources had just completed construction of eight centralized frack ponds in the previous two years using now-outdated technology. The ambitious construction timeline by Range in 2009 and 2010 to aid the burgeoning natural gas drilling industry resulted in leaks and other problems at all of the company's centralized water impoundments in Washington County and the largest-ever fine levied by the DEP against a Marcellus Shale driller.
(Think Progress)
Courtrooms could be the next battlefield in the fight against climate change, according to a new report out of Canada. The paper, put out Thursday by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and West Coast Environmental Law, argues that climate science has advanced enough that current and future damages from climate change could start being divvied up amongst various polluters and companies in fossil fuels.
IKEA Group, the world's biggest furniture retailer, may introduce an internal carbon emissions price to help its drive to protect the environment and create a "new and better" company, chief executive Peter Agnefjall said. IKEA, seen as global trend-setter among retailers on green issues, is also on target to invest $1.5 billion in solar and wind power by 2015, and bought a higher proportion of its wood and cotton from sustainable sources in 2014 to aid consumers shift to greener lifestyles.

October 10, 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that the country and the world need to confront the threat of climate change while there's still time.
One small spot in the U.S. Southwest is the surprising producer of the largest concentration of methane gas seen across the nation. Levels of methane over the Four Corners region are more than triple the standard ground-based estimate of the greenhouse gas, reports a joint study of satellite data by scientists at NASA and the University of Michigan.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
China's finance ministry on Thursday said it would impose tariffs not seen in a decade on imports of certain types of coal starting next Wednesday.   The move reintroduces taxes Beijing had scrapped, and is seen by analysts as an attempt by the government to help its ailing domestic coal production sector.
Days of heavy smog shrouding swathes of northern China pushed pollution to more than 20 times safe levels on Friday, despite government promises to tackle environmental blight. Visibility dropped dramatically as measures of small pollutant particles known as PM2.5, which can embed themselves deep in the lungs, reached more than 500 micrograms per cubic meter in parts of Hebei, a province bordering Beijing.
(NBC Bay Area)
The president of the California Public Utilities Commission said Thursday that he will not seek reappointment when his term ends at the end of the year. Michael Peevey made the announcement amid criticism of improper and unethical dealings with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. while the CPUC was deciding the penalty for the deadly PG&E pipeline explosion in San Bruno four years ago.
(The Hill)
A majority of voters in states home to some of the biggest oil and gas drilling fields want the government to regulate the burning or releasing of natural gas from wells, according to a new poll.
Lee Tillman, chief executive officer of Marathon Oil (MRO), told investors last month that the company was sitting atop the equivalent of 4.3 billion barrels of oil in its U.S. shale acreage. That's 5.5 times higher than the number Marathon reported to federal regulators.
Poland's ambition to achieve energy independence from Russia is being undermined by drillers giving up on the nation's shale wells after disappointing results.
(Minneapolis Star Tribune)
A Wisconsin frac-sand mine that was "running wild" and dumping polluted wastewater into an unlined pond against regulations has been shut down by Trempealeau County. The Guza Pit, four miles south of Independence, Wis., had been operating without a permit and was shut down Monday with a "stop-work" order from county regulators. It could face fines when the situation is sorted out, said Kevin Lien, who heads the county's zoning office.
(West Virginia Gazette)
West Virginia officials on Wednesday formally refused to make public more detailed information provided by CSX Corp. about the company's shipments of crude oil through communities in the state. The state's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management deleted key details—the amounts, routes and frequency of crude oil shipments—from material provided to The Charleston Gazette in the agency's formal response to a request filed under the Freedom of Information Act.
(Fuel Fix)
Coastal areas must begin adapting to the rising sea levels that will come with climate change—and preparation is especially crucial in Houston's vast Ship Channel energy complex. That was one of the messages from U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who dropped by to speak with Houston Chronicle editors and reporters during a visit to Houston on Thursday.
(Think Progress)
An undeveloped area couched between a waste transfer station and a FedEx shipping facility with the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge passing overhead is just about as wild of a place as exists in New York City. It's the site Mychal Johnson, an environmental activist in the South Bronx, wants to turn into a waterfront park. There are other designs on the space, however, namely the new headquarters for FreshDirect, an online grocery delivery service, which would bring a massive warehouse and over 1,000 diesel trucks, plus a fueling station, to the site.
(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.