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Today's Climate

April 7, 2014

(Midwest Energy News)
Marty Cobenais has been to every state along the proposed Keystone XL pipeline route, organizing resistance to the project from Montana to Texas. He's been arrested twice for civil disobedience during Keystone XL protests in front of the White House.
(Houston Chronicle)
A Latino political organizing group has joined environmentalists' crusade against Keystone XL, saying Hispanics who live near Gulf Coast refineries have much to lose from the pipeline.
(New York Times)
Owners of at least two dozen nuclear reactors across the United States have told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that they cannot show that their reactors would withstand the most severe earthquake that revised estimates say they might face.
(Columbus Dispatch)
Earthquakes rattled residents in Oklahoma yesterday. They were the latest in a series that have put the state on track for record quake activity this year, and some seismologists say that might be tied to oil and gas exploration.
(Boston Globe)
While Boston wins accolades for battling carbon emissions—last year the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked it number one of the country's 34 largest cities because of both energy use and community engagement—the city simply isn't ready for a rising sea.
(News & Record)
Say the words "coal ash" to most North Carolina residents and until recently, you probably would get a blank stare. "Cold what?" they might have asked.
The 12-year-old girl didn't want to leave her younger brother, and her grandparents didn't want her to go away. But a family living near the "no-go zone" surrounding Japan's destroyed nuclear plant has other things to consider. Yukie Hashimoto and her husband sent their daughter 300 kilometers (200 miles) away to the picturesque ski town of Matsumoto, where the mayor offered to take in and educate young people living in the shadow of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.
(Al Jazeera America)
A tiny Pacific Island nation – still recovering from massive floods that destroyed homes and displaced residents – played host this week to an international climate conference where delegates vowed to push ambitious global targets.
An upcoming UN report suggests that unproven technologies to suck carbon out of the air might be a fix for climate change, according to a leaked draft obtained by the Guardian. Scientists and government officials gather in Berlin this week ahead of Sunday's publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's third part of its series of blockbuster climate change reports, which deals with policies addressing the emissions that drive global warming.

April 4, 2014

(New York Times)
A giant Texas oil company, Anadarko Petroleum, has agreed to pay $5.1 billion for a vast environmental cleanup, a sum the Justice Department said was the largest it had ever won in such a case. The settlement, announced on Thursday, is aimed at restoring thousands of sites polluted by toxins and compensating thousands of people with personal injury claims.
Battles over water and food will erupt within the next five to 10 years as a result of climate change, the president of the World Bank said as he urged those campaigning against global warming to learn the lessons of how protesters and scientists joined forces in the battle against HIV. Jim Yong Kim said it was possible to cap the rise in global temperatures at 2C but that so far there had been a failure to replicate the "unbelievable" success of the 15-year-long coalition of activists and scientists to develop a treatment for HIV.
(Huffington Post)
Many supporters of the Keystone XL have been warning that failing to build the pipeline—or at least some other infrastructure to carry oil—would be harmful to Canada's economy. But a report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggests that while the oil sands are becoming an ever larger part of the economy, they aren't as important to the overall health of the country's GDP and job growth as politicians and pundits make it out to be.
(Financial Post)
As greater preoccupation with the environment translated into more opposition to fossil fuel projects, Canadian energy industry leaders say they could have done a better job of addressing the concerns.
(Pittsburg Post-Gazette)
Even when pollution discharges from shale gas well pads and impoundments contaminate private water supplies, those violations often go unrecorded or publicly reported by state environmental regulators, according to documents filed in the Pennsylvania Superior Court case challenging the constitutionality of the state's oil and gas law, Act 13.
(National Journal)
When a chemical spill that left 300,000 West Virginia residents without clean tap water, lawmakers lined up to promise legislation that would crack down on chemical storage and safeguard the nation's water supplies. Thus far, the rhetoric has far outpaced the reality.
(Houston Chronicle)
Coast Guard investigators on Thursday rapped Shell Oil Co. and its contractors for failing to heed the dangers of towing a drilling rig across stormy Alaska waters in late 2012—a voyage that ended when it ran aground on New Year's Eve.
Billions of barrels of untapped shale oil in the U.S. are counted by companies relying on limited drilling history that exaggerate future production, casting doubt on how close the U.S. is to energy independence.
(The New Yorker)
On the morning of Thursday, January 9, 2014, the people of Charleston, West Virginia, awoke to a strange tang in the air off the Elk River. It smelled like licorice. The occasional odor is part of life in Charleston, the state capital, which lies in an industrial area that takes flinty pride in the nickname Chemical Valley. In the nineteenth century, natural brine springs made the region one of America's largest producers of salt. 
(Denver Post)
Colorado coal production—hobbled by mine closures and a decline in demand for power-plant coal—hit a 20-year low in 2013. The state's nine mines produced 23.8 million tons of coal, according to the federal Energy Information Agency, a 17 percent decline from 2012 and down 41 percent from the 2004 peak. In 1993, the state produced 21.9 million tons.
(StateImpact Texas)
From the first geyser to burst from the salt domes of Spindletop to the Texas fracking pioneer George Mitchell, who helped unlock massive oil and gas deposits in shale, the Lone Star State has always been willing to gamble on drilling. And the bets are big. The latest boom has been mostly the work of companies and investors with access to plenty of capital—it's estimated each oil well in the Eagle Ford shale of South Texas costs between $5 and $10 million to drill.
(Inter Press Service)
Scientists warn that large-scale fracking for shale gas planned by Mexico's oil company Pemex will cause a surge in seismic activity in northern Mexico, an area already prone to quakes. Experts link a 2013 swarm of earthquakes in the northern states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo León to hydraulic fracturing or fracking in the Burgos and Eagle Ford shale deposits – the latter of which is shared with the U.S. state of Texas.

April 3, 2014

(The Hill)
Eight Democrats in the House have asked Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reopen its investigations into water contamination incidents in Wyoming, Pennsylvania and Texas that they say may have been connected to natural gas drilling, including hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
The U.N.'s climate chief called on the oil and gas industry on Thursday to make a drastic shift to a clean, low-carbon future or risk having to leave three-quarters of fossil fuel reserves in the ground.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency failed to disclose cancer risks to people it exposed to harmful pollutants in research studies, a government watchdog says. The EPA, which warns of dangers from diesel exhaust and tiny particles in its rules to cut pollution, recruited people for tests on those pollutants in 2010 and 2011. Consent forms they were given didn't mention cancer because the agency considered the risks minimal, the agency's Office of Inspector General said today in a report.
(Minnesota Public Radio)
State regulators have already signed off on Enbridge's plan to increase capacity to 570,000 barrels per day. Now the company is asking the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to approve an increased capacity of 800,000 barrels per day.
(Platts (sub. req'd))
Enbridge's view of the evolving U.S. crude-by-rail market has "changed pretty substantially," and the company has concluded that pipelines will never regain all of the market share being taken by railcars to the U.S. East and West coasts, a company official said Wednesday."Rail has proven to be very successful in getting [barrels to] some of these refineries on the East and West coasts that are not well accessed from pipeline, and we have now concluded that pipelines are probably never going to get those barrels back," Guy Jarvis, Enbridge's president of liquids pipelines, said during a webcast Enbridge Energy Partners Investor Day presentation.
The U.S. Environmental Agency expressed concern last year that a proposed deal between North Carolina regulators and Duke Energy to settle pollution violations at two of the company's coal ash dumps was too lenient. The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources released more than 13,000 pages of public records in recent days as a response to media requests following the February 2 coal ash spill at a Duke plant in Eden, which coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic gray sludge.
The EU will not levy a carbon emission tax on airlines when their planes are outside European airspace, the European Parliament has decided. The exemption for airlines will apply until 2017, by which time a global deal on aviation emissions may be in place.
(E&E Publishing)
Structures that are usually considered permanent have a habit of getting moved around on North Carolina's Outer Banks. Roads, for example, are often pushed westward as waves eat away at the nearby shoreline. Three-story beach homes are frequently jacked up and carried farther inland. And in 1999, even the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was placed onto a system of rails and roller dollies and pulled 2,900 feet away from a swiftly encroaching Atlantic Ocean.
(Think Progress)
An official at a national radioactive waste cleanup company has put out a warning for North Dakota oil producers: Clean up your act, or risk turning parts of the state into Superfund sites.