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Today's Climate

November 12, 2014

Australia is under intense pressure to announce a target for post-2020 greenhouse gas reductions after the shock announcement from U.S. president Barack Obama and Chinese premier Xi Jinping of new national climate change goals.
China will overtake the U.S. as the world's biggest oil consumer within two decades, according to the International Energy Agency. "A landmark is reached in the early 2030s, when China becomes the largest oil-consuming country, crossing paths with the United States," the agency said in a summary of its World Energy Outlook, which forecasts long-term energy trends. The full findings of the report will be presented at a press conference in London today.
The Senate could vote this month on a measure to push through the Keystone XL pipeline—a move that would give Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu a valuable chit ahead of her Dec. 6 runoff in Louisiana.
(New York Times)
The new Republican Congress is headed for a clash with the White House over two ambitious Environmental Protection Agency regulations that are the heart of President Obama's climate change agenda.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
A judge on Monday approved Anadarko Petroleum Corp.'s $5.15 billion settlement over its ill-fated acquisition of Tronox Inc., the final major hurdle in the federal government's largest environmental settlement ever. Judge Katherine B. Forrest of U.S. District Court in Manhattan said Tronox's bankruptcy judge was correct earlier this year when he signed off on the deal.
(Los Angeles Times)
Heat and extreme drought have worsened smog in California over the last year, stalling decades of progress toward cleaner air and increasing health risks.
(Yale 360)
In August, when former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney visited West Virginia to campaign for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Shelley Moore Capito, the Democrat in the race was quick to remind voters what Romney had said a decade earlier about the coal industry.
(Daily Camera)
When the Boulder County Commissioners held a meeting to gather public input on a possible extension to the county's moratorium on oil and gas development in December 2012, anti-fracking activist delayed that meeting for half an hour engaging in chants that chased the commissioners from the hearing room.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
In 2005, Pennsylvania had 11 frack water pits. Just eight years later, aerial maps show that number has jumped to 529. It's unclear how many of these sites store fresh water used for fracking, and how many store the toxic wastewater that results from oil and gas drilling operations. The Department of Environmental Protection could not provide the data to public health researchers working with Geisenger on an NIH funded health impact study.
(Fuel Fix)
Those hoping for natural gas-powered car fleets on the nation’s highways might want to first look to railroads, where analysts say there's a more compelling case to pioneer natural gas-pulled trains.
More than three years into the massive cleanup of Japan's tsunami-damaged nuclear power plant, only a tiny fraction of the workers are focused on key tasks such as preparing for the dismantling of the broken reactors and removing radioactive fuel rods.

November 11, 2014

Leading world economies are spending $88 billion (71 billion euros) a year in fossil fuel exploration subsidies, sapping investment from low-carbon alternatives and increasing the risk of "dangerous climate change," a report said Tuesday.
The polar bear has long been an emblem of the climate change movement; its icy Arctic habitat shrinking as a result of manmade global warming.
(Dallas Morning News)
Railroad Commission Chairwoman Christi Craddick came out strongly against a fracking ban passed this week in North Texas, pledging to continue giving permits to companies that seek to drill in Denton.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
A Susquehanna County judge has ruled that 63-year-old anti-fracking activist Vera Scroggins will be permanently barred from setting foot on Cabot Oil & Gas sites. Scroggins has been a thorn in the company's side for years. She hosts a lot of citizen gas tours around Susquehanna County where Cabot has most of its operations. The company says she has repeatedly trespassed on its property and poses a safety risk.
(CBC News)
Carmen Langer had just left his bed to grab a drink of water when he felt his house northeast of Peace River, Alta., begin to shake. "At first I thought I wasn't feeling very good that day ... and it was just my blood sugar, but no, it shook pretty good," Langer said about the Nov. 2 incident.
(Think Progress)
If Great Britain wants to keep its carbon emission reductions on course, it’s going to need to make some significant policy changes.
BP Plc has failed to persuade a federal judge to oust the administrator overseeing payouts to businesses and individuals claiming damages arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans on Monday rejected several arguments by the London-based oil company to remove the claims administrator, Patrick Juneau.
After failing to rid Beijing's skies of pollution before a gathering of world leaders this week, Chinese officials took a different approach to smog control—limit the data. Phone and Internet apps that display readings of air pollution started excluding a U.S. Embassy feed yesterday. Wang Jun, co-founder of the Air Quality Index app for Apple Inc.'s iOS, said authorities told him to stick to the city's data. "We had no choice," he said by phone.
In the world's biggest coalmine, even a 400 ton truck looks like a toy. Everything about the scale of Peabody Energy's operations in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming is big and the mines are only going to get bigger—despite new warnings from the United Nations on the dangerous burning of fossil fuels, despite Barack Obama's promises to fight climate change, and despite reports that coal is in its death throes.
(Washington Post)
Three years ago, the Chesapeake Bay was hit by an unusually large 'dead zone,' a stretch of oxygen-depleted water that killed fish from the Baltimore Harbor to the mid-channel of the Potomac River and beyond, about a third of the bay. Another giant dead zone returned last summer, smaller than the first but big enough to rank as the estuary' eighth largest since state natural resources officials in Virginia and Maryland started recording them in the 1990s.
(The Hill)
A coalition of environmentalists is suing the federal government to stop a regulation that would let oil drillers in the Arctic harm walruses. Earthjustice said the regulations from the Fish and Wildlife Service would give companies like Shell Oil permission to hurt Pacific walruses when they get permits to drilling the Arctic.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Exxon Mobil Corp.'s Canadian subsidiary said Monday that it has shut down one of its largest oil sands operations for "several weeks" due to a problem in its core processing plant.
(The Globe and Mail)
Long under attack by environmental groups, the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project is now being criticized by some economists. A report released Monday by Simon Fraser University and The Goodman Group Ltd., questions Trans Mountain's financial projections, arguing that the economic impacts of jobs and taxes have been overvalued, while the costs associated with possible spills have been understated.

November 10, 2014

(Business Green)
Former United States President Bill Clinton has issued a rallying call for countries to agree to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the century, backing the findings of a landmark climate science report issued earlier this month.
Australia needs to tell the world how it will calculate its medium-term greenhouse target for release early next year and should be looking at a 40 percent reduction by 2025, the Climate Institute think tank says.
(The Hill)
Senate Republicans are gearing up for a war against the Obama administration's environmental rules, identifying them as a top target when they take control in January. The GOP sees the midterm elections as a mandate to roll back rules from the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies, with Republicans citing regulatory costs they say cripple the economy and skepticism about the cause of climate change.
The shale-oil drilling boom in the U.S. is showing early signs of cracking. Rigs targeting oil sank by 14 to 1,568 this week, the lowest since Aug. 22, Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI) said yesterday. The Eagle Ford shale formation in south Texas lost the most, dropping nine to 197. The nation's oil rig count is down from a peak of 1,609 on Oct. 10.
(New York Times)
The British government said on Saturday that it would establish a sovereign wealth fund with the proceeds from extracting natural gas from shale. The announcement, which may be seen as premature because no shale gas production is likely to occur in the near future, is another step by the government of Prime Minister David Cameron to encourage development of a shale gas industry and overcome public opposition to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Broome locals opposed to a fracking program planned in the Canning Basin are gearing up for a wet season camp-out to try to stop Buru Energy's work in the area.