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Today's Climate

July 11, 2014

(West Virginia Public Radio)
A new study shows a chemical that spilled into West Virginia's biggest drinking water supply in January could be more toxic than a previous test indicated. But the researcher behind the study cautions there are differences between his tests and earlier studies.
(The Hill)
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed Thursday a ban on some uses of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), compounds that are used in cooling systems and aerosols but are also extremely potent greenhouse gases. The EPA is moving to ban the substances under a section of the Clean Air Act that allows restrictions on the use of some pollutants when viable alternatives exist. Certain HFCs would be prohibited in vehicle air conditioning, food refrigeration and aerosol propellant applications.
(Christian Science Monitor)
A pickup truck cruises the highway and suddenly unleashes a plume of thick, black exhaust on a pedestrian or car and, in its way, sends a political message: The "war on coal" – and environmental regulation generally – has prompted a tailpipe rebellion.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Exxon Mobil Corp. is fighting criminal charges over a wastewater spill in Pennsylvania with an unusual defense, contending that the state's attorney general improperly singled the company out in an effort to stop hydraulic fracturing. Attorney General Kathleen Kane fired back on Wednesday in a court filing that calls the company's claims "nothing more than weak attempts to obfuscate the truth."
(New York Times)
Standing on a dirt road outside his aging barn, Walter Jaworski, a former veterinarian turned cattle rancher in this rural part of north-central Massachusetts, points south across his 200 acres of forest and pasture to a nearby tree line. If things don't go his way, he says, that's about where a new natural gas pipeline will slice through his land on a 180-mile journey from central New York to a transmission hub north of Boston.
(The Des Moines Register)
Environmental activists vowed Thursday to fight plans for a proposed 1,100-mile crude oil pipeline that would slice diagonally through the heart of Iowa, but the state's politicians are withholding judgment for now. Former state legislator Ed Fallon of Des Moines, who is leading about 40 people on a transcontinental march across the United States to bring attention to climate change, said he will emphatically oppose plans for the proposed Bakken pipeline, which would cut across 17 counties from northwest Iowa through central Iowa and southeast Iowa.
(Denver Post)
Backers of ballot initiatives that would amend the state constitution to include an environmental bill of rights and to establish a 2,000-foot setback between oil and gas drilling rigs and homes say they have collected more than 80,000 signatures. Coloradans for Safe and Clean Energy, the initiative campaign committee, has been collecting signatures on the setback measure, Initiative 88, and the bill of rights, Initiative 89, for three weeks, a spokeswoman said Thursday.
The road to U.S. energy security is often unpaved. In southern Texas and North Dakota, where shale drilling has propelled U.S. oil production to the highest level in 28 years, thousands of 18-wheel trucks are rumbling to wells on roads designed decades ago for farmers to bring crops to markets.
(The Globe and Mail)
Two British Columbia First Nations are wasting no time enforcing their claim on traditional lands in light of a Supreme Court of Canada decision recognizing aboriginal land title. The hereditary chiefs of the Gitxsan First Nations served notice on Thursday to CN Rail, logging companies and sport fishermen to leave their territory along the Skeena River in a dispute with the federal and provincial governments over treaty talks.
Air pollution levels in London, Birmingham, and Leeds will exceed European limits until at least 2030, newly-published figures show. In a case at the European court of justice on Thursday lawyers for the commission described the U.K.'s failure to act on the breach as "perhaps the longest running infringement of E.U. law in history."
(Think Progress)
New national standards for teaching science in public schools have sparked backlash in several states, particularly from officials who want teachers to teach climate change as a scientific debate, rather than accepted science.
(Al Jazeera America)
Stigma, pay cuts and risk of radiation exposure are among the reasons why 3,000 employees have left the utility at the center of Japan's 2011 nuclear disaster. Now there's an additional factor: better-paying jobs in the feel-good solar energy industry.

July 10, 2014

(Sydney Morning Herald)
The Senate has voted down the government's third attempt to repeal the carbon tax after a chaotic morning in which the Palmer United Party backed out of its agreement to support the bills.
(Edmonton Journal)
Six years after unveiling its strategy to combat climate change, the Alberta government has failed to meet its targets, hasn't regularly monitored its results and has yet to publish a single public document on its outcomes, the province's auditor general said in a scathing report released Tuesday.
(Los Angeles Times)
Urban water agencies across California would have to impose mandatory restrictions on outdoor watering under a proposed state rule. Though a number of cities, including Los Angeles, already have such regulations in place, most don't. So the State Water Resources Control Board is giving them a push.
(Washington Post)
The European Union is pressing the United States to lift its longstanding ban on crude oil exports through a sweeping trade and investment deal, according to a secret document from the negotiations obtained by The Washington Post.
(Think Progress)
Millions of Americans live within the "blast zone" of an oil train accident, according to a new map put together by environmental group ForestEthics. The map, created using industry data and on-the-ground reports of people living close to oil train routes, outlines the routes of oil trains across the U.S. and into Canada.
(Columbus Dispatch)
State officials won't release records detailing when railroads ship Bakken crude oil through Ohio. Federal regulators have warned that oil extracted from the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota might be more flammable than traditional heavy crude.
The U.K. will close most of its coal-fired power plants by 2023, leaving only three in use, as environmental rules take effect, according to the operator of the country's electricity grid. All of National Grid Plc's projections envisage "very aggressive" shutdowns of coal stations after climate regulations come into force in 2016, Richard Smith, the company's head of energy strategy and policy, told reporters in London yesterday. The coal plants will be replaced by natural gas-fed generation, according to the company.
(St. Louis Dispatch)
Gov. Jay Nixon has signed a bill that will keep St. Louisans from passing ballot initiatives restricting public financial incentives for coal companies. The provision was part of a large local government bill passed during the Missouri Legislature's regular session. It was pushed by Mayor Francis Slay's office and specifically outlaws ballot measures in St. Louis that limit tax credits and other incentives for coal companies.
(StateImpact Texas)
El Paso's public utility announced plans to run the city coal-free in two years. It's a bold proposal since no major U.S. citycan run without coal power yet, but it seems possible, and it puts El Paso ahead among Texas cities that have sought to end their dependence on coal.
More than a year after a much-lauded compromise paved the way for high-volume oil and gas extraction in Illinois, the agency in charge of overseeing the practice has hired just four of 53 new employees it says it needs as it continues working to complete rules that drillers must follow. The Department of Natural Resources has come under criticism from industry groups, lawmakers and other supporters of hydraulic fracturing who had hoped drilling could begin this summer. That scenario now appears unlikely.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
The nations largest oil and gas trade group has unveiled a new set of community relations guidelines–aimed at improving interactions between drillers and the people who live near hydraulic fracturing sites. The American Petroleum Institute released the 9-page document today, calling it a set of "good neighbor" policies.
Oil that matches the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been found in the bodies of sickened fish, according to a team of Florida scientists who studied the oil's chemical composition. "We matched up the oil in the livers and flesh with Deepwater Horizon like a fingerprint," lead researcher Steven Murawski, a professor at the University of South Florida's College of Marine Science in Tampa, told Reuters.
(Climate Central)
Production of coal, oil and gas in the U.S. is on the decline in more than 600 million acres of public land, long a battleground over energy development because of concern about their possible environmental and climate impacts. Fossil fuel production is booming across the U.S., but public lands—national parks, monuments, forests, wildlife refuges and the like—are seeing oil, gas and coal production decline because most of the oil and gas deposits fueling the boom are on private lands, according to a new U.S. Energy Information Administration report.

July 9, 2014

(Portland Press Herald)
The City Council on Monday postponed action on a proposal that would block tar sands oil from coming into the city because City Hall couldn't accommodate an overcapacity turnout of supporters and opponents. The proposal from the Draft Ordinance Committee will be taken up at 7 p.m. Wednesday at a location to be determined.
(The Hill)
Industry groups are pressing Secretary of State John Kerry to resume and complete the final review of the Keystone XL oil pipeline that his department halted earlier this year. In a letter sent Tuesday, 44 industry groups asked to meet with Kerry to discuss the pipeline and answer any questions he might have about the $5.4 billion project.
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
The closest earthquakes presumably caused by hydraulic fracturing stirred about a mile west of the Pennsylvania border, but regulators felt the reverberations in Harrisburg. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is considering creating rules for the first time for wells in "seismic hazard areas"—places that may be susceptible to tremors triggered by well stimulation techniques like fracking.
The United Nations left open the option for rich and poor nations to remain divided in their obligations on climate change, setting up a conflict over exactly who should cut greenhouse gases. In a policy paper setting out possible language to include in a global warming agreement envoys from 190 nations are drawing up for next year, the U.N. set out an option for maintaining a divide between developed and developing nations.
The United States and China on Tuesday signed eight partnership pacts to cut greenhouse gases that will bring the world's two biggest carbon emitters closer together on climate policy, but fundamental differences between the two sides remain.