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Today's Climate

October 3, 2014

As representatives from a proposed natural gas pipeline begin surveying properties in Genesee County, tensions have been mounting for some residents who don't want the crews on their land.
(Forth Worth Weekly)
On a crisp Saturday morning, Delga Park, just north of downtown Fort Worth, was beautiful. The deep blue sky was spattered with cumulus clouds, and birds flitted among shade trees at one end of the park, sandwiched between I-35W and the Trinity River. The grass was neatly trimmed and trash-free; the ball field sparkled. The only thing missing from the scene was anyone to enjoy it.
The woes of China's resource industries are growing as fast as excess inventories keep building up. And the multiyear slump in commodity prices has been particularly unkind to China's west, a region that has long lagged the rest of the country in incomes and economic output.
(The Times-Picayune)
Looking at the abundance and size of Louisiana white and brown shrimp before and after the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a scientific paper published Wednesday said the amount of shrimp actually increased in local estuaries through 2011 and that the size of that shrimp remained unaffected.
(The Globe and Mail)
Polar bears are an international symbol of Canada and a barometer for what is happening in the climate-sensitive North. And according to wildlife experts now monitoring the impact of global warming in greater detail, the big bears aren’t as big as they used to be. The early breakup of sea ice and the longer period of open water have hindered their search for food, mostly seals. Not enough ice leads to less time hunting, less to eat – and shrinking bears.
Pacific walrus that can't find sea ice for resting in Arctic waters are coming ashore in record numbers on a beach in northwest Alaska. An estimated 35,000 walrus were photographed Saturday about 5 miles north of Point Lay, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

October 2, 2014

Republicans plan to put approval of the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline on a fast track early next year if they win a U.S. Senate majority in November, finally forcing President Barack Obama to make a tough call on the controversial plan. The $10 billion Keystone project to connect Canadian oil sands with U.S. refineries will top the list of Republican energy priorities if they gain control of the Senate after the Nov. 4 midterm elections.
(Climate Central)
Even as curbing greenhouse gas emissions becomes more urgent as the effects of climate change become more acute, fossil fuels will remain the largest source of GHGs far into the 21st Century as both global energy use and CO2 emissions double, according to MIT's 2014 Climate and Energy Outlook.
(San Antonio Express-News)
Baker Hughes Inc. this month will start disclosing all of the chemicals it uses during hydraulic fracturing—the first of the major oil field service companies to adopt a policy of transparency. The Houston-based company said will not make any trade secret claims in the information it posts on the industry website FracFocus.org starting with wells fractured on or after Oct. 1.
(Edmonton Journal)
Emissions wafting out of oil and gas operations can trigger "extreme" ozone pollution events that rival those seen in congested cities such as Los Angeles, according to an international study. Extraordinary levels of ozone, which can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory problems, have been seen in rural areas of Utah and Wyoming where oil extraction and fracking have taken off.
(Midwest Energy News)
While a recent federal study singles out Ohio for limited information requirements in permitting for fracking wastewater disposal, advocates in the state say the issue is much broader. Ohio requires fewer details about the liquid fracking wastes going into its underground wells than other states do, says the General Accounting Office. Environmental groups say the situation is even worse because the state's inspection and enforcement practices are lax.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
When members of Pennsylvania's largest gas industry trade group got together for their annual conference last week they were a bit worried. Why?
(Fuel Fix)
The federal agency in charge of regulating offshore drilling doesn’t have standardized procedures for reviewing permits and has not finished establishing an electronic program designed to streamline the process, according to a government report issued Wednesday. The report from the inspector general for the Department of the Interior, gave the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement credit for making some big changes since the 2010 blowout of BP's Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, but said more work is needed on permitting.
(McClatchy DC)
Ethanol producers are pushing back hard against new rail safety rules after a federal study found that ethanol poses hazards equal to or greater than crude oil in rail transportation. An analysis of tank car damage in derailments published last month by the Federal Railroad Administration found that tank cars carrying ethanol were 1.5 times more likely to explode when exposed to fire for prolonged periods. The Renewable Fuels Association dismissed the report, blaming track defects for the explosions.
Canada has switched on the first large-scale coal-fired power plant fitted with a technology that proponents say enables the burning of fossil fuels without tipping the world into a climate catastrophe. The project, the first commercial-scale plant equipped with carbon capture and storage technology, was held up by the coal industry as a real life example that it is possible to go on burning the dirtiest of fossil fuels while avoiding dangerous global warming.
(The Hill)
The Obama administration launched a competition Wednesday aimed at helping cities and towns cut greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the effects of climate change. The White House plans to pick up to 15 communities that have already taken steps to fight climate change and give them expert assistance to further the goals of reducing emissions and building resilience.
(Al Jazeera America)
California residents face stiff fines if they use too much water. Wells in some communities are running dry. Farmers are drilling deeper and deeper in search of what has become liquid gold. Yet in a state that is suffering a drought of historic proportions, water is not playing a paramount role in next month's midterm elections.

October 1, 2014

(Fuel Fix)
Leading oil industry trade groups on Tuesday told federal regulators that proposed regulations to boost the safety of transporting crude by trains need to be phased in more slowly and should not mandate tank cars with extra-thick shells.
Enbridge Energy Partners is delaying the Sandpiper pipeline project through Minnesota for at least a year. The Calgary, Alberta-based company disclosed the delay in a filing Tuesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
(The Hill)
A group of Senate Democrats called for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Friday to issue the "strongest possible" safety standards for fracking operations on public lands.
(Climate Central)
Just like last year, Texas is king of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., while Vermont remains the greenest state in terms of pollution that causes climate change. New U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program data released Tuesday show that nationwide, greenhouse gas emissions from industrial sources in 2013 rose 0.6 percent over 2012, an increase of about 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, totaling 3.18 billion metric tons overall.
Exxon Mobil issued a report Tuesday that acknowledges the environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing but also defends the practice as being better for the environment than other types of energy production and generation.
Britain's first round of shale gas licensing in six years is attracting solid interest from investors, according to business and energy minister Matt Hancock, who says the country has a duty to use fracking to secure its future energy supply.
(Financial Times)
The U.S. is overtaking Saudi Arabia to become the world's largest producer of liquid petroleum, in a sign of how its booming oil production has reshaped the energy sector.
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
The state Department of Environmental Protection might have used incomplete and inaccurate test information to decide whether chemicals leaking from a Marcellus Shale wastewater impoundment and a drill cuttings pit contaminated a water well and springs in Washington County.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
A tanker of crude oil departed Alaska for South Korea last week, the first such export from the state in a decade. The tanker left the Valdez export terminal Friday headed for Yeosu, South Korea, according to energy data service Genscape. Yeosu is home to the world's fourth-largest refinery.
(Al Jazeera America)
Looking high into the treetops, Sebastian Ramirez searched for familiar faces. For the past year, he's been following a group of spider monkeys. Each day, he and his team track one of them and take notes.

September 30, 2014

(Huffington Post)
First there was a pickup truck. Then there was an ark. The vehicle of choice for drawing attention to the NextGen Climate Action Committee has been, well, vehicles. The climate change super PAC, funded by billionaire investor Tom Steyer, recently rolled a truck filled with fake oil barrels into New Hampshire to chide Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown. A few days later, the group begantouring Florida with an ark to taunt climate change hedging by Gov. Rick Scott (R).
(The Hill)
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says a passable climate change bill would be  a "top priority" if Democrats gain control of the House.
(Climate Central)
As the planet's temperature steadily rises thanks to the burning of fossil fuels that pumps greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, that warming is having a discernible impact on some of the world's weather, particularly to heat waves across the globe.