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Today's Climate

October 2, 2014

(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.
Canada’s reputation as climate bad-boy was invented in Manhattan in 2008. Months before TransCanada Corp. applied for a permit for Keystone XL and the pipeline battles that followed, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund convened a gathering of environmental groups to discuss a strategy for taking down Canada's tar-sands industry. The vast deposits of bitumen in northern Alberta were not necessarily seen in the league of Chinese coal as a carbon offender.
(National Journal)
A large oil and natural-gas company is parting ways with the American Legislative Exchange Council. Occidental Petroleum sent a letter Friday to an investment-management company indicating its intention to sever ties with ALEC, a conservative coalition of state legislators and major corporations that actively opposes environmental regulations.
(Houston Chronicle (sub. req'd))
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality says it plans to add a new air monitor in the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale play to measure the impact of pollution from oil and gas sites that are spreading across South Texas.
(Salt Lake Tribune)
Built to move coal from trucks to trains, three Carbon County terminals instead began transferring crude oil this year—a switch yet to receive final approval from state environmental regulators. At least 50 tanker trucks a day are rumbling over U.S. Highway 191 to the new rail connections, marking the rise of oil and the decline of coal in Utah's energy picture.
(Great Falls Tribune)
Four West Coast senators are asking the federal government to expand a recent order for railroads to notify state emergency responders of crude oil shipments. The letter, sent Monday to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, says railroads should supply states with advanced notification of all high-hazard flammable liquid transports—including crude from outside the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana, as well as ethanol and 71 other liquids.
(Democrat & Chronicle)
The New York League of Conservation Voters and state Sen. Ted O'Brien, D-Irondequoit, announced a series of proposals Monday to rein in the handling and disposal of gas and oil drilling waste in New York. At a news conference, O'Brien and the league president, Marcia Bystryn, said legislation would be introduced in Albany that would bar the disposal of drilling wastes in New York landfills and restrict the treatment of liquid wastes from drilling in municipal wastewater plants.
(New York Times)
The savage heat waves that struck Australia last year were almost certainly a direct consequence of greenhouse gases released by human activity, researchers said Monday. It is perhaps the most definitive statement climate scientists have made tying a specific weather event to global warming. Five groups of researchers, using distinct methods, analyzed the heat that baked Australia for much of 2013 and continued into 2014, briefly shutting down the Australian Open tennis tournament in January when the temperature climbed to 111 degrees Fahrenheit.
(Los Angeles Times)
Global warming contributed to extreme heat waves in many parts of the world last year, but cannot be definitively linked to the California drought, according to a report released Monday.
(Yale 360)
The United Nations Climate Summit in New York last week passed with many promises, but no firm pledges. Most notably, China's vice-premier Zhang Gaoli promised his country would peak its carbon dioxide emissions "as soon as possible," and President Obama said that next year he would publish a plan to cut U.S. emissions after 2020. On the fringes, major corporations trading in agricultural commodities grown on former rainforest land joined with governments in signing a declaration promising to halve net deforestation by 2020 and end it by 2030. 

September 29, 2014

(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
The energy industry's top trade group called on U.S. oil producers to do more frequent and better testing of crude oil before loading it on to trains in the wake of several high-profile accidents.
(Lincoln Journal Star)
Art and Helen Tanderup gazed with amazed smiles at the thousands of cars parked on the stubble of their recently harvested cornfield on Saturday, at the stage set up in their rye field and at the ocean of people standing in front of it. "It's unbelievable. It's absolutely amazing this is happening," said Art just before the start of Harvest the Hope.
(Think Progress)
An operator in charge of storing petroleum coke, a dirty byproduct of tar sands refining, has announced it's leaving the city of Chicago, and taking the black, dusty piles with it. Beemsterboer Slag Corp., which has been storing petcoke at a storage facility by the Calumet River, has closed the facility after facing increasing pressure from city officials and residents.
A federal judge has refused to block the release of oil and gas leases in Nevada that critics say will be used for hydraulic fracturing that could harm sage grouse and cause more environmental damage than the Bureau of Land Management admits.