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Today's Climate

August 5, 2014

(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
Alisa Lykens has been with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for 24 years and says she's never seen such a big response to a project so early on in the process. Lykens was at Millersville University in Lancaster County Monday night. It was the first in a series of four meetings hosted by FERC to take public comments on a proposed interstate natural gas pipeline that would go through ten Pennsylvania counties.
(The Globe and Mail)
Canadian National Railway Co. says it is still negotiating with the Gitxsan First Nation, as the deadline passed to vacate land along the Skeena River in northwestern B.C. that is claimed by the Gitxsan. "CN has a long-standing co-operative relationship with the Gitxsan hereditary and elected chiefs, and the company is currently in discussions with them about this matter," CN spokesman Patrick Waldron said Monday. "We have no further comment beyond that."
(Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Just as more of North Dakota's oil bounty travels along Minnesota railroads from the west, Canada is sending more of its crude south on tracks through the northern part of the state. Canadian National Railway, the largest railroad in Canada, reported an 82 percent increase in crude oil shipments in three months ending in June. Many of the oil tank cars are traveling on rails that pass through Warroad and Baudette and cross the Rainy River near Voyageurs National Park on their way to Superior, Wis.
(Bismarck Tribune)
Byron Richard's pickup bounces up and down over the washboard gravel road. He clutches the wheel with one hand and points with the other as he passes dozens of oil wells on land where once crops grew and cattle grazed. A few of the wells are decades old; most are new or under construction. Oil field vehicles of assorted shapes and sizes clog the road in places and kick up thick clouds of dust.
Some of the world's top PR companies have for the first time publicly ruled out working with climate change deniers, marking a fundamental shift in the multi-billion dollar industry that has grown up around the issue of global warming. Public relations firms have played a critical role over the years in framing the debate on climate change and its solutions – as well as the extensive disinformation campaigns launched to block those initiatives.
(The Hill)
Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) introduced a bill that would direct the Department of Energy to approve the building of at least 10 carbon capture facilities in the next 10 years.
(New York Times)
Billions of baby oysters in the Pacific inlets here are dying and Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington is busy spreading the bad news.
(Columbus Dispatch)
As Toledo lifted the ban on its drinking water yesterday, some lawmakers, environmentalists and farmers called for tighter restrictions on the agriculture industry, which scientists say probably caused the algae toxins that made the city's water unsafe for about 500,000 people. But other agencies argued that existing laws might be enough to protect people from the algal blooms that have plagued Ohio's beaches and lakes for years.
The source of northern Ohio's water the scarcity comes from further north: the green slick covering Lake Erie. It may look no more pernicious than a wheat-grass smoothie, but this bloom of green-blue algae, or cyanobacteria, is toxic enough that it can damage humans livers and other organs and sometimes kill pets. Since some half-a million people in Toldeo and elsewhere in northwest Ohio get their drinking water from Lake Erie, the state government declared the water unsafe to drink (or bathe in and cook with, for that matter).

August 4, 2014

(Los Angeles Times)
The mayor of Toledo, Ohio, says new tests show that toxins are still in the city's water supply.
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Half the spills at Marcellus Shale well sites that resulted in fines weren't spotted by gas companies, which are required by state law to look for and report spills of drilling-related fluids. That is one of the main conclusions of a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette review of hundreds of thousands of state and company documents for every incident at a Marcellus well site that led to a fine against a driller through the end of 2012.
(New York Times)
Twelve states filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration on Friday seeking to block an Environmental Protection Agency proposal to regulate coal-fired power plants in an effort to stem climate change.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) looks likely to miss a deadline to filter out a cancer-causing radioactive isotope from water stored at its wrecked nuclear plant in Fukushima, according to Bloomberg News calculations. Equipment delays and the failure to stop radiation contamination of groundwater indicates the utility's president, Naomi Hirose, will be unable to meet a commitment he made to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in September last year to treat all water at the site by March 31, 2015.
The nation's largest public utility has agreed to pay more than $27 million to settle claims from Tennessee property owners who suffered damages from a huge spill of toxin-laden coal ash sludge.
(Miami Herlad)
In a nationwide push to fight Republicans who deny the existence of man-made climate change, investor-turned-activist Tom Steyer has founded a Florida political committee, seeded it with $750,000 of his own money, and says he'll spend far more to help defeat Gov. Rick Scott.
(The Gazette)
Monday will be an oil and gas showdown at the Secretary of State's Office as the deadline hits for groups to submit petition signatures to get issues on the November ballot.
If we're going to talk about fracking, we can't just talk about energy independence, or the economy, or the potential for natural gas to act as a "bridge fuel" to help solve the global warming crisis. We also need to talk about the effect that hydraulic fracturing is having on the communities where it's taking place, and to ask whether that cost—to people's health and property—is too high.
(The Journal Sentinel)
Two weeks after Gov. Scott Walker visited a frac sand company in western Wisconsin to celebrate an expansion, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen entered a settlement with the company for violating state environmental laws.
(The Hill)
The Obama administration Friday formally published proposals in the Federal Register to strengthen safety rules for trains carrying crude oil and other fuels, kicking off a two-month period in which the public can comment.
(La Crosse Tribune)
Newly released documents show the coal delivery shortage that threatens to shutter one of Dairyland Power's two coal-fired plants has also caused a fuel shortage at one of Minnesota's largest electricity generators. Xcel Energy is calling on federal regulators to focus on urging railroads to reduce a shipping backlog that could "impact the reliability of our electric grid."
(The Times-Picayune)
Oil giant BP has filed a formal petition to the U.S. Supreme Court appealing a multi-billion-dollar settlement, approved by lower courts in New Orleans, that compensated businesses damaged by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, WWL-TV reports.
Germany's 1,300 brewers are concerned the country's energy needs and the introduction of fracking will collide with the business of producing some of the best beers in the world.

August 1, 2014

(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
The U.S. energy boom is producing a little-noticed side effect: American oil and gas companies are paying less in federal income taxes. Energy companies are spending billions of dollars a year to drill in shale formations across the country, sending the nation's daily oil output up by almost 50 percent in just the past few years.
A loophole in the U.K. government's energy policy that could have seen billpayers funding billions of pounds of subsidy for old coal plants will be closed, officials have told the Guardian. The move is a victory for analysts and campaigners who argued large coal subsidies would heavily undermine ministers' drive to reduce carbon emissions, as well as costing consumers dearly. However, some coal payments will remain and critics say the policy still undervalues energy saving measures.
(The Hill)
New developments since the State Department's environmental review of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline show that it should not be approved, 12 environmental groups said. The green groups said the government did not properly account for these changes when it last month revised the environmental review it had completed earlier in the year.
TransCanada Corp. (TRP), the energy company proposing the $5.4 billion Keystone XL pipeline, said comparable profit declined to the lowest in six quarters as it sold less power and electricity prices declined.
(The Canadian Press)
Enbridge (TSX:ENB) reports a second-quarter net profit of $756 million, or 91 cents per diluted share, compared with $42 million, or five cents per diluted share, in the same quarter of 2013. Cash flow from operating activities was $812 million, down from $937 million year-over-year.
Energy taxes in much of the world are far below what they should be to reflect the harmful environmental and health impact of fossil fuels use, the International Monetary Fund said in a new book on Thursday.
The U.K. is slashing its climate change diplomacy budget even as global efforts intensify to reach a deal. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) cut spending on its core climate change activities by 39 percent over the past three years, figures show.
(Los Angeles Times)
More than half of California is now under the most severe level of drought for the first time since the federal government began issuing regular drought reports in the late 1990s, according to new data released Thursday.