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Today's Climate

July 10, 2014

(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.
(Washington Post)
President Obama will nominate Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall to be the next deputy secretary of energy, the White House said Tuesday. Sherwood-Randall would replace Daniel B. Poneman, an arms control expert who has served in that position since 2009.
(Denver Post)
Fronts in the fight over local control of oil and gas drilling are taking shape, with groups collecting signatures on five ballot measures—three backed by environmentalists and two by industry. Meanwhile, Gov. John Hickenlooper is running out of time in his effort to blunt the ballot-box battle with compromise local-control legislation that would require a special session to be called.
(Midwest Energy News)
Even before the most recent recession, Carroll County in rural eastern Ohio was struggling. Employment prospects were sparse and young people were fleeing for opportunities elsewhere. Then came 2011 and arrival of the shale industry, giving the local economy an injection of jobs and the attendant financial benefits an influx of new business creates.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
Is heavy drilling making some people sick? It a question doctors, public health researchers and regulators in oil and gas-producing states are still struggling to answer roughly six years into the American shale boom.
(The Globe and Mail)
General Electric Co. chairman and chief executive officer Jeff Immelt said Canada's energy industry needs to make the crude wrung from the Alberta oil sands competitive with other sources around the world in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, and is positioning the industrial conglomerate to play a key role.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Shippers in China and Japan said they would start a regular service to carry Siberian natural gas across the Arctic Ocean to East Asia, showing how Asian demand for the fuel is reshaping global shipping routes.
The city of Oxnard in Ventura County has taken tentative steps to block a proposed power plant in the coastal zone. Oxnard's developing debate over how to incorporate concerns about newly-identified risks into longstanding planning processes is one of the first in California, but it's unlikely to be the last.

July 8, 2014

A federal agency has fined the company that spilled chemicals into West Virginia's largest water supply $11,000 for a pair of violations. The Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Freedom Industries $7,000 for keeping storage tanks containing crude MCHM behind a diked wall that was not liquid tight. On Jan. 9, roughly 10,000 gallons of MCHM leaked from one of the tanks and through the riverside diked wall and left 300,000 residents without clean water for days.
(Edmonton Journal)
First Nations leaders and scientists from the University of Manitoba will release a report Monday they say shows links between the oilsands and impacts on wildlife, the environment and human health in aboriginal communities. Eriel Deranger, the communications co-ordinator for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, said the study concludes that high levels of cancer in the region are associated with eating traditional foods and locally caught fish.
(The Hill)
The Environmental Protection Agency is pushing a different narrative than one published in a New York Times report detailing the influential role one green group played in crafting the presidents' signature climate rule.The Times published a report Sunday night explaining how three leaders within the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) drafted a climate plan to slash carbon pollution from the nation's existing power plants over the course of two years.
(Seacoast Online)
350 New Hampshire and other concerned citizens demonstrated in the Garrison City on Sunday, marking the first anniversary of the oil train explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, near the Maine border. Some of the demonstrators donned "hazardous material" suits and did mock cleanups of oil spills, while other held signs like the one depicting Uncle Sam telling the public "I want you off fossil fuels," or another that read "There are no jobs on a dead planet."
(Los Angeles Times)
A year after rail tanker cars carrying crude oil in Canada exploded and killed 47 people, California is stepping up efforts to prevent a similar disaster on tracks crisscrossing the state. In recent weeks, the state began pumping more money into a new rail safety program, the Legislature approved new fees on oil being carried by train, and the state's Fish and Wildlife Department started planning how to better protect inland waterways from oil spills.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
When energy companies started extracting oil from shale formations in South Texas a few years ago, they invested hundreds of millions of dollars to make the volatile crude safer to handle. In North Dakota's Bakken Shale oil field, nobody installed the necessary equipment. The result is that the second-fastest growing source of crude in the U.S. is producing oil that pipelines often would reject as too dangerous to transport.
Squinting into a laptop perched on the back of his pickup, Austin Holland searches for a signal from a coffee-can-sized sensor buried under the grassy prairie. Holland, Oklahoma's seismology chief, is determined to find the cause of an unprecedented earthquake epidemic in the state. And he suspects pumping wastewater from oil and gas drilling back into the Earth has a lot to do with it.
(The Oklahoman)
Oklahoma has shook, rattled and rolled through nearly 800 earthquakes in the past year, according to U.S. Geological Survey data. That is more than enough for Cynde Collin-Clark, who is poised to leave her Edmond home for someplace without as much seismic activity.
(MintPress News)
Energy giant Kinder Morgan's plans to expand its existing Trans Mountain oil pipeline in order to triple the amount of oil shipped out of Canada from 300,000 barrels a day to around 890,000 barrels per day, has been met with strong resistance from environmental protection groups and concerned members of the public who argue that the increase in oil shipments will have a negative impact on marine life—particularly whales that live in the Northern Pacific Ocean.