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Today's Climate

October 30, 2014

(National Journal)
For a lawmaker hoping to land a top party seat on a key congressional committee, which matters the most? Seniority? Policy expertise? Legislative skill? Or is it the ability to raise staggering sums of money—including from interests and industries they hope to oversee—that can be funneled to their colleagues?
(The Hill)
A majority of voters in swing states prefer a candidate that wants to take action on climate change and curb carbon pollution, according to a new poll.The poll, conducted by Hart Research for three national green groups, found that 54 percent of the eligible voters surveyed across five swing states are more likely to vote for a candidate that wants to fight climate change. 
(New York Times)
If the oil and gas industry wants to prevent its opponents from slowing its efforts to drill in more places, it must be prepared to employ tactics like digging up embarrassing tidbits about environmentalists and liberal celebrities, a veteran Washington political consultant told a room full of industry executives in a speech that was secretly recorded.
(The Times-Picayune)
BP is pushing harder in its campaign to remove Patrick Juneau from his post overseeing oil spill claims payments, presenting records the oil giant says prove the Lafayette attorney is not fit to run the program. In a memo filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans late Wednesday (Oct. 29), the British oil giant submitted copies of emails and billing records it says show Juneau worked against BP prior to being selected to oversee oil spill claims as a neutral administrator.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
An environmental group has filed a lawsuit challenging the Corbett administration's plan to lease more state park and forest land for oil and gas development. The Corbett Administration lifted a moratorium on new leases in state parks and forests with an executive order last May to help plug a budget gap. The lawsuit filed by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network is the first to challenge that executive order directly, but is the second suit aimed at preventing more drilling on state lands.
For signs of how the U.S. shale boom is transforming the global flow of oil, look halfway across the world at South Korea. The Asian nation, which relies on the Middle East for about 86 percent of its oil imports, is benefiting as new output from Texas to North Dakota displaces the crudes that fed U.S. refineries for decades.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Ukraine and Russia resolved their natural-gas feud on Thursday in a hard-fought deal that averts the threat of gas shortages in Europe this winter. The deal was sealed after months of intense negotiations brokered by the European Union, which relies on Russia for more than a third of its gas imports, half of which is piped through Ukraine.
(Al Jazeera America)
Australia appears set to fast-track approval of a coal port expansion project that would dump millions of tons of dredged material onto wetlands near the Great Barrier Reef, government documents show.
(The Canadian Press)
British Columbia's Auditor-General says doing business with the oil-and-gas industry has cost the province's coffers about $1.25-billion in royalties even before most of the product has been pulled from the ground. The incentives to be paid to the industry were just some of the items highlighted Thursday by Auditor-General Carol Bellringer in her 2013-14 summary of B.C.'s financial statements.
(Washington Post)
The two men competing to become Maryland governor have starkly different views on key environmental issues in a state that is weighing fracking and wind farm projects and an off-shore natural gas pipeline, and where costly efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay have generated heated debate.
California's landmark climate policy program—AB32, passed in 2006 and defended from ballot attack in 2010—includes, among other measures, a statewide cap-and-trade system. The carbon market established by AB32 is now up and running.
(New York Times)
Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, a Republican who is fighting a Democratic challenge from former Gov. Charlie Crist, was asked by The Miami Herald if he believes climate change is significantly affecting the weather. "Well, I’m not a scientist," he said.
There have been a number of studies recently on ocean warming and sea-level rise. Collectively, they are helping scientists unite around an emerging understanding of climate change and its impact on the Earth.
Hurricane Sandy, which made landfall near Brigantine, New Jersey, on Oct. 29, 2012, was a showcase of modern weather forecasting—but not necessarily one enabled by American engineering.

October 29, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday during a visit to Canada that he would like to make a decision soon on TransCanada Corp's Keystone XL crude oil pipeline. TransCanada has waited more than six years for the Obama administration to make a decision on the line, which would take as much as 830,000 barrels per day of Alberta tar sands crude to refineries on Texas' Gulf Coast.
(Omaha World-Bureau)
Nebraskans who have long worked to block the Keystone XL pipeline in their own state now get a chance to delay the project in South Dakota. The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission this week agreed to allow 43 individuals or groups to intervene on the commission's review of the pipeline route through South Dakota. About 15 are neighbors to the south who have vigorously fought the project at home.
(Think Progress)
The Weather Channel has released an official position statement on global warming, just two days after the channel's co-founder told Fox News' Megyn Kelly that climate change is based on "bad science" and does not exist.
(New York Times)
These are rough times for carbon taxes, aimed at mitigating climate change. Australia recently repealed its carbon tax. South Korea delayed a carbon-based tax on vehicle emissions. South Africa put off a planned carbon tax until 2016.
(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (sub. req'd))
Exxon Mobil is seeking to try in secret a lawsuit over the Pegasus pipeline's rupture in Mayflower last year by declaring as confidential hundreds of thousands of pages of information about the maintenance and repair of the line, the plaintiffs in a federal class-action lawsuit argued this week.
The U.S. EPA scrapped a system to track facilities that have chronically polluted the air, water and soil and overhauled the way it handles alleged air polluters, according to previously unreleased documents obtained by SNL Energy.
(E&E Publishing)
It was first criticized by environmentalists. Then it was reined in by government officials. Now, China's coal-fueled synthetic natural gas industry faces another blow as a group of energy experts raise doubt over its economic viability.
(The Globe and Mail)
Everything about Alberta's oil sands is huge–from the sheer scale of the 170-billion-barrel resource in the ground, to the two-storey trucks that haul bitumen ore in the mines, to the $30-billion per year in capital investment to expand the flow of crude.
Take off from Aspen's tiny airport and head straight west, and you'll soon find yourself over an area known as the Thompson Divide - 221,500 acres of what Teddy Roosevelt described as "great, wild country... where the mountains crowded together in chain, peak, and tableland; all of the higher ones wrapped in a shroud of snow." This time of year, the leaves change from green to yellow to red.
Underground disposal of wastewater from gas production likely triggered a moderate earthquake in Colorado in 2011, the U.S. Geological Survey said on Wednesday in a study that may fuel debate over the impact of the U.S. energy boom.
(The Hill)
A libertarian think tank is suing the White House science office over a video claiming that the polar vortex, a major cold front, is tied to climate change. In its lawsuit against the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) questions the science behind the video released last year.
(Climate Central)
The two years that have passed since Hurricane Sandy crashed into the New Jersey shoreline have not been enough time for scientists and researchers to make much headway on the hows and whys of the Northeast's epic storm. But that's not because they aren't trying.
(ProPublica, NPR)
In 2012, two massive storms pounded the United States, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless, hungry or without power for days and weeks. Americans did what they so often do after disasters. They sent hundreds of millions of dollars to the Red Cross, confident their money would ease the suffering left behind by Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Isaac. They believed the charity was up to the job.

October 28, 2014

(Columbus Dispatch (sub. req'd))
A pipeline carrying condensate, a toxic substance produced during natural gas and oil processing, caught fire in eastern Ohio early this morning. It burned several acres of Monroe County woodland before the pipeline pressure dropped low enough for the fire to burn itself out. No one was injured, and no residents had to leave their homes, said Phillip Keevert, Monroe County's Emergency Management Agency director.
Bangladesh, Sierra Leone and South Sudan led a ranking of countries facing extreme risks as a result of climate change, exacerbating the chances of civil conflict, according to a study by U.K. researcher Maplecroft.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Australia's government secured crucial support from crossbench lawmaker and mining billionaire Clive Palmer for legislation establishing a A$2.5 billion (US$2.2 billion) fund to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, which critics say could struggle to replace a carbon-price scheme dumped three months ago.