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Today's Climate

July 7, 2014

(StateImpact Texas)
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week on a lawsuit over how much latitude the federal government has to regulate facilities that emit greenhouse gases, victory was claimed both by environmentalists who want more regulation and by Texas state officials who wants less. Texas and 16 other states brought the action.

July 3, 2014

(Inside Energy)
Energy boom states in the west are taking different tactics for recording and responding to public health complaints regarding oil and gas. Inside Energy decided to look into these records after this State Impact Pennsylvania story found public health officials in that state have been told not to even return calls with health complaints about oil and gas.
(Marfa Public Radio)
Some West Texas residents are starting to put pressure on local officials to keep hydraulic fracturing out of the Big Bend region. Fracking is of course widespread in the Midland-Odessa region, but there are active gas leases in counties further south toward the border, and some are worried the industry might be edging ever-closer to Big Bend National Park.
Wildfires blamed in part on climate change are consuming timber in the U.S. West at such a furious pace that half the Forest Service's budget is now spent fighting them—up from 21 percent in 2000.
(The Virginian-Pilot)
Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday reconstituted a state commission to advise him on how Virginia can reduce the impacts of climate change while preparing for its effects, including flooding and sea level rise. "Climate change is too big an issue for anybody to ignore," McAuliffe said, announcing his executive order at First Landing State Park.
(Fuel Fix)
Two Democratic senators are challenging the Obama administration's decision to allow a pair of Texas companies to sell barely processed ultra-light oil overseas, suggesting that the rulings run afoul of the decades-long ban on exporting U.S. crude.
(The Canadian Press)
Periodic flurries of federal regulation, rule-making and reassurance followed the rail disaster last July that killed 47 people, destroyed dozens of buildings and contaminated waterways in a small Quebec town. But one year after the tragedy in Lac-Megantic, opposition MPs and a leading environmental group say still bolder steps are required to prevent another fiery and catastrophic derailment of an oil-laden train.
In just over a year, North America has seen a dozen serious accidents involving trains that derailed while carrying flammable crude oil. One of those accidents, in Lynchburg, caused a massive fire and oil spill.
(Columbus Dispatch)
New fracking wells spread rapidly throughout the Utica shale in eastern Ohio last year, increasing the state's natural-gas production to historic highs, state officials said yesterday. Natural-gas production increased by 97 percent in 2013 from 2012 numbers, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director James Zehringer said yesterday during a presentation at Stark State College.
(Tulsa World)
Tulsa and Oklahoma energy industry leaders don't seem too worried about a New York high court's decision that allows municipalities to ban hydraulic fracturing in that state.
(Trib Total Media)
State lawmakers are considering legislation that would direct regulators to establish separate rules for drillers tapping oil and gas in shallower wells above the more popular Marcellus shale.
South Florida's coastal real estate may become uninsurable as the sea level rises unless Miami's county government takes urgent action, a task force said on Tuesday.
(Los Angeles Times)
In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, NASA's brand new Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 successfully reached its final destination: space. It still has three weeks of maneuvers to do before it reaches its ultimate orbit 438 miles above the Earth. But by the end of the month it should be fully launched on its scientific mission: taking more than 100,000 precise measurements of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere every day.
(The Hill)
Former White House spokesman Bobby Whithorne is joining billionaire Tom Steyer's climate action group.  Whithorne, who first joined the White House in 2011 and announced his departure in mid-June, wrote in an email Wednesday he would be joining the California-based NextGen Climate.
(Climate Central)
Tropical Storm Arthur, the first named storm of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, is slowly churning its way up the East Coast. Expected to become a hurricane before Thursday, Arthur could make landfall in North Carolina, bringing with it a surge of seawater.

July 2, 2014

(The Hill)
Nine states are joining coal company Murray Energy in suing the administration for its proposal to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants. Murray Energy called the new standards, which are a signature piece of President Obama's climate change legacy, "illegal, irrational, and radical" when first filing the lawsuit June 18.
(Bismarck Tribune)
State regulators approved a policy on Tuesday aimed at reducing natural gas flaring. Under the policy, companies could face penalties restricting oil production until compliance is met. The three-member North Dakota Industrial Commission unanimously approved an order that would require most new and existing wells drilled in the Bakken and Three Forks formations to meet requirements in how much gas can be flared.
(E&E Publishing)
The Bureau of Land Management rarely sets deadlines for approving oil and gas drilling permits on public lands, and its employees often lack the supervision needed to ensure permits are approved on time, according to a new Interior inspector general report. In addition, BLM's database for oil and gas permitting is riddled with errors, holes and inconsistencies, which complicates efforts to monitor performance at field office and national levels, the IG report said.
(News & Record)
Duke Energy could get more time to close its coal ash ponds under legislation proposed by N.C. House leaders. The House Environment Committee discussed on Tuesday morning the coal ash management law that the Senate approved last week. House leaders said they would build upon the Senate bill with their own version of the legislation.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Coal is still king here in the heart of the state's Powder River Basin, where a column of trucks carrying freshly mined loads chug up a hillside outside town each day. So when talk at a local bar turns to new carbon emissions standards proposed in June by the Environmental Protection Agency—rules that would hit the coal industry hardest—patrons respond with a mixture of disbelief and defiance.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
Did Pennsylvania health department officials circulate a list of drilling-related "buzzwords" and a meeting permission form that led department staff to believe they were being silenced on the issue of natural gas development?
(Bloomberg BNA)
The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) said records it obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show that a regional energy plan among New England governors favors large gas pipeline and electricity transmission line expansion projects at the expense of the environment.
(The Times-Picayune)
Two Gulf Coast oil and gas companies with large footprints in south Louisiana are partnering in a $24 million deal to drill some of the state's oldest oilfields. The companies plan to use new drilling technology to tap oil and gas reserves they say larger companies left behind decades ago.
(Houston Chronicle)
Texas now is pumping 36 percent of the nation's oil, more than doubling its production in three years, according to new federal data. The Energy Information Administration reports that Texas oil production topped 3 million barrels per day in April, for the first time since the late 1970s.
(New York Times)
When the Environmental Protection Agency published in June its new rules to combat carbon emissions from power plants, the American political class lit up in debates over what this meant for the country's carbon emissions, its coal industry and its economic growth.
(USA Today)
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says she sees the impact of climate change at just about every national park she visits. "In Historic Jamestowne, we've actually had 98 feet of coastline wash away, including half of what was a Civil War fort and some very critical Native American artifacts that have been there probably for 10,000 years," Jewell says. "Glaciers melting in Glacier National Park; Joshua trees dying in Joshua Tree National Park—and all these things are tied in to a changing climate."
(The Daily Climate)
The body that represents doctors in the U.K. has voted to end its investments in fossil fuel companies−making it the first national medical organization in the world to do so. A motion passed at the annual general meeting of the British Medical Association marks its commitment to withdraw financial support for fossil fuels and to pursue instead a corresponding increase in its investments in renewable energy.
Throughout California's desperately dry Central Valley, those with water to spare are cashing in. As a third parched summer forces farmers to fallow fields and lay off workers, two water districts and a pair of landowners in the heart of the state's farmland are making millions of dollars by auctioning off their private caches.

July 1, 2014

Mergers and acquisitions in Canada's energy sector have rebounded from a dull 2013 and look poised for a further pickup, driven by rapidly developing shale oil and gas properties rather than oil sands plays. Interest in the sector was renewed after a cold winter boosted gas demand and as Middle East unrest hikes oil prices. A longer-term slide in the Canadian dollar that boosted producer profits has only reinforced the trend.
(NBC News)
Sally Hickok wasn't planning to spend money on Main Street, even if it was Garage Sale day in this small town on the eastern prairie. The 56-year-old judge had no need for a used prom dress or a second-hand porta potty. But once inside the community center, she started chatting with neighbors, who were selling the town's junk for charity—and she walked out with six half-empty bottles of colored nail polish.