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Today's Climate

March 28, 2014

(Huffington Post)
Peabody Energy Corp., the world's largest private-sector coal company, launched a public relations and advertising campaign last month extolling the virtues of coal energy for poor people. A Peabody press release announcing the campaign, called Advanced Energy for Life, argues that lack of access to energy is "the world's number one human and environmental crisis."
(Christian Science Monitor)
Before Fukushima and before Chernobyl, the world got its first nuclear-power scare – the one at Three Mile Island 35 years ago Saturday that is indelibly etched in global consciousness and the one that remains an impediment to a nuclear renaissance. On March 28, 1979, the alarm began – and in some corners, it has never ceased.

March 27, 2014

Galveston County officials are warning people of possible health risks due to the oil spill. According public health statement from the Galveston County Health District, inhaling oil vapors or the particles in a wave's spray can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and eye and throat irritation.
(Denver Post)
A statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing would cost Colorado 68,000 jobs and $8 billion in economic activity over five years, according to an analysis released Wednesday. The economic modeling study by the University of Colorado's Leeds School of Business describes job losses rippling into sectors as disparate as health care and farming.
Global sea level rise over millennia will be far higher than that expected this century, but its impacts are barely studied, according to a major UN review of climate impacts, to be published next Monday. The report, leaked online, is the second of a three-part publication by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
(Yale 360)
When Alberta's oil sands industry marked its 40th anniversary in 2007, one statistic stood out among the many that measure economic success and environmental impact: Not a single acre of mined land had been certified as being "reclaimed" to government standards.
A subtle shift is under way in the Canadian oil industry, where collegial collaboration over vital new extraction technology is yielding to corporate protectionism in the race to profit from the world's third-largest reserves. Canadian energy companies are filing four times more oil and gas technology patents than they did a decade ago and are increasingly turning to the courts to protect the processes and innovations that can make the difference between a profitable oil sands reservoir and an idle tract of land.
(Houston Chronicle)
Charter fishing businesses and individuals who have suffered property losses and other costs as a result of the March 22 collision near the Texas City Dike have filed a class action lawsuit in federal court against Kirby Inland Marine and Cleopatra Shipping Agency. The suit was filed March 24 in U.S. District Court in Galveston over the collision of a barge pushed by a tow boat named Miss Susan and a 585-foot bulk carrier, Summer Wind. Kirby Inland Marine owns the vessel Miss Susan, while Cleopatra Shipping Agency owns Summer Wind.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Duke Energy has created an internal strategic task force to oversee an engineering review of the company's coal-ash basins in the wake of the Dan River coal-ash spill.
Several U.S. states are banding together to combat the mounting risks of earthquakes tied to the disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. Regulators from Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Ohio met for the first time this month in Oklahoma City to exchange information on the man-made earthquakes and help states toughen their standards.
(Chemical & Engineering News)
Dangerously high concentrations of air pollutants are threatening an unexpected place—rural Utah. During stagnate wintertime periods, VOCs released from oil and gas wells in Utah's Uintah Basin reach levels exceeding those in U.S. cities.
(E&E Publishing)
Rail-bound crude traffic has faced intense public scrutiny and hours of delays in Chicago, the nation's busiest freight rail hub. Frank Patton thinks he has found a way around all the fuss—specifically, a roughly 150-mile-long way around the city itself.
(The Hill)
The U.S. is now producing a 10th of the world's oil, the Energy Department's statistics shop said Wednesday. A rise in tight oil operations sent crude oil production upwards at the end of last year, the Energy Information Administration said.
The Showtime documentary series "Years of Living Dangerously," executive produced by James Cameron, features an exclusive interview with Barack Obama, Mashable has learned—a segment that may provide rare insight into the President's thinking on climate science and policy. The interview was taped during the week of March 16, individuals with knowledge of the segment said. The show premieres April 13.
Less coal and gas usage to generate electricity sees a marginal drop in carbon emissions in 2013, figures show UK greenhouse gas emissions fell by nearly 2% last year, as less coal and gas was burned to generate electricity.
Proof that good things don't always come in nice packages can be found by taking the fast train from Beijing to Tianjin and then driving to the coast. Tianjin, China's third-biggest city, originated as Beijing's port on the Yellow Sea. But in recent years Tianjin has reclaimed so much of its muddy, unstable shoreline that the city has effectively moved inland and a new, crazily active port has sprung up at the water's edge.

March 26, 2014

After a vast oil spill in the waters off Houston, authorities are reopening the shipping channel, hoping to ease the wait on those using it. Dave Fehling of Houston Public Media explains the cleanup.
(Globe and Mail)
What matters most is safety, not whether oil is transported by pipeline or rail, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt says.
(Washington Post)
The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule Tuesday that would give the federal government regulatory authority over millions of acres of wetlands and about 2 million miles of streams.
(Think Progress)
The so-called "War on Coal" is going to court. Coal company Murray Energy filed a complaint Monday against the Environmental Protection Agency, claiming that the agency failed to evaluate how air pollution regulations affected jobs in the coal industry. In the complaint, the company and several of its subsidiaries outlined how the EPA's enforcement of the Clean Air Act placed "immense pressure on the electric generating sector" by imposing "costly regulations" that make it expensive and impractical for new coal plants to be built.
(Platts (sub. req'd))
U.S. Representative Pete Olson, R-Texas, on Tuesday called for less federal regulation for oil and gas drilling, including allowing some drilling in national parks.Olson, who spoke at the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners annual convention in Fort Worth, called for easing environmental restrictions in order to open up more federal lands to oil and gas development, and taking other pro-development steps such as revising the Endangered Species Act to avoid shutting out prospective areas to drilling.
(Texas Tribune)
Oiled birds and stranded boats have been some of the most compelling visual images of the devastation in Galveston Bay in the wake of an oil tanker collision that might have released up to 168,000 gallons of fuel oil into the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday. But marine scientists and fishing industry officials worry that the spill poses longer-term dangers beneath the surface of the bay's waters, which are among the most productive in the world and a key resource for a multibillion-dollar recreational and commercial fishing industry.
(StateImpact Texas)
There are over 500 clean-up crew members working in boats and on beaches near where the oil spilled near Texas City on Galveston Bay. But determining where some of the oil might still go is being done by experts who aren't nearby. They're over 2,000 miles away.
Last summer's oil train accident in Quebec that killed 47 people has lawmakers and others in the Bay Area concerned that it could happen here as the volume of crude oil from fracking and other petroleum products arriving from North Dakota and Canada to local refineries surges.
(Edmonton Journal)
Energy companies support environmental monitoring and scientific research to ensure that industrial emissions in the oil sands are not adversely affecting people's health. Geraldine Anderson, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said Tuesday that oil sands producers understand development must occur in a manner that keeps people safe, and benefits their quality of life.
(The Hill)
In the wake of a February incident that caused coal ash from a Duke Energy Corp. plant to flow into the Dan River, the Sierra Club released a poll Tuesday showing the state's residents want officials to do more to protect the environment the pollutant.
A high-profile anti-fracking activist who often gives tours of natural gas drilling sites in northeastern Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale region asked a judge Monday for relief from an order barring her from stepping foot on more than 300 square miles of land owned or leased by one of the state's leading natural gas drillers.
Senior scientists and government officials are meeting in Japan to agree a critical report on the impact of global warming. But some attendees say the summary, due out next Monday, is far too alarmist.
(Mother Jones)
Suppose that you live in Vancouver, British Columbia, and you drive a car to work. Naturally, you have to get gas regularly. When you stop at the pump, you may see a notice like the one above, explaining that part of the price you're paying is, in effect, due to the cost of carbon. That's because in 2008, the government of British Columbia decided to impose a tax on greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, enacting what has been called "the most significant carbon tax in the Western Hemisphere by far."

March 25, 2014

(Houston Chronicle)
The heavy oil spilled into Galveston Bay showed signs Monday of harming one of the nation's great natural nurseries, with biologists finding dozens of oiled birds on just one part of the Bolivar Peninsula. Scientists found the birds on a wildlife refuge just two miles from where a partially sunken barge leaked as much as 168,000 gallons of thick bunker fuel oil after colliding with another vessel Saturday.