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Today's Climate

December 2, 2014

The black slabs of coal came in by the truckload through this dusty valley in northern China, slated to power cement and steel plants, heat the houses of poor farmers and even grill skewers of lamb and beef.
(Think Progress)
Right now, the criminal indictment of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship—charged with responsibility for the deaths of 29 coal miners in an April 2010 mine explosion—is not available to the public. The families of the explosion's victims, and the parties to the lawsuit, are not allowed to speak to the press. Court personnel are banned from making any statements to the media about what's going on with the case.
Ministers from 11 E.U. member states, including France and Germany, have written to the European Commission calling on it to press ahead with a tougher air quality law and new rules on cutting waste, according to a letter seen by Reuters.
(Portland Press Herald)
Maine should increase research and monitoring into how rising acidity levels in oceans could harm the state's valuable commercial fisheries while taking additional steps to reduce local pollution that can affect water chemistry.

December 1, 2014

A Canadian Natural Resources pipeline has leaked about 60,000 liters of crude oil in northern Alberta after a "mechanical failure," the Alberta Energy Regulator said on Sunday. Carrie Rosa, a spokeswoman for the regulator, said Canada's largest independent oil producer had filed a report after the Nov. 27 incident near Red Earth Creek, a community about 350 kilometers north of Edmonton.
(The Canadian Press)
New federal government research has confirmed that oilsands tailings ponds are releasing toxic and potentially cancer-causing chemicals into the air. And Environment Canada scientist Elisabeth Galarneau said her study—the first using actual, in-the-field measurements—agrees with earlier research that suggests the amount of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons emitted by the industry has been dramatically underestimated.
Fracking carries potential risks on a par with those from thalidomide, tobacco and asbestos, warns a report produced by the government's chief scientific adviser. The flagship annual report by the U.K.'s chief scientist, Mark Walport, argues that history holds many examples of innovations that were adopted hastily and later had serious negative environmental and health impacts.
(The Hill)
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is entering the homestretch on President Obama's landmark climate regulation aimed at curbing carbon pollution from the nation’s existing power plants. The public comment period will wrap up Monday, Dec. 1, meaning the agency will have to sift through the unprecedented amount of feedback as it tweaks, revises and polishes the rule to finalize it by summer 2015.
(New York Times)
The European Union has long been a world leader on climate change, and its new agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030 keeps it at the forefront of that effort. But experts question whether the plans European leaders have sketched out are strong enough to meet their ambitious goal, and even whether a 40 percent cut is enough to keep the Continent on track toward its longer-term target, an emissions cut of between 80 percent and 95 percent by mid-century.
Spain has committed €120 million (U.S. $150 million) to help developing countries respond to climate change.
(New York Times)
For six years, while drought ravaged Chihuahua State, Mario Ruiz clung to his small herd of cattle. The pasture where his cattle graze, about 45 miles north of the city of Chihuahua, turned bare. Many of his cows starved. Others he sold to buy fodder for those worth saving. Of 130 cows, just 30 are left.
OPEC oil ministers have agreed to keep production levels steady, virtually ensuring continued low prices at the gas pump and lower costs for jet fuel that could translate into cheaper air-ticket prices.
(The Times-Picayune)
Results of a third-party audit of the oil spill settlement program released Tuesday (Nov. 25) by claims administrator Patrick Juneau show the settlement program has correctly processed 99.5 percent of claims. The audit concluded the program is "well-designed and appropriate" and made no major recommendations for improvement.
A Texas hamlet shaken by its first recorded earthquake last year and hundreds since then is among communities now taking steps to challenge the oil and gas industry's traditional supremacy over the right to frack.
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Missouri environmental advocates who have fought for stricter oversight of coal ash waste are eagerly awaiting the mid-December release of new federal rules that will require, for the first time, detailed data. In Missouri, there's precious little of it, making it difficult to measure the scope and impact of the toxic waste.
As Ronald Reagan's secretary of state, George Shultz faced off against Muammar Qaddafi, the Soviet Union and Chinese communists. His latest cause, though, is one few fellow Republicans support: fighting climate change.

November 26, 2014

(New York Times)
The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to hear a major challenge to the limits set by the Obama administration on emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants from coal-fired power plants.
(Huffington Post)
Buoyed by the recent United States-China climate deal, the top climate negotiator for the U.S. said Monday that he's optimistic heading into this year's meeting in Lima, Peru. "I think it will give momentum to the negotiations," said U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern in remarks at the Center for American Progress Monday. "I think it will spur countries to come forward with their own targets."
(Baltimore Sun)
Capping more than three years of study, the O'Malley administration declared Tuesday that hydraulic fracturing for natural gas can be done safely in Western Maryland, but only after regulations are tightened to reduce air and water pollution and protect residents from well contamination, noise and other disruptions associated with an anticipated drilling boom.
(Chicago Tribune)
A southern Illinois circuit judge Friday struck down a move that would have prevented the start of fracking in Illinois.
(Los Angeles Times)
Neighbors are pressing for an environmental study of oil drilling at a South Los Angeles location close to homes, arguing that the city should scrutinize fumes, noise and chemical usage before deciding whether to let the company drill wells at the site.
(Capital New York)
Governor Andrew Cuomo frequently sounds the alarm about the "new normal" of extreme weather. He's talked about it in the aftermath of Hurricanes Sandy, Irene and Lee as he toured flooded villages and destroyed homes and roads, and during last year's snowstorms and extended cold snap.
The oil boom underway in North Dakota has delivered jobs to local economies and helped bring the United States to the brink of being a net energy exporter for the first time in generations. But moving that oil to the few refineries with the capacity to process it is presenting a new danger to towns and cities nationwide—a danger many appear only dimly aware of and are ill-equipped to handle.
On Thanksgiving Day, what used to be the world's most powerful oil cartel will gather in Vienna to decide how much oil to produce. Right around the time that the Bears and Lions are getting underway at in Detroit, delegates of the 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will finish a closed-door meeting and announce to the world how much oil they intend to collectively pump over the next year.
(Washington Post)
A Democratic lawmaker this month accused federal investigators of suppressing concerns about the structural safety of BP's Atlantis offshore oil platform, a facility similar to the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded four years ago.
Money is flowing now to Gulf Coast states to remedy damage from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and subsequent spill. All kinds of projects are underway, from building boat ramps to shoring-up marshland. They're being paid for with a $1 billion down payment BP made toward its ultimate responsibility to make the Gulf Coast whole, a figure estimated to be up to $18 billion.
(Think Progress)
The North American anti-pipeline movement just received a significant injection of financial and psychological energy, and it started with a book award. On Sunday, 24-year-old Quebecois activist and author Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois donated a CA$25,000, or just over $22,000, literary prize to an anti-pipeline citizen's group.
(BBC News)
Schemes to tackle climate change could prove disastrous for billions of people, but might be required for the good of the planet, scientists say.

November 25, 2014

Fiscal incentives for carbon capture should be part of the global climate change agreement that replaces the Kyoto Protocol, 56 countries belonging to the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) said in a statement on Tuesday.
Of course you remember Fillmore. He's the resident hippie of Radiator Springs in the Pixar blockbuster Cars. Much to the chagrin of his neighbor, Sarge the Army Jeep, Fillmore greets each new day with Jimi Hendrix's Woodstock rendition of A Star Spangled Banner—"respect the classics, man"—and is quick with a conspiracy theory about why bio-fuels never stood a chance at America’s gas pumps. Perfectly voiced by the late, great George Carlin, Fillmore has a slight paranoiac edge, as if his intake of marijuana may exceed what's medically indicated.