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Today's Climate

August 12, 2014

(The Sydney Morning Herald)
The outlook for the Great Barrier Reef looks grim, with many of the threats to its environmental health worsening over the past five years and expected to deteriorate further as climate change intensifies, two major reviews have found. In worrying signs for the future of the world heritage site, two reports released by the federal government on Tuesday have warned the reef is under significant stress.
No evidence of the toxin that caused Toledo to warn 400,000 people not to drink or wash with tap water has been found in greater Cleveland's water supply, which services 1.4 million people, a top official from the Cleveland Division of Water says. In the wake of the Toledo crisis, Cuyahoga County executive Ed FitzGerald held a summit yesterday to allow experts and officials to report on what is occurring in Lake Erie's central basin.

August 11, 2014

(The Star-Ledger)
For the second time in two years, Gov. Chris Christie has vetoed a bill that would have banned the dumping of fracking waste in New Jersey. Environmentalists and lawmakers from both parties had championed the measure, which would have prohibited companies from treating, discharging, disposing, and storing waste from hydraulic fracturing—the controversial practice of pumping water, sand, and chemicals deep underground to harvest natural gas.
It's been two years since state regulators touted a record $1.5 million fine against a company for illegally dumping 20,000 barrels of toxic liquid and threatening drinking water supplies near a large western North Dakota city, and little has changed. The now-dissolved company is under federal investigation, the penalty is unpaid and the affected site is still contaminated.
China and Brazil are looking for ways to redirect a global climate debate, which they say unfairly accuses developing nations of delaying limits on fossil-fuel pollution. China wants to blitz attendees at United Nations-led climate talks with pamphlets touting the clean-energy gains made by the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide. Brazil wants more recognition for slowing destruction of the planet's biggest rainforest.
(Texas Tribune)
Texas' top environmental regulator suggested Thursday that the state may ignore a proposed directive from the Obama administration in June to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.  "I'm concerned that if this is not contested, if we don't dispute this, if we don't win, the implications … are only the camel's nose under the tent," Bryan Shaw, chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, said at an event in the Texas Capitol sponsored by the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
Inside the small U-Haul rental office in Guthrie, Oklahoma, Tami Boxley routinely deals with something that once was rare: the rattling, booming roll of the earth. In the last week alone, residents of Guthrie, pop. 10,191, have felt five quakes rock the town a half hour's drive from Oklahoma City.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Since joining the Alaskan oil rush in the early 1980s, Richard Repper has jumped from project to project in the state, with no job more than a three-hour flight from this town about 70 miles south of Anchorage. But last fall, he began working in North Dakota, more than 2,000 miles away.
House Republicans will package together all their energy and "jobs" legislation and send it to the Senate, an election-year move to try to highlight a contrast with Democrats. The legislation will be combined in two bills and leadership will attempt to pass it in September, according to a memo sent to lawmakers by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
(Fuel Fix)
Houston billionaire Richard Kinder is fusing all the pieces of his fragmented pipeline empire into one company, Kinder Morgan Inc., in a $44 billion transaction that ranks among the largest in U.S. history. In a move that would end nearly two decades of delegating its main operations to subordinate firms, Houston-based Kinder Morgan said Sunday it is planning to buy out three companies it controls indirectly for $44 billion in cash and stock, bringing its network of North American pipelines and energy storage terminals under one corporate roof. It also will assume $27 billion in debt.
(Columbus Dispatch)
Scientists say climate change is exacerbating toxic-algae problems in Lake Erie and across the country. They say more-intense storms are dumping heavy rains onto farm fields, causing more fertilizer runoff than in the past, and that lake-water temperatures are rising, making a perfect home for the toxic blue-green algae that plague Lake Erie every summer and caused Toledo's recent drinking-water woes.
(National Journal)
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy wants schools to include climate science in their curricula. Irish America magazine scored an interview with McCarthy, who grew up in a Boston area family with Irish roots. In one question, she was asked whether climate change should be part of the educational system.
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Despite the scientific consensus that global warming is occurring and caused by human activity, a new survey conducted for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette demonstrates that many Americans remain uncertain about the impact of climate change and the need for government action to address it.
(Washington Post)
Tuvalu's coastline consists of white and sandy beaches, green palm trees and mangroves. It is hard to imagine that anybody would want to leave this small island nation, located between Australia and Hawaii, voluntarily. But Tuvalu has become the epicenter of a landmark refugee ruling that could mark the beginning of a wave of similar cases: On June 4, a family was granted residency by the Immigration and Protection Tribunal in New Zealand after claiming to be threatened by climate change in its home country, Tuvalu.

August 8, 2014

Deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions of 40 to 70 percent by mid-century will be needed to avert the worst of global warming that is already harming all continents, a draft U.N. report showed.
(Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Minnesota regulators opened the door Thursday to considering an all-new route for Enbridge Energy's proposed Sandpiper crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota.
(New York Times)
Loving County is big, dry and stretches for miles, and is the perfect place, local officials say, to store high-level radioactive waste. Officials here hope to entice the federal government—with $28 billion to spend on the disposal of high-level radioactive waste—into considering the possibility.
Tribal leaders on an American Indian reservation in the heart of North Dakota's booming oil patch are proposing fees for companies that burn and waste natural gas. The Three Affiliated Tribes outlined its plan to impose fees in a six-page document sent to oil companies.
(The Coloradoan)
A Larimer County judge overturned Fort Collins' five-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing Thursday, offering yet another blow to voter-led guidance of Colorado's oil and gas development concerns. It has been a week of dashed hopes for grassroots groups and lawmakers pushing for voter-approved changes on both sides of the oil and gas debate.
(Denver Post)
The City of Longmont's adoption of oil and gas rules was the opening shot in Colorado's battle over local control of drilling and Thursday the state voted to call a truce.
(Poughkeepsie Journal)
The trustee for a defunct oil-and-gas company is attempting a last-ditch effort to revive a lawsuit challenging hydraulic fracturing bans by local governments in New York. The state Court of Appeals in June ruled in favor of the towns of Dryden, Tompkins County, and Middlefield, Otsego County, which saw their local natural-gas-drilling bans challenged by pro-fracking interests.
Plentiful supplies of coal used to generate electricity are poised to cap prices for the fuel near the lowest in five years, even as demand rises heading into the Northern Hemisphere winter. Power-station coal at the port of Newcastle in Australia, the world's second-biggest exporter, will be little changed in the three-month period starting Oct. 1, according to UBS AG and Bank of America Corp., even as utilities in Asia buy more toward the end of the year.
(Christian Science Monitor)
Shipping crude oil by rail has led to a coal shortage across the United States. Rail companies have more than doubled the amount of petroleum products being shipped each week, which has caused delays in shipping coal, corn, and grain.
(Minnesota Public Radio)
Tons of corn spilled into Locke Lake on a summer morning three years ago after a freight train derailed near Mary Jo Czaplewski's Fridley home. It turned the lake yellow. "I couldn't believe my eyes," she said, recalling the twisted mess of 17 railcars off the tracks and corn everywhere.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Kinder Morgan Energy Partners L.P. said on Thursday it will more than double the capacity of the rail-loading terminal for crude oil that it is building in Canada's oil sands, after signing new agreements with unidentified oil companies.
(The Canadian Press)
It's business as usual in a large swath of land in northwestern British Columbia, despite escalating tensions spurred by an eviction order from the Gitxsan First Nation. The First Nation issued notice last month to sport fishermen, forest companies and the Canadian National Railway that they would have to stop all activities in the 33,000 square kilometers of its territories near Terrace, B.C., by Aug. 4.
(Fuel Fix)
The energy industry and mining make up at least 10 percent of the economy in six states, including Texas, where a crude oil boom is happening in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas and Permian Basin in West Texas.
Two months before an algae-related toxin caused Toledo officials to impose a drinking-water ban, top city officials, including Mayor D. Michael Collins, were warned by a top state official that lagging plant repairs threatened the plant’s safe operation, according to documents obtained by The Blade.

August 7, 2014

Most freight railroad insurance policies couldn't begin to cover damage from a moderate oil train accident, much less a major disaster. And the Department of Transportation’s own database of oil train incidents is flawed because some railroads and shippers provide incomplete information that far understates property damage.
(CTV News)
The group spearheading a blockade of an Enbridge pipeline construction site in southwestern Ontario said Wednesday it will continue the protest until its concerns are addressed. Some 30 activists began their campaign early Tuesday in the community of Innerkip near Woodstock at the site for the pipeline called Line 9.