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Today's Climate

April 1, 2014

(The Hill)
A United Nations report that concludes climate change is negatively affecting every continent arrived with a predictable thud Monday in Washington. Democrats and the Obama administration saw the report as more evidence that leaders must take quick, decisive action on the issue, while skeptics, including much of the Republican Party, held fast in their position that the science is wrong.
One is home to some of the UK's best known commentators casting doubt on climate change science, while the other claims "climate change is on ice" and "huge uncertainties surround the science of climate change." But both the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail have now told MPs they believe climate change is happening and humans play a role in it.
A year and a half after Superstorm Sandy decimated New York City's coastline, a city-run program that was supposed to rebuild wrecked homes has only begun construction on three houses, and officials say they will need another $1 billion from the federal government in order to help every homeowner in need.
(Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism)
Perry Schmitt describes himself as pro-mining but blames the frac sand mine across the highway from his home for driving down the asking price by more than $25,000, to $189,000. His neighbors made out better. Kari Curran and her husband sold 130 acres for $1.5 million to a company affiliated with Unimin Mining Corp., operator of the mine. The property was previously valued at about $225,000. "It was kind of bittersweet," Curran said. "That was the house we raised our kids in."
People in Japan on Tuesday began their first homecomings in three years to a small area evacuated after the Fukushima disaster, but families are divided as worries about radiation and poor job prospects have kept many away. The reopening of the Miyakoji area of Tamura, a city 220 km (140 miles) northeast of Tokyo and inland from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear station, marks a tiny step for Japan as it attempts to recover from the 2011 disasters.

March 31, 2014

(The Hill)
The release of a United Nations report detailing the pervasive effects of climate change should serve as a call to action for the world's nations to curb the emission of greenhouse gases, Secretary of State John Kerry argued Sunday night. In a statement issued by the State Department, Kerry called denial of climate change science "malpractice" and warned the "costs of inaction are catastrophic."
Lawsuits challenging California's climate policies have yet to delay implementation of the programs, attorneys involved in the various cases said March 26. "The California Air Resources Board is batting about 1,000," Tom McHenry, a partner at Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher in Los Angeles, said during a presentation on the status of legal actions the state still faces eight years after enacting the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (A.B. 32).
(Minneapolis Star Tribune)
State lawmakers push for improved grade crossings and more track inspection. But new pipeline rules were dropped.
(Cincinnati Enquirer)
Domestic oil production, including that in Ohio, keeps growing. And with oil being produced in new areas that don't have pipelines, more crude is heading to refineries in rail cars. Yet neither federal nor state regulators track the shipments that are increasingly crisscrossing the country – potentially cutting through neighborhoods and business districts nationwide and in Greater Cincinnati.
(Philadelphia Inquirer)
The long, heated debate ended, the votes were cast, and a proposed natural gas pipeline through the environmentally sensitive Pinelands appeared dead. But pipeline advocates weren't ready to give up - and are now preparing a bipartisan counterattack in what some see as the Jersey equivalent of the national debate over the Keystone XL pipeline.
(Dallas Morning News)
For close to 18 months, Mike Heim watched the construction site outside Decatur where his company planned to build a natural gas processing plant sit idle. He was waiting for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to OK air pollution permits.
(Broomfield Enterprise)
Though Broomfield has resolved several court cases related to its controversial Nov. 5 election, the city anticipates legal action from the oil and gas industry after a judge in February upheld a ban on fracking.
Houston-based Hilcorp seeks to use a 1961 Pennsylvania law to drill under the property of four holdout landowners in New Bedford.
(Al Jazeera America)
One anti-fracking activist's life is about to get a little bit easier. A Pennsylvania judge on Friday loosened a court injunction restricting the movements of Vera Scroggins, who was banned from setting foot on property owned by or leased to Cabot Oil & Gas Co. in Susquehanna County—and therefore unable to shop at her favorite grocery store, go to the nearby hospital, or visit some of her friends.
(Los Angeles Times)
Regulators in North Carolina cited Duke Energy on Friday for a crack in an earthen dam holding back coal ash slurry at a retired coal-burning plant, where the utility was cited March 20 for illegally dumping coal ash waste into the Cape Fear River.
(Bismarck Tribune)
A company official who specializes in radioactive waste says North Dakota risks becoming a superfund clean up site unless it takes decisive steps to deal with radioactive waste from Bakken oil production. Joe Weismann, who heads up radiological operations for U.S. Ecology Inc., with sites in the U.S. and Canada, said North Dakota needs to get the situation under control before it's too late.
Entire island nations "rendered uninhabitable," millions of people to be displaced by floods and rising seas, uncertainties over global food supplies and severe impacts on human health across the world. The news from the United Nations on the likely impacts of climate change is dire, especially for the poorest people on the planet.

March 28, 2014

Climate change has already left its mark "on all continents and across the oceans," damaging food crops, spreading disease, and melting glaciers, according to the leaked text of a blockbuster UN climate science report due out on Monday. Government officials and scientists are gathered in Yokohama this week to wrangle over every line of a summary of the report before the final wording is released on Monday–the first update in seven years.
More oil than previously thought may have leaked into Lake Michigan this week from BP Plc's Indiana refinery, the company said on Thursday, after two U.S. Senators requested a meeting with the British oil major.
(Al Jazeera America)
In comparison to other oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico—especially BP's Deepwater Horizon Disaster—the spill of 168,000 gallons into Galveston Bay, Texas on Saturday seemed relatively minor to many nearby residents. Capt. David Harris, who runs a recreational fishing boat business in the bay, said he's unconcerned about the environmental impact.
(Toronto Star)
Toronto city staff want the federal Natural Resources Minister to immediately implement his own department's proposed pipeline regulations, which would include requiring companies like Enbridge to have at least $1 billion in financial capacity to cover disaster costs. It's another approach the city is undertaking after the National Energy Board failed earlier this month to include Toronto's request for the $1 billion insurance plan in the 30 conditions it outlined after allowing Enbridge to boost capacity on its Line 9 pipeline.
(E&E Publishing)
Environmentalists using a Keystone XL template to battle natural gas export terminals can draw a powerful parallel between the infrastructure projects—both would speed up the development of vast fossil fuel pools—but face longer odds against a new, harder target in the shale industry.
(East Bay Express)
The city councils of both Berkeley and Richmond unanimously passed resolutions last night calling for tighter regulation of the shipping of crude oil by rail through California's East Bay.
(Texas Tribune)
As Texas deals with a drilling boom that has brought a windfall to its coffers but has strained services and raised environmental concerns, governor candidates have concentrated on bite-size policy questions.
Keystone XL, a pipeline proposal to pump Canadian oil sands through the heart of America, has alarmed environmentalists and become one of the most contentious issues of the Obama presidency. But there is a "Plan B" to cut the United States out of the picture, and it is championed by one of Canada's wealthiest business dynasties.
(Think Progress)
Louisiana has given a lot to oil and gas companies, mostly in the form of natural resources. The generosity is not always reciprocated. While the industry brings economic gains and employment to the state, when it comes to environmental costs or socioeconomic strife the exchange is not so smooth. Last summer, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East took matters into their own hands by filing a lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies claiming they have caused the loss of hundreds of thousands of acres of coastal wetlands, which increases flood danger.
Photos taken earlier this month show that North Carolina regulators apparently failed to notice a large crack opening in an earthen dam holding back millions of tons of Duke Energy's coal ash near the Cape Fear River. State Department of Environment and Natural Resources spokesman Jamie Kritzer said inspectors from the agency visited Duke's Cape Fear Plant on March 11 and 18, but did not see the crack.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
Each shale gas well in Pennsylvania causes between $5,400 and $10,000 in damage to state roads, according to a recent report by researchers at the Rand Corp.
(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.