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Today's Climate

November 3, 2014

(Fuel Fix)
The Obama administration is quadrupling its estimate of how much crude could be harvested from Arctic drilling leases it sold oil companies six years ago. The move—part of a draft environmental impact statement issued by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Friday—is designed to shield that disputed 2008 auction and the Chukchi Sea oil and gas leases sold during it from further legal scrutiny.
(New York Times)
International talks in Australia on establishing two marine reserve areas, each larger than Texas, in the waters around Antarctica ended in failure on Friday, with some delegates to the negotiations saying that China and Russia had resisted the proposals.
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Planned funding cuts by the Abbott government for climate change research will degrade Australia's ability to predict and respond to impacts and may see whole areas of study lose support, according to current and retired scientists.
(Al Jazeera America)
It is a point noted with some morbid curiosity year after year—climate change ranks low on the list of Americans' priorities. But this version of the story tends to exclude the concerns of those whose interests are often marginalized at the polls and left out of legislation: people of color. 
Denmark should ban coal use by 2025 to make the Nordic nation a leader in fighting global warming, adding to green measures ranging from wind energy to bicycle power, Denmark's climate minister said on Saturday.
Germany is turning against coal as a fuel for generating electricity, a move that will boost the nation's reliance on natural gas from Russia.
Nassau County this week joined Suffolk in banning the use and sale of liquid waste from hydraulic fracturing within its borders, effectively creating an islandwide ban of the substance.

October 30, 2014

(National Journal)
For a lawmaker hoping to land a top party seat on a key congressional committee, which matters the most? Seniority? Policy expertise? Legislative skill? Or is it the ability to raise staggering sums of money—including from interests and industries they hope to oversee—that can be funneled to their colleagues?
(The Hill)
A majority of voters in swing states prefer a candidate that wants to take action on climate change and curb carbon pollution, according to a new poll.The poll, conducted by Hart Research for three national green groups, found that 54 percent of the eligible voters surveyed across five swing states are more likely to vote for a candidate that wants to fight climate change. 
(New York Times)
If the oil and gas industry wants to prevent its opponents from slowing its efforts to drill in more places, it must be prepared to employ tactics like digging up embarrassing tidbits about environmentalists and liberal celebrities, a veteran Washington political consultant told a room full of industry executives in a speech that was secretly recorded.
(The Times-Picayune)
BP is pushing harder in its campaign to remove Patrick Juneau from his post overseeing oil spill claims payments, presenting records the oil giant says prove the Lafayette attorney is not fit to run the program. In a memo filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans late Wednesday (Oct. 29), the British oil giant submitted copies of emails and billing records it says show Juneau worked against BP prior to being selected to oversee oil spill claims as a neutral administrator.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
An environmental group has filed a lawsuit challenging the Corbett administration's plan to lease more state park and forest land for oil and gas development. The Corbett Administration lifted a moratorium on new leases in state parks and forests with an executive order last May to help plug a budget gap. The lawsuit filed by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network is the first to challenge that executive order directly, but is the second suit aimed at preventing more drilling on state lands.
For signs of how the U.S. shale boom is transforming the global flow of oil, look halfway across the world at South Korea. The Asian nation, which relies on the Middle East for about 86 percent of its oil imports, is benefiting as new output from Texas to North Dakota displaces the crudes that fed U.S. refineries for decades.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Ukraine and Russia resolved their natural-gas feud on Thursday in a hard-fought deal that averts the threat of gas shortages in Europe this winter. The deal was sealed after months of intense negotiations brokered by the European Union, which relies on Russia for more than a third of its gas imports, half of which is piped through Ukraine.
(Al Jazeera America)
Australia appears set to fast-track approval of a coal port expansion project that would dump millions of tons of dredged material onto wetlands near the Great Barrier Reef, government documents show.
(The Canadian Press)
British Columbia's Auditor-General says doing business with the oil-and-gas industry has cost the province's coffers about $1.25-billion in royalties even before most of the product has been pulled from the ground. The incentives to be paid to the industry were just some of the items highlighted Thursday by Auditor-General Carol Bellringer in her 2013-14 summary of B.C.'s financial statements.
(Washington Post)
The two men competing to become Maryland governor have starkly different views on key environmental issues in a state that is weighing fracking and wind farm projects and an off-shore natural gas pipeline, and where costly efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay have generated heated debate.
California's landmark climate policy program—AB32, passed in 2006 and defended from ballot attack in 2010—includes, among other measures, a statewide cap-and-trade system. The carbon market established by AB32 is now up and running.
(New York Times)
Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, a Republican who is fighting a Democratic challenge from former Gov. Charlie Crist, was asked by The Miami Herald if he believes climate change is significantly affecting the weather. "Well, I’m not a scientist," he said.
There have been a number of studies recently on ocean warming and sea-level rise. Collectively, they are helping scientists unite around an emerging understanding of climate change and its impact on the Earth.
Hurricane Sandy, which made landfall near Brigantine, New Jersey, on Oct. 29, 2012, was a showcase of modern weather forecasting—but not necessarily one enabled by American engineering.

October 29, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday during a visit to Canada that he would like to make a decision soon on TransCanada Corp's Keystone XL crude oil pipeline. TransCanada has waited more than six years for the Obama administration to make a decision on the line, which would take as much as 830,000 barrels per day of Alberta tar sands crude to refineries on Texas' Gulf Coast.
(Omaha World-Bureau)
Nebraskans who have long worked to block the Keystone XL pipeline in their own state now get a chance to delay the project in South Dakota. The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission this week agreed to allow 43 individuals or groups to intervene on the commission's review of the pipeline route through South Dakota. About 15 are neighbors to the south who have vigorously fought the project at home.
(Think Progress)
The Weather Channel has released an official position statement on global warming, just two days after the channel's co-founder told Fox News' Megyn Kelly that climate change is based on "bad science" and does not exist.
(New York Times)
These are rough times for carbon taxes, aimed at mitigating climate change. Australia recently repealed its carbon tax. South Korea delayed a carbon-based tax on vehicle emissions. South Africa put off a planned carbon tax until 2016.
(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (sub. req'd))
Exxon Mobil is seeking to try in secret a lawsuit over the Pegasus pipeline's rupture in Mayflower last year by declaring as confidential hundreds of thousands of pages of information about the maintenance and repair of the line, the plaintiffs in a federal class-action lawsuit argued this week.
The U.S. EPA scrapped a system to track facilities that have chronically polluted the air, water and soil and overhauled the way it handles alleged air polluters, according to previously unreleased documents obtained by SNL Energy.
(E&E Publishing)
It was first criticized by environmentalists. Then it was reined in by government officials. Now, China's coal-fueled synthetic natural gas industry faces another blow as a group of energy experts raise doubt over its economic viability.
(The Globe and Mail)
Everything about Alberta's oil sands is huge–from the sheer scale of the 170-billion-barrel resource in the ground, to the two-storey trucks that haul bitumen ore in the mines, to the $30-billion per year in capital investment to expand the flow of crude.
Take off from Aspen's tiny airport and head straight west, and you'll soon find yourself over an area known as the Thompson Divide - 221,500 acres of what Teddy Roosevelt described as "great, wild country... where the mountains crowded together in chain, peak, and tableland; all of the higher ones wrapped in a shroud of snow." This time of year, the leaves change from green to yellow to red.