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Today's Climate

March 26, 2014

(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.
U.S. authorities are planning inspection flights over the Houston Ship Channel, home to 11 percent of the nation's refining capacity, as the waterway remains closed for a fourth day. The flights over of the channel and Galveston Bay, following a 4,000-barrel fuel oil spill, are scheduled today to assess conditions for reopening, Tim Hicks, U.S. Coast Guard watch supervisor, said in an e-mail.
Federal environmental officials now estimate more than 20,000 gallons of crude oil—double the initial estimates—leaked from a pipeline into a nature preserve in southwest Ohio. Meanwhile, Sunoco Logistics said Monday that the pipeline has been repaired and re-opened. Sunoco shut off the stretch of Mid-Valley Pipeline from Hebron, Ky., to Lima, Ohio, early March 18 after a leak was confirmed.
(Longview News-Journal)
An East Texas landowner fighting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline across her family farm has lost her legal battle. Julia Trigg Crawford, who owns a farm near Paris, has been engaged in a lengthy dispute with Keystone owner TransCanada over the company's use of eminent domain to secure an easement to build its pipeline through her land.
(Climate Central)
While the eastern United States shivers through an early spring cold snap, the globe as a whole continues to warm. The World Meteorological Organization announced Monday that they had confirmed that 2013 was the sixth warmest year on record, tied with 2007, in their annual report on the world's weather and climate.
(The Canadian Press)
A study by the Alberta government says an aboriginal community downstream from the oil sands doesn't have higher overall cancer rates. The Alberta Health Services survey, which used data from 1992 to 2011, did find the prevalence of two kinds of cancer in Fort Chipewyan was higher than would be expected.
The lack of publicly available data on the UK's onshore oil and gas drilling means there are significant "unknowns" about the safety of future fracking wells, according to a new study. The research also found that public data from the U.S. showed that hundreds of recent shale gas wells in Pennsylvania have suffered failures that could cause water or air pollution.
Air pollution killed about 7 million people in 2012, making it the world's single biggest environmental health risk, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.
(Midwest Energy News)
The Sierra Club is repeating a threat of a lawsuit against a northern Minnesota utility, alleging thousands of pollution violations at its coal-fired power plants. Minnesota Power is the latest Midwest utility to face a legal threat from the Sierra Club over alleged soot or particulate violations under the Clean Air Act. The environmental group has filed similar complaints against St. Louis-based Ameren and Detroit's DTE Energy.
(The Hill)
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) is pressing for a path forward for coal in the U.S. while the Obama administration works to reign in power plant emissions.
(The Times-Picayune)
Oil from BP's Macondo well has again been linked to heart defects in embryonic and newborn bluefin and yellowfin tuna and in amberjack, key commercial, open water fish that were spawning in the Gulf of Mexico at the time of the catastrophic blowout, according to a peer-reviewed lab study released Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The 1989 oil spill prompted changes in oil industry regulation and spill research. But oil companies today are working in more remote places than ever, from the Arctic to deep below the ocean floor.
(The Atlantic Cities)
The death toll from this weekend's mudslide through Oso, Washington, is still climbing, with more than 100 still listed as missing.

March 24, 2014

(Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism)
Oil that sinks is hard to clean up. That was the big lesson after energy giant Enbridge's pipeline burst, causing oil to flow into Michigan's Kalamazoo River in 2010, some 75 miles from where it empties into Lake Michigan. After more than three years and a billion dollars, oil remains in the river.
(Los Angeles Times)
The nation's largest electricity provider could soon be back on the hook for a once-settled lawsuit alleging that it illegally contaminated groundwater through leaky coal ash dumps near Charlotte and Asheville in North Carolina. State regulators had agreed to accept a $99,000 fine from Charlotte-based Duke Energy as part of an order that didn't include a requirement for the company to clean up its mess.
(Vancouver Sun)
A University of Washington study has found residents near rail lines face increased exposure to harmful microscopic particles from diesel emissions. The study also found residents are exposed to larger particles, possibly from coal trains.
(New York Times)
Gina McCarthy was deep in enemy territory. Here on this wind-whipped prairie pocked with strip mines, Ms. McCarthy, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, faced 20 coal miners, union workers and local politicians deeply suspicious of the new climate change regulations she had come to pitch. The Obama administration hopes the regulations will help save the planet, but the North Dakotans say the rules will put coal and their livelihoods at risk.
(Huffington Post)
Environmental groups are launching a multi-million dollar television advertising blitz to defend vulnerable members of Congress in four states. Five environmental groups are pitching in for ads in North Carolina, Iowa, Michigan and Maine, beginning Monday, that back House members and senators who have supported key environmental measures. The groups are paying separately for the ads, which cost a combined $4.95 million, according to a source familiar with the campaign.
(National Journal)
Environmentalists need Mary Landrieu, but they don't love her—and they're proving it with their checkbooks. Louisiana's Democratic senator and Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy are locked in a Bayou battle that will go a long way in determining whether Democrats can hold their imperiled Senate majority, a force that has proved an implacable bulwark against a steady stream of House Republican attacks on environmental regulations.
(Climate Central)
Technological advances in drilling efficiency are one of the reasons shale oil and natural gas production continues to skyrocket in six of America's biggest oil and natural gas fields, according to a new U.S. Energy Information Administration report. Production of crude oil and natural gas through the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is considered to have a significant effect on climate change because of methane leaks in the natural gas distribution system that haven't been quantified yet. And, burning crude oil is a direct emitter of greenhouse gases contributing to human-caused climate change.
(Columbus Dispatch)
State geologists aren't sure whether Hilcorp's fracking caused the earthquakes, but people who live around the wells say they must be connected.
California's drought has sparked a new push by federal lawmakers to create or expand a handful of reservoirs around the state, ramping up a political battle that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger once referred to as a "holy war in some ways."