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Today's Climate

June 27, 2014

(Washington Post)
Even Democrats who prefer to develop alternate energy sources before expanding the use of fossil fuels say they want the Keystone XL pipeline built.
Justin Trudeau says he would bolster Canada's case for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline by introducing financial incentives to curb greenhouse-gas emissions in the oil and gas industry.
(The Hill)
The Department of Energy (DOE) touted the carbon-capture technology it is funding Thursday, saying a project at a hydrogen production facility in Port Arthur, Texas, has now captured more than 1 million tons of carbon dioxide. The facility, operated in partnership with Air Products and Chemicals Inc., catches more than 90 percent of the carbon dioxide released by the company's hydrogen plant that would otherwise go into the atmosphere, the DOE said.
(The Oklahoman)
Residents worried about the spate of earthquakes that have plagued parts of the state likely got little satisfaction Thursday night at a town hall on the subject. Oklahoma Geological Survey seismologist Austin Holland said there is no way to know what has caused the unprecedented increase in earthquakes in Oklahoma, although several studies have linked temblors to oil and natural gas activity, particularly wastewater injection wells.
(Houston Chronicle)
Even before the House voted on Thursday to force the federal government to allow drilling off the South Carolina, Virginia and California coasts, lawmakers admitted the plan was going nowhere. The Republican-backed drilling legislation, which was approved in a 229-185 vote, is a compilation of other measures that have passed the House before only to stall in the Senate, and it is sure to meet the same fate this time around, a political reality even bill backers acknowledged.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
Pennsylvania environmental regulators are wading through more than 25,000 public comments on a proposed overhaul of the state’s oil and gas regulations. The Department of Environmental Protection says those comments could represent as many as 5,000 different suggestions for changes from the industry, environmental groups, and Pennsylvania citizens. The regulations would update Chapter 78 of the state code and change how the industry operates above ground.
(Edmonton Journal)
Del Hankinson runs a fabricating plant making pipes and valves for the oilpatch and the prospect of having six or more large bitumen storage tanks right next door worries him. The proposed tank farm—part of TransCanada’s $3-billion Grand Rapids pipeline project—"is not compatible" with his plant, where welding and steel cutting produce sparks and open flames, Hankinson told the Alberta Energy Regulator at a hearing Wednesday.
(The Times-Picayune)
The final plan and accompanying environmental impact statement for the $627 million, 44-project Phase III BP oil spill early restoration plan were made available to the public on federal and state websites Wednesday (June 25). The documents are available at the NOAA Gulf Spill Restoration web site and at the Louisiana Oil Spill Control Office's Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill damage assessment site. A description of the Louisiana projects is included in Chapter 9 of the main report.
Germany is headed for its biggest electricity glut since 2011 as new coal-fired plants start and generation of wind and solar energy increases, weighing on power prices that have already dropped for three years. Utilities from RWE AG to EON SE are poised to bring units online from December that can supply 8.2 million homes, 20 percent of the nation's total, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
(E&E Publishing)
Natural gas fields globally may be leaking enough methane, a potent greenhouse gas, to make the fuel as polluting as coal for the climate over the next few decades, according to a pair of studies published last week. An even worse finding for the United States in terms of greenhouse gases is that some of its oil and gas fields are emitting more methane than the industry does, on average, in the rest of the world, the research suggests.

June 26, 2014

(New York Times)
President Obama acknowledged Wednesday that his efforts to combat climate change—in particular, Environmental Protection Agency regulations to slash carbon pollution from cars and coal-fired power plants—could raise fuel and electricity prices. And he told environmental advocates that in order to make a credible case for such climate policies, officials would need to acknowledge Americans' worries about the economic effects.
(Wall Street Journal)
Canada's top court is expected to rule Thursday in a lengthy dispute over aboriginal land rights, a decision that could boost property rights for Canada's native people and have an impact on resource companies operating in the country. At stake is whether Canada's Supreme Court will, for the first time, grant exclusive property rights, or "title," over a tract of land to an aboriginal group.
(Minneapolis Star Tribune)
The U.S. ­Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to reassess whether coal burned at Minnesota's largest power plant is reducing visi­bility at national parks in Minnesota and Michigan. If the environmental agency decides that emissions from Xcel Energy's Sherco power plant in Becker, Minn., cause haze, it could mean costly pollution control upgrades or early retirement of two 1970s-era coal-burning units there.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) pledged to restart reactors at the world's largest atomic plant, rejecting a bid by anti-nuclear shareholders to scrap the units over safety concerns after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. The company's annual general meeting voted down motions advanced by Greenpeace and other activist groups holding Tokyo Electric shares to decommission the reactors and to revise the company’s recovery plan to exclude nuclear power.
(Edmonton Journal)
A new bitumen pipeline, twice the size of the Northern Gateway pipeline to the West Coast, could be under construction this fall to bring 900,000 barrels a day into the Edmonton area, TransCanada Pipelines told a regulatory hearing Tuesday. The Alberta Energy Regulator is holding the hearing—its first into a pipeline project—after the National Energy Board turned down a request to have the federal regulator involved.
(The Globe and Mail)
No mention of Keystone XL. Not a word about oil sands from Canada. Exactly a year after President Barack Obama's dire warning that global warming would "condemn ... future generations to a planet that's beyond fixing" unless greenhouse-gas emissions from burning fossil fuels were cut drastically, the White House issued a progress report.
Vital parts of U.K. infrastructure are being neglected, with potentially severe impacts on national competitiveness and quality of life, according to a new study by engineers.
(Think Progress)
In a microcosm of the ongoing political fight over the validity of global warming science, an eastern Pennsylvania school director called a textbook's chapter on the subject "propaganda" at a school board meeting last night. And in an example of the shifting tides on the issue, the school board shot him down.
(High Country News)
The 2014 BP Statistical Review of World Energy, released this month, is a rather dry document made up of spreadsheets and a few charts filled with stats on global energy production and consumption during 2013. But look behind the numbers, and what you'll find is anything but dull: A detailed accounting of how much energy the globe's 7.2 billion people are using and where they are getting it.
The United States is the Saudi Arabia of coal. The only catch is that U.S. coal is buried too deep for conventional mining. In the tradition of fracking pioneers in the oil and gas industries, an Australian company working in Wyoming wants to use an unconventional technique to access that deep coal: burning it underground.
Dozens of mile-long trains loaded with crude are leaving western North Dakota each week, with most shipments going through the state's most populous county while en route to refineries across the country.
(Houston Chronicle)
The Commerce Department's decision to allow two Texas companies to export a minimally distilled variety of ultralight oil is a win for Eagle Ford Shale crude producers, at the expense of refiners and companies planning to build processing plants along the Gulf Coast. The agency effectively declared those types of ultralight oil—called condensates—are a petroleum product free for export as long as they have been run through a distillation tower. The ruling is likely to change the economics of some of the Gulf Coast's more expensive processing plants.

June 25, 2014

Kansas health officials on Monday were at the site of natural gas pipeline eruption in eastern Kansas, where crops and trees have withered since a dark, oily plume burst from the line while crews were trying to perform maintenance.
(The Hill)
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said Tuesday that Republicans are trying to push for a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline, after an up or down vote on the pipeline collapsed under Senate debate in May. Barrasso told reporters Tuesday that Republicans will call up a bill co-sponsored by Sens. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) that would approve the controversial oil sands pipeline Tuesday afternoon.
(Wall Street Journal)
The Obama administration cleared the way for the first exports of unrefined American oil in nearly four decades, allowing energy companies to start chipping away at the longtime ban on selling U.S. oil abroad. In separate rulings that haven't been announced, the Commerce Department gave Pioneer Natural Resources Co. and Enterprise Products Partners LP permission to ship a type of ultralight oil known as condensate to foreign buyers. The buyers could turn the oil into gasoline, jet fuel and diesel.
Koch Supply & Trading, a unit of Koch Industries Inc., will start buying and selling European electricity and expand its liquefied natural gas business to take advantage of a globalizing market for the fuel.
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
In an age of big, fast data, Pennsylvania takes its slow, sweet time collecting information on how much gas is produced from wells in the commonwealth. A bill in the state House of Representatives aims to change that by requiring companies that operate Marcellus Shale and other unconventional wells to report their gas production monthly rather than only twice a year.
Whenever an oil or gas well is drilled, the material that comes out of the well can include rocks and drilling mud and brine and water. New York and the other states in the Marcellus region allow that waste, which comes up before a well is fracked, into municipal landfills.
(Denver Post)
Colorado regulators shut down an oil and gas wastewater-disposal site in Weld County after a second earthquake in less than a month was detected. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission directed High Sierra Water Services to stop the underground injection of drilling waste after a 2.6-magnitude earthquake occurred Monday afternoon.
Feeling overly hormonal? Not hormonal enough? Just wait for frackers to move into your neighborhood and let them throw the medical dice for you. Fracking chemicals have been found to screw with many of the hormones that control a wide range of important bodily functions.