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Today's Climate

September 3, 2014

(Politico)
For a green-minded Democratic candidate, the symbolism is irresistible: Towering piles of an oil refinery's dusty leftovers blighted a Detroit neighborhood, thanks to the Koch brothers—and a major Koch-backed political group is taking the side of his Republican opponent.
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
EQT Corp. told the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection that it sent 21 tons of drill cuttings from its Marcellus Shale wells to area landfills in 2013. But landfills in southwestern Pennsylvania told a different story.
(Chicago Tribune)
In combing through the more than 30,000 comments it received this year on proposed rules for a new fracking industry in the state, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources had its hands full.
(IowaWatch.org)
A group of northeast Iowans effectively is keeping large frac sand mine companies from mining silica-rich sand in their county by building a consortium that set aside politics and focused on dealing with the matter locally, instead of with state intervention. Allamakee County—a rural county in the northeast corner of Iowa bounded north by Minnesota and east by the Mississippi River and Wisconsin—enacted this year a countywide ordinance restricting mining the silica sand used in other states to extract natural gas and oil in a process called hydraulic fracturing.

September 2, 2014

(AP)
The Environmental Protection Agency's staff has concluded that the government needs to tighten smog rules by somewhere between 7 and 20 percent. In its final recommendation in a 597-page report, the agency staff agrees with EPA's outside scientific advisers that the 6-year-old standard for how much smog is allowed needs to be stricter, saying it will save a significant number of lives and cut hospital visits. An earlier version of the report came to a similar conclusion.
(The Hill)
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has started to review new regulations for hydraulic fracturing on federal land, the last step before the rules can be made final. The rules for the oil and gas drilling process, also known as fracking, were proposed last year after a mid-2012 proposal was pulled back.
(Los Angeles Times)
After a lawmaking season that left them bruised by political scandal but salved by California's revitalized economy, state lawmakers were attempting to wrap up their work late Friday by tackling the complexities of water policy, everyday matters such as grocery bags and dozens of other issues. Working into the night, legislators passed the state's first-ever plan for regulating underground water supplies. Supporters said the package of bills would provide much-needed oversight for the water that more than three-quarters of Californians rely on for drinking.
(Sacramento Bee)
Tom Steyer, the billionaire environmental activist who is spending heavily on political races nationwide, said Thursday that he plans to pour $1 million into legislative contests in California this year, possibly including Democrat-versus-Democrat races. Steyer, a former hedge fund executive, said he will focus spending on voter registration and turnout operations for Democratic candidates who support environmental causes.
(AFP)
The governor of disaster-struck Fukushima agreed Monday to accept the "temporary" storage of nuclear waste from the Japanese accident, paving the way for an end to a years-long standoff. Yuhei Sato has been cajoled and lavished with the promises of subsidies if he accepts a central government plan to build a depot on land near the battered Fukushima Daiichi plant.
(Bloomberg)
The next fight over oil pipeline development in Canada is starting to look like Keystone XL version 2.0. This time the target is a $4.9 billion project by Houston billionaire Richard Kinder's energy empire. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP (KMP)'s expansion of the Trans Mountain conduit linking the oil sands to the Pacific is facing the same kind of backlash that turned TransCanada Corp. (TRP)'s proposed line to the Gulf Coast into a proxy battle against climate change.
(Fuel Fix)
The ability to harvest oil and gas from dense rock formations offers the promise of fueling the world for decades to come, but a new report warns that countries may not have enough water to tap those underground resources. The great conundrum of the drilling revolution unfolding in the United States and now being exported to other nations is that some of the countries with the biggest oil and gas resources also have the least amount of water to dedicate to extracting them.
(Al Jazeera America)
When fracking causes controversy, it's often because of wells—either the ones used to inject chemicals and water into the ground to break up gas-rich shale rock or the ones used to dispose of all the waste and water left over from the injection process. Often overlooked is a another way to dispose of that waste: massive surface ponds in which fracking water is stored until it can be recycled or buried or is left to slowly evaporate. Those ponds, which can grow to several acres in size, dot the landscapes of virtually every state that produces natural gas.
(Reno Gazette-Journal)
Fracking can move forward across Nevada after new regulations guiding the controversial activity were approved Thursday by state officials. Meeting in Elko, the Nevada Commission on Mineral Resources unanimously OK'd rules addressing the practice of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas.
(CBC News)
Rural Albertans have been saying for years they can feel tremors under their feet near oil and gas activity, especially around areas of hydraulic fracturing—also known as fracking. While the movements are small, and don't cause damage, they have been cause for concern.
(Denton Record-Chronicle)
University of Texas at Arlington researchers have unveiled a study that found potentially unhealthy levels of arsenic in water wells scattered throughout North Texas. The study, conducted last year, involved 100 water wells across the Barnett Shale, 10 of them in Denton County. An 11-member team of UTA scientists found that 30 percent of wells within 1.8 miles of active natural gas drilling showed an increase in heavy metals, including arsenic.
(Houston Chronicle (sub. req'd))
Six days a week, bumping through the scrub, oil trucks pull up to the rail stations at Muleshoe or Kermit, Dimmit or Roy, Whiteface, Seagraves or Wellman, any of the flyspeck boomtowns of the Permian Basin. By the tracks, roustabouts and railroaders meet for a transfer as old as their industries.

August 29, 2014

(AP)
Six years into a natural gas boom, Pennsylvania has for the first time released details of 243 cases in which companies prospecting for oil or gas were found by state regulators to have contaminated private drinking water wells.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
A new study out this month reveals unconventional oil and natural gas workers could be exposed to dangerous levels of benzene, putting them at a higher risk for blood cancers like leukemia. Benzene is a known carcinogen that is present in fracking flowback water. It's also found in gasoline, cigarette smoke and in chemical manufacturing. As a known carcinogen, benzene exposures in the workplace are limited by federal regulations under OSHA. But some oil and gas production activities are exempt from those standards.
(The Hill)
Chemical manufacturer DuPont has agreed to pay $1.3 million in federal fines to settle charges from eight alleged releases of hazardous substances in West Virginia. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department said DuPont’s Belle, W.Va., facility released the toxic gases phosgene, methyl chloride and oleum between 2006 and 2010. One DuPont worker, Danny Fish, died in 2010 as a result of exposure to phosgene, which has been used as a chemical weapon.
(Wall Street Journal)
The head of Royal Dutch Shell RDSA.LN -0.31% PLC's Canadian unit Wednesday said the company may not be able to meet promised targets for reducing toxic wastes from oil sands and called for greater regulatory flexibility. Shell, which operates two major oil-sands surface mines in northern Alberta, had committed to cutting the amount of waste generated by its heavy-oil extraction projects in Canada.
(Fuel Fix)
Shell's campaign to resume Arctic drilling in 2015 took a major step forward Thursday, as the company gave federal regulators a broad drilling blueprint that lays out plans for boring new exploratory oil wells in the Chukchi Sea. The exploration plan filed with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in Anchorage keeps the door open for Shell Oil Co. to resume its Arctic drilling campaign as soon as summer 2015.
(Climate Central)
It seems straightforward to say that when you buy a new car by taking out a loan, you're committing to spending a certain amount of your income per month on that car for a specific period of time. Of course, by buying that car, you're also committing to polluting the atmosphere with some amount of carbon dioxide. But how often do car buyers make that calculation?
(Reuters)
Power company Duke Energy Corp outlined plans to retire the remaining coal-fired stations at its Ohio plant by the end of the month as it looks to cope with tightening power plant emission regulations.
(NPR)
BP's 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico disrupted business all along the coastline. Through the end of July, the oil giant paid more than $13 billion to compensate people, businesses and communities affected. The company is disputing some of those claims in court battles that could drag on for years.
(New York Times)
Whenever overseas turmoil has pushed energy prices higher in the past, John and Beth Hughes have curbed their driving by eating at home more and shopping locally. But the current crises in Ukraine and Iraq did not stop them from making the two-hour drive to San Antonio to visit the Alamo, have a chicken fried steak lunch, and buy fish for their tank before driving home to Corpus Christi. "We were able to take a day-cation because of the lower gas prices," said Ms. Hughes.
(AP)
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will resume issuing oil and gas leases next year for federal lands in California after a new study found limited environmental impacts from fracking and other enhanced drilling techniques, the agency said Thursday.
(ProPublica)
In just 80 years, some 2,000 square miles of its coastal landscape have turned to open water, wiping places off maps, bringing the Gulf of Mexico to the back door of New Orleans and posing a lethal threat to an energy and shipping corridor vital to the nation's economy.

August 28, 2014

(The Hill)
The White House pushed back Wednesday against bipartisan criticism over reports the administration is seeking an international deal on climate change that would bypass the Senate. The administration defended its position by expressing concern that a formal treaty could fall victim to "dysfunction in Congress."
(Al Jazeera America)
Partly because of climate change, the U.S. government is protecting 20 types of colorful coral by putting them on the list of threatened species. As with polar bears, much of the threat to the coral species is because of problems expected in the future due to global warming, said David Bernhart, an endangered-species official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
(Chicago Tribune)
Highly anticipated rules to regulate hydraulic fracturing in Illinois are to be unveiled Friday. Once the rules go into effect, Illinois hopes to become the center of the next oil boom. Fracking, which involves injecting fluids and chemicals at high volumes to crack open shale rock and unleash oil and natural gas, could bring bring jobs to a struggling southern Illinois economy. Ilinois also is counting on tax revenue on extracted oil and gas to fatten state and county coffers.