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Today's Climate

June 24, 2014

(The Globe and Mail)
When Enbridge Inc. officials went to scope out a terminal site for their proposed Northern Gateway pipeline in Kitimat, they needed access to Crown land that is subject to land claims by the Haisla First Nation. With a provincial permit in hand, their crews pulled out chainsaws and felled ancient cedars to help with their mapping. Fourteen of the trees that were cut down had been marked in some way by the Haisla people long before British Columbia became a colony.
(Think Progress)
A county judge has temporarily blocked Mississippi's plans for offshore natural gas drilling, saying the Mississippi Development Authority did not properly evaluate the economic impacts the drilling would have in the state.
(Denver Post)
Signature gatherers for a series of oil-and-gas ballot initiatives failed to receive state licensing before they began circulating petitions Wednesday. Although gatherers hit the streets Wednesday morning, their required license from the Colorado Secretary of State was not issued until Thursday morning.
(Bismarck Tribune)
In past years, North Dakota's oil industry was a roller-coaster ride of boom and bust, bust and boom. Money was made; money was lost. Communities grew; communities dwindled. North Dakota plugged along, steadily producing oil at a rate of about 100,000 barrels of oil per day throughout much of the 1970s. Production spiked with what nowadays would be considered a mini-boom to almost 200,000 BOPD in the early to mid-1980s before leveling back down for the next couple of decades.

June 23, 2014

(Think Progress)
Confronting climate change is a major agenda item at this week's U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Dallas, Texas, including climate protection awards, climate panels, and a discussion with U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and U.S. DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz. Mayors signed the latest version of the Climate Protection Agreement—endorsed by over 1,000 mayors, it supports a national goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 amongst other things.
(The Globe and Mail)
Opponents of Enbridge's Northern Gateway project spent the day after its conditional approval from Ottawa waging war on several fronts, using civil disobedience, legal action, and persuasion to further the message that the $7.9-billion pipeline should not be built.
(Columbus Dispatch)
Tanker trucks and vacuums are still whirring on a piece of Morgan County land, trying to clean up thousands of gallons of oil and chemicals that spewed eight weeks ago from a not-yet-completed natural-gas well into surrounding fields and streams. Cleanup efforts are almost finished, according to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. But some of the oil is still bubbling from the soil around the well into a streambed that leads to a creek that drains into the Muskingum River, and crews were still at the site last week trying to remove oil-saturated dirt.
Federal land managers have approved an oil and gas project involving hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in a portion of northeast Nevada identified by state wildlife officials as essential habitat for the imperiled greater sage grouse. The Bureau of Land Management signed a decision record earlier this month on Noble Energy Inc.'s proposal to conduct oil and gas exploration drilling around Tabor Flats near Wells in Elko County.
A study by University of Miami scientists says mahi-mahi, a popular fish among restaurants and anglers and exposed as infants to oil from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon spill, swim nearly half as fast as their unaffected counterparts.
(E&E Publishing)
California will remain in the stranglehold of drought at least until September, even as a climate system in the tropical Pacific Ocean that would have brought rainfall to the parched state appears to be weakening, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's monthly climate update released yesterday.
(The Oklahoman)
More than 4,600 oil and natural gas wells were completed in Oklahoma last year, according to reports filed with state regulators. Companies had applied for more than 6,000 drilling permits for the second consecutive year, according to records from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. That is up from about 4,100 in 2009, as many parts of the country are contributing to a domestic oil and natural gas boom.
It wasn't the semi-trucks rumbling down country roads, or the dust, or the natural gas wells that popped up around their homes that finally got to residents of Azle and Reno, Texas. It was the earthquakes. These weren't major quakes, magnitude 3.6 was the biggest, but no one in those North Texas towns had ever felt tremors before. Now in just three months, between last November and January, 34 quakes large enough to be felt shook homes, cracked walls and foundations, scared horses and pets, and opened a few sinkholes.
(Denton Record-Chronicle)
Anti-fracking forces across the country have tapped into local governments to get them to tap the brakes on fracking, a technological advance that allows energy companies to extract oil and gas from deep rock formations by pressure-pumping them with sand, water and chemicals.
(The Canadian Press)
Suzanne Desroches sums up the Lac-Megantic real estate market when she tells how her own house sale is going. "No calls, no visits, nothing," the newly retired 58-year-old says of her dwelling in the town which made international headlines almost a year ago when a runaway train laden with volatile fuel oil jumped the tracks and exploded.
(Christian Science Monitor)
The history of international efforts to rein in global warming is littered with a forest of printed reports, talking points, and treaty drafts – all in pursuit of two agreements that lacked either rigorous enforcement or the participation of key signatories.
(Climate Central)
The pattern of a wavy jet stream was a recurring theme in U.S. weather forecasts this winter as a particularly jagged one essentially split the country in two. While there is a debate over whether climate change causes that pattern, new research shows that the waviness does exacerbate extreme weather.

June 20, 2014

(Trib Total Media)
Pennsylvania on Thursday sued dozens of oil companies to recoup hundreds of millions of dollars spent cleaning gasoline spills that contaminated groundwater across the state.
(The Times-Picayune)
The east bank levee authority's environmental damages lawsuit against 97 oil, gas and pipeline companies will continue, at least for now, after commissioners Thursday split 4-4 on a motion to kill the suit.
(Al Jazeera America)
Residents of a rural town east of New Orleans say they are being sickened by a nearby gas and petrochemical facility, and are reaching their third week of pleading with state officials to do something about it. A noxious smell began blanketing the St. Rose area area 12 days ago, residents said. The smell has reportedly caused several dozen people to feel ill with breathing problems, eye irritation, vomiting and diarrhea, according to environmental group Louisiana Bucket Brigade.
The tiny particles in vehicle exhaust and other sources of air pollution may hasten cognitive decline in older adults, according to a new U.S. study. "We decided to examine the link between air pollution and cognitive function in older adults because there is growing evidence that fine particulate matter air pollution affects brain health and development, but relatively little attention has been given to what this means for the aging brain," said Jennifer Ailshire, who co-wrote the report.
(Huffington Post)
The Omaha Public Power District in Nebraska announced on Thursday that it will retire three coal units in the next two years at its North Omaha plant and transition two other units to natural gas within a decade. The three coal units will be retired by 2016, the public utility said. Another two units at that plant will get updated pollution controls by 2016 as well, and will transition to burning natural gas by 2023. OPPD will similarly retrofit its Nebraska City coal-fired station and implement new energy-efficiency programs to reduce demand.
Records subpoenaed by federal prosecutors show engineers working for Duke Energy warned the company nearly 30 years before a massive coal ash spill that a stormwater pipe running under an ash dump was made of corrugated metal and needed to be monitored for leaks. That pipe at a North Carolina dump collapsed in February, triggering a spill that coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic gray sludge.
(Minnesota Public Radio)
Every day, about 2.3 million barrels of crude oil crosses Minnesota through 10 pipelines, and eight trains carry another 500,000 barrels. Eight of the pipelines are operated by Enbridge Energy and the other two by the Koch Pipeline Company, which transports 465,000 barrels a day to the Twin Cities through its MinnCan line.
(Climate Central)
A four-month public comment period on the federal government's plan to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electric power plants began this week, allowing anyone to submit feedback through Oct. 16.
(The Canadian Press)
A former Canadian ambassador says he's less confident now than he was a few years ago about the U.S. giving the Keystone XL pipeline project the green light. "Two years ago I was very confident that it would be a positive reaction, a 'Yes' would come," Raymond Chretien said Wednesday.
For more than a decade, Denton has drawn its lifeblood from the huge gas reserves that lie beneath its streets. The gas fields have produced a billion dollars in mineral wealth and pumped more than $30 million into city bank accounts. But this former farming center north of Dallas is considering a revolt.
(StateImpact Texas)
What is behind the tremors in North Texas? Starting late last fall, a swarm of quakes struck the communities of Reno and Azle outside of Fort Worth. It's hardly the first community in the Lone Star State to have to deal with damaged foundations, cracked windows and rude awakenings from quakes: there have been nine other scientifically-researched quake swarms in Texas, all of them in areas of oil and gas drilling activity.
The head of one of the world's leading groups of democratic nations has accused Russia of undermining projects using hydraulic fracturing technology in Europe. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), and former premier of Denmark, told the Chatham House thinktank in London on Thursday that Vladimir Putin's government was behind attempts to discredit fracking, according to reports.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
France, one of the world's biggest proponents and exporters of nuclear power, is losing its appetite for the atom at home. French energy and environment minister Ségolène Royal on Wednesday presented a bill to boost renewable sources in the national energy mix and limit nuclear power production at current levels.

June 19, 2014

Al Gore, who has called the Keystone XL project "ridiculous" and an "atrocity," said he thinks President Barack Obama will reject the controversial pipeline between Alberta's oil sands and U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. Former Vice President Gore, who shared a Nobel Peace Prize for advocating action on climate change, wrote in Rolling Stone magazine issue dated June 18 that Obama "has signaled that he is likely to reject the absurdly reckless Keystone-XL pipeline."