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Today's Climate

November 21, 2014

(Democrat & Chronicle)
About 350 New York state schools, including at least 63 in Monroe County, lie within a mile of railroad tracks used by trains carrying volatile crude oil, a coalition of environmental and other advocacy groups said Thursday.
(Washington Post)
Americans largely concur that God created the Earth. But when it comes to how he wants its environment treated, and how much he's willing to intercede–the agreement ends.
(Climate Central)
A surge of Arctic air has left much of the continental U.S. shivering in unusually bitter November cold. But this early foray into winter weather is just a small blip in the overall global picture, which is of a warming world that is still on track to see 2014 set the mark for hottest year on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.
(Fuel Fix)
Exxon Mobil might be secure as the largest energy company in the United States, but internationally the company lost ground this year, according to Petroleum Intelligence Weekly's annual rankings of the top 50 global oil firms.

November 20, 2014

The world must halt fossil-fuel emissions within the next six decades to stave off irreversible impacts that may stem from a warming planet, the United Nations said. Sometime between 2055 and 2070, any carbon dioxide produced as the result of burning oil, coal and natural gas should should be compensated with measures that suck the gas out of the atmosphere, the U.N. Environment Program said today in its annual "Emissions Gap" report. Those may include planting trees or using carbon-capture technology.
Britain will face a disaster if it adopts an "isolationist approach" to the environment, the energy secretary, Ed Davey, has warned as he announced the U.K. is to give £720m to an international fund to help poor countries cope with climate change.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
French President François Hollande urged nations to commit to ambitious and binding carbon-emission cuts ahead of next year's global climate talks in Paris, seeking to build on momentum created by surprise unilateral commitments from the U.S. and China.
(Latin American Herald Tribune)
Greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil amounted to 1.5 million tons in 2013, up 7.8 percent from 2012 and the highest total since 2008, non-governmental organizations said in a report released on Wednesday.The study by the Climate Observatory mainly attributes the increase in emissions to Amazon deforestation, increased use of thermoelectric plants and greater fuel consumption.
(New York Times)
NRG, which built a leading electricity business from coal and other conventional power plants, is aiming to reduce its carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and by 90 percent by 2050, the company planned to announce Thursday. David Crane, the company's chief executive, plans to make the announcement at a groundbreaking ceremony for the company's new headquarters in Princeton, N.J., conceived as a green-energy showcase that will open in 2016.
(Think Progress)
The House of Representatives voted 237-190 on Wednesday afternoon to pass a bill that would limit the type of scientific research the Environmental Protection Agency can use when crafting regulations to protect the environment and public health. Dubbed the "Secret Science Reform Act of 2014," the bill's intention is to increase transparency at the EPA by making it so the agency can't use any science that is "hidden and flawed," according to bill sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).
(National Journal)
Rep. Frank Pallone beat out Rep. Anna Eshoo on Wednesday for the top Democratic seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, a public defeat for returning Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and a victory for seniority as a primary factor driving committee races. Eshoo had been Pelosi's choice to succeed retiring Rep. Henry Waxman as the panel's ranking Democrat, but she was edged out by Pallone 100-90 in secret balloting by the entire Democratic Caucus. The Pelosi-controlled Democratic Steering and Policy Committee had endorsed Eshoo for the postion on Tuesday, 30-19.
Germany's government plans to stop short of an outright ban on the controversial technique of fracking for gas, bowing to pressure from industry, according to the latest draft of a law from the environment ministry seen by Reuters. Fracking or hydraulic fracturing to extract gas and oil has transformed the U.S. energy market, boosting domestic supplies. The process is banned in France on environmental grounds. It is allowed in Britain but has strict environmental and safety guidelines.
(Columbus Dispatch (sub. req'd))
Two environmental groups filed a lawsuit today accusing the Ohio Department of Natural Resources of illegally approving 30 sites to store and process fracking waste from shale drilling. The lawsuit filed in the Franklin County Court of Appeals asks the court to revoke illegally issued permits, thus closing the waste-handling sites, and order the agency to create legally required rules regulating the operations.
(Minnesota Public Radio)
Plans for a new oil pipeline across northern Minnesota are bringing increased scrutiny to Enbridge, the company that wants to build it. The Canadian-based company has more than 1,800 miles of pipeline in the state. It wants to build more than 600 miles more across North Dakota and northern Minnesota to deliver light crude from North Dakota's Bakken oil fields to eastern refineries.
(The Globe and Mail)
Trade association ramps up efforts to promote the province's fledgling liquefied natural gas industry.
Some of the country's first gas-pump warning labels about climate change are coming to Berkeley, a city with a long history of green and clean policies. The Berkeley City Council voted late Tuesday to draft a proposal by next spring that will put stickers on gas pumps citywide to warn consumers that burning fuel contributes to global warming.

November 19, 2014

(The Hill)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) will unveil new legislation that will put a price on carbon emissions. Whitehouse, a staunch environmentalist, will announce details of the bill during a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday.
(New York Times)
The European Union agreed last month to keep open until 2030 a loophole allowing some of its biggest atmospheric polluters to avoid bearing an increasing share of the costs of cutting global-warming emissions.
(National Journal)
Green groups say the Keystone XL pipeline is "game over" for the fight against climate change, but the groups are still willing to cut campaign checks to Democrats who back it. Fourteen Democrats sided with Republicans on Tuesday night to vote in favor of the Senate bill approving the oil-sands pipeline, which was defeated in a 59-41 vote. Collectively, those Democrats pulled in nearly $820,000 in contributions from environmental groups in the 2014 cycle, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Those totals include contributions to senators' campaign committees and leadership PACs, and reflect six-year terms.
Environmentalists and energy boosters alike welcomed a federal compromise announced Tuesday that will allow fracking in the largest national forest in the eastern United States, but make most of its woods off-limits to drilling. The decision was highly anticipated because about half of the George Washington National Forest sits atop the Marcellus shale formation, a vast underground deposit of natural gas that runs from upstate New York to West Virginia and yields more than $10 billion in gas a year.
(Fuel Fix)
Oil and gas producers need to do more than look at their own operations to address water supply problems in the areas where they drill, according to a report from consulting group Deloitte. Outlining the financial and political risks of the industry's growing use of water, the report suggests that the problems are often bigger than one single producer; Will Sarni, a director and practice leader at Deloitte Consulting LLP, said in the report that oil companies should look to work with residential water users and other industry in the same watershed.
(Midwest Energy News)
The "beneficial reuse" of coal ash, often touted as a way to keep the material out of landfills, is potentially causing serious contamination of drinking water in southeast Wisconsin and possibly across the state, according to a report released today by Clean Wisconsin.
(Think Progress)
A major Kentucky coal company falsified its pollution reports in the first quarter of 2014, according to multiple environmental groups that filed an intent to sue notice against the company this week.
China, a week after unveiling an accord aimed at limiting carbon emissions, plans to cap the increasing rate at which it consumes energy to 28 percent for the seven-year period to 2020. The nation is targeting energy use equivalent to an annual 4.8 billion metric tons of standard coal by 2020, according to a statement issued by the State Council today. China's energy use surged 45 percent in the seven years to 2013, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.
The European Union's highest court ruled on Wednesday that Britain's courts have the authority to order the British government to comply with E.U. nitrogen dioxide limits as soon as possible, speeding up action to tackle the air pollutant. The case will now return to the British Supreme Court for a final ruling next year and it is likely to order the government to take action to meet limits in a much shorter timeframe than after 2030.
(Climate Central)
As carbon dioxide levels increase due largely to human emissions, the world's oceans are becoming highly corrosive to a number of organisms that call it home. But the rate of acidification and related changes are anything but uniform. That's why a new study aims to set a baseline for nearly every patch of saltwater from sea to acidifying sea so that future acidification and its impacts can be better monitored.
The Greenpeace protest ship Arctic Sunrise has been taken into custody by the Spanish government in waters off the Canary Islands, just months after it was released by the Russian government.

November 18, 2014

(Washington Post)
For too long, the country's debate on climate change has been stuck on whether the phenomenon is happening at all, or on whether humans are responsible for it. As a Post editorial noted Monday, Republicans are mostly to blame for this, and key GOP leaders still seem unwilling to move the discussion forward now that they have won control of Congress.
(National Journal)
McGraw-Hill, the second-largest educational publisher in the world, has removed key passages from a proposed Texas textbook that cast doubt on climate science. The publisher told education watchdog group Texas Freedom Network on Monday that it cut material from a sixth-grade social-studies textbook up for review by the Texas Board of Education that sparked intense criticism from activists who said the textbook provided misleading information to students about man-made global warming.
(New York Times)
Decades of strip mining have left this town in the heart of India's coal fields a fiery moonscape, with mountains of black slag, sulfurous air and sickened residents. But rather than reclaim these hills or rethink their exploitation, the government is digging deeper in a coal rush that could push the world into irreversible climate change and make India's cities, already among the world's most polluted, even more unlivable, scientists say.