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Today's Climate

June 30, 2014

(Denver Post)
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Friday pegged the chances of a special session to pass a compromise bill providing local governments more control over oil and gas drilling at less than half. And those odds weren't helped after a group of 19 oil and gas producers, including some of the country's largest, sent the governor a letter Friday stating they wouldn't support compromise legislation.
(Houston Chronicle)
BP asked a federal judge on Friday to recall millions of dollars in "erroneous" payments to Gulf Coast businesses under its multibillion-dollar oil spill settlement, plus interest and attorney fees. The London oil company said "a vast number of claimants" were paid before the court wrote a new policy in May that reversed accounting rules on how certain cash-based businesses are compensated for losses related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
A long-running battle over coal-fired energy in Kansas continued Friday as the Sierra Club environmental group filed a legal challenge to the state's issuance of a permit intended to give a green light to a controversial new power plant. The complaint, filed in the Kansas Court of Appeals, names the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and its secretary, Robert Moser, as defendants, and claims the permit for the new power plant does not meet federal and state requirements.
More than 120 people are being laid off at an Alpha Natural Resources mine in southwest Virginia amid declining production and demand. The coal company said the layoffs will occur as the mine near Haysi is closed over the next two months, according to media reports.
Japan's oil refining industry may be forced to cut about 10 percent of capacity as the government is set to impose new targets to improve efficiency and spur restructuring and mergers.
(E&E Publishing)
Zurich Insurance Group is closing its U.S. climate change office six years after opening it to help persuade companies to press public officials for solutions to climbing disaster losses, according to several sources.
(National Geographic)
NASA's newest spacecraft, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, aims to map the amount of carbon dioxide—the big gorilla of greenhouse gases—in the skies of its home planet.

June 27, 2014

(Wall Street Journal)
Norfolk Southern Corp. has become the first big American freight railroad to require its customers to give the railroad legal protection against damages from fires, explosions or the release of hazardous materials carried in tank cars that don't meet the rail industry's latest standards.
Levels of particulate matter spike at night inside homes near gas wells in Southwest Pennsylvania, the director of an environmental health monitoring project said Wednesday.
(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.