Pulitzer winning climate news.
facebook twitter subscribe
view counter





Donate to InsideClimate News through our secure page on Network for Good.

Today's Climate

March 24, 2014

In a wide-ranging discussion with U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz at Bloomberg's Washington office on March 21, Moniz acknowledged what many observers have already deduced: U.S.-Russia relations are "under strain," and yes, "everything in terms of the relationship is going to be reevaluated."
There are budget earmarks from powerful congressmen, earmarks from not-so-powerful congressmen and, as it turns out for an old mining town in Pennsylvania's Appalachians, there's even an earmark from a long-dead congressman. In the 1960s and 70s, powerful Democrat Daniel Flood worked to find a federal government buyer for the anthracite coal mined in his district.
Pollution in Beijing rose to nearly 10 times levels considered safe by the World Health Organization, triggering warnings to avoid outdoor activity. The concentration of PM2.5—the small particles that pose the greatest risk to human health—hit 242 in the Chinese capital as of 3 p.m., a U.S. Embassy monitor said. The WHO recommends 24-hour exposure to PM2.5 levels of less than 25.

March 21, 2014

(E&E Publishing)
President Obama has packed cash for state air regulators in his U.S. EPA budget proposal, pointing to a leading role for states in shaping rules for curbing greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. The fiscal 2015 proposal would provide $24.3 million to help states prepare for the climate rule—offering $19.8 million in Clean Air Act grants for writing implementation plans and $4.5 million for greenhouse gas permitting, including the collection of emissions data.
(Globe and Mail)
British Columbia's coastal First Nations have a stark message for Ottawa's new Natural Resources Minister: If the federal government wants to build a working relationship with them, then it should reject Enbridge Inc.'s Northern Gateway project.
(New York Times)
Energy companies have been under increasing pressure from shareholder activists in recent years to warn investors of the risks that stricter limits on carbon emissions would place on their business. On Thursday, a shareholder group said that it had won its biggest prize yet, when Exxon Mobil became the first oil and gas producer to agree to publish that information by the end of the month.
(Wall Street Journal)
The U.S. Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency have fined a Texas chemical plant controlled by Koch Industries Inc. $350,000 for emissions violations and will require the company to spend more than $44 million on upgrades. The plant in Port Arthur, Texas, is part of a refining and chemical complex owned by Flint Hills Resources, a division of Koch Industries, which is controlled by politically active brothers Charles and David Koch. The Koch brothers are longtime financial backers of conservative causes.
(Al Jazeera America)
Environmental regulators in North Carolina have cited the country's largest energy company for dumping millions of gallons of wastewater from coal ash ponds into a public waterway. The company could face $2.75 million in fines if the allegations are confirmed. The citations issued Thursday concern two coal ash ponds near the Cape Fear River, where regulators allege Duke Energy pumped the wastewater into a public canal, violating its environmental permit.
North Dakota will pay for the cleanup of illegally dumped radioactive oil field waste found on the outskirts of a tiny town in the northwest corner of the state, a document obtained Thursday by The Associated Press shows. Regulators planned to announce a contractor to clean up the site near Noonan on Monday, an attorney for the Legislative Council—the Legislature's research arm—said in an email obtained by the AP.
(The Hill)
The American Petroleum Institute is optimistic it can convince a majority in the House to endorse reforming or repealing the renewable fuel standard, an official with the group said. API has counted 205 representatives who have either signed letters or co-sponsored legislation to reduce the amount of renewable fuels that refiners must blend or repeal the mandate altogether, said Bob Greco, downstream group director at API.
The cost of limiting power-plant emissions has fallen because cheap natural gas is already shuttering some coal-powered facilities that would be at risk, an environmental group said today in a study. The Natural Resources Defense Council, which is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to impose strict limits on greenhouse-gas emissions, released an updated analysis of what rules would accomplish and the impact on coal plants and lower-carbon energy sources. The EPA says it will issue its proposed rules in June.
(Los Angeles Times)
Occidental Petroleum Corp. shares dropped for two straight days after the city of Carson imposed a moratorium on all new drilling. The drilling ban, which was unanimously passed by the Carson City Council on Tuesday, disrupts plans by the oil and gas giant to bore more than 200 wells in the energy-rich city.
Growing demand for energy will put increasing pressure on the world's already strained water resources, particularly in developing and emerging economies, the UN has warned. "There is an increasing potential for serious conflict between power generation, other water users and environmental considerations," it says in the world water development report, published on the eve of world water day on Saturday.
(New York Times)
To power his plans for Japan's economic revival, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could soon return his nation to nuclear power for the first time since the Fukushima accident three years ago. But before he can, he will need the consent of the remote towns like this one that host Japan's idled nuclear plants.
(Think Progress)
After countless marches, arrests, Congressional votes, and editorials, the five-and-a-half year battle over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is nearing its end. If a recent ruling in Nebraska doesn't delay the decision further, America could find out as soon as this spring whether or not the pipeline, which has become a focal point in America's environmental movement, will be built.
Before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, there was the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, at the time the nation's largest oil spill. The 987-foot tanker, carrying 53 million gallons of crude, struck Bligh Reef at 12:04 a.m. on March 24, 1989. Within hours, it unleashed an estimated 10.8 million gallons of thick, toxic crude oil into the water. Storms and currents then smeared it over 1,300 miles of shoreline.

March 20, 2014

(Washington Post)
The White House plans to press ahead with more executive actions to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the coming weeks, including a government-wide strategy aimed at cutting methane emissions, according to top Obama advisers. Methane, the main component of natural gas, is about 25 times more powerful as a heat-trapping gas than carbon dioxide, the largest human contributor to climate change.
President Barack Obama's advisers are lining up against the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline. Top Democratic donors oppose the project. And Obama himself dismisses claims that it will create many jobs. Yet there's still one big obstacle to the president saying no to Keystone: election-year politics.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Greg Rickford, the man Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has selected to take over as Canada's Resources Minister, immediately takes on one of the biggest challenges facing the Canadian economy: the stalled effort to get approval for Keystone XL.
(New York Times)
President Obama wants Americans to see how climate change could deluge or destroy their own backyards—and to make it as easy as opening a web-based app. As part of an effort to make the public see global warming as a tangible and immediate problem, the White House on Wednesday inaugurated a website, climate.data.gov, aimed at turning scientific data about projected droughts and wildfires and the rise in sea levels into eye-catching digital presentations that can be mapped using simple software apps.
(Los Angeles Times)
The oil-rich city of Carson has imposed an emergency moratorium on all new drilling, halting efforts by a petroleum company to bore more than 200 wells near homes and a state university. The drilling ban, which runs for 45 days but could be extended up to two years, was driven by a fear that Occidental Petroleum would employ hydraulic fracturing to coax oil from one of the city's vast oil fields.
Air pollution led to genetic changes that may have sapped learning skills in children whose mothers were exposed to a Chinese coal-fired power plant before it was shuttered a decade ago, researchers found. Babies born in the southwestern Tongliang county just before the plant was shut in 2004 had significantly lower levels of a protein crucial to brain development in their cord blood than those conceived later, a March 19 report in the Plos One journal said.
(Minneapolis Star Tribune)
A Minneapolis legislator has introduced three bills to beef up Minnesota's emergency response to crude oil transportation disasters. The measures, sponsored by Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, would create a hazard incident preparedness grant program funded partly by $5 million in new fees assessed on railroads and pipeline companies based on their shipping levels in Minnesota.
Cleanup of an oil train derailment on the outskirts of a small southeastern North Dakota town "is all but complete," a state health official said Wednesday. "We've identified a couple of small spots that still smell of oil, but cleanup for the most part is done," said Dave Glatt, chief of North Dakota Department of Health's environmental health section.
(Houston Chronicle)
BP is bidding on new drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico for the first time in nearly two years, after a government contract suspension forced the oil giant to sit out on three government auctions of the territory. The company submitted 31 bids in the Interior Department's sale of tracts in the central Gulf of Mexico, set to begin Wednesday morning in New Orleans, joining 41 other oil and gas companies competing in the high-stakes auction.
(StateImpact Texas)
A case of alleged dumping of possibly thousands of gallons of chemicals into Odessa's sewer system has local officials wondering who's supposed to police the drilling industry. "We're finding that there's so much confusion in this area of law regarding who is responsible for what. So in Ector County, we have taken the lead upon ourselves to investigate the more serious illegal dumping cases and to prosecute those cases both civilly and criminally," said Susan Redford, the Ector County Judge.
The mayors of Duluth and Superior are throwing their support behind Enbridge Energy's plans for pipeline expansion. In a press conference Wednesday, the mayors announced their support in front of a room full of those who support and oppose pipeline expansion.
When Sarah McCoin woke that morning, she wondered what had happened in the middle of the night. Some commotion near the farm had disturbed her in the early hours—the sounds of emergency vehicles and helicopters—but there'd been no indication of what had brought them out. Was it a major crime? That seemed unlikely: After all, Kingston, Tennessee was a pretty sleepy town, with just under 6,000 residents.
(The Australian)
The Abbott government has failed in its first bid to scrap the carbon tax, with the Senate refusing to pass a package of bills to repeal the Gillard-era climate change policy. After three months of debate, the package of nine bills was finally put to a vote in the upper house today only to be swiftly rebuffed by Labor and the Australian Greens.

March 19, 2014

ExxonMobil released a report claiming that there are no environmental effects resulting from last year's massive oil spill in Mayflower. But one local agency says the oil giant is overreaching. Exxon has been making similar claims since the oil spill on March 29th of last year. But now the oil giant officially stands by its initial claims that there is no need for concern.