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Today's Climate

September 24, 2014

Less than a year after establishing North America's largest carbon market, Quebec and California are aggressively recruiting the province of Ontario and other U.S. states to join, Quebec's premier said. Quebec is discussing a regional market with the governors of New England states and leaders in Ontario while California is working with Oregon and Washington in the western U.S., Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said yesterday in an interview at Bloomberg's headquarters in New York.
(Environment 360)
In the winter of 2013, after mounting pressure from shareholder groups who wanted to understand the impacts of any future climate legislation, the biggest U.S.-based oil companies were nudged into a surprising revelation: 'Carbon,' the stand-in for carbon dioxide and all other greenhouse gases, had been given a price in the companies' internal accounting. The externalized and largely uncounted costs long associated with fossil fuels—20 pounds of CO2 emitted with every gallon of gasoline, according to the EPA—were now being given a number.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton latched onto a North Dakotan's suggestion about how to make oil safer to transport earlier this month and on Tuesday asked North Dakota leaders to take Dayton wrote to North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture commissioner Doug Goehring asking that they, as Industrial Commission members, require oil pumped in the western part of the state to be conditioned before being shipped.
(Trib Total Media)
Early one recent morning in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood, a crew of utility workers in hard hats and neon yellow safety vests worked to defuse a time bomb. About six feet below street level, in a trench dug by Peoples Natural Gas Co. workers, lay two sections of foot-wide, yellow plastic pipe they would join. Nearby, a woman and small boy pressed smiling faces to the screen window of a house, the boy enthralled by the workers' activity.
The federal judge for Gulf of Mexico oil spill cases was set to hear arguments Wednesday about whether BP PLC should get back hundreds of millions of dollars from businesses that got settlement payments between August 2012 and October 2013. The oil company says that's only fair because Judge Carl Barbier found that the formula used then was incorrect and ordered a change.
(Albany Times Union)
A Houston-based oil company with a terminal at the Port of Albany is poised to open its rebuilt rail terminal in New Jersey—connected to Albany via rail—to shipments of Canadian oil sands. This spring, the head of Buckeye Partners told investors that its rebuilt Perth Amboy terminal would be ready for incoming rail shipments of tar sands oil by the third quarter of this year. That schedule was confirmed during a company presentation at a industry conference in August.
(Fuel Fix)
The Eagle Ford Shale oil field had an $87 billion impact across South Texas last year and supported nearly 155,000 jobs, according to the University of Texas at San Antonio. The university's latest report on the oil boom, released this morning, shows that South Texas' traditional ranching, farming and hunting economy is increasingly eclipsed by the region’s sudden reinvention as an oil field.
(Washington Post)
An unprecedented drought that has parched Northern California has led to one of the most active fire seasons on record and there is little hope of a wet and cool end in sight. In an interview, Ken Pimlott, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said his agency has fought almost 5,000 fires this year, a thousand more than the five-year average. Over the past five years, the agency has battled an average of 3,951 fires between Jan. 1 and Sept. 20. This year, the agency has fought 4,974 fires throughout the state.

September 23, 2014

(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Six international energy companies have agreed to work to reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, in partnership with more than a dozen national governments through a new United Nations framework, according to executives and officials familiar with the program.
(Michigan Radio)
Enbridge Energy has finished laying its new oil pipeline across Michigan as part of its $1.3 billion pipeline replacement project. Much of the new pipeline was put in the ground near the old pipeline. That old line broke in 2010, spilling more than 800,000 gallons of heavy tar sands crude oil into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River. The company is just finishing cleanup work four years after that spill.
(FOX 31)
Denver has confirmed a May 9 crude oil train car derailment near LaSalle, Colorado polluted area groundwater with toxic levels of benzene. Environmental Protection Agency records from July show benzene measurements as high as 144 parts per billion near the crash site. Five parts per billion is considered the safe limit.
The internet giant Google has announced it is to sever its ties with an influential rightwing lobbying network, the American Legislative Exchange Council, accusing it of "lying" about climate change. The move, ahead of a United Nations summit on climate change, delivered a victory to campaigners and the UN's newly minted initiative to persuade companies to shun climate-denying business lobbies.
(National Journal)
A parade of more than 120 heads of state—including President Obama—will pledge their commitment to tackling rising greenhouse emissions at Tuesday's United Nations climate-change summit. But the impact of the giant meeting will be tough to measure—and it might take awhile.
(The Hill)
The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced $3.6 billion in disaster relief funding for communities affected by Hurricane Sandy to help build public transit systems that are resilient to the impacts of climate change.Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, joined by White House adviser John Podesta, unveiled the funding for projects in Staten Island, N.Y. on Monday.
The government has unveiled its strategy to make Australia into an "energy superpower," including goals to increase energy productivity, ramp up gas production and stabilize electricity prices. The energy green paper states that the repeal of the carbon and mining taxes have improved Australia as an investment destination but more needed to be done, such as improving worker productivity and speeding up the extraction and export of gas and uranium supplies.
Hong Kong is seeking to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions at least 50 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels, the city's secretary for the environment said. Businesses in the city, which consume about 40 percent of Hong Kong's power, have been offered incentives to construct energy-efficient buildings or to reduce power use in existing structures, Wong Kam-sing said today in an interview in New York. Hong Kong also is promoting rooftop solar systems and turning food waste into energy.
There is no such thing as an average Chinese person or lifestyle. In a country where poor farmers still struggle to eke out a living from parched soils, the sons of the political elite cruise Beijing's streets in red Ferraris and spend lavishly on every whim. Still, it's an arresting fact that, statistically, the average Chinese person now accounts for more carbon emissions annually than the average European.
Despite its critical role in protecting the Amazon rainforest, Brazil will not endorse a global anti-deforestation initiative being announced at the U.N. climate summit, complaining it was left out of the consultation process. A U.N. official disputed that claim. Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said Brazil was "not invited to be engaged in the preparation process" of the declaration. Instead, she said Brazil was given a copy of the text and asked to endorse it without being allowed to suggest any changes.
(Business Green)
Shale gas can help tackle climate change and should not be restricted by "green tape," David Cameron is expected to tell the UN Climate Summit in New York today. The Prime Minister is among 100 leaders attending the one day event hosted by UN chief Ban Ki-Moon, each of which is expected to deliver a four minute speech outlining how the world can take steps towards agreeing a binding emissions reduction deal at climate talks in Paris next year.
(Al Jazeera America)
Police arrested more than 100 protesters who refused orders to disperse Monday, as at least 1,000 demonstrators gathered in New York City to demand that Wall Street start pitching in cash to stop climate change and that polluting companies clean up their act. The arrests came a day after tens of thousands of people marched peacefully through the city to call for governments to act on global warming, ahead of this week's U.N. summit on the issue.
(New York Times)
A new and most likely controversial analysis of Pacific Ocean weather patterns concludes that a century-long trend of rising temperatures in the American Northwest is largely explained by natural shifts in ocean winds, not by human activity. The analysis, published on Monday in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, effectively suggests that the region has warmed because ocean winds, on average, have weakened and shifted direction.

September 22, 2014

(New York Times)
Global emissions of greenhouse gases jumped 2.3 percent in 2013 to record levels, scientists reported Sunday, in the latest indication that the world remains far off track in its efforts to control global warming. The emissions growth last year was a bit slower than the average growth rate of 2.5 percent over the past decade, and much of the dip was caused by an economic slowdown in China, which is the world's single largest source of emissions. It may take an additional year or two to know if China has turned a corner toward slower emissions growth, or if the runaway pace of recent years will resume.
(Washington Post)
For 140 years, the Rockefellers were the oil industry's first family, scions of a business empire that spawned companies called Exxon, Mobil, Amoco and Chevron. So it was no trivial matter when a group of Rockefeller heirs decided recently to begin severing financial ties to fossil fuels. "There is a moral imperative to preserve a healthy planet," said Valerie Rockefeller Wayne, a great-great-granddaughter of oil magnate John D. Rockefeller Sr. and a trustee of the largest charitable foundation in which the family still plays the leading role.
(The Hill)
A number of climate activists who rallied on Sunday in New York City for the largest climate change march to date, said they aren't convinced Hillary Clinton is their candidate if she runs for president. Founder of the prominent activist group 350.org, Bill McKibben, told MSNBC that the former secretary of State has a lot to prove.
(Financial Review)
China will unveil a "strengthened" policy to combat climate change at Tuesday's United Nations Summit in New York, the latest step in Beijing's evolution from denial and obstruction to what many now hope will be a positive contribution to lowering carbon emissions. China's Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, a member of the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, will attend the meeting, along with 125 world leaders.
(The Globe and Mail)
The shift to clean energy is producing huge economic gains, but Canada risks being left behind if the federal government doesn't get on board, a new report warns. That's the message from energy and climate think tank Clean Energy Canada, which paints a picture of a world increasingly embracing and investing in green energy alternatives.
When Germany kicked off its journey toward a system harnessing energy from wind and sun back in 2000, the goal was to protect the environment and build out climate-friendly power generation. More than a decade later, Europe's biggest economy is on course to miss its 2020 climate targets and greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants are virtually unchanged.
The so-called King Fire, one of several sweeping through parts of California has destroyed 10 homes and 22 other buildings, fire officials say.
Hundreds of protesters plan to risk arrest on Monday during an unsanctioned blockade in New York City's financial district to call attention to what organisers say is Wall Street's contribution to climate change. The Flood Wall Street demonstration comes on the heels of Sunday's international day of action that brought some 310,000 people to the streets of New York City in the largest single protest ever held on over climate change. There were no arrests or incidents in Sunday's massive march, police said.
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
From state regulators' perspective, all the spills, leaks and fires in the Marcellus Shale well field the past eight years were simply part of the learning curve. "Sometimes you need to learn from your mistakes," said Scott Perry, a deputy secretary with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection who oversees the oil and gas bureau.