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Today's Climate

December 17, 2014

(Columbus Dispatch)
About 25 families in eastern Ohio have been unable to live in their houses for the past three days because of a natural-gas leak at a fracking well that crews cannot stop. Bethany McCorkle, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the state agency that regulates oil and gas, said crews lost control of the Monroe County well on Saturday.
The Obama administration as soon as Wednesday will announce its plans for curbing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, which the United States must do to meet its 2020 target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, people familiar with the issue said Tuesday.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says approving the Keystone XL pipeline will top the Senate agenda in January. The issue could set up an early 2015 veto confrontation with President Barack Obama. Congressional Republicans have been pushing for approval of the pipeline for years. Obama has resisted because of environmental concerns.
(E&E Publishing)
The head of California's Senate plans to introduce legislation to require the state's public pension funds to get rid of their investments in coal equities.
(Christian Science Monitor)
Researchers say they have uncovered perennial freshwater lakes embedded within the upper layers of Greenland's ice sheet – previously unknown features that could play a role in the rate at which the sheet loses mass in a warming climate.
(Huffington Post)
How likely is it that climate change will leave your city in the dark? Researchers at Johns Hopkins University asked just this question, analyzing which cities will be more likely to suffer from hurricane-related power outages in the future.
Japan's regulator vouched for the safety of two more nuclear reactors today, this time in the key industrial area of Kansai, bolstering the government’s drive to switch on atomic plants idled after the Fukushima disaster. The approval for Kansai Electric Power Co. (9503)'s Takahama station units No. 3 and No. 4, is only the second that the Nuclear Regulation Authority has granted in almost four years since the meltdowns at the Fukushima atomic station.
The European Commission has stepped back from plans to scrap ambitious waste recycling and air quality targets, following an outcry after they were leaked, but both pieces of legislation will be heavily amended.
(The Globe and Mail)
Quebec's environmental bureau has dealt a setback to companies that want to use hydraulic fracturing techniques to develop the province's promising shale gas deposits, saying it appears the economic benefits would not outweigh the environmental costs.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
The surge in drilling has meant trillions of cubic feet of natural gas are being pumped out of Pennsylvania every year. And now billions of dollars are flooding into the state for new pipeline projects to move that gas to market.
(Midwest Energy News)
The piles of petroleum coke, or petcoke, on Chicago's Southeast Side that have created a furor over the past year and a half would become invisible under a plan that the Koch Industries subsidiary KCBX Terminals unveiled on Tuesday.

December 16, 2014

America and India will unveil joint efforts to fight climate change when Barack Obama visits New Delhi next month, as the U.S. tries to keep up the momentum of international negotiations.
(The Hill)
The White House wants healthcare providers to get serious about bulking up their defenses against climate change.
(Washington Examiner)
Republicans and Democrats filled out assignments for the Senate committees on Energy and Natural Resources and for Environment and Public Works. New GOP senators joining the energy committee, which oversees the Energy and Interior departments, include Cory Gardner of Colorado, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Steve Daines of Montana. All four are currently House members who won their respective races last month.
The Keystone XL pipeline has created a heated debate over climate change and energy independence. We visit York County, Neb., to speak to people for whom the pipeline could be a tangible reality.
(The Record)
Governor Christie has voiced strong support for the Keystone XL pipeline extension that would cross the middle of the United States, but he has been decidedly quiet on a proposed oil pipeline that could cut across a large portion of New Jersey. Christie's stance on the 178-mile Pilgrim Pipeline, which could run between Linden in Union County and Albany, N.Y., is crucial because state governments, rather than Washington, would have to approve it, energy experts and federal officials say.
Canadian heavy crude traded below $40 a barrel for the first time in five years just as surge of new projects are scheduled to start operation. A total of 14 new oil sands projects are scheduled to start next year with a combined capacity of 266,240 barrels a day, according to data published by Oilsands Review. That's 36 percent more than was started in 2014.
As oil prices go down, down, down (they've dropped 40 percent since June 2014), what most Coloradans notice is that they are paying less for gas. Other than that, the average person might not see much of an effect. That doesn't mean one isn't coming. As oil prices stay low or continue to drop, energy boom states like Colorado, Wyoming and North Dakota may soon see impacts on jobs and even state budgets. Here are a few key indicators that offer help in tracking the on-the-ground effect of falling oil prices.
More than 15 homes are still for sale in a Mayflower subdivision where an oil spill occurred last year, according to an Exxon Mobil spokesman. The oil giant's Pegasus pipeline ruptured in March 2013, spilling thousands of gallons of oil in the Northwoods subdivision. The company has blamed the rupture on manufacturing defects.
As Congress moves to wrap up its year, a lot of important, must-pass legislation is moving quickly through the chambers. That creates the opportunity for politicians to sneak their pet projects into massive bills that most members don't want to hold up or oppose. This year, that's meant bad news for the environment—first in the federal budget (aka the Cromnibus bill) and now in the Defense Authorization Act of 2015.
(Los Angeles Times)
From her bedroom window, Cynthia Dixon watches the cloud of soot rise from the coal mine near her sheep spread. Down the road, a hulking coal-fired electrical plant spews a yellow plume that stains the horizon.
(New York Times)
Filled with pits, seams and fissures, the images that Darin J. Tallman examined in a secure laboratory here looked like the surface of Mars. But they were extreme magnifications of slivers of an odd new material—half metal, half ceramic—that tolerates high heat with ease, and that several companies hope might form the basis of a new reactor technology.
(Washington Post)
On Dec. 3, the World Meteorological Organization said that 2014 is on track to be one of the warmest years on record. On Dec. 4, a new study by the journal Science reported that warmer water pushing against glaciers in Antarctica was accelerating the rate at which glaciers were melting from deep beneath the water.

December 15, 2014

A Paris summit in 2015 will face a tougher task to agree a U.N. deal to slow climate change after the hopes of many that cooperation between Washington and Beijing would be a magic key to end global gridlock dissolved in chaotic preparatory talks in Lima.
(Business Green)
The growth rate of global coal consumption is "unsustainable" and the deployment of carbon capture technology must be accelerated if the world is to successfully tackle climate change.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
When the shortness of breath he suffered for months became so labored that it fractured his sleep, coal miner Ruan Fayou knew he needed help. It took another year, multiple hospital visits and repeated shunting between bureaucracies for Mr. Ruan to determine he was suffering from pneumoconiosis, a disease commonly known by its most vivid symptom: black lung.
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
For the past 18 months, Americans from Albany to Oregon have voiced growing alarm over the rising number of oil-laden freight trains coursing through their cities, a trend they fear is endangering public safety. In at least a handful of places, the public is also helping fund it.
Enterprise Products Partners is shelving a proposed pipeline that would have transported crude from North Dakota to Oklahoma, the company announced on Friday.
(Bismarck Tribune)
The State Health Department is proposing to remove a ban on placing radioactive waste into landfills in North Dakota by raising the acceptable level by a factor of 10 times. The proposed new rules will raise the allowable level in North Dakota from 5 to 50 picocuries.
(Baltimore Sun)
As expected, the O'Malley administration has moved ahead with regulations intended to ensure safe drilling for natural gas in western Maryland. It will be up to Gov.-elect Larry Hogan, though, whether they get imposed.