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Today's Climate

November 20, 2014

(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.
(Washington Post)
The Obama administration has no intention of backing down on major environmental initiatives to fight climate change and improve air and water quality, EPA chief Gina McCarthy said Monday, dismissing Republican threats to thwart proposed regulations by starving the agency of money.
The company behind the Keystone XL project is engaged in a "perpetual campaign" that would involve putting "intelligent" pressure on opponents and mobilizing public support for an entirely Canadian alternative, bypassing President Barack Obama and pipeline opposition in the United States.
(The Hill)
The president of a South Dakota-based Native American tribe says it will be an "act of war" if Congress authorizes construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.  "We are outraged by the lack of intergovernmental cooperation," Rosebud Sioux Tribe President Cyril Scott said in a statement.
(The Times-Picayune)
BP is asking a federal judge in New Orleans to limit maximum fines the company faces in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill to $12.6 billion, nearly one-third less than the $18 billion that federal prosecutors say the oil giant could be forced to pay. In a Friday (Nov. 14) filing, BP urged U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to ignore those higher penalties, which are based on Environmental Protection Agency and Coast Guard rules. The company argues that a lower penalty cap set by the federal Clean Water Act trumps policy decisions by individual government agencies.
Random testing of shallow groundwater in the Northern Plains oil patch found no early evidence of contamination from an energy boom that's already seen more than 8,500 wells drilled, federal scientists said Monday.
Germany said on Monday it has no plans to lift a ban on fracking, following a report in news magazine Der Spiegel that it was considering lowering the hurdles for shale gas extraction to allow test drilling. At present, Germany only plans to allow fracking below a depth of 3,000 metes (yards), to ensure that there is no danger to ground water supplies. Der Spiegel had reported that this depth boundary would be scrapped.
(StateImpact Pennsylvania)
The drilling industry awoke Monday morning to the news that two major oil field services firms would become one. Halliburton will buy Baker Hughes for $34.6 billion, a union that EnergyWire reports will "create a powerhouse in the hydraulic fracturing business." Halliburton, Baker Hughes and Schlumberger are the three biggest suppliers of oil and gas development tools and technology, including the chemicals used to frack wells.
(The Detroit News)
General Motors Co. is purchasing carbon credits from North Dakota grasslands aimed at reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 5,000 cars through a new government-backed partnership.
(Think Progress)
By 2040, the world will emit all the carbon it can afford while remaining within safe ranges of climate change, according to a report released last week. Scientists and policymakers have generally settled on 2°C as the amount of global temperature increase, over pre-industrial levels, the climate can take without creating truly dangerous upheavals.

November 17, 2014

After announcing a major deal with China to curb emissions and a $3 billion pledge into a fund to help poor countries fight climate change last week, the Obama administration will turn its focus to American towns and cities to help them adapt to the impacts of global warming.
Japan on Sunday confirmed plans to contribute up to $1.5 billion to the U.N.-backed Green Climate Fund, joining a U.S. pledge of $3 billion to mitigate the impact of global warming on developing nations. The move was flagged by Japanese media ahead of a Group of 20 summit in Brisbane over the weekend, and was rubber-stamped in a statement by the White House after U.S. President Barack Obama met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the gathering.
Australia's Queensland state threw its support behind plans for the nation’s largest coal project, two days after U.S. President Barack Obama called on the country to step up the fight against climate change.
(Climate Central)
For the third month in a row, global temperatures reached record territory according to newly available data from NASA. And if one global temperature record isn't enough, the Japanese Meteorological Agency also provided new data on Friday that showed the warmest October on record.