Today’s Climate: May 11, 2010

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Oil Executives Face Congress on Gulf Spill (Reuters)

Big oil will go under the spotlight today when U.S. lawmakers grill top executives on a drilling rig explosion and oil spill that threatens an environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.

Nitrogen-Cement Mix Is Focus of Gulf Inquiry (New York Times)

In seeking to narrow the possible causes of the drilling disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, government investigators are focusing on the role of a tricky type of cement used in sealing the lower section of the oil well.

BP Hopes ‘Top Hat’ Will Succeed Where Dome Failed (AFP)

Days after failing to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill with a giant dome, BP said it will make a second attempt this week using a smaller version dubbed the "top hat."

Oil Spill Threatens Already Weakened Wetlands (AP)

Battered by hurricanes, weakened by erosion and flood-control projects, the sprawling wetlands that nurture Gulf of Mexico marine life and buffer coastal sites from storm surges now face another stern test as a monster oil slick creeps ever closer.

Deepwater Horizon Rig Owner Had Rising Tally of Accidents (Wall Street Journal)

Nearly three of every four incidents that triggered federal investigations into safety and other problems on deepwater drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico since 2008 have been on rigs operated by Transocean, according to a WSJ investigation.

Envoy: U.S. May Have No Climate Bill by Cancun Talks (AP)

Washington’s special climate envoy conceded Monday the U.S. may not have a climate bill in place when the next major global warming conference is held in Mexico late this year, but insisted the legislation is not crucial to those talks.

Senate Might Take Up ‘Smaller’ Energy Bill This Year, Reid Says (Bloomberg)

Legislation to cap GHG emissions from industrial polluters may be set aside this year in favor of a measure that ramps up electricity production from renewable sources, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

Obama Wants to Beef Up Law on Oil Spill Damage Cap (Reuters)

Pres. Obama wants his administration to send legislation to Congress to toughen U.S. law on caps for damages from oil spills, the White House said on Monday.

Supreme Court Pick Seen as ‘Thoughtful’ About Enviro Law, but Views on Issues Are a Mystery (Greenwire)

Elena Kagan, Pres. Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, appears to favor deference to presidential authority — a stance that would have different effects depending on the administration in power but could result in more expansive environmental regulation.

Green Groups Challenge New Coal Plants in Georgia (AP)

Environmental groups filed new challenges Monday in hopes of blocking a $2 billion plan to build the state’s first new coal plant in more than two decades in southwest Georgia and a separate project for the central part of the state.

TransCanada Makes Case for Bigger Loan Guarantee (Reuters)

TransCanada Corp’s top Alaska official said on Monday that an expanded federal loan guarantee is critical to the success of a huge North Slope natural gas pipeline that state, federal and industry officials have promoted for decades.

Report: Climate Change Could Render Much of World Uninhabitable (USA Today)

A worst-case scenario of global warming, in which temperatures would soar some 21 degrees, is that much of the world may become too hot for humans to live in, according to new research published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

U-Va. "Exploring Options" on Cuccinelli Climate Change Subpoena (Washington Post)

The University of Virginia is "exploring options" in responding to the civil investigative demand issued by AG Ken Cuccinelli (R), seeking documents related to the work of climate scientist and former university professor Michael Mann, a university spokeswoman said.

Arab World ‘To Remain Key Global Energy Source’ (AFP)

Arab countries will remain the world’s main energy supplier for decades to come, with more than half of proven global oil reserves, speakers at an Arab energy conference in Doha said on Monday.

Samsung Outlines $20.6 Billion Investment Plan (AP)

Samsung said Tuesday it plans to invest $20.6 billion over the next decade in technologies including solar cells and medical devices, aiming to boost sales and increase its work force by tens of thousands.

UN: Planet Falling Short on Goals to Preserve More Species (AP)

Far too many of the world’s plants and animals — and the wild places that support them — are at risk of collapse, a UN report finds, despite a global goal set in 2002 for major improvement by this year.