Today’s Climate: July 28, 2009

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TVA Ignored Ash Spill Warnings for 20 Years (AP)

The TVA failed for more than 20 years to heed warnings that might have prevented a massive coal ash spill in Tennessee, then allowed its lawyers to stifle a $3 million study into the disaster’s cause to limit its legal liability, an inspector general’s report says.

Inside a Coal Confab: Global Warming Just a Scare (Coal Tattoo)

The coal industry presentation was billed as a “pursuit to better understand the overwhelmingly complex issue of ‘cap & trade’,” but it came off as a pep talk urging officials to continue denying global warming is real and keep fighting any limit on emissions.

Utility PACS Generous to Key Lawmakers in Climate Debate (Greenwire)

Large electric utilities that rely heavily on coal poured money into re-election campaigns as the House shaped landmark climate legislation that helps those businesses partly sidestep the toughest provisions.

US Envoy: US, China Upbeat on Climate Treaty at DC Meeting (AFP)

The U.S. point man on climate change voiced optimism at reaching a new global treaty this year, saying top polluters China and the U.S. are serious about taking action.

Study: World Will Warm Faster in Next 5 Years (Guardian)

The world faces record-breaking temperatures as the sun’s activity increases, leading the planet to heat up significantly faster than scientists previously predicted for the next five years, according to a new study.

India to Unveil 20GW Solar Target (Reuters)

India will unveil its first solar power target as soon as September, pledging to boost output from near zero to 20 gigawatts by 2020 as it creates a national plan for global warming, draft documents show.

Europe Discovers the Challenges of CCS (Financial Times)

The challenges and possibilities of CCS are coming into greater focus as world leaders prepare to discuss a global climate-change treaty.They are already apparent in the EU, which has made CCS central to its efforts to stop global warming.

UK Pins Climate Race Hopes on Carbon Capture Pilot (Reuters)

A pilot project in Scotland has begun testing a method of cutting the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, which Britain hopes will be a leap forward in the fight against climate change.

Study: Emissions Trading Will Raise Airline Costs by €1B (Business Green)

A new report predicts the aviation sector could face a bill of over €1 billion a result of its inclusion in the EU emissions trading scheme. Business Green asks, is this the end of low-cost flights?

UK Grants Vestas £6m, but Won’t Save Turbine Factory (Guardian)

The British government awarded Vestas £6m, but the cash will not stop the Danish turbine manufacturer from controversially shutting its Isle of Wight factory, where 25 Vestas workers are protesting.

Senators Push to Bring Oil Drilling Closer to Florida Coast (McClatchy)

Senators from the oil-producing states of Alaska and Louisiana introduced legislation that would bring oil drilling to within 45 miles of Florida’s coast, voiding a 2006 law crafted by Florida’s congressional delegation that put a swath of federal waters off-limits until 2022.

Rep. Kirk Catches Heat on Campaign Trail for Climate Vote (Politico)

As he campaigns for the Senate in Illinois, Rep. Mark Kirk — one of eight House Republicans to support cap-and-trade energy legislation — is doing some serious backtracking from his vote last month.

Coal Companies Not Restoring Mined Mountains (Coal Tattoo)

Coal operators in Southern West Virginia are not restoring large strip-mining sites to their "approximate original contour," despite a state policy change meant to require such reclamation, according to a previously unpublished federal government report.

A Quest for Batteries to Alter the Energy Equation (New York Times)

Engineers are in a race to create batteries that store a lot of energy in a small, light package, and also absorb energy and give it back quickly.

Interview: Lieberman Down, Not Out, on Climate (AP)

Sen. Joe Lieberman’s fingerprints have been on every major climate change bill considered by the U.S. Senate, and despite differences with his former party, he is a regular at weekly meetings of a dozen Democratic senators working to shape a bill by September.

Fertile Crescent ‘Will Disappear This Century’ (New Scientist)

This summer, as Turkish dams reduce the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to a trickle, farmers abandon their desiccated fields across Iraq and Syria, and efforts to revive the Mesopotamian marshes appear to be abandoned, climate modelers are warning that the current drought is likely to become permanent. The Mesopotamian cradle of civilisation seems to be returning to desert.