Today’s Climate: July 29, 2010

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Crews Work to Keep Oil Spill from Lake Michigan (AP)

Federal officials believe an oil spill that has contaminated a major Michigan river was larger than first estimated, and the governor is warning of a "tragedy of historic proportions" should the oil reach Lake Michigan some 80 miles away.

Landrieu Pushes Oil Spill Liability Compromise (The Hill)

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is urging Senate leaders to back a compromise that raises oil companies’ liability for offshore spills but scales back a Democratic leadership proposal that would allow unlimited payments for damages from the individual company responsible.

BP: Removed Storm Plug From Relief Well at Spill Site (Dow Jones)

BP said Wednesday that one of its drilling rigs successfully removed a storm plug placed on a relief well at the Deepwater Horizon spill site, and it is preparing to run drill pipe into the well.

Macondo Relief Well on Schedule (Upstream)

BP remains on schedule to intercept the Macondo blowout in the U.S. Gulf in about two weeks, the head of the U.S. response told reporters.

Sen. Lautenberg Proposes Overhaul of Oil Dispersant Rules (Greenwire)

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) today proposed a broad overhaul of rules for the use of oil dispersants, requiring U.S. EPA to set minimum toxicity standards for the products, publicly release their ingredients, and balance their health consequences against their effectiveness.

AK Pipeline Operator Lists Causes of May Oil Spill (AP)

The operator of the 800-mile trans-Alaska pipeline system says an internal review has found that a power failure and lack of "situational awareness" contributed to a roughly 4,500-barrel contained oil spill in May.

U.S. Wind Power Installations Drop in First Half of 2010 (Reuters)

The amount of new wind power installed in the U.S. fell by 71% in the first half of 2010 from a year ago as government support for the renewable energy source waned, the U.S. wind industry umbrella group said on Tuesday.

Coal Execs Hope to Spend Big to Defeat Congressional Nominees in KY (Lexington)

Several major coal companies hope to use newly loosened campaign finance laws to pool their money and defeat Democratic congressional candidates they consider "anti-coal," including Senate nominee Jack Conway and Rep. Ben Chandler in Kentucky.

West Virginia Mine to Resume Operations Soon (Washington Post)

Massey Energy plans to build a new entrance and resume extracting coal from the Upper Big Branch mine within months, despite the continuing investigation of the April explosion that killed 29 men.

Scientists Warn of Global Warming Threat to Marine Food Chain (Guardian)

New research published in the journal Nature reveals a substantial 1% annual decrease in the populations of phytoplankton — the foundations of the ocean food chain — due to an increase in sea surface temperatures.

Climate Change Refugees Still Waiting for Help (ABC News)

A relocation process started several years ago in Papua New Guinea’s sinking Carteret Islands, but only a handful of islanders have moved to nearby Bougainville and many are pleading for help.

Ecotality Unveils Consumer EV Charging Stations (CNET News)

Ecotality unveiled Tuesday what will be one of the first commercially available charging stations specifically designed for electric vehicles and plug-ins.

Solar Market Report: Module Shipments To Decline 10% (SustainableBusiness)

Shipments in the photovoltaic (PV) module industry are forecast to decline 10% in the first quarter of 2011, after having boomed during the last year and a half, according to a new market report.

Hongkong Electric Starts Up City’s Biggest Solar Project on Lamma Island (Bloomberg)

Hongkong Electric Holdings, the utility controlled by billionaire Li Ka-shing, formally started up the city’s biggest solar-power project at 550 kilowatts today as part of efforts to help cut pollution.

Alaska Cuts Plane Emissions by 35% with Smoother Landings (ClimateBiz)

Just over a year since Alaska Airlines began tests of a new emissions-reducing technology, the airline says it has achieved 35% reductions by reconfiguring how its planes descend for landing.

Indonesian Sinar Mas-Linked Firms Cutting Virgin Forest: Report (Reuters)

Greenpeace on Thursday issued fresh accusations that palm oil firms linked to Indonesian agribusiness giant Sinar Mas have bulldozed rainforest and destroyed endangered orangutan habitats in Kalimantan.