CRUDE

BP Engineer Is Not Guilty in Case From 2010 Gulf Oil Spill

A former BP rig engineer was found not guilty Thursday on a charge that his negligence in interpreting a critical test that contributed to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Robert Kaluza was a rig supervisor aboard the Deepwater Horizon offshore rig when it exploded, killing 11 workers and resulting in millions of gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/26/business/energy-environment/bp-engineer-is-not-guilty-in-case-from-2010-gulf-oil-spill.html?_r=0

DEC: Twin Lakes oil spill close to clean

By this time next week, the yellow and white booms that have surrounded a storm drain in Twin Lakes since the beginning of the month will be gone.

After visiting the oil spill site earlier this week, Bob Mattson of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said the sheen that once coated the water confined by the booms was all but gone. There was still a little oil on the absorbent cleaning pads at the mouth of the storm drain, but not enough to cause concern.

http://juneauempire.com/local/2016-02-26/dec-twin-lakes-oil-spill-close-clean

Judge denies Plains’ request to delay oil spill lawsuit

A U.S. district judge denied Plains All American Pipeline’s request to put a six-month hold on the class-action lawsuit stemming from the Refugio oil spill.

Judge Philip Gutierrez issued an order on Feb. 25 that denied Plains’ motion because Plains did not make a clear case on how a delay, or stay in legalese, would benefit the case. Also, a stay could damage the putative class members seeking damages, the court said.

http://www.pacbiztimes.com/2016/02/25/judge-denies-plains-request-to-delay-oil-spill-lawsuit/

Report: Rail hazmat safety violations should be prosecuted

Federal regulators are failing to refer serious safety violations involving freight rail shipments of crude oil and other hazardous cargo for criminal prosecution, and are going lightly on civil fines, according to a report released Friday by a government watchdog.

The Federal Railroad Administration routinely applies only modest civil penalties for hazardous materials safety violations, even though inspectors request penalties only for serious or repeated infractions, said the report by the Department of Transportation’s inspector general.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal_government/report-oil-train-safety-violations-should-be-prosecuted/2016/02/26/b1facb8c-dcaa-11e5-8210-f0bd8de915f6_story.html

Shell’s failed Arctic quest for oil still a point of pride, departing executive says

The departing chief of Royal Dutch Shell’s U.S. division, who presided over its failed quest to find crude in Arctic waters off Alaska, said the effort was still a point of pride because it demonstrated the company’s technical expertise.

Marvin Odum, 57, is leaving the company in a reorganization announced Wednesday. He has been with the company for 34 years and held the post atop its U.S. division, Shell Oil Co., since oil prices were at record highs.

http://www.adn.com/article/20160225/shells-failed-arctic-quest-oil-still-point-pride-departing-executive-says

Arctic thaw opens shipping waterways, risks to environment

The Arctic is thawing even faster than lawmakers can formulate new rules to prevent the environmental threat of heavy fuel oil pollution from ships plying an increasingly popular trade route.

Average Arctic temperatures are rising twice as fast as elsewhere in the world, and the polar ice cap’s permanent cover is shrinking at a rate of around 10% per decade. By the end of this century, summers in the Arctic could be free of ice.

http://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20160225/NEWS06/160229901/arctic-thaw-opens-shipping-waterways-heavy-oil-risks-to-environment?tags=|61|310|83|302

Once a Coup, Pipeline Company Deal Becomes a Nightmare

Over the last decade, Kelcy Warren became one of the great beneficiaries of America’s energy boom. The son of a Texas oil-field worker, Mr. Warren built a multibillion-dollar fortune amassing a 71,000-mile network of pipelines across the United States.

And last fall he struck what was to be the capstone deal of his career: His company, Energy Transfer Equity, agreed to buy its rival, the Williams Companies, for about $38 billion, creating the country’s largest pipeline operator.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/26/business/dealbook/once-a-coup-energy-transfer-deal-becomes-a-nightmare.html

 

SHALE

Coast Guard to review applications to ship fracking waste on Ohio River

The Coast Guard announced this week that it is pulling its proposal to allow companies to ship fracking wastewater by barge on the Ohio River. The plan was particularly contentious in southeastern Ohio and prompted more than 70,000 public comments.

But the withdrawal does not mean that waste generated in the process of hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells won’t be allowed on the river. Instead, the Coast Guard said it will review each application, and do so without much — if any — public input.

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2016/02/26/coast-guard-to-review-applications-to-ship-fracking-waste-on-ohio-river.html

Mark Ruffalo Calls Out Governor Jerry Brown Over L.A.’s Urban Fracking

There are two Oscar-nominated actors this year who have worked tirelessly as environmental activists offscreen—Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio. And on Thursday, four days before the Academy Awards, the brothers-in-eco-arms pulled focus to L.A.’s dangerous practice of urban fracking by embarking on a “toxic tour” of all of the drilling sites in Los Angeles proper.

The duo were joined by other Hollywood creatives, including Rashida Jones, Norman Lear, Ed Begley Jr., and Shepard Fairey, as part of the Hollywood United initiative Ruffalo launched this past November in response to what the organization calls California governor Jerry Brown’s aggressive support of oil and gas extraction in the state. The intense means of extraction, known as fracking, is believed to induce earthquakes, compound global warming, pollute the environment, and to have wasted water during California’s most recent drought, the worst in 1,200 years.

http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2016/02/mark-ruffalo-governor-jerry-brown-fracking

Cheshire police chief accuses fracking firm IGas of ‘irresponsible’ behaviour

Fracking company IGas has been accused of irresponsible behaviour and risking serious injury by the police and crime commissioner for Cheshire.

The outspoken attack by John Dwyer follows the eviction of protesters from IGas’s site at Upton in January. Dwyer said this turned out to be wholly unnecessary as the company subsequently announced it was abandoning its plans for the site.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/26/cheshire-police-chief-accuses-fracking-firm-igas-of-irresponsible-behaviour

New Brunswick fracking study leaves industry on long-term hold: opposition

A study of a fracking moratorium in New Brunswick has endorsed a series of steep pre-production hurdles laid out by the Liberal government that opposition parties say will likely cause the industry to evaporate in the province.

In a report released Friday, the three-member commission acknowledged the province is in desperate need of jobs and economic development, but avoided any firm declaration on whether the threshold the Liberals has set to make fracking viable can be met.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/new-brunswick-fracking-study-helps-keep-industry-on-long-term-hold-opposition/article28930103/

Scottish Lib Dem conference: Delegates vote to end fracking moratorium

The Scottish Lib Dem conference has voted in favour of lifting a moratorium on fracking in Scotland.

Delegates passed an amendment at their annual gathering in Edinburgh. However, the move was opposed by party leader Willie Rennie.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-35670953

Farmers lead protests against ‘dirty’ fracking

Residents opposed to fracking in Lancashire packed a public inquiry for a second time to urge a planning inspector to throw out plans to search for shale gas.

Scores of objectors flocked to Blackpool Football Club for a public inquiry into Cuadrilla’s plans to frack at sites in Roseacre Wood, near Elswick, and Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.

http://www.lep.co.uk/news/local/farmers-lead-protests-against-dirty-fracking-1-7751967

U.S. Pipeline Agency Pressed to Regulate Underground Gas Storage

Members of Congress pressed the agency responsible for pipeline safety to create the first federal standards for underground gas storage in a hearing before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Lawmakers convened the hearing to discuss the reauthorization of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), but spent much of their time urging the agency to address underground gas storage following the massive leak in Los Angeles that brought the issue to national attention.

http://insideclimatenews.org/news/26022016/phmsa-pipeline-regulator-pressed-regulate-underground-natural-gas-storage-aliso-canyon-methane

Gas company sues Burlco over pipeline standoff

New Jersey Natural Gas is suing Burlington County over rules the utility sees as an impediment to its proposed pipeline through three county municipalities.

The lawsuit filed in state Superior Court challenges the county’s policies on disturbing county roads for projects such as water, sewer or gas line installations.

http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/news/local/south-jersey/2016/02/24/gas-company-sues-burlco-proposed-pipeline/80891030/

 

RADIATION

TransCanada’s chief sees key role for nuclear power

Nuclear power might not have the cost benefit of natural gas plants or the high-tech cachet of renewable power, but the power source still has an important role to play, TransCanada Corp. CEO Russ Girling said Thursday.

Nuclear power is a source of steady electricity, he said, and can help ensure power grids’ constant demands are meet.

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/energy/article/TransCanada-s-chief-sees-key-role-for-nuclear-6855344.php

Three ex-Tepco executives to be indicted over Fukushima nuclear disaster

Three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co. will be indicted Monday for the allegedly failing to take measures to prevent the tsunami-triggered disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, a lawyer in charge of the case said Friday.

The three, who will face charges of professional negligence resulting in death and injury, are Tsunehisa Katsumata, 75, chairman of Tepco at the time, and two former vice presidents — Sakae Muto, 65, and Ichiro Takekuro, 69.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/02/26/national/crime-legal/three-ex-tepco-executives-indicted-fukushima-nuclear-disaster/#.VtC_H-Z0c2g

Fukushima population falls as post-disaster scars linger

The areas hit hardest by the March 2011 earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster have yet to recover, with Fukushima Prefecture’s population shrinking 5.7% between 2010 and 2015, census results released Friday show.

The drop was 2.7 percentage points sharper than in the previous five years. Neighboring Iwate Prefecture’s population fell 3.8%, while Miyagi Prefecture’s declined just 0.6% thanks to an influx spurred by the reconstruction process.

http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/Fukushima-population-falls-as-post-disaster-scars-linger

Adorable Japanese couple devastated by Fukushima turn lives around with solar

For the past 30 years, Shin and Tatsuko Okawara spent their lives working as organic farmers. With their own organic farm, rural work was in their blood – tilling, planting and harvesting crops from the same soil their family worked on for six generations. They sold organic vegetables direct to customers and their service was cherished by the community.

Mr and Mrs Okawara lived about 45km west of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and loved their place but at the same time were also cautious. They had a radiation detector alarm that they bought after feeling worried by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Then on 15 March 2011, four days after the earthquake and tsunami that caused the tragic Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, their detector alarm went off and radiation levels rose. They had no choice but to leave.

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/this-adorable-japanese-farming-couple-lost-th/blog/55657/

Japan nuclear reactor to resume operations despite radioactive leak

A Japanese nuclear power plant reactor that had shown signs of radioactive leaks is to resume operations.

Takahama nuclear power plant’s No. 4 reactor is scheduled to return online Friday, the Asahi Shimbun reported, following the return of two reactors at the Sendai plant in southern Japan, and the resumption of operations at the Takahama plant of reactors No. 1, 2 and 3.

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2016/02/25/Japan-nuclear-reactor-to-resume-operations-despite-radioactive-leak/6581456422419/

Five years on, Fukushima still faces contamination crisis: environmentalists

Fish market vendor Satoshi Nakano knows which fish caught in the radiation tainted sea off the Fukushima coast should be kept away from dinner tables.

Yet five years after the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl there is still no consensus on the true extent of the damage – exacerbating consumer fears about what is safe to eat.

http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/east-asia/article/1917069/five-years-fukushima-still-faces-contamination-crisis

US, others worried over Japan’s plutonium stockpile

On Jan. 6, about 900 people, including top leaders of nuclear power-related companies, filled a main banquet room of a Tokyo hotel. The occasion was the “New Year Gathering for Nuclear Power” organized by the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum.

Forum Chairman Takashi Imai, who is the honorary chairman of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., warned attendees regarding the nation’s future course in terms of nuclear power.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-wp-japan-nuclear-62335e88-d0e9-11e5-abc9-ea152f0b9561-20160211-story.html

DOE Secretary Moniz on WIPP and Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage

Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz reaffirmed that the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, N.M., is on track for reopening later this year, but he did not offer any encouragement to those in the southwest corner of the state who support using the site for permanent disposal of the country’s spent nuclear fuel (SNF) from civilian power reactors.

Shipments of waste from U.S. nuclear weapons sites were halted after two incidents in February 2014 raised health and safety concerns. On February 19, the DOE issued a preliminary notice of violation to the site operator, as well as to Los Alamos National Security, LLC, which operates Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) for the DOE, for health and safety violations related to two February 2014 events: “The first event involved a fire in a salt haul truck in the WIPP underground, and the second event involved a radiological release.”

http://www.powermag.com/doe-secretary-moniz-on-wipp-and-spent-nuclear-fuel-storage/

 

CLIMATE

Arctic warming: Rapidly increasing temperatures are ‘possibly catastrophic’ for planet, climate scientist warns

The rapidly warming Arctic could have a “catastrophic” effect on the planet’s climate, a leading scientist has warned. Dr Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute in California, said there was a growing body of “pretty scary” evidence that higher temperatures in the Arctic were driving the creation of dangerous storms in parts of the northern hemisphere.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/arctic-warming-rapidly-increasing-temperatures-are-possibly-catastrophic-for-planet-climate-a6896671.html

What long-dead whalers can teach us about climate change

When the steamship Belvedere left San Francisco in the spring of 1897, its crew members couldn’t have known what a treacherous voyage awaited them.

Their life-and-death experiences would all be captured in the ship’s log, which started out with this unassuming entry: “Steamer Belvedere departed SF March 9, 1897. At 3 PM took anchor, steamed to sea with a crew of 44 men, all told, bound to the Arctic Ocean.”

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/what-long-dead-whalers-can-teach-us-about-climate-change/

Climate Change is Shifting Natural Resources and Wealth Along With It

As the planet warms, plants, trees, fish and other natural resources are on the move, shifting toward the poles, in the direction of higher elevations and deeper into the seas, states a paper published February 24 in the journal Nature Climate Change. This natural capital has economic value, especially in developing countries where it accounts for a large share of resources. The team of researchers led by Eli Fenichel, an assistant professor at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, say that where the fish migrate, money will follow, but that it’s not as simple as this.

http://www.newsweek.com/climate-change-will-shift-natural-resources-creating-430910

Book argues for gender parity in addressing climate change

The world has long neglected to look at issues surrounding global climate change through a gendered lens, a University of Kansas professor argues in her new book.

“In all areas of climate change science, policy and solutions, women and men should be equally represented at the table,” said Joane Nagel, university distinguished professor of sociology and author of “Gender and Climate Change: Impacts, Science and Policy.”

http://news.ku.edu/2016/02/18/book-argues-gender-parity-addressing-climate-change

Report says climate change will cut farm, ranch earnings

A new report highlights economic threats faced by Montana’s farmers and ranchers as average temperatures rise and growing conditions change.

The report, “The Impacts of Climate Change on Montana’s Agriculture Economy,” was completed for the Great Falls-based Montana Farmers Union, a 100-year-old statewide farmers group.

http://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/local/2016/02/25/report-says-climate-change-will-cut-farm-ranch-earnings/80962412/

Climate change scientist says past floods help predict future weather

A leading Canadian scientist says Canada is on the front line of climate change, and researchers are studying once-in-a-century weather events to predict what can be expected in the future.

Francis Zwiers is director of the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium at University of Victoria. He is speaking across the country, including in Halifax on Saturday, about climate change and whether extreme events are more frequent and intense than in the past.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/climate-change-weather-events-extreme-flooding-1.3465375

Bill Gates ‘Discovers’ 14-Year-Old Formula on Climate Change

Bill Gates just released a climate science equation that explains how the world can lower carbon dioxide emissions “down to zero,” according to the 2016 edition the annual letter he and his wife, Melinda, published. This letter went online on Monday (Feb. 22).

Problem is, the equation isn’t exactly new. It’s widely known in the climate science community as the Kaya identity, and was reviewed in the scientific literature in 2002 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

http://www.livescience.com/53861-bill-gates-climate-formula-not-new.html

San Diego Launches New Working Group To Address Climate Change

Councilman David Alvarez announced Thursday the formation and composition of a working group that will help the city of San Diego implement the provisions of its plan to address climate change.

The 17 members represent various “stakeholder” groups, including City Council members, builders, labor, business, the disposal industry and transportation planning.

http://www.kpbs.org/news/2016/feb/25/san-diego-launches-new-working-group-address-clima/

 

POLLUTION

These data show where air pollution is killing people

Air pollution helps kill 5.5 million people each year. That’s the conclusion of new analysis by a group of researchers from Canada, China, India, and the United States. They analyzed data from the University of Washington’s Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) to parse out the effects of air pollution on global mortality rates.

http://qz.com/625899/this-data-shows-where-air-pollution-is-killing-people/

How Bullseye Glass sought a key air pollution exemption — and won

A Southeast Portland stained glass manufacturer at the center of toxic air concerns was instrumental in creating what Sen. Ron Wyden has described as an air pollution loophole “the size of a lunar crater.”

The company, Bullseye Glass, asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the exemption after an Oregon Department of Environmental Quality permit writer told the company about the planned regulation in 2007, according to state records released Thursday to The Oregonian/OregonLive.

http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2016/02/how_bullseye_glass_sought_a_ke.html

LA gas leak: worst in US history spewed as much pollution as 600,000 cars

A natural gas leak in the mountains above Los Angeles was one of the worst accidental discharges of greenhouse gases in US history. A new study shows the months-long disaster resulted in 97,100 metric tonnes of methane being dumped into the atmosphere.

The analysis shows that the leak from the Aliso Canyon storage facility spewed out 60 tonnes of natural gas an hour at its peak, creating enough methane each day to fill a balloon the size of the Rose Bowl, the 92,500-capacity stadium in Pasadena. A total of 5bn cubic ft of natural gas was released.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/26/los-angeles-aliso-canyon-gas-leak-methane-largest-us-history

Federal Judge Orders Arizona to Clean Up Grand Canyon Air Pollution

Environmentalists are celebrating an order from a federal court that the state of Arizona must comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s pollution-reduction plan for coal-fired power plants in the state.

At the center of the case is the cloud of haze that often hangs over the Grand Canyon and other federally protected areas and causes visibility problems. The EPA says the cloud is largely man-made. As such, the air pollution violates the Clean Air Act’s regional haze provision.

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/federal-judge-orders-arizona-to-clean-up-grand-canyon-air-pollution-8084739

Polluted Water Is Gushing Onto Florida’s Beaches

Just when tourists are fleeing the chilly north to get their fix of sunshine, some of Florida’s famous beaches are being flooded not with visitors, but with polluted water from the interior of the state.

Florida saw record-breaking amounts of rain in January and as a result, Lake Okeechobee, the state’s largest body of fresh water, rose a foot above normal levels. Meanwhile, industrial cattle and sugar producers have been pumping excess water from their fields into the lake, which has long been a dumping ground for heavy industry. Businesses use the lake’s water to irrigate fields and then dump any excess water (chemical fertilizers and all) back into the lake. In reaction to the added volume provided by heavy rainfall and wary of the structural integrity of Lake Okeechobee’s dike, officials are diverting the excess sludge into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers… right into the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

http://www.cntraveler.com/stories/2016-02-24/polluted-water-is-gushing-onto-floridas-beaches

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