New York Times - Senate Democratic leaders on Tuesday plan to unveil a measure intended to signal their full-throated support of President Obama’s aggressive climate change agenda to 2016 voters and to the rest of the world. The Democrats hope that the bill, sponsored by Senator Maria Cantwell, of Washington, the top Democrat on the Senate Energy Committee, will demonstrate a new unity for the party on energy and climate change, and define Democrats’ approach to global warming policy in the coming years. The measure would establish as United States policy a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2 percent each year through 2025 — a cut even larger than the target set by the Obama administration.
New York Times - The scope of Volkswagen’s diesel scandal broadened on Tuesday, when the company said that 11 million of its diesel cars worldwide were equipped with the same software that was used to cheat on emissions tests in the United States. The German automaker said it was setting aside 6.5 billion euros, or about $7.3 billion, to cover the cost of fixing the cars to comply with pollution standards. That could have a big impact on the company’s profits, which totaled €12.7 billion last year.
Washington Post - The Obama administration is announcing Tuesday that it will not provide federal protection under the Endangered Species Act for the greater sage grouse, an iconic American bird whose population has fallen sharply for decades in the West because of the impact of ranching, gas drilling, mineral mining and wildfires on its habitat. Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell is set to announce the decision in a speech Tuesday in Commerce City, Colo., near Denver. The administration concluded that the chicken-like grouse does not meet the required standard to be listed as threatened or endangered.
Washington Post - Last month, wildlife photographer Kerstin Langenberger shocked the world when she revealed a horrifying photograph of a severely emaciated polar bear, shot on the Norwegian island of Svalbard. In a Facebook post, she expressed her concerns about the health of the Svalbard polar bears and the ways climate change might be affecting the Arctic. Her photo, visible here, quickly went viral — having been shared more than 50,000 times since then. So when Langenberger’s photo surfaced, the immediate conclusion for many people was that the starving bear was the victim of warming-induced ice-melt in the Arctic. But while this is possible, experts are cautioning the public not to make the image the new face of climate change just yet. As a recent Live Science article pointed out, that bear’s condition could have been caused by a variety of other factors. And while climate change remains a serious long-term threat to polar bears, immediately blaming global warming for a single bear’s starvation could even be considered misleading, or could obscure some of the other challenges bears face in the short term.
Washington Post - The Arctic is one of the most vulnerable parts of the world when it comes to climate change, and has the potential to contribute some costly climate-related effects, such as sea-level rise from melting glaciers. But one of the biggest emerging talking points in conversations about climate change in the Arctic involves something else — permafrost. This frozen soil typically contains large amounts of carbon-containing organic matter. That’s fine as long as the soil stays frozen — but as the Arctic continues to heat up year after year, more and more permafrost is starting to thaw, unleashing its stored carbon into the atmosphere in the process in the form of both methane and carbon dioxide, mostly the latter. Altogether, scientists estimate that Arctic permafrost could contain 1,700 gigatons (which is equal to 1.7 trillion tons) of carbon.
Wall Street Journal - Oil prices slid on Tuesday pressured by continuing concerns about the global oversupply of crude. Oil has been trading in a narrow band in recent weeks after falling to more than six-year-lows in the summer on worries about an economic slowdown in China, the world’s second largest consumer of crude. Dropping U.S. output has provided some support for crude, but inventory levels in the U.S. remain elevated, especially in petroleum products like gasoline. That suggests the glut is unlikely to abate soon. Meanwhile, producer heavyweights like Saudi Arabia have continued to pump oil at a rapid pace in a bid to secure more market share.
Wall Street Journal - The Obama administration Tuesday is unveiling a package of new initiatives aimed at speeding up the federal government’s reviews of infrastructure such as bridges and energy projects, a process that businesses often complain is protracted and redundant. The changes, which don't require additional funding or approval from Congress, are aimed at ensuring that the various government agencies often involved in a single infrastructure review are coordinating better and faster. “Our nation’s economy thrives when the foundation of America’s communities—from roads and bridges to ports and waterways—are built to meet the needs and requirements of the 21st Century,” said White House Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan. “Today’s actions reflect this administration’s continued commitment to meet those needs by further improving the efficiency of the federal permitting process in an environmentally sound way and accelerating U.S. economic growth and competitiveness.”