Today in WaterWise News:
Exxon facing probe on climate change lies ♦ Oil supply woes ♦ Peabody Energy agrees to disclosures ♦ Higher oil prices ♦ Obama rejects Keystone XL despite energy industry protests ♦ What the Paris climate talks mean for the U.S. ♦ U.N. Report on carbon budget ♦ Global Warming reaching 1 degree Celsius ♦ Obama's TPP and Pipeline Safety rules face scrutiny and opposition ♦ Miami's Rising Tide ♦ PolyMet Environmental Review ♦ Storm-ravaged beaches requesting federal aid ♦ What's riding on Desalination in California? ♦ Fairview Beach restoriation ♦ Salton Sea restoration ♦ Tropical Rainforests and CO2 Emissions ♦ Severe storms in 2015 ♦ Climate Change and poverty
New York Times - The New York attorney general has begun an investigation of Exxon Mobil to determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate change or to investors about how such risks might hurt the oil business. According to people with knowledge of the investigation, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a subpoena Wednesday evening to Exxon Mobil, demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents. Read more.
New York Times - The opening of an investigation of Exxon Mobil by the New York attorney general’s office into the company’s record on climate change may well spur legal inquiries into other oil companies, according to legal and climate experts, although successful prosecutions are far from assured. Many oil companies have funded lobbying efforts and research on climate change, so prosecutors would most likely be able to search through vast amounts of material. The industry has also resisted pressure for years from environmental groups to warn investors of the risks that stricter limits on carbon emissions could have on their businesses, although that appears to be changing. Read more.
New York Times - When the Obama administration began considering the Keystone XL pipeline seven years ago, oil production in the United States was falling and most analysts thought it would never recover. At the same time, Mexican oil production was also in decline, meaning that domestic refineries would soon need another source of crude. Canada, and its expanding oil sands industry, seemed like the perfect solution. But so much has changed in the oil patch since then that many energy experts say the Keystone pipeline, which the Obama administration rejected on Friday, matters far less than it once did. Read more.
New York Times - Peabody Energy, the world’s biggest private coal company, has agreed to make more robust disclosures to its investors about the financial risks it faces from future government policies and regulations related to climate change and other environmental issues that could reduce demand for its product.The coal giant’s concessions came in response to a two-year investigation by the New York attorney general that found that Peabody had not been forthright with investors and regulators about threats to its business that the company projected in private. Read more.
Wall Street Journal - Oil prices kicked off the week higher, helped by data indicating China’s appetite for crude oil remains strong and a further fall in U.S. drilling activity. Upbeat comments about global demand for crude by officials from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries also boosted sentiment. Oil prices remain about half of what they were just over a year ago, however, as the global supply of crude continues to exceed demand. A string of weaker economic data out of China, the world’s second biggest oil consumer, has spooked investors in recent months and further depressed prices. Read more.
Wall Street Journal - The Obama administration’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline Friday ends a seven-year saga with a declaration that the project is not in the national interest and would undermine U.S. global leadership in fighting climate change. The permit denial, which was cheered by environmentalists and lambasted by the energy industry, capped a politically charged review of the oil project that had escalated into a broader debate on climate change, energy and the economy. Read more.
Wall Street Journal - Spokesmen for the U.S. energy industry blasted President Obama’s decision to kill the Keystone XL pipeline Friday, though the widely expected move won’t have much impact on the industry’s operations. Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, the chief lobbying group for oil companies in the U.S., said five reviews conducted by President Barack Obama’s own administration over seven years showed that building the massive oil pipeline between Canada and the U.S. would be safe and help lower fuel prices for consumers. Read more.
Wall Street Journal - Canadian Pacific Railway said less than 1,000 gallons of crude oil spilled after a train derailment Sunday that prompted evacuations in southeastern Wisconsin. Thirteen cars derailed, and 35 homes near the site were evacuated. Canadian Pacific said in a statement that one car was punctured and it leaked some oil. The company was working to determine the exact amount but estimated the spill was no more than 1,000 gallons of oil. Canadian Pacific said the leaking car has been sealed, the spilled oil was contained and siphoned off, and no oil reached a waterway. Read more.
Washington Post - With the 2015 UN climate conference looming less than a month away, there’s a strong economic reason for the United States to support a strong international agreement to curb carbon emissions, says a new report: There are trillions of dollars to be gained at home from other countries’ climate mitigation efforts. The report, which was published on Thursday by the New York University School of Law’s Institute for Policy Integrity, calculates that other nations’ existing climate policies, by lessening the impacts of climate change, have already benefited the United States to the tune of more than $200 billion, and additional pledges for future action could save the country more than $2 trillion by the year 2030. Read more.
Washington Post - With less than a month to go until the all important U.N. climate change conference in Paris, yet another key report has reinforced how off target the world is from the goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. And it finds that 1.5 degrees Celsius, a target embraced by many developing nations, would require even “earlier and much stronger action.” The United Nations Environment Programme’s sixth “Emissions Gap” report, released Friday, provides an overview of the “intended nationally determined contributions” (or INDCs) that nations have proposed leading into Paris. Last week the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change released a similar inquiry that suggested that current pledges could possibly keep the world to 2.7 degrees Celsius, but UNEP is not so optimistic. Read more.
BBC - Global temperatures are set to rise more than one degree above pre-industrial levels according to the UK's Met Office. Figures from January to September this year are already 1.02C above the average between 1850 and 1900. If temperatures remain as predicted, 2015 will be the first year to breach this key threshold. The world would then be half way towards 2C, the gateway to dangerous warming. The new data is certain to add urgency to political negotiations in Paris later this month aimed at securing a new global climate treaty. Read more.
BBC - The winners of science and maths prizes worth $22m have been announced at a glittering ceremony in Silicon Valley. The Breakthrough Prize is backed by Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Google co-founder Sergey Brin, among others. Prizes were awarded in different categories: life sciences, physics and mathematics. The awards gala in California was hosted by comedy actor and writer Seth MacFarlane. Read more.
Politico - After a ruptured oil pipeline went undiscovered for 17 hours, spilling 800,000 gallons of heavy oil into Michigan's Kalamazoo River in 2010, Congress ordered an audit that laid bare the industry's lackluster record of spotting leaks. But after five years of work, the Obama administration has proposed a regulatory overhaul that fails to patch that hole in the nation’s pipeline safety net — a revelation that has been largely ignored amid Washington's obsession with the Keystone XL pipeline. Read more.
Politico - Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are railing against the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the Democratic primary. On the right, GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump is ripping the trade deal as a “disaster” negotiated by “incompetent people.” President Barack Obama’s herculean task of shepherding the landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership through Capitol Hill is about to run into one major hurdle: 2016 presidential politics. Read more.
New Republic - When I started this job, people kept asking me, ‘Why do we have so much flooding now?’ and I said, ‘Well, there’s just one problem: The whole city’s four feet too low—that’s all!’” But as Miami Beach city engineer Bruce Mowry, the person responsible for maintaining and improving the island’s public infrastructure, steered his car through the Flamingo Park neighborhood this past January, his typically cheery mood dimmed. “You know, I drive around a lot, looking at all these streets and trees and homes and thinking about what’s coming,” Mowry said. “If we get the four feet of rise that’s predicted, all of this area will be two-and-a-half feet underwater.” Read more.
Duluth News Tribune - The long-anticipated Final Environmental Impact Statement on Minnesota’s first-ever copper mine was unveiled Friday by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the result of a back-and-forth regulatory process that’s spanned a decade. The move is far from a decision allowing the mine to open. But the final report is considered a major hurdle crossed for PolyMet Mining Inc.’s so-called NorthMet project. Read more.
Tallahassee Democrat - In a move that could help boost recovery of troubled Apalachicola Bay, U.S. senators from Florida and Alabama have asked a Senate panel to intervene in what they call “the Army Corps of Engineers’ ongoing mismanagement” of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., were joined this week by Alabama Republicans Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby in signing a letter to the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. Read more.
Post and Courier - Folly Beach and Isle of Palms want federal help to fix battered beaches in the wake of the unusually high tides and storms of October. Folly Mayor Tim Goodwin made an urgent appeal for assistance in a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Isle of Palms applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for beach restoration funding, said Mayor Dick Cronin. Read more.
News Journal Online - Peter Clark remembers coming to this barrier island about a year ago and noticing the water that once rushed along its northeastern edge had trickled to a thin stream. "It was a real shock to see the entire pass had closed up," said Clark, president of Tampa Bay Watch environmental group. Once wide enough for large boats to navigate, the pass at the southern end of Pinellas County has been closing gradually during the past few years as sand from just north of it has filled in the channel that once was several hundred feet across, Clark said. Read more.
Republican Herald - There’s far more riding on the Americas’ largest seawater desalination plant than the 50 million gallons of drinking water it will produce for the San Diego area each day. The plant, which opens this year, will help determine the future of seawater desalination in the U.S. The billion-dollar project is only the nation’s second major seawater plant. The first U.S. foray, in Tampa Bay, Florida, is widely considered a flop. “You have to be able to say we did it there, it worked there,” said Peter Beland, North America editor for Global Water Intelligence, which tracks the industry. Read more.
Fredericksburg - King George County is asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to recommend what can be done to keep parts of Fairview Beach from falling into the Potomac River. The Board of Supervisors agreed last week to request a feasibility study of the shoreline and address ways to stem the erosion. There’s a bank, about 40 feet above the sandy beach, that has eroded at a rate of 2 to 3 feet per year, according to the letter the county submitted to the Army Corps. About 35 feet of the cliff face was swept away during Hurricanes Isabel and Ernesto. Read more.