Archive for July, 2013


The new EPA administrator takes office (NY Times).

Halliburton will admit to destroying evidence in the BP spill (Washington Post).

Fracking issues are aggravated by attitudes in the oil and gas industry (Washington Post).

Strict California regulations are threatened by the feds (LA Times).

The UK is complacent in Arctic drilling, says a report (BBC).

Arctic methane could mean big trouble (BBC).

In LA, tours are available of the city’s more toxic parts (LA Times).

UK forests still feel the effects of a 37 years-ago drought (BBC).


Utilities look to batteries to guard against blackouts (NY Times).

BMW makes a big bet on electric cars (NY Times).

The paper industry gets heft alternative fuel tax credits (Washington Post).

Two filmmakers make competing fracking films (Washington Post).

After the brutal heat waves of the past few weeks, it’s hard to imagine a time before that. A time when it was about 60 degrees every day and I was astonished to hear about Tropical Storm Andrea from a local taxi driver. I looked down at my watch and saw it was the first week of June. A tropical storm this early?

Andrea kicked off a frenzied hurricane season, one that now has Tropical Storm Chantal bearing down on Florida. It’s July 10 (40 days into hurricane season, which officially begins June 1) and we already have had three named storms. To put that in perspective: In 1992, Hurricane Andrew (the first named storm of the season) hit Florida on Aug. 24. That’s still more than six weeks from now. You don’t need to be a meteorologist to know we’re certainly looking at a very active hurricane season this year. Could we have to get used to this as the “new normal?”

While scientists have long predicted stronger storms because of climate change, the prevailing wisdom was that the storms would be less frequent. One scientist, however, is bucking that forecast. Kerry Emmanuel says storms will not only be stronger, they’ll occur more often:

Emanuel’s simulations found that the frequency of tropical cyclones will increase by 10 to 40% by 2100. And the intensity of those storms will increase by 45% by the end of the century, with storms that actually make landfall—the ones that tend to smash—will increase by 55%.

It’s a daunting prediction that the world will have to deal with amid all the other problems of climate change. Just like massive Hurricane Sandy and all the other crazy climate problems last year, it’s safe to say: The effects of global warming are starting to show. Hurricane activity is just another symptom.


A federal appellate court will review the BP settlement (Washington Post).

The derailment in Quebec highlights issues with transporting oil bu rail (NY Times).

Vienna tries electric buses (NY Times).

The effect on microbes is an underrated climate change consideration (LA Times).

Fires are becoming more unpredictable (LA Times).

The solar plane finishes its flight (BBC).

The EU tries to fix its carbon market (BBC).

A quick hit on four environmental news topics as we enter July Fourth weekend and celebrate our nation’s independence, while striving for clean-energy independence.

EPA sends climate rule to White House (Politico)

Well, that was fast. President Obama advises the EPA to get moving on greenhouse gas regulations for new and existing power plants and they issue a rule less than a week later. Of course, it was just revising a draft of a rule they had already issued: One that sets up regulations for emissions on new power plants. It’s an issue that’s less controversial than a rule on existing power plants, but it still has opposition from the coal community. With a possible legal challenge from backers of coal looming, the EPA has revised its rule, which hopefully will get adopted by September. It is good to see the timeline that Obama set forth last week has not yet been blown. Sure, it’s only a week, but by now you would think D.C. would’ve blown it right?

Carbon wins lifeline after tight EU parliament vote (Reuters)

The European Union is going to buy up 900 million carbon permits in order to manipulate carbon prices higher in the market. Once again, this shows the volatility and problems that a carbon market can have (although California’s is working). The far easier way is likely just to tax emissions over a certain amount. The upside of this is that it shows the European Union remains committed to fighting climate change. That government has been leading the way in international talks on a climate change treaty, but with some economic certainty of its own, there were questions of its commitment. This move answers those questions.

Climate extremes are unprecedented (BBC)

A wet decade. A hot decade. A decade with rising sea levels. A decade with melting sea ice. It’s everything that has been predicted for the past 27 years now coming to fruition. And yet, there are still climate change deniers? Please. The information is in and the time for action is now (or actually was likely in the past). These studies can become numbing after a while, with them all saying the same thing, but this one stands out as the exact fallout from global warming: Rising sea levels, warmer globe on the whole, and lots of weather extremes.

Senate leads toward Gina McCarthy vote for EPA (Politico)

The acting head of the EPA is far less likely to work with businesses than McCarthy based upon both of their track records. And so it only makes sense, in the wake of Obama directing the EPA to take up a lot of work in the fight against climate change, that Republicans approve McCarthy for the post.