Blog Archive

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Shakhova Arctic methane interview, April 2012 EGU, by Nick Breeze


These are excerpts from Nick Breeze's interview with Natalia Shakhova at the 2012 European Geophysical Union meeting in Vienna.

More Judith Curry craziness: wants grant money to do study on climate without considering human-caused greenhouse gas emissions

by Sou, Hot Whopper, December 1, 2013

Anthony Watts blog at WUWT is tending to the really boring nutty right now so I popped over to see what was happening at Judith Curry's blog.  She's decided to go all out in favour of politicians putting limitations on scientific research.  Apparently, Nebraskan lawmakers are wanting scientists to prepare a report on "cyclical climate change" but telling them they are not allowed to consider any human influences on climate.  Judith finds it "strange" that any scientist would object to such limitations. (Archived here.)

Here is the advert for the study:

The advertisement looks innocuous, but apparently some lawmakers in Nebraska won't permit the scientists to take into account any human factors.  In other words they are putting political limitations on science.

Here is a report about the farce in a local news service:

The request says researchers “should consider 'cyclical climate change' to mean a change in the state of climate due to natural internal processes and only natural external forcings such as volcanic eruptions and solar variations.”
The use of the term “natural” would rule out the primary cause of the climate changes that have occurred in the last half-century: humans.
The issue of “cyclical” climate change was successfully amended into Haar's bill by Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha, a Republican candidate for governor.
McCoy on Tuesday elaborated on his opposition to using state tax dollars to study man-made climate change: Humans aren't capable of influencing climate patterns.

CFACT bought into the issue, writing (archived here)

A few weeks ago, Nebraska lawmakers called for a wide-ranging study of “cyclical” climate change. Funded by the state, the $44,000 effort was to be limited to natural causes – not additional speculation about manmade effects. Amazingly, University of Nebraska scientists are not just refusing to participate in the study, unless it includes human influences. One climatologist at the university’s National Drought Mitigation Center actually said he would not be comfortable circulating a study proposal or asking other scientists to participate in it; in fact, he “would not send it out” to anyone. The director of the High Plains Climate Center sniffed, “If it’s only natural causes, we would not be interested.”
Their dismissive stance seems mystifying – until one examines climate change politics and financing.

CFACT went further, writing this nonsense:

None of these Nebraska scientists seems reluctant to accept far larger sums for “research” that focuses solely on human causes; nor do professors at Penn bearprotestsState, Virginia, George Mason, or other academic or research institutions. They’re likewise not shy about connecting “dangerous manmade global warming” to dwindling frog populations, shrinking Italian pasta supplies, clownfish getting lost, cockroaches migrating, and scores of other remote to ridiculous assertions – if the claims bring in research grants.
As if scientists determine the results of their research before they do it. CFACT isn't interested in facts.  They prefer to make stuff up as long as it's congruent with their aim of trashing the natural environment as fast as their little legs can carry them.

The Texas State Climatologist and Professor of Meteorology at Texas A&M University, John Nielsen-Gammon has written about it in the Houston Chronicle. What John is saying is that one of the scientists who refused to bid for the funds studies drought.  He is an expert in drought. Just drought.  Not drought from only natural causes or drought from only human causes, just drought. Period.  He wrote:

Knowing who these Nebraska scientists actually are, this [CFACT] article is simply sickening.  It goes on like this for a while, bringing up Galileo, Einstein, Stalin, and Lysenko, and concludes:
“Nebraskan (and other) researchers must end their hide-bound focus on human causes – and start working to understand all the complex, interrelated factors behind global climate changes and cycles. Government financiers and policy makers must do likewise. Our future well-being depends on it.”
Hey, CFACT, I have news for you: we climate scientists, at Nebraska and elsewhere, are already doing this.  We refuse to be told by politicians to restrict the scope of our scientific investigations.  Some of us feel so strongly about this that we are willing to pass up grant money that comes with politically-motivated restrictions.  And we’re willing to do this even at the possible cost of having our reputations dragged through the mud by the likes of you.
Because, despite our best efforts, some of us get used as political pawns anyway.
By the way, in a footnote, CFACT notes that the same authors will “discuss harassment of CAGW skeptics in a future article”.  Hypocrites.

Judith says John's explanation doesn't "make sense" to her.  Apparently in Judith's world it is okay to put political constraints on the factors that academics can take into account when doing scientific research.  She lives in a strange little world.

What Judith is arguing for is that climate scientists should accept a requirement that they refuse to consider any factors that are associated with all the added greenhouse gases in the air. 

Yep.  Judith Curry is advocating politically constrained "science" if there is any such thing. How could scientists possibly study something if they are not allowed to consider all possible factors?  How could scientists study any weather change without acknowledging that the extra greenhouse gases are affecting climate and weather? Whatever results they came up with would have to be wrong from the start.  They wouldn't be able to use any climate models that included the current level of greenhouse gases, nor allowed for the growth of greenhouse gases.

Judith has put her hand up for the money.  Not only that, she's offered to do a study where she has already decided the results, writing (my bold italics):

JC message to Nebraska lawmakers:  I understand why you want to better understand and predict the natural variability of drought in Nebraska, such as seen in Figure 1 above.  I have been studying climate variability in the high plains, specifically temperature and winds, for a DOE funded study on predicting wind power variability.  For $44K, I would be happy to extend our study to include precipitation and drought, interpreting Nebraska climate variability in context of the stadium wave and including probabilistic projections of extremes for the next two decades. And I am sure that there are other researchers outside the state of Nebraska who would be willing to address this topic also.

Is Judith claiming that Nebraska droughts are caused by her stadium wave?  AFAIK she hasn't even said what causes her so-called stadium wave.   All she's done is say "here's a pattern we think we've found."

It gets worse, with a logic fail from Judith.  In the comments she writes:

curryja | November 29, 2013 at 11:38 am | Reply
Can you look at Figure 1 and deny that there is natural variability? 

The point is not whether there is "natural variability."  The point is that no politician should be putting these sort of constraints on scientific research.  It would be like handing out grant money to study the common cold and telling researchers that they are not to consider any viral causation.  Natural variability is taking place in a world heated up by global warming. There is no pure natural variability any more.  All weather is influenced by the added greenhouse gases. 

You can't just remove greenhouse warming from the equation and say - oh look, this is what the weather would be like without greenhouse gases.  That would be of no value to Nebraskans.  The farmers there want to know what to expect in the future.  What is realistic. Not what would have been expected if we hadn't been adding greenhouse gases to the air.

A responsible scientist would not be able to do the research in good faith.  But Judith Curry would.

If Judith doesn't win the tender, maybe Anthony Watts will find a use for their money.  He could do a review of weather stations in Nebraska and conclude that even if they get more droughts it will be okay, it won't get too hot.  Any extra heat associated with drought can be put down to "Nebraskan UHI disease."

More fracking news from rjs

Environmentalists Decry California’s Fracking Rules -- Amid intense rivalry between the oil industry and the agricultural industry, regulators in the state of California have released long-awaited proposed rules on fracking, inviting acceptance from oil and gas companies and harsh criticism from environmentalists. The draft rules require fracking to undergo strict monitoring and have earned criticism from both sides of the fence in California.  According to the new regulations, state environmental officials will be teamed up with air quality regulators and regional water boards to track potential problems related to fracking operations, and wells undergoing hydraulic fracturing will be monitored both before and after the process. Oil companies will be required to implement groundwater testing and to notify landowners before fracking procedures begin. The regulations also come with disclosure obligations regarding the chemicals used in fracking. Companies would also be required to disclose the chemicals used and acquire permits before they start the fracking. The rules are set to take effect in 2015, with emergency regulations that companies will have to comply with beginning in January 2014.

Fracking Industry Dumping Toxic Wastewater Into California Coastal Waters - In a letter delivered as commissioners meet this week in Newport Beach, CA, the center says hundreds of recently revealed frack jobs in state waters violate the Coastal Act. Some oil platforms are discharging wastewater directly into the Santa Barbara Channel, according to a government document. “The Coastal Commission has the right and the responsibility to step in when oil companies use dangerous chemicals to frack California’s ocean waters,” said Emily Jeffers, a center attorney. “Our beaches, our wildlife and our entire coastal ecosystem are at risk until the state reins in this dangerous practice.” After noting seven risky chemicals used by oil companies fracking in California waters, the letter describes the duties of the Coastal Commission to protect wildlife, marine fisheries and the environment. “Because the risk of many of the harms from fracking cannot be eliminated, a complete prohibition on fracking is the best way to protect human health and the environment,” the letter says. At minimum, the Coastal Commission must take action under the Coastal Act to regulate the practice, including requiring oil and gas operators fracking in state waters to obtain a coastal development permit.

Coast Guard To Approve Barging Hazardous Fracking Waste On Rivers - The Coast Guard is moving forward with a proposal that would allow barges to transport large amounts of hazardous and radioactive wastewater from fracking operations on America’s major rivers. After studying the issue at the request of the fracking industry, the Coast Guard recently released proposed regulations for fracking wastewater barging. A public comment period on the proposal runs through November 29, 2013.  Wastewater from the Marcellus Shale, a heavily fracked formation under much of Pennsylvania, is known to contain elevated levels of radium and other radioactive elements. The fracking industry has been shipping the wastewater from fracking fields in the Marcellus region for disposal in Ohio, Texas and Louisiana by truck and rail. And now the industry wants to barge large quantities of wastewater on major rivers such as the Ohio and Mississippi. Fracking and disposal firms claim that barges have a much better safety record than trucks and other methods of waste transport, but environmentalists fear that a leak or spill on a major waterway could contaminate drinking water supplies for millions of people. Under the proposal, the Coast Guard can require barge owners to test wastewater to identify hazardous chemicals and determine if the waste meets specific radiation limits. Operators must keep records of the analysis for two years and make them available to the Coast Guard upon request. Information from hazardous-material reports would be available to the public under the Freedom of Information Act, but the identities of “proprietary” chemicals would not be available to the public.

Breaking Down The New Proposed Fracking Rules Released In Illinois And California - The states of California and Illinois both released proposed rules for fracking on Friday, which received general criticism from environmental groups and measured acceptance from the oil and gas industry. The California law says that the state must conduct a scientific study of the benefits and the drawbacks of fracking before a ban on the practice could be considered. Neither California nor Illinois had regulations on fracking before this law was enacted, which is true for most states across the United States. North Carolina, Maryland, and New York have issued effective moratoria on fracking in their states — California and Illinois are the first states to allow the practice to continue in their states but regulate it to any serious degree. The rules both largely address water usage and pollution. The Illinois law required the water that comes back up from fracked wells to be held in tanks instead of open pits — except in case of emergencies. But the rules allow enough leeway in how companies can define that emergency that it could function as a “gaping loophole” that makes open pit wastewater storage a regular practice, according to NRDC’s Senior Attorney Ann Alexander. The rules also require companies to test water before, during, and after drilling, while companies will be liable for any contamination that takes place due to drilling. Drillers must disclose chemicals used in the practice both before and after drilling, as well as how the well will be drilled, how much fluid will be used and at what pressure, and how water will be obtained, used, and disposed. The California rules require monitoring of well water before and after companies drill, which would be managed by the Department of Conservation, the Air Resources Board, and regional water boards. The rules also mandate that names and concentrations of the chemicals used in fracking be made public. These chemicals are used to lubricate the process, kill bacteria, and facilitate the grains of sand into the fractures in the shale rock. Fracking chemicals are exempt from federal water disclosure laws following passage of the 2005 Energy law.

House To Vote On Bill That Would Impose $5,000 Fee For Protesting Drilling Projects -- The House is likely to vote on a number of GOP bills this week related to the oil and gas industry, arguably the most sweeping of which is the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act. The bill, introduced by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), is broad legislation designed to make it much easier for oil and gas companies to obtain permission to drill on public lands. If signed into law, the legislation would automatically approve onshore drilling permits if the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) failed to act on them in 60 days.  If an individual does not like a proposed drilling project and wanted to oppose it, he or she would have to pay a $5,000 fee to file an official protest. In addition, Lamborn’s proposed bill would direct the DOI to begin commercial leasing for the development of oil shale, a controversial type of production that has been largely banned by the United States since President Herbert Hoover prohibited the leasing of federal lands for oil shale. Oil shale — which should not be confused with the more common “shale oil” — is a type of rock that needs to be heated to nearly 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit to produce crude oil, which then has to be refined.  The Natural Resources Defense Council calls it “the dirtiest fuel on the planet.” Under Lamborn’s bill, the government would be required to offer 10 leases on federal lands in 2014 for oil shale research and demonstration projects. And before 2016, the government must hold at least 5 commercial lease sales of federal lands for oil shale development, each no less than 25,000 acres.

House Plans To Roadblock Federal Fracking Oversight   - The federal government would have no authority over hydraulic fracturing in states that have their own fracking laws, if legislation set to be heard by the House this week is passed into law.  On Wednesday, lawmakers will consider HR 2728, the Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act. Proposed by Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX), the bill would made fracking a states-only game. Unless a state has not passed any laws regarding fracking, the U.S. Department of Interior — the agency responsible for conservation of most federal land and natural resources — would have no say in whether companies disclose chemicals in fracking fluid; whether water that comes back up from fracked wells is polluted; or whether people can request public hearings on fracking permit applications.  Top climate scientists recently sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA) to issue a fracking moratorium because of carbon emissions, groundwater contamination, and the massive amount of water required to frack a well. Wenonah Hauter of Food and Water Watch once described the process as “a giant pipe bomb four or five miles underground.” Rep. Flores introduced the bill in July as an attempt to avoid draft regulations from the Obama regulations to regulate the fracking performed by the oil and gas industry. Those rules would require companies to make sure that fluids from the fracking process aren’t contaminating groundwater, and mandates that those companies have management plans for large volumes of wastewater that flows back to the surface throughout the fracking process.

House Passes Bills To Fine Drilling Protesters, Squelch Federal Oversight Of Fracking - The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed two bills that would, among other things, impose a $5,000 filing fee on any individual that wanted to file an official protest of a drilling project, and take authority away from the federal government to regulate hydraulic fracturing in states that already have their own fracking rules.   H.R. 1965, the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act, provides that onshore drilling permits would be automatically approved if the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) failed to act on them in 60 days. The bill would also impose a $5,000 fee on anyone who wanted to file an official protest of a proposed drilling project, and would direct the DOI to begin commercial leasing for the development of oil shale, a controversial type of production that has been largely banned by the United States. Oil shale — which should not be confused with the more common “shale oil” — is a type of rock that needs to be heated to nearly 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit to produce crude oil, which then has to be refined. H.R. 2728, the Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act, would made fracking a states-only game. Unless a state has not passed any laws regarding fracking, the U.S. Department of Interior — the agency responsible for conservation of most federal land and natural resources — would have no say in whether companies disclose chemicals in fracking fluid; whether water that comes back up from fracked wells is polluted; or whether people can request public hearings on fracking permit applications.

Bakken operator releases fracking documentary: ‘Down Deep: Unearthing the Truth About Hydraulic Fracturing’ - From The Bakken MagazineWSX, a Tulsa-based energy company specializing in the production of natural gas, has launched a website to help clear up controversy and misinformation surrounding hydraulic fracturing and the process of exploring for, drilling and producing oil and natural gas. The site Downdeep serves as a platform for delivering a 30-minute video titled, “Down Deep: Unearthing the Truth About Hydraulic Fracturing” and features conversations with experts, landowners, neighbors and WPX executives.Using genuine facts and interviews with third parties, Down Deep takes on the dishonest politicking and misguided environmentalism that has become entangled with the public’s image of “fracking.” WPX Energy believes U.S. citizens all have the right to be informed of the facts surrounding any vital issue—and the right to be involved in the decisions that shape America’s energy future. You can watch the documentary Down Deep above.

Steingraber: Setting the Record Straight on Fracking - Earlier this month, just days after voters in Colorado and Ohio went to the ballot box to protect their communities against the demonstrably dangerous oil and gas drilling process known as fracking, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell delivered a proclamation that only served to highlight just how much misguided faith the Obama administration has invested in the oil and gas industry, and its quest to keep the American public hooked on fossil fuels. Jewell cited what she called “confusion” in the fracking debate, implored the oil and gas industry to clear up “misinformation,” about the process, and asserted that industry should “make sure the public understands … why it’s safe.” 

But the only thing confusing about the fracking debate is why this administration continues to embrace the practice in the face of scientific evidence that fracking and associated activities contaminates water, air, communities and the climate. Hardly a month goes by without the release of a new study that highlights one aspect or another of the harmful effects of fracking. Given these headlines, it’s no wonder that despite the untold millions of dollars being spent by the oil and gas industry to promote the process, Americans are increasingly rejecting it. A recent poll released by the Pew Research Group finds that opposition to fracking has grown significantly across most regions and demographic groups. Overall, 49% are opposed to increased fracking, up from 38% six months ago, while only 44% support it. Americans are turning against this practice not because they are confused, but because the evidence of fracking’s harmful effects continues to swell. In just the last few months, a Duke University study linked fracking to elevated levels of methane, ethane and propane in groundwater; a study out of University of Texas, Arlington found high levels of arsenic and other heavy metals in samples from water wells near active natural gas wells; and last month, a study in Environmental Science and Technology found concentrations of radium in the Allegheny River 200 times normal levels, as a result of fracking waste disposal.

Schilling Shilling -- Kunstler - Such is the power of wishful thinking that a set of fool-making memes now pulses through the word-clouds of financial chatter in America spreading the false good cheer that our economic troubles are behind us and pimping for perpetual motion in wealth expansion. A poster boy for this bundle of falsehoods is financial analyst A. Gary Schilling. Just last week, he was talking out of his cloacal vent about US “energy independence” and “the manufacturing renaissance” that will allow this country to magically decouple from the compressive contraction driving the rest of the world. Shilling is among the growing chorus of cheerleaders who believe that the shale oil and gas boom will make it possible for so-called “consumers” (what we foolishly call ourselves) to keep driving to Wal-Mart forever — which is the master wish behind all the current fantasies of endless expansion. That idea is going to leave a lot of people disappointed and put the nation further behind in the necessary reorganization of all the key systems that support everyday civilized life, namely: food production, commerce, transport, and the management of capital. Here’s what’s actually going to happen with shale oil and gas. Best case scenario: shale oil production rises for three more years to about 2.3 million barrels a day and then crashes so quickly that in 10 years the shale oil industry ceases to exist. A less rosy forecast would admit that the exorbitant costs of drilling-and-fracking will not find the necessary capital to even take the industry that far. Rather, dwindling capital will see the shocking decline rates of shale wells (commonly 50 percent the first year and double digits the following) and will run shrieking for other places to hide.  Contrary to Gary Schilling’s blather, America is not practicing “energy conservation.” Rather, an economy engineered strictly to run on cheap oil has gotten crushed by oil that is not cheap. Does Schilling believe, for example, that American suburbia works just as well on $90-a-barrel oil as it did on $11-a-barrel oil, or that it has a future as the basic armature of daily life, or that we are doing anything meaningful to alter the burdens of living this way? My guess is that he has never thought about it.

The Coming Bust Of The Great Bakken Oil Field - There has been a lot of Fanfare on the huge increase of oil production coming from the Bakken Field located in North Dakota.  There are many stories of people moving to the state to take advantage of the new OIL BOOM.  It seems like everyone is going there to start a new life and make it rich in one of the coldest areas in the United States. However, with all BOOMS, comes the inevitable BUST.  The EIA – U.S. Energy Information Agency is now putting out data on the individual shale oil and gas plays in the country.  While the American public and world have been made aware of the huge increase in oil production coming from the Bakken, few are privy to the dark side of the equation.  The Bakken’s daily decline rate from their existing oil wells has reached a staggering 63,000 barrels a day.This means, that every day the Bakken pumps oil, its existing wells are now declining 63,000 (bd) barrels a day.   As you can see from the chart above, the rate really started to decline in a big way after 2011 when the average daily decline was only 20,000 bd.  In less than 3 years, this rate has increased more than 3 times (63,000 bd). This next chart gives us the total as well as net oil production increases month over month:
What Happens after the U.S. Oil Boom Goes Bust? - The Bakken crude oil formation spread out over North Dakota and Montana should give up more than 1 million barrels of oil per day next month. North Dakota is already the second-largest crude oil producer in the country behind Texas. A string of reports out last week said oil production in states like North Dakota is putting a dent in OPEC's market influence. A break from the grips of Middle East oil producers was put on the U.S. table 40 years ago and politicians and pundits alike are heralding recent developments as an energy revolution. What develops after the revolution is over, however, is something policymakers may have to consider in the not too distant future. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said it estimated crude oil production from the Bakken region of North Dakota will top 1 million bpd in December. That region, the heart of the shale revolution in the United States, now accounts for more than 10% of total U.S. oil production. Last week, the EIA said oil production from states like North Dakota helped push net aggregate crude oil imports for October to their lowest level in more than 20 years.  Last week, the International Energy Agency said crude oil production from North America is reducing the role of OPEC on the international stage. OPEC acknowledged the influence of North American crude oil production in its own reporting, saying its share of crude oil production in global production declined slightly to 33.1%. The IEA said, however, that the Middle East is "the only large source of low-cost oil [and] takes back its role as a key source of oil supply growth from the mid-2020s."

Marcin Korolec, chair of the U.N. climate change talks in Warsaw, fired by Polish government for not speeding up regulations for expanding fracking - Marcin Korolec, chair of the U.N. climate change talks in Warsaw that run through Friday, was sacked from his job as Polish environment minister on Wednesday, reportedly for failing to speed up regulations to expand shale gas exploitation. Expectations of progress were already low for the United Nations climate conference in Poland this week, but few delegates were probably prepared for the latest stumbles.Ten days into Poland's role as host of the two-week U.N. gathering, Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Wednesday fired the conference president, Environment Minister Marcin Korolec, Polskie Radio and other national media reported. Tusk clarified later that Korolec would continue representing Poland in the climate talks through the country's stint in the rotating presidency that runs through the end of 2014. But climate change activists warned that Korolec's loss of government backing undermines his clout in pressing delegates to commit to emissions reductions. "Korolec will have no real political power." Worse, said Greenpeace Poland director Maciej Muskat, Tusk said he was replacing Korolec to speed up development of Poland's shale gas industry.  "This is nuts," Muskat said. "Furthermore, justifying the change of minister by the need to push the exploitation of another fossil fuel in Poland is beyond words."

Botswana Secretly Fracks World’s Second-Largest Wildlife Preserve After Kicking Out The San People - Botswana has been getting fracked for years without the public knowing, even in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, ancestral home of the San people and second-largest wildlife reserve in the world.  The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA)’s film, The High Cost Of Cheap Gas, contains footage of fracking equipment and energy company employees describing their work as “fracking.” A news release on Kalahari Energy’s website talks about hydraulic fracturing operations in Botswana that began as early as 2009 to extract coal bed methane. And a 2005 post on the site found by the Daily Maverick’s Rebecca Davis talks about the construction of water evaporation ponds “for hydraulic fracturing of the wells.” A government map of oil and gas concessions indicate the coal bed methane concessions exist in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, and the Chobe National Park, home to the world’s largest herd of elephants. Keikabile Mogodu, a San rights advocate, told The Guardian that nobody had heard anything from companies or the government about fracking on San land. “We are in the dark,” he said. “If fracking is done in the areas where people are consultations should be done.” Botswana President Ian Khama’s government has been fighting in court to keep San people from returning to their land, and it seems this may be why.

Toxic Lakes From Tar-Sand Projects Planned for Alberta - The oil sands industry is in the throes of a major expansion, powered by C$20 billion ($19 billion) a year in investments. Companies including Syncrude Canada Ltd., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. affiliateImperial Oil Ltd. are running out of room to store the contaminated water that is a byproduct of the process used to turn bitumen -- a highly viscous form of petroleum -- into diesel and other fuels. By 2022 they will be producing so much of the stuff that a month’s output of wastewater could turn an area the size of New York’s Central Park into a toxic reservoir 11 feet (3.4 meters) deep, according to the Pembina Institute, a nonprofit in Calgary that promotes sustainable energy. To tackle the problem, energy companies have drawn up plans that would transform northern Alberta into the largest man-made lake district on Earth. Several firms have obtained permission from provincial authorities to flood abandoned tar sand mines with a mix of tailings and fresh water.  Syncrude began work this summer on Base Mine Lake, which when complete will measure 2,000 acres. It says the reservoir will eventually replicate a natural habitat, complete with fish and waterfowl. As many as 30 so-called end-pit lakes are planned, according to Alberta’s Cumulative Environment Management Association, a private-public partnership.  

& here's a story about a victory by wind opponents for tom & diane; France sounds worse than Auburn Twsp:

French Wind Critics Get Turbines Removed, Leaving Country More Reliant On Nuclear - Earlier this month, judges in Montpellier, France ordered French energy company GDF Suez to take down 10 wind turbines near the city of Arras in Northern France. The decision comes after a six-year legal struggle between GDF and a local couple who claimed the 10 turbines, installed back in 2007, destroyed the character of their 17th century chateau. According to the French court, the clean energy generators were guilty of causing the “total disfigurement of a bucolic and rustic landscape.” GDF Suez was given four months to dismantle the turbines or face a fine of €500 per day per turbine. GDF was also ordered to pay the chateau owners €37,500 in damages. The wind turbines had been providing electricity to over half of the 40,000 residents of Arras. The judges emphasized that the ruling was not because of actual demonstrated lost property value, but because of things like the “unsightliness of white and red flashing lights.”  In a statement, the couple’s lawyer, Philippe Bodereau, said: “This decision is very important because it demonstrates to all those who put up with windfarms with a feeling of powerlessness that the battle is not in vain, even against big groups, or authorities who deliver building permits, that legal options are available to everyone, that we have a right to live in peace and that people can do other things than suffer.”

Fracking news roundup by rjs

Top climate scientists call for fracking ban in letter to Gov. Jerry Brown - (letter embedded) - Twenty of the nation's top climate scientists have sent a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, telling him that his plans supporting increased use of the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," will increase pollution and run counter to his efforts to cut California's global warming emissions.  The letter is the latest example of the increased pressure that environmentalists and others concerned about climate change have been putting on Brown in recent months. Their argument: the governor can't say he wants to reduce global warming while expanding fossil fuel development in California. "If what we're trying to do is stop using the sky as a waste dump for our carbon pollution, and if we're trying to transform our energy system, the way to do that is not by expanding our fossil fuel infrastructure," said Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University.  Caldeira signed the letter along with other prominent climate scientists, including James Hansen, the former head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies; Richard Houghton, acting president of Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts; and physicist Michael Mann, a professor of meteorology at Penn State University.  The letter called for Brown to place a moratorium on fracking, as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has done.

Coast Guard Proposal to Allow Barges to Haul Fracking Wastewater Draws Fire From Environmentalists - The U.S. Coast Guard released plans that would allow wastewater from shale gas to be shipped via barge in the nation’s rivers and waterways on October 30 — and those rules have kicked up a storm of controversy. The proposal is drawing fire from locals and environmentalists along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers who say the Coast Guard failed to examine the environmental impacts of a spill and is only giving the public 30 days to comment on the plan. Three million people get their water from the Ohio River, and further downstream, millions more rely on drinking water from the Mississippi. If the Coast Guard's proposed policy is approved, barges carrying 10,000 barrels of fracking wastewater would float downstream from northern Appalachia to Ohio, Texas and Louisiana. 

Environmentalists say a spill could be disastrous, because the wastewater would contaminate drinking water and the complicated brew of contaminants in fracking waste, which include corrosive salts and radioactive materials, would be nearly impossible to clean up. The billions of gallons of wastewater from fracking represent one of the biggest bottlenecks for the shale gas industry. Traditionally, oil and gas wastewater is disposed by pumping it underground using wastewater disposal wells, but the underground geology of northeastern states like Pennsylvania makes this far more difficult than in states like Texas, and Ohio has suffered a spate of earthquakes that federal researchers concluded were linked to these wastewater wells.

Colorado Town's Fracking Ban Results Change: 17 Votes In Favor - Broomfield, Colorado’s fracking ban isn’t assured victory, but the latest count is in its favor. While an election night tally had it losing by 13 votes, outstanding military and overseas ballots have flipped the outcome, with 17 votes in favor of the ban as of Thursday night. But that slim margin will trigger a recount, since Colorado law requires one if the margin of victory is within half a percent of the total number of votes cast on the winning side. With the latest count at 10,350 in favor of the ban and 10,333 against, a margin of fewer than 51 votes would be enough to trigger a recount. The recount could begin as early as Monday, said Michael Susek, Broomfield’s elections administrator. Three other Colorado towns, Fort Collins, Boulder, and Lafayette, passed similar measures on November 5th that would either ban or put a moratorium on fracking for five years. Broomfield’s measure would put a five-year ban on fracking if it passes.

Is Fracking A Civil Right? A New Court Case May Decide - Horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracturing, drilling for oil, exploring for natural gas: None of that is allowed in Mora County, New Mexico.  On April 29, the Mora County Commission made history and passed a first-of-its-kind ordinance banning the exploration and extraction of oil, natural gas, and hydrocarbons from its land. The ordinance, called the “Mora County Community Water Rights Local Self-Government Ordinance,” passed the commission on a 2-1 vote. “All Mora County residents possess the fundamental right and inalienable right to unpolluted natural water,” the ordinance says. “This right shall also include the right to energy practices that do not cause harm, and which do not threaten to cause harm, to people, communities, or the natural environment.”  But the ordinance may not last. A statewide oil and gas association and three Mora County landowners sued the county and its commissioners in federal court on Monday, claiming the ban on extracting natural resources violates three of their civil and Constitutional rights — including freedom of expression. The plaintiffs, led by the Independent Petroleum Organization, assert that Mora is using its purported environmental concerns as a veil for the real purpose of the ordinance, which they say is to “eliminate the constitutional rights and privileges of corporations.”

Fracking executive confirms: Homeland Security thinks fracktivists are terrorists - According to comments made by Mark Grawe, Chief Operating Officer at EagleRidge Energy (EagleRidge), Denton, Texas, residents who object to his company’s reckless operations way too close to their homesschools and parks are terrorists worthy of inclusion on the Department of Homeland Security’s watch list. Wednesday night Grawe attended a Home Owners Association meeting in Mansfield where EagleRidge has drilled and fracked several wells very close to a neighborhood, schools and playgrounds.  Grawe went on to tell the Mansfield residents that some people in Denton are “preaching” civil disobedience and that they are on “the watch list” but not his watch list. When another resident asked whose watch list, Grawe said “Homeland Security.” The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Watchlist Service (WLS) is a database of known or suspected terrorists compiled by the Terrorists Screening Center (TSC).

Shale’s Effect on Oil Supply Is Forecast to Be Brief - The boom in oil from shale formations in recent years has generated a lot of discussion that the United States could eventually return to energy self-sufficiency, but according to a report released Tuesday by the International Energy Agency, production of such oil in the United States and worldwide will provide only a temporary respite from reliance on the Middle East. The agency’s annual World Energy Outlook, released in London, said the world oil picture was being remade by oil from shale, known as light tight oil, along with new sources like Canadian oil sands, deepwater production off Brazil and the liquids that are produced with new supplies of natural gas. “But, by the mid-2020s, non-OPEC production starts to fall back and countries from the Middle East provide most of the increase in global supply,” the report said. A high market price for oil will help stimulate drilling for light tight oil, the report said, but the resource is finite, and the low-cost suppliers are in the Middle East. “There is a huge growth in light tight oil, that it will peak around 2020, and then it will plateau,” said Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the International Energy Agency. The agency was founded in response to the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74, by oil-importing nations. The agency’s assessment of world supplies is consistent with an estimate by the United States Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration, which forecasts higher levels of American oil production from shale to continue until the late teens, and then slow rapidly.

IEA: Shale Boom is Only Temporary , We’ll Soon be Relying on the Middle East Again – Claims that the shale boom in the US will eventually see the country become energy self-sufficient seems to have received its biggest blow yet after the International Energy Agency, in its latestWorld Energy Outlook report, stated that shale oil will only be a temporary trend, and very soon the world will return to rely on the Middle East for its oil. The World Energy Outlook admitted that shale had transformed the global oil industry, and that the light tight oil produced was helping to usher in a new abundance of oil. High oil prices will drive further exploration and production of tight oil “but, by the mid-2020s, non-OPEC production starts to fall back and countries from the Middle East provide most of the increase in global supply.” We expect the Middle East will come back and be a very important producer and exporter of oil, just because there are huge resources of low-cost light oil. Light tight oil is not low-cost oil.” An earlier report released by the US Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration, also suggested that US tight oil production will be high until the end of the decade, and then quickly fall off. The NY Times wrote that the energy outlook has attempted to make predictions about the energy industry up until 2035, expecting no new energy breakthroughs, although it believes that costs will continue to fall for renewable energy. Supposedly by 2035 renewable energy will account for 18% of global energy produced, up from 13% in 2011, and that the growth would be even higher if it were not for the fact that many households are replacing wood (considered a renewable source) stoves for cooking or heating in favour of fossil fuels such as natural gas.

The Hub: Saint John end point of ‘Energy East’ readies for crude revolution -- “Our biggest competitors in North America come from the Gulf Coast and they all have access to this lower-cost midcontinent crude,” says Irving CEO Paul Browning. The company has booked capacity on Energy East, but won’t say how much. “When the pipeline arrives here and as we bring in other sources of this lower-cost crude, it allows us to be globally competitive and allows us to think about exporting our petroleum products, not just outside of Canada, but outside of North America,” Mr. Browning says. First, though, TransCanada must navigate an increasingly divided landscape. Energy East has won a measure of political support from provincial leaders in Alberta, New Brunswick and Ontario, yet the project is unfolding against a backdrop of deep public skepticism over pipelines. A rival plan to carry Alberta crude east, Enbridge Inc.’s Line 9 reversal and expansion, has been marred by controversy; federal regulators cancelled public hearings in Toronto this fall amid security concerns, forcing Enbridge to submit its final arguments in writing. Bigger proposals such as Keystone XL and Northern Gateway face an uncertain future.

Pipelines are Safer than Rail, Period -- After the Nov. 8 oil tank train derailment in Alabama, it is time to reconsider the approval of new pipeline construction in North America. Pipelines are the safest way of transporting oil and natural gas, and we need more of them, without delay. Every time I write this, the rail industry attacks me. Then, three or four months later, another rail accident involving hazardous materials hits the headlines. In Pickens County, Alabama, approximately 25 rail cars derailed, bursting into flames. The volume of oil spilled was fortunately contained by a beaver dam, which slowed the flow of oil. Rail cars burned for days, impeding the accident investigation. The latest accident comes four months after a rail accident in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, where the derailment of 73 rail cars carrying crude oil from North Dakota to Maine claimed 47 lives. Rail cars became detached from the parked engine, slid backwards into the town of Lac- Mégantic, and exploded. In both June and September, rail cars carrying flammable material derailed in Calgary, Alberta, where, fortunately, no lives were lost. If oil had been carried through pipelines instead of by rail, the accidents — and deaths — would have likely not occurred.

Massive Natural Gas Pipeline Explodes In Texas Town, Causing Evacuation Of 800 Residents - A massive explosion of a 10-inch Chevron natural gas pipeline near a drilling rig in Milford, Texas, led the company to ask law enforcement to evacuate the entire town on Thursday. Milford, in rural Ellis County, is about halfway between Dallas and Waco. The cause is still unknown, and the fire is expected to rage for another day. At 9:30 a.m. CST, huge gouts of flame shot into the air at a what appeared to be a drilling rig, according to local affiliate FOX 4. Black smoke was visible for at least 20 miles around. Some vehicles at the worksite appeared to be seriously damaged. No injuries have been reported so far. Chevron’s statement simply describes an “incident at a Chevron pipeline” and offered no further details.This shot, courtesy of local affiliate NBCDFW from a helicopter feed 5 miles away from Milford, shows the black cloud blotting out the sky.

The Scariest Real Estate Advertisement On Craigslist - An unusual real estate advertisement appeared on Craigslist Tuesday.  The ad starts as any listing for a rural area might, billing the property as “Heavily forested land with berry bushes and nut trees and hardwoods in rural mountainous setting with forks and creek.” But by the second sentence, it takes a surprising turn, describing land in Blaine, Kentucky that seemingly sits near or on several different dirty fuel projects:Free gas available and royalties. Somewhere between 80 and 125 acres. Surveyed. Lease unavailable… Radioactive soils, history of discharges to land and water including land farming, present discharges to protected waterways. Flooding due to Yatesville Dam hydrologic gate failures. Anyone with chemical sensitivies should not consider this property and its resulting oozing rashes consistent with chemical burns and breathing problems probably from air discharges from Abarta Gas Plant emmissions. This property is not suitable for farm animals, pets, children, adults, fishing, swimming, hiking or farm animals. Really, it’s not suitable for building or habitation. It’s not suitable for 4-wheeling or hunting as above ground corroded gathering lines that feed to the transmission line on the ridgetops are all combustible and highly flamable. Majestic old standing lumber is not safe to fell or remove due to the magnitude of the condemnation by the gathering field. The unmarked pipes are not maintained and pose a serious risk of leakage and spills. The abandoned crusty ones are very toxic.

Big Oil, Big Profits, Big Tax Breaks - Once again, it’s been a good quarter for Big Oil. The big five oil companies—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell—reported $23 billion in combined profits for their third quarter of 2013. That’s $175,000 per minute. Together, these five companies earn more in one minute than 95 percent of Americans earn in a year. These profits were slightly lower this third quarter compared to 2012, primarily due to lower (but not low) oil and gasoline prices. Gasoline averaged $3.63 per gallon in the first 10 months of 2013, slightly less than last year’s record of $3.68 per gallon. Even though profits were lower, the big five companies continue to enrich their largest shareholders and senior executives by using a large share of profits to buy back their own stock. This past quarter, the combined buybacks of the companies (save ConocoPhillips) were nearly $10 billion, or 43 percent of the four companies’ total profits. In addition, these five companies are sitting on more than $71 billion in cash reserves. Big Oil is swimming in an endless river of profits and continues to invest millions of dollars to lobby Congress against eliminating their special tax breaks. Environment & Energy Daily reported on October 30 that: Oil and natural gas lobbyists have spent more than a year urging lawmakers to maintain targeted tax breaks for extracting and transporting their products, but there are signs of a growing fear within the industry that impending legislation to overhaul the tax code for the first time in a generation would eliminate most of those incentives in order to lower the top-line rate paid by all companies.

Owen Paterson, his sceptic brother-in-law, and how Defra went cold on climate change

Global warming has slid down the agenda since the arrival  of Owen Paterson as Environment Secretary. He even thinks it may be a good thing. James Cusick delves behind the scenes to find out where he’s getting his ideas from

by James Cusik, political correspondent, The Independent, November 29, 2013

Senior civil servants and advisers often resort to coded language when they realise a minister wants to do things his way rather than theirs. Whitehall’s Sir Humphreys over the last year have started calling any scientific briefing or discussion pencilled into the Environment Secretary’s diary as “hot air” chats.

Parachuted into the environment job 15 months ago, Owen Paterson should have had at least a dozen “hot airs” with his chief scientific advisor, Professor Ian Boyd. Previous environment secretaries aimed for about one a month.  But in more than a year at Defra, Paterson has held just two meetings with Sir Ian. One Defra adviser described their two “hot airs” as “cursory.

The official science-based advice Paterson has received from other academic sources has also been minimal, department insiders suggest.

Instead the Environment Secretary, regarded as part of the Tory’s hard-right countryside squirearchy, is linked to an alternative network of leading climate change sceptics that include Margaret Thatcher’s former chancellor, Nigel Lawson, his controversial Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), and arch-sceptic Matt Ridley, the nephew of Lord Lawson’s former cabinet colleague, Nicolas Ridley. Matt Ridley also happens to be Paterson’s brother-in-law.

Given David Cameron’s reported – although denied – desire to “get rid of all this green crap,” Paterson’s arrival at Defra last year is being seen as the beginning of a shift in Government priorities.

At the time, Tory MP and environmentalist Zac Goldsmith noted that the appointment was “odd,” and that if the Conservatives wished to retain their green credentials, then it would have been better to appoint someone who didn’t dismiss environmentalism as a left-wing issue.

A year on, Goldsmith’s view hasn’t changed. At his party’s conference in Manchester, he joked to a fringe meeting that Paterson had recently said there could be advantages to climate change.

Goldsmith said : “This is a huge step forward. As far as I know he previously didn’t think global warming was happening. “Matt Ridley has famously claimed there would be a “net global benefit to human or planetary welfare” from global warming up until temperatures increased 2.2 C from 2009 levels.

In step with his brother-in-law, Paterson has stressed the positive rather than the overall negative effects from global warming. He recently said: “Remember, for humans, the biggest cause of death is cold in winter, far bigger than heat in summer.” [This is a complete lie.]

Arriving in Manchester he told a fringe meeting some “good news” in the global warming front, saying that a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had found there was new evidence of “really quite modest” increases in global temperatures.
Given the specific role of Defra to protect the environment and cope with the consequences of climate change, such as flood defences, this sounded optimistic stuff from the IPCC, and a change from previous hard-line red alerts.

The fringe audience heard Paterson say: “I think the relief of this latest report is that it shows a really quite modest increase, half of which has already happened. They (IPCC) are talking about one to 2.5 degree…. what it is saying is something we can adapt to over time and we are very good, as a race, at adapting.” [We haven't even seen a 1 C increase, yet, and if we go to 2.5 C, it won't stop there, but will continue to climb.]

The full IPCC report, “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis,” is over 2,000 pages, with 14 chapters that includes mathematical analysis of atmosphere and surface observations, carbon cycles, and an evaluation of climate models.

To understand the document completely, one might have thought that Paterson, who studied history at Cambridge, would have needed the input of Sir Ian Boyd.

Yet with so few meetings between the two – and with Paterson also apparently reluctant to consult substantially with the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s chief scientific adviser, Professor David McKay – questions are being asked about how the minister’s view is informed.

In a vacuum left by absent expert scientific analysis, Paterson appears willing to trust other sources. A couple of days before the Manchester conference kicked off, Matt Ridley, offered his interpretation of the IPCC report.

The Right Honourable Viscount Matthew White Ridley, to give him full title, was recently described in the Wall Street Journal as a “confusionist” science writer regularly engaged in “epic blunder-fests of disinformation.”
Viscount Ridley’s sister, Rose, married Paterson in 1980. Although the two branches of the family are not said to be more than usually close, Defra officials acknowledge that Paterson knows what his brother-in-law is saying on certain subjects.

While it is unclear whether Paterson read his brother-in-law’s scepticism in full flow in a Times comment piece in September headlined : “Global lukewarming need not be catastrophic,” the minister repeated what his relative wrote just a few days later in his address to party conference.

Ridley’s take on the IPCC report noted a 15-year standstill in temperatures; that warming has been slower than predicted, and that “temperature will rise towards the end of this century, one to 2.5 degrees, up to half of which has already happened.”

Professor Myles Allen from Oxford University, one of the contributing authors of the IPCC report, said Ridley’s analysis was “not consistent with the report at all.”

The report’s actual prediction, if global systems continue on their current path, points to increases between 2.6 and 4.8 degrees. In any interpretation that cannot be described as modest.

Ridley’s misreading was mimicked by Lord Lawson, who subsequently claimed a global warming rise of 1.5 degrees was now being predicted by the IPCC.

Writing in the Telegraph, Lawson questioned the IPCC’s analysis and called them a “discredited organisation.”

Ridley, who acts as an adviser to Lord Lawson’s foundation, has a chequered record with scientific theories.

After completing a zoology doctorate at Oxford, he wrote articles suggesting the origins of the AIDS virus lay in the unforeseen consequences of a polio vaccine administered in the Congo which resulted in a monkey-to-human crossover. It was scientifically plausible, but ultimately wrong. He has been similarly challenged about the acidification of the oceans.
Although he promotes himself as scientist, journalist, biologist and businessman, his part in the downfall of Northern Rock is glossed over.

As the 5th Viscount Ridley, he owns the 8,500 acre Blagdon Hall estate in Northumberland. His family has held the estate since the 1700s, their wealth built ironically on coal mining.
But when he assumed the chairmanship of Northern Rock in 2004 and its £300,000-a-year fee, he had little practical banking experience.

When NR collapsed in 2007, Ridley was accused of developing and fostering the business strategy that led to a “catastrophic” loss of confidence in the bank.

He has always claimed that the board was not to blame, and the collapse was a result of the unforeseen credit crunch.

Although David Cameron continues to plug his “greenest-ever” government, Paterson’s move to Defra was a shock at Westminster. One former government adviser said “Either Cameron didn’t know of Paterson’s lack of green credentials, or worse, he knew exactly what he was doing. It’s all there on Ridley’s blog when he says: “He’s my brother-in-law, get over it!”

In the Commons next week, Paterson’s credentials as an environment secretary will be tested again. The reworked Energy Bill, after changes forced by the Lords, will be back under the scrutiny of MPS.

The opposition benches want greater transparency on what advice Paterson is being given. One Liberal Democrat MP said : “We’ve got a 1970s narrative here, when we should be looking to 2020 and beyond. The simple solution is for Paterson to open up his department’s books and reveal who exactly he’s taking advice from.”

The Independent asked both Mr Paterson’s special adviser and officials at Defra if he could provide a clear statement on his climate change views, and whether or not  he could be described as sceptic.  Mr Paterson’s adviser said : “We have no intention of providing The Independent with any information that could be distorted. What The Independent has previously written about what he has said is disgraceful.”

A history of denial: Paterson’s opinions

Any Questions, Radio 4, 12 June 2013

“The climate’s always been changing ... I think in the Holocene the Arctic melted completely, and you can see there were beaches there...The climate’s been going up and down – but the real question which I think everyone’s trying to address is, ‘Is this influenced by man-made activity in recent years?’ ... The temperature has not changed in the last 17 years and what I think we’ve got to be careful of is that there is almost certainly ... some influence by manmade activity but I think we’ve just got to be rational and make sure the measures that we take to counter it don’t actually cause more damage.”

In response to IPCC  report on climate change,  29 September 2013

“People get very emotional about this subject, and I think we should just accept that the climate has been changing for centuries. Remember that for humans, the biggest cause of death is cold in winter, far bigger than heat in summer. It would also lead to longer growing seasons and you could extend growing a little further north. I think the relief of this latest report is that it shows a really quite modest increase [in temperatures], half of which has already happened. They are talking one to two-and-a-half degrees.”