From the Washington Post, a momentary win:
Democrats block Keystone pipeline, but GOP vows new fight when it takes over
Senate Democrats blocked a move Tuesday to compel construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, dealing a sharp loss to one of their own, Sen. Mary Landrieu (La.), who had pinned her chances for reelection on approval of the measure.
The vote was a victory for environmental activists who have turned defeat of the pipeline into one of the central symbolic causes of their movement. But Republicans, who will take majority control of the Senate in the next Congress, vowed to return to the fight next year.
On a 59 to 41 roll call, Landrieu’s campaign fell one vote shy of passing legislation meant to force President Obama to approve the nearly 1,700-mile, $7.6 billion project, which would deliver 830,000 barrels of oil a day from western Canada to the American heartland. With just 14 Democrats backing it, Landrieu’s bill fell victim to a filibuster by her own party. All 45 Republicans voted for the measure.
The only person who really needed the Keystone victory in November was Landrieu, who is trying to hold off Representative Bill Cassidy in Louisiana’s run-off election on December 6. Democrats allowed Landrieu her vote on the bill, but the cold calculation that most of them made is that with the limited polling out of Louisiana showing her losing by double digits, passage of the bill—which also had Cassidy’s name on it—wouldn’t be enough to save her.
From Reuters, a video of the decisive moment:
U.S. Senate fails to pass Keystone XL pipeline bill
U.S. Senate votes 59-41 in favor of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline bill, narrowly lacking the 60 votes needed to pass the measure.
From the Express Tribune, an ongoing struggle:
Crippling disease: Seven new cases as N Waziristan polio drive restarts
As seven fresh polio cases surfaced in different parts of the country on Tuesday, an initiative was renewed to drive out the contagious disease from North Waziristan Agency (NWA) – which has been off limits to vaccinators for the last 30 months.
According to officials, a formal polio vaccination drive was started in four different villages of the North Waziristan’s Razmak tehsil on Tuesday and 1,349 children were vaccinated on the first day of the drive.
Meanwhile, seven new polio cases surfaced across the country on Tuesday, taking the national count for 2014 to 255. The National Institute of Health (NIH) confirmed the emergence of seven new cases in a single day.
From the New York Times, Mine Kampf:
Clean Mining a Deception in Kentucky, Groups Say
In a state where coal-country creeks run red with iron, Frasure Creek Mining has been unusually clean of late: Amid tens of thousands of measurements that it submitted to Kentucky regulators in 2013 and early 2014, fewer than 400 exceeded the state’s limits for water pollution from coal-mine runoff.
Now environmental activists say they know why. In a letter released on Monday, four environmental groups said many of the monthly measurement reports that Frasure sent the state contained virtually identical data — line-for-line repeats of clean pollution reports submitted the month before.
The letter to Frasure and state and federal officials vowed to sue the company for what activists called tens of thousands of violations of the Clean Water Act unless Kentucky regulators act first. The act allows citizens to enforce
More New York Times coal coverage:
Coal Rush in India Could Tip Balance on Climate Change
“If India goes deeper and deeper into coal, we’re all doomed,” said Veerabhadran Ramanathan, director of the Center for Atmospheric Sciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and one of the world’s top climate scientists. “And no place will suffer more than India.”
India’s coal mining plans may represent the biggest obstacle to a global climate pact to be negotiated at a conference in Paris next year. While the United States and China announced a landmark agreement that includes new targets for carbon emissions, and Europe has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent, India, the world’s third-largest emitter, has shown no appetite for such a pledge.
“India’s development imperatives cannot be sacrificed at the altar of potential climate changes many years in the future,” India’s power minister, Piyush Goyal, said at a recent conference in New Delhi in response to a question. “The West will have to recognize we have the needs of the poor.”
Mr. Goyal has promised to double India’s use of domestic coal from 565 million tons last year to more than a billion tons by 2019, and he is trying to sell coal-mining licenses as swiftly as possible after years of delay. The government has signaled that it may denationalize commercial coal mining to accelerate extraction.
And from RT, frack off!:
No fracking, we’re German! Berlin reiterates moratorium on drilling
Germany says it is not going to loosen restrictions concerning its moratorium on fracking. A report in Der Spiegel had said the government was considering making it easier to extract shale gas and allow test drilling.
The government said on Monday it has no plans to lift the ban on fracking, Reuters reported.
Currently there are only plans to allow fracking at a depth below 3,000 meters to ensure that the water supply does not become contaminated. The effective ban is popular with Germans as the process of hydraulic fracturing involves pumping water and chemicals through drill holes at a high pressure to try and open rocks that may contain gas.
Getting the tubes tied off, via the Guardian [and, yes, we know they ain’t got tubes any more]:
Brussels targets super-sized TVs in drive for energy efficiency
- Mega-TV screens will be forced to reduce energy use under new proposals that set the scene for ‘ecodesign’ battles to come over kettles, toasters, and hairdryers
The amount of energy that big screen TVs can use will be capped under an EU energy efficiency drive which the European commission expects will cut consumers’ energy bills by around €8bn a year.
After similar energy-saving rules for vacuum cleaners provoked a storm of criticism from UK newspapers last autumn, the planned TV rules may be a test case for new ‘ecodesign’ formulas for kettles, toasters and hairdryers, due to be announced next year.
The new TV standards, which could come into effect as early as June 2016, would set more challenging energy use requirements for larger TV screens, which currently benefit from a ranking methodology that only measures internal components for energy efficiency.
Coming clean with the Associated Press:
Dry Central California town gets portable showers
Hundreds of people living in a drought-stricken California farm town could soon be taking their first hot shower in months after county officials set up portable facilities in a church parking lot.
Residents of East Porterville in the agricultural Central Valley must bring their own towel and soap, but the hot shower is free. Until now, many have been forced to bathe from buckets and drink bottled water.
Andrew Lockman, manager of the Tulare County Office of Emergency Service, said Tuesday that officials were worried about residents taking sponge baths during the colder weather.
“The poor certainly get poorer,” he said. “We’re trying to provide a safety net, a basic quality of life as people struggle through this disaster.”
Ceaseless cetacean slaughter reduced, via the Guardian:
Japan cuts Antarctic whale quota after UN court ruling
Japan has reduced quota by two-thirds after UN court called the controversial ‘research whaling’ programme a commercial hunt masquerading as science
Japan has unveiled a plan to kill 333 minke whales in the Southern Ocean next year as part of its push to resume whaling following a legal setback instigated by Australia.
The plan, released by the Japanese government on Tuesday, sets out a 12-year program that would result in the slaughter of a total of 3,996 whales. The whales will be hunted in a vast sweep of Antarctic waters, including ocean claimed by Australia.
The 333 annual figure is a sharp reduction in the previous quota Japan awarded itself last year, when it aimed to take 855 minke whales, 50 humpback whales and 10 fin whales. Japan ended up harpooning far fewer than this amount, however, due to the disruptive tactics of anti-whaling activists Sea Shepherd.
Japan state broadcaster NHK WORLD put a different spin on the story:
Japan to resume Antarctic research whaling
Japan aims to resume its research whaling in the Antarctic Ocean late next year by drastically downsizing the program.
Fisheries minister Koya Nishikawa announced a revised plan for the program on Tuesday.
Under the plan, a fleet will hunt only minke whales and the catch limit will be cut to 333. That’s about one-third of the number in the past.
Researchers will also conduct visual studies that do not involve killing whales.
Another slaughter, equally tragic, from the Guardian:
Elephants are being wiped out, but not enough people seem to care
- Progress on wildlife poaching is slow because there is little public pressure. Let’s hope Interpol’s ‘most wanted’ eco criminals list will help
I asked a senior environmental journalist the other week what he thought was the single most under-reported environmental issue. He replied, unhesitatingly, wildlife poaching. “It’s as if the wildlife is just being hoovered out of Africa,” he said. “In the 1960s people campaigned around whales and wildlife. The Daily Mail actually put rhino poaching on their front page. But now there just doesn’t seem to be the same level of interest.” Dr Paula Kahumbu, a wildlife campaigner based in Kenya, echoes his sentiment, but adds that the UK public is still more active than most areas of the world. “Not a single African leader has spoken out on this,” says Kahumbu. “The silence is deafening.”
The scale of the “hoovering” is hard to comprehend. Take elephants, for example. In Africa, where some but not all of the poaching is concentrated, elephants are being slaughtered at a rate of 20,000-25,000 a year, from a population of just 420,000-650,000. The forest elephant population has dropped by 62% since 2002. There is a word for the killing of elephants (elephanticide) and a word for destruction of the natural world (ecocide) but oddly enough – given our magnificent form in this area – there doesn’t seem to be a word for killing off a whole species. We probably need one.
And then there are the other species we “hoover” up, from illegal logging and the dumping of hazardous waste. Taken altogether, a UN report earlier this year estimated that the cost of these crimes is $70-213bn annually. So these are not small operations, not a few farmers sneakily chopping down a few trees to augment their subsistence income, or the odd fisherman going over his quota. These are international cartels systematically and illegally stripping our natural resources and selling them on for profit. Some of them are running parallel drug and human trafficking operations. There is even evidence that some of this income is supporting terrorism.
From CCTV America, another fuel, other consequences:
US wood pellet industry stirs environmental controversy
Europe’s search for biofuels has led them to Americas’ southern forests and wetlands, such as the Nottoway River in Virginia. Many of the trees are logged for the sole purpose of grinding them up to later be converted into wood pellets. A clear cutting site in Waverly, Virginia was logged by the U.S. company Enviva, according to the non-profit organization, Dogwood Alliance. CCTV America’s Nitza Soledad Perez reported this story.
More fuel from Kyodo News:
Tokyo to set up 80 hydrogen stations by 2025
The Tokyo metropolitan government Tuesday announced a plan to increase the number of hydrogen stations for fuel cell vehicles in Tokyo to 35 by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and to 80 by 2025.
“We would like to make a (hydrogen utilization) model first in Tokyo in the run-up to nationwide diffusion,” Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe said at a meeting of the metropolitan government.
The metropolitan and central governments will provide subsidies covering 400 million yen of some 500 million yen required for building each hydrogen station.
On to Fukushimapoocalypse Now!, first with NHK WORLD:
Radioactive water leak found at Ikata plant
Workers at the Ikata nuclear power plant in western Japan have found a radioactive water leak from the facility’s wastewater disposal system.
Officials of the plant’s host Ehime Prefecture said none of the water leaked outside the site, and that no worker was exposed to it. The plant operated by Shikoku Electric Power Company is offline.
They say workers found traces of leaked water on piping insulation in a building adjacent to the plant’s Number 2 reactor on Tuesday.
The piping is part of the disposal system for solidifying concentrated low-level radioactive wastewater by mixing it with asphalt.
German decommission deconstruction from TheLocal.de:
Government doubles nuclear waste count
Germany will have to dispose of twice as much radioactive waste as previously expected as it continues to shut down its nuclear power plants, according to parts of the government’s disposal plan that were leaked on Tuesday.
Some 600,000 cubic metres of waste will have to be placed in permanent underground storage instead of the anticipated 298,000 cubic metres, the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reported.
The newspaper was citing figures from a copy it obtained of the draft “National Disposal Plan” the government is currently negotiating with individual federal states.
The new projection is significantly higher because of the inclusion for the first time of 13,000 tons of waste from uranium enrichment, equivalent to around 100,000 cubic metres.
Decommission deconstruction closer to Casa esnl from the New York Times:
Nuclear Agency Rules Are Ill-Suited for Plant Decommissioning, Leader Says
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s rules are not geared for supervising the decommissioning of nuclear reactors, the task that will occupy much of its time in the coming years, the head of the agency, Allison M. Macfarlane, said Monday.
Speaking at the National Press Club in a wide-ranging look at her agency and the industry before she leaves the job at the end of the year, Dr. Macfarlane said the industry had instead set itself up about 15 years ago to oversee more reactor construction, a revival that did not occur. “The industry was really expecting to expand,” she said. “The agency’s not facing the future that five years ago people envisioned.”
Instead, a plunging price of natural gas and slack demand for electricity have made some existing plants uncompetitive, and the pace of retirements has been high. But the commission’s rules on areas like security and emergency planning are geared to operating plants, she said. So shut-down plants are applying for exemptions to the rules that no longer seem to fit the risk that the reactors pose when decommissioned.
And to close, hints of our past? From BBC News:
Comet landing: Organic molecules detected by Philae
The Philae lander has detected organic molecules on the surface of its comet, scientists have confirmed.
Carbon-containing “organics” are the basis of life on Earth and may give clues to chemical ingredients delivered to our planet early in its history. The compounds were picked up by a German-built instrument designed to “sniff” the comet’s thin atmosphere.
Other analyses suggest the comet’s surface is largely water-ice covered with a thin dust layer.