July 21 News: Another Day, Another Oil Pipeline Leak; Environmental Pollutants Lurk Long After They ‘Disappear’

A round-up of climate and energy news. Please post other stories below.

Alberta pipeline shut down after 1,300 barrels of crude oil leaked into swamp and creek

Pembina Pipeline Corporation said Wednesday that it is investigating an oil spill northwest of Edmonton, Alberta.

The company said it shut down the pipeline after approximately 1,300 barrels of crude oil leaked into muskeg and an unnamed creek in Swan Hills, Alberta. Pembina said no oil has entered any named waterways or sources of drinking water following the spill that occurred Tuesday.

Pembina CEO Bob Michaleski said the pipeline has been shut down, the spill has been contained and clean-up crews have been sent to the area.

An Alberta Health Services official said the spill hadn’t caused any immediate concerns or complaints from people who live in the region.

The shut-down order came after company monitors noticed a volume imbalance in the line on Tuesday. Workers later confirmed the spill.

Pembina said it is making arrangements to truck oil that is normally sent through the pipeline.

Climate change ‘threatens peace’, UN official warns

Climate change poses a major threat to future peace and security, a senior UN official has warned.

Achim Steiner from the UN Environment Programme said climate change would also “exponentially” increase the scale of natural disasters.

His comments followed a UN declaration of famine in parts of Somalia.

Meanwhile, Russia rejected a Security Council statement backed by Western nations which asserted the link, but later agreed to a weaker text.

The Russian envoy Alexander Pankin said he was sceptical about the implications of putting climate change on the security council’s agenda.

Security Council members finally agreed to a text which spoke of the “possible security implications” of climate change.

Environmental pollutants lurk long after they ‘disappear’

The health implications of polluting the environment weigh increasingly on our public consciousness, and pharmaceutical wastes continue to be a main culprit. Now a Tel Aviv University researcher says that current testing for these dangerous contaminants isn’t going far enough.

Dr. Dror Avisar, head of the Hydro-Chemistry Laboratory at TAU’s Department of Geography and the Human Environment, says that, when our environment doesn’t test positive for the presence of a specific , we assume it’s not there. But through biological or such as or oxidization, drugs break down, or degrade, into different forms — and could still be lurking in our water or soil.

In his lab, Dr. Avisar is doing extensive testing to determine how drugs degrade and identify the many forms they take in the environment. He has published his findings in Environmental Chemistry and the Journal of Environmental Science and Health.

Over 1,000 cows fed nuclear-contaminated feed shipped in Japan

More than 1,000 beef cattle that ate feed contaminated with radioactive cesium have been shipped all over Japan from Fukushima and other prefectures, Kyodo news agency reported Wednesday, adding to anxiety after the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

The report comes a day after Tokyo ordered the suspension of all shipments of beef cattle from Fukushima prefecture after discovering that cattle fed rice straw contaminated with high levels of radioactive cesium had been shipped nationwide

Japanese consumers have become increasingly worried about food safety following cases of contaminated vegetables, tea, milk, seafood and water due to radiation leaks at the tsunami-hit nuclear plant in Fukushima, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo.

House Lawmakers Seek to Bar Airlines From EU Carbon Program

Members of the House of Representatives are seeking to keep U.S. airlines, including Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) and AMR Corp. (AMR), from being part of the European Union’s cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers today introduced a bill to bar U.S. carriers from participating in the EU’s efforts next year. The program, aimed at emissions such as carbon dioxide that are linked to climate change, would cost U.S. carriers $1.3 billion in its first year and may top $3.5 billion, Representative John Mica, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman, told reporters in Washington.

The EU plan is a “cash grab,” said Mica, a Florida Republican.

Starting next year, international airlines will have to account for emissions on flights to and from EU airports, and offset that amount with carbon permits from the bloc’s exchange. The EU will give airlines free allowances in 2012 for 82 percent of their historic emissions, with 15 percent auctioned and the remaining 3 percent held in a special reserve.

4 Major U.S. Projects Get Federal Approval

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently announced the approval of four new projects on public lands, the launch of environmental reviews on three others, and the next step in a comprehensive environmental analysis to identify ‘solar energy zones’ on public lands in six western states.

New Projects

The four renewable energy projects include two utility-scale solar developments in California, a wind energy project in Oregon, and a transmission line in Southern California. Together, they will create more than 1,300 construction jobs and provide a combined 550 megawatts of electricity.

These projects include:

Waxman calls for national climate-change-education push

The top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday urged Energy Secretary Steven Chu to launch a national climate-change-education campaign.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), in a letter to Chu, said the public’s understanding of climate change is “diminishing” in part because there are “powerful vested interests in the oil and coal industries successfully fanning disbelief.”

“I ask you to investigate the disconnect that appears to be growing between the scientific and the public understanding of climate change,” Waxman said. “I hope you will then decide to lead a national effort to ensure the public is fully and accurately informed about the science of climate change and its implications for human health and welfare.”The letter comes as Republicans and some Democrats in Congress push to block or delay the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate-change rules with a series of bills and policy riders to spending legislation.

Ideal carbon capture solution years off: study

A dream climate change cure to turn planet-warming greenhouse gases into useful products from jet fuel to plastics will take years to develop from the lab and pilot projects, a report found on Thursday.

Pilot projects already use carbon dioxide (CO2) to feed plants, for example to boost tomatoes in glasshouses, while laboratories have tested the manufacture of concrete, plastics and oils, but costs are high and projects depend on concentrated streams of CO2.

Scaling up depends on applying the technology to fossil fuel power plants, trapping the greenhouse gas from a diluted mixture of other flue gases.

Converting the trapped CO2 into useful products and minerals would avoid the cost of burying it underground in empty oil wells, as planned under another untested process called carbon capture and storage (CCS).

“At the moment it’s a relatively new technology in the shadows of CCS,” said Sheffield University’s Peter Styring, co-author of the report, “Carbon capture and utilization in the green economy,” commissioned by the UK-based Center for Low Carbon Futures.

Possible applications center around chemical conversion of CO2 to make plastics or fuel, or else feeding the gas to algae to make bio-oils, or combining it with minerals to make construction materials.

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