November 15 News: TransCanada Says it Will Relocate Keystone Pipeline — Will it Impact the Next Review?

Other stories below: CIA Urged to be More Open About Climate Change; Lawmakers Scrutinize Foreign Aid to China

Photo: Steve Weaver

TransCanada says it will work with Nebraska on new pipeline route

TransCanada said Monday that it will work with Nebraska on a new route for its controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would avoid the Nebraska Sandhills, a unique area of sand dunes, grasslands and wetlands.

Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada’s president of energy and oil pipelines, said he expects that the new route would stay as close as possible to the previous proposed route while avoiding the Sandhills, and in return he expects that Nebraska officials will back the project.

“We will now work with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality on a route that avoids the Sandhills, while making as much use of the existing right of way as possible,” he said.

Pourbaix said that staying close to the proposed line would be better than moving the new pipeline close to an existing Keystone pipeline. Moving it near the existing route “would waste all that existing right of way that we have already procured with agreements in place. And it would add well over 100 miles of pipeline, which would have a larger environmental impact than just jogging around the Sandhills.”

CIA Urged to be More Open About Climate Change

After a year of epic weather, drought, heatwaves, hurricanes and floods, America’s intelligence establishment has come out with a bold new suggestion: maybe it’s time the CIA stopped treating climate change as a secret.

A new report from the Defence Science Board – a US government agency – urges the CIA to step outside its traditional culture of secrecy and begin sharing the intelligence it has been gathering on climate change.

The report, Trends and Implications of Climate Change for National and International Security, goes as far as to recommend the establishment of a new agency devoted to the study of climate change – one that would operate in the open and transparent manner so alien to the CIA.

The report is the latest in the series of blows to CIA’s climate centre, which has been struggling to justify its existence to the public since its establishment in 2009.

Republicans in Congress have derided the very notion of climate change as a national security threat, despite the Pentagon’s view that it is a threat multiplier. Now it faces criticism that it has been hoarding data.

The report does not call for scrapping the CIA climate centre, but it does suggest that CIA’s climate experts have been going about their business the wrong way.

Climate Change Spy vs. Spy?

The CIA has a special climate change task force, but as we’ve reported here, they don’t want anyone to know about it. Now the science advisory board to the Department of Defense is recommending that the government create yet another new intelligence group dedicated to climate change.

A new report from the Defense Science Board, a committee set up to advise to the Secretary of Defense, calls for the creation of a unit within the DOD that would “concentrate on the effects of climate change on political and economic developments and their implications for U.S. national security.” This new intelligence program would commission the existing CIA task force on climate to “produce an assessment of regional climate change hot spots.”

Lawmakers on Tuesday will scrutinize a portion of the U.S. budget that’s tiny but touches a raw nerve: development aid to China, America’s biggest foreign creditor.The House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia is examining $4 million in proposed assistance, mostly for promoting clean energy technology. The committee has put that aid on hold as it demands explanations from the U.S. Agency for International Development of how the funds would be used.

It is a tiny fraction of USAID’s $21 billion budget — which itself scarcely scrapes the surface of America’s $14.8 trillion national debt — but it feeds into a wider sense of outrage that the U.S. government is borrowing money from China only to give some of it back as aid.

Rep. Donald Manzullo, R-Ill., who chairs the subcommittee, also claims the aid helps boost the competitiveness of Chinese manufacturers at the expense of U.S. manufacturers and jobs, and in a sector where the U.S. has protested Chinese state subsidies. He calls it “emblematic of the dysfunction in America’s foreign aid spending priorities.”

In the past decade, various U.S. government agencies have provided nearly $275 million of assistance to China, principally to promote democracy, the rule of law and a cleaner environment and to preserve the cultural identity of communities in Tibet, whose exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is widely respected in Washington.

BP Must Face Gulf Oil-Spill Claims Filed by Alabama, Louisiana

BP Plc (BP/) must face claims over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in lawsuits by the states of Louisiana and Alabama, a judge said.

The states can sue for negligence and products liability under general maritime law and are eligible for punitive damages, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said yesterday. He dismissed claims brought under state environmental laws, including demands for civil penalties, finding they were preempted by federal law governing the Outer Continental Shelf.

“Because the source of this discharge occurred within an exclusive federal jurisdiction, the OCS, the only available law is federal law,” Barbier said yesterday in a written decision. “The state-law claims are dismissed.”

The Macondo well blowout and the explosion that followed killed 11 workers and set off the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The accident and spill led to hundreds of lawsuits against London-based BP and its partners and contractors, including claims brought by Alabama and Louisiana alleging state law violations.

Most of the defendants argued that the federal Clean Water Act and Outer Continental Shelf Act trumped all claims under state law and that the Oil Pollution Act displaced maritime law claims as well, the judge said in his order.

Green Travel: Qantas Is The Latest Airline To Announce Biofuel Flight

Beleaguered Australian airline Qantas might have boosted its image Monday when it announced that it is going to launch a flight using sustainable fuel. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said that the flight, scheduled for early 2012, will be the first of its kind in Australia, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

“We want the flight to be an inspiration, a preview of a sustainable future for Australian aviation,” Joyce told members of the press.

According to, the flight will be “powered by the equivalent of cooking oil.” Qantas has signed agreements with two manufacturers of alternative airplane fuels: Solazyme, which is developing algae-based fuels and Solena, which is testing water-based fuels.

Qantas has been under scrutiny lately due to a heated labor dispute in the company. In late October, the airline was forced to ground its flights due to strikes, but its flight schedule returned to normal shortly thereafter when an Australian court intervened. Labor negotiations resumed earlier this month.

21 Responses to November 15 News: TransCanada Says it Will Relocate Keystone Pipeline — Will it Impact the Next Review?

  1. Raul M. says:

    public acceptance of the need for more secure storm structures is happening with the occurrence of severe storms?

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    I thought that the new possible pipeline route was up to the Federal government, not Transcanada and Nebraska. Apparently, since Transcanada wrote the State Department whitewash, they believe that they are still in control.

    This is beyond arrogant. Expect lobbying fees to flow to the Nebraska legislature, and the purchase of academic researchers who will claim that the new route will cause no damage.

    They believe that they can get away with it because the oil companies now control the American media and our Congress. We have been victimized by a coup d’etat, and the dark side must now be stopped by the people.

  3. Joan Savage says:

    Regarding the Defense Science Board Task Force’s recommendation to have more climate change information from the CIA, the Guardian article has a link to a pdf of the full text (175 pages) which has much more information.

    In addition to material familiar to CP readers, it has a graph of the frequencies of severe storms, graphs and maps of data gathering abilities, and more.

    Full title: Trends and Implications of Climate Change for National and International Security, Defense Science Board Task Force, October 2011

    more direct link:

  4. Today’s pathetic Greenslobber Award goes to Qantas for running a whopping 1 (one) of its 2,000,000 (two million) flights a year on biofuel and calling it an “inspiration”.

    What is even less inspiring is that global jet setting is producing skyrocketing GHG emissions because they keep adding so many more flights each year.

    The ugly reality is that thousands more fossil fuel flights are being added for each biofuel flight.

    The aviation biofuel gesture is so feeble as to be trivial in the fight to reduce global aviation GHG…as even the greenwash specialists, the ICAO, own projections show clearly.

    Climate reporters should not give these “greenwash ads” any press. We don’t report on Big Oil “greenwash ads” as if they are news.

  5. Math error on last post: Qantas flies 300,000 flights a year of which the biofuel flight represents 0.0003% of them.

  6. Joan Savage says:

    What’s with the posts?
    I had one that went into moderation before disappearing entirely, and Barry Saxifrage refers to a previous post of his that doesn’t show up either.

  7. lasmog says:

    This new pipeline route sounds like the perfect opportunity for our Compromiser-in-Chief to declare the pipeline ‘new & improved’ and therefore support it.

  8. Joe Romm says:


  9. Paul Magnus says:

    Thought Discovery was on this issue?

    Frozen Planet Climate change episode won’t be shown in US
    The broadcaster Discovery dropped the final episode in the U.S., where there is a strong opposition to the theory of global warming among viewers.

    An episode of the BBC’s Frozen Planet documentary series that looks at climate change has been scrapped in the U.S., where many are hostile to the idea of global warming.
    British viewers will see all seven episodes of the multi-million-pound nature series throughout the Autumn.
    But U.S. audiences will not be shown the last episode, which looks at the threat posed by man to the natural world.
    It is feared a show that preaches global warming could upset viewers in the U.S., where around half of people do not believe in climate change.

  10. Joan Savage says:

    Barry’s and mine both show up now.

  11. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Qantas was NOT forced to ground its flights due to strike activity. The only action taking place at the time was pilots wearing red ties and explaining why. The TWA had cancelled its action after negotiations.

    Qantas’ action was unilateral and extreme, no warning to over 70,000 passengers and only 3 hours warning to the govt. Do not believe everything you read – this was an attempt at union busting, Maggie Thatcher style, ME

  12. Colorado Bob says:

    Erratic, extreme day-to-day weather puts climate change in new light

    The first climate study to focus on variations in daily weather conditions has found that day-to-day weather has grown increasingly erratic and extreme, with significant fluctuations in sunshine and rainfall affecting more than a third of the planet.

    Princeton University researchers recently reported in the Journal of Climate that extremely sunny or cloudy days are more common than in the early 1980s, and that swings from thunderstorms to dry days rose considerably since the late 1990s. These swings could have consequences for ecosystem stability and the control of pests and diseases, as well as for industries such as agriculture and solar-energy production, all of which are vulnerable to inconsistent and extreme weather, the researchers noted.

  13. Colorado Bob says:

    ” “Storms are violent and significant events — while they are individually localized, their disturbance radiates,” Rossow said.

    “Wherever it’s raining heavily, especially, or variably is where the atmosphere is being punched. As soon as it is punched somewhere in the tropics it starts waves that go all the way around the planet,” he said. “So we can see waves coming off the west Pacific convection activity and going all the way around the planet in the tropical band. The atmosphere also has the job of moving heat from the equator to the poles, and storms are the source of heat to the atmosphere, so if a storm’s location or its timing or its seasonality is altered, that’s going to change how the circulation responds.”

    These sweeping atmospheric changes can interact with local conditions such as temperature and topography to skew regular weather patterns, Rossow said.

    “Signals end up going over the whole globe, and whether they’re important in a particular place or not depends on what else is happening,” he said. “But you can think of storms as being the disturbances in an otherwise smooth flow. That’s why this is a climate issue even though we’re talking about daily variability in specific locations.” “

  14. Sasparilla says:

    Wow, market induced self censorship – I’ll bet the Koch brothers are grinning.

    I wonder if that means the US viewers won’t be able to buy the 7th episode when its released on video?

  15. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Yep. Qantas’ PR machine has gone into overdrive. Their attempt at union busting backfired badly so now Alan Joyce (CEO), who forgot what country he was in, is spending millions trying to buy us all back – I’m sure we all wish him luck, ME

  16. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Who funds the Discovery Channel? Its more likely that they worry that viewers will believe it rather than it will upset some deniers. They know perfectly well how the medium works and that people believe what they see on TV – once people become familiar with the idea of anthropogenic climate change and its effects, they have lost the war, ME

  17. David B. Benson says:

    Hope so.

  18. Paul Magnus says:

    Climate Portals
    It that a biblical reference…

    Obama: the entourage and the Beast
    US president Barack Obama will land on Australian soil today, but just what will his huge entourage look like?

  19. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Don’t know about the Bible but already the disruption around the city is unholy, ME

  20. Colorado Bob says:

    # The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for October 2011 was the eighth warmest on record at 14.58°C (58.14°F), which is 0.58°C (1.04°F) above the 20th century average of 14.0°C (57.1°F). The margin of error associated with this temperature is +/- 0.07°C (0.13°F).
    # Separately, the global land surface temperature was 1.10°C (1.98°F) above the 20th century average of 9.3°C (48.7°F), making this the second warmest October on record. The margin of error is +/- 0.11°C (0.20°F). Warmer-than-average conditions occurred across Alaska, Canada, most of Europe and Russia, and Mongolia. Cooler-than-average regions included the southeastern United States, most of southern and western South America, parts of Algeria and Libya, part of Eastern Europe, and far southeast Asia.
    # Separately, the global land surface temperature was 1.10°C (1.98°F) above the 20th century average of 9.3°C (48.7°F), making this the second warmest October on record. The margin of error is +/- 0.11°C (0.20°F).
    # The October global ocean surface temperature was 0.39°C (0.70°F) above the 20th century average of 15.9°C (60.6°F), making it the 11th warmest October on record. The margin of error is +/- 0.04°C (0.07°F). The warmth was most pronounced across the north central and northwest Pacific, the northeast Atlantic, and portions of the mid-latitude Southern oceans..
    # The October global ocean surface temperature was 0.39°C (0.70°F) above the 20th century average of 15.9°C (60.6°F), making it the 11th warmest October on record. The margin of error is +/- 0.04°C (0.07°F).