January 30 News: House GOP to Force Keystone Decision; Arctic Warming Risks “Domino Effect of Tipping Points”

Other stories below: Southwest turns an anxious eye toward a shrinking Lake Mead; Renewable energy deals hit record high in 2011

AP/ J. Scott Applewhite

Boehner: House Will Likely Attach Keystone Approval to New Jobs Bill

Speaker John Boehner says that the House will try again to tie approval for the Keystone pipeline project to a new jobs bill being introduced next week.

“All options are on the table. If it’s not enacted before we take up the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, it’ll be part of it,” Boehner said of the Keystone project, which would extend an oil pipeline from Canada through the United States.

Boehner led an unsuccessful effort to attach approval of the Keystone project to the extension of the payroll tax cut in December, but had to back down after not securing Senate support.

Climate Change in Arctic could Trigger Domino Effect Around the World

Professor Carlos Duarte, a leading scientist from The University of Western Australia, says human kind is set to face dire consequences as the first signs of climate change manifest in the Arctic. He says the region is approaching “a series of ‘tipping points’” that could trigger a domino effect of climate change on Earth.

In a paper, the lead author Professor Duarte, who is also the Director of the University’s Oceans Institute, said the Arctic region contained arguably the greatest concentration of potential tipping elements for global climate change.

“If set in motion, they can generate profound climate change which places the Arctic not at the periphery but at the core of the Earth system,” Professor Carlos Duarte said. “There is evidence that these forces are starting to be set in motion.”

“This has major consequences for the future of human kind as climate change progresses.”

Southwest Turns Anxious Eye to Shrinking Lake Mead

In a dramatic reversal of fortune compared to last year, an unusually dry winter is causing the level of Lake Mead, Nevada, to decline, making water managers increasingly anxious about supplying water to the thirsty Southwest.

During the past three years, the level of Lake Mead has followed a boom and bust cycle, dropping to a record low in 2010 during an intense drought, then recovering during 2011 thanks to record mountain snowfall, and now dropping again in the midst of a dry winter.

According to an article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, water managers are forecasting the lake level to drop by about 13 feet due to the dry winter so far. As the newspaper reported:

“In December, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation was predicting a roughly 11-foot rise in Lake Mead over the next year. Now the bureau expects the nation’s largest man-made reservoir to shed about 13 feet by January 2013.”

California fuels rule sparks controversy

Just as it pioneered curbs on greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks a decade ago, California is championing standards that could transform the fuel that goes into their tanks.

But its new rule, which requires lowering the amount of carbon in fuel sold in the state, has become embroiled in a fierce public battle and has been barred from being enforced. In light of tight state budgets, litigation over California’s program and a strong lobbying campaign against them, the question is whether the ambitious climate policy will get off the ground.

“To us, it’s the most credible and powerful mechanism we can put in place,” said Dan Sperling, a member of California’s Air Resources Board and director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at University of California-Davis. “It’s an incentive to invest in other things besides oil.”

Many oil industry officials in the United States and overseas say the standards are too complex, will drive up gas prices and cannot be met given the current supply of petroleum alternatives.

GOP wants Sen. Baucus to go rogue on Keystone XL oil sands pipeline

Republicans are pressing Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to buck his leadership and use his authority in the payroll tax conference to green-light the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

Baucus has told business leaders in Montana that winning authorization for the transnational pipeline is one of his highest priorities for 2012.

Republicans say Baucus, as co-chairman of the payroll tax conference, has the power to include Keystone language in must-pass legislation and will pressure him to act.

“The quickest and surest way to get the pipeline going is for the Democratic chairman of the conference committee to put it into a must-do piece of legislation, the payroll tax package,” said a senior Senate Republican aide.Senate Democrats think Baucus will stick with the caucus and oppose the inclusion of language to force President Obama’s hand on Keystone but they acknowledge the senior Montana lawmaker could go rogue, as he has in the past.

Renewable energy deals hit record high in 2011: report

Global renewable energy deals climbed 40 percent to a record high of $53.5 billion last year from $38.2 billion in 2010, as solar, wind and energy efficiency overtook hydropower as the main deal drivers for the first time, a report said on Monday.

Historically, hydro power has dominated renewables deal flow, but deals worth $1 billion or more in wind, solar, biomass and energy efficiency have outnumbered hydro by seven to one, the PriceWaterHouse Coopers report said.

The renewables market is maturing, fuelling more consolidation, and a rethink of the role of nuclear in many countries after the Japanese nuclear crisis last year provided an extra boost to renewables generation in certain markets.

“Sustained high deal numbers and record total value reflect a maturing of the sector,” said Paul Nillesen, PwC renewables partner.

22 Responses to January 30 News: House GOP to Force Keystone Decision; Arctic Warming Risks “Domino Effect of Tipping Points”

  1. prokaryotes says:

    Thwarted on US oil pipeline, Canada looks to China

    The latest chapter in Canada’s quest to become a full-blown oil superpower unfolded this month in a village gym on the British Columbia coast.

    Here, several hundred people gathered for hearings on whether a pipeline should be laid from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific in order to deliver oil to Asia, chiefly energy-hungry China. The stakes are particularly high for the village of Kitamaat and its neighbors, because the pipeline would terminate here and a port would be built to handle 220 tankers a year and 525,000 barrels of oil a day.

    But the planned Northern Gateway Pipeline is just one aspect of an epic battle over Canada’s oil ambitions — a battle that already has a supporting role in the U.S. presidential election, and which will help to shape North America’s future energy relationship with China.

  2. prokaryotes says:

    We need a CO2 price and global market to start changes -Polman #wef #davos

  3. prokaryotes says:

    Critical List: Republicans still pushing Keystone; Yosemite to limit Half Dome hikes

  4. prokaryotes says:

    State Dept. official overstates Keystone jobs by a factor of 10

  5. prokaryotes says:

    Breaking: BP shuts down platform after leak from undersea oil pipe

    BP has shut down an oil platform west of Shetland after a leak from an undersea pipe was discovered.

  6. Joan Savage says:

    The “Domino Effect” piece by The International Business Times is chock-a-block with usual media items on current Arctic conditions and earlier estimates of future conditions, and completely vague about a linkage to feed backs. It left me very dissatisfied.

    I haven’t yet read the original journal article in full, but here are links for those who might get there before I do.

    AMBIO February 2012 Special Issue: The Arctic in the Earth System Perspective – The Role of Tipping Points” has 10 articles.

    All ten titles look relevant.

    Duarte et al. in AMBIO
    Each article costs $34.95 for single download.

    Nature Climate Change comment (subscription required, $18 for single article):

    bioone provides journal access through participating academic institutions. The Feb 2012 issue of AMBIO is not yet on-line via bioone.

  7. prokaryotes says:

    Charles & David Koch: The Koch ‘Polluting’ Brothers’ Influence on Elected Officials, Schools

  8. prokaryotes says:

    ..last month, Kazakhstan became home to the newest subway system in the world, and photos of the transit system 23 years in the making

  9. afisher says:

    Received a FB comment from my congresscritter re: this info. I responded – the GOP are still attempting to BLACKMAIL the American public. We need to call it what it is, not to mention these are supposed “state right’s” guys, except when they can line Boehner’s / KOCH pockets.

  10. “Water Trucked to Texas Town Where Wells Ran Dry”

    A Central Texas village that’s become the state’s first community to run out of water due to a punishing drought will have water trucked in by the Lower Colorado River Authority, officials said Monday.

    Agency spokeswoman Clara Tuma said the region’s wells are no longer producing enough water to meet Spicewood Beach’s needs. The community located on Lake Travis and about 35 miles west of Austin, has about 500 water connections that serve roughly 1,100 people and an elementary school.

  11. prokaryotes says:

    To Mend Ties After Clash, Kazakhstan Makes an Offer

    Last month, the police violently ended a seven-month strike by oil workers here, killing at least 17 of them and raising fears of inciting an Arab Spring-style revolt in this repressive central Asian nation.

  12. prokaryotes says:

    Sidenote (Re top latest image about Hansen’s essay):

    This detail from the Gate of Hell was first named “The Thinker” by foundry workers who noted its similarity to Michelangelo’s statue of Lorenzo de Medici called Il Penseroso, the Thinker.

    The Gates of Hell (French: La Porte de l’Enfer) is a monumental sculptural group work by French artist Auguste Rodin that depicts a scene from “The Inferno”, the first section of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy.

    Hint: The door to a low carbon world is closing within the next few years.

  13. prokaryotes says:

    Effects of soil dilution and amendments (mussel shell, cow bone, and biochar) on Pb availability and phytotoxicity in military shooting range soil.

    Bioavailability and bioaccessibility determine the level of metal toxicity in the soils. Inorganic soil amendments may decrease metal bioavailability and enhance soil quality. This study used mussel shell, cow bone, and biochar to reduce lead (Pb) toxicity in the highly contaminated military shooting range soil in Korea. Water-soluble and 1-M ammonium nitrate extractions, and a modified physiologically based extraction test (PBET) were performed to determine Pb bioavailability and bioaccessibility in the soil, respectively. Active C in the soil was also measured to evaluate the effects of the amendments on biological soil quality. The Pb contaminated soil was diluted in serial with uncontaminated soil for the bioassays. Seed germination and root elongation tests using lettuce (Lactuca sativa) showed increases in germination percentage and root length in soil treated with the amendments. Biochar was most effective and increased seed germination by 360% and root length by 189% compared to the unamended soil. Up to 20% soil dilution resulted in more than 50% seed germination. Bioavailability and bioaccessibility of Pb in the soils were decreased by 92.5% and 48.5% with mussel shell, by 84.8% and 34.5% with cow bone, and by 75.8% and 12.5% with biochar, respectively, compared to the unamended soil. We found that the Pb availability in the military shooting range soil can be reduced effectively by the tested amendments or soil dilution alternately, thereby decreasing the risk of ecotoxicity. Furthermore, the increasing active C from the amendments revitalized the soil contaminated with Pb.