Watchdogs say voluntary methane cuts aren’t enough

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‘To fight global warming, we need real methane rules …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — A slew of recent studies showing how heat-trapping methane emissions have been consistently underestimated apparently didn’t have a big impact on the EPA, which has proposed a voluntary program to try and cut atmospheric methane buildup, with some mandatory regulations still in the works.

The Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program (“Methane Challenge”) (PDF) (18 pp, 512K, About PDF) would provide a new mechanism enabling oil and gas companies cto track ambitious commitments to reduce methane emissions. According to the EPA, the program is based on extensive stakeholder outreach and reflects a revision of EPA’s previously proposed Gas STAR Gold framework. Continue reading

Climate change contributes to longer fire seasons worldwide

In late June, smoke from wildfires in Canada streamed down over North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. Photo courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

In late June, smoke from wildfires in Canada streamed down over North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. Photo courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

New study tracks regional nuances, global trends

Staff Report

FRISCO — U.S. Forest Service scientists and other researchers say there has been a significant increase in the length of wildfire seasons on nearly every continent, with the exception of Australia. Fire weather seasons around the globe have increased by nearly 20 percent and the global burnable area doubled over the past 35 years.

Most vegetation types, except boreal forests, showed significant increases in the fire weather season length, the new study found. Some areas, such as the Western and Southeastern United States, Alaska, tropical and sub-tropical South America and Eastern Africa and large parts of Eurasia show a steady lengthening of the fire season from 1979-2013. Continue reading

Climate: Conservation group tries new path to limiting CO2 emissions

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Increasingly corrosive ocean waters pose a serious threat to shell-building species and other marine life.

‘Future generations will look back and wonder why we didn’t do everything we could to save the world’s oceans …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Citing the growing threat to the world’s oceans, environmental advocates want the federal government to regulate carbon dioxide under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

The regulations have been used to limit emissions of other harmful chemicals, including chlorofluorocarbons, PCBs and asbestos.

“Time’s running out to avoid a mass extinction of wildlife in our oceans,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It may not look like a toxic chemical, but when there’s too much CO2 in the ocean, it turns seawater corrosive and dissolves the protective shells that marine animals need to survive,” Sakashita said. Continue reading

Environment: Tar sands oil releases 20 percent more greenhouse gas pollution than conventional crude oil

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Tar sands development in Canada.

Study bolsters arguments against more tar sands exploitation

Staff Report

FRISCO —A new study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory will add fuel to controversy over development of tar sands oil.

The analyis shows that  gasoline and diesel refined from Canadian oil sands release about 20 percent more carbon into the atmosphere over its lifetime than fuel from conventional domestic crude sources.

The research, which was conducted in collaboration with Stanford University and the University of California at Davis, shows some variability in the increase of greenhouse gas, depending on the type of extraction and refining methods. Continue reading

Why are oil and gas companies wasting $360 million worth of natural gas each year?

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Oil and gas operations on public and tribal lands produce 21 percent of national emissions from gas production.

Study says easy fixes available to stop methane leaks

Staff Report

FRISCO — Methane emissions from oil and gas operations on federally managed public lands and tribal lands totaled more than 1 million tons in 2013, accounting for about 12 percent of total methane emissions across the U.S.

That methane was worth about $360 million at current gas prices, showing how oil and gas companies are squandering a valuable public resources and polluting the atmosphere, according to a new economic study released by the Environmental Defense Fund. Continue reading

Environment: New fuel standards for heavy trucks would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 1 billion metric tons

Trucking industry cautiously supportive of new rules

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There are a lot of trucks on the road these days, and they emit a lot of greenhouse gases. Proposed new federal rules could cut those emissions by 1 billion metric tons and amount to huge fuel savings for the trucking industry. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Obama administration says its proposed new fuel efficiency standards for trucks will cut CO2 emissions by 1 billion metric tons — about equal to the greenhouse gas emissions from all domestic energy use in the U.S.

The new rules would cut fuel costs by  about $170 billion, and reduce oil consumption by up to 1.8 billion barrels, more than a year’s worth of imports from OPEC. Continue reading

Can organic farming save the world from global warming?

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Feed the world, and cut greenhouse gases? It can be done, scientists say. Photo courtesy USDA.

China study shows benefits of switching to sustainable, organic agriculture

Staff Report

FRISCO — A large-scale shift to sustainable organic farming could dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions — and improve soil quality and crop resistance to pests at the same time, according to a new study from China.

Since about a third of all global greenhouse gas emissions are produced by agriculture, scientists have been taking a close look at how to manage the production of food in a way that reduces the global warming footprint. With best practices in place, agriculture could become a net carbon sink instead of a source of heat-trapping pollution, some scientists assert. Continue reading

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