Environment: EPA reports steady gains in auto fuel efficiency

Red ... white & blue.

U.S. automakers make progress on cutting emissions, the EPA says. bberwyn photo.

Overall average fleet efficiency at 24.1 miles per gallon

Staff Report

FRISCO — Automakers are stepping up the pace on reducing emissions, according to the EPA, which this week released a report showing that the industry overall outperformed the national greenhouse gas emissions standards by a wide margin for the second year in a row.

Compliance for model year 2013 was 1.4 miles per gallon better than required by the 2013 standard. The report presents detailed information about how individual firms are complying with GHG emissions standards for cars and light trucks.  Continue reading

Global warming: in the realm of 400 ppm atmospheric CO2

Scientists: ‘Climate change is a threat to life on Earth and we can no longer afford to be spectators’

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A rising tide of CO2 …

Staff Report

FRISCO — When atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations hit 400 parts per million about a year ago, there was widespread media coverage, explaining how the mark wasn’t all that significant in and of itself, but that it represented a psychological threshold to measure human impact on the climate.

Well guess what? CO2 emissions continue unabated, although there are some hopeful signs (global energy production increased in 2014, but CO2 emissions leveled off), and once again this spring, the atmospheric observatory atop Mauna Loa is once again measuring CO2 above the 400 ppm level — 401.77, to be exact, as of March 22, and as high as 403.10 ppm back on March 15. Continue reading

Global warming: ‘You will feel the changes’

Study looks at temperature increases on a decadal scale

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How hot will it be when your kids grow up?

Staff Report

FRISCO — While most global warming studies project temperatures over the course of centuries, a new research effort aimed to show how conditions will change in the span of a few decades, a chunk of time that people can relate to.

By comparing historic changes with today’s rate of global warming, the researchers found the climate to be warming faster than at any other time during the past thousand years, and accelerating. The findings were published in Nature Climate Change. They show that the unchecked emissions of greenhouse gases is committing people to live through and adapt to a warming world. Continue reading

Climate: Is the California drought the new norm?

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California’s withering drought continues.

Study shows how global warming may very well lead to semi-permanent drought by mid-century

Staff Report

FRISCO — California’s crippling drought may be the new norm, according to scientists who studied the link between greenhouse gases, rising temperatures and multi-year period of record warmth and dryness.

The new study by Stanford researchers found that the worst droughts in California have historically occurred when conditions were both dry and warm, and that global warming is increasing the probability that dry and warm years will coincide.

The findings suggest that California could be entering an era when nearly every year that has low precipitation also has temperatures similar to or higher than 2013-2014, when the statewide average annual temperature was the warmest on record. The study was published in the March 2 issue of the journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Continue reading

New study takes nuanced look at methane leaks

In some gas fields, leak rates appear close to official estimates

Fracked nation.

Researchers try to quantify methane leakage in natural gas fields.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Boulder-based researchers have used thousands of detailed measurements taken during overflights to take a nuanced look at methane leaks from natural gas fields.

The findings show methane leaking at the rate of tens of thousands of pounds per hour in three major natural gas basins that span Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. But the overall leak rate from those basins is only about one percent of gas production there — lower than leak rates measured in other gas fields, and in line with federal estimates. Continue reading

Environment: EPA says Keystone XL pipeline could add 1.37 billion tons of ‘extra’ greenhouse gases to atmosphere

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Oil price drop should be bigger factor in evaluations

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — In case there was ever any doubt (and there wasn’t), the EPA this week made it clear that construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline would result in a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

The agency’s formal comment letter to the State Department focused on shifting market conditions, including the recent dip in oil prices, pointed out that the overall analysis for the pipeline failure to explore alternative routes that would not put critical land and water resources at risk. Continue reading

Climate: Carbon capture test reaches milestone

Can carbon capture help mitigate the climate impacts of carbon dioxide?

Can carbon and underground storage capture help mitigate the climate impacts of carbon dioxide?

Heat-trapping greenhouse gas trapped in salt formation beneath shale layer

Staff Report

FRISCO — Engineers in the Midwest say they’ve managed to capture and store 1 million metric tons of CO2 in underground rock and mineral formations, helping to test the long-term viability of carbon-capture technology.

The project is part of the development phase of the Department’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships initiative, which is helping develop and deploy carbon capture and storage technologies across the country. Continue reading

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