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‘Get lined up’: Alberta gas producer’s demise leaves long list of creditors and costly messes

Maureen and Wendell Strong have two former Lexin Resources natural gas wells on their land near Nanton, Alta. The province's energy regulator shut down the struggling company back in February.

Maureen and Wendell Strong have two former Lexin Resources natural gas wells on their land near Nanton, Alta. The province’s energy regulator shut down the struggling company back in February. (Tracy Johnson/CBC)

Maureen and Wendell Strong started hearing the rumours early in 2016: Alberta landowners with Lexin Resources natural gas wells on their property weren’t getting paid.

The Strongs, who had two Lexin wells on their land south of High River, and decades of experience dealing with the energy industry, waited anxiously to see if they’d receive their money.

In Alberta, most landowners don’t own the mineral rights below their land and are required to allow access to energy companies that want to drill wells. Landowners like the Strongs are paid an annual lease rate that typically totals a few thousand dollars.

“We were on the alert, watching,” Maureen said, “and when the time went past, that’s when we got the name of the guy at Lexin and phoned him. Nice guy but he said, ‘Just get lined up, we’ve had 700 calls on this.'”

In March, Lexin Resources was forced into bankruptcy by the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) — an order the company is fighting in court. Documents from the case show landowners like the Strongs have plenty of company on the list of creditors seeking payment from Lexin.

They range from a small scaffolding company to Baker Hughes, one of the largest oil services companies in the world. The Alberta government is also looking for unpaid royalties, rural municipalities are claiming unpaid taxes, and there are former workers who are looking for vacation pay and severance and are concerned about their pension plan.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Wilder Fires and Rising Waters, Climate Impacts Coming to America’s Door

Wilder Fires and Rising Waters, Climate Impacts Coming to America’s Door

Pair of new studies show how American climate refugees will ‘reshape’ population landscape of the nation

The Chelan Butte fire encroaches on homes in coastal Washington state. (Photo: Ben Brooks/cc/flickr)

The Chelan Butte fire encroaches on homes in coastal Washington state. (Photo: Ben Brooks/cc/flickr)

Americans in many cases have been slow to acknowledge the real threats posed by global warming. But two new studies out Monday found that people living throughout the United States could soon see their communities forever altered by higher seas and raging forest fires.

While the United States has lagged in taking dramatic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or transform its power grid to accommodate renewable energy sources, other nations have taken the lead. Further, studies have historically shown (pdf) that Americans are generally reluctant to perceive climate change as anything more than a moderate risk, seeing it as something that impacts people in more vulnerable, developing nations.

The idea of a person becoming a climate change refugee seems similarly foreign.

However, Mathew Hauer, a demographer at the University of Georgia, estimates that by the end of the century as many as 13.1 million Americans could too find themselves displaced due to rising sea levels. His research is published in the journal Nature Climate Change and suggests those migrants will be forced to move to inland cities, ultimately “reshaping” the population landscape.

The report notes that unmitigated sea-level rise (SLR)—primarily seen as “a coastal issue”—is “expected to reshape the U.S. population distribution, potentially stressing landlocked areas unprepared to accommodate this wave of coastal migrants.” For instance, if seas rise the expected 1.8 meters by 2100, Texas could see a surge of nearly 1.5 million additional residents. Specifically, inland cities including Austin and Houston, Texas; Orlando, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia could each see more than 250,000 people migrating from the imperiled coasts.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Climate change causes glacial river in Yukon to change direction

Climate change causes glacial river in Yukon to change direction

Glacier retreated so much that its meltwater switched course, in an event not documented in modern times

Geoscientist Dan Shugar gazes out over exposed sediments and dust storms at Kluane Lake in the Yukon in the summer of 2016. Covered in water just months before, the delta top was left exposed and prone to wind erosion after meltwater from the Kaskawulsh Glacier changed direction due to climate change.

Geoscientist Dan Shugar gazes out over exposed sediments and dust storms at Kluane Lake in the Yukon in the summer of 2016. Covered in water just months before, the delta top was left exposed and prone to wind erosion after meltwater from the Kaskawulsh Glacier changed direction due to climate change. (Jim Best/University of Illinois)

Climate change has caused the massive Kaskawulsh Glacier in the Yukon to retreat so much that its meltwater abruptly switched direction, in the first documented case of “river piracy” in modern times.

Instead of flowing into the Slims River and then north to the Bering Sea, the water has changed course and now flows south toward the Kaskawulsh River, the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean, scientists have found.

Also known as stream capture, river piracy is a term used to describe a geologic phenomenon where a stream or river is diverted toward another body of water. It’s usually caused by a dramatic tectonic event, such as a landslide or glacial dam collapse.

“This was the first event we could find where river piracy occurred right under our noses and due to contemporary climate change,” said Dan Shugar, a geoscientist at the University of Washington Tacoma and lead author of a study published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Kaskawulsh glacier map

Yukon’s Kaskawulsh glacier in Kluane National Park. (CBC)

Previous cases of river piracy may have taken place thousands of years ago or more, said Shugar in an interview with CBC News.

A river gone missing

The discovery of the change happened last summer, quite by accident for this team of scientists.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blowout Week 172

Blowout Week 172

In this week’s Blowout we return to Brexit and its  impacts. It is now reported that following Brexit the UK will “scale down its concern over climate change” and scrap the EU’s 15%-of-total-energy-from-renewables-by-2020 target. Can outright repeal of the 2008 Climate Change Act be far behind?

Telegraph: Britain preparing to scrap EU green energy targets after Brexit

The UK is currently committed to getting 15 per cent of all energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2020. The UK is currently on course to miss the target and incur millions of pounds in fines from the European Union.

Government sources told The Daily Telegraph that the target, under the EU Renewable Energy Directive, is likely to be scrapped after Brexit. It comes after civil service documents, photographed on a train, revealed that Britain plans to scale down its concern over climate change after Brexit. Details of the policy change were contained in the papers of a senior civil servant at the Department for International Trade (DIT) photographed by a passenger earlier this month. The notes say: “Trade and growth are now priorities for all posts — you will all need to prioritise developing capability in this area. Some economic security-related work like climate change and illegal wildlife trade will be scaled down.” The target has led to billions of pounds Government subsidies for renewable power sources such as wind, solar and biomass power plants, which are ultimately paid for by customers through their energy bills. The National Audit Office estimated that green energy subsidies will cost every household £110 a year by 2020.

We follow up with the usual mix of energy and related stories from all over the world, including how OPEC cheated on production cuts, the North Sea revival, Japan makes natural gas from methane hydrates, the growth of nuclear subsidies in the US, more US underground nuclear waste storage planned,

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How a Judge Scrapped Pennsylvania Families’ $4.24M Water Pollution Verdict in Gas Drilling Lawsuit

How a Judge Scrapped Pennsylvania Families’ $4.24M Water Pollution Verdict in Gas Drilling Lawsuit

For many residents of Carter Road in Dimock, Pennsylvania, it’s been nearly a decade since their lives were turned upside down by the arrival of Cabot Oil and Gas, a company whose Marcellus Shale hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) wells were plagued by a series of spills and other problems linked to the area’s contamination of drinking water supplies.

With a new federal court ruling handed down late last Friday, a judge unwound a unanimous eight-person jury which had ordered Cabot to pay a total of $4.24 millionover the contamination of two of those families’ drinking water wells. In a 58 page ruling, Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson discarded the jury’s verdict in Ely v. Cabot and ordered a new trial, extending the legal battle over one of the highest-profile and longest-running fracking-related water contamination cases in the country.

In his order, Judge Carlson chastised the plaintiff’s lawyers for “repeatedly inviting the jury to engage in unwarranted speculation” and wrote that, in his personal estimation, the plaintiffs had not presented enough evidence to warrant the jury’s $4.24 million in damages. The original complaint for the case was filed in November 2009.

Nonetheless, Judge Carlson declined to throw out the lawsuit entirely, ordering Cabot to re-start settlement talks with the Ely and Hubert families. If those talks fail, the trial process will begin anew, extending the already years-long legal battle into months or even years to come.

“The judge heard the same case that the jury heard and the jury was unanimous,” Nolan Scott Ely, the lead plaintiff in the case, said in a statement. “How can he take it upon himself to set aside their verdict? It’s outrageous.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Climate Change Has Already Had a Negative Impact on Animals on Every Continent

Climate Change Has Already Had a Negative Impact on Animals on Every Continent feat

CLIMATE CHANGE HAS ALREADY HAD A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON ANIMALS ON EVERY CONTINENT

A new study has revealed that we have underestimated the impact climate change has had on endangered species around the world. These effects have been particularly traumatic for mammals and birds on the endangered species list – even species included on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s “red list.”

According to the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, global warming has already impacted approximately 700 species on the “red list” – about half of the mammals and nearly a quarter of the birds. This research shows that climate change isn’t a threat that may present itself at some point in the future, but a real issue that is having a negative impact on the earth today.

“It’s a scientific problem in that we are not thinking about climate change as a present-day problem, we’re always forecasting into the future,” said James Watson, a researcher at Australia’s University of Queensland. “When you look at the evidence, there is a massive amount of impact right now.”

Most climate studies that focus on biodiversity examine the potential impacts of global warming that could be seen in 50 to 100 years. However, the findings of a team of researchers who investigated more than 100 earlier studies showed that the range of animals that have now been impacted by global warming is already broad enough to include animals present on every continent.

“We have seriously underestimated the effects of climate change on the most well-known groups, which means those other groups, reptiles, amphibians, fish, plants, the story is going to be much, much worse in terms of what we think the threat is from climate change already,” Watson said.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Communications breakdown: Can we even talk about our environmental and energy problems?

Communications breakdown: Can we even talk about our environmental and energy problems?

Conversations that seek genuine understanding by all sides ultimately require a common frame of reference. If we aren’t talking about the same things, how can we understand one another?

We usually refer to this as talking past one another. Sometimes this happens because we haven’t taken the time to understand what our conversation partner is trying to say. We are distracted and focused on something else. Increasingly, our public discourse–that which we all see on the airwaves, on the internet and in print–is mere polemic in service of some political or economic interest. There is no genuine attempt to explore the issues, only to advance a particular view of them–often for pay as is the case with public relations agencies and also fake think tank academics who merely parrot the positions of their funders.

We like to regard ourselves as living in an age of enlightenment. But enlightenment only occurs when we are intellectually honest. What intellectual honesty requires is the ability to entertain ideas and accept evidence that contradict our current views and to evaluate those ideas and evidence on some basis other than a financial or political interest.

The late William Catton, the sociologist and ecologist who stands as the 20th century prophet of our predicament, laid out this problem in his last book, Bottleneck: Humanity’s Impending Impasse. By bottleneck Catton means a dramatic reduction in human population over the coming century due to climate change, fossil fuel depletion, soil erosion and other problems and the attendant chaos these will bring to our current governance and economic arrangements.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Droughts, floods from weird jet stream linked to Arctic heat

Droughts, floods from weird jet stream linked to Arctic heat

Something strange is going on, with more incidences of unprecedented heat waves, droughts and flooding happening in recent years, and based on the latest research, it’s looking more and more like climate change is to blame.

The Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on the planet, due to global warming and the resulting changes it is causing to Earth’s climate. For 2016 alone, NASA recorded an average temperature anomaly in the Arctic of over three times what was observed at the equator.

According to a new study in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, headed by Penn State climate scientist Michael E. Mann, the jet stream is being locked into some strange, persistent patterns by this Arctic heat, and this, in turn, is fueling some of the extreme, unprecedented weather events we have been experiencing in the last few decades.

“The warming of the Arctic, the polar amplification of warming, plays a key role here,” Mann told Penn State News. “The surface and lower atmosphere are warming more in the Arctic than anywhere else on the globe. That pattern projects onto the very temperature gradient profile that we identify as supporting atmospheric waveguide conditions.”


Map of global temperature anomalies for 2016, compared to the 20th Century average. The Arctic was roughly 3.2oC above average vs 1oC above average at the equator. Credit: NASA GISS

There is a fairly simple premise that drives the activity of the jet stream: the speed of the winds in the stream is strongly influenced by how the temperature changes between the equator and the pole (ie: the temperature gradient).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Did The EPA Just Go Rogue Again

Did The EPA Just Go Rogue Again

In late January, days after Donald Trump became president, various government workers employed by the EPA “defied” the president with what at the time appeared to be rogue twitter accounts emerging from the environemntal agency, most notably the Badlands National Park which slammed Trump’s climate change proposal.
  • “Today, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years. #climate”
  • “Flipside of the atmosphere; ocean acidity has increased 30% since the Industrial  Revolution. ‘Ocean Acidification” #climate #carboncycle’”
  • “Burning one gallon of gasoline puts nearly 20lbs of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. #climate”

It now appears that a new “rogue” employee may have emerged at the EPA’s pres office.

This morning, in a press release summarizing “What They Are Saying About President Trump’s Executive Order On Energy Independence”, as the first quote picked by an unknown staffer at the agency, the EPA decided to showcase the thoughts of Dem. Senator Shelly Moore Capito whose quote was not exactly on message, as Bloomberg’s Patrick Ambrosio pointed out.

This is what she said:

With this Executive Order, President Trump has chosen to recklessly bury his head in the sand. Walking away from the Clean Power Plan and other climate initiatives, including critical resiliency projects is not just irresponsible — it’s irrational. Today’s executive order calls into question America’s credibility and our commitment to tackling the greatest environmental challenge of our lifetime. With the world watching, President Trump and Administrator Pruitt have chosen to shirk our responsibility, disregard clear science and undo the significant progress our country has made to ensure we leave a better, more sustainable planet for generations to come.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Water Wars Coming To California? Is The Drought Really Over?

Water Wars Coming To California? Is The Drought Really Over?

Authored by Capt. William E. Simpson II – USMM Ret.,

In California, the poor growth and development policies that have resulted from a lack of vision have led-to and are continuing to lead Californians down a path of unsustainable growth and a widening gap between the demand and availability of critical resources, especially water.

This gargantuan problem is augmented by a growing financial crises in California as evidenced by an out of control and growing debt problem. All the while, many elected officials in the State along with Governor Jerry Brown are thumbing their noses at the Fed and losing Federal funding for cities that obstinately insist on violating long-established immigration laws. Of course this too is not helpful to the growing State debt, which elected officials will certainly cast-off onto the weakening shoulders of taxpayers using a combination of direct tax increases and other legislative and regulatory ploys that also amount to taxes and less money in the pockets of the People.

The term ‘drought’ has been used in reference to the severe water shortages that California is experiencing. But what is the real culprit or causation of the growing water shortage? Is drought caused by a lack of precipitation as most people believe? Or is the shortfall of water availability due to some other principal factor, such as water-use outstripping supply?

The recent record precipitation in California during the winter of 2016-2017 has certainly soaked the landscape, replenishing many of California’s reservoirs and in the process giving Californians the impression that the drought is over. But that is a misconception according to sources provided herein.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

50 Million Americans Brace For Major Blizzard In US Northeast

50 Million Americans Brace For Major Blizzard In US Northeast

A major Nor’easter threatens to shut down travel due to heavy snow and strong winds from Washington, D.C., to New York City and Boston early this week, as weather forecasters on Sunday put the U.S. East Coast on a blizzard watch, warning some 50 million people of potential snowfall from 12 to 18 inches, coupled with wind blasts in some areas from Monday night into Wednesday. New York City issued a snow alert for Monday night, preparing its fleet of snow plows to deal with the fallout.

Bliz March 12

Washington, which often grinds to a halt with even low levels of snow, is expecting 5 inches in the city and twice that in outlying areas.

The National Weather Service warns that the storm has raised the potential for dangerous travel and power outages with damaging wind gusts up to 50 mph possible across eastern Long Island and southeastern Connecticut. The likelihood of blowing snow and strong winds could lead to “whiteout” conditions with visibility as poor as a quarter mile, the service said. Sub-freezing temperatures were forecast in the upper 20s Fahrenheit, Reuters adds.

Noreaster March 11

According to Accueweather, areas from northern Virginia to northern Maryland, central and eastern Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, central and southeastern New York state and a large part of New England will be shoveling out of 6 inches or more of snow from the storm. A widespread zone of around a foot or more of snow is expected from the western suburbs of Philadelphia to New York City, Boston and Portland, Maine.

“New York City’s Central Park has not recorded more than 10 inches of snow from one storm in March since the 1993 Storm of the Century,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Faulty Logic Fuels Fossil Fools

Faulty Logic Fuels Fossil Fools

Suncor tar sands mine in Canada

Apparently, fossil fuel companies protect watersheds and rivers by removing oil. That’s according to comments on the David Suzuki Foundation Facebook page and elsewhere, including this: “The amount of contamination occuring [sic] from extraction is far less than if we just left the oil there to continue polluting the waterways.”

The “logic” of climate change deniers and anti-environmentalists is often baffling. Although the person who posted that comment doesn’t appear to claim professional background or knowledge, Canadian anti-environmentalist Patrick Moore — who capitalizes on his science degree and long-ago association with Greenpeace to shill for polluting industries — told the Vancouver Sun in 2011 that oil companies are “leaving the soil cleaner than they found it because they’re removing the oil from it.”

Those who coat their “alternative facts” with a veneer of “expertise” often employ twisted logic. Take a petition letter urging U.S. President Donald Trump to withdraw from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Letter author Richard Lindzen, a climate skeptic whose work has often been debunked, claims “more than 300 eminent scientists and other qualified individuals from around the world” signed the petition. What kind of “eminent scientists” would sign something claiming carbon dioxide “is not a pollutant but a major benefit to agriculture and other life on Earth” and that “warming from increased atmospheric CO2 will be benign”?

The idea that CO2 is little more than plant food is common in denier circles, floated recently by the U.S.Heartland Institute, its affiliated industry promoters like Canadians Patrick Moore and Tom Harris, and others. In a 2014 book, two signatories to the Trump letter, retired Environment Canada scientist Madhav Khandekar and retired Australian geology professor Cliff Ollier, along with database marketing consultant Arthur Middleton Hughes, wrote the world should burn more coal “to produce electricity and increase CO2in the atmosphere.” They also argue for more use of the pesticide DDT.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Could Artificial Earthquakes Trigger Disaster? Oklahoma’s Risk “Now Equal to That of San Francisco”

Could Artificial Earthquakes Trigger Disaster? Oklahoma’s Risk “Now Equal to That of San Francisco”

earthquake

While Oklahoma has had a handful of notable earthquakes over the past century, it was essentially never an earthquake state.

And rightfully so, given that the USGS and other officials, up until quite recently, ranked Oklahoma’s earthquake hazard level at the second lowest level, with a patch of slightly elevated, but still moderately low areas:

earthquake-haz_map

According to the statistics that have been released, Oklahoma, in fact, had very few earthquakes (over a magnitude o 3.0) during the past half century – until the year 2009.

That date marks the expansion of fracking in the oil industry, as the Obama Administration signaled an attack on coal and fossil fuels, and the petroleum industry sought to flood market supply to manipulate the political power of oil in certain key regimes around the world:

earthquakes_in_oklahoma_since_1978

Now, the low key heartland state of Oklahoma is suddenly rivaling San Frascisco as the most earthquake-prone place in the United States.

According to the Daily Mail:

Oklahoma is the most at risk place in America for man made earthquakes caused by oil and gas drilling, a new USGS quake risk map has revealed. 

In its annual national earthquake outlook , the U.S. Geological Survey reported Wednesday that a large portion of Oklahoma and parts of central California have the highest risk for a damaging quakes this year: between 5 and 12 percent.

Natural elevated quake risks exist through much of California, Seattle and the area where Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky and Illinois come together, known as New Madrid.

Seismologists say Oklahoma’s problem is triggered by underground injections of huge volumes of wastewater from oil and gas drilling.

[…]

From 1980 to 2000, Oklahoma averaged only two earthquakes a year of magnitude 2.7 or higher.

That number jumped to about 2,500 in 2014 then to 4,000 in 2015 as the use of an oil and gas production technique that uses millions of gallons of water boomed.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

California Floods To Trigger “The Big One”? – Geologists Warn Of Quake Risks From Snowpack, Rising Reservoirs

California Floods To Trigger “The Big One”? – Geologists Warn Of Quake Risks From Snowpack, Rising Reservoirs

For years geologists have warned that Southern California is overdue for “The Big One”, a massive 8.0 or greater earthquake that would undoubtedly cause unprecedented death and destruction in several heavily populated urban centers sprinkled along the San Andreas Fault line.

While predicting earthquakes remains an uncertain science, there has been concern in recent years among experts that the San Andreas fault may be close to a new, major ruction if only by virtue of the length of time since it happened last, when the southern portion of the fault was struck by a 7.9 shaker all the way back in 1857.

Since then the tectonic plates that meet at the fault have been continuously on the move at a rate of about 2 inches per year. That means that over 159 years there has been a shift of 26 feet as the Pacific plate moves in a northwesterly direction against the American continental plate.  Every additional inch creates additional pressures on the rocks beneath the earth’s surface that builds and builds until it eventually snaps.

San Andreas

 

Now, as the Los Angeles Times points out, the recent flooding in California has prompted some scientists to raise concerns over whether or not Californians are at a greater risk of being struck by an imminent quake.  According to geologists, flooding can cause earthquakes in one of two ways: i) the sheer weight of rising reservoirs and snowpack causes tectonic plates to shift and/or ii) increasing pressure created from the refilling of underground water basins pushes plates apart, therefore reducing friction and allowing the earth’s crust to shift.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Study Finds Connection Between Living Near Oil and Gas Development and Childhood Leukaemia

Study Finds Connection Between Living Near Oil and Gas Development and Childhood Leukaemia

With the rise of new technologies like fracking and horizontal drilling, oil and gas development in the United States has exploded over the past 15 years. As development expands, it’s also pushing ever closer into areas where people live. It’s been estimated that today more than 15 million Americans live within one mile of oil and gas development.

The drilling process, of course, has the potential to emit toxic substances, including the carcinogen benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and diesel exhaust, into the surrounding air and waterways. But researchers have long been trying to determine to what extent oil and gas drilling operations may threaten public health, particularly around cancer risk.

However, new research suggests that childen living in areas of high-density oil and gas development may face increased risk of health impacts, namely a certain type of leukemia, as a result of their exposure to pollutants associated with this activity.

In some parts of Colorado where oil and gas development is especially concentrated, hundreds of oil and gas wells reportedly lie within one mile of residential areas. And according to a recent study, children and young adults who were diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia were 4.3 times more likely to live within 10 miles of an active oil and gas well than kids with other types of cancer.

This finding, published in the scientific journal PLOS One, applied to youth between 5 and 24 years old. The study did not find a connection between other types of cancer, such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and proximity to oil and gas wells.

“Over 378,000 Coloradans and millions of Americans currently live within a mile of at least one oil and gas well, and petroleum development continues to expand into residential areas,” Dr. Lisa McKenzie, professor with the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz and the lead author of the study, said in a statement.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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