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The Lead

Climate meeting to discuss future of fossil fuels

April 7, 2014 9:14 am | by Frank Jordans, Associated Press | News | Comments

After concluding that global warming almost certainly is man-made and poses a grave threat to humanity, the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, is meeting next week in Berlin to chart ways in which the world can curb the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are overheating the planet. It is also trying to give estimates on what it would cost.

U.S. clean-air efforts stay on target

March 28, 2014 11:28 am | News | Comments

National efforts in the last decade to clear the air of dangerous particulate matter have been...

Colorado's proposed emissions rules get a hearing

November 21, 2013 6:58 pm | by KRISTEN WYATT - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Colorado's proposal to curb air pollutants from oil and gas operations got praise from industry...

Next generation of biofuels is still years away

November 14, 2013 12:54 pm | by Jonathan Fahey, Associated Press | News | Comments

The first trickle of fuels made from agricultural...

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Prairies vanish in the U.S. push for green energy

November 13, 2013 11:15 am | by Chet Brokaw and Jack Gillum, Associated Press | News | Comments

Across the Dakotas and Nebraska, more than 1 million acres of the Great Plains are giving way to cornfields as farmers transform the wild expanse that once served as the backdrop for American pioneers. This expansion of the Corn Belt is fueled in part by America's green energy policy, which requires oil companies to blend billions of gallons of corn ethanol into their gasoline.

Clean Air Act has improved water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed

November 7, 2013 7:00 am | News | Comments

A new study shows that the reduction of pollution emissions from power plants in the mid-Atlantic is making an impact on the quality of the water that ends up in the Chesapeake Bay. The study confirms a decreased amount of emissions of nitrogen oxide from coal-fired power plants.

Federal trial over Gulf oil spill to resume

September 30, 2013 3:05 am | by MICHAEL KUNZELMAN - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

The trial resumes Monday for the federal litigation spawned by BP's massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, with a focus on the company's response to the deadly disaster. At the start of the trial's second phase, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier is expected to hear two hours of opening statements from lawyers for BP and for Gulf Coast residents and businesses who claim the spill cost them money.

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Web tool expands access to scientific, regulatory chemical information

September 9, 2013 12:54 pm | News | Comments

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched a web-based tool, called ChemView, to significantly improve access to chemical specific regulatory information developed by EPA and data submitted under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The tool displays key health and safety data in an online format that allows comparison of chemicals by use and by health or environmental effects.

Both sides of fracking debate turn out for Obama

August 23, 2013 10:57 am | by MICHAEL GORMLEY - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Supporters and opponents of fracking in the political hotbed where New York's natural gas deposit lies lined the route being taken Friday by visiting President Barack Obama, shouting messages for him while trying to pressure Gov. Andrew Cuomo as he weighs whether to allow the practice in New York.

The “whole” problem with recycling

August 22, 2013 1:27 pm | News | Comments

Findings from a Univ. of Alberta researcher shed new light on what may be stopping people from recycling more. Jennifer Argo, a marketing prof. in the U of A’s Alberta School of Business, says that people are psychologically hard-wired to believe that products that are damaged or that aren’t whole are useless, and this leads users to trash them rather than recycle them.

Existing cropland could feed 4 billion more people

August 1, 2013 3:24 pm | News | Comments

The world’s croplands could boost food available for people by 70% without clearing more land, according to research from the Univ. of Minnesota. This could be accomplished just by shifting from producing animal feed and biofuels to producing exclusively food for human consumption, researchers say.

DOE study: Fracking chemicals didn't taint water

July 22, 2013 2:04 pm | by Kevin Begos, Associated Press | News | Comments

A landmark federal study on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, shows no evidence that chemicals from the natural gas drilling process moved up to contaminate drinking water aquifers at a western Pennsylvania drilling site. After a year of monitoring, the researchers found that the chemical-laced fluids used to free gas trapped deep below the surface stayed thousands of feet below the shallower areas that supply drinking water

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For Obama's climate plan, devil is in the details

July 15, 2013 10:24 pm | by Josh Lederman, Associated Press | News | Comments

Three weeks after giving an ambitious speech to outline his climate change proposal, President Obama begins the arduous task of executing it. His plan is a complicated mix of rulemaking and federal permitting that's tough to encapsulate in a neat sales pitch—and may be even tougher to put into action.

Obama climate change push draws industry criticism

July 4, 2013 3:22 am | by STEVE PEOPLES - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

President Barack Obama's push to fight global warming has triggered condemnation from the coal industry across the industrial Midwest, where state and local economies depend on the health of an energy sector facing strict new pollution limits. But such concerns stretch even to New England, an environmentally focused region that long has felt the effects of drifting emissions from Rust Belt states.

EPA methane report further divides fracking camps

April 28, 2013 5:11 pm | by Kevin Begos, Associated Press | News | Comments

The Environmental Protection Agency has dramatically lowered its estimate of how much of a potent heat-trapping gas leaks during natural gas production. This shift has major implications for a debate that has divided environmentalists, which is whether the recent boom in fracking helps or hurts the fight against climate change.

Experts propose new structure to guide geoengineering research

March 15, 2013 11:16 am | News | Comments

Geoengineering, the use of human technologies to alter the Earth's climate system has emerged as a potentially promising way to mitigate the impacts of climate change. But such efforts could present unforeseen new risks. That inherent tension, argue two professors, has thwarted both scientific advances and the development of an international framework for regulating and guiding geoengineering research.

China wrestles with cost of cleaner environment

March 13, 2013 5:19 pm | by Joe McDonald, AP Business Writer | News | Comments

Facing public outrage over smog-choked cities and filthy rivers, China's leaders are promising to clean up the country's neglected environment—a pledge that sets up a clash with political pressures to keep economic growth strong.

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Obama pledges to deal with climate change

January 21, 2013 2:53 pm | by MATTHEW DALY - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Environmental groups hailed President Barack Obama's warning about climate change in his second inauguration speech, but said the president's words will soon be tested as he decides whether to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada. Obama pledged Monday to respond to what he called "the threat of climate change," saying the failure to do so would be a betrayal of the nation's children and future generations.

Treaty aimed at reducing mercury emissions signed

January 19, 2013 4:35 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

U.N. officials say more than 130 nations have adopted the first legally binding international treaty aimed at reducing mercury emissions. The U.N. Environment Program says the treaty was adopted Saturday morning, after all-night negotiations that capped a week of talks.

Energy experts say drilling can be made cleaner

December 11, 2012 8:46 am | by Kevin Begos and Seth Borenstein, Associated Press | News | Comments

In the Colorado mountains, a spike in air pollution has been linked to a boom in oil and gas drilling. About 800 miles away on the plains of north Texas, there's a drilling boom, too, but some air pollution levels have declined. Opponents of drilling point to Colorado and say it's dangerous. Companies point to Texas and say drilling is safe.

Global warming talk heats up, revisits carbon tax

November 13, 2012 7:01 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

As climate change begins to take the spotlight again as a political issue in the U.S., a once radical idea has resurfaced among both Republicans and Democrats: a carbon tax. On Tuesday, a conservative think tank held discussions about it while a more liberal think tank released a paper on it. And the Congressional Budget Office issued a 19-page report on the different ways to make a carbon tax less burdensome on lower income people.

Food vs. fuel: Is there surplus land for bioenergy?

October 18, 2012 8:37 am | News | Comments

Increasing demand for bioenergy feedstock is generating land-use conflicts and food vs. fuel controversies. An team of 11 scientists from seven European countries and the United States have recently published a study that gives scientific background to the debate. It supports a reassessment of the land available for bioenergy feedstock production.

Restricting nuclear power has little effect on the cost of climate policies

October 2, 2012 9:03 am | News | Comments

Applying a global energy-economy computer simulation that fully captures the competition between alternative power supply technologies, a team of scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the University of Dayton, Ohio, analyzed trade-offs between nuclear and climate policies. They found that incremental costs due to policy options restricting the use of nuclear power do not significantly increase the cost of even stringent greenhouse-gas emissions reductions.

Researchers make call for specialty metals recycling

September 24, 2012 2:56 pm | News | Comments

According to recent paper published by Yale University scientists, an international policy is needed for recycling scarce specialty metals that are critical in the production of consumer goods. Specialty metals account for more than 30 of the 60 metals on the periodic table, and their rapidly accelerating usage in many industries makes the complete lack of recycling a concern.

Study: Tradeoffs needed in battling urban heat island effects

September 11, 2012 4:15 am | News | Comments

A team of researchers from Arizona State University have found that warming resulting from megapolitan expansion is seasonally dependent, with greatest warming occurring during summer and least during winter. Painting the roofs of buildings white can combat this effect, but not without consequences for the region’s hydroclimate.

Gas drilling research suffers from lack of funding

August 2, 2012 10:28 am | by Kevin Begos, Associated Press | News | Comments

Is gas drilling ruining the air, polluting water and making people sick? The evidence is sketchy and inconclusive, but a lack of serious funding is delaying efforts to resolve those pressing questions and creating a vacuum that could lead to a crush of lawsuits, some experts say.

X-rays pave way for low cost, large scale carbon capture

August 1, 2012 4:17 am | News | Comments

Current techniques for post-combustion carbon capture filter out carbon dioxide from a power plant’s flue gases as they travel up a chimney. These methods can prevent 80 to 90% of a power plant’s carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere, but researchers in the U.K. are trying to improve on that, using their nation’s synchrotron to determine the mechanism for the use of calcium oxide-based material as carbon dioxide sorbents.

New carbon accounting method to reduce nitrogen fertilizer use

July 18, 2012 7:27 pm | News | Comments

In 2011, corn was planted on more than 92 million acres in the U.S. Because corn is a nitrogen-loving plant, farmers must use synthetic nitrogen fertilizer to their fields every year to achieve their crop target. However, nitrogen is hard to contain and can negatively affect the environment. Researchers have come up with a solution, however, and it’s tied to the relationship between nitrates and nitrous oxide emissions.

Caution needed with new greenhouse gas emission standards

July 16, 2012 3:50 am | News | Comments

Policy makers need to be cautious in setting new 'low-carbon' standards for greenhouse gas emissions for oil sands-derived fuels as well as fuels from conventional crude oils University of Calgary and University of Toronto researchers say. The researchers, using for the first time confidential data from actual oil sands operations, did a 'well-to-wheel' lifecycle analysis of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels produced by Alberta oil sands operations compared with conventional crude oils.

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