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Pipeline industry funded two-thirds of pipeline safety studies

Wondering whether natural gas and oil transportation pipelines are safe? Why not ask a neutral objective party -- like, say, the pipeline industry? The federal government’s Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is supposed to study and regulate pipeline safety. But as the San Francisco Chronicle discovered, in practice, the agency tends to hand that responsibility back over to the pipeline industry. In the past decade, it turns out, the industry funded two-thirds of safety studies of land-based pipelines. This happened because the government -- probably in another misguided attempt to save money -- required that someone other than the government …

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How oil and gas companies that deny climate change are adapting to it anyway

Next to agriculture, the industry most vulnerable to climate change is, arguably, the extraction of the very fossil fuels that are causing it, says Michael Cote at GOOD. And while this industry is spending millions to deny that climate change even exists and to block efforts to deal with it, it's also going to need to spend billions to cope with its effects. Sure, climate change sucks harder than a collapsed star, but at least it's leading to ironies so vast that only particles of sputtering dumbfoundedness can escape. With climate change come the obvious gotchas: Not all drilling platforms …

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Critical List: Al Gore praises Romney; a fifth Brazilian anti-logging activist dies

Al Gore is doing his best to ensure Barack Obama gets reelected. Yesterday, he endorsed Mitt Romney's climate stance. The Arizona wildfire is the largest in the state's history. A fifth anti-logging activist in Brazil was killed. Your HD cable box uses more electricity than your refrigerator. Only 30 percent of Pennsylvanians say that hydrofracking's environmental impacts outweigh its economic benefits. But 69 percent do support taxing gas companies, so at least they’re planning to get as much economic benefit out of it as they can. The next climate-change treaty could cover water issues, because with the droughts and floods …

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Russia building floating nuclear power plants to unlock Arctic oil

In a scheme straight out of the playbook of a Bond villain, Russia is building eight floating nuclear reactors -- the first of their kind in the world -- in order to dominate oil and gas exploration in the Arctic ocean. (Now that it’s increasingly ice-free, the Arctic is way easier to float things around in -- thanks, global warming!) Russia also plans to sell the reactors abroad, and has seen interest from China, Algeria and Indonesia. Each will cost $335 million, and has the additional ability to purify seawater into fresh water. The litany of disasters that could befall …

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Your tax dollars subsidize the sh*t out of coal

If you're a fan of a certain dried-leaves-boiled-in-water-related political party, you might believe that renewable energy is the recipient of huge amounts of government largesse, and that the first thing we should do once we get our guy or gal into office is slash all that wasteful spending. But wait! It turns out coal gets way, way more subsidies for electricity generation. The situation is almost as ugly as this graph, which looks like Claudia Kishi's sweater drawer.

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Humanity's energy dilemma in three easy charts

For 60 years, BP has been gathering data for its widely respected Statistical Review of World Energy, a yearly compendium of info on global energy use. In 2011, for the first time, it published a forward-looking analysis to go with: the BP Energy Outlook 2030. The Outlook combines long-term energy trends with educated guesses about the course of economic growth, policy, and technology, resulting in BP's "judgment of the likely path of global energy markets to 2030." The document can thus be read as a distillation of what today's elites expect in the next 20 years. And what they expect …

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Is natural gas becoming a cover for the same old dirty fossil fuels industry?

One of the great ironies of the transition to renewable energy is that it's going to require a great deal of fossil fuels to build all those wind turbines, solar panels, and smart grids -- because we simply don't have enough renewables already in the mix to bootstrap them up to the level we need to continue even a semblance of our 21st century civilization. So why not make that transition with the "cleanest" fossil fuel available, goes the argument -- namely, natural gas. So far so good. But lately, in op-eds in places like The New York Times and …

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Mark Ruffalo wants you to stand up to hydrofracking

Actor Mark Ruffalo, who lives in a rural New York town on the Delaware River with his family, is not one of those celebrities who parachutes into a random political cause and starts ignorantly pontificating about solutions. He has been actively involved with efforts to keep potentially disastrous hydrofracking practices out of New York State for three years, and he knows his stuff. He's even co-founded his own initiative on water quality, Water Defense. Now Ruffalo has banded together with some other famous friends, including Ethan Hawke and Zoe Saldana, to make a new video, "I Love My New York …

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Three energy developments that are changing your life — and not in a good way

This essay was originally published on TomDispatch and is republished here with Tom's kind permission. Here's the good news about energy: Thanks to rising oil prices and deteriorating economic conditions worldwide, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that global oil demand will not grow this year as much as once assumed, which may provide some temporary price relief at the gas pump. In its May "Oil Market Report," the IEA reduced its 2011 estimate for global oil consumption by 190,000 barrels per day, pegging it at 89.2 million barrels daily. As a result, retail prices may not reach the stratospheric …

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Natural gas ‘golden age’ requires government regulation

Natural gas will provide 25 percent of global energy by 2035, up from 21 percent now, according to a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), a Paris-based organization that studies and advises on energy issues. The IEA's report asks if the world is entering a "golden age" of natural gas and answers, more or less, "yes." (Although it seems possible that the organization framed the question that way only to create the perfect acronym for their analysis, which the report calls "The Golden Age of Gas Scenario," or GAS Scenario. Oooh, recursive!)   Natural gas' share in the energy …