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POSTED AT 3:25 PM ET, 09/22/2010

Goodbye from Post Carbon- Welcome us on our new page

Dear readers,

Post Carbon's run on this page is now over. From now on, please catch Post Carbon's breaking climate news and analysis from The Post's environment team HERE.

Same content, with a great new page.

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See you there soon!

BY Elizabeth Flock

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POSTED AT 2:08 PM ET, 09/16/2010

Louisiana seeks cause of massive fish kill

Hundreds of thousands of dead fish have been discovered floating in a part of south Louisiana that was heavily affected by the BP oil spill. But a top state official said he has seen no proof that the spill was the cause.

The dead fish-- pogies, redfish, drum, crabs, shrimp, and freshwater eel--were found floating in Bayou Chaland on Friday, according to the Plaquemine Parish government. The fish are so dense that they cover the surface of the narrow bayou, a solid mass of white and gray bodies.

Parish President Billy Nungesser (R ) said in a statement that he had asked the state and federal governments to test the waters in the area.

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BY David A. Fahrenthold

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POSTED AT 12:33 PM ET, 09/16/2010

Progress possible at climate talks in Cancun?

By Juliet Eilperin

The upcoming climate talks in Cancun can still produce a handful of meaningful agreements even if they don't create a legally-binding treaty on global warming, Mexico's top climate official told reporters Thursday.

Luis Alfonso de Alba, Mexico's special representative for climate change, said his country had focused on "rebuilding trust" between developing countries and industrialized ones over the past nine months, and hoped the United Nations negotiations starting in late November would translate into greater transparency in countries' climate policies and firm commitments on money to help nations adapt to and combat global warming.

"We can go further and do much better, but the worst [thing] is not to start," de Alba said.

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BY Anne Bartlett

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POSTED AT 4:13 PM ET, 09/15/2010

2010 headed toward being hottest year on record

By Juliet Eilperin

While the year's not over yet, 2010 is on track to tie 1998 as the hottest one on record.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Wednesday that the first eight months of 2010 tied the same period in 1998 for the warmest combined land and ocean surface temperature on record worldwide.

Among the details of NOAA's findings: this summer was the second warmest on record globally after 1998, and last month was the third warmest August on record.

The news came on the same day the National Snow and Ice Data Center announced Arctic sea ice has appeared to reach its minimum extent, and has followed a 14-year trend of dipping below historic levels. The minimum ice extent--which was reached Sept. 10--was the third-lowest since satellite records began in 1979, after 2007 and 2008,

Arctic sea ice covered 1.84 million square miles on Sept. 10. During August, it covered an average of 2.3 million square miles, which is 22 percent below the 1979-2000 average extent and the second lowest August extent since satellite record-keeping began in 1979.

Jason Lowe, head of mitigation advice for the U.K.'s Met Office and the lead science adviser on Britain's Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change program, said the latest measurements matter not because they reflect a single year's developments but rather indicate broader climatic changes. Both ocean and land temperatures continue to rise, he noted, just as sea ice and glaciers keep shrinking.

"What we're seeing in that is a long-term, upward trend," Lowe said in an interview. "That hasn't changed."

BY Juliet Eilperin

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POSTED AT 6:27 PM ET, 08/23/2010

API discloses industry standards

By Juliet Eilperin
The nation's top oil and gas group has agreed to let the public see dozens of federal offshore drilling rules online for free -- though they'll still have to pay to print them out.

The agreement between the American Petroleum Institute and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement provides a partial fix to a quirk in public disclosure rules when it comes to certain federal regulations. Over several decades, the government has adopted at least 78 API industry standards, word-for-word, in the Federal Register. But to actually obtain the details, citizens had to either purchase them from API or view them in person at either a federal office in Herndon or at the National Archives and Records Administration.

On Monday, API President Jack Gerard and Michael Bromwich, who heads BOEMRE, announced that the standards will now be available online for free.

"The American public have the right to review agency regulations that have a direct impact on the oil and gas industry, and to better understand how regulators and inspectors are making decisions that will keep people safer," said Bromwich, who pressed for the change. "I appreciate API President Gerard's willingness to personally meet and work with me to ensure that we have as transparent a process as possible."

But there's a catch -- if you want to print them out, you'll still have to pay for it. API spokesman Eric Wohlschlegel said he did not know the exact cost, but historically it has cost at least $100 to obtain a copy of an API industry standard.

In a statement, Gerard said having copies of a standard that had been incorporated into federal rules "in only a few locations did not meet our industry's goal of transparency. The industry's standards represent our commitment to safe and successful operations and practices. Wider access through online viewing platforms is part of our public commitment."

Once changes to the API Web site are complete, a total of 160 standards -- some of which apply to other oil and gas activities, such as hydraulic fracturing and pipeline safety standards -- will be available online, according to API.

BY Juliet Eilperin

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POSTED AT 5:41 PM ET, 08/17/2010

Scientists: Indications of oil on gulf floor

A scientific expedition has found indications that there is oil in the sediments at the bottom of a deep underwater canyon, raising new questions about the lingering impact of BP's spill on the Gulf of Mexico.

Researchers at the University of South Florida reported Tuesday that they had found "what appears to be oil" in the sediments of the DeSoto Canyon.

The canyon is a cut through the raised continental shelf off Florida's Gulf Coast, between 2,600 and 3,200 feet deep.
In a news release, the university said that further tests were needed to determine if what the crew's instruments found was, in fact, oil -- and if that oil came from BP's runaway Macondo well. The tests they have used so far, which involve UV light, can return similar results from oil, other minerals, and even living plankton.

If the researchers did find oil, it would contradict the federal government's assertion that much of the oil in the gulf has either vanished or begun to degrade.

If the oil has settled to the gulf floor in this area, the university said, that could pose problems to tiny creatures that live in the area. It said that preliminary tests using material taken from the DeSoto Canyon site showed that it was toxic to the microscopic marine creatures at the base of the gulf food chain.

BY David A. Fahrenthold

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POSTED AT 1:44 PM ET, 08/16/2010

Algae blooms seen in the Chesapeake Bay

Cranberry-colored algae is appearing on the beaches of Newport News -- the result of algae blooms appearing in the lower Chesapeake Bay, The Daily Press reports.

The blooms are fueled by hot summer weather and recent rains. The dark veins of algae have been spotted in the lower Chesapeake Bay from Matthews County south to Norfolk.

Christy Everett of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation said the blooms are yet another sign that the bay's water quality is "out of balance."

Single cells of algae divide rapidly as the water warms and then multiply when nutrient-rich fresh water is flushed into the bay by heavy rains.

BY Victoria Benning

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POSTED AT 4:29 PM ET, 08/13/2010

NOAA: This year warmest on record so far

So far, this has been the hottest year in recorded history.

On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released new data showing that, from January to July, the average global temperature was 58.1 degrees. That was 1.22 degrees over the average from the 20th century, and the hottest since 1880, when reliable records begin.

And, while NOAA experts say global climate change isn't the only reason that 2010 has been so hot--an El Nino event earlier in the year pushed temperatures up--it's still the most important reason.

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BY David A. Fahrenthold

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POSTED AT 3:37 PM ET, 08/10/2010

Report: Government tried to squelch reports of "plumes"

The St. Petersburg Times on Tuesday reported that federal officials had sent the message "shut up" to the Florida researchers who first reported "plumes" of underwater oil in the gulf. An academic leader quoted in the story downplayed the incident in an interview with the Washington Post, though he acknowledged that one agency had asked his university to retract the announcement of the findings.

The Times story said that message was delivered around late May to scientists at the University of South Florida.

Those scientists had reported finding indications of large amounts of oil below the surface--an unusual thing for an oil spill, since crude is supposed to float. The Times story says that, after the university announced these findings, the scientists were told by the Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to (in the Times' words) "shut up."

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BY David A. Fahrenthold

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POSTED AT 2:55 PM ET, 08/ 5/2010

EPA's boiler proposal sparks Hill backlash

By Juliet Eilperin

More than 100 House Democrats and Republicans have sent a sharply-worded letter to Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa P. Jackson, suggesting a proposed rule to clean up industrial boilers nationwide could devastate U.S. manufacturing.

The industrial boilers letter effort, led by Reps. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho) and Robert B. Aderholt (R-Ala.), represents an unusually-public rebuke of Jackson, who has pushed aggressively to enforce federal air-quality laws since taking control of the agency last year.

On June 4, EPA issued a proposal that would require industrial, commercial and institutional boilers and heaters to use "maximum achievable control technology" to cut harmful emissions that erode air quality and pose a public health risk. House members suggest in the letter that the rule could cost manufacturers "tens of billions of dollars" in compliance costs.

"As our nation struggles to recover from the current recession, we are deeply concerned that the potential impact of pending Clean Air Act regulations could be unsustainable for U.S. manufacturing and the high-paying jobs it provides."

The lawmakers--who include several vulnerable House Democrats from manufacturing states--urge EPA to "consider flexible approaches" in meeting the tougher emission requirements. Rep. Scott Murphy (D-N.Y.), said he's particularly worried about how the proposal rule would affect the forest products and paper industry in his district.

"The EPA should look out for public health issues, but we should work to achieve these goals while making sure we don't have unintended consequences that could punish manufacturing jobs during these tough times," Murphy said.

EPA officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the letter. However a source familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak on the issue, said White House aides had begun speaking to some of the letter's signatories about how to reach a compromise on the rule.

BY Juliet Eilperin

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POSTED AT 3:09 PM ET, 07/29/2010

EPA rejects petitions to reconsider danger of greenhouse gases

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday re-affirmed its ruling that greenhouse gases are a danger to public health, rejecting petitions from two states, industry groups and conservatives who said it was based on shaky science.

The EPA's decision to reject those petitions was hardly a surprise--the agency was, in effect, being asked to check its own work. But the EPA used the occasion to attack the arguments of its critics, many of them reliant on the "Climate-gate" episode, in which hackers released embarassing emails sent by climate scientists.

"EPA has determined that the petitioners' arguments and evidence are inadequate, generally unscientific, and do not show that the underlying science supporting the Endangerment Finding is flawed," the EPA's decision said. By contrast, it found that the evidence showing climate change is a problem remains "robust, voluminous and compelling."

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BY David A. Fahrenthold

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