Environment

Great Lakes water level slump over, future unclear

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Scientists say the longest period on record of abnormally low Great Lakes water levels has ended, but it's uncertain whether the recovery is temporary or the beginning of a new long-term trend.

The slump began in the late 1990s. It continued for 15 years, culminating early last year when Lake Michigan and Lake Huron set low-water records. Since then, levels have sharply rebounded.

In September, the levels of all five of the Great Lakes were above average for the first time since the drop-off began, said Drew Gronewold of the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor.

With future uncertain, Colorado shields its water

DENVER (AP) — With demand increasing across the West, Colorado is drawing up a strategy to keep some of the trillions of gallons of water that gushes out of the Rocky Mountains every spring — most of which flows downstream to drought-stricken California, Arizona, Nevada and Mexico.

Colorado wants to ensure its farms, wildlife and rapidly growing cities have enough water in the decades to come. It's pledging to provide downstream states every gallon they're legally entitled to, but not a drop more.

EDF rejects oil industry claims of lower methane releases

The Environmental Defense Fund on Tuesday pushed back against the oil and gas industry for touting apparent lower methane emissions last year from natural gas production, based on new results from a University of Texas field study of well sites.

About 80 percent of methane releases from liquid unloadings and pneumatic controllers at wells were from just 20 percent of those sources, the study found.

The data translated to a 10 percent lower estimate of methane emissions as a share of total gas production last year, lead study investigator David Allen told reporters.

Yet he stressed uncertainties in extrapolating the results to a national scale. Allen said those uncertainties were large enough that there was essentially no change -- and no obvious decline -- from the 2012 estimate of production emissions reported from the first phase of the study last year.

US names red knot bird a threatened species

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A rust-colored shorebird known for a nearly 20,000-mile migration will now receive federal protection, setting the stage for states to coordinate preservation plans for the dwindling species.

After a 14-month review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the rufa subspecies of the red knot as threatened on Tuesday. Under the Endangered Species Act, the ruling prohibits killing, shooting, hunting or otherwise harming the bird.

Abandoned wells ‘significant’ source of methane emissions: Study

Source: 
FuelFix

Methane leaking from abandoned oil and gas wells may be a far larger problem than any methane leaks from oil and gas production, according to a study examining old wells in Pennsylvania, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, FuelFix reports.

House plans to take up another drought relief bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans are taking up another drought relief bill for California's farm belt and other water users to the south.

The new effort is advertised as a temporary measure that would allow agencies to divert water from northern rivers and reservoirs during the rainy season and send it to farms in the San Joaquin Valley, where hundreds of thousands of acres went unplanted and untended this year. A vote is expected Tuesday.

WBM Management Inc.

Methane leaks from nat gas production dipped last year, UT finds

The rate of methane emissions from natural gas production fell last year by about 10 percent, according to the latest results of field research jointly backed by the oil and gas industry and the Environmental Defense Fund.

The results from two studies, published Tuesday by the University of Texas in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, factored in new information on leaks from pneumatic controller equipment and from well unloading operations. Estimated methane emissions were about 0.38 percent of total gas production, down from 0.42 percent in 2012.

Feds: Don't blame California drought on warming

WASHINGTON (AP) — Don't blame man-made global warming for the devastating California drought, a new federal report says.

A report issued Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said natural variations — mostly a La Nina weather oscillation — were the primary drivers behind the drought that has now stretched to three years.

Private forest owners aging, parcels shrinking

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The age of forest landowners across the country is increasing and the size of parcels they own is shrinking — and that has state, federal and private experts fearing for the long-term health of millions of acres of American woodlands.

The concerns of forestry professionals are more subtle than the typical worries over large-scale development: as the parcels of land get smaller the people who own them might not have the same commitment to the forests as the previous landowners.

NOAA releases latest study on California drought

Washington, December 8, 2014, 1:00 pm

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration holds media teleconference to release latest study on man-made and natural causes of the California drought.

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