CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The elderly, young children and pregnant women were advised Friday to evacuate an Australian town that has been shrouded by smoke and ash from a burning coal mine for almost three weeks.
Victoria state Chief Health Officer Rosemary Lester said vulnerable residents were advised to leave the town of Morwell as a precaution because the fire in the nearby Hazelwood Coal Mine is expected to spew smoke for at least 10 more days.
Australia's Bureau of Meteorology reports warmer Pacific Ocean temperatures that may signal the approach of an El Nino pattern, which could bring drought to Australia, rain to South America and warmer weather generally in 2015, Bloomberg reports.
SYDNEY (AP) — Royal Dutch Shell said Friday it is selling its Australian gasoline stations and refinery to energy trader Vitol Group for 2.9 billion Australian dollars ($2.6 billion).
The sale of Shell's downstream businesses includes its Geelong refinery near Melbourne and its 870 retail outlets, the Hague, Netherlands-based company said in a statement. It does not include Shell's aviation unit.
"Australia remains important to Shell, but we are making tough portfolio choices to improve the company's overall competitiveness," Shell's CEO Ben van Beurden said in a statement.
SYDNEY (AP) — The government agency that oversees Australia's Great Barrier Reef on Friday approved a plan to dump vast swathes of sediment on the reef as part of a major coal port expansion — a decision that environmentalists say will endanger one of the world's most fragile ecosystems.
The federal government in December approved the expansion of the Abbot Point coal port in northern Queensland, which requires a massive dredging operation to make way for ships entering and exiting the port. About 3 million cubic meters (106 million cubic feet) of dredged mud will be dumped within the marine park under the plan.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt has vowed that "some of the strictest conditions in Australian history" will be in place to protect the reef from harm, including water quality measures and safeguards for the reef's plants and animals.
Closely watched by environmental advocates, Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority is set to decide whether to permit the dumping of three million cubic meters of dredged mud near the park's coral, which would create the world's biggest coal port, Reuters reports.
The use of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas and oil from shale is expected to grow in Australia, alarming environmentalists who worry that the water-intensive process will have serious consequences for the world's driest continent, The New York Times reports.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Royal Dutch Shell PLC says it has agreed to sell its stakes in an Australian liquefied natural gas project to the Kuwaiti Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company for $1.135 billion (840 million euros).
Shell announced Monday it is selling its eight percent stake in the Wheatstone-Iago joint venture and its 6.4 percent interest in the Wheatstone liquefied natural gas project.
Shell CEO Ben van Beurden says in a statement the company is "making hard choices in our world-wide portfolio to improve Shell's capital efficiency."
The problems in Ukraine are unlikely to trigger faster action by the Obama administration on natural gas exports, a White House spokesman appeared to indicate Friday, as he noted that supplies in Europe are at higher-than-normal levels because of the mild winter there, according to Reuters.
Public Service Enterprise Group plans to spend $12 billion over five years on capital projects to improve reliability, hoping to increase the earnings of its utility business, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Weather-related rail bottlenecks in Chicago are causing higher prices and lower supplies of ethanol on the East coast, while Midwest plants are cutting production because of a shortage of rail cars, an industry representative told a U.S. Surface Transportation Board panel, Platts reports.
Investors will challenge corporations during the upcoming proxy season to make more environmental commitments, according to nonprofit Ceres, which has compiled a list of resolutions up for votes, E&E reports.
Saying President Obama's proposed "climate resilience fund" will help communities prepare better for severe weather might win it bipartisan support, according to Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, National Journal reports.