Firefighters monitor air quality following crude vapor concerns in Ventura oil spill

Los Angeles Times

Firefighters are monitoring air quality Thursday following concerns of crude vapors surrounding a leak that spilled thousands of gallons of oil in Ventura County. Mike Lindbery, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department, said it was fortunate that the oil did not get into the storm drain system, which could spread the vapors from the crude more widely, especially if temperatures warmed up. Still, there is some concern about crude vapors. Residents have been alerted that if they are sensitive to odors, they should get out of the area. No mandatory evacuations have been ordered.

Earthquake shakes swath of Midwest from Nebraska to Texas

The Japan Times

CHICAGO – A record-tying earthquake in the edge of Oklahoma's key energy-producing areas rattled the Midwest from Illinois to the southwest part of Texas on Saturday, bringing fresh attention to the practice of disposing oil and gas field wastewater deep underground. The United States Geological Survey said a 5.6-magnitude earthquake happened at 7:02 a.m. Saturday in north-central Oklahoma, on the fringe of an area where regulators had stepped in to limit wastewater disposal. That temblor matches a November 2011 quake in the same region. An increase in magnitude 3.0 or greater earthquakes in Oklahoma has been linked to underground disposal of wastewater from oil and natural gas production.

Energy-related CO2 emissions held steady despite economic growth

New Scientist

But the once-rigid link between rises in global economic activity and carbon dioxide emissions may have been broken. The International Energy Agency has reported that CO2 emissions from energy activities such as power generation and transport have remained unchanged for the second year running – even as the global economy grew. Annual CO2 emissions in 2015 are still where they were in 2013, at just over 32 billion tonnes, even though global economic activity has grown by 6.5 per cent (see graph, below). This represents a dramatic reduction in the carbon intensity of the global economy. It also means the world may be on track for global emissions to reach their peak by 2020 – at least from energy production – which climate scientists say is a prerequisite for holding global warming below 2 C, the target agreed at the Paris climate talks last December.

After an environmental debacle, a big gas utility tries to dictate terms for a cleanup

Los Angeles Times

For most of the period after Oct. 23, when a massive gas leak in at a Southern California Gas Co. storage well in Aliso Canyon was discovered,the gas company made all the right noises. The company pledged to counteract pollution from the methane leak and help the residents of nearby Porter Ranch, who were displaced for months by the noxious fumes of escaping gas. "SoCalGas recognizes the impact this incident is having on the environment," gas company CEO Dennis Arriola wrote in a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown on Dec., 18, even before the leak was capped. "I want to assure the public that we intend to mitigate environmental impacts from the actual natural gas released from the leak and will work with state officials to develop a framework that will help us achieve this goal." Any proposed mitigation program from the ARB does not itself impose any legal obligations on SoCalGas.

Carbon dioxide levels reach a new peak

Al Jazeera

Averaged across the globe, carbon dioxide levels are expected to reach the symbolic and significant milestone of 400 parts per million for the first time in 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Previously carbon dioxide levels have reached 400ppm in certain locations for certain months, but this would be the first time they have averaged over 400ppm globally for an entire year. It is predicted that concentrations will not dip below 400ppm for for many generations. The sudden jump in carbon dioxide levels can be blamed on the El Nino conditions, which developed in 2015 and had a large influence on the weather for the first half of 2016. El Nino is the warming of the surface of the Pacific Ocean, which is known to have a dramatic effect on the weather around the globe.