The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is urging nations to set pollution taxes high enough to reflect the long-term impact of climate change. “The IMF, one of the world’s leading development institutions, has long favored putting a price on carbon as an essential defence against the mounting damages of climate change,” Cushman reports. “But its advice has never been so blunt, or so detailed.” The report, Getting Energy Prices Right, recommends higher prices on fossil fuel burning to control greenhouse gas emissions and local smog, as well as gas taxes to pay for wear and tear on roads. For Canada, writes Julian Beltrame in the Globe and Mail, the report calls for higher taxes on oil and gas and a new tax on coal, with corresponding income tax cuts. “Globally, Canada is near the bottom on the scale of taxation levels for gasoline among industrialized nations,” Beltrame reports.
Our lead story usually focuses on the substance of climate and energy transition. But our ability to find and curate the best, most accurate and timely content depends on a free flow of information. That’s why it’s so important that Pulitzer Prize-winning InsideClimate News, one of our top sources for The Energy Mix, is pushing back after a published attack earlier this week from Energy in Depth, a PR arm of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. Over the last year, ICN and the U.S. Center for Public Integrity have conducted an in-depth investigation of air pollution from unconventional oil and gas operations in Texas. Rather than countering the substance of ICN’s work, Energy in Depth tried to attack their journalistic integrity. “Changing the subject through the production of distractions is a kind of sleight of hand that is the specialty of well-trained public relations professionals, who in America now outnumber journalists four to one,” wrote ICN’s David Sassoon. “But no such thing as an ‘anti-fracking industry’ exists, and [IPAA] provides no evidence that would pass muster in an honest newsroom that it does.”
TransCanada Pipeline is about to lose its permit to build sections of the Keystone XL pipeline through South Dakota. When the permit expires June 29, “the reapplication process will open the door for public comments and could lead to a hearing—adding further delays to the pipeline’s review, now in its sixth year,” Song reports. “It’s definitely something for the environmental community to celebrate,” Paul Blackburn, an attorney for South Dakota landowners, told InsideClimate News. “But what happens next is not entirely [certain].”
At the signing ceremony for the new power plant regulations Monday morning, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the 30% emission reduction would be “like cancelling out annual carbon pollution from two-thirds of all cars and trucks in America.” Cushman says the total saving would add up to 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year. But the electric power industry “has already cut its carbon emissions by more than 10% since 2005, thanks to slackening demand and ample supplies of affordable natural gas,” he writes. “And with more coal plants scheduled for closing, it may not be that difficult for it to meet the EPA’s goals. By the time these rules are made final, the nation may be almost halfway to the target.”
A family in Wise County, TX has won a $2.9 million judgement against an oil and gas company in “what appears to be the first successful U.S. lawsuit alleging that toxic air emissions from oil and gas production sickened people living nearby,” ICN reports. After filing 13 complaints with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, recounting breathing troubles, nausea, nosebleeds, and ringing ears resulting from drilling operations in the Barnett Shale, Lisa and Bob Parr filed suit. A Dallas County jury concluded that Aruba Petroleum “intentionally created a private nuisance” that affected the family’s health. Aruba has asked the presiding judge to reverse the verdict. “This case will be looked at very, very closely because it has set the stage in a way that has never been set before,” said attorney Tomas Ramirez, who represents two families in similar lawsuits.
A group of 64 environmental and community groups led by EarthJustice is asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to limit emissions of benzene, formaldehyde, and other toxics from fracking wells and related equipment. Documented health effects of emissions from oil and gas production “include increased risks of cancer, respiratory diseases, and birth defects, among others,” the petition states.
Lynn and Shelby Buehring are being driven from their South Texas home of 23 years by fumes, traffic, and noise from fracking operations in the Eagle Ford shale. Since drilling rigs arrived in late 2011, Lynn Buehring’s asthma “worsened from a seasonal nuisance to the point where she needed two rescue inhalers and made frequent use of a breathing machine. She also developed chest pains, dizziness, constant fatigue, and extreme sensitivity to smells,” InsideClimate News reported. “We’re not anti-drilling at all,” Buehring said. “My complaint is they need to do it in a responsible way.”
It’s another e-book by InsideClimate News! This one traces the history of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that originated in the early days of the Bush-Cheney Administration in the U.S., but has become a signature decision for the Obama White House. Bush reportedly saw approval of Keystone as a “no-brainer”, but Cushman attributes that to “expectations about energy supply and demand that have turned out to be wrong.”