U.S. Department of Agriculture

Ethanol backers, foes battle over climate impacts as RFS, Paris approach

Friends and foes of ethanol are locked in a debate over the fuel’s impact on climate—with backers saying it’s been a key driver of emissions reductions and foes saying it’s no better for the environment than traditional fossil fuels.

The back-and-forth comes as the Environmental Protection Agency prepares to finalize three years’ worth of the Renewable Fuel Standard by Monday. For the first time, the agency has proposed setting ethanol blending levels below the statutory numbers laid out in the 2005 law that created the standard, a move the ethanol industry has decried.

It also comes as the ethanol industry makes a final effort to be brought into President Barack Obama’s presentation at United Nations-sponsored climate talks in Paris, also beginning Monday. The RFS wasn’t included as part of the U.S. Intended Nationally Determined Contribution to cut carbon emissions, which the Obama administration submitted in March.

Spanish renewable energy firm in bankruptcy protection steps

MADRID (AP) — Spanish renewable energy and engineering giant Abengoa says it has begun bankruptcy protection proceedings in a bid to avoid what could be one of the country's largest insolvencies.

Abengoa told Spain's market regulator in a statement Wednesday that it will be seeking preliminary protection from creditors with the aim of reaching a deal on its debts within four months.


Cheap gas fueling expanded Thanksgiving travel day

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An expanded version of America's annual Thanksgiving travel saga has begun with gasoline prices low and terrorism fears high.

An estimated 46.9 million Americans are expected to take a car, plane, bus or train at least 50 miles from home over the long holiday weekend, according to the motoring organization AAA. That would be an increase of more than 300,000 people over last year, and the most travelers since 2007.


Oil down on oversupply worries

Continuing concerns about oversupply sent oil prices lower Wednesday but they started recovering after release of the Energy Information Administration’s weekly data about supplies.

The price of U.S. benchmark crude fell 47 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $42.40 a barrel in New York. Brent crude fell 42 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $45.70 a barrel in London. Energy stocks traded slightly lower.

Lights out leaves cold, boredom for thousands in Washington

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Thousands of households in Washington's second-largest city were surviving without electricity nearly a week after a wind storm ripped apart power lines, trees and the electrical grid.

Gov. Jay Inslee visited Spokane Tuesday to inspect damage from the worst windstorm in the region's history, promising to explore whether Spokane County qualifies for federal disaster assistance. The storm Nov. 17 packed gusts up to 70 mph that cracked trees and sent them crashing onto cars, killing three people in the state.

Jury heads into holiday without verdict in ex-coal CEO trial

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Jurors headed into a holiday break without a verdict in the trial of ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

The jury deliberated for a fifth full day Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Charleston, West Virginia. They won't return until Monday because of Thanksgiving.

UN weather agency: It's record hot out there this year

WASHINGTON (AP) — Because of man-made global warming and a strong El Nino, Earth's wild weather this year is bursting the annual heat record, the World Meteorological Organization announced on Wednesday.

The United Nations weather agency's early bird report on 2015 says it is the hottest year on record, surpassing last year's record heat. It made the proclamation without waiting for the end of the year because it has been so extraordinarily hot, forecast to stay that way and unlikely to cool down enough to not set a record.

Revised nuclear deal between South Korea, US takes effect

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A new nuclear treaty with the United States governing South Korea's commercial nuclear activities during the next 20 years went into effect Wednesday, the South Korean government said.

The treaty, which replaces a previous accord reached in 1972, opens the possibility of South Korea gaining the ability to enrich uranium to produce non-weapons-grade nuclear fuel depending on future negotiations with the United States.

Xi to give speech at opening of Paris climate conference

BEIJING (AP) — President Xi Jinping will speak at a key climate change conference in Paris later this month, before making state visits to South Africa and Zimbabwe, officials announced Wednesday.

Xi will also meet on the sidelines of the conference with the presidents of France and the United States, Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said. Xi will discuss climate change and bilateral relations with Francois Hollande and Barack Obama on Nov. 30, he said.

Ukraine stops buying Russian gas, closes airspace

MOSCOW (AP) — Tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalated further on Wednesday as Ukraine decided to stop buying Russian natural gas — hoping to rely on supplies from other countries — and closed its airspace to its eastern neighbor.

Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 and its support for separatist rebels in the east brought relations between the two countries to a post-Soviet low. The fighting between Russia-backed rebels and government forces in eastern Ukraine killed more than 8,000 people and left parts of Ukraine's industrial heartland in ruins. Ukraine still has no access to the territories under rebel control as well as hundreds of kilometers of the Ukrainian border with Russia.

VW to offer quick fix for diesel engines in Europe

BERLIN (AP) — Volkswagen says it will take less than an hour to bring 1.6 and 2.0 liter turbodiesel engines in Europe into line with emissions rules.

The German automaker has pledged to fix 11 million vehicles worldwide that were discovered to contain software that enables them to cheat on emissions tests for nitrogen oxide.

Mist to mask bad odor from uncontrolled gas leak: SoCalGas

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A utility trying to stop a monthlong leak at a massive natural gas storage facility near a Los Angeles neighborhood said it planned to use a mist to mask the sickening stench as work continues — possibly for three more months — to plug the well.

Southern California Gas Company officials told county supervisors Tuesday that the substance is safe and would neutralize the rotten-egg smell that has led to more than 660 complaints by residents to the air board about nausea, headaches and dizziness.

Climate changes take heavy toll on Ugandan coffee farmers

KASESE, Uganda (AP) — Luka Kinyere felt the wet, dark volcanic soil in his calloused palm, thankful for the rain that was falling again after a dry spell.

Although the coffee plants in his plantation were turning green, dry conditions had doomed his chances of turning a profit from this year's second harvest.

Thanksgiving holiday publishing schedule for EnergyGuardian

As is tradition during the Thanksgiving holiday week, EnergyGuardian will publish a single midday edition on Wednesday and will not publish its normal newsletters on Thursday or Friday this week. Of course, we'll cover any breaking news with alerts, and then resume normal publishing on Monday morning. We wish you and your family the happiest of Thanksgivings and thank you for your support all year long.

AP Photo.

Obama lays out Paris agenda, calls climate talks a 'rebuke' to terror

When President Barack Obama heads to Paris for United Nations-sponsored climate talks next week, he'll prioritize meetings with India, China and island nations—and seek to send a “powerful rebuke” to terrorist groups that the attack in the French capital won't stop world leaders from meeting there or reaching a strong deal to cut global emissions.

Obama's remarks, at a White House news conference with French President Francois Hollande, came shortly before his administration unveiled his schedule for the negotiations and his priorities for the visit.

“Next week, I will be joining President Hollande and world leaders in Paris for the global climate conference,” Obama said. “What a powerful rebuke to the terrorists it will be when the world stands as one and we won't be deterred from building a better future for our children.”

Utility plans to mask awful odor from uncontrolled gas leak

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A utility company trying to stop a massive month-long natural gas leak says it intends to use a solution to mask the stench that is making residents ill in an area of Los Angeles.

Southern California Gas Co. officials told county supervisors Tuesday the substance is safe and would neutralize the rotten-egg smell that has led to more than 660 complaints to the air board.

Welcome to EnergyGuardian!

We cover energy and climate news for policymakers, regulators, the energy industry, advocates, scientists and investors. We are non-partisan. Our only agenda is to cover energy and climate news accurately and fairly, giving you the information you need to know what's going on and to understand the context for new developments..

Energy development and regulation are at the forefront of national and state government and politics. Climate change is a big topic, and what role it should play in government policy is a huge issue in Washington and statehouses across the country. The news is full of stories about energy independence, the impact of energy development on the economy and the environment, and the impact of energy prices on consumers, business and the economy.

That's what we cover, with email newsletters every working day, plus this website. If you'd like to read more about EnergyGuardian, click here.

Interested in a quick digest of top energy and climate headlines? EnergyGuardian Morning Briefing is for you. It's free and is delivered to your email inbox every working morning. To subscribe, email us -- and be sure to give us your name, phone number and email address!

If you are interested in a more complete report on energy and climate news, email us -- and be sure to give us your name, phone number and email address!