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by Nomad on Mon Jan 30th, 2012 at 03:28:45 PM EST
No need for further regulation on shale gas: EU study | EurActiv

There is no need for more environmental legislation in the case of shale gas exploration, at least until it reaches commercial scale, says a new study published by the European Commission.

The activities relating to exploration of shale gas are already subject to EU and national laws and regulations, says the report, carried out for the European Commission by Belgian law firm Philippe & Partners.

Water protection issues, for instance, which have been raised as an issue by shale gas detractors, are already covered by EU legislation under the Water Framework Directive, the Groundwater Directive and the Mining Waste Directive. Meanwhile, the use of chemicals is covered by the REACH regulation, the study says.

"It is a new technology and we do not have a specific legislation on shale gas, because it is so new," said Marlene Holzner, European Commission spokesperson on energy.

"So the study only says that the existing regulations are applicable for shale gas, that the tool is there and has only to be applied," she told EurActiv, adding that the study was carried out only in four countries - Poland, France, Germany and Sweden. It was released on 27 January.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 30th, 2012 at 05:32:59 PM EST
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Oil&Gas: Record interest in Barents Sea | Oil & Gas/Shipping

The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has received proposals from 37 companies regarding blocks which the companies wish to see included in the 22nd licensing round.

A total of 228 blocks and partial blocks have been nominated in the 22nd licensing round, 107 of which were nominated by two or more companies. Some 181 blocks in the Barents Sea have been nominated, the highest-ever number.


- In this round of nominations, particular interest has been shown in our northernmost sea areas, confirming that the Barents Sea is an exciting and internationally attractive petroleum province. This represents major opportunities for the entire region. Exploration in all of the areas which have been opened up is also very important for ensuring further activity, employment and ripple effects throughout Norway, says Minister of Petroleum and Energy Ola Borten Moe.

The oil companies have now submitted their views regarding which blocks they consider interesting. The period leading up to the announcement of blocks will be used to draw up a list of blocks which may potentially be included in the announcement. The list will be the subject of a public consultation during which all public interest bodies will be invited to comment. The government will then undertake a holistic evaluation before deciding which blocks will be included in the announcement.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 30th, 2012 at 05:33:27 PM EST
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Power paradox: Clean might not be green forever - environment - 30 January 2012 - New Scientist

There is a fundamental problem facing any planet-bound civilisation, as Eric Chaisson of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, points out. Whatever you use energy for, it almost all ends up as waste heat.

Much of the electrical energy that powers your mobile phone or computer ends up heating the circuitry, for instance. The rest gets turned into radio waves or light, which turn into heat when they are absorbed by other surfaces. The same is true when you use a mixer in the kitchen, or a drill, or turn on a fan - unless you're trying to beam radio signals to aliens, pretty much all of the energy you use will end up heating the Earth.

We humans use a little over 16 terawatts (TW) of power at any one moment, which is nothing compared with the 120,000 TW of solar power absorbed by the Earth at the same time. What matters, though, is the balance between how much heat arrives and how much leaves (see "Earth's energy budget"). If as much heat leaves the top of the atmosphere as enters, a planet's temperature remains the same. If more heat arrives, or less is lost, the planet will warm. As it does so, it will begin to emit more and more heat until equilibrium is re-established at a higher temperature.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 30th, 2012 at 05:33:30 PM EST
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BBC News - Volcanic origin for Little Ice Age

The Little Ice Age was caused by the cooling effect of massive volcanic eruptions, and sustained by changes in Arctic ice cover, scientists conclude.

An international research team studied ancient plants from Iceland and Canada, and sediments carried by glaciers.

They say a series of eruptions just before 1300 lowered Arctic temperatures enough for ice sheets to expand.

Writing in Geophysical Research Letters, they say this would have kept the Earth cool for centuries.

The exact definition of the Little Ice Age is disputed. While many studies suggest temperatures fell globally in the 1500s, others suggest the Arctic and sub-Arctic began cooling several centuries previously.

The global dip in temperatures was less than 1C, but parts of Europe cooled more, particularly in winter, with the River Thames in London iced thickly enough to be traversable on foot.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 30th, 2012 at 05:33:34 PM EST
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British zoos put on alert over rising threat of rhino rustlers - Nature - Environment - The Independent

British zoos have been warned their rhinos may be attacked by poachers because of the soaring value of their horns in the Asian medicine market.

After a rumour that it could cure cancer, the horn is now worth more than $40,000 a kilo, and gangs have been breaking into museums and auction rooms in Britain and Europe to steal trophy rhinoceros heads. The fear is zoos - and live rhinos - may be next.

In an unprecedented alert, all 15 British zoos and wildlife and safari parks which hold rhinos - they have 85 animals between them - have been warned by the National Wildlife Crime Unit to tighten security and report anything suspicious to the police at once.

"We have warned British zoos to be on their guard against the possibility of being targeted by criminals seeking rhino horn," said the head of the unit, Detective Inspector Brian Stuart.

Concern is growing that criminals will try to break into a British zoo at night, kill or tranquillise rhinos, and cut off the horns. The potential profits might be very tempting, as a single big horn could weigh more than 5kg and be worth more than $200,000.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 30th, 2012 at 05:34:45 PM EST
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BP loses attempt to share Deepwater Horizon oil spill costs | Environment | The Guardian

An attempt by BP to offload a major part of its Gulf of Mexico oil-spill compensation bill on to the US rig operator Transocean has been thrown out by a US court.

The setback comes in the run-up to the main legal case against BP and its partners on 27 February in New Orleans, which will rule over who is to blame for the Deepwater Horizon accident, in which 11 workers died.

Shares in the oil group fell 2.7% after a federal judge upheld a clause in the drilling contract that shielded Transocean from having to pay compensation for livelihoods damaged by the Macondo blowout in 2010.

But the district judge, Carl Barbier, left open the possibility that Transocean might still have to pay punitive damages or civil penalties imposed by the US government under the federal Clean Water Act.

BP put a positive gloss on the court decision. "Today's ruling makes clear that contractors will be held accountable for their actions under the law," said a company spokesman.

"While all official investigations have concluded that Transocean played a causal role in the accident, the contractor has long contended it is fully indemnified by BP for the liabilities resulting from the oil spill. The court rejected this view."

Transocean, whose shares rose 9.3%, claimed victory.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 30th, 2012 at 05:34:49 PM EST
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