The Grid: Energy, Resources, Environment, Sustainability | Bloomberg

North Dakota Saltwater Spill -- In early July, a million gallons of salty drilling waste spilled from a pipeline onto a steep hillside in western North Dakota's Fort Berthold Reservation. The waste—a byproduct of oil and gas production—has now reached a tributary of Lake Sakakawea, which provides drinking water to the reservation.

The oil industry called the accident a "saltwater" spill. But the liquid that entered the lake bears little resemblance to what's found in the ocean.

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Keystone XL: Bush's No-Brainer, Obama's Dilemma

George W. Bush on Energy — It was lunchtime at the Hyatt in San Diego, and the oil refinery executives were hanging on every word of former president George W. Bush.

The Keystone XL pipeline question, he told members of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, was a "no-brainer." The United States needed more fuel and more jobs, and the Keystone could provide both. It would haul hundreds of thousands of barrels a day of oil from the almost limitless tar sands reserves of Alberta, Canada, all the way to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Approving the pipeline was in the nation's best interest. Slam dunk.

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Fracking's Thirst for Water: Investors Warned of the Hidden Risk -- Some of the nation's driest, drought-plagued places have quickly become its busiest hot spots of drilling for shale gas and oil, especially in Texas, Colorado and California.

It's a dust-bowl-sized problem likely to become worse, according to a study released Wednesday by the nonprofit sustainability advocacy group firm Ceres. Fracking, the controversial drilling technique, is consuming billions of gallons of water each year in states where water is increasingly scarce. The report warns that investors need to demand information about how energy companies are managing this problem or risk their investment portfolios being clobbered.

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FEMA: Caught Between Climate Change and Congress 

FEMA: Caught Between Climate Change and Congress

InsideClimate News -- Thanks to climate change, extreme weather disasters have hammered the United States with increasing frequency in recent years—from drought and wildfires to coastal storms and flooding.

It is perhaps surprising, then, that the U.S. agency in charge of preparing for and responding to these disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), doesn't account for climate change in most of its budget planning and resource allocation or in the National Flood Insurance Program it administers.

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Berliners Still Fighting to Pull the Plug on Coal-Fired Utility

Coal Germany -- A decision 90 years ago by the people of Sacramento, Calif. to oust a private electric company and start a government-owned utility has been the unlikely inspiration for Berliners trying to wrest control of Germany's largest grid from a coal-fired utility.

While little known in America, the creation of Sacramento's Municipal Utility District was the model for a November referendum to give Berlin a municipal utility that would pump more clean energy into the grid. The 1923 vote in Sacramento helped the California city build a rare, green record—constructing the nation's first big solar plant, voting to shut down a nuclear reactor and approving a goal of slashing climate-changing emissions by 90 percent by 2050.

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Gas Pipeline Boom Fragmenting Pennsylvania's Forests

Franklin Township Pipeline -- Jerry Skinner stands in his garden, looking into the distance at the edge of a forested mountain. Amid the lush shades of green, a muddy brown strip of earth stands out. It's the telltale sign of a buried pipeline.

"The pipelines are all around this property," Skinner said. "When I came here, the county had an allure that it doesn't have anymore. I'm not sure I want to live here anymore."

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Worst-Case Scenario for Oil Sands Industry Has Come to Life -- As environmentalists began ratcheting up pressure against Canada's tar sands three years ago, one of the world's biggest strategic consulting firms was tapped to help the North American oil industry figure out how to handle the mounting activism. The resulting document, published online by WikiLeaks, offers another window into how oil and gas companies have been scrambling to deal with unrelenting opposition to their growth plans.

The document identifies nearly two-dozen environmental organizations leading the anti-oil sands movement and puts them into four categories: radicals, idealists, realists and opportunists—with how-to's for managing each. It also reveals that the worst-case scenario presented to industry about the movement's growing influence seems to have come to life.

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Investor Group Presses Oil Companies on 'Unburnable Carbon'

Fossil Fuel Producers — A well-heeled coalition of investors is asking top fossil fuel companies to calculate the risks of plowing billions into new oil, gas and coal projects. They fear that carbon emission limits and slowing demand will turn them into bad investments that leave investors worse off.

The requests, contained in letters sent to 45 companies last month, are part of an initiative aimed at persuading oil producers and others to rein in their quest to stockpile more carbon energy. They hope to do so by tapping into growing concerns that climate policies and market factors could prevent companies from selling all of their reserves of fossil fuels, which are still growing fast.

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Inside DOE, One of World's Biggest Clean Energy Finance Shops -- At the U.S. Department of Energy's Washington, D.C. headquarters, the fourth floor feels like any other nondescript outpost of the federal bureaucracy. But the no-frills landscape of desks and cubicles belies the immensity of the job at hand.

Each day nearly 200 staffers scour loan applications, track billion-dollar debts and manage borrowers' credit risk as part of the department'sLoan Programs Office—one of the biggest clean energy finance shops in the world.

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Small-Town Economic Woes Revealed in Keystone Public Comments

Public Comments on Keystone Project Reveal Economic Woes of Smal -- Tucked into letters the State Department has received from people seeking to influence its review of the northern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline are pleas from local officials, largely from Montana, who see the project as a lifeline for their strapped budgets.

Several mention offers by TransCanada, the pipeline operator, to help rebuild local bridges or other infrastructure projects. Others want the tax revenue or jobs the project would bring, even if those benefits might be temporary.

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About The Grid

Nations and companies face rising competition for strategic resources — energy, food, water, materials — and the technologies that make best use of them. That's sustainability. It's about the 21st-century race for wealth, health and long-term security, across the global grid.

Analyses or commentary in this blog are the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg News.

Eric Roston, Editor

Tom Randall, Deputy Editor

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