E2 Round-up: CIA spies on icebergs, landfills as an energy source, and oil rises as temps drop

The CIA is helping climate scientists “assess the hidden complexities of environmental change,” according to the New York Times.

The paper has a piece today detailing the spy agency’s collaboration with scientists to study climate change. Secrecy shrouds the effort, as the CIA doesn’t want to tip-off potential foes to the United States’ spy capabilities. But the NYT reports that reconnaissance satellites not actively engaged in intelligence collection are being used to scrutinize Arctic sea ice in an effort to “distinguish things like summer melts from climate trends.” The collaboration restarts an effort the Bush administration shut down.

The Associated Press reports on a new plant in California that harnesses methane produced by landfills as a source of energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Two landfills in the state are being used as power sources. It is part of a larger trend. According to the AP, the Environmental Protection Agency counts 517 “active landfill energy projects” out of 1,800 operational municipal landfills. That’s up 50 percent from 2000 and 28 percent from 2004.

Cold in the eastern United States and signs of a global economic revival are combining to push oil prices above the $80 mark. Bloomberg reports that crude oil was trading near a 14-month high in New York. The story notes that the U.S. government is expected to report on Wednesday how heating oil supplies have been affected by the cold snap. Meanwhile, China’s manufacturing seems to be emerging from the recession.

And the Houston Chronicle says that French oil giant Total won’t be the only foreign energy company to buy into major natural gas shale reserves in the United States.