Overnight Energy: 2015 breaks temperature record

IT'S OFFICIAL: 2015 was the hottest year recorded on Earth since recordkeeping began in 1880.

The announcement from federal scientists Wednesday was long expected, especially considering the degree to which last year broke the record established in 2014.

The average surface temperature across the globe was 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average last year. That broke the previous year's record by nearly 0.3 degrees, the largest margin by which a temperature record has been broken, NOAA and NASA said.

Ten months broke their temperature records in 2015, with half of those shattering their old records by the largest-ever margins.

As for the cause, scientists pointed their fingers directly at climate change on Wednesday. Even without a strong El Nino weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean, 2015 would have broken the existing temperature records, they said, and temperatures are expected to rise in the future as well.

"The trend over time is why we're having the record warm year," Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said.

"The reason why this is a record warm year is became of the long-term, underlying trend, and there is no evidence that long-term trend has slowed, paused or hiatused at any point in the last few decades."

Asked if 2016 will break the new record, scientists were confident.

"2016 -- if you're going to be betting, you're going to bet it's going to be warmer than 2015," Thomas Karl, the director of NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information said.

Read more here.

OBAMA 'BESIDE HIMSELF' IF HE WERE IN FLINT: President Obama said that if he were a father living in Flint, Mich., he would "be beside myself that my kid's health could be at risk" because of high lead levels in the city's drinking water.

Obama, speaking from the Detroit Auto Show on Wednesday, said that the federal government stands ready to help Flint, which has seen elevated lead levels since switching its water supply to a local river to cut costs.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) said Tuesday night that the state would soon fund a series of emergency efforts in the city, including new water infrastructure and testing and treatment for children sickened by the water.

The new measures aren't enough for some. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver told reporters Wednesday that the city needs more funding and that officials need to be held accountable for the water crisis.

"It is still not enough," the Democrat said. "One of the things that we know has to happen is to hold the state accountable... There's money there, and Flint needs to be made a priority about how these funds are distributed."

Obama said the incident proves the importance of improving infrastructure and maintaining government services for citizens.

"It is a reminder of why you can't shortchange basic services we provide to our people and that we, together, provide as a government to make sure that the public health and safety is preserved," he said.

Read more about Obama here, Snyder here and Weaver here.

WATER RULE BACK FOR ONE LAST SHOT: Senate Republicans will try once more Thursday to overturn Obama's controversial water jurisdiction rule, following his Tuesday veto of their Congressional Review Act resolution.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMulvaney aims to cement CFPB legacy by ensuring successor's confirmation Senate left in limbo by Trump tweets, House delays Political figures pay tribute to Charles Krauthammer MORE (R-Ky.) has scheduled a Thursday morning vote to override Obama's veto.

It's a long-shot vote, since it requires two-thirds of both the Senate and the House. It only got 55 Senate votes last time.

Read more here.

ON TAP THURSDAY I: The Senate votes on the water rule resolution before leaving town ahead of the snowstorm.

ON TAP THURSDAY II: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on automotive technology innovation. David Friedman, a leader in the Energy Department's efficiency and renewables office, will testify, along with experts and stakeholders.

Rest of Thursday's agenda ...

The United States Energy Association will hold its annual State of the Energy Industry Forum. The presidents of a dozen energy industry lobbying groups will speak about their priorities for the coming year.


A group of venture capital investors are asking Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) to reverse the state's decision to allow new fees for rooftop solar customers, Nevada Public Radio reports.

Oklahoma-based oil and natural gas producer Devon Energy Corp. is planning an indeterminate number of layoffs in the coming months, the Oklahoman reports.

Wyoming has deployed a handful of novel techniques to try saving coal, a major industry in the state, the AP reports.

Finally: there's probably another, previously unknown planet in our solar system. Note that this has little bearing on either Earth's environment or its energy, but ... it's still cool. The New York Times has more.  


Check out Wednesday's stories ...

-Senate likely to take up energy reform bill next week
-Senate will vote to override Obama's veto on water rule
-High court weighs federal land rules in hovercraft case
-Flint mayor: Governor's plan 'still not enough'
-Dem AG sues Volkswagen over emissions 'charade'
-2015 was the hottest year on record
-California investigating whether Exxon Mobil lied about climate change
-Billionaire environmental activist not ready to endorse Clinton

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