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Dec. 14, 2012 at 7:02 PM
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Leaked climate report said misrepresented

SYDNEY, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Authors of a draft report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change leaked by climate skeptic websites say the sites misrepresent some sections.

A U.S. blog site called stopgreensuicide posted the 14-chapter draft report, which then showed up on another site critical of climate science, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported Friday.

One section of the draft was highlighted by the leaker and other climate skeptics to suggest cosmic rays from the sun may have a greater influence on warming than had been claimed, ABC said.

Steve Sherwood, lead author of the highlighted chapter and the director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, said the idea the chapter confirms a greater role for solar and other cosmic rays in global warming is "ridiculous."

"I'm sure you could go and read those paragraphs yourself and the summary of it and see that we conclude exactly the opposite -- that this cosmic ray effect that the paragraph is discussing appears to be negligible," he said.

"What it shows is that we looked at this. We look at everything."

Research has disproved the idea sunspots are more responsible for global warming than human activity, he said.

Russian center to study 'killer' waves

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Russia says it has opened a research center dedicated to the study of "killer waves" that can threaten large cargo ships, ocean liners and oil platforms.

The dangerous phenomenon, also known as "rogue waves" or "freak waves," are giant, spontaneous ocean surface waves that occur far out at sea, scientists said.

Waves of up to 115 feet high, caused when physical factors such as high winds and strong currents cause smaller waves to merge to create a single exceptionally large wave, occur in all of the world's oceans many times every year and may present a serious hazard for maritime navigation, they said.

"The center will focus on the thorough research of extreme waves in the oceans," Russia's Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok said in a statement.

"The center will also work on the prediction of this dangerous phenomenon and the development of protective measures," the statement said.

The center opened Friday in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, RIA Novosti reported.

Solar panel companies in federal probe

WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Three U.S. solar panel firms are being investigated to determine if they inflated costs to get government payments, The Washington Post reported Friday.

The Treasury Department's office of inspector general has subpoenaed the financial records of SolarCity, SunRun and Sungevity to determine if they qualified for more than $500 million in federal grants and tax credits they received for performing work, sources familiar with the probe told the Post.

The solar companies received the money through President Obama's stimulus initiative to offer cash grants to clean-energy developers.

The three firms, working mostly in the sun-rich states of California and Arizona, collected hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants covering a share of their costs on thousands of home installations during the past three years.

But the companies allegedly charged higher prices for their work than is normal in the solar installation industry, solar experts and Treasure investigators said.

SolarCity spokesman Jonathan Bass said Thursday the company believes its estimates were fair and its costs in line with guidelines issued by the Treasury Department at the time.

Sungevity and SunRun declined to comment, the Post said.

LA wants public hearings on nuke plant

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Los Angles says it wants the San Onofre nuclear power plant kept out of commission unless its operator agrees to public hearings before it reopens.

The City Council will consider a resolution calling for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to keep the plant closed unless Southern California Edison agrees to a license amendment process that would include a public hearing process in which groups opposed to restarting the plant could introduce evidence, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

The nuclear plant in San Diego County has been shut down since Jan. 31 after a leaking water tube released a small amount of radioactive steam.

A subsequent inspection found a number of similar tubes showing signs of premature wear.

Southern California Edison said it wants to restart one of the plant's two reactor units at 70 percent capacity, a proposal the NRC would have to approve.

Opponents, led by the environmental group Friends of the Earth, have urged the NRC to require a license amendment process that would allow public input, something the Los Angeles resolution, introduced by Councilman Paul Koretz, would support if passed.

A number of other cities in the region have passed similar resolutions, the Times reported.

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