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Northern Gas Pipelines is your public service 1-stop-shop for Alaska and Canadian Arctic energy commentary, news, history, projects and people. It is informal and rich with new information, updated daily. Here is the most timely and complete Arctic gas pipeline and northern energy archive available anywhere—used by media, academia, government and industry officials throughout the world. Northern Gas Pipelines may be the oldest Alaska blog; we invite readers to suggest others existing before 2001.  -dh

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3-26-15 Major Alaska Legislative Hearing: Ak-LNG North Slope Gas Project

26 March 2015 6:59am

Senator Cathy Giessel, AGDC, ASAP, Ak-LNG, HB 132, Photo by Dave HarbourCommentary: Yesterday, the Senate Resources Committee's Chairman, Cathy Giessel (NGP Photo) scheduled testimony on HB 132 clarifying the mission of the state-owned Alaska Gasline Development Corporation. 

ON THE FEDERAL SIDE:

Randall Luthi, Alaska OCS, National Ocean Industries Association, IOGCC, DOE, Photo by Dave Harbour ADN Commentary by Randall Luhi (NGP Photo).  We need to take our country and economy to the next level in terms of energy security. The only way to do this is to safely and responsibly explore our own offshore energy resources, particularly off Alaska.


SHELL DECISION CLOSE!

ADN by Jennifer Dlouhy.  The Obama administration is set to announce within days whether it will reaffirm a seven-year-old government auction of oil leases in the Chukchi Sea — a decision critical to Shell's plans to resume drilling in those Arctic waters this summer. 

As our readers know, Governor Bill Walker once opposed AGDC's sponsorship of the medium diameter so-called ASAP gas line from Prudhoe Bay, past gas-hungry Fairbanks to South Central Alaska.  

Walker now proposes that AGDC's project be expanded in some as yet undefined way to accommodate high gas volumes. 

This would put AGDC's ASAP project in direct competition with its partnership position in support of the Ak-LNG project.

We'll provide a more complete hearing report tomorrow; meanwhile, here is a link to the actual video archive of that hearing.    -dh


Today's American Energy Alliance links:

Special deals for Tesla:
 
The Wall Street Journal (3/25/15) editorializes: “California has tried to solve this problem for Tesla with its zero-emissions vehicle mandates, which have other makers buying ZEV credits from Tesla. But the sheer idiocy of these subsidies is a continual risk to Tesla. A ZEV car in California is one with zero emissions at the tailpipe, no matter how much environmental degradation it causes upstream. Toyota, for one, has recently switched its attention to hydrogen-fueled cars, which emit only water and warm air at the tailpipe, never mind that 95% of the world’s hydrogen is manufactured from fossil fuels. Policies that are so transparently stupid and perverse, like the policy of subsidizing rich people with $7,500 tax credits to indulge themselves with Tesla’s products, would not seem a sound basis for a scale auto manufacturer, which Tesla aspires to become.”

Bright Bulb Award:

"Rather than issuing standards and rules to which new wells must conform, the BLM instead has invested itself with the power to either sign off on or block each individual well, operating on a case-by-case basis. (Based on what statutory authority? Are we still even asking that question?) Which is to say, satisfying the letter of the law will not be enough — BLM bureaucrats still will have the final say, employing whatever whimsical standards leap into their perverse little minds. This is a recipe for outright corruption..."

The RFS has a fever. And the only cure is full repeal.

The Wall Street Journal (3/25/15) editorializes: "At the Iowa Agriculture Summit earlier this month, most of the prospective Republican presidential candidates embraced the renewable-fuel standard, one of the worst examples of corporate welfare in America. This federal mandate props up the U.S. ethanol industry by forcing refiners to blend biofuels into gasoline. Despite the fact that it is an obvious business handout, White House hopefuls rarely attack the standard, lest they harm their chances of winning the Iowa caucuses."

Handouts breed corruption, as the Oregon DOJ is about to discover. 

The Oregonian (3/24/15) reports: “The Oregon Department of Justice has opened criminal and civil investigations into the award of $11.8 million in state tax credits for a series of solar arrays installed at Oregon State University and the Oregon Institute of Technology. The agency acted after The Oregonian/OregonLive reported earlier this month that developers of the arrays missed deadlines to qualify for subsidies under the state's business energy tax credit. The news organization's investigation found that backers submitted phony and misleading documents to the state to demonstrate construction was underway by the deadline - documents that officials at the Oregon Department of Energy failed to check.”

Does the hypocrisy of it all even remotely cross his mind?

The Washington Free Beacon (3/25/15) reports: “Leftist actor Mark Ruffalo, best known for his supporting role in 13 Going on 30, has not let his crusade against fossil fuels get in the way of his mass consumption of them…Though Ruffalo has committed himself to divesting from fossil fuels, he is far from committed to reducing his own fossil fuel use. Ruffalo is currently offering to fly (presumably on a fossil fuel-burning jet) the winners of a raffle he is running to the world premiere of Avengers: Age of Ultron...The winners of Ruffalo’s raffles will be burning just a fraction of the fossil fuels burned during the filming of the latest Avengers movie, which was filmed at 23 locations across the globe. He and the rest of the Avengers filmed in locations ranging from England to South Korea to Bangladesh to South Africa to Italy.”

Let's not kid ourselves: The PTC isn't about developing new technology. It's about lining AWEA's pockets. 

The Daily Caller (3/25/15) reports: “Sen. Lamar Alexander has a proposal for Democrats: End subsidies to wind power producers and use that money to double funding for federal energy research at the Department of Energy. “Washington has a bad habit of picking winners and losers, and an addiction to wasteful subsidies of all kinds – we need to end these policies,” the Tennessee Republican said during a hearing on DOE’s 2016 budget request Wednesday. For years, many Republican lawmakers have been looking to end the Wind Production Tax Credit (wind PTC) which has been extended nine times since 1992. The wind PTC pays wind farm operators for the first 10 years of electricity produced. The wind lobby has fought hard to reinstate the subsidy after it expired at the end of last year.”

Ever the good little lemmings, Marylanders are following New York's lead. Over a cliff.

The Baltimore Sun (3/24/15) reports: “Both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly separately passed measures Tuesday that mark the most aggressive action the legislature has taken to curb natural gas extraction in the state. The Maryland House of Delegates passed a three-year ban on fracking and the Senate approved tough new legal standards for drillers. Each bill must still clear the other chamber, but the actions signaled the legislature was willing to go further than it has before to limit natural gas drilling.”

Do you have something to hide, Gina?

The Washington Examiner (3/25/15) reports: “A House committee Wednesdaysubpoenaed Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy for her cell phone billing records and emails. The subpoena by the Committee on Science, Space and Technology was issued at 1 p.m. Wednesday and seeks the records after the agency failed on at least 10 prior requests from the panel for documents on whether an estimated 5,000 text messages were improperly deleted from McCarthy's device.”

Why the hell is the government giving Alcoa a $259 million loan?

Bloomberg (3/26/15) reports: “ A $25 billion U.S. Energy Department loan program that funded flops like Fisker Automotive Inc. and successes such as Tesla Motors Inc. resumed lending after a four-year hiatus to retool the lending project’s focus. Alcoa Inc. has been approved for a $259 million loan from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program to upgrade a factory making high-strength aluminum that can improve automobile gas mileage.”

At least the Japanese are putting that money to some good use.

The Associated Press (3/26/15) reports: “Despite mounting protests, Japan continues to finance the building of coal-fired power plants with money earmarked for fighting climate change, with two new projects underway in India and Bangladesh, The Associated Press has found. The AP reported in December that Japan had counted $1 billion in loans for coal plants in Indonesia as climate finance, angering critics who say such financing should be going to clean energy like solar and wind power. Japanese officials now say they are also counting $630 million in loans for coal plants in Kudgi, India, and Matarbari, Bangladesh, as climate finance.”

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3-25-15 Gasline Bill Passes - Alaska Economic Update - Arctic Residents Take Place At Arctic Policy Table

25 March 2015 7:16am

Arctic Slope Regional Corporation Seizes Arctic Initiative: Criticizes Environmental Carpet Baggers!

Gasline Bill Passes Alaska House

Alaska Economic Update- Part 2  - See Part 1 Here

By Mark Edwards (NGP Photo)

Mark Edwards, AlaskanomicsIn our last post, we discussed the falling oil prices and the possible impact on the economy. Today we will look at jobs, unemployment, and population.

Payroll jobs increase only 0.3% in 2013 and 2014.  No growth predicted in 2015 - Alaska's payroll job count increased by 1,000 jobs or 0.3% last year, similar to 2013 results.  This slight increase is much lower compared to 5,300 jobs added in 2012 and 4,900 in 2011.  The total number of payroll jobs, not including uniformed military and the self-employed, is about 336,700 on average throughout the year.  It is important to note this is a preliminary estimate by the Alaska Department of Labor using nine months of actual data from employer tax returns and three months of estimates.  The final numbers will be revised in March of 2015.  (Economic Update continued below...)  

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Gasline Bill Passed House Yesterday (KTUU Video - Left; News MinerAJC background)

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Jason Brune, OCS, Point Hope, Consumer Energy Alliance - Alaska, Dave Harbour PhotoFrom Jason Brune (NGP Photo), Chairman, Consumer Energy Alliance-Alaska.  

"Great decision Point Hope! The original suit included the anti-development Sierra Club, Alaska Wilderness League, and National Audubon Society. What happens to them now that they don't have the local face they took advantage of to give the appearance of credibility to their arguments. 

Rex Rock, Resource Development Council for Alaska, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, Point Hope, Dave Harbour Photo, OCS"If you haven't seen it yet, watch ASRC president Rex Rock's (NGP Photo) speech to RDC which outlines how Alaska Native communities are preyed upon by these outside environmental groups and what they're doing about it."  (See Rock's RDC Speech Here)

Charlotte Brower, Arctic OCS, ANWR, NPR-A, Dave Harbour PhotoComment: Rock's welcome initiative matches in the private sector the creative and courageous local government initiative taken by Alaska North Slope Mayor Charlotte Brower (NGP Photo) on behalf of her Arctic constituents.   -dh

(Economic Update continued...)  The Alaska Department of Labor’s forecast for 2015 is no change in employment levels.  They predict continued large losses in the government sector.  This has been occurring in federal government as budgets have tightened and are now predicted to decline in state and local government due to low oil prices. 

These public sector job losses will be balanced out by equal growth in the private sector. Continued gains of 200 new jobs are expected in the health care industry due to the continued demographic situation where Alaska has both an aging baby boomer population and a young, under 20 generation.  People require the most health care at the beginning and end of their lives. 

Oil and gas is expected to grow by 200 jobs despite low oil prices because of several large projects underway like Exxon’s work in Point Thomson and off-shore investment by Shell.  Newer entrants like Repsol, Hilcorp and Calleus Energy are also making significant investments in the state.

Retail growth is reemerging after the national recession as many franchise businesses that were preparing to enter Alaska in the last five years are finally following through with their expansion plans now that the US economy has rebounded.  Lower oil prices are also helping consumers by providing more disposal income.  This area is predicted to grow by 300 jobs.  Other forecasted contributors to positive labor growth include seafood (+200) and leisure and hospitality (+300).  We are likely to have a record number of tourists visit the state this year.  Declines of 100 jobs are expected in construction due to low oil prices and lower government spending.  This also impacts professional and business services which is forecasted for a 200 job decline in 2015.

US unemployment rate improves, now better than Alaska - Alaska's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate finished the year at 6.3%, compared to 6.4% at the end of 2013.  The comparable national rate in December was 5.6% an improvement of over 1% from 6.7% at this time last year. 

As seen in the graph below by the Alaska Department of Labor, for over five years Alaska had been doing better than the U.S. in terms of unemployment.  The rate in Alaska in blue has been relatively stable, despite the national recession and the U.S. rate spiked much higher.  Now the U.S. rate is improving relatively faster than Alaska.  This appears to already be affecting population migration trends as jobs are more easily found in the lower 48.

Graph

The unemployment rate is better in Alaska’s largest communities.  The preliminary, not seasonally adjusted, rate for Anchorage was 4.7%, Juneau 4.8%, and Fairbanks at 5.6%.  The Mat-Su rate improved from 8% in 2012 to 7.1% in December of 2014, but is still higher than the national unemployment levels. 

Anchorage and Juneau’s rate is in the range of what economists call “full employment.”  At these low levels a majority of those unemployed are due to seasonal, frictional, structural or cyclical reasons.  For example, some seasonal workers only plan to work part of the year and collect unemployment benefits for the remainder of the year.  The frictional part is the natural short-term movement of workers between jobs and first-time job seekers.  The most important issue for employers is these low rates inevitably lead to a scarcity of qualified workers and upward pressure on wages.

Ketchikan and Sitka are the two newest markets for Northrim.  They show moderate rates of unemployment at 6.6% and 5.4% respectively.

High levels of unemployment still persist in several rural areas of Alaska.  The worst situations are the Hoonah-Angoon Census Area at 21.6%, Wade Hampton Census Area 21%, Municipality of Skagway at 21.2%. However, the North Slope Borough has the lowest unemployment levels in the state at 3.7%. 

Population remains virtually unchanged in 2014, first net loss since 1987 - The most recent Department of Labor estimate for Alaska's population is 735,601.  That is a loss of 61 people net for the year.  It is significant because it is the first year since 1987 that the state did not grow.  Since that time there have been 13 years where the net in and out migration of people was negative and 13 years where it was positive.  However, in all the negative migration years, the rate of natural increase (births minus deaths) was larger than any migration losses.

Over the last decade we have been averaging about 11,000 births and 3,500 deaths for a net natural increase of about 7,500 per year.  Natural increase was 7,427 in 2014.  Last year there was a much larger than normal net out migration of 7,488 people.  This is the highest level seen since there was a net loss of 19,245 people between 1986-87 and 15,710 people from 1987-88.  The driving factor is likely to be the relative improvement of the U.S. and world economy compared to Alaska.  Also, the aging baby boom population may be slowly retiring out of Alaska.  

The 61 person net loss in 2014 is compared to a 4,471 population gain in 2013.  To put these last two years in perspective, the average population growth for the prior decade was 8,946 per year from 2002 to 2012.

Join us for our next discussion about personal income and longer term interest rates.

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3-22-15

22 March 2015 2:17pm

Fairbanks News Miner Editorial.  Other than the state’s budget deficit, the state’s most important decision with regard to its future is the path it will take to a natural gas pipeline. After many years of stagnation under the failed Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, there have been signs of progress in the state’s goal of developing a large-diameter natural gas pipeline that would both supply the state’s gas needs and provide for substantial export. More....

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3-15-15

15 March 2015 6:21am

AJOC by Tim Bradner.  

Despite Gov. Bill Walker’s threat of a veto, House leaders are pushing ahead with a bill that would put sideboards on the governor’s plan to expand a state-led backup gas pipeline into a large project that could be seen as a competitor to the Alaska LNG Project, the industry-led gas project in which the state is also a 25 percent owner. ...In a related development, Alaska Gasline Development Corp. Public Affairs Manager Miles Baker said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers informed AGDC on March 2 that it was pausing work on a revised supplemental environmental impact statement on the state’s backup Alaska Stand-Alone Pipeline, or ASAP, until the governor’s intentions for the project are more clear.  More...

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3-14-15

14 March 2015 3:43pm

JOC by Tim Bradner.  

The first new jobs created by Gov. Bill Walker’s new gas pipeline plan may well be in California, it appears.

Following the governor’s directions, the state-owned Alaska Gasline Development Corp. has initiated a study of costs to do engineering to scale-up a state-backed North Slope natural gas pipeline, the Alaska Stand-Alone Gas Pipeline. The state pipeline is now planned with a capacity to move 500 million cubic feet per day. The governor wants to increase it to as much as 2.6 billion cubic feet per day.  Read more....

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3-11-15 For the archives: gasline problems for Alaska's new governor

11 March 2015 5:33am

  TODAY'S CONSUMER ENERGY ALLIANCE ENERGY NEWS LINKS

Alaska Governor Bill Walker, ASAP, AGDC, Interstate Gas, Intrastate Gas, Dave Harbour PhotoKTVA by Rhonda McBride.

AJOC by Tim Bradner.  I was puzzled, but not surprised, when Gov. Bill Walker made his surprise announcement that he would seek an expansion of a state-led gas pipeline that is being planned as a backup to a large industry-led pipeline and liquefied natural gas project, which is now in preliminary engineering.  More....

When Gov. Bill Walker (NGP Photo) announced he wanted to put a backup gas line project in competition with the Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas project, he opened a Pandora’s box of questions for lawmakers focused on AKLNG as the main vehicle for getting North Slope gas to market.

House majority leaders responded by introducing legislation to prevent a competing line for AKLNG, unless producers back out from the project.

The bill had its first hearing on Friday, despite the governor’s threats to veto it.  (Read full story and see vido


TODAY'S CONSUMER ENERGY ALLIANCE ENERGY NEWS LINKS

Albuquerque Business First: Viewpoint: Why New Mexico doesn't need fracking bans*David Holt Op-Ed 

Energy production has always been an important part of New Mexico's economy. Indeed, the state ranks sixth in the country in crude oil production, and its production of natural gas accounted a crucial 4.8 percent of U.S. marketed natural gas production in 2012, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
 
CEA’s The Energy Voice: Winter Storms Evoke Polar Vortex Price Spikes
It’s not just record-low temperatures giving consumers chills during this week’s winter storms and wild weather. The cold weather brings with it reminders of last year’s regional power outages and spikes in electricity and heating costs for many New England, New York, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest residents. Part of the price spikes were attributable to a lack of adequate pipeline infrastructure to move natural gas to areas of demand.
 
The Hill: Obama embraces Keystone skepticism
President Obama has increasingly sided with the most negative assessments of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, leading both opponents and supporters to believe that he’ll reject the contentious project’s permit. As anger among Republicans in Congress has grown stronger when it comes to Obama’s years-long delay on judging Keystone, the president has gradually abandoned attempts to avoid weighing in on the project’s merits, gravitating instead toward arguments against it.
 
KTIV: Nebraska congressman says Keystone XL pipeline won't be built during Obama presidency
Nebraska's First District Congressman doesn't think the Keystone XL Pipeline will get built while President Barack Obama is in office. U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry made that statement during a visit to Norfolk on Tuesday. Fortenberry said that President Obama's recent veto shows that there is now no way the pipeline will get built without an administrative change.
 
The Intelligencer: Sen. Capito Calls for Keeping Keystone Pipeline Out of New Legislation
West Virginia's two U.S. senators are united in their belief the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project should move forward, but they appear to disagree about how to make it happen. Following the Senate's failed attempt to override President Barack Obama's veto of legislation approving construction of the long-delayed pipeline, the bill's original co-sponsors, Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., said they would try to tack pipeline approval onto a long-term highway funding bill that will be up for consideration in the coming weeks.
 
U.S Chamber of Commerce: EPA War on Coal Will Shut Down More Power Plants in 2015
EPA’s “War on Coal” is succeeding in driving coal-fired power plants into retirement. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports, “Nearly 16 GW of generating capacity is expected to retire in 2015, 81% of which (12.9 gigawatts) is coal-fired generation.” At the same time, new electricity-generating capacity will come mostly from wind (9.8 GW), natural gas (6.3 GW), and solar (2.2 GW).
 
The Washington Times: Now this is getting serious: Climate change puts coffee at risk, EPA chief warns
Americans’ morning caffeine rush ultimately could be a casualty of climate change, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said Wednesday. In a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, Ms. McCarthy said the changing climate — which she believes is largely caused by human activity — puts economies, global security and food supplies at risk. Coffee lovers also will eventually feel the effects, the EPA chief said.
 
E&E Publishing: Consumers trapped in the middle of Big Coal's fight for survival
Chris Woolery seemed impatient when he cornered a lawmaker inside an elevator at the Kentucky Capitol. It was his first shot at bending an ear as legislators hustled to their morning meetings. "I've helped folks with $1,400 electric bills, and we've cut their bills in half," Woolery said, twisting his tall frame inside the packed shoebox to get closer to the state representative from Lexington.
 
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Walker, Obama administration representatives differ on emissions cuts
Representatives of the Obama and Walker administrations gave polar opposite views in Milwaukee on Tuesday about federal regulators' plan to reduce emissions tied to global warming. Defending the plan, Susan Hedman of the Environmental Protection Agency described it as flexible and workable, saying it would lead to health benefits through reduced hospitalizations linked to less polluted air.
 
UPI: Oil price rally waning, though WTI holding strong
Crude oil prices continued their slow fade Tuesday even as U.S. data show evidence the bear market had an impact on the production behind recent market trends. The price for Brent, the global benchmark, slid about 1.3 percent from Monday's close to trade near $57.70 per barrel for the April contract early in Tuesday trading. Brent hit a low mark of around $45.13 per barrel mid-January and climbed 37 percent by late February. The rally, however, ran out of steam in March, with Brent crude oil prices down about 5.3 percent since the start of the month.
 
Bloomberg: Get Ready for Oil Deals: Shale Is Going on Sale
A decision by Whiting Petroleum Corp., the largest producer in North Dakota’s Bakken shale basin, to put itself up for sale looks to be the first tremor in a potential wave of consolidation as $50-a-barrel prices undercut companies with heavy debt and high costs. For the first time since wildcatters such as Harold Hamm of Continental Resources Inc. began extracting significant amounts of oil from shale formations, acquisition prospects from Texas to the Great Plains are looking less expensive.
 
CBS News: U.S. oil regions are bracing for more bankruptcies
There are more signs that the North American oil boom, and the lower gas prices it brought with it, is running out of...well, gas. On Monday, Houston-based BPZ Energy, an independent oil and gas exploration and production company, announced it was voluntarily filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
 
Platts: US crude production to rise to 9.3 million b/d in 2015: EIA
The US Energy Information Administration on Tuesday nearly tripled its forecast for the 2015 Brent-WTI spread to $7.35/b, largely due to a glut of US crude production. The 2015 spread, which EIA in February forecast would be $2.54/b, was widened due to "continuing large builds in US crude oil inventories, including at the Cushing, Oklahoma storage hub," the agency said in its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook.
 
The State: BP oil spill film used to fight SC drilling as business leaders counterpunch
Boosters of drilling for gas and oil along the South Carolina coast are punching back at a sustained effort by environmental groups to influence public opinion against a proposal that could allow offshore drilling. As a public comment deadline nears, U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., and business leaders will hold a forum Wednesday near Charleston to explain why oil and gas would be the right industry for coastal South Carolina.
 
WSAV: Feds holding SC meeting on offshore oil, gas exploration
Folly Beach has become the fifth coastal community in South Carolina to pass a resolution opposing offshore drilling for oil and natural gas. The town passed the resolution Tuesday evening, the night before the federal government holds a meeting on the prospect of opening wide swaths of the Atlantic off the Carolinas to drilling later in the decade. That meeting in Mount Pleasant is sponsored by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
 
McClatchy: Some in Georgia are skeptical of offshore drilling plans
News that President Barack Obama is proposing to open Georgia’s coastal waters to oil and gas drilling has taken many people in the state off guard, and opponents are scrambling to resist the plan. “It’s definitely clear that they woke up,” said Claire Douglass, campaign director for the environmental group Oceana.
 
The Wall Street Journal: Wrecks Hit Tougher Oil Railcars
In a string of recent oil train derailments in the U.S. and Canada, new and sturdier railroad tanker cars being built to carry a rising tide of crude oil across the continent have failed to prevent ruptures.
 
Associated Press: Recent derailments deepens fear of train disaster
Many factors can cause an accident, from too great a speed to operator fatigue. We won't know the cause of the most recent ones until investigations are complete, but weather may be a factor. When it is very cold, as it has been across much of North America, steel rails and train car wheels can contract and become brittle. If the steel has a manufacturing flaw, no matter how small, it can spread rapidly in the cold weather.
 
Fuel Fix: Wisconsin Democrats want oil train rules on fast track
The Obama administration should take “immediate action” to boost the safety of moving crude by rail following a string of oil train explosions, argue a pair of Wisconsin lawmakers. Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Ron Kind insist that the accidents — including two in Ontario, one in Illinois and another in West Virginia in the past four weeks — illustrate the need for a rapid phase out of “antiquated” tank cars that are prone to rupture as well as stepped-up standards for new models.
 
Midwest Energy News: Under Rauner, Illinois’ energy direction remains unclear
Two months after his inauguration, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has made national headlines for his aggressive efforts to get the state’s budget crisis under control. Energy and related environment issues have so far taken a back seat, but experts and advocates are watching closely for signs of what the new Republican gubernatorial administration will mean on that front.
 
Associated Press: NC House members want air emission rules for HF
Three North Carolina Republican lawmakers want to make clear a state environmental panel must draw up rules designed to minimize toxic emissions related to any upcoming natural gas exploration through fracking. The Wake County House members filed the billMonday, a week after a flap over a provision inserted into another bill by the House majority leader.
 
Pittsburgh Business Times: Slowdown costs at least $1.5B in capital spending
Five natural-gas producers with significant operations in southwestern Pennsylvania have reduced their capital budgets collectively by 23 percent — or $1.5 billion — according to numbers reported in operational guidance.
 
Associated Press: Governor advances tougher drilling rules
Pennsylvania state environmental regulators say they want to get tougher on how the Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling industry stores waste, dampens noise and affects water resources, schools and playgrounds. Department of Environmental Protection officials gave a Monday briefing in which they described key elements of a forthcoming plan to update drilling industry regulations.
 
Columbus Dispatch: Businesses pick apart Kasich’s tax proposals
Gov. John Kasich’s tax proposals continued to take on water yesterday — and some of his front-line supporters in the business community are the ones shooting holes in the boat. Ohio’s nine metro chambers of commerce, including Columbus’, said Kasich’s tax package — which includes $5.7 billion in income-tax cuts and $5.2 billion in sales, business, tobacco and fracking tax increases — could “stall Ohio’s recent economic rebound.”
 
Columbus Dispatch: Panel accepts some safeguards for state parks, rejects others
An Ohio House panel modified a fracking proposal yesterday to explicitly mandate “zero surface impact” on state parks and forests. But by mostly party-line votes, the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee denied a pair of additional amendments that would have provided extra protection to public lands.
 
Times-Recorder: Ohio senator seeks stricter waste penalties
A state senator wants increased penalties and stiffer permit rules for improperly disposing of gas-drilling waste and toxic brine in Ohio. Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni's legislation would raise the state's penalties for knowingly disposing of oil and gas waste illegally to levels found in the federal Clean Water Act. The Boardman Democrat says violators could face a felony.
 
Denton Record-Chronicle: Filed legislation could affect city's HF ban
The chairman of the Texas House Energy Resources Committee filed legislation in Austinon Tuesday that would prevent cities from not only regulating oil and gas production with new rules but also from enforcing any such rules they have on the books now.
 
Fuel Fix: EIA: Eagle Ford production will slow in April
The U.S. shale boom may finally be slowing down, according to projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Oil production from the six largest shale plays in the U.S. will hit 5.6 million barrels per day in April, an increase of less than 300 barrels per day over March, the EIA said in its monthly drilling productivity report on Monday. The increase would be the smallest since February 2011.

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