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May 1st, 2012 Archives
By JOHN M. BRODER April 30, 2012, 12:37 pm
Al Armendariz, the Environmental Protection Agency official who stirred controversy last week after a video circulated in which he declared that that the agency should “crucify” polluters as a deterrent, has resigned, saying he regrets his comments and does not want them to distract from the E.P.A.’s work.
Lisa P. Jackson, the E.P.A. administrator, immediately accepted Dr. Armendariz’s resignation.
“I respect the difficult decision he made and his wish to avoid distracting from the important work of the agency,” Ms. Jackson said in a statement. “We are all grateful for Dr. Armendariz’s service to E.P.A. and to our nation.”
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Jim Fuquay | The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
last updated: May 01, 2012 07:33:18 AM
The resignation Monday of Al Armendariz, the controversial regional director of the Environmental Protection Agency, was cheered by many Texas officials and bemoaned by environmental activists, leaving it unclear how his departure may affect regulatory enforcement of gas drilling operations.
Armendariz, a longtime advocate of tougher pollution rules for industry, was appointed by President Barack Obama to the EPA's Region 6 office, which oversees Texas and four other states. While a professor at Southern Methodist University, he gained public notice in 2009 with a study asserting that natural gas operations in the Barnett Shale gave off more emissions than all the region's cars and trucks combined.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/05/01/147250/resignation-of-epa-official-in.htmlShare This Post
By DAN FROSCH April 30, 2012, 3:30 pm
A report issued on Monday by the National Wildlife Federation asserts that federal laws regulating oil pipelines are inadequate in several crucial areas and that local regulations do not provide sufficient protection against safety and environmental risks.
The report, which focuses on the Great Lakes region, said that current federal rules do not take into account the long-term risks and environmental impacts of new pipeline routes.
It also found that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which oversees pipelines in the United States, gives companies too much discretion in how they manage their own pipelines.
“We concluded that current laws leave the door open to future spills,” said Sara Gosman, an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan Law School who researched pipeline regulation and wrote the report with three law students.“Oil pipelines are out of sight, but that doesn’t mean the risks of these pipelines should be out of mind.”
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/30/report-finds-pipeline-oversight-wanting/?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
Energy Transfer Partners LP, which operates natural-gas pipelines, will pay $5.3 billion to acquire refiner Sunoco Inc. in a deal that would expand its pipeline system into the more lucrative oil sector.
Energy Transfer is trying to build an oil-transportation business and cut its exposure to the natural-gas industry, where overproduction has helped push prices to 10-year lows.
The key assets for Energy Transfer in the deal are Sunoco's 7,900 miles of crude-oil and refined-fuel pipelines, which will give the Dallas-based company a toehold in the Marcellus and Utica Shale regions in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Those areas are becoming important sources of oil and "gas liquids" such as butane and propane, which fetch higher prices than natural gas. Energy Transfer currently has gas-liquids pipelines but not oil pipelines.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303916904577375711419983308.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
Posted on May 1, 2012 at 8:15 am by Jennifer A. Dlouhy
The nation’s top offshore drilling regulator today laid out an ambitious agenda for his agency, including plans to issue new mandates for emergency equipment and update decades-old regulations governing oil and gas production safety systems.
Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Director James Watson said in prepared remarks that he anticipated proposing the new rules later this year. That puts the agency on a faster track than Watson’s predecessor, Michael Bromwich, outlined a year ago.
Instead of issuing an “advance notice of proposed rulemaking” and then spending months soliciting public comments about the scope of the potential mandates before unveiling them, Watson said he expects his agency to quickly issue draft rules.
To read the entire article go to: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2012/05/01/offshore-drilling-regulator-lays-out-agenda-for-otc/Share This Post
Power Plants Abandon Longtime Staple for Generating Electricity as Price of Natural Gas Plummets
By REBECCA SMITH Updated April 30, 2012, 6:57 p.m. ET
U.S. electric utilities are renegotiating coal contracts and finding other ways to reduce coal deliveries as a mild winter and competition from less-expensive natural gas combine to weaken demand for power plants' longtime staple fuel.
Coal consumption by power generators fell 18.8% in the fourth quarter from the preceding quarter and 9.4% from the fourth quarter of 2010, the Energy Information Administration said last week.
The agency hasn't calculated first-quarter coal use yet. But utilities have indicated that they are shifting power production to natural gas, the price of which recently dipped below $2 per million British thermal units, roughly half what it was a year ago.
Xcel Energy Inc, which owns utilities in eight states, typically entered into advance coal contracts sufficient to meet the company's entire annual need. Now, "we're keeping a more open position" because Xcel is using less coal and more natural gas, said Susan Arigoni, the company's vice president of fuels. The Minneapolis-based company said it expects to leave about one-fifth of its anticipated coal purchases open—taking its chances on short-term market prices—to preserve the option of buying other fuels.
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By REBECCA SMITH April 30, 2012, 9:49 p.m. ET
Duke Energy Corp. said it would take a $420 million charge for cost overruns at its Edwardsport coal gasification plant in Indiana, one of the costliest fossil-fuel generating stations ever built.
The company also announced a settlement agreement that would allow it to pass on to its customers $2.6 billion of the plant's expected $3.3 billion cost, if state utility regulators approve the deal. Duke, which previously took $265 million in charges for the plant, said rates would rise 9.6% on top of an earlier 5% increase attributable to the plant.
The plant is 99% complete and is expected to be put into service this fall.
The settlement agreement has the support of the state agency that represents ratepayers, a group representing industrial customers and Nucor Steel-Indiana, a large customer. Previously, they had recommended that Duke's cost recovery be held to about $2 billion, which would have forced the utility to absorb the remainder of the cost.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304868004577376561741164728.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
CP | Posted: 04/29/2012 11:14 am Updated: 04/29/2012 11:14 am
CALGARY -- The CEO of TransCanada Corp. confirmed Friday that the company is in the early stages of weighing a plan to ship Western Canadian crude to eastern refineries that currently rely on expensive imports from overseas.
"We have a lot of work to do technically. We have a lot of work to do in conversations with our shippers. But at the 30,000-foot level, it seems to make sense to people,'' Russ Girling told reporters following the pipeline and utility company's annual general meeting.
"So we're going to actively pursue it and see if we can turn it into an opportunity for both the oil and gas industry and for TransCanada.''
Eastern Canadian refiners have asked TransCanada whether it's feasible to send Western Canadian crude their way so that they don't have to buy a raw product based on higher international prices.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/04/29/transcanada-pipeline-eastern-canada_n_1462597.html?ref=green&ir=GreenShare This Post
HOUSTON—After self-examination following the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP PLC decided not to leave the Gulf of Mexico and opted instead to increase investment as part of its renewed commitment to the region, a company executive said Monday.
"After much soul-searching in the fall of 2010, we concluded it would be wrong to walk away," BP Executive Vice President Bernard Looney said in a presentation at the Offshore Technology Conference here. "We would have been walking away not only from our past, but from a key component of our future."
BP is planning to add three drilling rigs in the Gulf by the end of the year, bringing the total number to eight, more than the company had before the oil spill, Mr. Looney said. BP also plans to spend $4 billion in the Gulf this year and expects to spend at the same level for years to come, he said.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303916904577376070308280752.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
By ÁNGEL GONZÁLEZ April 30, 2012, 1:06 p.m. ET
HOUSTON—Exxon Mobil Corp. said Monday it was cleaning up oil that spilled from a company pipeline in rural Louisiana.
An estimated 1,900 barrels of oil from the North Line crude pipeline were contained in the immediate vicinity of the spill, and there were no injuries reported, Exxon said. Also, air-quality monitoring detected "no danger to the public," although further checks are ongoing, the Irving, Texas, company said. The cleanup started Sunday, using vacuum trucks to collect the oil.
The cause of the spill was still being investigated, the company said. The pipeline was shut down after Exxon detected a loss of pressure on Saturday night.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303916904577376052971265394.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
By HILLARY ROSNER April 30, 2012, 10:11 am
As the public comment period ends this week on a proposal to develop oil shale and oil sands in vast areas of the Rocky Mountain West, conservationists are making a stand on behalf of the area’s national parks. The National Parks Conservation Association, a 90-year-old organization, is concerned that eight national parks and monuments are at risk from energy development of this type and scale.
The Bureau of Land Management is considering whether to open roughly 2.3 million acres of land in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming to these two types of energy development, both highly controversial because of their environmental impacts. Oil shale is fossilized algae trapped inside rock that must be mined, ground up and heated to 900 degrees Fahrenheit to yield oil. Oil sands contain bitumen, a heavy black viscous oil that is extracted through open pit mining. Both types of production involve intensive use of water, a scarce resource in the region.
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/30/will-oil-extraction-imperil-western-parks/?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
Posted on 30 April 2012
By Beth Gunston California League of Conservation Voters
It’s only been in the last couple of years that Californians began hearing about fracking, and few of us thought that it was even happening in our state. Fracking – shorthand for hydraulic fracturing – is a method that is used to extract natural gas and oil deeply trapped below shale deposits. A process that has been in use for decades, fracking requires vast amounts of water laden with a concoction of chemicals to be pumped under high pressure to blast through shale and push up trapped gas. Well, it turns out that California has been getting fracked for years in areas including Los Angeles, Ventura, Monterey, Santa Barbara, and Kern Counties.
What’s even more shocking is that current law allows the fracking industry to operate largely unregulated in the state. This is despite the fact that all around the country numerous public health and environmental problems are bubbling up around fracking sites. One of the biggest problems linked to fracking is the contamination of groundwater. In fact some water is contains such high levels of gases or chemicals that it can be lit on fire! Here is a short showing the flammability of tap water in a community next to a fracking operation. Last year CLCV began advocating in support of a bill to require disclosure of fracking locations, amounts of water used in fracking operations, and a list of chemicals used in the process.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/site/thou-shalt-not-frack-thy-neighbor%E2%80%99s-landShare This Post
Posted: 04/30/2012 1:19 pm Updated: 04/30/2012 2:10 pm
From her home, Mary Lampert, 70, has a clear view of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, which sits just across the Duxbury and Plymouth Bays in coastal Massachusetts. The proximity, Lampert says, lends itself to a good deal of contemplating "what ifs." Among these: what if the Pilgrim plant experienced a meltdown like the one that unfolded just over a year ago in Fukushima, Japan?
"I live just six miles from that plant across open water," says Lampert, a staunch advocate for tougher oversight of the nuclear power industry. "It always comes down to public safety versus the cost to industry of implementing something."
So it has been, Lampert argues, with one seemingly straightforward emergency feature: Requiring a filtered vent in the concrete containment buildings surrounding nuclear reactors like the one at Pilgrim.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/30/nuclear-safety-advocates-_n_1464812.html?ref=greenShare This Post
April 27, 2012 6:15 pm • By ERIC WOLFF email@example.com
With the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station offline potentially through the summer, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. asked regulators to approve emergency rebate programs for customers who cut back their power consumption, the utilities said Friday.
Both units of San Onofre have been offline since January, taking 2,150 megawatts off the power grid and forcing older generators into full-time action. To relieve pressure on the grid during the summer, when electricity is in high demand, Edison and SDG&E asked regulators to approve or augment programs that would offer customers and businesses rebates for cutting their power use.
"In the unlikely event that we have shortages this summer, we want to have this demand response in place," said Larry Oliva, director of tariff programs and services for Edison.Share This Post
By MIREYA NAVARRO April 26, 2012
New York City is about to update its zoning regulations to catch up with the Bloomberg administration’s environmental image and to make it easier for buildings to insulate exterior walls, install solar panels and put gardens on rooftops.
With buildings accounting for 75 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, city planners say, the hope is that owners will take steps to increase their structures’ energy efficiency, produce their own renewable energy, put storm water to good use and, in some cases, even grow food.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the City Council support the proposed new rules, which the Council is expected to approve in a vote scheduled for Monday. The zoning changes would affect building types as varied as office towers, warehouses and apartment buildings.
The new regulations would encourage better insulation by allowing buildings to add up to eight inches of thickness to exterior walls without its being counted in the building’s maximum footprint. Other changes would relax height limits and facade restrictions to make room for equipment like solar panels, wind turbines, awnings, green roofs, recreational decks and skylights.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/27/nyregion/new-york-council-is-set-to-encourage-greener-buildings-with-new-zoning-rules.htmlShare This Post