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June 22, 2017

Lead Stories

Bloomberg

June 21, 2017

Take a Look at the States Sending the Most Carbon Into the Air

A recent report distributed by a diverse group including Ceres, Bank of America Corp., the Natural Resources Defense Council and electricity suppliers Entergy Corp. and Exelon Corp. offers a state-by-state breakdown of carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants. Here are the highlights: Texas sits at the top of the list -- with more than twice the total carbon emissions of any other state. Despite a surge in wind power there, Texas still depends on fossil fuel-burning generators to serve a large and growing population. ... The picture changes when you rank states by their emissions rates -- the volume of carbon dioxide they release for every megawatt-hour of electricity produced. Wyoming, Kentucky and West Virginia jump to the top of the list because of their heavy use of coal, which produces almost twice as much carbon dioxide when burned as natural gas does. Texas drops to 20th for all-source emissions rates, and Florida falls to 27th.

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Texas Observer

June 21, 2017

Getting Wise to Bad Air: North Texans Take Smog Monitoring Into Own Hands

How bad is the smog problem in Wise County? Situated just west of the Dallas-Fort Worth sprawl, Wise County is in the heart of the Barnett Shale gas patch and since 2012 has been designated by the EPA as out of compliance with federal ozone standards. But the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) can only guess at how bad the pollution is; the agency is unwilling to install an air monitor there that would track ozone levels. “The state is not interested in putting a monitor out there and neither is the county,” said Jim Schermbeck, the director of Downwinders at Risk, a North Texas environmental group.

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Laredo Morning Times

June 21, 2017

Economics professor: South Texas refinery will cost $1.9 billion, four times the previous estimate

The South Texas Energy Complex - better known as the Raven refinery - will likely cost four times what Raven Petroleum has estimated and support less than half as many permanent jobs, according to an economic analysis conducted by UT-El Paso professor Daniel J. Pastor. The planned crude oil refinery was met with eager anticipation by elected officials when it was announced in November by Raven Petroleum’s Managing Director Christopher Moore. The site he chose is in the southwest corner of Duval County, bordering Webb and Jim Hogg counties, promising a boon for all three economies. The refinery could be up and running as soon as 2018, and will cost about $500 million to develop, according to Moore. He has said on several occasions that the project will be self-funded.

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Wind Power Engineering

June 1, 2017

What a U.S. grid modernization might look like

For years, a number of experts have discussed the potential to build a more unified electric grid—one in which power loads would be shared across regions. That task continues to grow in opportunity thanks to our current aging infrastructure and advancements in renewable energy. By bringing the interconnections together, more areas of the country could tap into the potential of solar energy shared from more sunshine-abundant regions. The reliability of energy sources like wind would be greatly strengthened and the grid would be better equipped to manage power challenges stemming from extreme weather events. In order for leaders and system operators to upgrade the current structure of the interconnections, it’s crucial that they have access to comprehensive data and information on the implications for costs and reliability. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is working to meet this need through the Grid Modernization Initiative.

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Financial News Online

June 21, 2017

Saudi oil giant a surprising winner from low-carbon push

Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil giant set for a public listing next year, would be one of the biggest relative winners from a push by governments to curb fossil-fuel use, according to analysis of 69 oil and gas producers around the world. The surprising conclusion is the result of analysis by the Carbon Tracker Initiative, put together with help from investment giants such as Legal & General and the Dutch pension fund PGGM. Their report looked at how much of the oil companies' spending is earmarked for extracting oil and gas from comparatively expensive and hard-to-get-at areas; projects that require the companies to spend more to get out the same amount of fuel. Their reasoning is that if the world's governments take measures to dramatically limit carbon emissions in the years ahead, as most have pledged to under the Paris accords, and shift energy production to renewable power instead, this could lead to lower demand for fossil fuels.

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Bloomberg

June 19, 2017

Das: Asking the Wrong Questions on Energy

Exploiting unconventional oils poses significant environmental risks, as illustrated by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. Fracking and tar-sand oils require large quantities of water for extraction, transport and refining. The process can potentially contaminate groundwater and aquifers, and requires the storing and treating of waste water. Fracking also increases potential emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Heavy oils and tar sands have a higher proportion of carbon to hydrogen, resulting in higher carbon-dioxide emissions when used. Renewables have many advantages over these methods. But they also have substantial limitations and drawbacks. Only solar power has the potential to one day replace fossil fuels. Other renewables, such as wind, are too geographically specific or difficult to convert to be economically viable any time soon. All suffer from problems of intermittency, the lack of constant availability, making them unsuitable for base-load energy applications. Unlike traditional power sources, favorable locations for renewable generation are often far from consumers, necessitating realignment of existing energy infrastructure, including the transmission grid.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

June 22, 2017

Oil prices climb off 10-month lows as US stockpiles drop

Oil prices rose on Thursday for the first time in three days after U.S. crude and gasoline stockpiles fell, but investors are looking for more signs that output cuts by OPEC and some other producers are ending a three-year glut. The market largely shrugged off comments overnight from Iran's oil minister that members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) are considering deeper cuts in production. Brent crude futures were 9 cents, or 0.2 percent higher, at $44.91 a barrel at 0018 GMT, after falling 2.6 percent in the previous session to their lowest since August last year. U.S. crude futures were 12 cents, or 0.3 percent, higher at $42.65 a barrel. On Wednesday, they settled down at $42.53, after touching their lowest intraday level since August 2016. Since peaking in late February, crude has dropped around 20 percent, with only brief rallies, completely erasing gains at the end of the year in the wake of the initial OPEC-led production cut.

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San Antonio Express News

June 21, 2017

How big was the oil boom in South Texas? A new report has the numbers.

The first Eagle Ford well was drilled in 2008, and by 2014 the economic impact of the 400-mile field — both direct spending by oil companies and the ripple effect of things such as suppliers moving in or employees shopping — hit the $123 billion high point, according to UTSA. That impact fell to $80 billion in 2015 as oil prices crashed, and dipped to $50 billion last year. “There was definitely a peak in 2014,” said Thomas Tunstall, a research director at UTSA and the principal investigator for the study.

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MarketWatch

June 21, 2017

This is the real reason we’re ‘drowning in oil,’ says Ed Yardeni

Ed Yardeni, president and chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research ... titled his blog post, “Drowning in Oil” — suggesting that advances in technology have contributed to higher production rates in the U.S. as demand world-wide may increasingly suffer from the use of alternative energy sources like solar. ... “Could it be that frackers figured out how to lower their costs in two states where they’ve been most active, and taken their innovations to other states?” Yardeni asked. “Maybe.” “The frackers are using every trick in their book to reduce the cost of pumping more crude oil,” he said. “Rather than propping up the price, maybe OPEC should sell as much of their oil as they can at lowest prices to slow down the pace of technological innovation that may eventually put them out of business.”

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New York Times

June 21, 2017

Reed: Saudi Prince’s Elevation Will Have Far-Reaching Consequences in Energy

As the new heir apparent to the throne of Saudi Arabia, Prince Mohammed bin Salman will play an even more influential role in world oil markets at a time when big crude-producing nations are struggling to prop up prices. Prince Mohammed, who was named crown prince on Wednesday, has upended the traditional Saudi energy model in the nearly two and a half years since his father ascended the throne. Whereas the royal family had previously been content to leave the running of the oil industry to seasoned technocrats, the prince has sought to exert influence over the country’s huge energy resources. With the kingdom’s economy suffering from weakened oil markets, Saudi Arabia, with the prince’s backing, has been a leading force behind the effort by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to bolster prices by limiting production. It is a complicated task with prices continuing to fall, as American shale oil producers and Libya add to the glut of supplies.

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Midland Reporter Telegram

June 20, 2017

Basin operators praise thoroughness of shale study

Members of the Permian Basin oil and gas industry are generally applauding this week’s release of a comprehensive review of the impact of oil and gas development on Texas. A task force comprised of a variety of researchers was organized by The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas to focus on the environmental and community impacts of shale development. Craig Pearson, who joined the Railroad Commission as a seismologist and serves as the agency’s director of its District 8 and 8A -- covering the Midland and Lubbock areas -- served on the task force that wrote the report. “The study is designed to look at the current state of knowledge and put it in one, easy-to-access report,” Pearson said.

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CNBC

June 20, 2017

Don't expect oil to reverse its bear market slump anytime soon, history shows

U.S. oil fell into bear market territory on Tuesday, and the losses could continue in the coming months if historical trends hold. CNBC ran a study to see how U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude performs after the commodity experiences a plunge of 20 percent or more from recent highs in a span of six months, using hedge fund analytics tool Kensho. After Tuesday's decline, WTI is down 22 percent from its 52-week intraday high of $55.24 hit in January. Futures are on pace for a drop greater than 20 percent from their 2017 closing high as well.

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MarketWatch

June 16, 2017

$100 oil is a ‘pipe dream’, says Wells Fargo

Don’t expect oil prices to climb into the triple digits soon. “$100 per barrel oil remains a pipe dream,” for a market suffering from “massive overproduction,” said John LaForge, head of real asset strategy at Wells Fargo, in a recent note. Global oil producers have said that crude production “should crater with prices around $40-$50 per barrel, [but] they are having a hard time restraining themselves from producing,” he said. That’s particularly true for the U.S., which is producing more petroleum today, with West Texas Intermediate oil prices CLN7, -0.40% at around $45, then it was producing in July 2014—the last time the market saw $100-a-barrel oil, said LaForge.

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Houston Chronicle

June 21, 2017

The most overlooked finding in groundbreaking shale study

The environmental and social effects of shale oil and gas production in Texas are interconnected. Scientists, regulators and the industry itself cannot continue to consider them independently, and must instead look at how they impact each other. ... Michael Young, a University of Texas hydrogeologist, associate director at the state Bureau of Economic Geology and member of the research task force, said that’s what makes this report unique. Most studies on oil and gas production focus on one problem, perhaps air pollution, species habitat destruction, water contamination or roadway deterioration. “But these are all connected,” Young said.

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ICIS

June 21, 2017

DuPont joins new US cracker expansion wave

US-based DuPont became the latest company to announce a project that will take advantage of growing US supplies of natural-gas liquids (NGLs), with its plans to expand a cracker by 200m lb/year (91,000 tonnes/year). Contractor CB&I announced the project earlier on Wednesday. It won a $40m contract for work on an ethane cracking furnace expansion at DuPont's ethylene plant in Orange, Texas. DuPont’s [City of] Orange plant currently has an ethylene capacity of 680,000 tonnes/year, according to ICIS plants and projects. CB&I did not say when it would start the expansion project or when it should complete it. Nor did the contractor explain why DuPont is expanding the plant or how DuPont will use the extra feedstock.

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New York Times

June 20, 2017

Libya’s Increased Oil Production Thwarts OPEC’s Reduction Plans

The price of oil keeps sinking, and there is no shortage of reasons: American oil companies are producing too much petroleum. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has not cut production enough. Motorists around the globe are not driving enough to shrink crude and gasoline inventories as quickly as expected. But the biggest wild card in the equation — one that could tip prices at the pump from one day to the next — is oil-rich Libya, among the most unstable countries in North Africa. Contrary to the predictions of almost all experts, Libya’s production has climbed a wall of crisis in recent months to 885,000 barrels a day last week, roughly triple its production of only a year ago. The unexpected production in Libya has added to the downward pressure on prices. West Texas intermediate crude ended Tuesday at the lowest point since last year, $43.23, a decline of 2.2 percent.

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Politico

June 20, 2017

Russia's pipeline power

For months, Washington has been fixated on Russia’s interference in our presidential election, as well as similar concerns in elections of our European allies like France and Germany. Moscow’s actions are a direct threat to the credibility of our presidential elections and it’s understandable that lawmakers and pundits have spent so much time discussing them. But Russia’s campaign to undermine the United States extends beyond the ballot box and across multiple domains, from its annexation of Crimea in Ukraine to its support for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. One extension of this policy that has received curiously little attention, though, is Russia’s energy policy. As the world’s second-largest producer of natural gas, Russia actually has leverage over its European customers by threatening to cut off gas supplies, and it’s using this power to foster discord among European countries. A new pipeline that Moscow intends to build could dramatically increase that leverage, potentially raising its share of Germany’s gas market to above 50 percent. This policy, and the pipeline in particular, poses a direct challenge to the post-World War II U.S. interest in European stability—and could potentially have effects that outlast the election scandals.

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San Antonio Express News

June 21, 2017

Saudi Arabia’s new crown prince makes little difference in U.S. oil patch

Fred Beach, assistant director for policy studies at the University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Institute, said the move to elevate Mohammed bin Salman has been in the works for years. “They’ve been orchestrating this for the last few years to make sure that they had enough people on board,” Beach said. “I think they’ve achieved that. They clearly don’t want the disruption. We thought this was coming and yeah, now it’s here.” While U.S. shale drillers watch OPEC and Saudi closely to try to gauge where oil prices are heading, what really matters in the U.S. is how much better, and cheaper, operators can get at drilling and pumping oil. “That’s the real story with U.S. shale, not what’s happening outside the country,” Beach said. “It can be cutthroat, but they can move fast because they’re small.”

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Wall St. Journal

June 21, 2017

For Energy’s High-Yield Investors, Sentiment Sours

The market for U.S. energy company bonds has declined this month along with prices for crude oil, a development that could make it more expensive for firms in the sector to borrow. The Bloomberg Barclays high-yield energy index has returned negative 2.56% this month as of Tuesday. The average yield has climbed to 7.14%, up from 6.35% at the start of the month. Bond yields rise when prices fall. Oil prices extended their decline Wednesday after sliding into a bear market this week, down by more than 20% to $42.53 a barrel from their February high. Shares of oil and gas producers have already been falling all year, putting them among the worst performers in the S&P 500.

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Houston Chronicle

June 20, 2017

Shipping companies pay $1.9 million for ocean dumping

A crew member of an oil tanker owned by a pair of international shipping companies provided evidence in April 2016 that the ship was illegally dumping waste into the water off Port Arthur, according to federal prosecutors in a statement The video and photographs taken by the crewman of the M/T ETC Mena, a 809-feet long ocean-going tanker, eventually led to a guilty plea on Tuesday in Beaumont's federal court by the ship's owners - the Egyptian Tanker Company and Singapore-based Thome Ship Management, the prosecutors said.

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New York Times

June 21, 2017

From Middle East to Argentina, France's Total Bets on Cheap Resources

As the world witnesses spectacular growth in oil and gas production from the U.S. shale deposits, the boss of French energy giant Total paradoxically says this is one area where he doesn't want to expand. Instead, chief executive Patrick Pouyanne told Reuters he can find an edge over rivals by going after cheaper reserves elsewhere, including from shale in Argentina and deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as through new gas technology. "Shale oil is too expensive," said Pouyanne, who has clinched strategic deals for Total in Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Iran since taking over as CEO at the end of 2015.

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Utilities Stories

Austin Business Journal

June 21, 2017

UT's Cockrell School to partner with National Instruments in project to improve energy grid

The Center for Electromechanics at the University of Texas Cockrell School of Engineering will lead a $1.6 million project to develop technology to improve the energy grid in rural parts of Texas and the United States. The Center for Electromechanics, or CEM, was one of six institutions named Tuesday by the Department of Energy's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability to run research projects totaling $10 million. ... CEM will partner with Austin-based scientific instruments producer National Instruments, the Illinois-based Argonne National Laboratory, San Francisco-based Verivolt, and Pedernales Electric Cooperative in Texas to leverage the latest technology to monitor the grids. The project will focus specifically on developing better sensors to minimize outage times in rural areas.

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Dallas Morning News

June 21, 2017

Why Feds put a stop to the sale of Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists

A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the proposed merger of Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists and its biggest rival, EnergySolutions. Judge Sue L. Robinson agreed with the federal government's arguments that the deal would violate antitrust law as a merger would combine the only two commercial low-level radioactive waste disposal facilities for 36 states. The U.S. attorney general's official sued in November to stop the deal. The court's decision raises questions about the company's plans to transport nuclear waste across the state, including potentially through the Dallas area, to a storage site in West Texas in a move that critics say poses risk to residents along the way.

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KVIA

June 21, 2017

El Paso Electric prepares for brutal summer ahead

El Paso Electric is preparing for a hot summer ahead as the borderland begins to see triple digit temps. El Paso electric Spokesman George De La Torre says power outages are more common during the summer than at any other time of the year. Crews began preparations during February, with what they call a "blitz.' During winter and spring months crews go to as many locations as possible and replace more than 500 pieces of equipment. De La Torre says that includes upgrades on their system and replacing older equipment like transformers, poles and wires. De La Torre says they try to prepare for the summer, because they start to see issues with transformers.

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Ars Technica

June 16, 2017

As energy markets change, GE, blockchain hope to provide economic solutions

Energy traders are a less visible part of the market compared to retail and wholesale power suppliers. They exist in certain markets to bid on the constantly fluctuating price of electricity, which is useful for owners of power-generating plants to help, for example, lock in a price for electricity in the day ahead. As more and more renewable energy comes onto the grid, energy traders, utilities, and power-generating companies have to grapple with a much more complex electricity market. Intermittent resources like wind and solar will be sold at certain times of the day, and fossil fuel-based power will be sold at other times of the day. Because some larger fossil fuel-based plants can’t just shut off at a moment’s notice and many renewable sources depend on weather, balancing supply and demand is an increasingly complicated issue. That balance is further complicated by how most markets don’t have vast energy storage resources to draw on, and electricity has to be consumed as soon as it’s made. Tech companies are stepping in to soothe these relatively new tensions.

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New York Post

June 19, 2017

Zito: Don’t be so quick to dismiss Trump’s coal mining initiative

On a warm June morning, a large crowd gathered in the lush, gentle folds of the Allegheny Mountains to hear President Donald Trump live on video. “I’m absolutely thrilled to be speaking with you on this great, great day,” he said. “The miners of Pennsylvania are mining coal again.” On a stage, five men unfurled a gold banner that blared, in large black letters: “Trump Digs Coal,” as the audience went wild. For the first time in nearly a decade, a new coal mine has opened here, and a US president has rallied alongside an industry deemed by many as obsolete.

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Washington Post

June 20, 2017

A bitter scientific debate just erupted over the future of America’s power grid

Scientists are engaged in an increasingly bitter and personal feud over how much power the United States can get from renewable sources, with a large group of researchers taking aim at a popular recent paper that claimed the country could move beyond fossil fuels entirely by 2055. In 2015, Stanford professor Mark Jacobson and his colleagues argued that between 2050 and 2055, the United States could be entirely powered by “clean” energy sources and “no natural gas, biofuels, nuclear power, or stationary batteries are needed.” That would be a massive shift from the current power makeup, as in 2016, the United States got only 6.5 percent of its electricity from hydropower, 5.6 percent from wind and 0.9 percent from solar. Nonetheless, the paper excited proponents of renewable energy, and has been embraced by Sen. Bernie Sanders, celebrity backers such actor Mark Ruffalo and many environmental groups.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Denton Record Chronicle

June 21, 2017

Duff joins council; Denton will see boost in renewable energy

Don Duff joined the City Council for the first time Tuesday as Denton Municipal Electric boosted its renewable energy portfolio. In its first order of business, the City Council canvassed the June 10 runoff. Duff eked out a 52-vote victory over Paul Meltzer in District 3. Duff took his oath of office with his wife, Peggy, at his side and a handful of supporters and Meltzer in the audience. Then council members returned to their workroom for a full day's agenda that included talks about renewable energy. About 88 percent of the city's electricity will come from renewable sources by 2019, DME officials said. Denton ratepayers should benefit, too, because previously announced rate increases won't be needed.

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The Daily Mail (UK)

June 21, 2017

America´s hungriest wind and solar power users: big companies

Major U.S. corporations such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc and General Motors Co have become some of America´s biggest buyers of renewable energy, driving growth in an industry seen as key to helping the United States cut carbon emissions. Last year nearly 40 percent of U.S. wind contracts were signed by corporate power users, along with university and military customers. That's up from just 5 percent in 2013, according to the American Wind Energy Association trade group. These users also accounted for an unprecedented 10% of the market for large-scale solar projects in 2016, figures from research firm GTM Research show. Just two years earlier there were none. The big reason: lower energy bills.

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Biodiesel Magazine

June 20, 2017

Biodiesel advocates call on Congress to reinstate tax incentive

Nearly 100 biodiesel advocates from across the country visited Capitol Hill June 20 and urged Congress to bring back the biodiesel tax incentive. Participants included biodiesel producers, distributors and feedstock suppliers representing more than two dozen states. “The bipartisan biodiesel tax incentive should be reinstated, as it helps support tens of thousands of jobs nationwide,” said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board. “The commonsense reforms proposed in Congress address the unintended consequences of the credit. Creating U.S. jobs, saving taxpayer dollars and reducing waste are goals that most members of Congress can get behind.”

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Regulatory Stories

The Hill

June 21, 2017

Senators grill Perry on Yucca nuclear storage plans

Energy Secretary Rick Perry was in the hot seat Wednesday as senators grilled him over his push to build a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said the fight over making Yucca the sole location for the nation's nuclear waste had slowed progress on the issue and questioned Perry on interim sites. ... Perry said that the Department of Energy has a moral and national security obligation to address the issue. ... He added that there is a possibility that nuclear waste could be stored at a private storage facility while the construction on the Yucca site is finished. He called it a "viable" option and defended his push for the Yucca project.

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The Register (UK)

June 16, 2017

Texas says 'howdy' to completely driverless robo-cars on its roads

Texas will, from later this year, allow the entire Lone Star State to become a test bed for cars that can drive themselves with or without a human behind the wheel. A newly enacted law, SB 2205, was signed off on Thursday by Governor Greg Abbott, and will go into effect on September 1. Under the new rules, researchers can try out self-driving cars on public highways and roads throughout the state "without any intervention or supervision by a human operator." Robo-ride developers will still have to show the autonomous vehicle is capable of complying with all state traffic laws and federal highway safety rules, and has a recording device present. Researchers will also need to show proof of insurance or liability coverage for the car.

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Dallas Morning News

June 21, 2017

Peacock: Restrictions on free trade will cost Texans dearly

Last month, the Texas Legislature passed a law that will force taxpayers to pay up to 20 percent more for some public projects. In Washington, D.C., a tax is being considered that could increase what Texans pay for insurance. Why would the government do this? The short answer is influence by special interests and a poor understanding of the benefits of free trade. Unless we successfully combat these factors in both Austin and Washington, Texans and the Texas economy will suffer. As the nation's top exporting state, Texas benefits greatly from international trade. Research by the Texas Public Policy Foundation shows that all Texans — not just exporters — benefited as the North American Free Trade Agreement helped diversify the Texas economy, allowing it to better survive economic disruptions like reductions in oil prices and major events like the Great Recession.

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Dallas Morning News

June 20, 2017

Tinker: Why the Paris climate accord will never work

The Paris climate accord attempts the Herculean task of bringing the three E's — environmental policy, energy policy and economic policy — together. Make no mistake: There are complex and nuanced scientific and political issues surrounding the three E's. The accord, unfortunately, overreaches politically. Rather than staying focused on legitimate ways to quickly reduce large volumes of carbon dioxide, the accord ascribes climate change to humans, prescribes renewable energy as the solution and urges wealth redistribution as the mechanism to pay for it. Perhaps it's not a surprise that blue states in the United States support it and red states do not. Unfortunately, this skewed political approach serves mostly to highlight differences and polarize people and nations. More importantly, it will not solve the emissions challenge.

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Washington Post

June 21, 2017

The Energy 202: Perry invokes Fukushima in reviving Yucca nuclear waste fight

Rick Perry told Congress on Tuesday that “we have a moral obligation” to safely and permanently store the nation’s nuclear waste -- and that it should be stored in Nevada. In his first congressional testimony as secretary of energy, Perry acknowledged that this “wasn’t his first rodeo.” As a former governor and state legislator on an appropriations committee, he has been on both the giving and receiving ends of budgetary proposals, and has seen different line-item requests succeed and fail. As such, he likely knows that Congress is not going to give him every cut urged by the Trump administration. And, by requesting an 18 percent cut to non-nuclear-weapons spending in the Energy Department, it’s asking for a lot.

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Washington Post

June 21, 2017

Interior chief wants to shed 4,000 employees in department shake-up

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told lawmakers Wednesday that he plans to shrink his department’s sprawling workforce by 4,000 employees — about 8 percent of the full-time staff — as part of budget cuts to downsize the government’s largest public lands agency. Zinke, testifying before a Senate panel on the White House’s proposed budget for the Department of the Interior for fiscal 2018, said he would rely on a combination of attrition, reassignments and buyouts to make the cuts. Depending on how fast and effective those strategies are, the department “will determine the need for further action to reduce staffing,” he said in prepared testimony, a reference to possible layoffs.

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June 21, 2017

Lead Stories

Wall St. Journal

June 20, 2017

Oil Returns to Bear Market

Oil prices are back in bear-market territory, frustrating OPEC members that cut production in an attempt to boost prices and renewing fears that falling prices could spill into stocks and other markets. A persistent glut has weighed on prices for most of the past three years, a blow to investors who believed that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ move this year to limit production would provide relief. Instead, U.S. producers ramped up production when the world was already swimming in oil as OPEC members, Russia and other producing nations curtailed output.

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San Antonio Express News

June 20, 2017

California’s climate risk database draws ire from Texas AG Paxton

California’s insurance commissioner, who has required San Antonio’s USAA and other insurers to disclose their fossil fuel investments, is drawing the wrath of Texas’ attorney general and officials from 12 other states. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton this week joined 11 other Republican attorneys general and Kentucky’s GOP governor in signing on to a letter demanding that California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, a Democrat, stop requiring insurance companies to report their fossil fuel investments and signing a “pledge” to divest from the coal industry. “The threats made by the California insurance commissioner will hurt families, businesses and insurance carriers across the nation,” Paxton said in a statement.

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Reuters

June 20, 2017

Global power sector emissions to peak in 2026: Report

Global emissions of greenhouse gases from the power sector are expected to peak in 2026, but will still be some way above levels needed to limit temperature rises in line with the Paris climate agreement, research showed on Thursday. Overall, $10.2 trillion will be invested in new global power generation between 2017 and 2040, with renewable power sources such as wind and solar accounting for almost three quarters of that, a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) said. By 2040, global emissions are expected to be 4 percent below 2016's levels, but an additional $5.3 trillion investment in renewable power would be needed by 2040 to keep rising global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Under the 2015 Paris deal, more than 190 countries pledged to curb greenhouse gas emissions to keep planet-warming well below 2 degrees to stave off the worst effects of climate change.

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Washington Examiner

June 20, 2017

Spate of nuclear power plant closures could be start of full-fledged crisis

Nuclear power is approaching a crisis point as a significant chunk of the nation's reactor fleet is planning to close prematurely. Alarm bells are ringing almost weekly as utility companies announce they are closing their nuclear plants years ahead of when their federal licenses expire. The news that the plant at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania would be closing soon marked a significant turning point as a symbol of the industry's long history, perhaps even outweighing the plant's 1979 partial meltdown. Five plants have closed in less than four years, and six more are scheduled to shutter operations within the next five years, while many others are at risk of closing. The U.S. power plant fleet now totals 99 reactors.

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San Francisco Chronicle

June 16, 2017

Renewable energy no threat to electric grid, as Trump aides claim

Almost two-thirds of the new electric generation capacity added to the grid in the United States over the last two years has come from wind and solar. From a reliability perspective, this is a positive development. In August 2011, when a heat wave in Texas shut down 20 natural gas plants, it was wind power that kept the electric grid operator from having to black out areas of the state. In Iowa, wind power now provides 37 percent of the state’s electricity with no reduction in reliability. What happens when the wind doesn’t blow, or the sun doesn’t shine? To answer that question, one needs to examine the many countries that have more renewable energy than we do. Wind and solar contribute a share 2.5 times larger in Germany’s electricity mix (18.2 percent in 2016) than they do in the United States (6.9 percent). Germany produced 82 percent of its electricity from renewables for a period of several days in May. Denmark gets 100 percent of its electricity from renewables on many days of the year. Yet both nations have electric grids that are 10 times more reliable than America’s. Germany and Denmark average 23 and 24 minutes of customer outages per year respectively, while the United States averages 240 minutes per year.

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Oil & Gas Stories

Bloomberg

June 20, 2017

Gulf of Mexico Storm Cindy Disrupts Shipping, Crude Imports

Tropical Storm Cindy has halted service at a major oil terminal in the Gulf of Mexico, prompted some evacuations at rigs and platforms and put states from Texas to Florida on notice for flooding rains. ... Vessel offloading at the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port marine terminal were suspended. The rest of the company’s operations, including deliveries from its Clovelly, Louisiana, hub, were expected to continue, according to the company’s website. ... Enbridge Inc. evacuated nonessential workers from some platforms in the Gulf. Royal Dutch Shell Plc suspended “some well operations” in the region, though production is unaffected, according to company spokesman Curtis Smith. BP Plc and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. also evacuated nonessential personnel. BHP Billiton Ltd suspended non-essential operations and “demobilized” non-essential workers.

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CNBC

June 21, 2017

Oil languishes near multi-month lows on glut fears

Oil prices dipped on Wednesday, trading around multi-month lows as investors discounted evidence of strong compliance by OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers with a deal to cut global output. Global benchmark Brent was down 11 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $45.91 barrel at 0345 GMT after falling nearly 2 percent in the previous session to its lowest settlement since November. The American Petroleum Institute said on Tuesday U.S. crude stockpiles had dropped more than forecast. U.S. crude stocks fell last week, while gasoline and distillate inventories rose.

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CNBC

June 20, 2017

Saudi Arabia relieves crown prince, replaces him with 31-year-old Mohammad Bin Salman

Saudi Arabia's royal shake-up Saudi Arabia's royal shake-up 1 Hour Ago | 02:35 Saudi Arabia has relieved Muhammad bin Nayef from his role as crown prince, replacing him with Mohammad bin Salman, according to a royal decree published by state news agency SPA. Bin Salman, 31, has been his country's defense minister and deputy crown prince, and was recently credited with a "huge success" for President Donald Trump's recent decision to stop in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia's King Salman called for a public pledging of allegiance in Mecca on Wednesday to the new crown prince, Saudi-owned channel al-Arabiya said on Wednesday. The young prince has taken a central role in Saudi Arabia's efforts to build its economy beyond the oil industry. He holds primary responsibility for the kingdom's military and energy sector.

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Houston Chronicle

June 20, 2017

Falling prices, equipment and labor constraints could slow U.S. drilling surge

The U.S. drilling surge could begin to plateau soon as operators grapple with both falling prices and growing constraints on equipment and labor. Unless the oil market reverses course quickly, analysts said, the recent drop in crude prices to less than $43 a barrel could prompt operators in less prolific oil plays like the Bakken Shale in North Dakota to shed rigs. Producers in more lucrative regions like the Permian Basin in West Texas may only slow the pace of the rig count growth if the market turmoil persists. But drillers there are also running low on rigs with high-horsepower systems that plow larger wells into the region's dense rocks, and it has become increasingly difficult to find new oil field workers in the region, said Paul Mosvold, president and chief operating officer of Houston rig contractor Scandrill.

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Austin Business Journal

June 20, 2017

Positive S&P rating review of Texas budget says state has 'turned corner' after oil downturn

Texas' $217 billion budget for the next two years is "neutral," meaning it won't have a positive or negative effect on the state's overall credit rating, according to S&P Global Inc., which also projected Texas employment will continue to grow at about 2 percent annually, outpacing the national average. The state got high marks for new transportation spending from S&P and a slightly negative assessment on the decision to delay paying for Medicaid case growth over the next two years. S&P (NYSE: SPGI), a New York City-based financial info and analytics company, currently rates Texas’ general obligation debt as "AAA," the highest rank possible, signaling the obligator is "extremely" likely to pay back the money.

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Houston Chronicle

June 20, 2017

Exxon among group backing carbon tax

Exxon Mobil and other large oil companies are backing a carbon tax proposal put forward earlier this year by a group of former Republican politicians including James Baker, the former secretary of state. The Climate Leadership Coalition, a group which includes Baker along with former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and former Secretary of State George Shultz, announced a list of "founding members" Tuesday that includes BP, Shell, Total, GM, Johnson & Johnson and Exxon. "We support @TheCLCouncil as a Founding Member and are working to support its policy development process," Exxon tweeted from its corporate account Tuesday.

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Oil & Gas Investor

June 19, 2017

Oxy’s $1.2 Billion Permian ‘Land Swap’ Consolidates Position

The Permian Basin’s largest operator, Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY), revealed June 19 it has been busy adjusting its position with $1.2 billion worth of A&D activity including a deal to buy Hess Corp.’s (NYSE: HES) EOR assets. In multiple transactions, Oxy will acquire producing, processing and pipeline interests for its EOR operations while shedding 13,000 net acres in Andrews, Martin and Pecos counties, Texas, and adding acreage in Glasscock County, Texas. Financially, the deal is a wash—Oxy will sell Permian assets for $600 million while purchasing EOR interests for $600 million. The deals also add 3,500 barrels of oil equivalent to Oxy’s production in what the company views as “effectively a swap.”

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Alaska Dispatch News

June 19, 2017

Recovering from Cook Inlet leaks, Hilcorp targets increased production in Alaska

With the discovery of an overlooked pocket of offshore oil, Hilcorp's Cook Inlet production is growing again after leaks this winter caused it to shut down some activity. "It was awesome," said Chris Johnson, 35 and production foreman at the Steelhead Platform, describing his reaction after oil began flowing from the platform's newly completed well in late May. The so-called M28 well produced more than 1,000 barrels barrels daily, or about 10 percent of production in the aging basin. Scores of other Inlet wells produce a fraction of that amount, on average. Finding hidden gems is part of Hilcorp's business plan. The privately held, Houston, Texas-based company rejuvenates old fields after oil and gas production has plummeted.

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CNBC

June 20, 2017

Cooler start to summer is crushing natural gas prices

Natural gas prices dropped Monday on updated forecasts for a cooler early summer across the Midwest and Northeast, meaning utility customers will use a lot less air conditioning. The natural gas industry typically sees a surge in demand in summer months as utilities meet increased power demand from air conditioning by consumers and businesses. Natural gas futures for July were trading at $2.89 per Mmbtu, a decline of 4.5 percent. "When you look at basically Chicago to Boston in the next two weeks, you don't seen any hot weather," said Gene McGillian, manager, market research at Tradition Energy.

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Law360

June 16, 2017

Investors Get Class Cert. In Angola Oil Bribe Suit

A Texas federal judge granted class certification Thursday to hundreds of investors suing Cobalt International Energy Inc. for allegedly bribing government officials in Angola to get oil-drilling permits and then making misrepresentations to stock and bond investors that led to billions in losses. In approving the investor's motion for class certification, U.S. District Judge Nancy F. Atlas noted that the “defendants admit that there are common issues of law and fact, such as whether the defendants made misrepresentations [and] whether those misrepresentations were material.” The complaint, first filed in November 2014, alleges that Cobalt obtained access to its Angolan wells by partnering with shell companies, including one called Nazaki Oil & Gaz, that were owned by Angolan officials, putting the company at risk of enforcement action by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice.

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Houston Chronicle

June 19, 2017

Fix shale oil production pollution before it gets worse, study leader says

Scientists, regulators and leaders of Texas' energy industry must identify and understand the environmental risks of shale oil and gas drilling before air pollution or water contamination leads to tighter restrictions that could ultimately derail the rebounding industry, the leader of a broad new study said Monday. "We really do thrive on the availability of energy in the United States," said the University of Houston's Christine Ehlig-Economides, a former Schlumberger petroleum engineer and chairman of a shale task force convened by The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas. "Where there are things that could threaten the future for this kind of development, those are the things we really must address."

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Daily Caller

June 20, 2017

Eighth Major Report Finds Water Contamination From Fracking ‘Has Not Been Observed’

A report by a Texas-based research organization found hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has not led to widespread water contamination in the Lone Star state, further contradicting claims from environmentalists. The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST) released its study Monday, concluding that contamination of drinking water from fracking “has not been observed in Texas.” The report noted that fracking is “highly unlikely” to contaminate drinking water aquifers, which are often far away from where the oil or natural gas is extracted. “This study is yet another indication that the campaign to shut down fracking is based on politics, not science,” Steve Everley, spokesman, Texans for Natural Gas, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “If fracking were a credible risk to groundwater, we would know about it in Texas, which produces more oil and natural gas than any other state. The fact that such an incident hasn’t been observed here is further confirmation that fracking is safe and well-regulated,” Everley said.

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Denton Record Chronicle

June 20, 2017

Locals concerned about future of agriculture in Denton County

Texas is losing its productive agricultural land, and Denton County is no exception. Locals who own land in Denton County are voicing their concerns about the area's changing landscape. Some assert that owning land today is getting harder. From 1997 to 2012, Texas lost 1.1 million acres of working agricultural land, according to Texas Land Trends, an organization that monitors and compiles data for Texas from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Agriculture Statistics Service. ... “Thirty years ago, we didn’t care. What changed?” Lashmet said at the meeting. “The F-word: fracking.” Hydraulic fracturing, a technique that involves injecting liquid deep into the earth to help access hard-to-reach natural gas, was temporarily banned by Denton voters in November 2014. The ban was lifted shortly after in 2015. Denton is again legally fracking-friendly.

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The Hill

June 19, 2017

Supreme Court declines to hear Chevron, Ecuador case

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear arguments in an ongoing legal fight between Chevron Corp. and Ecuador. Steven Donziger, an American lawyer representing Ecuador in its legal battle over environmental damage done in the country, had appealed a lower court’s ruling that blocked penalties against Chevron in the case. The Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in August ruled that Donziger engaged in “bribery, coercion and fraud” after an Ecuadoran court ruled against Chevron in 2011. The Supreme Court on Monday formally declined to hear an appeal in the case. The legal fight stems from Chevron’s 2001 purchase of a subsidiary that operated in Ecuador. Residents accused the subsidiary, Texaco, of environmental damage stemming from oil exploration in the Amazon rainforest in the 1990s.

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Utilities Stories

Bloomberg

June 20, 2017

Texas Is Too Windy and Sunny for Old Energy Companies to Make Money

As attractive a renewable-energy concept as wind power is, it’s plagued by a fundamental flaw. It blows the most in the dead of night, precisely when there’s the least demand for electricity. That’s true for just about every wind-blown spot across the U.S., from the foothills of the Tehachapi Mountains in California to the coastal plains of North Carolina. And then there’s South Texas. It is to wind, engineers have discovered in recent years, a bit like what Napa Valley is to wine and Georgia is to peaches. For not only does the state’s Gulf Coast generate strong evening gusts, but it also blows fiercely in the middle of the day, just as electricity consumption is peaking. It’s the result of something called convection currents—a phenomenon caused by the gap between the temperature on the water and land—and it’s allowing wind farms owned by Apex Clean Energy Inc. and Avangrid Inc. to tap into the midday spike in electricity prices that comes as air conditioners start to hum.

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UT News

June 20, 2017

Center for Electromechanics to Lead Rural Energy Grid Project

The Department of Energy has selected the Center for Electromechanics (CEM) in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin to lead a new $1.6 million project to develop the technology needed to bring the reliable and efficient emerging electrical grid to rural parts of Texas and the nation. It is one of seven major projects launched by the DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability as part of a nearly $10 million research investment. The projects are intended to help utilities advance and expand their distributed energy resources (DERs), such as solar photovoltaics, combustion engines and energy storage systems onto the grid. This will help transform the grid from a one-way street into a two-way street for the flow of electricity.

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Washington Examiner

June 15, 2017

Cyber, physical attacks against the grid increasing

"While there were no reportable cyber security incidents during 2016 and therefore none that caused a loss of load [or power], this does not necessarily suggest that the risk of a cyber security incident is low," said the North American Electric Reliability Corporation in its 2017 State of Reliability report released Thursday. "In fact, the number of cyber security vulnerabilities continues to increase as does the number of threat groups," the report's executive summary stated. ... The report showed that there were "a few nonmandatory reports of cyber incidents in 2016, such as phishing and malicious software, found on enterprise (noncontrol) computers," which aren't used in power plant operations. "While none of these incidents resulted in load loss, they are a reminder that cyber security risks are ever present."

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CNBC

June 20, 2017

Nuclear power on the 'front burner,' says Energy Secretary Rick Perry

The Trump administration sees nuclear power as "a very important part" of an all-of-the-above energy strategy, Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Monday. "Bringing our nuclear energy industry back, small modular reactors for instance, that's on the front burner so to speak," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on the sidelines of the SelectUSA Investment Summit, which promotes investment in the U.S. Perry's comment offers some insight into the administration's spending priorities as it seeks to slash funding for Energy's research and development programs by 54 percent from 2016 levels. Offices that would see deep cuts — unless Congress intervenes — include those responsible for promoting energy efficiency and extending the life of nuclear power plants.

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Wall St. Journal

June 20, 2017

Coal’s Decline Spreads Far Beyond Appalachia

SOMERSET, Mass.—Far from the mines of Appalachia, the decline of coal is hitting communities that relied on coal-fired power plants for jobs and income. During the past five years, roughly 350 coal-fired generating units shut down across the U.S., ranging from small units at factories to huge power plants, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. A single power plant could have one or several units. Many of these plants were built near the source in Appalachia and western states. But generators built in far-away places like New England have also turned off. The shutdowns can cost communities both high-paying jobs and important sources of tax revenue.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Reuters

June 20, 2017

Wind, solar energy have not harmed U.S. power grid: industry study

With the Trump administration expected to publish an analysis that could undermine the U.S. wind and solar industries, two renewable energy lobbying groups on Tuesday released their own study saying new energy sources pose no threat to the country's power grid. Wind and solar advocates have said the government study's outcome appeared to be pre-determined to favor fossil fuel industries. The new report, commissioned by the American Wind Energy Association and Advanced Energy Economy, says cheap natural gas is behind most of the decline in the numbers of U.S. coal-fired power plants in recent years, not government subsidies that have bolstered the growth of wind and solar power. It also said there is no evidence to show that wind and solar energy are threatening the reliability of the electric grid.

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Wichita Falls Times Record

June 20, 2017

Navy study: Wind farms could significantly degrade air traffic control radar detection

In a letter to Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the Department of the Navy said a study it commissioned has found that student pilot training operations could be hindered by wind turbine technology. Cornyn has filed legislation in the U.S. Senate that would prohibit wind developers from receiving incentives through the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit as well as the Investment Tax Credit should they build wind farms within a 30-mile radars of military airfields. The senator sent his concerns to the Navy, specifically pointing out potential conflicts in South Texas as it relates to Navy pilot training programs.

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Scientific American

June 20, 2017

Can Offshore Wind Power Revive U.S. Ports?

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — This salt-caked fishing port has been flush with wind prospectors ever since Massachusetts legislators passed a law for massive wind development in the shallow waters south of Martha's Vineyard. Ed Anthes-Washburn, a local port official, estimates he gives five harbor tours a month to wind industry representatives. Planning for the industry's arrival now occupies much of his time, alongside proposals to redevelop several old industrial sites and a Seattle-style fish pier. “It started Aug. 8, the day the governor signed the bill,” Anthes-Washburn said, gazing out over the harbor here, where a mass of fishing trawlers, scallopers and clam boats formed a rocking forest of rigging and nets. “It's been pretty consistent since then.”

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Inside Climate News

June 19, 2017

Is 100% Renewable Energy Feasible? New Paper Argues for a Different Target

Is a goal of shifting the entire U.S. electric grid to 100 percent renewable energy by the 2050s realistic, or is aiming to decarbonizing 80 percent of it a more feasible target? A paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) offers a window into an increasingly lively debate between top energy experts over the most realistic way to reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century and slow global warming. The study, from a group of 21 prestigious academic and private energy researchers, argues that if the United States is going to affordably remove carbon dioxide from across the entire electricity grid, it must employ the broadest range of technologies possible, including increased use of renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, but also nuclear power and carbon capture and storage that would allow the continued use of some fossil fuel energy sources.

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The Hill

June 20, 2017

Solar panel makers look to White House for help

Solar panel manufacturers are pushing to impose trade penalties on imports to the United States, dividing their industry while potentially creating a new trade case for President Trump. Two companies that manufacture solar panels and related technology in the United States are asking the Trump administration to impose pricing policies, such as tariffs or price floors, on imported panel technologies. Suniva Inc. and SolarWorld USA say a surge of cheap imports from China and elsewhere are destroying domestic manufacturing of the panels. Suniva filed a petition with the International Trade Commission (ITC) for the trade remedies in May, shortly after filing for bankruptcy. SolarWorld, a unit of a German company, joined the case later that month after making big job cuts.

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Regulatory Stories

The Hill

June 20, 2017

House passes nuclear energy tax bill

The House quickly passed a bill extending a nuclear energy tax credit on Tuesday. The bill, bipartisan legislation from Reps. Tom Rice (R-S.C.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and others, would increase the number of utilities that can qualify for the tax credit and remove construction deadlines for facilities that use it. The House passed the bill, which would cost $16 million over 10 years, on a voice vote. The legislation lifts a requirement that nuclear facilities be placed into service by the end of 2020 in order to receive the 1.8-cent-per-kilowatt-hour tax credit.

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Dallas Morning News

June 20, 2017

Lawmakers grill Energy chief Rick Perry on plans to slash department's budget

Herding his first federal agency budget through Congress, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Tuesday that "this isn't my first rodeo." But the man used to dealing with big budgets as Texas governor still got the business end of taking on a new mount, as both Republicans and Democrats on a key House panel grilled Perry -- albeit cordially -- on a spending plan that would pursue deep cuts in science and energy programs. The GOP chairman of the House Appropriations Committee pressed Perry on cuts to a fusion energy program. Another Republican worried that the trims might devastate some national labs. A top Democrat even recalled that Perry once famously suggested axing the agency altogether.

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Dallas Morning News

June 19, 2017

Rep. Will Hurd: Texas needs to 'take the lead' on NAFTA negotiations

Travel delays waylaid his arrival, so by the time U.S. Rep. Will Hurd arrived at the George W. Bush Presidential Center on Monday, his audience was primed. The group wanted to hear a defense of NAFTA, the embattled quarter century-old trade agreement that economists have credited with easing the flow of people and goods between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. And they wanted to hear about the odds of protecting it from a public relations assault, propelled largely by President Donald Trump, the leader of Hurd’s party, who has blamed the pact for the loss of thousands of American jobs.

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Clean Technica

June 15, 2017

Casey: No, Really, Trump Administration Officially Bullish On Renewables, Bearish On Coal

File this one under W for When will President Trump wake up and do something about that darned Rick Perry? Energy Secretary Perry has been talking up wind and solar nonstop ever since assuming the helm at the US Department of Energy, despite the President’s pro-coal rhetoric. To hammer home the point, the agency’s entire website has just been entirely revamped to shine a happy light on renewables. The new Energy Department home page sets the tone with a wide top banner that spotlights three links focusing attention on the agency’s Mission, its network of National Laboratories, and the Million Veteran Program. The Mission page leads off with this observation: "The mission of the Energy Department is to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.

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The Hill

June 19, 2017

Ex-Bush official expected to be deputy EPA head

President Trump is likely to nominate former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official Jeff Holmstead to be the agency’s deputy administrator, Axios reported Monday. Holmstead is a partner at the law and lobbying firm Bracewell. Other potential contenders for the post have been ruled out, Axios said, citing two sources. Trump has allegedly met with the former leader of the EPA’s air pollution office under President George W. Bush and likes him, although no final decision has been made. Holmstead would be relatively moderate for Trump’s EPA.

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June 20, 2017

Lead Stories

Reuters

June 19, 2017

Hess to sell Permian EOR assets to Occidental for $600 million

Hess Corp (HES.N) said on Monday it would sell its stake in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) projects in the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico to Occidental Petroleum Corp (OXY.N) for $600 million in cash. The deal cements Occidental's status as the dominant U.S. producer of oil via carbon injection, a process favored by environmentalists and oil producers alike, and one that could grow in popularity if Congress expands a tax credit this summer. The EOR process harnesses the carbon dioxide produced during the extraction of oil, from power plants or from natural sources, and forces it back into aging oil fields. That boosts the pressure underground and drives more oil to the surface.

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Houston Chronicle

June 19, 2017

Gulf storm likely to hit Texas coast by Wednesday

A tropical disturbance could make landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border as early as Wednesday afternoon as Tropical Storm Cindy, according to the National Weather Service. The disturbance's predicted arrival and likely upgrade came shortly after another disturbance in the Atlantic was upgraded to a tropical storm named Bret. ... It is still too early to say if Bret, near Venezuela Monday evening, will effect the Texas coast. Forecasts as of Monday evening showed the storm likely to become Cindy rumbling north of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. It is expected to make landfall near Houston and then curve east away from the city before turning into a tropical depression. The storm will only slightly brush Houston with strong winds and rainfall.

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Bloomberg

June 19, 2017

Exxon Makes a Biofuel Breakthrough

It’s the holy grail for biofuel developers hoping to coax energy out of algae: Keep the organism fat enough to produce oil but spry enough to grow quickly. J. Craig Venter, the scientist who mapped the human genome, just helped Exxon Mobil Corp. strike that balance, with a breakthrough that could enable widespread commercialization of algae-based biofuels. Exxon and Venter’s Synthetic Genomics Inc. are announcing the development at a conference in San Diego on Monday. They used advanced cell engineering to more than double the fatty lipids inside a strain of algae. The technique may be replicated to boost numbers on other species too. "Tackling the inner workings of algae cells has not been trivial," Venter said. "Nobody’s really ever been there before; there’s no guideline to go by."

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Wall St. Journal

June 20, 2017

Big Oil Steps Up Support for Carbon Tax

Some of the world’s largest oil companies and the country’s biggest auto maker are joining a group pushing the U.S. government to tax carbon in an effort to slow climate change. General Motors Co. , Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP PLC are among almost a dozen companies joining the Climate Leadership Council, a new organization that advocates replacing many environmental regulations with a simplified tax on businesses that release carbon into the atmosphere. The plan proposes directly paying out this money to all citizens to defray the likely costs from rising energy prices. A group of influential Republicans, including former secretaries of State George Shultz and James Baker, have spearheaded the group’s efforts, which are at odds with many in their own party.

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Tyler Morning Telegraph

June 19, 2017

Tyler Morning Telegraph: Tech, information will drive the next energy revolution

This is fair warning. The revolution in energy isn’t over - far from it. Although hydraulic fracturing and improved extraction of oil and gas from shale formations - the Shale Revolution - continues, there’s another revolution, and it could be even more transformative. That’s the gist of an important new essay in Foreign Affairs magazine, titled “The Next Energy Revolution.” ... Today, smarter management of complex systems, data analytics, and automation are remaking the industry once again, boosting the productivity and flexibility of energy companies. These changes have begun to transform not only the industries that produce commodities such as oil and gas but also the ways in which companies generate and deliver electric power. A new electricity industry is emerging - one that is more decentralized and consumer-friendly, and able to integrate many different sources of power into highly reliable power grids.” But no revolution is painless. “It could destabilize countries whose economies depend on revenue from traditional energy sources, such as Russia, the big producers of the Persian Gulf, and Venezuela,” [the authors] say. “It could hurt lower-skilled workers, whose jobs are vulnerable to automation.”

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

June 20, 2017

Oil prices edge up from 7-month low, but glut keeps dragging

Oil prices inched up from seven-month lows in Asian trading on Tuesday, but gains were limited as investors focused on persistent signs of rising supply that are undermining attempts by OPEC and other producers to support prices. Brent futures were up 13 cents at $47.04 at 0034 GMT. On Monday, they fell 46 cents, or 1 percent, to settle at $46.91 a barrel. That was their lowest since Nov. 29, the day before the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers agreed to cut output for six months from January. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 13 cents at $44.33 a barrel. They declined 54 cents, or 1.2 percent in the previous session, to settle at $44.20 per barrel, the lowest close since Nov. 14. The July contract will expire on Tuesday and August will become the front month.

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CNBC

June 19, 2017

EQT's purchase of Rice Energy just created a new energy powerhouse

Pittsburgh-based EQT Corp. is poised to become the largest producer of natural gas in the United States after announcing it will acquire fellow shale driller Rice Energy. EQT announced on Monday it will buy all of Rice Energy's shares in a deal worth $6.7 billion. After closing, EQT's output will total 3.6 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas, topping U.S. production by oil major Exxon Mobil and shale drilling pioneer Chesapeake Energy. The acquisition extends EQT's footprint in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions. The area underlying Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia is the epicenter of a boom in American natural gas produced through hydraulic fracturing, the process of injecting water, minerals and chemicals underground to free oil and gas from rock formations.

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Houston Chronicle

June 19, 2017

Chevron Phillips Chemical wraps up construction on Old Ocean polyethylene units

Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. has finished building two polyethylene units in Old Ocean, southwest of Houston, a “major milestone” in its $6 billion petrochemical expansion along the Gulf Coast. The Woodlands-based company, a joint venture of California’s Chevron Corp. and Houston’s Phillips 66, is now testing the units “to ensure a safe and reliable start-up, and consistent, high-quality production,” the company said in an announcement on Monday. They expect operations to start next quarter. Each unit will produce at least 500,000 metric tons of product annually.

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Associated Press

June 18, 2017

Judge won’t allow Trump to be added to pipeline lawsuit

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A judge says he’s inclined to let a group of individual members of American Indian tribes join a lawsuit over the Dakota Access oil pipeline, but only if they agree to not add President Donald Trump as a defendant. Any action against the president whose administration pushed through the pipeline’s completion would need to come in a separate lawsuit, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said. The group’s lead attorney said that’s still a possibility. The pipeline began shipping oil to customers on June 1. The White House said the administration is confident that federal analysis of the pipeline’s environmental impacts “is legally sound.” Four Sioux tribes in the Dakotas are suing Texas-based pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners and the Army Corps of Engineers, which permitted the $3.8 billion project to move North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a distribution point in Illinois where it can be shipped to Gulf Coast refineries. The tribes fear environmental and cultural harm, which ETP denies.

This article appeared in the Washington Times

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Houston Chronicle

June 18, 2017

Oil slump slammed many companies' revenues

Falling oil prices crushed corporate revenue streams across Houston last year, plunging sales in the region to even lower levels than in the Great Recession eight years ago. Energy prices have recovered somewhat this year, easing the financial sting for the oil and gas companies that cut tens of thousands of jobs across the region. But in 2016, revenue for Houston's 100 biggest public companies dropped to $561.7 billion, down from the $976.7 billion they collected at the height of the oil boom in 2014, according to rankings prepared for the Houston Chronicle. Sixty-five of those companies, from top-ranked refiner Phillips 66 to next-to-last oil equipment maker Frank's International, reported lower revenue last year compared with the year before. In 2009, during the nation's worst economic recession in decades, revenue fell for all but 13 of Houston's top companies, but sales still came in at $619.9 billion and increased 7 percent the following year.

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Casper Star Tribune (WY)

June 16, 2017

Family's fracking lawsuit just got a boost from a federal judge

A Wyoming family won the right to call one of Gov. Matt Mead’s advisers to provide evidence in its case alleging that a gas company polluted groundwater and then lied about it. U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson’s decision Wednesday calls for former Mead policy adviser Jerimiah Rieman to testify under oath regarding the natural gas company’s involvement in a state report that hydraulic fracturing and disposal pits could not be linked to water contamination in the Pavillion gas field. Encana Corp. executive Lemuel Smith will also be deposed. He cooperated with Rieman on the state’s investigation, according to court documents.

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Oilman Magazine

June 18, 2017

Oklahoma is still a sweet spot for new wells

Many large oil and gas companies have found the prospect of drilling new wells and operating in new areas to be unattractive. The reasoning is sound enough — if certain plays are not profitable with an oil price within the $40-$50 range, then why pursue those options? This explains the decline in offshore production and the rise of shale production in the northeast. However, Oklahoma seems to still be a place where companies are willing to begin anew with fresh wells using clever strategies. For example, Wright Drilling & Exploration, based in Denison, Texas, recently announced that it had successfully completed its sixth Oklahoma oil well project. On June 14, the company revealed that it had completed testing and drilling on its JULIE #2 project, located in Okfuskee County in Oklahoma, and the firm had deemed it to be a productive well. The release notes that JULIE #2 is a direct-offset well to another Wright Drilling project, JULIE #1. An offset well is typically a previously existing wellbore that is used to smooth along the process of drilling a new well in a nearby or similar region.

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Wall St. Journal

June 19, 2017

Three Years On, Oil Industry Comes to Terms With Cheap Crude

Three years after the price of crude began its rapid descent, the oil industry and investors are finally resigned to the idea of lower prices for longer, potentially ending a period of crisis for the sector. ... But now, petrostates, investors and major oil companies are adapting to a world in which they see a range of $50 to $60 a barrel as the new equilibrium. The industry has had little choice but to accept the new reality after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other big producers failed to lift oil prices by capping their production, most recently at a meeting in late May. Producers have cut costs, focused on more-profitable assets and no longer throw money at costly projects in places like the Arctic. Their ability to profit at lower oil prices has helped steady investors’ nerves, and they are starting to fund new projects again, though a debate is still raging over the prospect of a supply crunch down the line.

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New York Magazine

June 12, 2017

What the Hell Is Happening With Qatar?

Q: What do you make of the rest of the Trump administration, led by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, trying to do damage control? A: Tillerson, before he became Secretary of State, was head of ExxonMobil, and that company has enormous interests in Qatar. Tillerson, as its CEO, was instrumental in expanding those interests. He knows the emir, he knows the emir’s father — the previous emir — extremely well. So does Mattis, from when Mattis was commander of CentCom. So these two, unlike Trump, have extensive experience with the commercial and strategic value of Qatar to the U.S., and they also have personal relationships with the rulers going back years. I think they were definitely pushing back.

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Bloomberg

June 19, 2017

Oil Tanker Storage Hits a 2017 Record Despite OPEC's Cuts

Oil traders are resorting to storing more and more oil at sea amid swelling output in the Atlantic region, a sign the market is far from the kind of re-balancing that OPEC would have hoped for when the group set out last year to bring down global stockpiles. The amount of oil stored in tankers reached a 2017 high of 111.9 million barrels earlier this month, according to Paris-based tracking company Kpler SAS. Higher volumes of storage in the North Sea, Singapore and Iran account for most of the increase. ... “If anything, it shows that OPEC cuts still aren’t having enough of an impact,” Olivier Jakob, managing director of consultant Petromatrix GmbH, said of the buildup at sea. “The pressure is coming from the Atlantic Basin,” where there are additional supplies, he said.

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Houston Chronicle

June 17, 2017

Employers seem to be in no hurry on hiring

Houston's biggest non-government employers have been hesitant over the past year, as even the largest hospitals have slowed the runaway growth they enjoyed that had buoyed the local market while energy sagged. That's added up to tepid overall job growth in the area, with Houston's employment base adding only 0.6 percent in 2016 - far behind the statewide average of 1.7 percent. Hiring picked up strongly to 2.5 percent in the first quarter of 2017, according to the Dallas Federal Reserve, but largely in the industrial sectors that had suffered most through the oil downturn. "White-collar jobs are still very scarce," says Bill Gilmer, director of the Institute for Regional Forecasting at the University of Houston's Bauer School of Business. "When they are filled, it's usually at a discount compared to the salary that was being paid previously."

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MSN

June 17, 2017

Ten earthquakes in northern Arkansas in the past five days?

Blame it on Bull Shoals Lake, swollen by spring floods. The lake, which straddles the Missouri-Arkansas border, has risen 42 feet since the first of March, adding more than 6 trillion pounds of water weight to the lake basin. That crushing weight triggered a 3.6-magnitude earthquake north of Harrison, Arkansas, on Sunday and at least nine more in the following days, according to David Johnston, earthquake geologist with the Arkansas Geological Survey. "That's a whole lot of weight — 6 trillion pounds of weight added to the local geologic column," Johnston said Friday. "That much weight can cause a tremendous amount of stress."

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Utilities Stories

Houston Chronicle

June 16, 2017

Texas power plants among nation's top emitters of carbon dioxide

Power plants in Texas are among those that lead the nation in emissions that contribute to global warming and pollution, according to a new report. The report, "Benchmarking Air Emmissions," compiled by M.J. Bradley & Associates, a Massachusetts energy consulting firm, examines air emissions from plants owned by the top 100 merchant power companies in the U.S. Houston's Exelon is fourth; NRG Energy is eighth; Calpine Corp. is tenth and Dynegy is eleventh. Many power plants, particularly those that are coal-fired, produce sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, mercury and nitrogen oxides, which contribute to pollution, global warming and respiratory problems. As of 2015, power plants accounted for more than half of the sulfur dioxide emissions in the U.S. and 38 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions, according to the study.

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Platts

June 16, 2017

US power sector to burn 699 million st of coal in 2017: analyst

US electric power sector coal burn is expected to total 699 million st in 2017, up 20 million st from 2016, assuming natural gas prices meet expectations, according to coal and gas reports released Thursday. Arlington, Virginia-based consultant Energy Ventures Analysis based its estimates in a report titled "Gas & Coal Price Sensitivity Outlook" on NYMEX Henry Hub gas prices averaging $3.15/MMBtu for the remainder of the year. In 2018, the electric sector would consume 706.6 million st of thermal coal with gas prices projected to average $3.05/MMBtu, EVA said. "There's a possibility that gas prices could rally if power sector demand for the summer exceeds expectations," Aqeel Adenwala, senior consultant for EVA, later told S&P Global Platts.

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Politico

June 18, 2017

Why This Part of Coal Country Loves Solar Power

WILLLIAMSBURG, Kentucky—The first few months of 2017 haven’t been especially kind to the coal miners of Kentucky. Eighty-eight of them lost their jobs when a single company, Mountainside Coal, laid off its entire work force. Deb Moses was one of them. “I volunteered for the layoff because somebody had to go,” she told POLITICO Magazine. “I was the one that could handle it because I didn’t have a mortgage.” Whitley County, in the Appalachian foothills, was one of the hardest-hit counties in a state that saw an overall loss of 216 coal jobs during the first quarter, according to the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet. In a region where coal still dominates a sagging economy, even small fluctuations like this are parsed for signs of larger trends.

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Energy Collective

June 19, 2017

The Fall and Rise of Nuclear Power

More important even than its 8% share of world GDP, energy is the master resource, enabling industry, agriculture, and services worldwide. Energy is worth a war. Conflicts over energy include China’s usurpation of territory in the South China Sea, Sudan atrocities, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, and the blockade of Japan’s SE Asia oil imports that sparked Pearl Harbor. Energy is important in war and peace. Nuclear fission can provide virtually unlimited motive power, and selling its energy can provide strategic economic power. Though US officials regularly self-congratulate themselves about US gold-standard nuclear policies, the US hardly advances industrial nuclear technology and sells little of it, so has little strategic influence. The nuclear nonproliferation treaty implemented the desires of permanent members of the UN security council US, Russia, China, France, and the UK to reserve nuclear weapons for themselves, offering fission power assistance to the have-not-weapons states in exchange for forswearing nuclear weapons.

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Scientific American

June 16, 2017

Nevada Boosts Solar Power, Reversing Course

The unlikely scene that unfolded in Las Vegas yesterday looked like this: There was Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, seated before a table resembling a solar panel, ready to sign a bill restoring net metering in Nevada. Tesla Inc.'s red logo highlighted the scene. It was attached to a warehouse wall, serving as a backdrop. Nearby, a crowd of solar advocates, environmentalists and state lawmakers looked on. “I believe, humbly, it will be a national model across the country,” the governor told the crowd. “I'm as competitive as it gets, and I want Nevada to truly be a leader in energy policy.” The gathering followed an 18-month roller-coaster ride that kicked net metering out of the state, leading to an exodus of solar installers. In response, there was a legislative blitz by renewable energy advocates in Carson City, the state capital. Lawmakers sent 11 green-shaded bills to the governor's desk for approval.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Houston Chronicle

June 16, 2017

Opinions are all over the map on the value of solar power

Texas' lack of a statewide net metering policy, meanwhile, has hindered the spread of rooftop systems as solar companies and retail electricity providers are left to determine their own values for solar power. But Texas residents who get rooftop panels are eligible for federal tax credits; companies can qualify for a tax abatement if they build utility-scale projects that produce more than 1 megawatt, or enough to power 200 homes on a hot Texas day. And so solar has started to spread, albeit slowly, as Texas utilities, retail electricity providers and grid operators try to resolve problems that state government hasn't take on - like determining rates for solar power sales and how to work home-generated solar power into the grid. Texas solar companies gathered in Austin last week for a small summit to talk about how the industry, among other things, values the energy that it produces. But there seemed to be little consensus.

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Seeker

June 16, 2017

Stretchable Solar Batteries May Power the Next Generation of Wearable Devices

Batteries came in a familiar assortment of shapes and sizes. You had your tiny AA, for example, your even tinier AAA, your meaty D batteries, and the squared-off 9-volt. In recent years, electronic devices have migrated into all sorts of strange areas — smart underwear, for instance, that can measure your heart rate, calorie consumption, and posture. As such, batteries are changing too. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have developed a new kind of stretchy battery specifically designed for wearable devices and clothing that require more flexibility than old-school electronics. In fact, the engineering team has come up with two new stretchy battery designs that can expand, contract, and bend while preserving the cost-efficiency and safety of traditional batteries.

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The New Yorker

June 20, 2017

McKibben: The Race to Solar-Power Africa

Electrifying Africa is one of the largest development challenges on earth. Until recently, most people assumed that the continent would electrify in the same manner as the rest of the globe. “The belief was, you’d eventually build the U.S. grid here,” Xavier Helgesen, the American co-founder and C.E.O. of Off-Grid Electric, told me. “But the U.S. is the richest country on earth, and it wasn’t fully electrified until the nineteen-forties, and that was in an era of cheap copper for wires, cheap timber for poles, cheap coal, and cheap capital. None of that is so cheap anymore, at least not over here.” Solar electricity, on the other hand, has become inexpensive, in part because the price of solar panels has fallen at the same time that the efficiency of light bulbs and appliances has dramatically increased. In 2009, a single compact fluorescent bulb and a lead-acid battery cost about forty dollars; now, using L.E.D. bulbs and lithium-ion batteries, you can get four times as much light for the same price.

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Salt Lake Tribune

June 17, 2017

Utah facility can turn food waste into enough natural gas to power a small city

State and local officials broke ground for Utah's first food digester Thursday morning in a project aimed at reducing landfill waste and harnessing unused renewable energy. The North Salt Lake facility, to be opened in late 2018, will deploy anaerobic digesters to grind and liquify food waste, then use water, heat and bacteria to convert it into methane gas to be used as natural gas and bio-solids to be converted into fertilizer. Officials hope the digesters will save landfill space, reduce greenhouse emissions from buried organic garbage and give businesses an affordable alternative for disposing of their food waste. "We wouldn't take a barrel of oil and bury it and we are essentially doing the same thing with our food waste," said Morgan Bowerman, recovery resource and sustainability manager for the site.

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Regulatory Stories

Associated Press

June 19, 2017

George P. Bush seeking re-election in Texas

George P. Bush is seeking re-election as Texas land commissioner next year, hoping to continue running a little-known but powerful agency in a state where his political-dynasty family has been prominent for decades. Bush unveiled a campaign website early Monday, and was emailing supporters. His grandfather, President George H.W. Bush, was once a Texas congressman and his uncle, George W. Bush, left Texas' governorship for the presidency. Bush was elected land commissionership in 2014 - the first Bush to win an election on his first try.

This article appeared on the KRIS website

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Washington Post

June 19, 2017

Rick Perry just denied that humans are the main cause of climate change

Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Monday denied that man-made carbon dioxide emissions are the primary cause of climate change. Asked in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” whether he believed that carbon dioxide was “the primary control knob for the temperature of the Earth and for climate,” Perry said that “No, most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in.” Perry added that “the fact is this shouldn’t be a debate about, ‘Is the climate changing, is man having an effect on it?’ Yeah, we are. The question should be just how much, and what are the policy changes that we need to make to effect that?”

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WTOP

June 16, 2017

Texas companies tie worker shortages to immigration fears

Though construction is in high demand in Texas’ booming capital city, Oscar Martinez’s drywall company is suddenly struggling. One-third of the approximately 20 employees Martinez uses to build new homes and commercial spaces have recently fled the state, spooked by a combination of a federal immigration crackdown by the Trump administration and a tough anti-“sanctuary cities” law approved last month by Texas’ Republican-controlled Legislature. “I took a big hit since my workers started hearing crazy stories about being deported, and they panicked,” said Martinez, who relies on immigrants in the U.S. illegally for labor and has failed to find replacements for the physically grueling, precise work. “The Americans I hire can’t last in this job more than half a day,” Martinez said.

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Rio Grande Guardian

June 15, 2017

Cornyn, Cruz: It’s Time to Modernize NAFTA and Texas Knows How

When the North American Free Trade Agreement was enacted 23 years ago, an economic surge in Texas ensued thanks, in part, to a significant boost in trade with our neighbor to the south. Today, more than 380,000 Texas jobs hinge on free trade with Mexico. Agreements like NAFTA have strengthened our state’s economy as a whole, too. More than a third of total goods, worth $92 billion, are exported from Texas to Mexico annually. But as our economy has expanded, it has matured and diversified. In 1994, when NAFTA went into effect, floppy disks were the norm and streaming videos over the internet was fantasy. The past 20 years has introduced the internet into our everyday lives, which in turn has developed industries like information technology and digital trade.

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Politico

June 18, 2017

The radical idea behind Trump’s EPA rollbacks

The Trump administration isn’t just pushing to dramatically shrink the Environmental Protection Agency, chop a third of its budget and hobble its regulatory powers. It’s also trying to permanently limit the EPA’s mission — while portraying doing so as a return to the agency's roots. What Administrator Scott Pruitt calls his “Back to Basics” agenda would refocus the agency on narrow goals such as cleaning up toxic waste and providing safe drinking water — the kinds of issues that inspired the EPA’s creation in 1970 amid a public outcry about burning rivers and smog-filled skies. But it would abandon the Obama administration’s climate regulations, along with other efforts that Pruitt argues exceed the agency’s legal authority.

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Townhall

June 10, 2017

Driessen: More Rational Policies in Our Future?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gamely said she will now work “more than ever” to “save our planet.” A number of US cities and states pledged to remain committed to treaty obligations. How exactly will they do that? Will they pay all these billions into the Fund – and blanket their lands with enough wind, solar and biofuel installations to go completely renewable in a few decades? Build more of the only CO2-free electricity sources that are reliable and affordable: nuclear and hydroelectric facilities? Most of these national, state and local leaders oppose nuclear and hydroelectric as strongly as they detest fossil fuels – and the states and cities are already burdened by soaring electricity prices and government debt. Virtually none have considered the gargantuan costs of this “energy transition” – or the fact that total global adherence to the Paris Treaty would prevent an undetectable 0.2 degrees C (0.3 F) of warming by 2100. Their own self-aggrandizing efforts would prevent perhaps 0.01 degrees. (And that assumes carbon dioxide is the primary factor in climate change, instead of changes in solar energy output, cosmic rays, ocean circulation and numerous other natural forces that actually control Earth’s climate.)

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June 19, 2017

Lead Stories

Houston Chronicle

June 18, 2017

Study of oil and gas drilling finds pollution and connections to earthquakes

Oil and gas drilling in Texas shale plays pollutes the air, erodes soil and contaminates water, while the disposal of millions of gallons of wastewater causes earthquakes, a consortium of the state's top scientists concluded. In the most comprehensive analysis of the environmental and social impacts of drilling and hydraulic fracturing, The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas found that the shale oil boom that delivered so much prosperity to Texas also has degraded natural resources, overwhelmed small communities and even boosted the frequency and severity of traffic collisions as workers and equipment rush to oil fields. Fracking, which uses a high-pressured concoction of water, sand and chemicals to free oil and gas from dense shale rock, is also spreading rapidly across Texas, the study noted. Some companies are even leasing mineral rights under Texas cities. ... The analysis is likely to increase the scrutiny of fracking, particularly as a second shale boom gets underway in the Permian Basin in West Texas and other shale plays in the state. No one, including the scientists who conducted the study, expect oil and gas companies to slow production.

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Reuters

June 16, 2017

Funds pull back from Permian as U.S. shale oil firms go into overdrive

Cash, people and equipment are pouring into the prolific Permian shale basin in Texas as business booms in the largest U.S. oilfield. But one group of investors is heading the other way - concerned that shale may become a victim of its own success. The speed of the recovery in the U.S. shale industry in the past year has surprised oil investors after a global supply glut led to a two-year crude price slump and bankrupted many shale firms. Eight prominent hedge funds have reduced the size of their positions in ten of the top shale firms by over $400 million, concerned producers are pumping oil so fast they will undo the nascent recovery in the industry after OPEC and some non-OPEC producers agreed to cut supply in November.

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Wall St. Journal

June 16, 2017

Big Oil Firms Are Exploring a New Frontier in Shale: Profits

MIDLAND, Texas—For Bruce Niemeyer, the Chevron Corp. CVX 1.90% executive overseeing the company’s $15 billion expansion here, one question looms above all: Will we make money? Big oil companies including Chevron, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC are piling into the Permian Basin, the oil-rich region straddling Texas and New Mexico that is the epicenter of the second wave of U.S. shale drilling. Chevron and others say they will soon achieve something that has proven surprisingly elusive for their smaller peers: turning a profit. The shale-drilling renaissance rocked global markets and helped send crude prices into a prolonged slump. What it didn’t do was bring in much cash. Since 2011, the largest 30 independent U.S. shale producers spent an average of nearly $1.33 for every $1 they made drilling wells, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.

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Fast Company

June 16, 2017

Solar And Wind Energy Aren’t “Alternative” Any More

After just five months in office, the Trump Administration has pulled us out of the Paris climate agreement, proposed deep cuts in research and development for electric cars and renewable energy, and made numerous anti-climate appointments at the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, and Department of Interior. Trump’s entire agenda seems designed to help fossil fuel companies at the expense of the clean-energy sector. For anyone who cares about global warming and a less-polluted world, these are surely depressing developments. But there are silver linings. The role of governments–even a government as big and as powerful as the United States’–may not be as important to the future of energy as it once was. Investment in renewables continues to outpace those in fossil fuels two-to-one.

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Bloomberg

June 14, 2017

More Than Half of America's Nuclear Reactors Are Losing Money

More than half of America’s nuclear reactors are bleeding cash, racking up losses totaling about $2.9 billion a year, based on a Bloomberg New Energy Finance analysis. Nuclear power plants are getting paid $20 to $30 a megawatt-hour for their electricity, Nicholas Steckler, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said in a report Wednesday. Meanwhile, it costs them an average of $35 a megawatt-hour to run. That puts 34 of the nation’s 61 plants out of the money, with almost all of the merchant reactors owned by Exelon Corp., Entergy Corp. and FirstEnergy Corp. appearing to be below break-even, he said. The report underscores the increasing pressure nuclear power generators are facing even as cheap natural gas and renewable resources encroach on their share of the U.S. power market. States including New York and Illinois are now working to subsidize nuclear plants to keep them generating emissions-free electricity.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

June 19, 2017

Oil prices dip on further rise in US drilling, demand slowdown

Oil prices dipped on Monday, weighed down by a continuing expansion in U.S. drilling that has helped to maintain high global supplies despite an OPEC-led initiative to cut production to tighten the market. Signs of faltering demand have also prompted weakening sentiment, dropping prices to levels comparable to when the output cuts were first announced late last year. Brent crude futures were down 13 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $47.24 per barrel at 0406 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 15 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $44.59 per barrel. Prices for both benchmarks are down by around 14 percent since late May, when producers led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) extended their pledge to cut production by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) by an extra nine months until the end of the first quarter of 2018.

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Longview News Journal

June 16, 2017

Rig count up 22nd straight week

The number of U.S rigs exploring for oil and natural gas increased for a 22nd straight week, Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday in its weekly report. Despite a growing glut of oil and falling oil prices, drillers added six rigs, bringing the combined rig count to 933. Oil drillers added six rigs to 747 while gas rigs increased by one to 186. Miscellaneous rigs declined one. Overall, 509 more rigs now are at work than at this time a year ago. Texas added no rigs while Oklahoma lost four. North Dakota added three, New Mexico and Colorado added two apiece. Louisiana and California each added one.

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Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

June 17, 2017

XTO moving 1,600 jobs from Fort Worth to Exxon Mobil campus near Houston

Exxon Mobil will relocate the bulk of XTO Energy’s Fort Worth operation to a campus near Houston in a move that will cost the city 1,600 jobs and leave a number of downtown buildings for sale. The oil and gas producer, which was acquired by Exxon in 2010, announced the move to its employees on Friday. Company officials said that 1,200 employees will be moved to Houston in 2018 with another 400 transferring in 2020. XTO will keep about 350 employees in Fort Worth assigned to its Central Division/Fort Worth District as well as some Midstream Operations employees in the field supporting Barnett Shale operations. The expanded Central Division/Fort Worth District employees will move from the Stockyards to one of XTO’s downtown buildings when space becomes available.

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Houston Chronicle

June 17, 2017

Banks and drillers launch IPOs amid oil recovery

Rising oil prices, a stock market rally and a resurgent Houston economy convinced Paul Murphy the time had finally come to take his $10 billion private bank on an eight-day Wall Street roadshow. Murphy's Cadence Bancorporation made its stock market debut in April after a long wait through an oil bust that prompted the Houston bank to almost halve its outstanding loans to oil producers and energy services providers. In 2014, investors had feared a bank with a large number of energy loans would flounder on Wall Street. Now, borrowers in the oil patch are much healthier after cutting costs and reorganizing balance sheets, the banker said in a recent interview.

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Dallas Morning News

June 16, 2017

Oil staging a comeback

Texas’ unemployment rate, which had been inching up for six months, decreased in May, to 4.8 percent, latest state numbers show. And, the state economy grew at a steady — if not stunning — pace. The state added 14,800 jobs overall, a lot of it in the recently sluggish goods-producing sectors including manufacturing and mining and logging. Pia Orrenius, senior economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is expecting a “very good year” if Texas’ workforce can keep up. Here are four key takeaways: Oil is on the upswing. But will it last? In May, mining and logging — the sector that includes oil and energy production — led the pack, adding 6,600 jobs. Orrenius said energy producers are starting to hire back some of the thousands of workers they laid off during the oil bust, but questions remain about the recovery. “It’s still subject to the fragility of oil prices,” she said, adding that the “frenetic pace” of hiring in recent months may slow.

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Austin American-Statesman

June 17, 2017

Scientists: Rapid sinking of Louisiana's coast already counts as a 'worst case scenario'

It's common knowledge that the coast of Louisiana is quietly sinking into the balmy Gulf waters. But new research suggests we may have been underestimating how quickly it's happening. A new paper, published Wednesday in the Geological Society of America's bulletin GSA Today, includes an updated map of the Louisiana coastline and the rate at which it's sinking into the sea, a process scientists call "subsidence," which occurs in addition to the climate change-caused process of sea-level rise. The new map suggests that, on average, the Louisiana coast is sinking at a rate of about 9 millimeters, or just over a third of an inch, per year — a faster rate than previous studies have suggested, according to the authors. ... Scientists have long known that Louisiana is sinking. Subsidence is believed to be a natural process, which has likely been occurring in the region for thousands of years. But scientists believe the process has been enhanced by a variety of human activities in the Mississippi Delta over the past century, including oil and gas extraction, as well as the building of levees and other actions affecting the flow of the Mississippi River, which carries mud and sediment down toward the Gulf and helped build up the delta in the first place.

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Oilman Magazine

June 16, 2017

Are rising Texas exports too much of a good thing?

The Port of Houston has seen a recent surge in Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) exports, which is terrific news for the industry, but it has been accompanied by a decrease in available space for the many transportation ships which make use of the port. The dreaded traffic jam, already ubiquitous on the automotive highways of Houston, could be the newest dilemma for exporters to solve while the activity in the port continually increases. “There’s no question that you get bogged down occasionally in the Ship Channel,” stated Greg Garland, chief executive at Phillips, according to the Houston Chronicle. “It’s just congested.” The port does not only become congested due to the extensive traffic that passes through the channel, but the ports avenues are also quite often hampered by unfavorable weather conditions that come in from the coast. Hurricanes, storms and fog are all frequent occurrences, exacerbating the existing congestion found within the port.

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Argus Media

June 15, 2017

Valero exploring Mexican product supply

US refiner Valero has pitched distributing products by rail from Mexico's east coast to central states, according to marketing materials seen by Argus. The company confirmed meeting with potential clients but declined to comment on the specifics of the proposal. "The plans are in the works and continue to evolve as we hone our strategy to further serve the Mexico market," the company said. Valero is already a regular exporter of products to Mexico, but the plans under consideration would push Valero's supply further inland using rail.

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Reuters

June 16, 2017

Exxon, partners set $4.4 billion for mega oil project in Guyana

Exxon Mobil Corp said on Friday it and partners would spend $4.4 billion to develop part of the Liza oilfield off the coast of Guyana, approving a megaproject at a time when the oil industry has grown obsessed with lower-cost shale. Exxon's decision shows that oil companies remain interested in large projects, especially offshore, even in an era of belt-tightening after two years of low crude prices. The Guyana announcement from Exxon and partners Hess Corp and CNOOC was the fifth deepwater project to gain approvals this year. BP Plc and Reliance Industries said on Thursday they would spend $6 billion to develop natural gas reserves off the Indian coast.

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Houston Chronicle

June 18, 2017

Oil and gas, manufacturing continue turnaround in May, jobs report says

Texas posted another month of strong job growth in May, the Texas Workforce Commission reported Friday, led by oil and gas jobs that are rushing back as producers send rigs back to work. The state added 14,800 positions last month, bringing the annual growth rate to 2.2 percent -- a significant improvement from the 1.8 percent rate at which the state was growing at the end of 2016. Unemployment fell slightly to 4.4 percent, coming close to the national rate of 4.1 percent.

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Houston Chronicle

June 17, 2017

Chronicle 100 -- No. 3: Huntsman thrives as it puts the pieces together

The Woodlands' Huntsman Corp. thrived in recent years by taking the unwanted parts and divisions of other companies and transforming them into high-performing businesses, said Chief Executive Peter Huntsman. "We have a unique culture of people who get the job done," Huntsman said. "I know that sounds glib, but it's true." That model for the growing specialty chemicals giant is expanding further in its upcoming "merger-of-equals" with Switzerland's Clariant into a $14 billion company called HuntsmanClariant.

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Houston Chronicle

June 17, 2017

Chronicle 100 -- No. 10: Kinder Morgan slogs through slump, raises profits

The crash in crude prices has been tough on oil and gas companies. And Houston pipeline giant Kinder Morgan didn't sail through unscathed. It cut about 100 jobs last year. Revenues dropped by billions of dollars. Share prices plummeted, from $42 in 2015 to under $20 by the end of 2016, and haven't rebounded. But Kinder acted quickly to protect profits, cutting its dividend by 75 percent, trimming projects and managing debt. Even as other energy companies were posting hundreds of millions of dollars in losses over the past two years, Kinder's annual earnings never dipped below $200 million. And profits are now rising again. Kinder Morgan is one of the largest energy companies in North America, with interests in 84,000 miles of pipelines and 155 oil, gas and chemical terminals. It came in 10th among public companies on this year's Chronicle 100, with 2016 revenue of more than $13 billion and growth in earnings per share of 150 percent.

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New York Times

June 15, 2017

OPEC Took Aim at U.S. Oil Producers, but Hurt Itself, Too

Picture a three-year-old tug of war waged across the globe that leaves both sides wobbly and scarred but unmoved. That’s one way of looking at the high-stakes competition between the world’s big oil exporters and the companies drilling in American shale fields. The struggle for dominance of the 97-million-barrel-a-day global market has left a scorecard that few in the oil patch could have anticipated three years ago, when oil sold for over $100 a barrel — more than twice the current price, which is near 12-month lows. With the onset of the summer driving season, oil and gasoline prices should be rising, but they have fallen over the last two weeks as inventories of crude and refined products remain stubbornly high in the United States and abroad.

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Forbes

June 13, 2017

Poole: Corporate Mergers Could Return After Sell-Off Of Oil & Gas Stocks

The sell-off of oil and gas exploration and production stocks has been brutal. Exchange-traded funds that specialize in the sector have fallen around 10% to 20% this year, versus an 8% uptick in the market overall. Blame oil prices, which have slid despite members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreeing last month to keep production cuts in place for another nine months. In a note last week, analysts at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. said prices of exploration and production stocks sat at 55% of their expected targets versus 58% just a month ago. Raymond James said both the Bollinger Band and Relative Strength Index signals within its proprietary timing model breached oversold levels last week for the first time in five weeks, "indicating a strong potential buy signal." With stock prices down so much, it might be a good time for the long-term investor to jump in. Could it also be a good time for some corporate mergers?

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Utilities Stories

RTO Insider

June 18, 2017

ERCOT Monitor: Optimizing Energy, Ancillary Services Top Priority

AUSTIN, Texas — Potomac Economics’ David Patton told ERCOT’s Board of Directors last week that while the ISO’s market performed “competitively” in 2016, there’s still room for improvement. Delivering an overview of his firm’s recent State of the Market report for the Texas grid operator, Patton said more efficiencies would be gained by improving the market’s price formation and, more importantly, real-time co-optimization of energy and ancillary services. Potomac Economics, ERCOT’s Independent Market Monitor, filed its most recent market report with the Public Utility Commission of Texas in May. (See “IMM Offers Additional Suggestions to Improve Markets,” ERCOT Briefs.) “Co-optimization is our highest priority recommendation,” Patton said, noting that he has been making that same recommendation since ERCOT’s nodal market was developed last decade.

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Houston Chronicle

June 17, 2017

Chronicle 100 -- No. 7: CenterPoint Energy's customer base grows

Battered by the oil downturn and a mild winter, Houston's CenterPoint Energy made a comeback in 2016, when the electricity and natural gas distribution company reported an income of $432 million, compared with a loss of $692 million in 2015. CenterPoint's earnings per share more than tripled in value in 2016, a move that puts the company at No. 7 on the Houston Chronicle's 2017 list of top-performing companies. CenterPoint is a monopoly electricity and natural gas distributor for Houston and the Gulf Coast. The company employs nearly 8,000 people, more than 5,100 of whom are in Houston. "We had a strong year in 2016, marked by a dividend increase, growth in earnings and customers, and acquisitions," said Scott Prochazka, CenterPoint's CEO. The company expects to invest $1.5 billion in capital in its electric and natural gas utilities this year.

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Houston Chronicle

June 17, 2017

Chronicle 100 -- No. 8: Spark Energy has its 'best year'

While major Houston power-generation companies struggled to profit in 2016 with rock-bottom natural gas prices, Spark Energy, a Houston-based retail electric company, was celebrating. Natural gas prices hit a near 20-year low in 2016, a plunge that allowed the retail electric company, which buys electricity contracts, to buy cheap energy and keep supply costs low. CEO Nathan Kroeker said last year "was the best year we ever had. When commodity prices are low, that's our opportunity to grow." The 18-year-old company went public in 2014, when it posted a loss of around $4.3 million. But since then, the company has completed 10 acquisitions to help manage its debt. By 2015, it reported a profit of nearly $26 million; in 2016, its net income was nearly $65.7 million.

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Information Week

June 16, 2017

Digital Infrastructure for Cities Leads to Big Savings

A Cisco report claims $2.3 trillion is waiting to be realized through digitized services, city management; cites Houston, Oslo, Barcelona as examples. ... Smart meter use in Houston lead to 100 million minutes of electricity outage avoided between 2011 and 2016. Similar use of smart meters in cities around the world would lead to a $401 billion savings, the report said. With an interconnected street light system, Oslo is saving 20% in electricity costs off its older system, or $1.1 million annually. If cities around the world followed suit, the savings would amount to $240 billion, the report said. Stockholm implemented congestion charging based on sensor data on drivers coming into the heart of the city, leading to a 20% reduction in traffic and a 2-3% increase in the use of public transit. Implemented worldwide, congestion charging would save cities $188 billion in costs according to the authors.

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The Guardian

June 17, 2017

Record levels of green energy in UK create strange new world for generators

As the sun shone on millions of solar panels and unseasonable gusts turned thousands of turbine blades last Sunday, something remarkable happened to Britain’s power grid. For a brief period, a record 70% of the electricity for the UK’s homes and businesses was low-carbon, as nuclear, solar and wind crowded out coal and even gas power stations. That afternoon was a glimpse into the future, of how energy provision will look in 13 years’ time because of binding carbon targets. On what one grid manager called “stunning Sunday”, the carbon intensity of producing power – a key measure of progress towards climate goals – dropped below the “magic number” of 100g of CO2 per kilowatt hour for the first time. That’s the level that must be the norm by 2030, according to the government’s climate advisers.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Austin American-Statesman

June 16, 2017

Home sales under way at eco-minded Whisper Valley

The first of hundreds of new homes are under construction in northeastern Travis County’s Whisper Valley community, which is set to become the nation’s largest energy-saving housing development. The $2 billion subdivision is being built on a 2,062-acre site just east of Texas 130 at FM 973 and Braker Lane, about three miles south of Manor. The community will be powered solely by geothermal and solar energy. Though it’s not the first project to feature sustainable, energy-smart homes, Taurus officials said Whisper Valley is the largest project of its kind to have “energy neutral” homes that are capable of producing as much energy as they consume. Taurus said it also is the nation’s first master-planned community to be equipped with Google Fiber’s 1-gigabit internet service.

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Recharge News

June 16, 2017

NextEra buys second Texas wind project from Tri Global Energy

Dallas-based Tri Global Energy has closed on the sale of its 78.2MW Fiber Winds facility in the South Plains region in Texas to a wholly-owned subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, the latest deal between the two developers. Terms of the transaction were not made public. NextEra will use Fiber Winds’ nameplate generation capacity to help fulfill a 230MW long-term power supply agreement with Southwestern Public Service, a unit of electric utility holding company Xcel Energy that serves the northern Texas

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Regulatory Stories

Houston Chronicle

June 16, 2017

Climate probe into Exxon Mobil deepens

In 2014, an Exxon Mobil supervisor in western Canada emailed an executive at corporate headquarters asking how to estimate the financial hit the company's oil sands holdings might take from tighter climate change rules. Specifically, the employee asked whether he should use figures that Exxon Mobil had earlier presented to investors, projecting regulatory costs of about $80 per ton to emit carbon dioxide in developed countries by 2040. Instead, the New York Attorney General's Office alleges, the company instructed the employee to use a carbon cost of less than $4 a ton in valuing the Alberta oil reserves - making the project appear more financially resilient than it was. What allegedly happened in those oil fields in Canada is part of a narrative being developed by New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman that Exxon Mobil, the world's largest oil company, appears to have used a carbon price far lower than the one it publicized to investors in calculating whether its projects would be profitable.

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Oil Price

June 15, 2017

Moors: Big Oil Opposes Trump’s Budget Plans

U.S. Oil Producers Don’t Want Any SPR Sales. I’m talking, of course, about the oil producing sector. Selling half of the SPR holdings, even if the sales occur over a period of time, will result in guaranteed additional supply coming into the market. That will push domestic price levels down. ... The SPR Has a Hidden Benefit for U.S. Oil Companies. When selling oil to the SPR, American oil companies not only receive the best market price, but that oil is then removed from the market and does not constitute excess supply that pushes prices down. Additionally, companies also sold lower grades of oil to the government – at premium prices. In other words, they enhanced their profits by selling crude oil having high concentrations of impurities and/or sulfur.

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Dallas Morning News

June 15, 2017

Trump administration slows Obama-era methane rules opposed by oil, gas industry

The Trump administration is delaying two Obama-era regulations aimed at restricting harmful methane emissions from oil and gas production. The Environmental Protection Agency says it is seeking a two-year delay for oil and gas companies to follow a new rule requiring them to monitor and reduce methane leaks from their facilities. The delay follows a 90-day pause ordered earlier this year. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the agency is reconsidering the 2016 rule. Meanwhile, the Interior Department is indefinitely postponing a separate regulation intended to reduce heat-trapping methane released into the atmosphere from oil and gas wells on federal lands.

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Austin American-Statesman

June 17, 2017

McCaul: Why time is right for candid discussions with U.S., Mexico

In 1994, when NAFTA was ratified, cellular phones were hardly “smart.” The idea that Mexico would one day privatize its state-owned energy giant, Petróleos Mexicanos, also known as PEMEX, to allow for foreign investment was nothing more than a pipe dream. Over two decades later, there is consensus that the NAFTA framework is outdated and the world has changed in substantial ways since its inception. For this reason, I believe we should revisit NAFTA to ensure the rules governing free and fair trade reflect today’s technological advances and economic reforms. This is especially true in the case of NAFTA’s protectionist energy provisions, which allow the Mexican government to reserve the right to restrict foreign investment into Mexico’s energy sector despite bold, liberal reforms made by President Enrique Peña Nieto in 2014.

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Dallas Morning News

June 15, 2017

Allen: What are you, personally, willing to do about climate change?

About President Donald Trump's decision to back out of the Paris climate accord... Here's the thing, though. Many Americans (especially those active on Twitter) feel they are contributing significantly to the cause of fighting climate change by overreacting on the internet, buying a hybrid car or supporting unenforceable international accords. But most are unwilling to make the kind of sacrifices that, if made collectively, would have a more significant impact on pollution reduction. Megan McArdle made this point in a column some years back, writing how controlling carbon dioxide emissions will require significant sacrifice from everyone — and not "I drive a hybrid car and make my own compost" kind of discomfort. Heating and cooling, for example, are the largest components of residential carbon dioxide emissions.

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Houston Chronicle

June 13, 2017

Byers: Using coal miners for political gain is old hat

Earlier this spring, I was asked a question about my late father, who had been a coal miner in the 1970s and '80s. It had to do with a familiar romantic storyline: Did he feel at home underground? Was it a calling that tugged at him during the layoffs, a longing to get back to the job he loved? Short answer: No. Long answer: Hell, no. Best I could tell as a kid, he hated it. It was back-breaking, dangerous, cold, dusty, dirty. He did it for the same reason miners do it today - because it was the best-paying job around for a man with a high school education.

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The Hill

June 10, 2017

Smeloff: Curtailing clean energy threatens innovation and national security

Returning from his first energy summit with fellow G7 nations, Energy Secretary Rick Perry issued a memo expressing concern about the United States’ diminishing use of antiquated “baseload” power plants, the centralized and often polluting system of power generation that had been used to deliver electricity to captive customers for more than a century. Perry subsequently launched a study to review the levels of baseload power used in the nation’s electric grid. The premise of the study, which is expected to wrap up soon, is out of sync with what he heard at the summit. There, International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol urged the G7 nations to take a broader approach to energy security — one that reflected the changing nature of natural gas and electricity markets.

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June 16, 2017

Lead Stories

Inside Energy

June 15, 2017

A Boom In Oil Thefts In The Permian

Oil drilling and production in the many parts of the country is booming again. But in the Permian Basin of west Texas, the boom has a byproduct that producers are considerably less excited about: oil theft. The Houston-based Energy Security Council estimates that this year alone, Texas companies will lose between 10 to 30 million barrels of oil to theft, a revenue loss of $450 million to nearly $1.5 billion at today’s prices. Fred Weiss owns Cho-taw Inc., a new and used oilfield equipment business in Odessa, Texas. He sells everything, from whole electric drilling rigs all the way down to their bits and pieces. Recently, he’s been getting cold calls from oilfield security companies trying to sell him software and cameras. Weiss was robbed in early June. “You can see what’s left of the generators that they took the copper out of,” he says. “Hope we catch ‘em.”

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Houston Chronicle

June 15, 2017

Climate disaster maps shows Texas is clearly the most apocalyptic state in the nation

U.S. climate officials recently released a series of maps that show just how terrible the Lone Star State's weather is. The heat maps were created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and used in a study that examines billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in the U.S. The study found that since 1980, the U.S. has experienced 203 weather and climate disasters whose damage each exceeded at least $1 billion. Bearing the brunt of these disasters is Texas, which faced a total of 90 billion-dollar weather events in the past 37 years. Roughly 44 percent of all costly weather disasters in the U.S. since 1980 have been in Texas.

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Bloomberg

June 15, 2017

This Case Could Upend America’s $29 Billion Solar Industry

Last year, Suniva lost $29 million. On April 17 it declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Days later, Suniva invoked an obscure law to ­initiate a government trade investigation that has the power to upend the $29 billion U.S. solar industry. Unlike typical trade complaints, which often hinge on charges that companies or countries are violating specific trade rules, this particular law allows the president to unilaterally impose broad tariffs simply if surging imports are hurting U.S. manufacturers. The law has been around since 1974, but for years companies didn’t bother filing such cases, knowing the president would turn them down. The last ­successful case, involving steel imports, was in 2002. Now they have a sympathetic audience. ... The U.S. International Trade Commission has until Sept. 22 to conclude its investigation and send its recommendations to Trump. Even if the ITC doesn’t find in Suniva’s favor, some trade experts say the law gives the president broad leeway to act. And the case gives him a chance to score political points on three core priorities: He can slap a tariff on China, argue he’s protecting U.S. jobs, and even undermine the economics of a competitor to coal.

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Recharge News

June 15, 2017

Pro-wind US group launches ad blitz targeting Washington

American Wind Action (AWA), a non-profit group launched in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election to promote wind energy, has launched a “multi-month, multi-million dollar campaign” targeting elected officials in Washington DC. The group will run a series of TV, radio, and digital video ads aimed at “the public, President Trump, the Administration and Congress on the economic benefit of wind energy on American jobs, manufacturing and rural economies”, it said in a release.

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The Hill

June 15, 2017

‘Crash Override’ malware heightens fears for US electric grid

The identification of malware tied to a cyberattack on Ukraine last year is putting a renewed focus on threats to America’s electric grid. Security firms ESET and Dragos revealed the malware, dubbed “Crash Override” or “Industroyer,” this week. According to the researchers, the malware is only the second to be tailored to industrial control systems and developed and deployed to be disruptive — the first was the Stuxnet virus that ravaged Iran’s nuclear program years ago. ... Experts say the cyber weapon could be deployed against electric infrastructure in Europe and much of Asia and the Middle East and, with slight modifications, could be used against the United States as well. ... The discovery of Crash Override triggered an immediate response from the government and industry. The computer emergency readiness team at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned that, while there is no evidence the malware has affected U.S. critical infrastructure, it “could be modified to target U.S. critical information networks and systems.” ... On Tuesday, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), a regulatory body of the electric industry, issued a public alert to its members to limit access to their networks to protect against the threat.

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NASDAQ

June 15, 2017

BP Energy Partners selling midstream portfolio company -sources

BP Energy Partners, an energy investment company backed by oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, is selling portfolio company Pinnacle Midstream, according to four sources familiar with the matter. Houston-based Pinnacle, which operates natural gas and crude gathering, processing and transloading services, could sell for at least $300 million, one of the sources said. The move comes as deal-making has heated up for companies that provide pipeline, processing and storage facilities in U.S. shale basins. In April, funds managed by private equity firm Blackstone Group LP agreed to acquire EagleClaw Midstream Ventures for about $2 billion. Earlier, Targa Resources Corp snapped up Outrigger Energy LLC's Permian Basin gathering and processing assets for $1.5 billion.

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New Atlas

June 14, 2017

Solar paint turns air moisture into hydrogen fuel

Hydrogen itself is seen as a key part of our clean-energy future, but even better would be hydrogen produced using the power of the sun, rather than electricity from the grid. And what if you could make your house look pretty at the same time? Researchers in Australia have made a promising breakthrough on all counts, developing a "solar paint" that can produce hydrogen wherever there happens to be moisture in the air. Hydrogen gas has great potential as a source of sustainable fuel, because it burns clean and produces only water as a by-product. It holds huge promise for use in fuel cells in addition to other areas if we can work out a way to store it safely. But another of the key challenges when it comes to hydrogen is its production – currently most of it comes from fossil fuels.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

June 16, 2017

Oil sits near half-year lows as global supply overhang weighs

Oil prices were not far off six-month lows, held down by an ongoing supply overhang that persists despite an OPEC-led effort to cut production and prop up crude markets. Brent crude futures were at $46.97 per barrel at 0436 GMT, only slightly above their last settlement. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were also up a notch at $44.48 per barrel. But prices for both benchmarks are still down by around 13 percent since late May, when producers led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) extended a pledge to cut production by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) by an extra nine months until the end of the first quarter of 2018.

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The Economist

June 15, 2017

American energy firms are enjoying a bonanza south of the border

A CHEMICAL engineer at Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned oil company, opens a tap atop a maritime platform in this offshore oilfield in the southern part of the Gulf of Mexico. She decants a jar of heavy Mexican crude that comes, hot to the touch, from 3,500 metres below the seabed. It looks like a succulent chocolate sauce, but smells like the back end of a cow. “Taste it,” she laughs. The crude that she is testing is pumped a short distance across the sea to a vast floating storage tank, known as an FPSO, where it is blended with lighter crude for export. The FPSO stores about 2m barrels—roughly the equivalent of a day’s worth of Mexican oil production. A quarter of that is fed into a supertanker tied alongside, contracted by Chevron, America’s second-largest oil firm. It then sails north across the maritime border to Texas or Louisiana where the crude runs through refineries. The refined petrol or diesel often then returns to Mexico.

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Bakken.com

June 15, 2017

Dallas Fed: Energy indicators see continued increase

The most recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas for June 2017 shows that many indicators for the oil and gas sector continued to increase in May. While WTI crude dropped slightly, production growth continues to stay strong, especially in the Permian basin. The Dallas Fed reported that despite early hopes that production cuts from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would mean lower global crude inventories, lack of confidence led to a decrease in the average WTI spot price to $48.48 in May from $51.06 in April. Natural gas prices increased by two pennies to $3.10 per MMBtu. The oil and gas industry is gaining new jobs. U.S. employment rose by 3,800 jobs in April. Guess which state accounted for 55 percent? You got it–Texas. Texas oil and gas extraction employed 92,100 jobs with another 122,000 in support activities for mining.

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Houston Chronicle

June 15, 2017

$500M South Texas refinery delayed by engineering review

A $500 million refinery in South Texas that was supposed break ground in a few months has fallen behind schedule as project managers review different technology and engineering plans. “This is a fluid process as we added more of the components and looked at the multiple options,” said Raven Petroleum CEO Christopher Moore. The refinery in Duval County— the largest new one built in the U.S. in 40 years — would process 55,000 barrels a day of crude. Raven Petroleum purchased an 832-acre piece of land in the southwest corner of Duval County in July, and Moore revealed his plans in November.

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Associated Press

June 15, 2017

Settlement reached in Arkansas oil spill case

Exxon Mobil has settled a lawsuit over a 2013 pipeline spill that dumped tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil into an Arkansas neighborhood. Attorneys representing 64 families announced the settlement Thursday. They say terms will remain confidential. Exxon told The Associated Press that it is committed to paying for the cleanup, but wouldn’t comment on the settlement’s specifics. Government attorneys have said the rupture caused more than $57 million in property damage to a subdivision in Mayflower, about 25 miles northwest of Little Rock, and Lake Conway.

This article appeared in the Seattle Times

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Houston Chronicle

June 15, 2017

Gulf Coast LNG boom may become bust for some

The boom in liquefied natural gas facilities along the Gulf Coast is outpacing the market. Energy companies are building or have proposed so many export terminals, they can’t all be successful, said energy research firm Wood Mackenzie. At full build-out, LNG capacity could quadruple current production. “The numbers proposed far exceed what the world realistically needs” said Alex Munton, WoodMac’s principal analyst of LNG in the Americas. “They can’t all go ahead.”

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Houston Chronicle

June 15, 2017

Energy XXI cuts 18 percent of workforce to slash costs

Energy XXI Gulf Coast recently cut 18 percent of its workforce in a bid to cut costs as it grapples with anemic oil prices, the company said Wednesday. The Houston oil producer, which emerged from an eight-month bankruptcy in December, had 237 employees at the end of last year, regulatory filings show.

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Rigzone

June 13, 2017

Blast Backlash Hangs Over Drillers as 'Fractivists' Seek Limits

Two months after a Colorado home exploded near an Anadarko Petroleum Corp. well, the reverberations are still rattling the oil industry, driving down driller shares and raising fears of a regulatory backlash. The April 17 blast, which killed two people and injured a third, was followed a month later by a second deadly explosion at an Anadarko oil tank in the state. The incidents have revived calls to restrict drilling near populated areas within Colorado’s rich Niobrara shale formation, the fourth-most productive shale basin in the U.S. They’ve also spurred the state to order new inspections around thousands of oil and natural gas wells. ... Anadarko, one of the world’s biggest independent oil and gas drillers, has a long history in Colorado, dating back more than 30 years. Since the April blast, the company has deployed more than 350 workers to comply with a state order to inspect underground pipelines, spokesman John Christiansen said in an email. It’s also voluntarily replacing gas-supply lines of the type implicated in the blast at thousands of wells.

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The Guardian

June 15, 2017

Pipeline to the classroom: how big oil promotes fossil fuels to America's children

Decades of documents reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity reveal a tightly woven network of organizations that works in concert with the oil and gas industry to paint a rosy picture of fossil fuels in America’s classrooms. Led by advertising and public-relations strategists, the groups have long plied the tools of their trade on impressionable children and teachers desperate for resources. Proponents of programs like the one in Oklahoma say they help the oil and gas industry replenish its aging workforce by stirring early interest in science, technology, engineering and math. But some experts question the educational value and ethics of lessons touting an industry that plays a central role in climate change and air pollution.

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Kallanish Energy

June 13, 2017

First U.S. LNG shipment arrives in the Netherlands

The Netherlands last week received its first-ever cargo of liquefied natural gas (LGN) from U.S. producer Cheniere Energy, Kallanish Energy learns from the U.S. Department of Energy. The 140,000-billion-cubic-meter (Bcm) cargo arrived in the Gate Terminal, at Rotterdam port, on June 9 aboard the Artic Discoverer vessel. On the same day, another LNG cargo from Cheniere’s Sabine Pass LNG export terminal was delivered in Poland. Rick Perry, U.S. Secretary of Energy, said in a statement, these volumes follow others delivered to southern Europe, including to Italy, Malta, Spain, Portugal and Turkey. These countries have been receiving Sabine Pass cargoes since February 2016, when the terminal began exporting. “Spain and Portugal have received multiple cargoes,” he noted.

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Houston Chronicle

June 15, 2017

Despite setbacks, Canada's oil sands still OPEC's second biggest threat after U.S. shale

The U.S. shale industry isn't alone in the burst of oil production offsetting OPEC's cuts. Even as U.S. companies like ConocoPhillips, Marathon Petroleum and others exit Canada, the North American country's oil sands are set to become the world's second-biggest source of oil supply growth over the next two years, second only to U.S. shale plays, IHS Markit said Thursday. In 2017 and 2018, Canada's oil sands production is slated to grow by half a million barrels a day, though that surge will begin to slow after 2019. By 2026, the country's output will have risen from 3.6 million barrels a day, up from 2.4 million barrels a day last year, the consultancy said.

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Associated Press

June 13, 2017

Activist prepared to take pipeline protest case to trial

An American Indian activist and former U.S. congressional candidate accused of inciting a riot during protests against the Dakota Access oil pipeline says he has no qualms about taking the case to trial, even though he could face more than five years in prison if convicted. Chase Iron Eyes maintains his innocence and pleaded not guilty in March to the felony charge and also misdemeanor criminal trespass. He is scheduled for a one-day trial on Feb. 8, 2018, in Mandan, just west of Bismarck. Iron Eyes' attorney also represented Hollywood actress Shailene Woodley, who signed a plea deal earlier this year that kept her out of jail in another high-profile protest case. Unlike Woodley, Iron Eyes said, he still lives and works in the area where the protests occurred and has "a huge and sincere concern about the administration of justice."

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

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Financial Post

June 14, 2017

Uncertain times: Four major trends in energy amid speculation over oil demand, prices

The IEA expects oil demand to advance 1.3 per cent in 2017, and to continue at roughly that pace for many years, in large part due to an expected rise in oil demand in India. The country of 1.3 billion is seeing a massive chunk of its population move from the lower to the middle class, a shift that is expected to create a spike in energy demand as more people drive cars and use more household appliances. India is more or less framed as being to oil markets what China was in the early 2000s. But a recent proposal by Indian policymakers to ensure that all new vehicles sold by the year 2030 must be electric has caused some to question longer-term demand forecasts. Others say the policy is far too ambitious to be met. Either way, it will be some time before any policy will curb Indian oil demand, which is expected to grow 200,000 bpd in 2017 to nearly 4.5 million bpd—or about five per cent of global consumption.

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Wall St. Journal

June 14, 2017

Saudi Aramco IPO Plans Slowed Over Where to List

A divide between Saudi Arabia’s ruling family and executives of the kingdom’s oil company over where to list its shares is slowing the march toward a planned 2018 initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter. Executives at Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known as Saudi Aramco, are pushing Saudi Arabia’s king and his son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, on the merits of listing the state-owned oil company on the London Stock Exchange . Those executives are concerned that listing in the U.S. would expose the company to greater legal risks, including from potential class-action shareholder lawsuits, according to these people.

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Utilities Stories

Utility Dive

June 15, 2017

Utility CEOs to DOE: Hands off state energy policies, grid planning

The leaders of some of the nation’s largest investor-owned utilities have a message for President Trump and his Department of Energy: Stay out of our grid planning. Utility executives convened this week in Boston for the annual conference of the Edison Electric Institute, the trade group for U.S. IOUs. During panel appearances and interviews, they expressed hope that the DOE’s pending review of baseload generation would reaffirm that changes to the U.S. power mix do not threaten reliability. “We have one of the most reliable generation fleets in the world,” said Pat Vincent-Collawn, CEO of PNM Resources and the incoming chair of EEI. “Hopefully the study takes into account good utility planning and … will show what we've known for a long time, which is that we know how to plan the grid.”

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ReNews

June 14, 2017

NextEra probes turbine collapse

NextEra Energy Resources is investigating after a GE 1.7MW turbine toppled over in a cornfield at the 75MW Steele Flats wind farm in southeast Nebraska. The site manager discovered the turbine collapse when the unit went offline about 5am on June 13, NextEra spokesperson Bryan Garner told reNEWS. There were no injuries. “Turbine failures are rare and this is the first time we have had one at this site,” said Garner. “All other turbines at the site are operating,” he added.

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Bloomberg

June 14, 2017

Paris Exit Doesn’t End U.S. Nuclear Industry’s Carbon-Free Argument

The U.S. nuclear industry isn’t backing away from promoting nuclear energy’s carbon-free benefits, even as the Trump administration withdraws from U.S. Paris climate accord commitments to reduce carbon emissions. “There’s no view here that the word carbon is taboo with the administration,” Joseph Dominguez, Exelon Corp.'s executive vice president of governmental and regulatory affairs and public policy, told Bloomberg BNA. Both established nuclear industry groups, including the Nuclear Energy Institute, and newer nuclear advocacy groups that have emerged more recently, such as Third Way, ClearPath Foundation and Nuclear Matters, are promoting nuclear energy as a way to fight climate change. Nuclear energy provides approximately 20 percent of U.S. electricity.

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The Hill

June 15, 2017

House panel votes to extend tax credit for nuclear power

The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday approved a bipartisan bill that would lift a deadline for the nuclear power production tax credit. The panel passed the bill by voice vote. The legislation would lift a requirement that nuclear facilities be placed in service by 2020 to be eligible for the credit. It would also allow public and nonprofit entities to transfer credits to other partners on the facilities, such as the projects' designers. The bill, which was introduced by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Tom Rice (R-S.C.), is of particular importance in South Carolina and Georgia, where new nuclear power plants are being constructed.

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Bloomberg

June 15, 2017

Solar Power Will Kill Coal Faster Than You Think

Solar power, once so costly it only made economic sense in spaceships, is becoming cheap enough that it will push coal and even natural-gas plants out of business faster than previously forecast. That’s the conclusion of a Bloomberg New Energy Finance outlook for how fuel and electricity markets will evolve by 2040. The research group estimated solar already rivals the cost of new coal power plants in Germany and the U.S. and by 2021 will do so in quick-growing markets such as China and India. The scenario suggests green energy is taking root more quickly than most experts anticipate. It would mean that global carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuels may decline after 2026, a contrast with the International Energy Agency’s central forecast, which sees emissions rising steadily for decades to come.

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Washington Examiner

June 15, 2017

Siciliano: Coal industry could be in store for a 'rare earth' reboot

The coal industry's future may have much more to do with building smartphones, wind turbines and missile defense radar than billowing smoke stacks and environmental finger pointing, say federal coal advisers and experts. The direction of the industry is aimed at harvesting what are known as "rare earth elements," for which the U.S. industry depends on China. The 19 elements are key ingredients in building complex electronics used in smartphones, jets, defense applications, advanced wind turbines and renewable energy, not to mention light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. The bottom line is that the U.S. needs to diversify its supply of the minerals, and the coal industry is the nation's best ticket to do that.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Texas Tribune

June 15, 2017

New law clears the way for driverless cars on Texas roads

Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill Thursday that signals to Google, Uber and carmakers that they are welcome to test self-driving cars on the state's roads and highways without a driver behind the wheel. There was nothing in existing law that banned autonomous vehicles from Texas roads. After all, Google has been testing them since 2015 in Austin, and Arlington is rolling them out. And several Texas sites were chosen by the U.S. Department of Transportation to test the technology in closed-course settings. Yet because state statutes didn’t address the emerging technology at all, some manufacturers have told state officials they were wary about testing vehicles alongside street and highway traffic in Texas.

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Houston Chronicle

June 15, 2017

How electric vehicles can help cities like Houston fight climate change

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner was one of more than 300 mayors who departed from President Donald Trump's decision to exit the Paris climate agreement. And this departure reaffirmed what was already clear: The federal government is no longer leading American efforts to shrink our carbon footprint. In fact, Houston is just one of many local and state governments – along with businesses and consumers – aiming to help fill this policy void. At least a dozen governors have joined the United States Climate Alliance, committing their states to achieve emissions reductions consistent with President Barack Obama’s Paris pledge.

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Bloomberg

June 14, 2017

Shell Believes It Has the Expertise to Be a Clean-Energy Leader

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s most valuable oil company, expects its expertise in managing risk will make it a market leader in developing the clean-energy industry. Offshore wind projects are attracting billions of dollars of investment and will become “the energy backbone” for European countries from Germany to the U.K., said Mark Gainsborough, Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s head of new energies. Oil companies have a natural advantage in that business, since they have spent decades learning how to manage financial, political and project-development risks, he said. That gives them an edge over renewable energy developers, who prefer to pin down long-term power-purchase agreements or government support before moving forward.

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Business Insider

June 9, 2017

How much power Trump's wall could generate if it was covered in solar panels

Oregon-based solar installation firm called Elemental Energy calculated that a wall with 10-foot-high solar paneling would generate approximately 7.28 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity each day. Elemental's co-owner, John Grieser, broke down the math to Business Insider like this: In his hypothetical calculation, the solar panels would be mounted to the wall at a fixed tilt and orientation (meaning they wouldn't move to track the sun, which is a more expensive option), Grieser says. Each panel would feature 72 solar cells, and measure 78 inches high. The US southern border measures nearly 2,000 miles across four states, but only about half of that length is on unobstructed land. A thousand miles converts to 63.36 million inches. When you divide that by the size of each panel (78 inches), you get 812,308 columns of panels (oriented in landscape).

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Bloomberg

June 13, 2017

Tim Cook Says Apple Focused on Autonomous Systems in Cars Push

After years toiling away in secret on a car project, Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has for the first time elaborated on the company’s plans in the automotive market. “We’re focusing on autonomous systems,” Cook said in a June 5 interview on Bloomberg Television that amounted to his most detailed comments yet on Apple’s automotive plans. “It’s a core technology that we view as very important.” He likened the effort to “the mother of all AI projects,” saying it’s “probably one of the most difficult AI projects to work on.” The prospect of self-driving cars has seen a slew of technology companies push into the auto industry, according to McKinsey & Co. Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo unit has signed partnerships with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Lyft Inc. to develop the technology. And carmakers from BMW AG to General Motors Co. have opened sizable Silicon Valley offices and dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire autonomous vehicle startups.

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Regulatory Stories

Dallas Morning News

June 15, 2017

A&M research caught in funding squeeze gets the go-ahead at Rick Perry's Energy Department

Cutting-edge research in Texas and other parts of the U.S. is finally getting the go-ahead from the U.S. Energy Department after being locked in limbo for months. Dallas Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson announced late Wednesday that the agency run by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry had decided to release all remaining Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy funds that had been frozen despite being awarded as part of last year's budget. That squeeze had jammed up at least two Texas projects, including one at Perry's alma mater, Texas A&M University. ... One of those latest efforts is being led by Texas A&M soil scientist Cristine Morgan. The $4 million study, which she said could "transform soil science," aims to use a portable MRI machine to get a better sense of how roots grow and how water moves through soil. The research focuses on carbon capture, which could improve soil quality while also reducing emissions that contribute to climate change.

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The Hill

June 15, 2017

House panel advances Yucca Mountain, ozone bills

A House panel approved three environmental bills on Thursday, including controversial measures on nuclear waste storage and ozone pollution. Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce’s environment subcommittee opposed a bill from Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) that would delay the implementation timeline for federal ozone standards. The legislation would ask the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to update its standards for ozone pollution every 10 years rather than every 5 years, the timeline currently set by federal law. ... Republicans crafted a bill to speed up the permitting process for the Yucca site by giving the federal government the power to issue air permits, bypassing Nevada’s longstanding opposition to the project. “Nuclear waste management policy is not a partisan issue and there is an urgent need for Congress to address this challenge as taxpayer liability continues to skyrocket due to the federal government’s unfulfilled obligations,” Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) said.

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Dallas Morning News

June 15, 2017

Ruling on Dakota Access pipeline surprises oil industry

A judge's ruling that might open the door for at least a temporary shutdown of the disputed Dakota Access pipeline surprised the industry that hailed the project as a "game changer" for North Dakota oil. But shippers said Thursday that they aren't concerned that there will be any long-term disruption to service on the $3.8 billion pipeline that on June 1 began moving crude from the Bakken oil patch to a distribution point in Illinois, from which it's shipped to the Gulf Coast and potentially high-paying markets abroad. "It's business as usual today," said Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, which represents nearly 500 energy companies including Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, which built Dakota Access.

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Texas Tribune

June 15, 2017

Texas business groups are banding together to keep NAFTA strong

Despite uncertainty on how the Trump administration will renegotiate the United States' role in the North American Free Trade Agreement, two-way trade between Texas and Mexico has continued to flourish since the president was sworn in in January. Now, a number of Texas-based business groups have teamed up to prevent a reversal in that trend by making sure the state has a seat at the table now that Trump has told Congress his administration would begin renegotiating the 23-year-old trade deal between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Representatives from the Texas Association of Business, the El Paso-based Borderplex Alliance and the Texas Business Leadership Council announced on Thursday the creation of the Texas-Mexico Trade Coalition, a binational group of business interests that seeks to keep Mexico Texas’ No. 1 trade partner.

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Dallas Morning News

June 15, 2017

Rawlings invites mayors from Mexico, Canada to Dallas for NAFTA conference

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said Thursday that he tentatively plans to host several of his North American counterparts this fall for a summit on free trade. The conference would focus on the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA. President Donald Trump, who has called the trade deal unfair to American workers, has directed his administration to renegotiate the 24-year-old agreement with Canada and Mexico after he initially considering withdrawing earlier this year.

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New York Times

June 15, 2017

Energy Department Closes Office Working on Climate Change Abroad

The Energy Department is closing an office that works with other countries to develop clean energy technology, another sign of the Trump administration’s retreat on climate-related activities after its withdrawal from the Paris agreement this month. The 11 staff members of the Office of International Climate and Technology were told this month that their positions were being eliminated, according to current and former agency employees. The office was formed in 2010 to help the United States provide technical advice to other nations seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Dallas Morning News

June 13, 2017

Congress grades Tillerson: Some thankful Texan is in charge at State, but others have concerns

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says his view that the U.S. should remain in the Paris climate accord has "never changed," even after President Donald Trump this month withdrew from the deal he described as "draconian" and "unfair. And the former Exxon Mobil chief says that's just the way it is. "I respect that the president heard my views," he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. "But I respect the decision he's taken." Such is life these days for Tillerson, the Texan responsible for shepherding a foreign policy that has sometimes seemed to be a practice in cognitive dissonance.

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Scientific American

June 14, 2017

Energy Secretary Perry Pulls a U-Turn on Climate

Energy Secretary Rick Perry entrenched himself as an opponent of the Paris climate agreement yesterday, reversing his earlier position. At a White House Cabinet meeting, Perry told President Trump that he defended the United States' withdrawal from the global accord while meeting with energy ministers last week in China and Japan. “They needed to hear why America was stepping away from the Paris accord, and they did,” Perry said. “And how America is not stepping back, but we're stepping into place and sending some messages.” Before Trump's decision to quit the accord earlier this month, Perry said it would be better to stay in.

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