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September 2, 2014

ERCOT confident electric supplies will meet fall, winter demand

Weather outlook calls for cooler, possibly wetter fall

Electricity supplies are expected to easily meet peak demand this fall and upcoming winter, according to reports released Tuesday by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

“We are going into fall with about 2,100 megawatts (MW) of new generation resources in the system that we didn’t have this time last year, and we expect that there will be sufficient generation available to serve a range of possible scenarios,” said ERCOT’s Ken McIntyre, vice president of Grid Planning and Operations in a statement.

The fall outlook assumes cooler weather with temperatures within an average range over the past 12 years, said ERCOT Meteorologist Chris Coleman. The assessment sees indications for normal rainfall, or even wetter than normal in some areas.

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By Polly Ross Hughes


September 2, 2014

EPA sees ‘marked shift’ to ‘combative’ federalism, critic says

Under Obama, states losing ground in Clean Air Act programs

The conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute takes aim at the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency, in a report released Tuesday, for empowering green special interests at the expense of the Clean Air Act’s system of cooperative federalism.

“When it comes to the expansion of federal power, the Obama administration stands in a class all its own. President Obama’s EPA has taken over more Clean Air Act regulatory programs away from states than the previous three administrations combined – by a multiple of 10,” concludes William Yeatman, a senior fellow in energy policy and global warming.

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By Polly Ross Hughes


August 29, 2014

Wendy Davis: Courts, not RRC, must have final say in common-carrier disputes

Democratic gubernatorial dips one of oil patch’s hottest, most divisive issues

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis says the Texas Railroad Commission should affirmatively state in its proposed pipeline common carrier permitting rules that Texans would not lose their right to challenge a commission finding in a court of law.

The issue of who should have the final say in deciding when a pipeline can exercise eminent domain rights to seize private land proved a hotly disputed topic last legislative session, especially as Transcanada’s Keystone XL pipeline cut a controversial path through Texas.

“Given that the proposed rules do not include a public review element at any stage of the process, it is vital that the commission’s classification decision not be deemed a conclusive determination for the purposes of a judicial proceeding,” wrote Davis, whose Texas Senate district includes North Texas’ Barnett Shale, in formal public comments she submitted to the commission.

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By Polly Ross Hughes


August 29, 2014

Who knew Texas A&M University was so green?

# 21 on AP’s preseason college football list, Aggies hit No. 4 in sustainability

The Associated Press’s preseason Top 25 NCAA Football rankings might list the Aggies at Texas A&M University a mere 21, but they didn’t rate these teams on how green they are.

By that standard, as devised by Dallas-based SaveOnEnergy.com, the Aggies are No. 4 in that top 25 lineup, after No.1 University of Washington (AP ranking 25), No. 2 Stanford (AP ranking 11) and No 3 Ohio State (AP ranking 5).

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By Polly Ross Hughes


August 29, 2014

Who knew Texas A&M University was so green?

# 21 on AP’s preseason college football list, Aggies hit No. 4 in sustainability

The Associated Press’s preseason Top 25 NCAA Football rankings might list the Aggies at Texas A&M University a mere 21, but they didn’t rate these teams on how green they are.

By that standard, as devised by Dallas-based SaveOnEnergy.com, the Aggies are No. 4 in that top 25 lineup, after No.1 University of Washington (AP ranking 25), No. 2 Stanford (AP ranking 11) and No 3 Ohio State (AP ranking 5).

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By Polly Ross Hughes


August 28, 2014

Lower-than-expected natural gas prices bring refunds for Entergy customers

Two-month refunds mean 12 percent drop in residential bills

Entergy Texas Inc. customers will see their electric bills drop 12 percent during the next two months because natural gas prices came in less than the company had anticipated, an Entergy official said Thursday.

“The fixed fuel factor, which stays on bills for six months at a time, is dropping, beginning with September billing cycles,” Entergy explained to its customers.  

The two-month refund is basically a function of the company anticipating higher natural gas prices during the last six-month, fixed-fuel-factor cycle than actually materialized, said Debi Derrick, communications specialist.

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By Polly Ross Hughes


August 28, 2014

George P. Bush blasts Obama’s plan to forge global climate change accord

GOP Land Commissioner candidate faces Democrat John Cook in November

Republican Texas Land Commissioner candidate George P. Bush issued a statement on Thursday bashing President Barack Obama’s plans to broker an international climate change accord without U.S. Senate approval.

Administration officials are trying to negotiate an agreement among major global economies that would “name and shame” countries that failed to meet targets fir slashing greenhouse gases linked to global warming.  

The so-called “politically binding” agreement, to be signed next year at a United Nations summit in Paris, would avoid a “legally binding” treaty that would require approval from two-thirds of the Senate under the U.S. Constitution. With steep Republican resistance likely, such an official treaty looks next to impossible.

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By Polly Ross Hughes


August 27, 2014

Louisiana’s Sen. David Vitter addressing Texas energy lawyers in Houston

Energy producers also hosting Justice Gina Benavides, Rep. Todd Hunter

U.S. Sen. David Vitter, a Republican candidate for governor of Louisiana, plans to speak in Houston on federal energy and infrastructure policy Sept. 16 at the Texas Alliance of Energy Producer’s first oil, gas and environmental law program.

As a ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Vitter will deliver a luncheon address on “A Balanced Approach to a Fact-Based Federal Energy and Infrastructure Policy.”  

Just before the lunch, Texas House Calendars Committee Chairman Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, will provide a 2015 legislative preview along with Gloria Leal, an attorney and governmental affairs consultant in Austin whose clients include the Alliance.

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By Polly Ross Hughes


August 26, 2014

LeBas: Shale drilling boom could last 25 more years

Lawmakers ponder oil, gas boom and gloom as session nears

Predicting the future holds inherent risk in the oil and gas patch, warned the state’s former chief revenue estimator Tuesday, before forecasting that the Texas shale-drilling boom could continue for another quarter century.

James LeBas, now a tax and fiscal consultant to the Texas Oil & Gas Association, testified to the House Energy Resources Committee on how the state’s oil and gas boom will effect the overall state budget and the state’s rapidly expanding Rainy Day Fund.  

Earlier, he told the House Transportation Committee it could anticipate another 20 to 25 years of a drilling boom that transportation experts estimate is costing $1 billion annually in damage to so-called energy roads.

While basking in the glow of an energy boom that so suddenly swelled state coffers, lawmakers also kept watch on the gloom – the dangers of state overdependence on a single industry, ongoing infrastructure costs under heavy truck wear and tear on roads, Eagle Ford Shale air pollution that could push San Antonio into non-attainment with federal ozone standards, what should be done about wasteful gas flaring and more.

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By Polly Ross Hughes


August 25, 2014

All’s quieter on North Texas’ fracking-waste front

Reno mayor thanks leaders for earthquake-prevention efforts

Folks in the North Texas town of Reno, who endured a cluster of small but still unnerving earthquakes late last year, are unlikely to feel the earth move under their feet these days, a Texas Railroad Commission seismologist testified Monday.

“There have been no felt earthquakes in the Azle-Reno area since January 2014. Most of the earthquakes occurring today are in the magnitude of zero to one,” Railroad Commission Seismologist Craig Pearson told the House Energy Resources Subcommittee on Seismic Activity.

The subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Myra Crownover, R-Denton, has been monitoring efforts by oil and gas regulators at the Railroad Commission to bring calm to the North Texas towns of Reno and Azle. After the towns experienced 20 or more quakes starting in early November 2013, residents pleaded with state leaders to take quick steps to prevent more.  

The seismic activity has been linked to certain disposal wells that deposit wastewater back into the earth following hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations. While not all disposal wells create the mini-earthquakes common to the Reno and Azle area, a great deal depends on the quantity and pressure of the waste injected underground and geological features of the waste disposal site.  

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By Polly Ross Hughes


August 25, 2014

Devon Energy hires Teddy Carter as lobbyist; TIPRO promotes Lindsey Skinner

TIPRO also seeks new public affairs/government relations manager

Teddy Carter is leaving his lead lobbyist job at Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association to open Devon Energy’s Austin office, starting next month.

Carter, who has led TIPRO’s govern relations team since July of 2010, will lead Devon’s public and government affairs team in Texas.  

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By Polly Ross Hughes


August 22, 2014

Porter: Eagle Ford in path of ‘potential hotbed of terrorist activity’

Mexican drug cartels use pipelines as human, drug trafficking highways

Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter warned Friday of reports that dangerous Mexican cartels, actively trafficking drugs and humans along South Texas pipeline corridors, are communicating with ISIS and Al-Qaeda terrorists.

In a Friday letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske, Porter explained that a “significant portion” of Texas’ oil and gas pipelines are located in South Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale, “which is in a direct path of this potential hotbed of terrorist activity.”

Oil and gas pipeline right-of-ways throughout South Texas’s booming Eagle Ford Shale are turning into grisly killing fields, according to published reports Porter references in his letter.

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By Polly Ross Hughes


August 21, 2014

RRC’s Craddick, Porter brave ice water for ALS

PUC Chairman Donna Nelson, Sen. Glenn Hegar next?

Newly-minted Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Christi Craddick and Commissioner David Porter posted online video today proving they met Republican RRC candidate Ryan Sitton’s ice bucket challenge.

Craddick donned shorts and a t-shirt for her dousing by a niece, nephew and her young daughter, Catherine, seen to her right. Craddick mentioned friends who have been struck by ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease in bringing attention to the charitable cause.

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By Polly Ross Hughes


August 21, 2014

Wesley Clark: ‘We should be Saudi Arabia of liquid fuels’

Energy revival holds key to regaining world security dominance

MINNEAPOLIS – Soaring oil production from unconventional drilling in Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale and Permian Basin are part of a “great strategic opportunity,” just as important to reviving the nation’s economy now as world war was to America’s rebound from the Great Depression, a former presidential contender said this week.

Former NATO Commander, 2004 presidential hopeful and international policy consultant Wesley Clark told the nation’s state legislators that America is also blessed with renewable natural resources that could help move the country closer to energy independence.

“We should be the Saudi Arabia of liquid fuels. God gave us these resources. We ought to be smart enough to use them,” said Clark. “What we have to do is maximize liquid fuel from petroleum, from biofuels, from natural gas, from liquefied natural gas.”

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By Kimberly Reeves


August 19, 2014

Senator Hinojosa: South Texas expects to flourish from Mexico energy reform

Senate subcommittee to delve into cross-border oil, gas ties

Just this month, Mexico cleared its final legislative hurdle ending 76 years of state monopoly and approved rules outlining the framework under which foreign companies will invest and drill for oil and natural gas in Mexico. The recent expansion of oil and gas production in Northern Mexico is expected to top $1 trillion in investment over 10 years and create over 2.5 million new jobs by 2025, creating a new energy paradigm for North America. By combining the United States, Canada, and Mexico, oil and gas production in North America will be bigger than OPEC.  

A new energy renaissance is coming to the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. No region stands to gain more from Mexico’s energy reforms than South Texas. With the Eagle Ford Shale to the north and the Burgos Basin, also known as the Eagle Ford Shale south of the border, the Rio Grande Valley is at the epicenter of this energy revolution happening in Texas and Mexico.

We have already seen how the Eagle Ford Shale has begun to transform South Texas and the Coastal Bend regions. We are seeing tens of thousands of new jobs created, higher wages being paid, billions of dollars in investments in the region and increased traffic and expansion at Port Corpus Christi due to the Eagle Ford Shale boom. In 2013 alone, Texas produced over $110 billion worth of oil and gas. If Texas were its own nation, it would be the 7th largest oil and gas producer in the world. The indirect growth and benefits are also visible. Every time I drive down U.S. 281 and Highway 35 in South Texas, I notice new hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, and pipeline and welding companies, just to name a few.

The rest of Senator Hinojosa's column can be found in the Texas Energy Report Opinion Section.

By Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa


August 19, 2014

MIT Technology Review names UT professor a top 35 innovator

Honors work’s promise for energy storage, oil spill cleanup, health monitoring

Guihua Yu, a University of Texas at Austin assistant professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering, has been named one of the top 35 young innovators in the world, UT announced Tuesday.

MIT Technology Review named Yu to its prestigious list of Innovators Under the Age of 35 for his work developing materials with applications for energy storage, health monitoring and environmental cleanup.

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By Polly Ross Hughes