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January 28, 2015

Fraser warns EPA climate rule could harm Texas economy

Says state can’t let feds pull coal ‘arrow out of our quiver’

Senate Natural Resources & Economic Development Committee Chairman Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, declared at the committee’s first hearing that proposed federal climate change rules could hurt the state’s economy for years to come.

“Unfortunately, we believe that Texas has a bull’s eye on our back,” he said of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan to battle climate change. “A lot of this is designed, we think, to affect the Texas economy.”

The Clean Power Plan, which is expected to become final next summer, would require Texas to cut carbon emissions by 38 percent by 2030, a more drastic cut than most states. Only 12 states would be required under the plan to make larger percentage cuts. However, opinion varies widely, depending on whom you ask, over how difficult or easy it would be for Texas to comply.  

Fraser noted that 37 percent of Texas electric generation comes from coal plants that could be uneconomical to run or build under the EPA’s proposal to combat carbon emissions that contribute to disruptive climate change.  

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By Polly Ross Hughes


January 27, 2015

Oilfield water services company in Dallas plans to expand

Lines up $250 million credit from bank, investor equity for acquisitions

Oilfield Water Logistics (OWL) of Dallas announced Tuesday that it has secured $250 million in credit at Texas Capital Bank to expand and take advantage of a growing need for streamlined operations in oilfields.

“This challenging oilfield environment is creating opportunities for OWL to accelerate our growth plans and at the same time provide fresh capital and other solutions to producers who want to streamline their businesses,” OWL Chief Executive Officer Christ Cooper said in a statement.

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By Polly Ross Hughes


January 27, 2015

Senate panel to hear oil, gas regulators’ take on falling oil prices

Energy, environmental, water briefings set for Senate Natural Resources

The Texas Railroad Commission plans to update the Senate Natural Resources & Economic Development Committee on potential impacts of plummeting oil prices at the committee’s first meeting Wednesday, according to committee Chairman Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay.

Other top state agencies overseeing environmental, energy and water policies are also set to brief committee members at the meeting scheduled at 9 a.m. in room E1.012 at the Capitol Extension.  

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By Polly Ross Hughes


January 26, 2015

Does public need its own advocate at Texas Railroad Commission?

Environmental group says the legislature should create one

The Texas Railroad Commission, long criticized for being friendlier to the oil and gas companies it regulates than to Texans affected by energy development, isn’t exactly jumping at a chance to create an Office of Public Advocate.

This session, for the first time, the group Environment Texas is asking lawmakers to give the public, by statute, its own advocate at the commission, according to Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger.  

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By Polly Ross Hughes


January 26, 2015

Tenaska’s natural gas-fired plant gains GHG permit

Construction in Brownsville to create 600-700 jobs

The planned $500 million Tenaska Brownsville Generating Plant received a final greenhouse gas permit from the Environmental Protection Agency Monday to construct a natural-gas fired generating facility in South Texas.

The plant, which will operate in Brownville, will create 600-700 temporary construction jobs and 23 full-time, permanent jobs when the plant begins operations.

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By Polly Ross Hughes


January 26, 2015

US Steel hands notices to workers in Texas, Alabama

Cites ‘fluctuating oil prices’ for ‘temporary’ job cutbacks

Citing the “cyclical nature” of oil prices, U.S. Steel Corp. said Monday it has notified 1,918 employees in Texas and elsewhere that their jobs could be subject to workforce adjustments in light of softening market conditions.

“The adjustment in operations is a result of softening market conditions that reflect the cyclical nature of the energy market,” the company said in a statement. “Global influences in the market, like unfair trade and fluctuating oil pries, continue to have an impact on business.”

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By Polly Ross Hughes


January 26, 2015

Senate Natural Resources Committee oversees PUC, TCEQ, RRC

Patrick’s office officially releases assignments but not jurisdictions

The newly reconstituted Senate Natural Resources& Economic Development Committee named Friday by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has jurisdiction over the Public Utility Commission, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Railroad Commission, according to the office of committee Chairman Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay.

“We will have a great challenge in continuing the economic momentum that has resulted from the energy boom, and the committee will review all economic development legislation to move through the Legislature,” Fraser said in a statement.

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By Polly Ross Hughes


January 22, 2015

2014 electricity demand rises but peak demand in summer falls

Natural gas continues to gain over coal in ERCOT grid

Texans used more electricity last year but not during peak demand times on the hottest days of the year, according to a new report from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

Peak demand during the hottest days of 2014 actually dropped by 1.1 percent from the same time a year earlier, according to ERCOT’s 2014 Demand and Energy Report, which captures electricity trends in the state’s primary electric grid.

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By Polly Ross Hughes


January 21, 2015

Obama gets mixed reviews from environmentalists, industry

Climate change actions go too far or not far enough, they say

President Barack Obama circled back to climate change during his State of the Union address last night, prompting applause from some environmental groups but harsh criticism from others demanding a crack down on hydraulic fracturing.

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said the president “underscored the urgency” of the problem while reaffirming his commitment to act on climate change for the future of the nation’s children.

“To meet the greatest challenge of our generation, we can and must end our dependence not just on foreign oil, but all fossil fuels. We can indeed set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline, said Brune, referring to the Republican push for authorization of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline.

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By Polly Ross Hughes


January 19, 2015

Perry distributes $4 million BP gift four years later

Doubles Deepwater Horizon funds from fines for Gulf R&D

Gov. Rick Perry said Monday that he’s distributing $4 million given to Texas from BP shortly after the oil giant’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster to support the formation of two academic groups that will research sustainable offshore energy exploration, oil spill prevention and coastal environmental protection.

The money, which Perry had not distributed for more than four years, will essentially double the $4.1 million designated for the research and development projects announced by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on Friday.  

The $4.1 million amounts to 2.5 percent of the federal RESTORE Trust Fund, containing administrative and civil penalties paid by those responsible for the catastrophic oil spill in which 11 people perished.  

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By Polly Ross Hughes