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BP to Urge Shareholders to Support Climate Resolution

Feb 6, 2015
(Reuters)

BP Plc said on Thursday it will tell shareholders to back a resolution brought by investor activists calling on the oil major to improve transparency on its climate change risk exposure, following a similar move by Royal Dutch Shell Plc last week.

"We consider the resolution to be non-confrontational, and it gives us the opportunity to demonstrate our current actions and build on our existing disclosures in this area," a BP spokesman said in an email.

BP will formally tell shareholders to support the measure at an investors meeting on April 16.

Shareholder groups ClientEarth, Share Action and Aiming for A have proposed resolutions that both global energy companies disclose additional information in five areas related to climate change in their annual reports, beginning in 2016.

Energy Department Kills Troubled Bush-Era CCS Project

Feb 4, 2015
(National Journal)

The Energy Department is walking away from FutureGen, a public-private effort to create a power plant that traps and stores carbon emissions, which began but faltered under President George W. Bush and was revived by the Obama administration.

DOE is yanking funding for the project that was authorized to receive $1.1 billion in funding via the 2009 stimulus law, though the bulk was never spent.

Bush, who proposed FutureGen in 2003, envisioned a pioneering plant that would demonstrate sophisticated technology that uses coal cleanly on a commercial scale. Since then, other projects designed to trap power-plant emissions have begun moving ahead, though large-scale carbon capture remains far from widespread commercial deployment in the electricity sector.

House Vote on Keystone XL Approval Set Next Week

Feb 4, 2015
(The Hill)

The House will vote next week on the Senate's bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced the scheduled vote to reporters on Tuesday, days after the Senate approved the bill.

The House easily passed similar legislation in January. But the Senate added a number of amendments, necessitating another House vote.

Obama 2016 Budget Urges States to Cut Emissions Faster

Feb 2, 2015
(Reuters)

President Barack Obama's fiscal 2016 budget proposes $7.4 billion to fund clean energy technologies and a $4 billion fund to encourage U.S. states to make faster and deeper cuts to emissions from power plants, officials told Reuters.

Obama's budget, which will be published later on Monday, also calls for the permanent extension of the Production Tax Credit, used by the wind industry, and the Investment Tax Credit, used by the solar industry, the officials said.

Obama has made fighting climate change a top priority in his final two years in office. The White House sees it as critical to his legacy.

Fracking Set to Be Banned From 40% of England's Shale Areas

Feb 2, 2015
(Guardian)

Fracking is set to be banned on two-fifths of the land in England being offered for shale gas exploration by the government, according to a Guardian analysis.

Such a wide-ranging ban would be a significant blow to the UK's embryonic fracking industry, which David Cameron and George Osborne have enthusiastically backed.

There were setbacks last week after the Scottish government declared a moratorium and UK ministers were forced to accept a swath of new environmental protections proposed by Labour, leading some analysts to say the outlook for fracking was bleak.

One of those new protections was to rule out fracking in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs), sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) and groundwater source protection zones (SPZs).

Neither the government nor Labour have stated how much of the land available for future shale gas drilling – 60% of England - would be affected by the new bans. But a Guardian data analysis has revealed it is 39.7%, with large swaths of the south and south east off-limits, as well as the Yorkshire Dales and Peak district.

Fracking is set to be banned on two-fifths of the land in England being offered for shale gas exploration by the government, according to a Guardian analysis.

Such a wide-ranging ban would be a significant blow to the UK’s embryonic fracking industry, which David Cameron and George Osborne have enthusiastically backed.

There were setbacks last week after the Scottish government declared a moratorium and UK ministers were forced to accept a swath of new environmental protections proposed by Labour, leading some analysts to say the outlook for fracking was bleak.

One of those new protections was to rule out fracking in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs), sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) and groundwater source protection zones (SPZs).

Neither the government nor Labour have stated how much of the land available for future shale gas drilling – 60% of England - would be affected by the new bans. But a Guardian data analysis has revealed it is 39.7%, with large swaths of the south and south east off-limits, as well as the Yorkshire Dales and Peak district.

Poll: Most Americans Support Government Action on Climate Change

Jan 30, 2015
(New York Times)

An overwhelming majority of the American public, including nearly half of Republicans, support government action to curb global warming, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times, Stanford Universityand the nonpartisan environmental research group Resources for the Future.

In a finding that could have implications for the 2016 presidential campaign, the poll also found that two-thirds of Americans say they are more likely to vote for political candidates who campaign on fighting climate change. They are less likely to vote for candidates who question or deny the science of human-caused global warming.

Keystone Passes in U.S. Senate, Faces Obama Veto

Jan 30, 2015
(Reuters)

Republicans in the U.S. Senate made good on a pledge to pass the long-pending Keystone XL oil pipeline on Thursday, a measure the White House said President Barack Obama would veto.

Senators voted 62-36 on the bill to bypass the Obama administration's review of Keystone, five short of the number needed to overturn a potential rejection by the president. All Republicans present voted for the bill as did nine Democrats.

Approving Keystone has been the top priority of Republicans in the new Congress after they won control of the Senate in November.

Scotland Announces Moratorium on Fracking

Jan 29, 2015
(Guardian)

The Scottish government has announced a moratorium on all planning consents for unconventional oil and gas extraction, including fracking.

Welcomed by campaigners as "a very big nail in the coffin for the unconventional gas and fracking industry in Scotland," energy minister Fergus Ewing told the Scottish parliament on Wednesday afternoon that the moratorium would allow time for the government to launch a full public consultation on the controversial drilling technique, and to commission a full public health impact assessment.

Westminster MPs on Monday defeated an attempt to impose a UK-wide moratorium but the coalition government had to accept several Labour proposals to tighten regulation of shale developments.

"Given the importance of this work it would be inappropriate to allow any planning consents in the meantime," Ewing told the Holyrood chamber, to applause. "I am therefore announcing a moratorium for the granting of planning consents on all unconventional oil and gas extraction including fracking." He said that the Scottish government would also be working to further strengthen planning guidance and strong environmental regulation.

Acknowledging that local communities would bear the brunt of any developments, Ewing said that a public consultation “will allow everyone with a view to feed it in to government”.

He added that the government would take evidence from all interested parties, including chemical giant Ineos which owns Grangemouth oil and gas refinery and has acquired 729 square miles of fracking exploration licences around the central belt.

Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, described the announcement as a "huge victory for the communities, individuals and groups who have been campaigning to stop this dirty industry in Scotland."

Senate Near Finish Line on Keystone XL

Jan 28, 2015
(National Journal)

The Senate's weeks-long reintroduction to regular order on the Keystone XL pipeline bill could be over as soon as Thursday.

After moving through more than a dozen amendments as part of a marathon voting session Wednesday afternoon, aenators reached a deal that sets up a final vote on the pipeline bill Thursday afternoon.

There will be votes on up to seven amendments in the morning, with another block of amendments coming in the afternoon. Under an agreement between Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., that's expected to clear the way for final passage after the final amendment votes.

NTSB: Systemic Flaws in Safety Oversight of Gas Pipelines

Jan 28, 2015
(AP)

Three powerful accidents in recent years highlight weaknesses in the oversight of how natural gas providers maintain the largest pipelines in their networks, accident investigators said Tuesday as they issued more than two dozen safety recommendations.

A major effort a decade ago by the federal government to check a rise in violent pipeline failures in "high-consequence" areas where people are more likely to be hurt or buildings destroyed has resulted in a slight leveling off of such incidents, but no decline, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

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