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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.

U.S. Proposes Allowing Oil, Gas Drilling Off Atlantic Coast

Jan 28, 2015
(Reuters)

The Obama administration on Tuesday proposed allowing for the first time oil and gas exploration in a wide swath of U.S. waters off the Atlantic Coast.

The 2017 to 2022 drilling plan begins a process that could take many years before waters off the coasts of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina or Georgia are cleared for drilling.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the plan was "a balanced proposal" to make available oil and gas fields believed to be recoverable "while protecting areas that are simply too special to develop."

Senate Stops Keystone XL Pipeline Bill From Moving Forward

Jan 27, 2015
(Reuters)

Democrats in the U.S. Senate blocked the Keystone XL pipeline bill from moving forward on Monday, but supporters of the project vowed to push ahead and eventually get a vote on the measure.

The Senate failed to get the 60 votes needed to limit debate, voting 53 to 39 on the measure.

The Keystone bill allows Congress to approve TransCanada Corp's project to link Canada's oil sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

Senate Stops Keystone XL Pipeline Bill From Moving Forward

Jan 27, 2015
(Reuters)

Democrats in the U.S. Senate blocked the Keystone XL pipeline bill from moving forward on Monday, but supporters of the project vowed to push ahead and eventually get a vote on the measure.

The Senate failed to get the 60 votes needed to limit debate, voting 53 to 39 on the measure.

The Keystone bill allows Congress to approve TransCanada Corp's project to link Canada's oil sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

Harvard-Smithsonian Climate Skeptic Accused of Violating Disclosure Agreement

Jan 26, 2015
(Boston Globe)

A climate-change skeptic at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who has relied on grants from fossil-fuel energy interests apparently failed to disclose financial conflicts of interest in a newly released paper, according to a complaint by a climate watchdog group.

The paper by Harvard-Smithsonian scientist Willie Soon and three other climate-change skeptics contends the United Nations panel that tracks global warming uses a flawed methodology to estimate global temperature change. Soon and his co-authors claim to have a simpler, more accurate model that shows the threat of global warming to be exaggerated.

The Chinese journal that published the paper, Science Bulletin, imposes a strict conflict of interest policy on authors, obligating contributors to disclose any received funding, financial interests, honors or speaking engagements that might bias their work.

Exxon Fined $1M for 2011 Montana Oil Spill

Jan 26, 2015
(AP)

Federal officials have issued a $1 million penalty against Exxon Mobil Corp. for safety violations stemming from a pipeline rupture in 2011 that spilled 63,000 gallons of crude into Montana's Yellowstone River.

The Department of Transportation order issued Friday reduces the penalty as originally proposed by about $700,000. That comes after the Irving, Texas-based oil company challenged some claims that it didn't do enough to prevent the accident.

The pipeline break during summer flooding near Laurel left oil along an 85-mile stretch of the Yellowstone, killing fish and wildlife and prompting a cleanup that took months.

Safety regulators said in part that Exxon Mobil had failed to adequately heed warnings that its 20-year-old Silvertip Pipeline was at risk.

Obama Administration Proposes Protecting Arctic Wildlife Refuge From Drilling

Jan 25, 2015
(Washington Post)

The Obama administration will propose setting aside the 1.4 million-acre coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as wilderness, the White House announced Sunday, a move that will spark a fierce battle with the new Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairman, Lisa Murkowski, and other Alaska Republicans.

“Alaska’s National Wildlife refuge is an incredible place — pristine, undisturbed. It supports caribou and polar bears, all manner of marine life, countless species of birds and fish, and for centuries it supported many Alaska native communities. But it’s very fragile,” said President Obama in a just released White House video on the move.

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