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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.

U.S. Senate Set to Vote on Keystone XL Next Week

Jan 23, 2015
(National Journal)

Following a tense night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to limit debate on legislation to green-light the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, setting up a final vote next week.

Senators stayed at the Capitol past midnight Thursday as McConnell swiftly moved to table a series of Democratic amendments to the pipeline bill, which has now been under debate in the Senate since the new Congress convened at the start of the month.

Minutes before midnight, McConnell filed cloture on the underlying bill, a procedural move that will trigger an additional 30 hours of debate prior to a final vote.

Nearly 3M Gallons of 'Saltwater' Spill; N. Dakota's Biggest Oil Boom Leak

Jan 22, 2015
(AP)

Nearly 3 million gallons of saltwater generated by oil drilling have leaked from a North Dakota pipeline, an official said Wednesday, the largest such spill since the state's current oil boom began and nearly three times worse than previous record spills. Two creeks have been affected, but the full environmental effect might not be clear for months.

Operator Summit Midstream Partners LLC detected the pipeline spill on Jan. 6, about 15 miles north of Williston and told health officials then. Officials say they weren't given a full account of the size until Tuesday.

Cleanup has begun and inspectors have been monitoring the area, but it will be difficult to measure the effects on the environment and wildlife until the ice melts, said Dave Glatt, chief of the North Dakota Department of Health's environmental health section. Some previous saltwater spills have taken years to clean up.

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