Exxon Mobil Refinery Explosion Injures 4; Shaking With Magnitude of 1.7 Earthquake

Los Angeles Times

Four workers suffered minor injuries after a large explosion Wednesday morning at the Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance, according to an Exxon spokesman.

The explosion was the equivalent of a magnitude 1.7 earthquake, according to Caltech.

Residents in the area were asked by police to remain indoors after the explosion. That shelter-in-place order has been lifted, but a smoke advisory was issued by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

About 47 firefighters responded after the explosion about 8:50 a.m. The blast was followed by a ground fire that was quickly extinguished, a Torrance fire captain said.

When firefighters arrived at the refinery, Capt. Steve Deuel said, they found flames likely fueled by gasoline.

Oil Train Derails in W. Virginia; Tanker Enters River, Towns Evacuated


A CSX Corp train hauling North Dakota crude derailed in West Virginia on Monday, setting a number of cars ablaze, destroying a house and forcing the evacuation of two towns in the second significant oil-train incident in three days.

One or two of the cars plunged into the Kanawha River, said Robert Jelacic of the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

CSX said the train was hauling 109 cars from North Dakota to the coastal town of Yorktown, Virginia, where midstream firm Plains All American Pipelines runs an oil depot. It said one person was being treated for potential inhalation of fumes. No other injuries or deaths were reported.

Federal Environmental Review Makes Arctic Drilling More Likely

Los Angeles Times

A revised environmental review of a contested Arctic oil lease makes drilling in the area far more likely, a development that has infuriated environmentalists.

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management released the new environmental assessment of drilling leases on Thursday, upping the projected oil yield but saying little otherwise about the potential environmental impact.

The revised report was a particularly bitter disappointment for environmentalists, who had just celebrated the Obama administration's decision in January to put parts of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off-limits from future oil and gas leasing.

Nebraska Judge Halts TransCanada's Use Of Eminent Domain For Keystone Route

Huffington Post

A Nebraska judge has issued a temporary injunction barring TransCanada from using eminent domain to force landowners to sell rights allowing the proposed Keystone XL pipeline on their property.

Pipeline owner TransCanada said it will suspend all eminent domain proceedings, including those against landowners who are not among those who sued the company. The company said in a statement that it will seek an accelerated schedule for a trial.

TransCanada filed paperwork in late January to begin using eminent domain to acquire land along the pipeline path from owners who didn't agree to sell rights to the company. This came shortly after the Nebraska state Supreme Court issued a decision that essentially cleared the way for the pipeline, though it left some open legal questions about the process the state had used to approve the route.

Congress Passes Keystone XL bill, Obama Expected to Veto


The Republican-led Congress gave final passage on Wednesday to a bill to approve the long-pending Keystone XL pipeline, a measure that next goes to President Barack Obama, who has vowed to veto it.

The bill passed by 270-152 in the House of Representatives, with only one Republican voting against it and 29 Democrats for it. The legislation passed in the Senate in late January.

Obama, a Democrat, opposes the bill because it would pluck the approval process from his administration. He wants the State Department to finish its assessment of the pipeline and make his own decision on it afterward.

Congress Set to Pass Bill Approving Keystone XL Pipeline


The Republican-controlled Congress is set to send a bill approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline to President Barack Obama, who has vowed to veto it.

The House is expected to pass the bill easily Wednesday afternoon, capping weeks of debate over one of Republicans' top priorities - a bill authorizing the construction of the much-delayed pipeline. Yet support in both the Senate and House has not been enough to override a veto.

The pipeline is the first of many standoffs expected between Obama and Republicans on energy and environment.

California Calls on Pension Funds to Divest From Coal


America's biggest state pension funds came under rising pressure on Tuesday to dump coal companies from their combined $500bn portfolio, in a major escalation of the fossil fuel divestment campaign.

The California senate leader, Kevin de Leon, said he was introducing a bill on Tuesday calling on the two state funds – CalPERS, the public employees' pension fund, and CalSTRS, the teachers' pension funds, drop all coal holdings.

The bill is part of a larger package of climate measures – endorsed by Governor Jerry Brown – aimed at gearing up California's efforts to fight climate change.

The former US vice-president and climate champion Al Gore spoke to the CalSTRS board in Sacramento last Friday. Gore has long argued that fossil fuels are a risky proposition as a long-term investment.

"Our state's largest pension funds also need to keep their eyes on the future," De Leon, a Democrat, said in an email. "With coal power in retreat, and the value of coal dropping, we should be moving our massive state portfolios to lower carbon investments and focus on the growing clean-energy economy."

The two state funds are the biggest targets so far of a divestment movement that has moved from college campuses towards mainstream financial conversation.

CalPERS manages about $300bn in assets, including 30 coalmining companies valued at about $167m, according to a fact sheet prepared by De Leon's office.

CalSTRS with assets of about $190bn has about $132m in coal assets.

BP to Urge Shareholders to Support Climate Resolution


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

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

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.

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