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Longtime Coal CEO Don Blankenship Indicted

Nov 14, 2014
(The Charleston Gazette)

Massey Energy Co. chief executive Don Blankenship testifies in May 2010 at the U.S. Senate's Health and Human Services subcommittee hearing on mine safety, just a few weeks after 29 miners died at the Massey-operated Upper Big Branch Mine, in Raleigh County.

Don Blankenship, the longtime chief executive officer of Massey Energy, was indicted Thursday on charges that he orchestrated the routine violation of key federal mine safety rules at the company’s Upper Big Branch Mine prior to an April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners.

A federal grand jury in Charleston charged Blankenship with conspiring to cause willful violations of ventilation requirements and coal-dust control rules—meant to prevent deadly mine blasts—during a 15-month period prior to the worst coal-mining disaster in a generation.


Keystone XL Approval Bill Clears Hurdle in U.S. Senate

Nov 13, 2014

Legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline cleared a procedural hurdle in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, setting up a vote on the project next week.

Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu, who faces a runoff vote in Louisiana on Dec. 6, had pushed for vote on Thursday on the bill.

Her Republican opponent, U.S. Representative Bill Cassidy, pushed for a vote on a similar bill his chamber, as each competed to support TransCanada Corp's pipeline that would send some 800,000 barrels per day of Canadian oil sand petroleum to refineries in Texas.

Alberta Judge Rules Landowner May Sue Govt in Landmark Fracking Case

Nov 11, 2014
(The Tyee)

A landmark lawsuit that challenges the lax regulation of hydraulic fracturing in Canada has just scored a major victory.

In a lengthy decision, Alberta Chief Justice Neil Wittmann dismissed all key arguments made by the government of Alberta against the lawsuit of Jessica Ernst, including the fear that it may unleash a flood of lawsuits against a government that is heavily dependent on hydrocarbon revenue.

The Alberta government argued that Ernst's $33-million lawsuit had no merit; that the government owed no duty of care to landowners with contaminated water; and that the government had statutory immunity.

AOL Becomes Latest Tech Giant to Flee From ALEC

Nov 11, 2014
(National Journal)

AOL is ending its relationship with the American Legislative Exchange Council, National Journal has learned.

The Web company decided "weeks ago" not to renew its membership with ALEC, a company official confirmed Monday. The departure makes AOL the latest in a remarkable wave of tech giants to recently separate from the conservative nonprofit.

It was not immediately clear why AOL chose to divorce itself from ALEC, a coalition of state legislators and corporations that works to develop template legislation to introduce in statehouses around the country.

Car Bomb, House Explosion Rock Solar Energy Campaign in Louisiana

Nov 10, 2014

The home and two cars of a campaign finance director for a pro-solar energy candidate running for Louisiana’s utility regulatory board were blown up Thursday.

No one was injured in the explosions, and authorities have yet to established a direct link between the apparent attacks and the campaign’s efforts to promote solar energy, according to local station WWL.

But the ATF is assisting in the investigation of the incidents, according to NOLA.com. The finance director targeted, Mario Zervigon, a well known political operative in the state, is taking a break from campaigning for candidate Forest Bradley-Wright.

Texas Oil & Gas Group Asks Court to Halt Fracking Ban

Nov 6, 2014

A North Texas city that sits atop a natural gas reserve is preparing for an extended court battle after voters made it the first in the state to ban further hydraulic fracturing — a fight that cities nationwide considering similar laws will likely be watching closely.

An industry group and the state's little-known but powerful General Land Office responded quickly to the measure Denton approved Tuesday night, seeking an injunction in District Court to stop it from being enforced.

Denton Becomes First City in Texas to Ban Fracking

Nov 5, 2014
(Fort Worth-Telegram)

In a state where the oil and gas industry is king, Denton on Tuesday was poised to become the first city in Texas to ban hydraulic fracturing with voters approving a grassroots initiative against the controversial drilling method.

With 37 of 39 precincts reported by late evening, about 59 percent of voters in this college town of 123,000 had cast ballots for an ordinance that will drastically restrict drillers’ attempts to tap the rich natural gas reserves within the city limits. Calling the ordinance unconstitutional, state and industry officials have pledged to contest it in court and state lawmakers have said they may pass legislation to block it.

Elections Give Keystone XL a Filibuster-Proof Majority

Nov 5, 2014

Republicans will command a filibuster-proof Senate majority in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline after Tuesday’s election victories — and they could be within striking distance of assembling a veto-proof bloc for the project, increasing their leverage over President Barack Obama.

The GOP says Keystone will be the subject of one of the first votes in the newly GOP-controlled Senate, when Republicans will be able to join forces with several Democrats who have already publicly backed the Alberta-to-Texas oil pipeline.

TransCanada Says Keystone Pipeline Costs Increase to $8B

Nov 4, 2014

TransCanada Corp. (TRP) said delays in receiving U.S. approval for its Keystone XL project have increased costs by 48 percent to $8 billion, raising the price customers will have to pay to ship oil on the proposed pipeline.

TransCanada has been waiting since 2008 for a U.S. decision on the line that would carry crude from Alberta’s oil sands across the border to Gulf Coast refineries. The Calgary-based company has spent about $2.4 billion on the project as of Sept. 30, it said in a statement today. It had previously estimated the 1,179-mile (1,897-kilometer) project would cost $5.4 billion.

TransCanada is seeking to boost its crude transportation business to bring expanding supplies from oil-sands projects to refiners and export terminals. Output from Western Canada is forecast to more than double to 4.8 million barrels a day by 2030 from 1.9 million last year, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. In addition to Keystone XL, TransCanada has proposed the C$12 billion ($10.5 billion) Energy East line that would bring crude to Canada’s Atlantic Coast.

Even with the price increase, Keystone XL will still be the cheapest transportation option to move Canadian oil to the Gulf Coast, Paul Miller, TransCanada president of liquids pipelines, said on a conference call today. That includes using the proposed Energy East line and then loading it onto tankers for the trip south, he said.

Enbridge Estimates Michigan Oil Spill Cleanup at $1.2 Billion

Nov 4, 2014
(Wood TV 8)

Enbridge estimates the total cost of cleanup from the 2010 oil spill into the Kalamazoo River at $1.21 billion.

This is an increase of $85.9 million compared to Enbridge's estimate in December 2013.

The $1.21 billion was split into three categories: $551.6 million for response personnel and equipment, $227 million for environmental consultants, $429.4 million in professional, regulatory, and other.

The Enbridge pipeline broke near Marshall in July 2010 dumping 800,000 gallons of crude oil into the river. It was the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history. Enbridge is still cleaning up the mess.