Energy & Environment

Energy fuels any economy; access to affordable, abundant and reliable energy was always key to America’s dynamism, innovation and standard of living that was the envy of the world. On a global scale, wealthier is healthier -- disease, drudgery and infant mortality are among the many scourges eroded by abundant energy -- and wealthier is cleaner. Abundant energy drives all of this and, in the global economy, afforded the U.S. a competitive edge. American policies long recognized and sought to continue these truths.

America possesses the largest combined gas, coal and oil reserves of any nation in the world. Amid our prosperity, some began disparaging this blessing of resources as a curse to be controlled. Pro-abundance policies gave way to policies seeking to impose scarcity. This is now accelerating and must be stopped and reversed to avoid decline and human suffering, and then replaced with pro-abundance policies reviving America’s economy with a cost-free stimulus that liberates, as opposed to dictates.

With so many taxpayer-financed ‘busts,’ from politicians and bureaucrats pretending to dictate that unproven, unready and sometimes utterly unrealistic energy sources will work, the coming policy debate must recognize we have the choice of an energy boom.

Facts about energy and the economy:

  • Economic downturns are typically preceded by energy price spikes;
  • Businesses pass on increased costs, until they can’t, then they leave;
  • Social costs of increased energy costs -- job loss, economic slowdown, fuel poverty.

Of all sectors of a free economy the energy sector should not be viewed and centrally planned as a jobs program, yet that is now the norm; we are told it is a virtue to require more workers per unit of energy, making energy more expensive, killing far more jobs.

Liberating the energy sources that work, and that are economic -- rather than trying to force those into the market that require mandate, coercion and particularly policies disabling those that work -- would create an American economic boom, in two ways:

  • Energy production jobs, and those downstream, are economically ‘sustainable’
  • More affordable energy helps an economy grow, more expensive energy hurts

North Dakota, where massive recent energy finds and development reside on or below private land -- and are therefore free of many restrictions aimed at keeping resources untapped -- is a boom state in the current economic downturn.

This could be repeated throughout our energy-rich country, with centuries of resources.

Countries that the current administration used to cite as its model for America’s energy policies are indeed examples, demonstrating the real threat of these failed experiments:

  • These countries face crushing debt burdens due to the massive subsidies required to artificially create industries which cannot survive on their merits;
  • These countries lost jobs -- including many of their once-trademark ‘renewable’ industry jobs -- to countries that do not impose energy-scarcity policies;
  • These countries proved that coercive energy policies, despite their enormous per-job cost and the resulting massive debt, are difficult to undo once the constituencies demanding they continue are artificially created - living the reality, they are all scaling back that which we are accelerating;
  • They are no longer touted as success stories; now we are told look to China.

Additional Resources

Resourceful Earth
Monkey-Wrenching America
Keystone XL Pipeline Facts
The Impact of EPA's Regulatory Assault
The Economic and Employment Contributions of Shale Gas in the United States
North American Energy Inventory
Institute for Energy Research
American Energy Alliance
Environmental Trends

China, however, knows ‘green’ economics: they make solar panels to sell them to other countries; they’re paid to install windmills under Kyoto; and they massively deploy traditional energy sources to drive their growing economy.

It is a choice between sources requiring more wealth than they create, or create more wealth than they require; that is, between economic drain and economic growth.

It is equal parts critical that we a) avoid repeating these mistakes, by halting the vowed ‘Spanish model’ here before it is too late; b) stop the war on American energy sources that are products of performance, not politics; and c) reverse the encroaching decline with policies liberating domestic production of that which is proven to work, not unsustainably propping up that which doesn’t, hoping it will or insisting that it should.

This requires regulatory moratoria and reversal, Executive Order, and statutory change.

News & Articles

'Clean fuels' bill is a trust buster that deserves a veto: Editorial

Published on March 05, 2015Energy & Environment

In her inaugural speech last month, Gov. Kate Brown emphasized again and again the need to restore public trust in government. To that end, she said, "we must seize this moment to work across party lines." Yet now, according to her office, she's poised to sign a bill that embodies hyperpartisanship, that provides a link to her predecessor's ethical decay, and that would harm the very "everyday Oregonians - children and working parents, small business owners and senior citizens" whose concerns she promised to hear.

If the governor meant half of what she said on Feb. 18, she would exhibit the kind of leadership her office requires and veto Senate Bill 324.

The bill, which the House approved by a 31-29 vote Wednesday following lengthy and bruising debate, allows the full implementation of a complicated program to reduce the "carbon intensity" of road fuels. Carbon intensity is a measure not only of the emissions released by using a fuel, but also those released by producing, moving and storing it. The program, called a low carbon fuel standard, seeks to reduce the carbon footprint of road fuels by 10 percent over a decade. Because there's only so much ethanol blending suppliers of conventional gas and diesel can do, they'd have to buy credits from the producers of low-carbon fuel. Those who support this model seem to have learned little from the spectacular failure of Oregon's Business Energy Tax Credit.

But leaving aside the program's complexity (not to mention the state's track record of mismanaging complex initiatives), its benefits simply aren't worth the costs. Slashing the carbon footprint of Oregon's road fuels by 10 percent would have no effect on global warming. Meanwhile, carbon dioxide emissions attributed to the state's transportation sector are relatively stable. In 2012, the latest year for which the federal government has data, state emissions from transportation were lower than at any time since 1990. Emissions in 2012, in fact, were 13 percent lower than in 1999. These numbers hardly point to a crisis requiring an expensive response. Yet implementing SB324 would boost fuel costs by up to 19 cents per gallon. That's the equivalent of a 63 percent hike in the state's gas tax.

Read more here.

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Fallout from fracking bans: Family farms, elderly devastated in Mountain West

Written by Valerie Richardson for The Washington Times on June 12, 2014Energy & Environment
LOVELAND, Colo. — When foes of fracking complain about moneybags billionaires profiteering from “Big Oil,” they’re probably not thinking of people like Bob and Cristy Koeneke. The Koenekes are wheat farmers who lease the mineral rights on their property to oil and gas producers. The royalties they receive from the leases enabled the retirees to put two sons through Colorado State University and keep up the family farming operation. “It’s not that we’re wealthy fat cats,” said Mr. Koeneke, a retired truck driver who farms land on Colorado’s eastern plains that his family has owned for generations. “This [income] allows us to continue to farm.” Overlooked in Colorado’s fierce political battle over the booming practice of hydraulic fracturing are the state’s 600,000 mineral owners, many of whom depend on the royalties from oil and gas leases for their livelihoods. Those owners are growing increasingly alarmed as anti-fracking groups demand moratoriums or outright bans on oil and gas production in jurisdictions across the state.
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NC to start test drilling for natural gas to lure energy industry

Written by John Murawski for The Charlotte News-Observer on June 04, 2014Energy & Environment
RALEIGH Gov. Pat McCrory’s signing of major energy legislation into law Wednesday sets the stage for preliminary exploration of North Carolina’s shale gas potential, with the state government taking the lead where private industry has been reluctant to commit. State-sponsored drilling is expected to get underway this fall in Eastern North Carolina as part of a $550,000 state effort approved last year to help the energy industry assess fracking prospects here. Boosters of energy exploration want to expand the state’s drilling activities beyond the six counties designated last year. The Senate’s proposed budget would add more counties throughout the state and includes nearly $1.2 million to aid the energy sector by drilling, analysis and marketing. The governor’s budget includes $500,000 for drilling up to three test wells near Sanford in Lee County. “It’s a great thing for the government to be willing to do that,” said Mark Miller, co-owner of Tar Heel Natural Gas, a Charlotte company interested in energy exploration here. “If the government can help the industry ascertain, that’s a huge hurdle to climb over to get industry to come into the state.”
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Global warming rules will hit Ky., Ind.

There's much anticipation over the potential unveiling on Monday of the nation's first global warming rules.

Written by James Bruggers for The Courier-Journal on May 30, 2014Energy & Environment
The nation's first rules to curb heat-trapping pollution from power plants are expected to have an oversized impact on Kentucky and Indiana, two of the nation's most coal-dependent economies. One Louisville environmental advocate on Friday described the expected new Obama administration rules as "the biggest deal in a long, long time — at least from Kentucky's perspective." That's the perspective of Sarah Lynn Cunningham, director of Louisville's Climate Action Network, which advocates for energy efficiency and policies that fight global warming. "Kentucky will be affected more than any other state, or it at least will be in the top tier," she said. But she said the U.S. Environmental Protection needs to act "because the climate is kicking our butts everywhere," and it's only going to get worse. And she said moving toward cleaner energy won't happen "until we are forced." Coal interests and politicians that support them agreed with Cunningham Friday that the proposed rules are likely to be a big deal in coal country. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Friday he plans to introduce legislation to block the rules.
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South Dakota Sand Not Suitable for Oil Field Fracking in North Dakota

Written by Associated Press for The BIsmarck Tribune on March 28, 2014Energy & Environment
A state study that took more than a year to complete has concluded that sand from western South Dakota is not suitable for use in the oil and gas industry. South Dakota’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources studied whether sand found mainly in the Black Hills was suitable for hydraulic fracturing. The method known as fracking involves pumping water, sand and chemicals underground to break up shale rock and allow oil to flow. Fracking is used extensively in the booming western North Dakota oil fields, and officials wanted to know whether western South Dakota might benefit. The 16-month study found that the sand did not meet specifications recommended by the American Petroleum Institute.
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What Happens if the Keystone XL Pipeline Isn't Built?

Written by Lisa Riordan Seville for NBC News on March 24, 2014Energy & Environment
After five years, it appears the Obama administration will soon issue a decision on whether to build the long-delayed and controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would cross an environmentally sensitive area of the Great Plains and move nearly a million barrels of oil a day to Gulf Coast refineries. Backers of the project say it would stimulate the U.S. economy and enhance energy security, stressing that a new pipeline is the cheapest, safest way to transport dirty tar-sands crude from Canada’s booming oil fields to U.S. refineries. Environmentalists, who earlier this month chained themselves to the White House fence in protest, counter that it would endanger the water supply in several states and exacerbate climate change. They want to stop or slow the exploitation of an energy source the Sierra Club calls “the most toxic fossil fuel on the planet.”

But what happens if, after all the shouting, the pipeline isn’t built? NBC News consulted with experts on both sides of the debate to provide some possible answers about the impact on the environment, the economy and the global oil supply. “We don’t think there’s any way that the oil will stay in the ground,” said Matt Letourneau, a spokesperson for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. “Certainly the market will find a way.”
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McCrory: More diverse energy sources ahead

Written by Associated Press for The Winston-Salem Journal on December 04, 2013Energy & Environment
DURHAM - North Carolina is poised for an economic boost thanks to laws authorizing fracking and by opening the door wider to more alternative energy production, Gov. Pat McCrory told state business leaders Wednesday. Pushing ahead on his “all of the above” energy strategy, McCrory also said President Barack Obama's administration keeps dragging its feet on re-opening the process to recommence energy exploration off the Atlantic coast. The federal government has decided not to open exploration in new waters through at least 2017. “ We have to get into the exploration business in North Carolina,” McCrory told participants in an energy conference organized by the North Carolina Chamber. “We've waited far too long to begin that process and we've wasted a lot of time and we need to get that process going.” Stokes County is one of a small number of counties statewide that have a reserve of shale gas underground that could attract drillers for fracking purposes. The highest concentrations, according to state geologists, are in Lee, Moore and Chatham counties.
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Texas reports record monthly oil production rate

Published in The Houston Chronicle on December 04, 2013Energy & Environment
HOUSTON (AP) — Texas has reported that it produced oil at a record rate in September, more than doubling the rate of less than three years ago, according to totals compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The totals show Texas produced crude oil at the rate of 2.7 million barrels per day during September, the highest average since federal officials began keeping monthly records in January 1981 and a 30 percent increase over September 2012, the Houston Chronicle ( ) reported. That still fell short of the record rate of 3.4 million barrels per day reported to the Texas Railroad Commission in 1972, when the state's oil production peaked, the Chronicle reported.

The Texas oil boom started in 2008, when new technology reversed decades of decline. Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling renewed old fields and opened new ones. Leading the way in the new Texas oil boom have been the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas and the Permian Basin in West Texas, which each saw production rapidly expand to more than 1 million barrels of crude per day. Texas accounted for 35 percent of the U.S. crude oil production in September. That ranks Texas as one of the world's 15 biggest oil producers, comparable to such producers as Venezuela, Kuwait and Nigeria, the Chronicle reported.
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Branstad to push EPA on renewable fuel standard

Written by ROD BOSHART for The Sioux City Journal on December 03, 2013Energy & Environment
DES MOINES | Gov. Terry Branstad is expected to testify Thursday at a federal hearing on a plan to cut the amount of ethanol required to be blended into gasoline. The hearing, in suburban Washington, D.C., is being organized by the Environmental Protection Agency. The department proposes to reduce by almost 3 billion gallons the amount of biofuels required to be blended into gasoline in 2014. Iowa is the nation's top ethanol maker. Under the Clear Air Act, the EPA has the authority to reduce overall blending requirements. Branstad, a Republican, is defending the current levels of ethanol and biodiesel in the nation's fuel supply. He also has criticized Democrat President Barack Obama for campaigning in support of ethanol as a green energy alternative but then allowing the EPA to ease the requirements. Branstad said Tuesday he plans to testify at the EPA’s public comment session in Arlington, Va. During a news conference, he said the EPA change could push the price of corn below the cost of production, drive down farm land prices and cut the demand for machinery.
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State releases oil tax regs

Written by Becky Bohrer for ASSOCIATED PRESS on December 03, 2013Energy & Environment
JUNEAU — The state has finalized rules to help determine what oil qualifies for special tax breaks under Alaska’s new oil tax law. The law championed by Gov. Sean Parnell and passed by the Legislature earlier this year is aimed at spurring more production. Alaska relies heavily on oil revenues to run state government, but oil production has long been on a downward trend. The law, much of which takes effect Jan. 1, sets a base tax rate of 35 percent and provides a capped, per-barrel credit that the Parnell administration expects will apply to the vast majority of the legacy fields.

It also provides more generous tax breaks for so-called “new” oil. How best to define new oil was a sticking point during the legislative session. Metering would be used to calculate one of the most contentious types of oil that qualifies for tax breaks: oil coming from acreage that’s added to existing producing reservoirs. Companies seeking a tax break for this type of oil would be responsible for the metering. Mike Pawlowski, oil and gas program director for the state Revenue Department, said Monday that metering is a “very objective standard” that also provides transparency and predictability for the companies and the public. An earlier proposal also would have allowed companies to use an alternative methodology, but he said that left more discretion up to the department to decide what qualifies. Separate meters would not be required for each well. Audit master John Larsen said the state would prefer companies aggregate wells from the expanded acreage and run them through a single meter for efficiency’s sake.
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EPA preparing to unleash a deluge of new regulations

Written by Michael Bastasch for The Daily Caller on November 27, 2013Energy & Environment
Happy holidays from the Obama administration. Federal agencies are currently working on rolling out hundreds of environmental regulations, including major regulations that would limit emissions from power plants and expand the agency’s authority to bodies of water on private property. On Tuesday, the White House released its regulatory agenda for the fall of 2013. It lists hundreds of pending energy and environmental regulations being crafting by executive branch agencies, including 134 regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency alone.

The EPA is currently crafting 134 major and minor regulations, according to the White House’s regulatory agenda. Seventy-six of the EPA’s pending regulations originate from the agency’s air and radiation office, including carbon-dioxide-emission limits on power plants. Carbon-dioxide limits are a key part of President Barack Obama’s climate agenda. The EPA is set to set emissions limits that would effectively ban the construction of new coal-fired power plants unless they use carbon capture and sequestration technology. Next year, the agency will move to limit emissions from existing power plants — which could put more older coal plants out of commission.
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In wake of West, Dewhurst orders committee to examine regulatory requirements for ammonium nitrate

Written by James Drew for The Dallas Morning News on November 20, 2013Energy & Environment
AUSTIN – Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Wednesday assigned a Senate committee to examine the regulatory requirements for the storage of ammonium nitrate, in response to April’s explosion in West that killed 15 and injured more than 300. Dewhurst said the review, which could result in recommended legislation, would include the roles of the Office of the Texas State Chemist and the state Department of Insurance. The Dallas Morning News reported Nov. 3 that a state law designed to keep ammonium nitrate secured from would-be terrorists sets a lax standard for keeping Texans safe. Rep. Joe Pickett, the El Paso Democrat who is chair of the House homeland security committee, has said he’ll introduce a bill next year that might take enforcement of the law away from the state chemist and give it to the State Fire Marshal’s office, which is housed in the state insurance department.

Reached for comment, State Chemist Timothy Herrman said in an email: “We are prepared to operate under the laws and obligations set forth by the state, in the future as we do, today.” The assignment to the Senate Agriculture, Rural Affairs, and Homeland Security Committee came as an “interim charge” – which is a research assignment that committees receive leading to the next legislative session. Dewhurst also told the committee that in the aftermath of the West explosion, he wants it to probe the role of state and local governments in recovery operations. That work will include identifying “essential personnel and resources needed to increase existing response capabilities, Dewhurst’s office said.
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EPA proposes new deadline for air cleanup plans

Written by The Associated Press for Anchorage Daily News on November 20, 2013Energy & Environment
FAIRBANKS, Alaska — The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a new deadline for Alaska to develop a plan to clean up Fairbanks air that's been deemed dangerous to breathe. The federal agency on Tuesday proposed that the state formulate a plan by Dec. 31, 2014, to address a chronic winter particulate problem in Fairbanks with, which can cause health problems for the young, the elderly and the weakened. The state missed a 2012 deadline for a plan, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported ( ). "EPA's proposed rulemaking that's now giving firm and clear deadlines for State Implementation Plans to be submitted," said Cindy Heil of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. "If this new rule passes, we're not late."

The proposed deadline is a response to a lawsuit by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which claimed the EPA was lax with its air pollution requirements. Heil said the state expected the deadline change. "We're looking to meet this one, and that's what we're focused on — continuing to do our regulation proposal and release our air quality plan in the spring," she said. "But this clarifies the rules and the deadline, and we're still supposed to show attainment by the end of 2015." Missing deadlines could mean serious sanctions. The federal government could withhold money for highway projects, set strict requirements for new power plants or impose a federal attainment plan.
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Votes on Fracking Limits Show Mixed Results

Written by Jack Healy for The New York Times on November 06, 2013Energy & Environment
DENVER — The national debate over hydraulic fracturing and oil and gas drilling found its way to ballots on Tuesday in several communities in Ohio and Colorado, where voters considered proposals to ban or restrict fracking. With nearly all of the votes counted, unofficial results from county clerks showed the restrictions prevailing in three of four Colorado communities considering them, but failing in two of three Ohio cities.

Grassroots efforts to restrict fracking have put communities on a potential collision course with state officials and the energy industry. Ohio and Colorado say state officials – and not individual cities – are the ones with the power to regulate drilling. And industry groups have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight the measures, arguing the bans would harm businesses and are potentially illegal. “There’s no doubt that there are people concerned about being sued,” said Sam Schabacker, the Mountain West region director of Food and Water Watch, which is supporting the fracking restrictions in four Colorado communities. “It has a chilling effect. But the message I’ve gotten from people at the doors, is that this is worth getting sued over.”
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Texans easily approve $2 billion water fund, other amendments

Written by DAVID BARER for The Dallas Morning News on November 05, 2013Energy & Environment
AUSTIN — Texans voted Tuesday to open the valves on water project spending for decades to come, approving a constitutional measure to create a revolving state fund for reservoirs, pipelines and conservation efforts. It was the most closely watched of nine proposed amendments on the ballot, all of which easily won approval. Proposition 6 will tap $2 billion from the rainy day fund to help finance water projects across the state. Advocates say the money should help solve the state’s water woes for the next 50 years. It capped a strong push by business and political leaders to address the issue, lest drought and booming population stall Texas’ economic growth.

“Small businesses, manufacturers, the energy industry, the conservation community, farmers and ranchers, agriculture, all came together very, very strongly,” said House Speaker Joe Straus, who headed the campaign to promote the amendment. He spoke at an Austin watch party after the posting of favorable early voting results. “The people of Texas today validated our good work with an overwhelming vote of support,” added Straus, R-San Antonio. The $2 billion will go into a new water bank that the Texas Water Development Board will control to aid in financing water projects across the state. The money will be crucial for large projects, such as reservoirs and pipelines, because they can take decades to build and cost billions of dollars, officials said.
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Fracking Fight Focuses on a New York Town’s Ban

Written by JESSE McKINLEY for The New York Times on October 23, 2013Energy & Environment
DRYDEN, N.Y. — This town in the Finger Lakes region is not the kind of place where one would expect a grass-roots uprising. Even its promotional brochure makes it sound sleepy, listing the main attractions as “a few large dairy farms, some crop farms and several horse ranches.” But Dryden could soon be synonymous with something more than animals and agriculture. In August 2011, the town passed a zoning ordinance effectively forbidding hydraulic fracturing, the controversial gas extraction method also known as fracking. The ordinance, passed after a feisty local lobbying effort, prompted a lawsuit now being mulled by New York State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, whose ruling could settle the long-simmering issue of whether the state’s municipalities can ban the drilling process.

Dryden was not the first place to act against fracking, nor the first place where such bans have been subject to legal challenges. Bans are increasingly common in cities, towns and even counties across the country, including Pittsburgh, which did so in 2010, and Highland Park, N.J., a New York City suburb, where the Borough Council outlawed fracking on Sept. 17. While some of those votes are more symbolic than substantive — Highland Park was not likely to become a gas-drilling center — in the case of Dryden, the stakes could be high. “It’s going to decide the future of the oil and gas industry in the state of New York,” said Thomas West, a lawyer for Norse Energy Corporation USA, which has sought to have the ban overturned and will file legal briefs on the appeal on Monday.
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Offshore fracking is on the rise in Calif.

Written by ALICIA CHANG and JASON DEAREN for Associated Press on October 19, 2013Energy & Environment
LONG BEACH, Calif. – The oil-production technique known as fracking is more widespread and frequently used in the offshore platforms and human-made islands near some of California’s most populous and famous coastal communities than state officials believed. In waters off Long Beach, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach – some of the region’s most popular surfing strands and tourist attractions – oil companies have used fracking at least 203 times at six sites in the past two decades, according to interviews and drilling records obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request.

Just this year in Long Beach Harbor, the nation’s second-largest container port, an oil company with exclusive rights to drill there completed five fracks on palm tree-lined, human-made islands. Other companies fracked more than a dozen times from old oil platforms off Huntington Beach and Seal Beach over the past five years. Though there is no evidence offshore hydraulic fracturing has led to any spills or chemical leaks, the practice occurs with little state or federal oversight of the operations. The state agency that leases lands and waters to oil companies said officials found new instances of fracking after searching records as part of a review after the AP reported this summer about fracking in federal waters off California, an area from three miles to 200 miles offshore. The state oil permitting agency said it doesn’t track fracking.
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Wyo. high court to hear fracking disclosure suit

Written by Mead Gruver for Bloomberg on October 18, 2013Energy & Environment
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Nov. 20 over whether the public has the right to obtain lists of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing or if those ingredients are corporate trade secrets that may be shielded. The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission adopted its first-in-the-nation fracking chemical disclosure rule three years ago. The rule requires companies that frack in Wyoming to provide the commission with lists of the chemical ingredients in the fracking fluids they use. The idea is that if groundwater pollution ever occurs near an oil or gas well, the commission — which oversees oil and gas development in Wyoming — would be better able to determine if fracking played a role.
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Guest opinion: New EPA rules would cripple Wyoming coal industry

Written by TRAVIS DETI for The Billings Gazette on October 14, 2013Energy & Environment
Last month saw the Obama administration announce the latest salvo in its aggressive campaign against coal and the American consumer in the form of overly stringent emission standards on new coal-fired power plants from the Environmental Protection Agency. The proposal will require new coal plants to limit emissions to 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour, about 700 pounds less than most modern-day units. To achieve this standard, utilities will be required to implement costly and largely unproven carbon capture technology — technology that is simply not yet viable. In effect, the EPA, at the president’s direction, has placed a de facto ban on the construction of new coal-fired plants. It has essentially eliminated coal as a future source of electricity for our nation. The implications of this are enormous. Coal accounts for nearly 40 percent of America’s electricity generation, and the question of what will make up the megawatt difference once existing plants are retired has largely gone unanswered. But aside from this problematic scenario, there will be real and tangible effects for every Wyoming citizen.
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Michigan studies plan to ease rules on air emissions

Written by Jim Lynch for The Detroit News on October 09, 2013Energy & Environment
Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration is considering major changes to the way Michigan regulates air emissions — a potentially cost-reducing initiative that pleases industry but has some environmental groups concerned about the potential health impact on residents. Last month, an air quality committee composed of industry representatives, environmental groups and state officials recommended cutting the number of chemicals subject to air emissions limitation rules by 37 percent — to 756 from more than 1,200. It’s a move state Department of Environmental Quality officials argue brings Michigan in line with most other states. The state currently tracks more chemicals than are required by the federal government — leading Michigan to share the distinction with Texas of regulating more chemicals than the rest of the states across the country. The regulatory reform also would help area industries keep up with out-of-state competition by reducing air emission costs. “Michigan and only a few other states have an open-ended definition of what’s regulated — no strictly defined list,” said Robert Stills, a supervisor with DEQ’s Air Quality Division. “Around the country, there aren’t many states with that kind of approach.”
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Stephen Moore: Using 'Sue and Settle' to Thwart Oil and Gas Drillers

The Endangered Species Act is being employed more than ever to block development

Written by STEPHEN MOORE for The Wall Street Journal on October 04, 2013Energy & Environment
Last week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and an environmental advocacy group agreed to a legal settlement that will place nine species—including the Panama City crayfish, moccasinshell mussel and boreal toad—on the fast track for placement on the endangered species list. It is only the latest of many such listings. The Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned Fish and Wildlife to designate some 250 species as endangered since 2008. Many of CBD's petitions—and lawsuits—are still in the pipeline. About 97% of the species that are designated as endangered never move off the list. Next March, Fish and Wildlife will make a determination about whether to add the lesser prairie chicken, found in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Kansas to the list.

Harold Hamm, president of Continental Resources, says that the habitat for the prairie chicken overlaps "some of the most promising land for oil and gas leases in the country." Many Westerners suspect that this environmental activism isn't only or even mostly about saving species and obscure subspecies. Instead, it is about restricting land use on hundreds of thousands of acres of private and state land. The concern is that if these species are listed as endangered, their habitat could be placed off limits for economic development.
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Greenhouse Gas Rules Still In the Works for Idaho Power's Plants

Published in Magic Valley Times- News on September 23, 2013Energy & Environment
BOISE • Proposed rules the Environmental Protection Agency released Friday to cut carbon pollution from new power plants to combat climate change won’t affect Idaho Power and its customers. The proposals apply only to new power plants. But President Obama did order the EPA to issue final greenhouse gas rules for existing plants no later than June 2015. Those rules could well decide the future sources of the electricity that lights Idaho homes and powers Idaho commerce. Idaho Power owns one-third of the Jim Bridger coal plant in Wyoming and half of the Valmy plant in Nevada. It also is part owner of a coal plant in Boardman, Ore., that already is planned for closure because of environmental costs. Idaho Power reviewed its Wyoming and Nevada coal plants earlier this year and decided to keep them for now.

“We don’t know what (the president) is proposing,” said John Carstensen, Idaho Power’s engineering project leader. “We will evaluate the rules when they come out and we understand the particulars of them.” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the Obama administration will begin an outreach program to hear public ideas about climate change, which she said is a public health issue as well as an environmental issue. That justifies regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, an approach the Supreme Court has upheld. “Climate change is one of the most significant public health challenges of our time,” McCarthy said Friday. “By taking common-sense action to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, we can slow the effects of climate change and fulfill our obligation to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our children.”
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Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, congressional delegation blast EPA coal rules

Wyo. governor, delegation, blast EPA coal rules

Written by Associated Press for The Casper Star-Tribune on September 21, 2013Energy & Environment
CHEYENNE — Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and members of the state's congressional delegation reacted quickly on Friday to new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules to limit carbon emissions from future coal-fired power plants, saying they would cripple the coal industry as well as clean-coal research. Meanwhile, some environmental groups point to recent unsuccessful efforts by the federal government to lease new coal tracts in Wyoming's Powder River Basin as proof the nation needs to re-examine its policies for selling public coal reserves. The EPA on Friday announced the first national limits on carbon pollution from future power plants. The agency also is developing tougher standards on existing plants as part of the Obama administration's push to address global warming.

Wyoming is the nation's top coal-producing state and draws nearly $1 billion a year from its share of the proceeds from coal production on federal lands. "This latest EPA proposal would be damaging to Wyoming, the nation's top coal supplier," Mead said Friday. "The standards for coal-fired power generation in the proposed rule are unachievable and will arrest research, development and commercialization of clean technologies." EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said Friday the proposed regulations aren't intended to damage the coal industry but would help the industry to adapt by encouraging companies to develop ways to reduce carbon emissions from burning coal.
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Many fear EPA rules will hurt WV industry

Written by Dave Boucher for The Charleston Daily Mail on September 13, 2013Energy & Environment
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Few specifics are known about federal carbon emissions standards set for release next week. But reports that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules could harm the coal industry drew fierce responses from several West Virginia politicians and industry officials. By the end of next week, the EPA must issue proposed carbon emissions standards for newlybuilt coal-fired power plants in the country. Bloomberg News and The Wall Street Journal both reported those rules will force any new plants to use equipment that industry officials contend either does not exist or is too expensive.

There is no reason to expect the rules won't hurt the coal industry, said Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association. "The anticipation is not very good," Raney said. "We're expecting it to be very damaging to West Virginia and the Appalachian states and coal-burning utilities." Raney again said the technology to effectively reduce emissions or "capture" the carbon isn't a feasible option for facilities in the short term. It would realistically take years to implement the technology, at a significant cost, he said.
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Oil tax bill referendum to appear on August 2014 ballot

Written by Matt Buxton for The Fairbanks Daily News – Miner on September 06, 2013Energy & Environment
FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Division of Elections has certified a referendum on Gov. Sean Parnell’s oil tax bill for the ballot next year. Elections Director Gail Fenumiai, in a letter to lead referendum backer Vic Fischer earlier this week, certified that the referendum has met all the requirements necessary to appear on the Aug. 19, 2014, statewide primary election ballot. The letter confirmed that petitioners across the state gathered 45,664 voter signatures, surpassing the 30,169 signature requirement that was based on the 2012 general election turnout. The group gathered 52,649 signatures, some of which were disqualified in the review process.

Fischer, who is a former state senator and delegate to the Alaska Constitutional Convention, applauded the step in a news release Thursday. “This is a great victory for Alaskans,” said Fischer, a prime sponsor of the repeal effort. “Alaskans deserve a fair share of the wealth generated from our oil fields. Repealing the giveaway will help ensure that.” Parnell and a newly elected Republican majority in the Legislature passed Senate Bill 21 earlier this year to cut overall taxation on oil in a bid to reverse decades of faltering production. Opponents, like Fischer, have argued against the bill, saying it gives too much away and contains no guarantees of new production. If passed, the bill would return Alaska to the Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share, or ACES, tax, which both Republicans and Democrats agreed needed revisions.
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