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Experts spar over EPA's transparency rule; White House could aid pipes in 2019

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Experts spar over EPA's transparency rule; White House could aid pipes in 2019

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Experts spar over US EPA's proposed science transparency rule

The chairman of a Senate subcommittee with oversight of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency touted the Trump administration's proposed scientific transparency rule, claiming the policy would strengthen the science behind regulations.

Williams sets Oct. 6 full-service date for $3B Atlantic Sunrise gas project

Williams Cos. Inc. will place its $3 billion Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline expansion project into service Oct. 6, providing the full takeaway capacity of up to 1.7 Bcf/d to an infrastructure-constrained region of the Marcellus Shale.

White House could aid pipeline projects in 2019, economic adviser says

The Trump administration intends to encourage the development of U.S. oil and natural gas pipeline projects in the coming year as the administration moves forward on its deregulation track, according to the White House's leading economic adviser.

Fossil fuel industry sabotaging itself by ignoring carbon capture, senator says

The fossil fuel industry is "engaged in self-harm" by failing to partake in the development of carbon capture technology despite federal tax incentives, U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said at an energy event.

Quoted

"We expect ... a tough Senate confirmation process that will likely take the remainder of the year. While announcing the bailout scheme before the midterms may be politically appealing to Trump in the short-term, we think introducing the new rule before McNamee is situated at FERC could raise the stakes on his Senate confirmation, given the widespread opposition to the proposal," said Energy industry analysts at Height Capital Markets while commenting on the nomination of U.S. Department of Energy staffer Bernard McNamee to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the possible effect of the DOE proposal to financially support power plants that store at least 90 days of fuel on-site.

Power

* Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Florence made landfall along the coast of North Carolina, Duke Energy Corp.'s L.V. Sutton combined-cycle natural gas plant remains offline, and the company continues to assess the environmental impact of flooded coal ash ponds.

* The Illinois Pollution Control Board has decided to postpone a final ruling on Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposal to ease air pollution rules for coal plants until after the Nov. 6 election, the Chicago Tribune reported. The proposal would have affected eight plants operated in the state by Vistra Energy Corp.

* President Donald Trump plans to nominate Rita Baranwal to be the Department of Energy's assistant secretary of nuclear energy. Baranwal is currently the director of the Energy Department's gateway for accelerated innovation in nuclear initiative.

* Dominion Energy Inc. and SCANA Corp. have reached a settlement with North Carolina Utilities Commission staff and an intervenor in the companies' proposed merger. The settlement agreement ensures rate stability and service reliability for more than 500,000 PSNC Energy customers.

* The U.S. Department of Energy completed its review of the proposed 20.7-MW Lake Erie offshore wind project in Ohio, finding no significant environmental impacts or effect on migratory birds. The agency released the final environment report in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal entities.

* The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a final rule approving West Virginia's revised effective date on incorporating by reference the national ambient air quality standards. The final rule is effective Nov. 5.

* The U.S. Interior Department has implemented a new policy that would require its agencies to only use scientific studies or findings whose underlying data are public and reproducible, The Hill in Washington, D.C., reported.

* Massachusetts and California are leading other states in energy efficiency standards due to their energy savings programs and investments, according to an American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy study.

Natural gas

* Continental Resources Inc. says there is plenty of oil left in the Bakken Shale, expecting production to grow hand-in-hand with technology. Continental will use free cash to pay down debt to $5 billion in 2019, then consider a dividend.

* The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is making changes to state's construction standards for pipeline river crossings after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th circuit vacated the Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC's U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit, The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette-Mail reported.

* Federal agencies teamed up with U.S. oil and gas industry representatives to develop a pipeline cybersecurity initiative that aims to take a systematic approach to protecting and securing critical infrastructure.

* Precision Drilling Corp. agreed to acquire Trinidad Drilling Ltd. in a transaction valued at approximately C$1.03 billion, including the assumption of C$477 million in Trinidad net debt.

* Epic Midstream Holdings LP has secured all approvals to begin crude oil service on a portion of its natural gas liquids pipeline once construction is completed in the third quarter of 2019.

Oil

* While pipeline bottlenecks in the Permian basin have dragged down U.S. land drilling activity, analysts remain positive on oilfield service companies ahead of the third-quarter earnings season as a recovery in the international onshore market should help offset the stagnating U.S. land market.

* The U.S. State Department is urging OPEC to utilize 1.42 million barrels a day of "spare capacity to ensure world oil supply meets the demand," after oil prices hit new four-year highs on Oct. 3, S&P Global Platts reported.

* With an asset sale reportedly in the works, Marathon Oil Corp. could soon join a wave of U.S.-based oil producers leaving the North Sea as they focus on core domestic production areas.

* A new study by the International Energy Agency shows that petrochemicals are set to become the largest driver of global oil demand, accounting for more than a third of the growth in world oil demand to 2030 and nearly half the growth to 2050.

Coal

* Total U.S. coal rail traffic for the week ended Sept. 29 rose 1.5% year over year to 89,445 carloads, according to data from the Association of American Railroads.

* North Dakota-based Lignite Energy Council plans to seek extra payments from transmission operators for coal-fired capacity because "it is considered more reliable" during natural disasters, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

* Coal mine operator Pinnacle Mining Co. LLC reached a settlement with Bluestone Coal Corp. over allegations that Pinnacle flooded a Bluestone mine and destroyed a nearby coal reserve.

ChartWatch

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Daily natural gas deliveries to Dominion Energy Inc.'s Cove Point liquefied natural gas plant went offline in late September for planned maintenance, temporarily curbing what have been robust gas flows to U.S. export facilities.

New from RRA

* Diversified utilities and generator/energy retail stock performance in September was mixed relative to August's performance. NRG Energy Inc. and Vistra Energy Corp., which both have ongoing share repurchase programs, led the group, with both companies reaching 52-week highs to close out the month.

* On Sept. 17, an administrative law judge issued a recommended decision in a proceeding (Docket No. 18M-0401E) examining the impact of federal tax reform on the rates of Public Service Co. of Colorado's electric operations.

The day ahead

* The Baker-Hughes rig count report is due out today.

* Early morning futures indicators pointed to a mixed opening for the U.S. equity markets. To view more SNL equity market indexes, click here. To view more SNL Energy commodities prices, click here.

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Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

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