States, green groups spar with US EPA over 2015 ozone standard in court
Lawyers for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Dec. 18 attempted to refute arguments targeting the latest national standard for ground-level ozone pollution amid a legal challenge from environmental groups, industry interests and some mostly conservative states.
Williams CEO angles for Permian gas, sees political opportunity in Amazon growth
Opposition to gas pipelines in New York could hurt developments such as Amazon.com Inc.'s expansion in New York City, but the politics may be changing.
Crude oil futures' sharp retreat halts; market sentiment remains bearish
Following the prior day routing down $3.64 to a settle at $46.24/bbl, a level not seen since August 2017, the front-month crude oil futures contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange recovered modest ground Dec. 19, reaching a $48.00/bbl high before closing the session up 96 cents at $47.20/bbl.
Europe slashes imports of US coal as nations transition to other energy sources
U.S. coal exports to Europe have sharply declined in recent years, falling 40.6% from 2012 to 2017 as many nations began moving away from coal-fired power generation.
"We're really starting to press on the fact that here we have these great emissions-reduction opportunities in these markets, and yet the extremists are really blocking the public from being able to enjoy the benefits of that. ... There continues to be a small but very noisy voice that's prohibiting these very important economic projects from being developed today. We think that's going to turn around as people really face the facts," said Alan Armstrong, president and CEO of Williams Cos. Inc., on the permitting and public-opinion challenges faced by builders of natural gas pipelines.
* Georgia regulatory staffers revealed that they could sue Georgia Power Co. if they believe that its Vogtle nuclear project costs were imprudently incurred, but any litigation would not occur until 2022, when the second of two new reactors is targeted to come online.
* The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission approved Public Service Co. of New Mexico's integrated resources plan, which includes the retirement of the remaining units at the San Juan coal plant by the end of 2022 and the utility's exit from its 13% participation in the Four Corners coal plant in 2031. Separately, the state regulators have given the green light to the PNM Resources Inc. subsidiary to proceed with its plans to join the California Independent System Operator Corp.-operated western energy imbalance market in 2021. The utility expects to seek recovery of related costs in future general rate cases.
* U.S. Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., introduced bipartisan legislation to impose an increasing price on carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions and give the collected revenues back to the American people in the form of a monthly dividend. The bill would help reduce U.S. carbon emissions by 33% in 10 years and create 2.1 million net new jobs.
* Shell New Energies US LLC and EDF Renewables North America formed a joint venture company to co-develop the OCS-0499 lease area for wind energy projects off the coast of New Jersey. The lease area has the potential to produce approximately 2,500 MW of offshore wind energy. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals.
* Corporate renewable energy procurements peaked in 2018 as the amount of new wind and solar capacity purchased by companies tracked by the Rocky Mountain Institute reached a record high.
* Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the U.S. House Democrats' planned climate change committee is unlikely to have the subpoena power and that it will be a "recommendatory committee to the Energy and Commerce Committee and the environmental committees," The Hill in Washington, D.C., reported.
* Investors are calling on European utilities, including Centrica PLC, National Grid PLC, Electricité de France SA, Iberdrola SA and RWE AG, to exit from coal-fired generation by 2030 and set targets to meet the Paris climate accord, the Financial Times reported.
* Members of Virginia's State Air Pollution Control Board postponed a vote on a compressor station attached to the Dominion Energy Inc.-led Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC natural gas transportation project.
* The governors of Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico's Sonora state signed an agreement to study the potential of exporting natural gas to Asian buyers through existing and yet-to-be-developed pipelines and LNG facilities.
* The anticipated surge in U.S. LNG exports is likely to have a positive impact on the domestic gas futures market in the form of higher prices, Reuters reported. "LNG exports will be one of the most bullish demand factors for U.S. natural gas prices over the coming two years, when several terminals are set to come online," Raymond James analyst Muhammed Ghulam was quoted as saying.
* The Transportation Security Administration, tasked with overseeing U.S. oil and gas pipeline cybersecurity, has not kept up with the latest threats to the industry and has not been clear enough in its expectations to ensure that pipeline operators are appropriately evaluating their risks, according to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
* A Pennsylvania county's district attorney launched a criminal investigation into the construction of Energy Transfer LP unit Sunoco Pipeline LP's Mariner East family of NGL lines for allegedly causing sinkholes and polluting drinking water and waterways across southern Pennsylvania, The Associated Press reported.
* Following its $10.5 billion acquisition of U.S. oil and gas assets from BHP Billiton Group at the end of October, London-based major BP PLC reportedly launched the sale of about $3 billion of its legacy U.S. assets to help pay for the purchase, Reuters reported, citing sources familiar with the deal.
* Opponents of Enbridge Inc.'s Line 3 replacement project filed lawsuits with the Minnesota Court of Appeals to challenge the state Public Utilities Commission's approval of the tar sands pipeline project.
* Activist investors have filed new resolutions at Chevron Corp. and Norway's Equinor, asking the majors to set greenhouse gas emissions-reductions targets that are in sync with those of the Paris Agreement.
* Exxon Mobil Corp.'s Montana refinery received a hardship waiver from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that would give the refinery a temporary relief from biofuel laws, Reuters reported, citing "three sources familiar with the matter."
* The Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority allowed Enbridge Inc. to develop a tunnel beneath a section of the Great Lakes that would house a replacement segment for its Line 5 oil pipeline, the AP reported. Outgoing Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder recently created the three-member panel to oversee construction and operation of the tunnel.
* Oil and gas producers in Colorado are expected to face harsher permitting processes as newly elected Democrats who want to increase control over the development of oil and gas and potentially creating new hurdles for some projects take office and revamp regulations, Reuters reported, citing House of Representatives' speaker KC Becker.
* Motiva Enterprises LLC, a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, is looking to spend $6.6 billion at the Port Arthur refinery in Texas as part of its plans to expand into the petrochemical business, the Houston Chronicle reported.
* Many of the most polluting power plants in Europe will be barred from getting paid for providing backup electricity from 2025 as part of sweeping new rules that aim to make the EU's power market fit for the future.
* Mechel PAO extended an agreement to supply China's Jidong Cement with thermal coal until the end of 2019.
Permian Basin drilling and production activity has grown vigorously for more than two and a half years as the formation has become the global center of unconventional oil development.
New from RRA
* Sempra Energy continues to implement the strategic restructuring plan it announced June 28. While additional transactions are likely, the thrust of Sempra's plan to date is to increase its presence in the rate-regulated or contracted domestic energy, in particular electric, delivery space.
The day ahead
* The Energy Information Administration natural gas storage report is due out today.
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