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Former coal lobbyist replaces Pruitt as head of EPA


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Former coal lobbyist replaces Pruitt as head of EPA

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Former coal lobbyist to lead US EPA following Pruitt's resignation

The man taking the reins of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the wake of Scott Pruitt's resignation, EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler, is a former coal lobbyist who is widely expected to advance the administration's broad goals and continue rolling back environmental regulations.

Pruitt resigns as US EPA chief amid ethics probes

Scott Pruitt has resigned as head of the U.S. EPA, President Donald Trump tweeted July 5. Trump said he accepted Pruitt's resignation, adding that the EPA chief "has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this." EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler will assume acting administrator duties starting July 9, Trump added.

Bill to update Endangered Species Act pleases US oil and gas producers

New draft legislation to update the Endangered Species Act could remove barriers to oil and gas development, but environmental groups are fighting the bill due to concerns it will make vulnerable species harder to protect.

Hot summer start likely a boon to coal, gas, but cooler weather may be coming

A warm start to the summer has likely improved demand for coal and natural gas, but changing weather patterns could soon cool off hopes the hot weather will have a constructive effect on long-term prices.


"This is a leap of faith and a gamble given the set of circumstances our ratepayers and our employers are in presently as a result of previous policy," California Assembly Member Jim Patterson, a Republican, said in cautioning against a measure passed by the Assembly's Utilities and Energy Committee that would accelerate the state's renewable portfolio standard.


* The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is drafting details of a new rule that will replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan for regulating emissions from coal-fired power facilities, sources told The New York Times. The proposal, which would impose "less stringent" requirements on coal plants, is expected to be sent to the White House for approval in coming days.

* A California appeals court reversed a lower court's ruling that a jury should be allowed to decide whether Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is liable for punitive damages in the 2015 Butte wildfire that killed two people and destroyed 549 homes.

* Xcel Energy Inc. completed the purchase of the 478-MW Hale Community wind facility in Hale County, Texas, from NextEra Energy Resources LLC for undisclosed sum, The Associated Press reported. The project is expected to cost about $735 million and enter operation by June 2019.

* The Trump administration's efforts to spur offshore wind energy development have drawn interest from European companies, which own seven of the government's 12 active leases, according to Reuters.

* The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. provided incorrect information on the feasibility of coal tar cleanup plan Congaree River and asked the utility to revive the plan, The State reported.

* A Central Maine Power Co. executive said the company is open to "sweetening the pot" for Maine towns to win approval for the planned $950 million transmission line that would import hydropower from Quebec, The Wall Street Journal reported.

* The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ordered the U.S. EPA to enforce air pollution conflict-of-interest rules in Alabama, Mississippi and Illinois. "The ruling is an important step in making sure that Trey Glenn, President Trump's problematic choice to head the EPA's regional office for Alabama and Mississippi, avoids past conflicts of interest," the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement.

Natural gas

* Enbridge Inc.'s C$4.31 billion deal to sell gas gathering and processing assets to investment manager Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP garnered applause from analysts as the energy pipeline giant transforms into a pure-play regulated business.

* The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reinstated river-crossing authorizations that had been removed from a Clean Water Act permit for Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC's project to build a 2-Bcf/d natural gas line from West Virginia production fields to Virginia and downstream markets.

* Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. LLC received an amended presidential permit to increase natural gas exports between Hidalgo, Texas, and Reynosa, Mexico, to 468 MMcf/d from 185 MMcf/d, the San Antonio Business Journal reported. The amended permit was issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

* Politics must be kept out of permitting processes controlled by New York, other states and federal agencies to make U.S. natural gas pipeline investments more secure, the head of the U.S. Department of Energy and the CEO of Enbridge said.

* Norway-based Equinor ASA, which was formerly known as Statoil ASA, agreed to acquire Danish power and natural gas trading firm Danske Commodities A/S for €400 million, in a move to evolve into a broader energy company.


* Six sovereign wealth funds from major oil-producing nations, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, agreed to support greener economy investments and to improve "businesses' transparency on their strategies toward establishing low-carbon economic growth," The Associated Press reported.

* Independent commodities and energy company Mercuria Energy Group Ltd. signed an agreement to support Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc.'s existing U.S. and global revolving credit facilities with a US$1 billion trade finance facility. In return, Aegean would issue new shares equal to 30% of its common stock to Mercuria and add Mercuria representative to its board.

* Enbridge sued a tugboat operator that allegedly dented the Line 5 oil and liquids pipeline in Michigan's Straits of Mackinac for an unspecified amount of damages.


* A new study from Resources for the Future found that the Trump administration's plan to delay retirement of coal and nuclear plants could "cause 1 death for each 2 to 4.5 coal-mine jobs that it supports."

* Total U.S. coal rail traffic for the week ended June 30 slipped 5.3% year over year to 83,214 carloads, according to data from the Association of American Railroads.

* A major transmission overhaul is not needed to get renewable resources out of Montana and to markets on the West Coast, according to a new report from the Bonneville Power Administration and state of Montana.


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Market capitalization of the top 20 U.S. energy companies totaled $708.4 billion at the end of the second quarter of 2018, with 16 companies recording quarter-over-quarter gains and seven companies improving their their rankings, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

New from RRA

* The parties to Southwestern Public Service Co.'s pending rate case, Docket No. 47527, before the Public Utility Commission of Texas reached a settlement June 29 calling for no rate change and addressing tax-reform-related impacts.

* In a recent rate case decision issued by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, ALLETE Inc. subsidiary Minnesota Power Inc. was authorized a $12 million permanent electric base rate increase but will be required to issue refunds to customers because the increase was less than the interim rates the utility collected.

* In an order issued July 5, the Missouri Public Service Commission adopted a settlement that requires Ameren Corp. subsidiary Union Electric Co. to implement a $166.5 million, or 6.08%, electric base rate reduction, effective Aug. 1, to account for the revenue requirement impact of the 2017 federal tax law.

The day ahead

* The EIA natural gas storage report is due out today.

* Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower 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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