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PG&E sentenced in gas safety case; Trump advances Keystone XL, Dakota Access


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PG&E sentenced in gas safety case; Trump advances Keystone XL, Dakota Access

PG&E sentenced to maximum $3M fine, outside monitor in San Bruno gas safety case

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. must pay the maximum $3 million fine, retain an outside monitor and publicly advertise its felony convictions as part of its sentence in a case stemming from the 2010 gas line explosion that killed eight people in San Bruno, Calif.

Henderson also placed PG&E on probation for five years and ordered the company to complete 10,000 hours of community service, including 2,000 hours by high-ranking staff. The PG&E Corp. subsidiary will have to establish an independent monitor "familiar with best practices for corporate codes of conduct, including implementation, training, and enforcement." The monitorship term is set to last five years.

The judge also imposed a more public penalty: a newspaper and television advertising campaign acknowledging PG&E's wrongdoing. The ads are to include full-page spreads in The Wall Street Journal and San Francisco Chronicle, as well as 12,500 60-second TV spots. The company must note not only its criminal conviction but also what it will do to remedy its safety violations.

Trump signs executive actions to advance Keystone XL, Dakota Access oil projects

President Donald Trump signed executive actions to facilitate the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, following up on promises made during his campaign to streamline oil and gas infrastructure projects.

In one of five energy-related memos and orders signed Jan. 24, Trump asked Keystone developer TransCanada Corp. to resubmit an application for the pipeline, which would transport oil sands product from Alberta to Nebraska. The U.S. Department of State then has 60 days to reach a final decision on the project using a January 2014 final environmental impact statement, according to the memo. TransCanada said in a statement that it is preparing an application and intends to reapply.

A separate action involving Energy Transfer Partners LP's Dakota Access pipeline calls for expedited review of the easements sought for the project and asks the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider rescinding or modifying the its Dec. 4, 2016, decision to withhold an easement for a portion of the pipeline near Standing Rock Sioux tribal land. Under the terms of the memo, the Corps would also consider withdrawing its intent to prepare an EIS.

TransCanada reapplies for Keystone XL permit after Trump invitation

TransCanada Corp. has reapplied for a presidential permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, two days after President Donald Trump signed a memo encouraging the action and paving the way for a swift review of the project, which was quashed under the Obama administration.

"This privately funded infrastructure project will help meet America's growing energy needs as well as create tens of thousands of well-paying jobs and generate substantial economic benefit throughout the U.S. and Canada," Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and CEO, said in a Jan. 26 statement. "The project is an important new piece of modern U.S. infrastructure that secures access to an abundant energy resource produced by a neighbor that shares a commitment to a clean and healthy environment."

Dakota Access approval likely after Trump memo, but analysts see court fight

President Donald Trump's executive memo calling for swift federal action on the Dakota Access oil pipeline is likely to elicit a quick approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the last portion of the project that needs an easement, but the contentious venture will still probably end up in court, analysts said.

Trump's action paves the way for a speedy approval of Dakota Access, but a threatened legal challenge by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe could hold up the project's in-service date until around April, said Katie Bays, an energy analyst at Height Securities LLC. She expects the tribe to seek an injunction against the project to prevent construction work under the Missouri River, and although the challenge is likely to be denied, it may take "several weeks" to be addressed by U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg, even on an expedited basis, she said.

House GOP set to use Congressional Review Act to try to scrap 2 energy rules

The U.S. House of Representatives will soon vote on measures to scrap two contentious environmental regulations put in place late in the Obama administration, the chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources said Jan. 27.

Speaking on a conference call, U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said two joint resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act will be brought to the House floor Jan. 30 calling for the rollback of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement's Stream Protection Rule, implemented in December 2016, and the Bureau of Land Management's Venting and Flaring Rule, implemented in November 2016.

The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to overturn federal rules finalized within the last 60 legislative days with a simple majority of votes in the U.S. House and Senate. Disapproval resolutions, if enacted, also prevent agencies from crafting substantially similar rules in the future. The GOP controls both the House and U.S. Senate and President Donald Trump has said he wants to toss regulations the energy sector views as burdensome.