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EPA advances CPP review proposal; Draft EIS for West Elk mine expansion released

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EPA advances Clean Power Plan review proposal

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency advanced to the Office of Management and Budget a proposed rule on the review of the Clean Power Plan. The proposal was received June 8 by OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which will have 90 days to review the regulation before it is released to the public. A notice posted on the federal government's regulatory information website provided no additional details on the content of the proposal.

Concerns about contractor building Cameron LNG fuel pessimism for Sempra

Concerned about collateral damage from Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. N.V.'s financial position, Barclays analysts revised their outlook for Sempra Energy given risks of potential construction delays and exposure from the $10 billion Cameron LNG export facility in Louisiana. While analysts at Barclays declined to elaborate on CB&I's financial outlook, they downgraded Sempra's rating from overweight to equal weight, and emphasized that Sempra is not guaranteed to remain insulated in the event that CB&I is unable to complete construction on Cameron LNG.

Forest Service releases draft EIS for Arch's proposed West Elk mine expansion

The U.S. Forest Service has produced a supplemental draft environmental impact statement on the controversial proposal for the expansion of an Arch Coal Inc. mine in Colorado. The U.S. Forest Service approved a modification of the Colorado Roadless Rule last year, which allowed for the development of about 20,000 acres for the so-called North Fork Coal Mining Area in the Gunnison National Forest, an area where roads are normally not permitted.


* Toshiba Corp. has agreed to provide a $3.68 billion financial guarantee for the development of two new nuclear reactors in Georgia, as part of a settlement announced June 9 by Georgia Power Co. and other co-owners of the project.

* General Electric Co. Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt has announced his plans to retire from the company. Immelt, who led GE's transformation into a more focused digital industrial portfolio in the power, aviation, transportation, healthcare and oil and gas markets, will be succeeded by John Flannery as CEO on Aug. 1 and as chairman on Jan. 1, 2018.

* New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority are blaming Consolidated Edison Inc. for subway outages, but the company said no evidence showed that it could have caused the disruption, The Wall Street Journal reports.

* National business group Advanced Energy Economy has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to confirm that state commissions and other retail regulators lack the authority to bar, restrict or otherwise condition the participation of certain energy efficiency resources in wholesale power markets.

* The U.S. Department of Energy is asking the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to renew a license that will allow storage in Idaho until 2039 of reactor core debris from the partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant, The Associated Press reports.

* General Mills Inc. signed a contract to purchase 100 MW from Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc.'s 150-MW Cactus Flats Wind Farm in Concho County, Texas, for a 15-year term. General Mills will apply associated renewable energy credits toward its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, according to a news release.

* Apex Clean Energy has decided to suspend its 71-MW Crab Orchard Wind Project in Cumberland County, Tenn., citing "current market conditions and the project's fundamental qualities," the Crossville (Tenn.) Chronicle reports. The company announced in January 2016 plans to invest more than $100 million to build the wind facility.

* East Texas Electric Cooperative Inc. has filed a complaint with FERC against Public Service Co. of Oklahoma, Southwestern Electric Power Co., AEP Oklahoma Transmission Co. Inc. and AEP Southwestern Transmission Co. Inc., alleging that the companies' 10.70% base return on common equity is unjust and unreasonable, according to a notice published in the Federal Register.

* Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a bill that limits tax incentives for wind projects built within 25 nautical miles of certain military bases, the Times Record News in Wichita Falls, Texas, reports. The state Senate approved the bill in April, while the House passed it in May.

* Empire District Electric Co. plans to demolish units 7, 8 and 9 of its Riverton plant in Cherokee County, Kan., by the end of June, The Joplin (Mo.) Globe reports. The coal-fired units were built in the 1950s and were retired in 2014 and 2015. Empire has since opened a combined-cycle unit, called Riverton 12, to replace lost capacity from the retired units.

* Talen Energy Corp. on June 10 placed back into service unit 1 of its Susquehanna nuclear plant after repairing an electric component failure that occurred on June 8. The failure caused an automatic shutdown of the unit, according to a news release.

Natural gas/midstream

* In a familiar move, a Charif Souki-backed LNG company is looking to the help of a Washington energy insider as it moves a Louisiana export project through the federal permitting process. Amos Hochstein, who led the U.S. State Department's energy bureau under former President Barack Obama, is now serving as a senior adviser and vice president at Tellurian Inc.

* The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement issued a final rule extending the time offshore oil and gas operators will have to coordinate development operations and retain their leases in federal waters of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf from 180 days to one year. "These additional months mean companies doing business on the Outer Continental Shelf will have more planning flexibility, which will help them be more cost efficient, create more jobs and maximize the economic benefit for the entire nation," BSEE Director Scott Angelle said in a statement.

* Encana Corp.'s move to sell off its assets in the Piceance Basin and focus on growth in its more liquids-heavy "core four" North American plays is meeting with approval from analysts.

* A consortium comprising MIE Holdings Corp., the Can-China Global Resource Fund and Mercuria will acquire Canadian E&P company, CQ Energy Canada Partnership, for C$722 million, or £413 million, in cash. Centrica Plc, which owns a 60% in the E&P joint venture, expects to receive £240 million in net proceeds after adjustments, according to a news release.

* Cargill Inc. agreed to sell its North American power and gas business to Macquarie Group Ltd. Details of the transaction were not disclosed. J.P. Morgan acted as executive financial advisor to Cargill on this transaction, according to a news release. Cargill had earlier announced an agreement to sell its global petroleum business to Macquarie.

* Five citizen groups filed a petition for review with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., challenging the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette-Mail reports.

* The U.S. Bureau of Land Management plans to offer 10 parcels totaling 1,122 acres in Royal Gorge Field Office and the U.S. Forest Service's Pawnee National Grassland at its September quarterly oil and gas lease sale, according to a news release.


* Seaport Global Securities LLC reported after discussions with S&P Global Platts editors that analysts are expecting more clarity on the future of metallurgical coal benchmark pricing "in the next few days."

* The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy selected three projects to receive approximately $3 million for research aimed at producing salable rare earth elements from domestic coal and coal by-products, according to a news release.

* At least three coal companies have publicly announced new opportunities for jobs in coal mining, just a few days after President Donald Trump touted an affinity for coal in pulling out of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

* The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is seeking public input on a proposal to modify GCC Energy LLC's King II federal coal mine lease, expanding the current lease near Hesperus, Colo., by about 950 acres, according to a news release.


* U.S thermal coal prices were mixed during the week ended June 8, as many headwinds facing domestic coal producers persisted. Central Appalachian coal prices were largely in line with those of last week, while Powder River Basin coal prices along the front and back ends of the forward curve moved in opposite directions.

* Following a settle 1.1 cents higher at $3.039/MMBtu on June 9, July natural gas futures were testing both sides of the ledger ahead of the Monday open, amid a lack of fresh fundamentals to drive either sharp gains or losses. At 7:06 a.m. ET (1106 GMT), the contract was 1.1 cents higher at $3.050/MMBtu, while trading from $3.010/MMBtu to $3.057/MMBtu.

* Next-day power prices are likely to see a mixed bag Monday, June 12, as traders look toward varied demand outlooks for the early part of the week. Participants will also keep attuned to natural gas market activity, which could offer some upside traction. Gaining 1.1 cents in the June 9 session, the NYMEX July natural gas futures contract was extending slightly higher ahead of the opening bell.

* U.S. President Donald Trump plans to nominate former NYSE Euronext Vice President Dawn DeBerry Stump as a commissioner on the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Reuters reports.

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* Major stock indexes hit all-time-highs last week after the market digested former FBI Director James Comey's testimony before a Senate panel Thursday. Investment strategists generally appeared to conclude that the testimony failed to produce a "smoking gun" or other bombshell concerning Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election that could derail President Trump's pro-growth agenda.

* New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, on June 2 signed into law Senate Bill 125, legislation that establishes a five-member committee to study transmission, distribution, generation and other costs in the state's electricity system.


"Forcing a flood of utility-scale projects and new transmission throughout California's rural lands, by means of a top-down, landscape-level approach, would diminish and fragment—perhaps irrevocably—our human and natural communities," the Alliance for Desert Preservation said in comments filed with the California Energy Commission.

The day ahead

* 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 equity market indexes, click here. To view more SNL Energy commodities prices, click here.

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