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EPA urged to reinstate advisory panels; OPEC still sees drop in crude demand

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Air pollution experts urge US EPA to reinstate disbanded advisory panels

Air pollution researchers and public health experts publicly urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Dec. 12 to reconstitute a recently disbanded panel tasked with helping the agency's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee review the health impacts of tiny airborne particles.

Texas oil, gas industry has recovered less than half of jobs lost in downturn

Nearly two years after the oil and gas price collapse leveled out, less than half of the industry jobs lost in Texas during the downturn have come back.

OPEC still sees drop in demand for its crude in 2019

OPEC continues to see demand decreasing for its crude oil in 2019, the cartel's latest monthly analysis released Dec. 12 shows.

EPA sees no new coal plants from its CO2 rule, but it could still help industry

Looser carbon dioxide limits the Trump administration unveiled for new coal-fired power plants are unlikely to spur construction of any new coal-fired power generation on their own but could be a crucial piece of a broader strategy in the president's bid to revive coal.


"You should ask yourselves, do we have the necessary expertise in all of the most critical science disciplines to do this review? And clearly the answer is no," Chris Frey, an air pollution scientists at North Carolina State University who served as the chair of the EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee from 2012 to 2015, said during a meeting at which air pollution researchers and public health experts publicly urged the EPA to reconstitute a recently disbanded panel tasked with helping review the health impacts of tiny airborne particles.


* Several of the biggest providers of climate finance for the developing world said they would devote additional funds to fighting the effects of a warming planet as countries appeared divided over key issues during climate negotiations taking place in Poland.

* New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood is leading a coalition of 29 states, counties and cities to call on the EPA to withdraw proposed rules that would weaken restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and cars.

* Pacific Gas and Electric Co. reported that one of its employees had observed fire near a transmission tower three minutes before California fire authorities said the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state's history started early Nov. 8.

* AltaGas Ltd. struck a deal to sell its remaining 55% indirect equity interest in its Northwest hydro facilities for approximately C$1.39 billion to a joint venture company controlled by Axium Infrastructure Inc. and Manulife Financial Corp.

* The Maine Public Utilities Commission reversed its gross metering decision for large electric customers, requiring Central Maine Power Co. and Emera Maine to detail the various costs of gross metering, the Sun Journal in Lewiston, Maine, reported.

* Incoming U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told lawmakers that she supports the idea of forming a special committee on climate change but it would not have any legislative authority, The Hill in Washington, D.C., reported.

* Even though some coal-fired generation is becoming competitive at the margins since natural gas prices began rallying in November, utilities' reluctance to restock their coal inventories suggests the fuel will continue to play a "shrinking role" in meeting system load, according to an analyst by Morningstar Commodities Research.

* Third-quarter utility-scale solar installations in the U.S. fell below 1 GW for the first time since 2015, a 15% year-over-year decrease reflecting the impact of President Donald Trump's tariffs on overseas-made panels, according to a report from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Natural gas

* Columbia Gas of Massachusetts has restored gas service to substantially all customers affected by a September series of fires and explosions, but the gas utility and its peers remain under close scrutiny.

* Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC expects to have approximately 70% of the planned interstate natural gas pipeline project complete by year-end. The $4.6 billion project is expected to enter full service in the fourth quarter of 2019.

* Canada's National Energy Board scheduled hearings for early in 2019 to consider whether the planned Coastal GasLink pipeline project falls under federal or British Columbia jurisdiction. The project would connect to a proposed LNG export facility near Kitimat, British Columbia.

* Hess Midstream Partners LP is targeting 2019 net income of $415 million to $440 million and adjusted EBITDA of $550 million to $575 million. The company also anticipates increased revenues in 2019, compared to 2018 guidance, driven by a forecast double-digit percentage increase in throughputs.


* Marathon Petroleum Corp. worked with oil industry groups and conservative policy organizations backed by Charles Koch to run a "stealth campaign" in support of the Trump administration's proposed rollback of car emissions standards, according to an investigation published this morning in The New York Times.

* Alberta Premier Rachel Notley put out a call for proposals for new refining capacity in the province amid pipeline constraints that have forced cutbacks in oil production.

* Outgoing Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law a bill that creates the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority to oversee construction and operation of a tunnel to house a replacement segment for Enbridge Inc.'s Line 5 oil pipeline. Snyder also appointed three members of the newly established panel.

* Drilling services provider Parker Drilling Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after reaching a restructuring support agreement with holders of its securities to significantly reduce its debt.

* Increased production from the Bakken Shale and a deepwater project offshore Guyana will provide Hess Corp. with 10% oil production growth annually through 2025, company officials said during an investor day event Dec. 11.

* Opponents of Enbridge Energy Partners LP's Line 3 replacement project now plan to take their fight to the Minnesota Court of Appeals after exhausting all options at the state Public Utilities Commission, The Associated Press reported. They could also be gearing up for protests along the pipeline route as construction nears.

* U.K.-based Wood Group reportedly received a contract to build the planned $8 billion Gulf Coast Growth Ventures petrochemical complex near Corpus Christi, Texas, the Houston Chronicle reported. The project is a joint venture between Exxon Mobil Corp. and Saudi Basic Industries Corp.


* U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a major coal industry advocate, will become the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in the 116th Congress that begins in 2019.

* Attorneys for California, New Mexico, New York and Washington seek to reinstate the Obama-era coal leasing moratorium for new lease sales from federal lands, the AP reported.

* A group of Westmoreland Coal Co.'s creditors urged their counterparts to vote to reject the company's restructuring plan, saying the original disclosure statement "provided nothing even approaching adequate disclosure for general unsecured creditors." Separately, Westmoreland Coal CFO Gary Kohn resigned for personal reasons, effective Jan. 4, 2019.

* Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said governments are acknowledging the importance of preserving coal mining jobs and economies while transitioning away from coal-fired generation, Reuters reported.


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At the end of November, the U.S. was a net exporter of crude oil and petroleum products for the first time since U.S. government record-keeping began, according to estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

New from RRA

* For the second month in a row, cold weather permeated much of the nation. Heating degree days in November were 23% above those in November 2017 and 11% higher than the November norm.

The day ahead

* 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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