After five years, it appears the Obama administration will soon issue a decision on whether to build the long-delayed and controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would cross an environmentally sensitive area of the Great Plains and move nearly a million gallons of oil a day to Gulf Coast refineries, reports NBC News. Backers of the project say it would stimulate the U.S. economy and enhance energy security, stressing that a new pipeline is the cheapest, safest way to transport dirty tar-sands crude from Canada’s booming oil fields to U.S. refineries. Environmentalists, who earlier this month chained themselves to the White House fence in protest, counter that it would endanger the water supply in several states and exacerbate climate change. They want to stop or slow the exploitation of an energy source the Sierra Club calls “the most toxic fossil fuel on the planet.” But what happens if, after all the shouting, the pipeline isn’t built?
A lot of land will hit the oil-lease market this year, the Wichita Eagle reports. SandRidge Energy has said it will allow leases on about 700,000 gross acres of land in Kansas and Oklahoma to expire this year, and hundreds of thousands of acres more in 2015, 2016 and 2017. It said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last month that it has 1,026,000 gross acres set to expire this year in northern Oklahoma and southern and western Kansas. The company said it expects to hold on to about 30 percent of that by either paying to exercise the options or by holding them by producing oil and gas.
Rising demand for energy, from biofuels to shale gas, is a threat to freshwater supplies that are already under strain from climate change, the United Nations said in a report on Friday, according to Reuters. It urged energy companies to do more to limit use of water in everything from cooling coal-fired power plants to irrigation for crops grown to produce biofuels. "Demand for energy and freshwater will increase significantly in the coming decades," U.N. agencies said in the World Water Development Report. "This increase will present big challenges and strain resources in nearly all regions."
The U.S. could suffer a coast-to-coast blackout if saboteurs knocked out nine of the country's 55,000 electric-transmission substations on a scorching summer day, according to a previously unreported federal analysis, the Wall Street Journal reports. The study by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission concluded that coordinated attacks in each of the nation's three separate electric systems could cause the entire power network to collapse, people familiar with the research said.
Some property owners in Pennsylvania, one of the states caught up in a natural-gas drilling boom, are accusing Chesapeake Energy of shortchanging them on royalty payments for pumping oil and gas from their land, the Wall Street Journal reports. The public outcry has grown so loud that Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, a longtime industry supporter who has received campaign contributions from the company, wrote an open letter last month asking the state attorney general to investigate. Chesapeake declined to comment on the royalty disputes, but said in a recent letter to the governor that it is abiding by the terms of its contracts with landowners.