• Ex-miner asks Congress for help on black lung

    Updated: Tue, Jul 22, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A retired coal miner who suffers from black lung disease urged Congress on Tuesday to help clear a backlog of claims of fellow miners who have the disease. "I look to y'all to help us to get that which we need," Robert Bailey of Princeton, West Virginia told senators at a Capitol Hill hearing. "I would like to see that Congress step in and do make some changes to help process these claims" that are taking too long. The Senate Health Committee's employment and workplace safety subcommittee held the hearing in response to a series by the Center for Public Integrity and ABC News on black lung benefits claims for miners.

  • UAF solicits contractors for new power plant

    Updated: Tue, Jul 22, 2014

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The University of Alaska Fairbanks is looking for a company to build its new heat and power plant. The university is seeking proposals from firms interested in providing construction management and general contracting services. State lawmakers earlier this year approved a funding package for a new plant, considered a priority for the university. The solicitation estimates the total construction cost at $150 million.

  • Grimes jabs McConnell on jobs issue in new TV ad

    Updated: Tue, Jul 22, 2014

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes went on the attack again Tuesday with a new TV ad featuring an out-of-work Appalachian coal miner who questions Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's commitment to job growth. The 30-second ad airing across Kentucky seeks to capitalize on McConnell's off-the-cuff comments to an eastern Kentucky newspaper in the spring. The Beattyville Enterprise reported that the five-term Republican senator said it is "not my job" to bring employment to struggling Lee County, where the jobless rate was 11.1 percent in May. McConnell said his comments were taken out of context, but the newspaper editor stood by his story.

  • Utilities get more time to gauge nuke flood risks

    Updated: Tue, Jul 22, 2014

    OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Federal regulators have given Nebraska's two biggest utilities more time to evaluate flooding hazards at their two nuclear power plants. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Monday that the Nebraska and Omaha Public Power Districts will now have until next Feb. 4 to complete their review. The original deadline was March 12, but the utilities didn't receive key flood data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers until earlier this year. The utilities are re-evaluating unlikely flood risks at Cooper and Fort Calhoun nuclear power plants as part of the industry's response to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. Both nuclear power plants in Nebraska sit on the banks of the Missouri River.

  • Oil gains further on concerns over Ukraine, Gaza

    Updated: Tue, Jul 22, 2014

    The price of oil rose above $103 a barrel Tuesday on persisting jitters over the situation in Gaza, the standoff over the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner in Ukraine and expectations of a fall in U.S. crude inventories. By early afternoon in Europe, U.S. benchmark crude for September delivery was up 15 cents to $103.01 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 91 cents on Monday. Brent crude for September delivery, a benchmark for international oils, was up 43 cents to $108.11 on the ICE Futures exchange in London. Israeli airstrikes hit a wide range of targets across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and U.S.

  • Maine city vote effectively bans tar sands oil

    Updated: Tue, Jul 22, 2014

    SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Operators of a pipeline and the president of the Maine Energy Marketers Association are blasting a decision by the South Portland City Council that bans the transfer of crude oil onto ocean tankers. Councilors voted 6-1 Monday night in favor of zoning changes that would effectively end any attempt to bring so-called tar sands oil from western Canada through a pipeline from Canada to South Portland. Environmentalists say tar sands oil is difficult to clean if spilled and dangerous to ship. Tom Hardison from the Portland Pipe Line said councilors made a rush to judgment and bowed to environmental "extremists.

  • 4 farms selected to produce energy for utility

    Updated: Tue, Jul 22, 2014

    JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — Four Michigan farms have been selected to produce electricity for a utility using biodegradable material in anaerobic digesters. Jackson-based CMS Energy Corp. announced the plans Tuesday, saying it's a part of an effort to diversify the use of renewable energy by Consumers Energy. The utility says Beaver Creek Farms in Coopersville, Brook View Dairy in Freeport, Green Meadow Farms in Elsie and Scenic View Dairy in Fennville were selected. They could generate electricity under contracts that collectively provide 2.6 megawatts of capacity. Consumers Energy says that could power about 2,800 homes. The utility worked with Michigan State University and others to develop the program.

  • US nuclear regulator looks to reposition staff

    Updated: Mon, Jul 21, 2014

    ATLANTA (AP) — U.S. nuclear regulators may need to shuffle staff as fewer nuclear plants are built and financial pressures prompt utilities to shutter existing plants, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chair Allison Macfarlane said Monday. Macfarlane said NRC officials are in the early stages of researching how to reposition its roughly 3,800-member workforce as the industry's outlook changes. A recommendation is due in early 2015. Expectations for the U.S. nuclear industry have radically shifted. Just six years ago, electric utility companies proposed building 26 reactors at 17 power plants spread across the United States. Instead, natural gas prices hit record lows, making it significantly cheaper to build gas-fired plan

  • In North Dakota, oil bonanza leaves natural gas going up in smoke

    By Paresh Dave, Los Angeles Times | Published: Mon, Jul 21, 2014

    The rapid escalation of energy production in shale formations across the U.S. has produced a bonanza of oil, but it has left many states scrambling to handle the natural gas that often flows in large volumes along with the crude. Gas pipeline construction often lags behind the development of new wells, and the result is that billions of dollars’ worth of gas that might be warming homes or fueling power plants is going up in smoke.

  • Companies file export application for gas project

    Updated: Mon, Jul 21, 2014

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The companies pursuing a major liquefied natural gas project in Alaska have applied for an export license with the U.S. Department of Energy. Securing the authorization is seen as critical for the viability of the mega-project, which the companies say would be the largest of its kind ever designed and built. The filing was made Friday, but it was announced by the companies on Monday. Participants in the project include BP, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp., TransCanada Corp. and the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. The application requests authorization to export up to 20 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas a year for 30 years. It seeks to export to countries with which the U.S.

  • Hatch faults Branstad for nixing $1M solar grant

    Updated: Mon, Jul 21, 2014

    IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch criticized Gov. Terry Branstad on Monday for giving up a $1 million solar energy grant, saying the governor is letting powerful utility companies write his energy policy. Hatch said that he was concerned by the decision to return the U.S. Department of Energy grant, which was designed to make solar installation projects faster and less expensive through changes to rules related to permits, inspections and connecting to the grid. He said that solar power had tremendous potential, particularly after an Iowa Supreme Court decision this month is expected to lead to more installation projects across the state.

  • US stock slip to start the week; Six Flags sinks

    Updated: Mon, Jul 21, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market started the week with a slight loss on Monday as investors weighed a mixed batch of corporate earnings against mounting political turmoil. European leaders are considering tougher sanctions on Russia for its backing of separatists accused of shooting down a Malaysia Airways passenger plane in Ukraine last week. The European Union's foreign ministers will meet Tuesday to discuss their next steps. In Washington, President Barack Obama demanded that international investigators get full access to the crash site and said the separatists had blocked investigators. "It looks like we hit a speed bump," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago.

  • Natural gas falls to an 8-month low

    Updated: Mon, Jul 21, 2014

    Natural gas fell to its lowest level in eight months Monday following forecasts that nationwide summer temperatures are expected to be milder than normal. The price of natural gas fell 10 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $3.85 per 1,000 cubic feet. That's the lowest since mid-November. Weather analysts expect average temperatures across the U.S. to be lower than normal for the next two to three weeks, which is typically when U.S. temperatures are at their hottest. In the summer natural gas is used to generate electricity, particularly when demand is high and other sources are at full capacity. Other energy-related commodities moved higher Monday. Crude oil rose $1.46, or 1.5 percent, to $104.59 a barrel and wholesale gasoline

  • Arch Coal idles mine complex in Va., Ky.

    Updated: Mon, Jul 21, 2014

    APPALACHIA, Va. (AP) — Arch Coal says it is idling the Cumberland River Coal Company complex in Wise County, Virginia, and Letcher County, Kentucky. Officials said Monday that more than 210 full-time positions are being eliminated by the move. Arch Coal CEO John Eaves says the company is responding to market challenges for metallurgical coal used to make steel. Eaves said the company's strategy is to shift its portfolio toward higher-margin, lower-cost metallurgical coal operations. The mining complex had previously shuttered two contract mines during the second quarter of 2013. Idling the operations will reduce the company's 2014 metallurgical coal sales volumes by about 200,000 tons. Arch Coal now expects to ship be

  • 17 billionth barrel flows down Alaska pipeline

    Updated: Mon, Jul 21, 2014

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The trans-Alaska pipeline has moved its 17 billionth barrel of oil. The operator of the 37-year-old pipeline, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., announced the milestone Monday. It has been nearly five years since the 16 billionth barrel flowed down the line, in October 2009. The 800-mile pipeline is the economic lifeblood of the state, which relies heavily on oil revenues to run. The pipeline runs from the prodigious North Slope to Valdez, from where tankers are shipped. Alyeska says the pipeline has generated about $180 billion in state revenue. Oil flowing through the line has been on a downward trend since reaching a peak of 2.1 million barrels a day in the late 1980s.

  • Project at Ky. coal plant to catch carbon dioxide

    Updated: Mon, Jul 21, 2014

    HARRODSBURG, Ky. (AP) — Political leaders and researchers say a new project to capture carbon dioxide at a central Kentucky power plant is a crucial step to continue burning coal for electricity in a time of tougher environmental regulations. The $19.5 million testing facility under construction at the E.W. Brown Generating Station near Harrodsburg would capture and separate carbon dioxide from the emission stream after the coal is burned. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear on Monday called the project "a big step forward for solving one of the biggest challenges facing the Commonwealth today, and that challenge is carbon emissions." The technology is seen as a fix to keep old coal-fired power plants operating under tighter

  • Group seeks full disclosure of drilling chemicals

    Updated: Mon, Jul 21, 2014

    CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) — A group of doctors is demanding full public disclosure of chemicals that would be used to drill for natural gas by hydraulic fracturing in western Maryland. The Cumberland Times-News (http://bit.ly/Un0SQ7 ) reported Monday that the Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility say rules proposed by state regulators would impede research and public discussion about possibly hazardous chemical formulas. The rules would require public disclosure of all chemicals to be used at a site. But if a company contends a particular compound is a trade secret, it could provide an alternate list identifying the compound's chemical constituents but not their concentrations or their connections to specific commercia

  • Gas prices drop 4 cents per gallon in Rhode Island

    Updated: Mon, Jul 21, 2014

    PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Gas prices in Rhode Island have fallen 4 cents per gallon and are now averaging $3.68 for regular. That's according to AAA Southern New England's weekly survey released Monday. The price in Rhode Island is still 11 cents more than the national average of $3.57. But it's 12 cents lower than it was last year at this time, when gas was averaging $3.80 per gallon.

  • Oil prices rebound above $103 on geopolitical risk

    Updated: Mon, Jul 21, 2014

    Oil prices rebounded slightly on Monday as traders gauged the possibility of more sanctions against Russia and more violence in Libya. By mid-afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery was up 45 cents to $103.58 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, the Nymex contract fell 6 cents to $103.13. Brent crude for September delivery, a benchmark for international oils, was down 3 cents to $176.21 on the ICE exchange in London. Washington announced new sanctions last Wednesday on Russia, including its biggest oil company, over Moscow's support for separatist forces in Ukraine.

  • Gas prices falling in Maine

    Updated: Mon, Jul 21, 2014

    PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Average gas prices in Maine have fallen 3.7 cents per gallon in the last week. The average price of a gallon of gas in Maine on Monday was $3.68 a gallon — down 4.8 cents from one month ago, according to gasbuddy.com. The average price for a gallon of gas nationally is $3.57 a gallon, which fell 3.3 cents in the past week. The price is down 10.7 cents per gallon in the last month and stands 10.4 cents per gallon lower from a year ago. Gas prices in Maine are 10.3 cents a gallon lower than they were one year ago.