• ND Legislature changes state's oil tax distribution formula

    Updated: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Legislature on Wednesday endorsed a change to a formula that's used to distribute tax revenue from oil and gas production to help communities deal with the impacts of energy development. The House voted 91-1 and the Senate 46-1 on the formula that would give more funding to counties, cities, schools and townships in and around western North Dakota's oil patch. The legislation is less than what has been proposed by Gov. Jack Dalrymple and sought by leaders in the region. The bill, one of the most debated of the session, has been the subject of weeks of negotiations between House and Senate representatives. It now heads to the governor.

  • Another measure to block advance of NC renewables law falls

    Updated: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina electric companies must keep planning to generate more power through alternative sources and other measures after an effort to freeze those requirements failed to advance Wednesday through a House committee. The House Public Utilities Committee narrowly defeated an effort to freeze the percentage of retail sales that utilities must create using sources like solar, wind and animal waste and through efficiency efforts at the current 6 percent. A 2007 law directs the percentage to grow to 10 percent for electric cooperatives and city-owned power companies later this decade and 12.5 percent for big utilities like subsidiaries of Duke Energy Corp. There is no expiration date on that law.

  • Park tourism helps offset Wyoming's oil, gas drilling slump

    Updated: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A steady stream of visitors to national parks promises to help absorb the hit Wyoming's economy has suffered as a result of low oil prices, a National Park Service report released Wednesday suggests. Oil prices down around half of what they were a year ago has led to a slump in drilling and surge in layoffs in Wyoming's petroleum industry. At the same time, low oil prices mean low gasoline prices. Cheap gasoline encourages automobile tourism to places a bit remote for most Americans, including Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and Devils Tower National Monument.

  • Gas leak at west Georgia refinery kills 1; 3 others injured

    Updated: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Authorities say one man has died and three others were injured in a gas leak at a refinery west of Atlanta. Matthew Kent with the Douglas County Fire Department says crews were called shortly before 5 p.m. Wednesday. Kent says there was a hydrogen sulfide leak at Young Refining in Douglasville. Kent says one man died after falling from a height of 20 feet after his mental state was altered by gas inhalation. His name was not immediately released. Kent says three other people were injured. One suffered gas inhalation, one suffered cardiac arrest and the third had a minor injury. A man who answered the phone at a number listed for Young Refining said the company had changed its name to ART

  • Oklahoma House passes measure banning local drilling rules

    Updated: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Legislation that prohibits cities and towns from regulating oil and natural gas drilling operations was approved by the House on Wednesday, one day after the Oklahoma Geological Survey said it is "very likely" that a swarm of recent earthquakes were triggered by the subsurface injection of wastewater from drilling operations. House members passed the bill despite pleas from opponents who said the survey's report is among many reasons that local communities should have the right to set rules for local drilling activities. "It's about a municipality being able to regulate themselves," said Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater.

  • Regulators inch closer to final decision on coal power plant

    Updated: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The future of an aging coal-fired power plant that provides electricity to more than 2 million people in New Mexico and other parts of the Southwest rests in the hands of state regulators. The Public Regulation Commission on Wednesday received a briefing from a hearing examiner on his recommendations regarding a plan by the state's largest electric provider to replace part of the San Juan Generating Station with a mix of more coal, natural gas, nuclear and solar power. Hearing examiner Ashley Schannauer told commissioners they shouldn't approve the plan unless some changes are made. His concerns center on uncertainties surrounding the ownership makeup of the plant and the lack of a coal-supply contract

  • Blackfeet launch campaign to cancel energy leases

    Updated: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    BROWNING, Mont. (AP) — Blackfeet tribal leaders have joined with environmental groups, other American Indian tribes and the band Pearl Jam to campaign for the cancellation of oil and gas leases near Glacier National Park. Tribal leaders on Wednesday said they plan to erect billboards to raise awareness and encourage the Interior Department to cancel the 18 leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area. Tribal historic preservation officer John Murray says the leases are in the vicinity of sites continuously occupied by Blackfeet for thousands of years. The area is the home of the creation story of the four Blackfoot tribes. Pearl Jam posted a message on Twitter urging its fans to support the tribe's effort, which has backing

  • Nebraska wastewater well wins approval despite opposition

    Updated: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — State regulators approved a disposal well Wednesday that would allow a Colorado energy company to discard oil and natural gas wastewater underground in northwest Nebraska — a project that's drawn more opposition from landowners and environmental groups than similar past plans. The Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission voted 2-0 in favor of the project at a ranch north of Mitchell. The panel's third member, Robert Goodwin of Sidney, recused himself because his law partner represented opponents of the project.

  • Debate between solar groups, NV Energy heats up with protest

    Updated: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Hundreds of advocates for rooftop solar installations gathered outside NV Energy headquarters in Las Vegas on Wednesday, toting signs and chanting in protest of a state cap on how many solar customers can sell energy back to utility companies. Rally organizers hope to convince lawmakers to raise the limit and are urging NV Energy to drop its opposition to the concept. If that doesn't happen, organizers say, the state will hit the existing cap within the year and the nearly 6,000 rooftop solar jobs in Nevada could vanish. "NV Energy is on the verge of eliminating the rooftop solar industry in Nevada," said Bryan Miller, co-chairman of Alliance for Solar Choice, which includes major rooftop solar installation

  • Spending for 2016 federal budget sparks lawmakers' quarrel

    Updated: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats and Republicans quarreled Wednesday over spending levels for domestic agencies as well as policy provisions on clean water rules and guns on federal lands as they kicked off action on more than $1 trillion worth of spending bills for the next budget year. The House Appropriations Committee first approved by voice vote a $35 billion energy and water projects measure. Democrats objected to provisions that would permit the public to carry guns on Army Corps of Engineers' lands and would block new joint "Waters of the U.S." rules by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers that would define the reach of the Clean Water Act. Republicans warned that the rules could give the E

  • Typo in energy efficiency bills divides lawmakers, LePage

    Updated: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Businesses, environmental groups and several lawmakers came out in strong support Wednesday of a bill that seeks to fix a typographical error in a 2013 law that caused Maine utility regulators to limit funding for efficiency programs. The future of the legislation remains uncertain, however, due to continued opposition from Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who doesn't like that the programs are paid for with a surcharge on ratepayers' bills. His administration pressed lawmakers to support a competing measure introduced by House Republican Leader Ken Fredette that ties the efficiency funding to a proposal to create a state energy commissioner and give the governor the power to nominate the head of Efficienc

  • Nebraska wind-energy tax credit bill wins initial approval

    Updated: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — An expanded tax credit for wind-energy farms won initial approval from Nebraska lawmakers Wednesday despite arguments that the state shouldn't invest in the industry. Senators voted 25-3 to advance the bill through the first of three rounds of debate. Sen. Jeremy Nordquist, of Omaha, said his proposal would help Nebraska compete with other Midwestern states that have worked more aggressively to establish renewable energy sources. Currently, companies that participate in the program have to spend at least 25 percent of their total investment on components made in Nebraska. Nordquist said the wind farms would also generate property tax revenue for counties and lease payments for landowners who allow

  • Bill tightening utilities regulation clears state House

    Updated: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The panel that sets electric rates in Florida would face tighter regulations under a bill that passed the Florida House. The bill would set a 12-year term limit for members of the Florida Public Service Commission, who are appointed by the governor, and require them to take ethics training. The bill passed Wednesday would also limit service deposits power companies can require and prohibit them from changing billing cycles to push customers into higher rate categories. It also authorizes Duke Power to borrow money to pay the cost of closing down the Crystal River nuclear plant. The bill passed despite criticism that it's not enough to end what some legislators say is the panel's too-cozy

  • Noble Energy agrees to settle Colorado air pollution case

    Updated: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    DENVER (AP) — Large oil and gas driller Noble Energy has agreed to a settlement over alleged air-pollution violations north of Denver, a deal federal officials say could cost the company up to $73.5 million. The proposed deal, filed in federal court Wednesday, comes after regulators found the Houston-based company's oil storage tanks were emitting thousands of tons of volatile organic chemicals a year because of undersized vapor control systems, contributing to the region's ozone pollution problem. Noble, the second biggest driller in Colorado, has agreed to evaluate, make upgrades and perform inspections of its 3,400 clusters — or batteries — of tanks in the Denver-Julesburg Basin, which stretches from Denver to the Wy

  • Companies to re-evaluate proposed cracker plant in W.Va.

    Updated: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Brazilian petrochemical company Odebrecht and plastics maker Braskem say they will re-evaluate an ethane cracker they proposed to build in West Virginia. In a statement to media outlets, the companies say a re-evaluation of the project's configuration is needed under current energy scenarios. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's spokesman, Chris Stadelman, tells media outlets that the re-evaluation is understandable because of changes in worldwide energy markets and the magnitude of investment. Cracker plants crack or convert ethane into ethylene, a widely used chemical compound. Ethane is a byproduct of natural gas drilling. The proposed ASCENT project would include an ethane cracker, three polyethy

  • EU charges Russia's Gazprom gas giant with market abuse

    Updated: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union on Wednesday charged Russian state energy giant Gazprom of abusing its dominant position in central and eastern EU nations in an antitrust case that will further test tense relations between Brussels and Moscow. EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Gazprom is strong-arming customer nations ranging from Estonia to Bulgaria, where it sometimes almost fully controls the gas market, by setting unfair pricing and contract restrictions.

  • State utility regulators confirmed by Florida Senate

    Updated: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Senate is confirming two appointments to the panel that regulates Florida utilities. The Senate voted 33-1 Wednesday to confirm former State Rep. Jimmy Patronis and Julie Brown to the Florida Public Service Commission. The five-member commission regulates investor-owned electric, natural gas and water utilities. The job pays $131,036 a year. Patronis is a Panama City Republican. He was forced to leave the Legislature last year due to term limits. The lone no vote on the appointments came from State Sen. John Legg. Legislators voted to approve the two appointments even though the PSC has come under fire from some legislators.

  • SKorea, US agree to revised civil nuclear cooperation deal

    Updated: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea said Wednesday it reached agreement with Washington on revisions to the 41-year-old treaty that governs the country's commercial nuclear activities. Ambassador for nuclear energy cooperation Park Ro-byug said the deal would pave the way for South Korea to better manage spent nuclear fuel and improve nuclear exports. The revised treaty sets the terms that will govern South Korea's management of spent nuclear fuel for the next 20 years. It needs approval from legislatures in both countries. South Korea is still not allowed to reprocess spent nuclear fuel using U.S.-originated nuclear materials without prior consent.

  • Would-be Idaho nuke plant developer pleads guilty to fraud

    Updated: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The former senior vice president of a would-be Idaho nuclear power plant developer has pleaded guilty to artificially inflating the company's stock to dupe investors. Forty-year-old Jennifer R. Ransom of Meridian pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Boise to one count of securities fraud. Prosecutors say Ransom received shares of Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc., stock in compensation that she then sold for $675,000, with about $580,000 coming from fraud. Ransom as part of a plea deal agreed to forfeit the $580,000 and pay restitution. She's scheduled to be sentenced July 27, and faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The company's former CEO, Donald L. Gillisp

  • New Mexico senator introduces transmission legislation

    Updated: Wed, Apr 22, 2015

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal regulators would have narrow authority to approve new electric transmission lines in certain circumstances under a measure introduced in Congress. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich says his bill would ensure that transmission projects get timely regulatory approvals. The New Mexico Democrat says that's critical, especially when multiple jurisdictions are involved. Under an order issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, transmission providers must participate in a regional planning process and develop methods for allocating the costs of a new regional transmission facility among those who will use or benefit from it.




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