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EPA Takes Over Texas Carbon Emission Permits

The Environmental Protection Agency Thursday announced its plans to take over carbon dioxide permitting of any new power plants and refineries in Texas, citing the state’s refusal to comply with emissions regulations going into effect Jan. 2.

Texas industries have openly opposed the Obama administration’s Clean Air Act, a program designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions. They claim that the cuts will threaten productivity, and that the economy, in turn, will take a hit.

The EPA said Thursday that it was reassuming the state’s Clean Air Act Permits because “officials in Texas have made clear . . . they have no intention of implementing this portion of the federal air permitting program,” The Associated Press reported.

“EPA prefers that the state of Texas and all states remain the permitting authority for (greenhouse gas) sources,” the agency said in a statement. “In the same way that EPA has worked with other states and local agencies, the agency stands ready to do the same with (Texas).”

The EPA constructed a framework for carbon emissions regulations in seven other states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Oregon and Wyoming.

The agency also devised a timetable for establishing the cuts for all U.S. facilities and power plants. It plans to propose performance standards for greenhouse gas emissions beginning in July for powerplants and for oil refineries by December. The standards will be finalized in May 2012 for powerplants and November 2012 for refineries.

Gov. Rick Perry spokeswoman spoke out against the EPA’s decision to directly issue air permits in Texas.

“The EPA’s misguided plan paints a huge target on the backs of Texas agriculture and energy producers by implementing unnecessary, burdensome mandates on our state’s energy sector, threatening hundreds of thousands of Texas jobs and imposing increased living costs on Texas families,” Cesinger said, according to the San Antonio Express.

An estimated 167 new or expanding projects would be subject to the EPA takeover. Texas lays claim to more oil refineries, chemical plants, and coal-fired power plants than any other state and produces the most greenhouse gas emissions and industrial pollution in the country, AP reports.

The new carbon emissions standards were adopted after a 2007 Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases should be classified as pollutants under the Clean Air Act and EPA research in 2009 revealed that the gases have a harmful effect on human health.

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Pollution, Coal, Courts & Litigation, Drilling for Oil, Energy Industry, Global Warming, Laws & Regulations, Oil & Petroleum, Ozone, Policies, Pollution Prevention0 Comments

Gas Prices Climb as Crude Oil Supplies Drop

With oil costs surging past $90 a barrel, gas prices climbed to an average of $3 a gallon this week, the highest estimate since October of 2008, reports said Wednesday.

Analysts with AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service said the national average for pump prices has skyrocketed 13 cents from a month ago. They expect filling stations to charge $3.50 a gallon or more by spring of 2011.

Benchmark oil climbed 43 cents to $90.25 in midday trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange as the government reported a shortage of the nation’s crude oil supplies. The Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration announced that crude supplies declined 5.3 million barrels last week compared to the week before. The administration also noted that gasoline supplies increased by more than 2 million barrels.

Stephen Schork, editor of the Schork Report newsletter, says supplies are still fixed at over 10 percent above what they were from 2004 to 2008. “Traders should not be fooled by a big draw from today’s DOE data,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Also on the Nymex, heating oil gained 0.63 cent to $2.5227 a gallon, gasoline rose 1.11 cents at $2.4096 a gallon and natural gas dropped 3.9 cents at $4.020 per 1,000 cubic feet, AP reported.

Posted in Cars, Drilling for Oil0 Comments

Ethanol Fuel Additive Law Brings Automakers to Appeals Court

U.S. carmakers and engine manufacturers have filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency over its decision to allow the sale of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol.

The EPA ruled on Oct. 13th that filling stations could start selling gasoline containing more of the corn-based additive for vehicles built in 2007 or later. The current blend contains 10 percent ethanol.

The various organizations Monday asked a federal appeals court in Washington to review the October decision. They claim the approval of the E15 blend violates the Clean Air Act, and that the fuel could damage engines.

“We want to be sure that any new fuel will not increase air pollution, harm engines or endanger consumer safety,” Michael J. Stanton, president of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, said in a joint statement with the other members of the Engine Products Group, according to BusinessWeek.

The Renewable Fuels Association,  an ethanol trade group, said the EPA should have allowed E15 for more models.

“The only way to meet the nation’s energy, economic and environmental goals as put forth in the Renewable Fuels Standard is to increase ethanol consumption,” the group said in a statement.

The suit, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 10-1414, was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Posted in Air Pollutants, Drilling for Oil, Energy Industry, Laws & Regulations, Oil & Petroleum, Policies0 Comments

Oil Spill: U.S. Sues BP and Others for Deepwater Horizon Disaster

The Department of Justice is suing BP and eight other companies over the catastrophic oil spill that devastated the Gulf of Mexico region last April.

The United States filed a civil lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in New Orleans Wednesday, alleging that federal safety violations contributed to the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

“We will not hesitate to take whatever steps are necessary to hold accountable those who are responsible for this spill,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a press conference, according to the New York Times.

On April 20th, the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank, killing the eleven workers onboard and leaving millions of gallons of crude oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico from the well it was drilling. The leak was not sealed until July.

The 27-page complaint requests that the companies be held liable for removal costs and damages. While it does not mention a specific amount, the suit could cost BP and the other companies tens of billions of dollars, The New York Times reports.

“This is welcome and long overdue news to the fishermen and others who depend upon the Gulf of Mexico for their lives and livelihoods,” Waterkeeper Alliance, an environmental organization, said in a statement, according to UPI.

Aside from BP, the lawsuit also involves: Anadarko Exploration & Production LP and Anadarko Petroleum Corp.; MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC; Triton Asset Leasing GMBH, Transocean Holdings LLC, Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc., and Transocean Deepwater Inc.; and QBE Underwriting Ltd.-Lloyd’s Syndicate 1036.

Posted in Drilling for Oil, Ecosystems, Fish, Oceans & Coastlines, Oil & Petroleum, Water Pollution, Well Drilling0 Comments

Explosion Reported on Different Oil Rig in Gulf of Mexico

Early reports from the AP indicate that an explosion has occurred on an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 80 miles south of Vermilion Bay near the central Louisiana coast.

According to Coast Guard Petty Officer Casey Ranel, the explosion was reported by a commercial helicopter company earlier this morning. The Coast Guard is sending seven helicopters, two airplanes and four boats to the site, which is west of the former location of the BP Deep Horizon oil rig.

Early reports are sketchy and it is unclear whether the distressed rig is a production platform or a drilling rig. Additionally, there is no available yet information on whether there are workers aboard or whether the rig is still burning.

Posted in Drilling for Oil0 Comments

OPEC Likely to Leave Production Unchanged

LUANDA, Angola, Dec. 21 (UPI) — Oil ministers arriving in Luanda, Angola, and industry researchers said the world’s dominant oil cartel would leave production levels unchanged for now.

Representatives of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are set to begin a summit meeting Tuesday. While arriving in Luanda, OPEC’s Secretary-General Abdalla El-Badri said there was “consensus that there is no change. If you look at the price, it is very comfortable.”

Representing OPEC’s largest exporter, Ali Naimi of Saudi Arabia said, “the current prices is wanted by all. We are not alone … but also those with alternatives and oil difficult to extract,” The Financial Times reported Monday.

Consultants at PFC Energy in Washington said production would remain steady “for the moment,” while warning a drop in demand and high supplies in 2010 might trigger a production cut of up to 1 billion barrels a day.

OPEC members last cut production in December 2008 by 2.2 million barrels a day to prop up prices that had fallen from $147 per barrel in July to lower than $40 per barrel by January 2009.

Prices have since risen steadily, reaching a peak for the year above $80 per barrel and hitting $75.14 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Monday morning.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Drilling for Oil, Energy, Oil & Petroleum0 Comments

Shell Oil Corporation Considering Arctic Drilling for Oil and Gas Off Alaskan Coast

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Nov. 5 (UPI) — The Shell oil corporation said it will decide within months whether to begin drilling for oil and gas off the Alaskan coast despite strong opposition.

The Anchorage Daily News said Thursday that environmentalists and Alaska North Slope officials are opposing possible Arctic drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

Scientists suspect the two seas may hold significant stores of oil and natural gas.

Shell has already spent more than $2 billion to obtain leases in the seas, but its plans to drill there were delayed the last two years by successful litigation by the officials and environmentalists.

The two drilling opponents allege drilling in the seas could lead to oil spills and negative impacts on the bowhead whale population in the surrounding area.

Despite such delays, Shell has readied equipment for possible drilling to begin next summer. Shell Alaska Vice President Peter Slaib said Wednesday a final decision on the matter should be determined by December or January.

The Daily News said key to Shell’s drilling plans is whether the company can obtain federal air pollution permits for drilling.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollution, Drilling for Oil, Energy & Fuels, Natural Gas0 Comments

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