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2 more lawsuits filed against Big Ox, South Sioux City

Sioux City Journal | Posted on January 11, 2018

Two more homeowners have sued Big Ox Energy and South Sioux City over odors and gases from the renewable energy plant, bringing the total number of lawsuits filed to 14.Tyler and Saira Muff and Kathryn Hunt both filed suit Monday in Dakota County District Court. They claim, as have homeowners in the other lawsuits, that odors and gases from the Big Ox plant damaged their homes and "much of their personal property is useless and has been reduced to waste." They also say the odors and gases have caused health problems that began soon after the plant began operations in September 2016. The 14 lawsuits, all filed since Nov. 29, allege that Big Ox and the city failed to operate wastewater treatment facilities and sewer systems to handle waste from the plant and prevent the release of hydrogen sulfate and other toxic gases. Health problems suffered by homeowners and their families include respiratory illnesses, headaches, nausea, anxiety and emotional distress.


How a Coal Baron’s Wish List Became President Trump’s To-Do List

New York Times | Posted on January 11, 2018

President Trump’s first year in office has been a boon for the coal industry, with the Trump administration rolling back regulations on coal-fired power plants and withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate change agreement. Environmentalists have expressed alarm at the new direction, and have complained that Mr. Trump was following a blueprint from the coal industry. A confidential memo written by the head of the country’s largest coal mining company suggests they might not be wrong.The memo was written by Robert E. Murray, a longtime Trump supporter who donated $300,000 to the president’s inauguration. In it, Mr. Murray, the head of Murray Energy, presented Mr. Trump with a wish list of environmental rollbacks just weeks after the inauguration. Nearly a year later, the White House and federal agencies have completed or are on track to fulfill most of the 14 detailed requests, even with Monday’s decision by federal regulators to reject a proposal by Energy Secretary Rick Perry to subsidize struggling coal and nuclear plants.


The ‘bomb cyclone’ is contradicting Rick Perry’s argument for coal

The Washington Post | Posted on January 11, 2018

The cold weather and swirling winds gripping the northeastern United States have created the sort of winter scenario that Energy Secretary Rick Perry has cited as a reason to bolster the reliability of the grid by boosting coal and nuclear power plants. Perry said that only those power plants could assure reliability because only they could keep 90 days’ fuel supply on site. But so far in this windy two-week cold snap, the region’s electricity grid has responded with little disruption, and without any need to rev up aging coal plants, which supplied 6 percent of electricity in New England on Thursday. And the biggest failure Thursday came from a power line failure that forced Entergy Corp. to shut down its 688 megawatt Pilgrim nuclear power plant in eastern Massachusetts. No homes were affected, however, because the grid reserve was three times as big.


Billions From VW Settlement Boost Push to Clean Vehicles

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on January 8, 2018

South Carolina wants to replace aging school buses. Colorado plans to electrify Denver’s bus system. And Washington wants electric ferryboats for Puget Sound. As part of a 2016 federal court settlement after Volkswagen admitted programming its diesel vehicles to cheat on emissions tests, the automaker agreed to pay $2.8 billion to states to be used to reduce diesel pollution. And with money arriving as early as June, states are already deciding how to spend their share of the funds.The infusion of money comes at a time when states are struggling to meet air quality standards and believe they won’t be able to do it without widespread adoption of low- and no-emission vehicles, from the Nissan Leaf in someone’s driveway to propane-fueled city buses and electric freight locomotives in public and corporate fleets. The VW funds — ranging from $8 million to $423 million per state, depending on the number of diesel VWs sold — could jump-start a viable market for alternate-fuel and electric vehicles, clean energy experts and state officials say.


Tax bill rescinds tax on oil companies to fund spill response

The Washington Post | Posted on January 8, 2018

Congressional Republicans allowed a tax on oil companies that generated hundreds of millions of dollars annually for federal oil-spill response efforts to expire this week — a move that amounts to another corporate break for the industry.  The tax on companies selling oil in the United States generated an average of $500 million in federal revenue per year, according to the Government Accountability Office. The money, collected through a 9 cents-per-barrel tax on domestic crude oil and imported crude oil and petroleum products, constituted the main source of revenue for the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.The fund has at least $5.75 billion in reserve. Intended to help the government respond quickly to accidents on land or offshore, it was established in 1986 but only got a stable source of funding in the wake of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.The tax, which expired on New Year's Eve, had lapsed before but was renewed under the bipartisan 2005 Energy Policy Act. Federal officials recently had debated whether it should be expanded to apply to oil sands products.


Gas, not renewables, driving coal, nuclear woes

Utility Dive | Posted on January 8, 2018

Low natural gas prices, not high renewable energy penetrations, are the main cause of low and negative electricity prices that are negatively impacting coal and nuclear operators, a new report from two DOE national labs finds. 


NC State project develops solar heaters for chicken houses

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on January 2, 2018

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a practical solar heater for poultry houses as part of a project partially funded by USPOULTRY and the USPOULTRY Foundation, the organization announced. Sanjay Shah and his colleagues developed and tested the low-cost solar heater that warms the air as it passes through a black plastic housing that has been heated by the sun. The system is designed to supplement the heat generated in poultry houses using propane-fueled equipment and should reduce overall heating costs at poultry farms where the systems are installed, the group said.


Court rules against Pa. drillers in royalty dispute

Farm and Dairy | Posted on January 2, 2018

Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Dec. 20 a significant step towards economic justice for Pennsylvania landowners in his lawsuit against Chesapeake Energy Inc. and Anadarko Petroleum Co.Bradford County Common Pleas Court issued an opinion and order denying preliminary objections raised by the defendant companies.The Office of Attorney General’s lawsuit seeks to recover for thousands of Pennsylvania landowners the money wrongfully deducted from fracking royalty checks by Chesapeake Energy and Anadarko Petroleum — in violation of 


Trump administration rescinding fracking rules on government land

Chicago Tribune | Posted on January 2, 2018

President Donald Trump's administration is rescinding proposed rules for hydraulic fracturing and other oil- and gas-drilling practices on government lands. The rules developed under President Barack Obama would have applied mainly in the West, where most federal lands are located. Companies would have had to disclose the chemicals used in fracking, which pumps pressurized water underground to break open hydrocarbon deposits.


Ethanol-State Senators Wait for Proposal from Cruz, Who Maintains Hold on USDA Nominee

DTN | Posted on December 28, 2017

 Sen. Ted Cruz has now gotten multiple meetings at the White House over the Renewable Fuels Standard but the Texas Republican still maintains his hold on Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey's undersecretary nomination at USDA. And, following a meeting Wednesday with staff from several senators at the White House's Eisenhower Executive Office Building, it seems Cruz doesn't know what exactly he wants changed with the Renewable Fuel Standard."He just keeps moving the goalpost and moving the goalpost," said a frustrated Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, on Thursday.Staff from the offices of Sens. Ernst, Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Deb Fischer, R-Neb., joined White House staff Wednesday afternoon to discuss options, but staff from Cruz's office and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., did not have any proposals to offer and were not ready to negotiate.


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