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Dakota Access pipeline gets federal permit approvals in Iowa

AP | Posted on August 3, 2016

The Texas company planning a crude oil pipeline that will cut across Iowa received the final federal permit approvals needed to proceed with construction. Documents posted by the Iowa Utilities Board show the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved 60 river crossings in Iowa for Dakota Access, a decision pipeline opponents hoped to stop.The company, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, plans construction of a $3.8 billion, 1,168-mile project that's already begun in Illinois, North Dakota and South Dakota. Some preliminary work had also begun in Iowa but the final permits were needed for workers to complete large stretches of pipeline, including sections that cross major rivers.

New York Joins California In Leading On Clean Energy

Huffington Post | Posted on August 3, 2016

For a glimpse of what New York’s just-announced clean energy standard could mean to the state’s economy, look West. New York’s plan to get 50 percent of its energy from renewables by 2030, matches the renewable standard set by California in 2015. It will make New York a major leader for clean energy (only tiny Vermont and Hawaii have higher standards than New York and California), setting an example for other states. Clean energy, quite simply, is a tremendous economic catalyst. Smart clean energy policies, we know from California and other states, create jobs and drive economic growth. New York already has had a taste of what clean energy can mean to the state’s economy. More than 85,000 New Yorkers work in clean energy in every county of the state.

Coal jobs continue to disappear in Eastern Kentucky as population drops

Lexington Herald Leader | Posted on August 3, 2016

Eastern Kentucky faces population loss and other challenges that complicate efforts to diversify its coal-dependent economy as the industry continues to bleed jobs. Coal jobs in the region dropped by 6.1 percent from April through June, according to a report from the state Energy and Environment Cabinet. That was far less than the 21.6 percent decline in the first three months of 2016. Still, that was little cause for celebration in a place where the steep drop in coal jobs and production have hurt other businesses and revenue for local governments.



Foes of climate rule find new weapon in EPA mine case

greenwire | Posted on August 3, 2016

A federal court should take into account a case involving U.S. EPA's retroactive veto of a water permit for a mining project as it considers the legality of the Clean Power Plan, an opponent to the rule argued. The Competitive Enterprise Institute told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that the dissent in the water permit case "strongly supports" its arguments that EPA failed to adequately consider the costs and benefits of its power plant rule. In the mining case, Arch Coal Inc. and its subsidiary, Mingo Logan Coal Co., had sought to overturn EPA's 2011 veto of the water permit for the controversial Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County, W.Va. Last week, the D.C. Circuit upheld the agency's withdrawal of the permit, finding that the agency adequately explained its decision and that the action fell under the "broad veto power" provided under the Clean Water Act.

Virginia rulemaking processes may bring clarity to fracking oversight

Southeast Energy News | Posted on August 3, 2016

With the least stringent regulations of any state with shale production, critics are calling on Virginia to clear up confusion over local fracking bans and complete two reviews of its oil and gas regulations, one of which has been pending since 2004.  An in-state regulatory review, underway since 2013, is approaching its final stage but has no deadline. It’s being conducted by a Gas & Oil Regulatory Advisory Panel revved up after Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe took office in early 2014. Recommendations from that review depend on a last round of public comments and final approval by McAuliffe.

The Profitability of Biodiesel Production in 2016: Feasting on an Expiring Tax Credit?

Farm Doc Daily | Posted on August 3, 2016

The U.S. biodiesel production industry has a distinct "feast or famine" pattern in terms of profitability. The industry made very large profits in 2011 and 2013, but losses in most years previous to 2011 and losses again in 2014 and 2015. The feast or famine pattern has been closely tied to expiration of the $1 per gallon biodiesel tax credit in the face of binding RFS biodiesel mandates. The biodiesel tax credit is once again scheduled to expire at the end of 2016. The key is that blenders face a binding RFS biodiesel mandate and it is rational to effectively purchase the biodiesel at a discount in the current year, due to the tax credit, in order to meet mandates in later years. Once the tax credit expires, the incentive to push up prices, profits, and production disappears and the biodiesel industry returns to a norm of losses. This cycle, of course, depends on blenders perceiving there substantial uncertainty whether the tax credit will be reinstated or not for the following year.

El Paso Electric celebrates coal-free status

El Paso Times | Posted on August 2, 2016

El Paso Electric has become coal-free and no longer is using the fossil fuel to power its generators, making it the only electric utility in Texas and New Mexico to have no coal-fired power generation.

As FirstEnergy announces closures, ‘bailout’ request keeps growing

Midwest Energy News | Posted on August 1, 2016

Despite announcing the closure of four units at an Ohio coal plant it initially sought to protect, the amount of money FirstEnergy could recover from customers in new charges has now ballooned to more than $8 billion.   FirstEnergy still wants a non-bypassable charge that critics have said could cost consumers almost $4 billion. In the same filing, it says that a new rider suggested by staff at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio would be a good idea, but that the proposed rate of $131 million per year for three years would be inadequate. Instead, FirstEnergy wants $558 million per year for at least eight years.

Iowa sees progress in energy sector

The Gazette | Posted on August 1, 2016

Iowa’s overall energy situation is moving in a positive direction, although the state still consumes more than it produces at a per-capital rate higher than its six bordering states.  Iowa consumes more raw energy than it produces and imports more raw energy than it produces. Electrical power generation has increased significantly, by nearly 40 percent, primarily because of expansion in wind production.     The net effect of Iowa’s renewable energy expansion has been a significant decrease in the overall percentage of Iowa’s electricity generated by fossil fuels, which declined from 87 percent in 2001 to 62 percent in 2014.

Judge tosses NY's new rules against energy marketers as 'irrational' | Posted on July 28, 2016

A state Supreme Court judge  struck down New York's attempt to clamp down on independent energy service companies with strict new rules, calling the effort "arbitrary'' and "irrational.''  State Supreme Court Justice Henry Zwack, of Albany, vacated new regulations that were announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in February following approval by the state Public Service Commission.  The PSC's decision to restrict the activities of energy marketers, also known as ESCOs, "appears to be irrational, arbitrary and capricious,'' Zwack wrote. Moreover, he said the order that ESCOs comply with the new regulations within 10 days was more than merely burdensome. "It is impossible,'' Zwack wrote. PSC officials today said they would to continue efforts to rein in the ESCOs.