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  1. Oil and Gas: Pipeline projects in limbo as energy commissioner departs

    In this Feb. 9, 2011 file photo, Cheryl LaFleur of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) speaks in Omaha, Neb. Major natural gas pipeline projects along the East Coast and Midwest face uncertainty as the federal agency that oversees the work loses a commissioner and will be unable to decide on projects for the first months of the Trump administration. President Donald Trump named LaFleur to lead the panel last week. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File) WASHINGTON (AP) — Major natural gas pipeline projects along the East Coast and Midwest face uncertainty as the federal agency that oversees the work loses a commissioner and will be unable to decide on projects indefinitely under President Donald Trump. Democrat Norman Bay is stepping down Friday from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission , leaving the five-member panel with just two commissioners, one short of the number needed to form a quorum. Lack of a quorum blocks major agency actions and could short-circuit Trump's goal to jump-start infrastructure projects, a key part of his campaign pledge to create jobs. More immediately, Bay's exit leaves the commission unable to approve or reject natural gas pipelines or settle proposed mergers, including a $12 billion plan to unite Great Plains and Westar energy companies in the Midwest. At least a half-dozen major pipeline projects totaling more than $10 billion hang in the balance as FERC seeks a third commissioner to allow the commission to resume normal operations. The projects include the $2 billion Nexus pipeline in Ohio and Michigan; the $1 billion PennEast pipeline in Pennsylvania and New Jersey; and the $450 million Northern Access pipeline in Pennsylvania and New York. The turmoil at FERC would not affect the proposed Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. FERC does not issue permits for oil pipelines. The agency approved a special order Friday granting additional authority to agency staff to carry out some of the commission's responsibilities, but the order does not allow approval of major projects or mergers. Senate Energy Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski said she was deeply concerned about the shortage of voting members and said she has advised the White House for months of the need to nominate a new commissioner. "We have not seen any names" of possible nominees, Murkowski, R-Alaska, told reporters this week. "I would think (White House officials) would be moving on this sooner than later, but at this point in time I have not heard anything," Murkowski added. Frank Maisano, an energy lobbyist who has worked with utilities and other companies, said Bay's departure "only underscores the need to get a new slate of FERC commissioners in place as quickly as possible." More than a dozen energy-related trade associations wrote a letter to Trump Thursday urging him to replace Bay immediately. "The absence of a quorum will leave the agency unable to tackle much of its important work promoting energy infrastructure for the benefit of U.S. energy consumers," the groups wrote. "Such delays and inaction could have profound negative impacts for the nation's electric, natural gas and oil customers given the need for strong national energy infrastructure and enhanced market access and opportunities," they added. The letter was signed by 13 groups, including the American Gas Association, Independent Petroleum Association of America, the American Petroleum Institute and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America. Some environmental groups hailed the impending personnel crisis. Bay's departure means "there is now no quorum to approve dangerous and destructive pipelines like PennEast Pipeline," said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club. Without a quorum, pipeline approvals could be delayed by months or even a year if Democrats fight Trump's nominations, Tittel said, adding that Trump's appointment of a new acting chair precipitated the FERC crisis. Trump named Democrat Cheryl LaFleur to lead the panel last week, replacing Bay. LaFleur, a longtime commissioner and former chair, is considered more business friendly than Bay, a former law professor and director of FERC's enforcement office. Bay announced his resignation soon after LaFleur's promotion was made public. Trump's appointment of LaFleur "is now coming back to bite him," Tittel said. "They don't have enough votes to approve projects."

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    Online Articles

    Tue, 7 Feb 2017

  2. EPA risk management rule is problematic, trade groups tell Congress

    The American Petroleum Institute , American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, US Chamber of Commerce and 18 other business groups asked congressional leaders to use the Congressional Review Act to disapprove the US Environmental Protection Agency’s final risk management practices rule covering ...

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    Thu, 26 Jan 2017

  3. EIA: US crude, gasoline stockpiles up in 3 straight weeks to begin 2017

    US commercial crude oil inventories, excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, rose 2.8 million bbl during the week ended Jan. 20 compared with the previous week’s total, the US Energy Information Administration said in its latest Petroleum Status Report.

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    Wed, 25 Jan 2017

  4. API: Keep NAAQS implementation to one set of ozone limits at a time

    The American Petroleum Institute urged the US Environmental Protection Agency to limit ground-level ozone controls implementation to one set of requirements at a time so that the Clean Air Act’s requirement to “insure that economic growth will occur in a manner consistent with the preservation of ...

    Online Articles

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    Thu, 12 Jan 2017

  1. EIA: US crude stockpiles gain 4.1 million bbl

    Online Articles

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    Wed, 11 Jan 2017

  2. API official lists policy areas for upcoming confirmation hearings

    US senators considering nominees to lead the US Departments of the Interior and Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency should ask about ways policies can be improved to create jobs, benefit consumers, and improve the general economy and domestic energy security, an American Petroleum ...

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    Fri, 13 Jan 2017

  3. Foxx signs ANPR seeking comments on crude-oil vapor pressure idea

    US Sec. of Transportation Anthony Foxx has signed an advanced notice of possible rulemaking (ANPR) seeking government, industry, and public contributions on questions about establishing a vapor pressure threshold for crude oil as it is being transported.

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    Mon, 16 Jan 2017

  4. PHMSA issues final rule aimed at improving liquids pipeline safety

    The US Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration completed one of its top priority rulemakings for 2016 as Administrator Marie Therese Dominguez signed long-awaited safety requirements for onshore hazardous materials pipelines. The final rule makes critical safety improvements, PHMSA ...

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    Mon, 16 Jan 2017

  5. Oil and Gas: Oil pipeline safety rule scaled back after cost objections

    President Barack Obama's administration scaled back new safety measures for the sprawling network of fuel pipelines that crisscross the United States on Friday, following oil industry complaints that proposed changes would cost companies billions of dollars.

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    Tue, 17 Jan 2017

  6. Trump infrastructure order sends a welcome signal, associations say

    President Donald J. Trump’s Jan. 24 executive order for expedited environmental reviews and approvals for high-priority infrastructure projects sent a welcome signal, officials from oil and gas associations said. Its implementation will need to take place within the context of existing laws, ...

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    Fri, 27 Jan 2017

  7. House majority leader targets methane, foreign payment rules

    Declaring “perhaps no aspect of America’s economy has been as overregulated as energy,” Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said the US House will begin work to repeal, under the Congressional Review Act, the US Bureau of Land Management’s methane venting and flaring rule and the Security and ...

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    Mon, 30 Jan 2017

  8. Oil and Gas: Oklahoma's low fuel tax tempting target amid budget crunch

    Oklahoma's tax on gasoline and diesel, untouched since 1987 and among the lowest in the nation, is becoming a tempting target for state lawmakers desperate for revenue amid a third straight year of budget declines.

    Online Articles

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    Tue, 10 Jan 2017

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