Isaac Wedin photo
Oil   Policy

Crude oil exports rise toward record

 While debate over the ban on crude oil exports gains momentum, shipments of U.S. and Canadian oil already permitted by law reached the second-highest volume since recordkeeping began in 1920, the Energy Department said Wednesday.

Exports of U.S. oil to Canada and re-exports of Canadian crude to customers overseas reached 401,000 barrels a day in July, the Energy Information Administration said in its weekly petroleum markets report.


Total acts swiftly to replace CEO killed in crash

PARIS (AP) — French oil giant Total SA has named Patrick Pouyanne as chief executive to replace Christophe de Margerie, who was killed earlier this week in a plane crash in Moscow.

Barely 36 hours after de Margerie's death, Total's board chose Pouyanne, 51, at a board meeting Wednesday. The swift appointment indicates the board's desire to limit the uncertainty on one of France's biggest companies. In its statement, Total's board hailed De Margerie's "exceptional human and professional qualities."

Solar flare knocks out some radio, grid OK

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal forecasters say a brief but strong solar flare Wednesday morning temporarily blacked out a few radio communication systems before weakening.

Space Weather Prediction Center forecaster Christopher Balch said it affected radio that uses part of the upper atmosphere. That includes some radar and plane systems, but not all, and amateur radio.


Philippines pushes arbitration in China sea dispute

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine president said Wednesday that the international arbitration Manila has initiated to challenge China's territorial claims in the South China Sea and a legally binding "Code of Conduct" are the only ways to settle the long-raging disputes peacefully.

The Philippines says that China has been intruding into its exclusive economic zone, including deploying two hydrographic ships in June near an offshore oil well inside Philippine waters. Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has said Manila is uncertain of the purpose of the ships' presence at the Reed Bank.

Office of Sen. Murkowski

Murkowski in no rush on oil exports

Recent studies, including one by the Government Accountability Office released this week, suggest that a repeal of the U.S. ban on crude oil exports could spur domestic oil production while pushing down gasoline prices and the trade deficit.

Yet the leading advocate in Congress for the reversal isn't drafting legislation -- for now.

A spokesman for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Tuesday she has not decided whether, or when, to write any bill to repeal the ban. Further, she won't quickly pursue any legislation on a ban if Republicans take over the Senate and she gets the energy committee gavel.

The Clintons, the Democrats' 2014 super surrogates

AURORA, Colo. (AP) — Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.

With speculation rampant about whether Hillary Rodham Clinton makes a second presidential run, the power couple has blanketed the political map this fall, attending fundraisers and get-out-the-vote rallies for a long roster of Democratic candidates. In states like Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina and Colorado, the Clintons are an asset at a time when many Democrats need a big name to help inspire supporters. The Clintons usually campaign for candidates on their own.

On the campaign trail, the former president, in particular, is in his element.

Newborn Puget Sound killer whale presumed dead

FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. (AP) — A killer whale born to much hope in early September apparently died while its pod was in the open ocean off Washington or British Columbia, the Center for Whale Research said.

The baby was the first known calf born since 2012 to a population of endangered orcas that frequent Puget Sound in Washington state.

Energy Guardian Photo

Macfarlane to exit NRC

The chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Allison Macfarlane, on Tuesday announced she will leave as of Jan. 1, a departure that will mark the turnover of all three Democratic members at the safety agency.

Macfarlane took the post in July, 2012 to fill out the term of former chairman Gregory Jaczko, and was confirmed to a full five-year term in 2013. Her exit comes after the summer departures of George Apostolakis and William Magwood.

Associated Press

Polar vortex pushed coal, higher CO2 emissions: EIA

Last year's frigid winter blast worsened propane shortages and threatened the electricity grid. Now it has the distinction of driving up U.S. energy-related carbon emissions for only the fourth time since 1990.

The Energy Department on Tuesday said greater heating demand boosted energy-related carbon emissions by 2.5 percent in 2013, to just under 5.4 billion metric tons.

The big contributor to those extra carbon emissions was coal, according to an annual report by the department's data wing, the Energy Information Administration.

Daimler sells stake in Tesla for $780 million

Daimler AG says it has sold its 4 percent stake in electric car maker Tesla for $780 million.

The buyer was not disclosed.

The Germany-based parent of Mercedes-Benz says its partnership with Tesla Motors Inc. is unaffected. Tesla made the battery packs and chargers for the two-seat electric Smart and developed part of the electric drive system in the B-Class Electric Drive.

EU antitrust watchdog eyes DuPont, Honeywell

DOVER, Del. (AP) — The DuPont Co. and Honeywell International may be violating antitrust rules in their cooperative venture to supply the only automotive air-conditioning refrigerant that meets European standards for greenhouse gas emissions, regulators said Tuesday.

DuPont, based in Wilmington, Delaware, and Honeywell, based in Morristown, New Jersey, created a partnership in 2010 to develop the refrigerant after the European Union adopted new environmental standards for vehicle air conditioning in 2006.

Cyprus to block Turkey's EU bid over gas dispute

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — European Union member Cyprus will oppose any progress in Turkey's ongoing talks to join the 28-nation bloc in response to a Turkish gas search in waters where Cyprus has already licensed companies to drill, an official said Tuesday.

The move is one of several new measures that the Cypriot government unveiled after accusing Turkey of stepping up its violation of the small country's sovereign rights by dispatching a research ship off its southern coast.

Slovakia bans exports of drinking water

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — The Slovak Parliament has voted to approve a constitutional amendment that bans exports of water from Slovakia.

Some opposition lawmakers joined the ruling leftist Smer-Social Democracy in a 102-5 vote on Tuesday to approve the move that bans exports of drinking and mineral water from Slovakia by means including pipelines and water tanks.

Macfarlane to leave NRC

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Allison M. Macfarlane will leave her post effective Jan. 1, she announced Tuesday, to join George Washington University. 

Macfarlane, a Democrat, has been chair since July, 2012. Last year she was confirmed by the Senate to a full five-year term.

NASA photo

NAM defends ozone cost study despite CRS criticism

The National Association of Manufacturers is challenging a Congressional Research Service report that downplays its claims that it can project a tougher federal ozone standard could impose $270 billion in annual costs on the U.S. economy.

"We disagree with the assertion that it is not possible to estimate the potential costs of this massive new regulation at proposal," said Ross Eisenberg, NAM's vice president of energy and resources policy, in a statement provided by a spokesman.


Total CEO dies in plane-plow collision in Russia

MOSCOW (AP) — Christophe de Margerie, the charismatic CEO of Total SA who dedicated his career to the multinational oil company, was killed at a Moscow airport when his private jet collided with a snowplow whose driver was drunk, Russian investigators said Tuesday.

Three French crew members also died when the French-made Dassault Falcon 50 burst into flames after it hit the snowplow during takeoff from Moscow's Vnukovo airport at 11:57 p.m. Monday local time.

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