EnergyGuardian Photo

Analysis: McCarthy holds her own on carbon plan

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy faced vocal opposition to her agency's power plant carbon reduction plan from House Republicans this week, but she appeared to walk away largely unscathed after a pair of budget hearings.

During McCarthy's two days of testimony -— the first before a pair of Energy and Commerce subcommittees and the second before an Appropriations subcommittee -— Republicans made abundantly clear how outraged they are by the plan, but also seemed to acknowledge that there's little they can do about it at the moment.

They questioned the legality of the plan, contending that the rules should come from Congress, not from the executive branch. But bolstered by her agency's assessment of its legal leeway, McCarthy answered with confidence that the rule would pass muster in court.

Oil

Stocks slip after weaker growth, oil jumps

February proved to be a strong month for U.S. stocks, even though it ended in downbeat fashion.

Major stock indexes closed lower on Friday, capping a week of subdued trading that still delivered a couple of new highs for the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 index. It also brought the Nasdaq composite within striking distance of its March 2000 high.

Oil rose, recouping some of its losses from a day earlier.

Oil

Gasoline prices soar in California as supply shrinks

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Gas prices are soaring in California in a classic example of supply and demand after an explosion stopped gasoline production at an Exxon Mobil refinery while another remains offline due to labor unrest.

Average retail gas prices in the state have surged 25 cents a gallon in less than a week, from $2.98 per gallon for regular on Monday to $3.23 per gallon on Friday. That caps a run that saw the price of regular unleaded go up 60 cents per gallon since Jan. 30 as refineries prepare to shift to a summer blend of fuels.

Oil

US rig count decreases 43 to 1,267

HOUSTON (AP) — Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. fell by 43 this week to 1,267 amid depressed oil prices.

The Houston-based company said Friday in its weekly report that 86 rigs were exploring for oil and 280 for gas. One was listed as miscellaneous. A year ago 1,769 rigs were active.

California farmers to go another year without federal water

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A federal agency said Friday it will not release any water for Central Valley farms this year, forcing farmers to continue to scramble for other sources or leave fields unplanted.

It will be the second year of no federal water for farmers in the region that grows much of the nation's produce. Many farmers had been bracing for the news as California's drought enters its fourth year.

Fisherman's high court win spurs call for legal reform

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court case of a fisherman hooked by a law meant to preserve documents, not fish, is renewing calls to curb the reach of criminal laws that critics say are too vague.

Groups across the political spectrum — from the liberal American Civil Liberties Union to the conservative Heritage Foundation — have long complained about the growing number of vaguely drawn statutes they say give too much leeway to zealous prosecutors.

EU, others: Catch plans for Bluefin tuna threaten recovery

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union, Japan and other nations hunting for the eastern Atlantic Bluefin tuna are fearful that Turkey's unilateral decision to exceed catch limits agreed last year is threatening the stock recovery and the organization regulating its conservation.

Documents seen by The Associated Press and EU comments on Friday show that during an intense meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas early this week, delegates were angry at Turkey for announcing it would catch up to 73 percent more Bluefin than under an internationally agreed plan.

Oil

US consumer sentiment slips in February on icy weather

WASHINGTON (AP) — Harsh winter weather left U.S. consumers feeling a bit less confident this month, the University of Michigan says. But confidence levels still remain at the highest level in eight years.

The University of Michigan says its index of consumer sentiment slid to 95.4 in February from an 11-year high of 98.1 in January.

Switzerland 1st country to submit pledge for UN climate pact

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Switzerland has become the first country to submit a pledge to the United Nations for a new global climate deal, vowing to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

The Swiss government said Friday that at least 30 percent of the reduction would be achieved at home and the remainder through projects abroad.

The big melt: Antarctica's retreating ice may re-shape Earth

CAPE LEGOUPIL, Antarctica (AP) — From the ground in this extreme northern part of Antarctica, spectacularly white and blinding ice seems to extend forever. What can't be seen is the battle raging thousands of feet (hundreds of meters) below to re-shape Earth.

Water is eating away at the Antarctic ice, melting it where it hits the oceans. As the ice sheets slowly thaw, water pours into the sea — 130 billion tons of ice (118 billion metric tons) per year for the past decade, according to NASA satellite calculations. That's the weight of more than 356,000 Empire State Buildings, enough ice melt to fill more than 1.3 million Olympic swimming pools. And the melting is accelerating.

Cash-strapped Ukraine struggles to keep Russia gas supplies

MOSCOW (AP) — Cash-strapped Ukraine sought to buy time in its effort to ensure continued gas supplies from Russia, making a $15 million payment Friday to Moscow as it waits for international rescue loans to arrive.

But Moscow says the sum will cover only an additional day, leaving a potential gas cutoff looming Tuesday.

Ex-university president to head China's environment agency

BEIJING (AP) — A former university president was appointed Friday to lead China's efforts to clean up the environment.

Chen Jining is a scholar trained in environmental engineering and led China's prestigious Tsinghua University for the past three years. The central government's website posted the notice that the standing committee of the National People's Congress had named him as minister of environmental protection.

Adam Sieminski/EnergyGuardian Photo
Oil

EIA chief predicts cheaper oil to hold short term, savings for consumers

The U.S. government’s leading energy analyst is predicting oil prices will average between $58 and $75 a barrel over the next two years as geopolitical issues like an Iranian nuclear deal, unrest in Venezuela and China's economic growth impact markets. And the head of the Energy Information Administration remains confident consumers will enjoy some significant savings in their wallets.

Oil

Guest Opinion: Rail industry upgrading oil tanker safety ahead of new regs

Railroads share the public’s deep concern regarding the safe movement of crude oil by rail and, as recent incidents have shown us, freight railroads and others who share responsibility for the shipment of oil must continue to make improvements to ensure public confidence.

Oil

Oil train wrecks increase pressure for tougher safety rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fiery wrecks of trains hauling crude oil have intensified pressure on the Obama administration to approve tougher standards for railroads and tank cars despite industry complaints that it could cost billions and slow freight deliveries.

On Feb. 5, the Transportation Department sent the White House draft rules that would require oil trains to use stronger tank cars and make other safety improvements.

Tracks reopen where oil train derailed in West Virginia

MOUNT CARBON, W.Va. (AP) — A rail line has reopened in southern West Virginia where an oil train derailed earlier this month.

A statement from multiple agencies responding to the fiery derailment said crews restored the tracks and reopened the line for commerce Thursday afternoon. Cleanup activities continue at the site in Mount Carbon.

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