Policy   Oil

Activists rappel off Oregon bridge to stop Shell icebreaker

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Environmental activists rappelled off Portland's tallest bridge early Wednesday in an effort to stop a Shell Oil Arctic icebreaker from leaving the city.

Thirteen protesters dangled from the St. Johns Bridge while another 13 remained on the bridge as lookouts. Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard said the activists have enough water and food to last for days, and can hoist themselves to allow other marine traffic to pass.

Arrests linked to Brazil nuke plant construction

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian police have arrested two executives for their alleged role in a bribery scheme involving the construction of the country's nuclear power plant.

The Federal Prosecutor's Office says in a statement that police on Tuesday detained Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva, president of Eletronuclear, a subsidiary of Brazil's electric utilities company, Eletrobras.

Oil

Coast Guard investigating oil slick off California coast

GOLETA, Calif. (AP) — The Coast Guard is investigating a new oil slick off the Southern California coast about a dozen miles from where a broken pipeline spilled thousands of gallons of crude into the ocean in May.

Petty Officer Andrea Anderson says the oil sheen was reported late Wednesday morning about 1,000 yards off the Santa Barbara County city of Goleta.

Portuguese government suggests employees start pedaling

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — The Portuguese government is recommending its staff try cycling in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and save money on gas.

The government has reduced its vehicle fleet from more than 28,000 in 2010 to fewer than 27,000 last year and now intends to buy 1,200 electric cars.

Boehner backs push to export US crude oil

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner says he supports a push by U.S. oil companies to ship their crude oil overseas and lift a decades-long ban on exports.

The Ohio Republican said the change would be a boon for the economy, creating up to a million jobs and bringing U.S. energy policy into the 21st century.

Energy Department.

Nuclear reactor innovations face setbacks from uncertainty, cost: GAO

The industry developing the next generation of nuclear reactors is facing a series of challenges, including high costs, technical hurdles and an uncertain future for nuclear energy demand, a government watchdog says.

In a report prepared for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the Government Accountability Office said that developing higher-tech reactors is a tantalizing prize for both developers and researchers in the federal government, especially as the U.S. looks to cut back on carbon emissions and diversify energy supplies. 

2 injection wells shut down after Oklahoma quakes

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oil and gas operators shut down two wastewater injection wells in northern Oklahoma on Tuesday and reduced operations at a third after several earthquakes centered in the town of Crescent rattled the state.

Stephens Production and Devon Energy each voluntarily closed one well, and Stephens reduced operations at another well by 50 percent, Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Matt Skinner said.

House, Senate move toward passage of transportation patch

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House and Senate are moving toward passage of three-month patch to keep federal highway and transit aid flowing to states while lawmakers seek the right mix of policy and revenue to achieve a long-term transportation deal.

The House is expected to take up the short-term, $8 billion bill on Wednesday before leaving town for Congress' August recess. The Senate plans to take up the House bill later in the week, but before a midnight Friday deadline when authority for the Department of Transportation to process aid payments to states will expire.

Iran nuclear deal turns up lobbying heat on Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Iran nuclear deal has supercharged congressional lobbying, with President Barack Obama securing the support of a prominent Jewish Democrat and pro-Israel groups pressuring lawmakers in an all-out, big-money drive.

Obama, his Cabinet and other allies are making the case that the deal calling on Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief is the best possible way to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Oil

Panel scales back new oil rules for North Dakota reservation

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Tribal leaders from a prolific portion of North Dakota's oil-rich Fort Berthold Reservation are scaling back proposed drilling regulations that industry officials warned could slow crude production.

Leaders of a section of the reservation that produces the most oil recently formed the West Segment Regulatory Commission, based in Mandaree, to impose its own regulations on oil drilling activity in its region. The idea was not well received by industry officials, existing regulators or overall leadership of the Three Affiliated Tribes, which represents the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara people on the million-acre reservation in western North Dakota.

Oil

Energy company Total profit slips in 2nd quarter

PARIS (AP) — French energy giant Total SA says its net profit slid 4 percent in the second quarter as higher production helped offset a steep drop in the price of oil.

Total on Wednesday reported a net profit of $2.97 billion, down from $3.1 billion a year earlier. Underlying replacement cost profit, which strips out one-time items and changes in the value of inventories, fell 2 percent to $3.1 billion in the quarter.

Immigrants, poor fish for their dinner, unaware of mercury

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — It's midday and the white bucket balanced on the rocky shore at Mountha Uppasay's feet holds five or six white bass, moving sluggishly in the water she scooped from the Des Moines River.

She and her husband, who are immigrants from Laos, have been fishing since shortly after dawn and plan to catch enough to make a tasty stew to share with their children and grandchildren. Asked about possible health issues with the fish, Uppasay flashes a surprised look and says, "They're all safe."

Northern California wildfire contained after jumping line

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Fire crews stopped the progress of a fire that jumped a containment line east of California's Napa Valley, prompting the mandatory evacuation of more than 200 people from their homes.

The flare-up in the rugged, steep terrain of Solano County quickly consumed 400 acres but firefighters enclosed it within secondary containment lines, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Tuesday.

EnergyGuardian Photo

Murkowski, Cantwell fight to keep 'poison pills' out of Senate energy bill

The leaders of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee fended off amendments from the right and the left Tuesday as they fought to keep their bipartisan energy reform bill free of hot-button issues during the bill's first markup session.

While praise was unanimous for Chairman Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and ranking member Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and their efforts to develop the first major energy overhaul since 2007, several senators proposed amendments that would make more aggressive policy changes in the final bill. None was accepted—most were quickly withdrawn and a few were defeated.

Group starts process to sue US agency over pipeline plans

DETROIT (AP) — The National Wildlife Federation accused the U.S. Transportation Department on Tuesday of not enforcing a federal law that requires pipeline owners and operators to establish safety response plans for worst-case oil spills in lakes, rivers and other waterways.

Leaders of the conservation organization said it filed the required "intent to sue" notice through certified mail, giving officials 60 days to issue regulations or face a federal lawsuit.

Court orders EPA to redo air-pollution limits in 13 states

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court on Tuesday ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to relax some limits it set on smokestack emissions that cross state lines and taint downwind areas with air pollution from power plants.

At the same time, the court upheld the EPA's right to impose the clean-air standards, rejecting an argument by states and industry groups that the rule was overly burdensome.

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