Newsmaker: Whitehouse says carbon fee bill will force Senate to take sides

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Newsmaker: Whitehouse says carbon fee bill will force Senate to take sides

The carbon fee bill introduced by Senate Democrats will force their colleagues to declare whether they will address climate change or defend the current system that leaves emission reductions in the hands of regulators, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., tells EnergyGuardian.

Whitehouse has emerged as one of the Senate’s leading voices in support of climate change action this year. He recently formed the Bicameral Climate Change Task Force with Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., to pressure Congress to acknowledge the need to cut carbon emissions in the face of costly natural disasters.

Shell official says 2012 Arctic drilling carried out ‘successfully’

Shell’s top official in Alaska declined on Wednesday to address the problems it encountered during its initial exploration for oil in the Arctic Ocean last year, but stressed that the company’s drilling program was carried out “safely and successfully.”

At a Senate Commerce oceans subcommittee field hearing in Anchorage chaired by Chairman Mark Begich, D-Alaska, Shell Alaska Vice President Pete Slaiby also maintained that its mishaps were maritime problems. He said the grounding of the Kulluk drilling platform during towing in December had “minimal impact to the environment.”

Senate leaves McCarthy, efficiency and chemical safety for June

Lawmakers left Washington for a Memorial Day recess that delays until June Senate action on energy efficiency and chemical safety legislation, along with the confirmation of President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

A vote on Gina McCarthy’s nomination was not expected by the end of this week, though a meeting with Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., signaled new interest by the White House in resolving roadblocks that have slowed her confirmation.

Top 10 items found during 2012 coastal cleanup

The Ocean Conservancy, a Washington DC-based environmental organization, released its 2012 list of trash collected during its International Coastal Cleanup. More than 10 million pounds of debris was collected, with nearly 1.5 million pounds in California alone. The top items found during the cleanup:

Greens preview legal defense ahead of carbon rule release

With the Environmental Protection Agency’s final regulations to slash power plant carbon emissions imminent and states and industry preparing to take legal action against EPA, environmental groups are readying their defense of the landmark climate rule.

The Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council on Thursday offered an optimistic view of the Clean Power Plan — which could be finalized as early as Monday — and its chances for surviving legal challenges.

Government, creditors object in CODA bankruptcy

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Attorneys for the federal government and unsecured creditors have filed objections to electric car maker CODA Holdings’ bankruptcy plans.Court papers filed Friday argue that CODA’s bankruptcy financing and sale plans unfairly benefit a group of debtors seeking to acquire the company.

Exxon profit falls by half but production rises

NEW YORK (AP) — Exxon Mobil Corp. profit dropped by half in the second quarter on sharply lower oil and gas prices around the world, but the company’s oil and gas production, which has been generally declining in recent years, surged.

The company posted net income for the second quarter of $4.19 billion, down 52 percent from $8.78 billion in the second quarter of last year. It was Exxon’s lowest quarterly profit since June of 2009, when the nation was in recession and oil and gas prices had plummeted.

BLM spending on wild horses doubles over four years

The government is watching money stampede away, with little idea what to do about it.

The cost of an Interior Department program to care for America’s wild horses has doubled in the past four years: from $40 million in 2009 to $80 million in 2013. And until a long-term solution can be found, the spending is only going to increase.

Barrick fined $16m for Pascua-Lama violations

VALLENAR, Chile (AP) — Chile’s environmental regulator blocked Barrick Gold Corp.’s $8.5 billion Pascua-Lama project on Friday and imposed its maximum fine on the world’s largest gold miner, citing “very serious” violations of its environmental permit as well as a failure by the company to accurately describe what it had done wrong.

Arctic-bound ship leaves Portland after oil drilling protest

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Authorities used boats, personal watercraft, poles and their bare hands to remove protesters in kayaks and hanging from bridges who had tried to block a Royal Dutch Shell icebreaker bound for an Arctic drilling operation.

The Fennica left dry dock Thursday afternoon and made its way down the Willamette River toward the Pacific Ocean soon after authorities forced the demonstrators from the river and the St. Johns Bridge.

API sticks to its call to repeal biofuels mandate

American Petroleum Institute officials say the Obama administration is moving in the right direction with its plan to slow the Renewable Fuel Standard next year but Congress should still repeal the biofuels mandate.

In announcing the 2013 requirement that refiners use a combined 16.55 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol and other biofuels, EPA on Tuesday acknowledged the market likely could not absorb the 2014 target of 18.15 billion gallons.

4 Democrats get behind Obama’s Iran nuclear deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Four Democrats, including one who represents an American hostage in Iran, said Thursday they would support the Iran nuclear deal in a major boost for President Barack Obama.

“It’s very clear to me that the agreement is the best path forward,” two-term Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee, who counts hostage Amir Hekmati as a constituent, told The Associated Press in an interview. “This agreement allows us to prevent (Iran) from gaining a nuclear weapon, and if they cheat, we will know it. If we don’t have the agreement, we don’t have that certainty.”

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3 ex-TEPCO execs to face criminal charges in nuclear crisis

TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese judicial committee has decided that three former utility executives should face criminal charges and stand trial for their alleged negligence in the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

A document released Friday showed the committee of independent citizens voted in favor of indicting Tsunehisa Katsumata, 75, who was chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Co. at the time of the crisis, along with then-vice presidents Sakae Muto, 65, and Ichiro Takekuro, 69.

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