Policy

Obama team asks Congress for enhanced trade-deal authority

WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior Democratic senator's complaints Tuesday, and noisy protesters, underscored the Obama administration's challenge in seeking congressional approval for enhanced powers to cut trade deals with Japan, Australia and many other countries.

Sen. Charles Schumer of New York said he worries that new trade deals will not help middle class incomes. He also insisted the United States do more to prevent China from keeping its currency's value artificially low, which enhances Chinese exports and dampens imports.

Oil

W.Va. town restoring water service following diesel spill

LEWISBURG, W.Va. (AP) — Officials in southeastern West Virginia are turning the water back on for about 12,000 Lewisburg area residents who lost service after a diesel fuel spill.

Media outlets report the state Bureau of Public Health notified the city around 7 p.m. Monday that it could restart its water treatment plant. Tests found no contamination at the city's intakes along the Greenbrier River.

Democrats put brakes on Iran sanctions bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats on Tuesday put the brakes on new Iran sanctions legislation, ending for now a looming showdown between Congress and President Barack Obama over negotiations to prevent Tehran from having the capability to make a nuclear weapon.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., a leading proponent of the legislation, says he remains skeptical a deal will materialize, but says he and nine other Democrats now won't push the bill at least until the end of March. Menendez' concession to the White House is good news for Obama, who has threatened to veto any new sanctions legislation.

Oil

Executive: No guarantee BP would help pay subsidiary's fines

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An executive for the BP subsidiary that faces billions of dollars in possible fines for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill testified Tuesday that it is uncertain whether other BP entities would step in to help pay a steep penalty.

The day's first witness was Richard Morrison, regional president and chairman of the board for BP Exploration and Production, often referred to in court as BPX&P. He acknowledged three times since the spill when BP entities have aided his corporation with loans or equity purchases but added that he had no way of knowing whether parent corporation BP PLC or other entities would provide more help.

NTSB: Systemic flaws in safety oversight of gas pipelines

WASHINGTON (AP) — Three powerful accidents in recent years show systemic weaknesses in how natural gas providers maintain the largest pipelines in their networks, accident investigators said Tuesday as they issued more than two dozen safety recommendations.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in the decade since the government set rules for pipeline inspections in "high consequence" areas where an explosion is likely to hurt people or destroy buildings, there appears to have been a slight leveling off of such incidents, but no decline.

EIA's Sieminski addresses Recharge Conversation forum

Washington, January 28, 2015, 8:30 am

EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski speaks at the Christian Science Monitor's Recharge Conversation forum.

Interior Department photo
Oil

Interior offshore plan limits Arctic, opens Atlantic exploration

The Obama administration on Tuesday proposed a 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing blueprint that opens the door to exploration in the Atlantic Ocean, but will limit Arctic Ocean drilling to areas outside 9.8 million sensitive acres that President Barack Obama will permanently put off-limits.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told reporters the proposal may be changed before a final version of the plan is sent to Congress by mid-2017, based on public and stakeholder comment and additional study.

The plan proposes 14 sales, with 10 combined in the central and western Gulf of Mexico. 

One sale would be held for an Atlantic area off Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia, outside a 50-mile buffer zone, no sooner than 2021. No sales are proposed for the Pacific Ocean, which Jewell said reflects opposition of West Coast states to new exploration.

Three sales are proposed for Alaska, one each in the Cook Inlet, the Chukchi Sea and the Beaufort Sea, starting in 2020.

The areas in the seas permanently withdrawn from potential exploration include four along the Chukchi coastline that are already off limits under the current leasing plan and adds one, Hanna Shoal, that is a feeding ground for whales and seals.

India nuke deals still thorny for US despite 'breakthrough'

NEW DELHI (AP) — India and America's declaration of a breakthrough in contentious nuclear energy cooperation has been met with a lukewarm response from industry and analysts. Few expect the potentially lucrative Indian market to suddenly become less complicated for U.S. nuclear companies.

President Barack Obama's three-day visit to New Delhi raised hopes for concrete plans to tackle India's fossil fuel dependency and to resolve a four-year standoff over liability that prevented U.S. and Japanese nuclear energy development on Indian soil. Instead, there were vague commitments and public displays of chumminess between Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

FERC Chair LaFleur addresses National Press Club

Washington, January 27, 2015, 1:00 pm

FERC Chairman Cheryl LaFleur speaks to a National Press Club luncheon.

Oil and gas industry figures anticipate more deals in 2015

Source: 
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Companies may be cutting back their exploration and drilling this year as a result of the drop in oil and gas prices, but those who are well positioned will likely be looking to pick off rivals instead, which could lead to an upsurge in mergers and acquisitions, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

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