Pipeline backers: Report on rail risks boosts Keystone XL

WASHINGTON (AP) — A government warning about the dangers of increased use of trains to transport crude oil is giving a boost to supporters of the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline.

U.S. and Canadian accident investigators urged their governments Thursday to impose new safety rules on so-called oil trains, warning that a "major loss of life" could result from an accident involving the increasing use of trains to transport large amounts of crude oil.

Pipeline supporters said the unusual joint warning by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada highlights the need for Keystone XL, which would carry oil derived from tar sands in western Canada to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Oil started flowing Wednesday through a southern leg of the pipeline from Oklahoma to the Houston region.

Headwaters Inc.

Newsmaker: Benson says EPA won't impose toughest regs on coal ash

The head of the nation's largest recycler of coal fly ash says the Obama administration has informed him that it will complete new regulations that will continue to treat the power plant waste as a non-hazardous substance.

Such a decision, expected to be unveiled in court as early as next week, would mark a victory for recyclers and utilities and a setback for environmentalists who have pressed to regulate coal ash more stringently as a hazardous waste.

Kirk A. Benson, chief executive of Utah-based Headwaters, Inc., told EnergyGuardian that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department plan to comply next week with a federal judge's order to set a date to finalize new ash disposal regulations under Section D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which covers non-hazardous wastes.

White House photo

Obama: U.S. must cut carbon to convince China, India

President Barack Obama is defending his administration's reliance on nascent carbon capture technology as a key part of his climate change climate agenda, even as he says the U.S. may never build another new coal-fired power plant.

In some of the most expansive comments on his second-term climate plan, published Thursday by The New Yorker, Obama also challenges environmentalists over his support for natural gas and asserts that carbon capture is needed to address coal use in China and India.

Browner, Karpinski brief media on 2014 climate action

Washington, January 24, 2014, 11:00 am

Center for American Progress fellow Carol Browner and League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski hold news teleconference to preview climate change action expected in 2014. 

New England governors take steps toward better energy infrastructure

Sun Journal

Governors are asking New England's grid operator for energy infrastructure improvements -- in electricity transmission and natural gas pipeline capacity -- and have agreed they're willing to pay for it, the Sun Journal reports.

Bipartisan Senate group writes to McCarthy about RFS

National Journal

A group of 31 senators, including Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois and Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa, wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy urging her to restore proposed cuts to the Renewable Fuel Standard, National Journal reports.


NTSB: Oil train crash risks 'major loss of life'

WASHINGTON (AP) — Warning that a "major loss of life" could result from an accident involving the increasing use of trains to transport large amounts of crude oil, U.S. and Canadian accident investigators urged their governments Thursday to impose new safety rules.

The unusual joint recommendations by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada include better route planning for trains carrying hazardous materials to avoid populated and other sensitive areas.

They also recommended stronger efforts to ensure hazardous cargo is properly classified before shipment, and greater government oversight to ensure rail carriers that transport oil are capable of responding to "worst-case discharges of the entire quantity of product carried on a train."

Jewell turns to private sector to fund parks youth corps

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell made a pitch Wednesday for a privately funded youth conservation corps and sought donations for the effort from executives at an outdoor-gear trade show.

Jewell said budget paralysis in Washington has forced her to seek help from the private sector. As she walked the showroom floor of the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, she asked major players for money to put 100,000 youths to work on public lands.

"We're not waiting for Congress to act," said Jewell, a businesswoman who headed retailer Recreational Equipment Inc., or REI, for more than a decade before joining President Barack Obama's cabinet last year. "We want to get started this spring."


Enviros want pause on Arctic drilling push after court ruling

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A federal appeals court Wednesday ruled in favor of environmental groups that claimed the U.S. government conducted a flawed environmental review before selling $2.7 billion in petroleum leases off Alaska's northwest coast in 2008.

The lawsuit had been filed by 15 environmental or Alaska Native groups, who called for an immediate suspension of drilling until a more adequate assessment is completed on drilling's possible effects on polar bears, walrus, ice seals, endangered whales and coastlines used by Alaska Native subsistence hunters.

"President Obama now has the chance to do right by the Arctic and the planet by keeping oil drilling out of the Chukchi Sea," said Earthjustice attorney Eric Grafe, who represented the groups, in a prepared statement. "It makes no sense to open up the fragile, irreplaceable, and already melting Arctic Ocean to risky drilling for dirty oil that will only exacerbate climate change already wreaking havoc on the Arctic and elsewhere."

White House photo

Analysis: Elections shadow Obama's 'Year of Action'

President Barack Obama's energy team has been making the rounds in the runup to the State of the Union address next week -- and making sure to accentuate the positive.

Tough challenges lie ahead, however, during Obama's self-described "year of action," ones that will test whether his balanced approach to energy, as new presidential adviser John Podesta calls it, helps or hurts Democrats at the ballot box this fall.


Subscribe to Policy