Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

BOEM to complete Atlantic seismic study by March

The Interior Department will complete a long-running environmental review by the end of February, which will make possible the first seismic oil and gas surveys of the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf in decades, an official said Friday.

The programmatic environmental impact statement on geological and geophysical surveys originally was to be released last week, but the federal government shutdown in October forced the latest delay, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Deputy Director Walter Cruickshank said at a House hearing.

Energy Department photo

Analysis: Crude export backers may have to wait to get Obama support

A push to lift the 1975 ban on most crude oil exports got off to fast start this week, with endorsements by a leading Republican senator, the oil lobby and the big business lobby.

Only limited opposition to a full repeal has emerged, notably from refiner Valero Energy Corp. Yet it remains an open question whether the Obama administration, which had a role in raising attention to the issue, is willing to take an active role in making exports happen.

All indications are that the answer, for now, is no.

Interior Department

Manchin keeps up pressure on mountaintop mining rule

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., Thursday reiterated his demand that an Interior Department nominee repudiate steps taken by its mining regulator to lower estimates of job losses from a planned mountaintop coal mining rule.

He and three Republican senators, all of whom sit on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, on Wednesday told nominee Janice Schneider in a letter that they would oppose her unless she assured them the rule estimates losses compared to existing rules.

Obama orders quadrennial study of energy strategy

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is setting up a panel to study the United States' energy strategy and then report to the president every four years.

In a presidential memorandum, Obama says the U.S. needs a comprehensive, coordinated strategy to improve economic productivity and quality of life, and to protect the environment and the nation's security.

Top policy and technology officials at the White House will co-chair the review, but the Energy, Interior, Agriculture and other departments will participate, along with the Treasury and the Pentagon. Business groups, local governments and academics will also participate.

The goal is to identify opportunities and challenges in advance by studying U.S. energy supply, markets and infrastructure, plus potential threats like cyber threats and climate change.

The first report is due to Obama in January 2015.

WVa governor light on energy, environment talk in major speech

The Charleston Gazette

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin mentioned coal and natural gas briefly, and said nothing about climate change or renewable energy in his State of the State speech Wednesday night, according to The Charleston Gazette.

Carolina Republican tries one more time to ditch light bulb ban

The Hill

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) has proposed legislation to repeal the ban on the sale of incandescent light bulbs, which took effect this month, even though GOP leaders haven't signaled that they're willing to consider his measure. The Hill reports


EPA to require SoCal offshore fracking reports

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Oil and gas companies that are fracking off the Southern California coast must report chemicals discharged into the ocean under a new rule released Thursday by federal environmental regulators.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published the requirement in the federal register, and will become effective March 1.

The move comes after a series of stories by The Associated Press last year revealed at least a dozen offshore frack jobs in the Santa Barbara Channel, and more than 200 in nearshore waters overseen by the state of California.

Obama, Congress locked in Iran sanctions dispute

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration enters the year locked in a battle with Congress over whether to plow ahead with new economic sanctions against Iran or cautiously wait to see if last year's breakthrough nuclear agreement holds.

The new sanctions, widely endorsed by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, would blacklist several Iranian industrial sectors and threaten banks and companies around the world with being banned from the U.S. market if they help Iran export any more oil. The provisions would only take effect if Tehran violates the interim nuclear deal or lets it expire without a follow-up accord.

The House already approved similar legislation last July by a 400-20 vote and would likely pass the new sanctions by an overwhelming margin. But the Obama administration, fearful of squandering a historic diplomatic opportunity to end the nuclear crisis, has succeeded so far in holding off a Senate vote.

Manchin, Republicans mount new offensive against coal rule

Lawmakers on both ends of Capitol Hill are moving again to raise concerns about a long-delayed Interior Department proposal to limit water pollution from mountaintop coal mining, which they contend has been mismanaged.

Four senators, including a key Democrat, are threatening that they may oppose President Barack Obama's nominee to oversee the Interior Department office that is writing a new stream protection rule to be proposed this year.

Energy Guardian Photo

Donohue adds U.S. Chamber support to crude exports

Add U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue to the list of those who think the U.S. ban on crude oil exports is outdated, but he's not expecting it to be lifted quickly.

"I want to lift the ban,"  Donohue told reporters at his annual State of American Business address on the chamber's 2014 agenda. "I want to get it done in a reasonable sequence...it's not going to happen overnight, but it's going to happen," he added.


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