Illinois lawmakers approve fracking rules

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois lawmakers signed off Thursday on long-awaited rules regulating high-volume oil and gas drilling, clearing the way for companies to get "fracking" permits and unleash what they hope will be an energy boom in the southern part of the state.

But a number of key details were not disclosed including how the state plans to fund the hiring of new workers to oversee the practice, which uses high-pressure mixtures to crack open rocks and release trapped oil and gas.

Levin to lead final probe on banks' physical commodity ownership


Outgoing Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., will lead a two day hearing of the Permanent Subcommittee of Investigations to examine Wall Street banks' ownership of physical commodities in what is seen as his final target before retiring, Reuters reports.

Associated Press

Analysis: Keystone XL gets new life with GOP victory

Up until this week, President Barack Obama could largely ignore the Republican campaign to force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. No longer.

With the Senate falling under GOP control, pro-Keystone bills from the House that died in the Democratic Senate now stand to get a vote in the chamber and could wind up landing on the president's desk. That means Obama has to navigate even more carefully between proponents of the $8 billion project and the environmental lobby that opposes it.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Spotlight turns to Murkowski to push GOP energy agenda

The plan by Senate Republicans to pass a Keystone XL pipeline approval bill will put Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska onto the national stage, a role that she has been preparing to take on for more than a year.

Murkowski is in line to become the next chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee under the new GOP majority. The post will take on additional importance with incoming Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell's vow to pass bills to advance the U.S. fossil energy boom and pressure the Obama administration over its environmental regulations.

Associated Press

Obama, McConnell gird for fight over energy and climate

Approval of the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline and spending language to shut down carbon regulations will be among bills the new Republican majority will send to President Barack Obama next year, Sen. Mitch McConnell said Wednesday, in a move to fulfill two top campaign promises.

Obama sidestepped the threat of the Keystone bill getting to his desk, however. Asked at a news conference if he would veto an approval bill, Obama said only that he won't intervene in the ongoing State Department review of TransCanada's permit application.


Obama to let Keystone XL review continue

President Barack Obama said Wednesday he won't shortcut the ongoing State Department review of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline project, minutes after incoming Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said it would be among energy bills he would attempt to pass.

"There's an independent process, it's moving forward, and I'm going to let that process play out," Obama said at his post-election press conference. "I'm just going to gather up the facts."

Obama said he will still evaluate the project on a number of factors, including its impact on global warming and the outcome of a court case in Nebraska. He did not say, however, whether he would veto an approval bill sent to him by congressional Republicans. 

McConnell, R-Ky., earlier Wednesday included the estimated $8 billion project in energy bills he said the new Senate Republican majority will send to Obama in the next Congress. 

Associated Press

Record $100M fine for Hyundai, Kia to settle EPA mileage case

The Obama administration and automakers Hyundai and Kia announced on Monday they've agreed to a record-setting $100 million fine that will end a federal investigation into allegations of inflated mileage claims, the largest ever under the Clean Air Act.

The settlement stems from findings two years ago by EPA that Hyundai and Kia, with three other companies in the Hyundai Motor Co. of South Korea, reported inaccurate mileage testing results for 1.2 million 2012 and 2013 model year cars and sport utility vehicles.

Hand brakes, crude properties targeted in fresh Canadian railway regulations

The Wall Street Journal

Transport Minister Lisa Raitt says Canada will conduct more tests on the volatility of Bakken Shale crude oil and require a minimum number of hand brakes on trains, as part of its latest moves to increase rail safety in the wake of disasters like the deadly derailment in Lac-Megantic, The Wall Street Journal reports.

House Science Democrats

States concerns push EPA to put carbon rule options on table

The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday called for comment on possible revisions to its proposed rule on existing power plant carbon emissions that would give states additional flexibility to meet their 2030 targets.

An EPA official called the request a "routine" rulemaking step and stressed that consideration of the options, first raised by state officials and laid out in a formal agency notice of data availability, should not be seen as weakening of the rule.

EPA sends coal ash rule to OMB

The Hill

The Obama administration should be able to make the court-ordered deadline of Dec. 19 to publish its coal ash rule, since the Environmental Protection Agency has now sent the proposed regulation to the White House Office of Management and Budget for final review, The Hill reports.


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