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Calgary Herald by Rebecca Penty.  TransCanada Corp., (TSX:TRP) the company proposing the $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline, said fourth-quarter profit rose as it began oil shipments on the southern leg of the project.

Today's relevant Consumer Energy Alliance News Links

Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC), BP, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and TransCanada have submitted a series of draft environmental and socioeconomic reports to the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the Alaska LNG project.​

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, ANWR, Photo by Dave Harbour

A few minutes ago, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, (NGP Photo), released comments describing her introduction this week of legislation that would allow limited oil and natural gas activity within the non-wilderness coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

“For more than 30 years, Alaskans have shown that we can responsibly develop our natural resources without harming the environment,” Murkowski said. “Alaskans overwhelmingly support responsible development in the non-wilderness portion of ANWR – and there is simply no valid reason why we should not be allowed to access the world-class resources within just a tiny fraction of this immense area.”

Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced the Authorizing Alaska Production Act (S. 494) on Feb. 12. The bill, cosponsored by Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, would allow development of no more than 2,000 acres of the 1.5 million acres of the Arctic coastal plain – part of the non-wilderness portion of ANWR’s 19 million acres. That is equivalent to just 0.01 percent of the entire refuge.  

“The legislation will help ensure America’s energy security for decades and allow Alaska – and our nation as a whole – to realize the benefits that come from expanding American energy production in Alaska,” Murkowski said.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the area is North America’s greatest prospect for conventional onshore oil production, with a mean likelihood of containing 10.4 billion barrels of oil and 8.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, as well as a reasonable chance of economically producing 16 billion barrels of oil.

With a resource potential comparable to Prudhoe Bay – the largest conventional oilfield in North America and one of the 20 largest fields in the world – the coastal plain represents an opportunity to create jobs, generate government revenues, keep energy prices affordable, and improve domestic energy security long into the future.

“Production and development of those resources will also prolong the life of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, provide revenues to federal, state and local governments, support job creation, and strengthen America’s energy security,” Murkowski said.

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), an engineering marvel that has served as one of America’s great energy arteries for decades, is facing more and more challenges from declining throughput. Closure of the pipeline would shut down all northern Alaska oil production, devastating Alaska’s economy and deepening U.S. dependence on unstable petrostates throughout the world.

“Since the ANWR coastal plain is less than 60 miles from the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, development there is the quickest, most environmentally sound way to increase oil production in Alaska and ensure the pipeline will operate well into the future,” Murkowski said.

Future exploration and development in the Arctic offshore and National Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPR-A) also depends on the long-term viability of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

For decades, Alaskans, whom polls show overwhelmingly support development of the coastal plain, have been asking permission to explore and develop the area.

The bill includes strong environmental protections for fish and wildlife habitat and subsistence resources. The bill also ensures strict consultation with the residents of the coastal plain, the community of Kaktovik, as well as the regional government, the North Slope Borough.

“As we continue to struggle with long-term unemployment and an unsustainable national debt, we need to pursue development opportunities more than ever,” Murkowski said. “The shale oil and gas boom on state and private lands in the Lower 48 has been the shining light as our economy struggles to recover from the recession. Allowing limited development on the coastal plain offers us a chance to continue to grow our economy and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

Today's Consumer Energy Alliance News Links:

Bloomberg: EPA's Power Plant Rule Defies Will of Congress, Senate Republicans Say
An Environmental Protection Agency proposal to curb carbon dioxide pollution from power plants would impose significant costs on utilities and ratepayers without providing tangible benefits for the climate, Senate Republicans said.
International Business Times: US Coal Industry Gears Up For Another Tumultuous Year As Cheap Natural Gas, Tougher Regulations Shrink Demand
One of the nation’s top coal producers Thursday unveiled its strategy for surviving another tumultuous year in the industry: Scale back. Alpha Natural Resources Inc. says it will slash costs and reduce operations as demand for U.S. coal continues to shrivel due to lower gas prices and tougher power plant rules.
Reuters: U.S. "clean coal" project demise shows EPA plan's weakness: lawyers
The U.S. government's move to suspend a trouble-plagued $1.65 billion carbon capture and storage (CCS) project this month may have bolstered legal challenges to proposed environmental regulations on power plant carbon emissions, several legal experts said.
CNBC: The looming threat to American oil output
In recent weeks, the market has shifted its attention from cratering crude prices to the falling number of rigs operating in American oilfields. But in the coming months, the very life cycle of many of those wells may have many market watchers concerned about output and price stability, experts told CNBC.
Bloomberg: Big Oil Must Ditch Low Profile in Climate Clash: Shell CEO
Royal Dutch Shell Plc will call on the oil industry to speak up about global warming as executives at the world’s second-biggest energy producer fear losing ground to environmental voices.
Forbes: Don't Bet That New Sofa On Higher Oil Prices
Much of that supply growth, of course, is coming from the U.S., where hydraulic fracturing has led to the highest domestic oil output in 80 years. That surge in production has upended the traditional roles in the oil markets and contributed to a glut of supply.
Forbes: OPEC Calls The Tune And U.S. Shale Producers Follow — By Cutting Production
What happens when Saudi Arabia, the world’s swing producer of oil, rejects its traditional market-balancing role? The job falls to American shale oil producers, which, initial data show, appear to be assuming some of the usual Saudi role of cutting production.
Huffington Post: Keystone XL, Cold War 2.0, and the GOP Vision for 2016
It’s a ritual long familiar to observers of American politics: presidential hopefuls with limited international experience travel to foreign lands and deliver speeches designed to showcase their grasp of foreign affairs. Typically, such escapades involve trips to major European capitals or active war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, however, has broken this mold. Before his recent jaunt to London and into the thickets of American vaccination politics, he chose two surprising destinations for his first trips abroad as a potential Republican candidate.  No, not Kabul or Baghdad or even Paris, but Mexico City and Alberta, Canada.  And rather than launch into discussions of immigration, terrorism, or the other usual Republican foreign policy topics, he focused on his own top priority: integrating Canada and Mexico into a U.S.-led “North American energy renaissance.”
U.S. News & World Report: Company suspending efforts to acquire Nebraska land for Keystone Pipeline amid legal challenge
TransCanada Corp. will temporarily suspend efforts to seize Nebraska land for its much-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline after landowners sued, in what is one obstacle the Canadian company still faces in the 1,179-mile project.
Nebraska Radio Network: Nebraska Senators say Keystone XL debate won’t end with veto
Both of Nebraska’s United States Senators expect President Barack Obama to veto a bill authorizing construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The Wall Street Journal: TransCanada Plans to Seek U.S. Approval for New Pipeline Project
The company behind the Keystone XL pipeline plans to ask the U.S. government to permit a new and different pipeline project.
Bloomberg: U.S. Rigs Are Being Idled, but the Boom Is Not Ending
The spending cuts led to speculation that U.S. gains would slow, eroding a global supply glut that sent prices tumbling last year. Oil has jumped 17 percent since closing at a six-year low of $44.45 a barrel on Jan. 28. Improving technology and a focus on the most promising acreage has made the rig count, a closely watched barometer of drilling activity, a less reliable indicator of future output.
The Hill: Proposed next steps for the House Republican energy framework
Although it is true that our energy landscape has changed, particularly due to presence of shale gas and an electricity mix increasingly reliant on natural gas and renewables, I'm not sure that we can also say that our national energy policy has not kept pace. That is, if you think of national policy being more than federal policy.
Colorado Gazette: Fractivists can't control property for free
Extreme anti-energy activists must be shown that property is not free. If it is free, none should feel secure in a business or home. None should count on keeping a car, if it is subject to uncompensated government reallocation. Food & Water Watch, an anti-energy group based in Washington, D.C., took to the steps of Denver City Hall on Tuesday to advocate a full fracking moratorium in Denver.
Associated Press: Colorado Senate Weighs Payments To Mineral Owners
Mineral owners would get compensation from local governments that restrict fracking under a Republican bill advanced by the Colorado Senate Thursday. The question pits homeowners concerned over industrial activity in residential areas and mineral owners who want to develop their property. Sometimes the matter is further complicated in Colorado by the fact that minerals belonging to one person are underneath a house owned by someone else.
Durango Herald: Mineral owners ask for protection
Republicans on a Senate committee Thursday advanced a measure that seeks to compensate mineral owners if a local government bans hydraulic fracturing. But the bill faces an uphill battle if it makes its way to the Democratic-controlled House, where a similar measure was delayed Wednesday after facing criticism from Democrats.
WNEP: Gov. Wolf Makes Case for Severance Tax
The governor`s plan to earmark that severance tax money for education has the support of teachers in Pottsville, where in recent years the district has struggled to avoid cuts and layoffs. But Republican lawmakers aren`t sold on the tax. Representative Mike Tobash questions the taxing of drillers at a time when natural gas prices, profits, and demand are all falling. Tobash says much of the money raised for education will actually be used to shore up teacher pension funds.
Bradford Era: Area lawmakers skeptical of severance tax proposal
Regional lawmakers are responding with skepticism to a new severance tax proposal they say could drive the natural gas industry out of north central Pennsylvania and with it, associated economic gains. “Governor Wolf’s severance tax plan includes a very high rate that I believe would have a negative impact on local jobs and the economy of rural northern Pennsylvania — especially when we consider that Pennsylvania already has some of the country’s highest taxes on businesses,” said Rep. Matt Gabler, R-DuBois.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Shale application tabled by zoning board
The zoning board in Penn Township, Westmoreland County, on Thursday tabled an application from a Marcellus Shale gas drilling company planning to begin operations at the eastern end of the township. The decision concluded what was the first public hearing on plans for hydraulic fracturing since township commissioners began a process to revise local zoning laws late last year.
Express-Times: Pa. tax is bad for education, bad for the state
The Express-Times poll that accompanies the Feb. 12 editorial, "Wolf plan for extraction tax on Pennsylvania shale gas is a good start" provides only two possible responses, overlooking a point of view held by the growing number of Pennsylvanians who understand that a severance tax on fracking is bad for education and bad for the state.
Plain Dealer: Proposed tax increase on the oil, gas industry likely to be crippling
When OPEC refused to cut production last November, it was widely considered a move to cripple U.S. shale energy production. When Gov. John Kasich proposed a huge tax increase on the oil and gas industry last week, he should have understood that the effect on Ohio — intentions aside — is likely to be the same.
UPI: Oklahoma shale booming
An emerging shale play in Oklahoma is likely on par with rival basins in Texas and North Dakota, even with low oil prices, analysis finds.
KSAT: Texas comptroller visits SA, discusses state budget
Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hager visited San Antonio Thursday, speaking to the Chamber of Commerce. With a newly Biennial Revenue Estimate for Texas in the books, Hegar sat down to talk KSAT 12 about the state budget and what issues may lay ahead, including an unstable oil industry and layoffs in the Eagle Ford Shale.
Star-Telegram: Burton backs bill that would block bans on HF
State Sen. Konni Burton is pushing a bill that would block communities from following Denton by banning hydraulic fracturing, saying such prohibitions infringe on individual property rights. The Colleyville Republican filed a bill in Austin last week to amend the local government code that simply says that a county or municipality may not prohibit the drilling method for oil and gas wells.
Alaska Dispatch News: Shell's plan for summer Arctic offshore drilling clears major hurdle
The Obama administration on Thursday took a major step toward validating the government's 2008 sale of Arctic drilling rights to Shell and other companies.
Bloomberg: Revised Oil-Train Safety Rule Said to Delay Upgrade Deadline
The Obama administration revised its proposal to prevent oil trains from catching fire in derailments, giving companies more time to upgrade their fleets but sticking with a requirement that new tank cars have thicker walls and better brakes.