Interior Department photo
Policy   Oil

Interior takes first step to reforming oil, gas royalty policies

The Interior Department on Friday took a first step toward reforming its royalty policies for onshore oil and gas development on public lands, a move that public land advocates said would help ensure a “fair share” is paid to taxpayers - and opponents decried as a federal effort to “take as much as you can” from energy companies.

In issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Bureau of Land Management solicited comment on proposals that include giving the agency flexibility to adjust onshore royalty rates and fees to address market changes.

Smoke rises from railway cars that were carrying crude oil after derailing in downtown Lac Megantic, Quebec in 2013.

Transportation officials order oil trains to slow in urban areas

WASHINGTON (AP) — An emergency order requiring trains hauling crude oil and other flammable liquids to slow down as they pass through urban areas and a series of other steps to improve the safety were announced Friday by the Department of Transportation.

The Obama administration has been under intense pressure from members of Congress as well as state and local officials to ensure the safety of oil trains that traverse the country after leaving the Bakken region of North Dakota. To get to refineries on the East and West coasts and the Gulf of Mexico, oil shipments travel through more than 400 counties, including major metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia, Seattle, Chicago, Newark and dozens of other cities.


Oil down for the day - but up for the week

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil fell nearly 3 percent Friday as fear that Greece could default and abandon the euro rattled global financial markets.

Oil fell on a slowdown in the reduction of working drilling rigs, but finished the week sharply higher. A closely watched industry count of drilling rigs showed a decline of 26 U.S. rigs for the week, compared with a decline of 42 last week.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 97 cents to close at $55.74 a barrel in New York. U.S. crude finished up 8 percent for the week, however. Brent crude fell 53 cents to close at $63.45 a barrel in London.

The globe's record heat keeps on broiling into this year

WASHINGTON (AP) — There's been no break from the globe's record heat — the first three months of 2015 have set new high temperature marks.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said last month's average temperature of 56.4 degrees (13.6 degrees Celsius) was the hottest March on record, averaging 1.5 degrees above the average for the 20th century. It broke a record set in 2010.

For the first three months of 2015, the globe was 55.6 degrees (13.1 degrees Celsius), breaking the record set in 2002. Records go back to 1880.


Gulf health 5 years after BP spill: Resilient yet scarred

From above, five years after the BP well explosion, the Gulf of Mexico looks clean, green and whole again, teeming with life — a testament to the resilience of nature.

But there's more than surface shimmering blue and emerald to the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon spill. And it's not as pretty a picture — nor is it as clear.

Obama defends pursuit of sweeping trade pact despite enviros' concerns

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Friday defended his pursuit of a sweeping trade pact as good for American workers in a global economy, dismissing fierce opposition from his own party as a "ratification of the status quo."

His comments at a news conference came as many Democrats criticized the deal, announced Thursday, on the broadest bipartisan trade bill in years.

Fish found in suspected tsunami debris boat quarantined

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The wreckage of a fishing boat that appears to be debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami was carrying some unexpected passengers — fish from Japanese waters — when it was spotted off the Oregon coast.

Scientists say 21 yellowtail jacks and one Asian striped knifejaw hitched a cross-Pacific ride in the bow of the boat found last week.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee photo.

Industry, Republicans press for oil and gas exports after bullish EIA report

After an Energy Information Administration report projected that the U.S. could eliminate net energy imports by 2030, the natural gas industry and Republican lawmakers are making more forceful calls for sending U.S. crude oil and gas abroad.

At a Thursday hearing on EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said the report suggests that with the right policies, the net import gap could evaporate much sooner.

G-20 confronts global economic weakness, plunging oil prices

WASHINGTON (AP) — Finance officials from the world's major economies are searching for the right mix of policies to bolster a still-weak global recovery nearly six years after the Great Recession while confronting a range of new threats from a soaring U.S. dollar to a big drop in oil prices.

The financial officials from the Group of 20 nations were also expressing concerns about potential market instability once the Federal Reserve starts increasing a key interest rate which has been at a record low near zero since late 2008.

Trade-off: Deal splits Democrats between business, labor

WASHINGTON (AP) — The hardest sell for President Barack Obama will be persuading members of his own party to back a bipartisan agreement on global U.S. trade policy.

Longtime divisions in the Democratic ranks broke open Thursday when top congressional lawmakers finally reached a long-sought deal that would pave the way for the broadest trade policy pact in years. Under the agreement, Obama would be allowed to negotiate trade accords for Congress' review and move forward with talks on a sweeping partnership with 11 Pacific nations.

GE reports 1Q loss

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (AP) — General Electric Co. (GE) on Friday reported a first-quarter loss of $13.57 billion, after reporting a profit in the same period a year earlier.

On a per-share basis, the Fairfield, Connecticut-based company said it had a loss of $1.35. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs and to account for discontinued operations, came to 31 cents per share.

UN chief calls for immediate cease-fire in Yemen

WASHINGTON (AP) — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Thursday for an immediate cease-fire in Yemen to spur peace talks and get lifesaving aid into the impoverished Middle East nation.

The U.N. chief addressed "the many fateful challenges" the world confronts, from 50 million refugees and displaced people — the largest number since World War II — to the urgent problem of climate change in a speech at the National Press Club.

India's rising tiger numbers may be victory only on paper

SUNDARBAN TIGER RESERVE, India (AP) — At first, the numbers seem impressive: India's tiger population has gone up 30 percent in just four years. The government lauded the news as astonishing evidence of victory in conservation.

But independent scientists say such an increase — to 2,226 big cats — in so short a time doesn't make sense.

EPA allies optimistic after appeals hearing on carbon rule challenge

Backers of the Clean Power Plan voiced confidence that a federal appeals panel would dismiss “a preemptive strike against an ongoing rulemaking,” after two judges voiced concern over challenging the existing power plant rule before it's been finalized.

But opponents of the rule, which include 15 states and Murray Energy Corp., who brought two separate lawsuits, stood by their oral arguments, pledging to keep up their fight against the Environmental Protection Agency plan to cut existing power plant carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030—compared to 2005 levels.

EPA: GHG emissions up in 2013, but 9 percent below 2005

A new Environmental Protection Agency report on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions found that 2013 saw a 2 percent increase over 2012 levels, driven by increased energy consumption and more coal-fired generation.

The agency's Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, released Wednesday, noted that 2013 emissions levels were still 9 percent lower than 2005 levels of 7,350 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.


Secrecy shrouds decade-old oil spill in Gulf of Mexico

OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO (AP) — A blanket of fog lifts, exposing a band of rainbow sheen that stretches off the coast of Louisiana. From an airplane, it's easy to see gas bubbles that mark the spot where an oil platform toppled during a 2004 hurricane, triggering what might be the longest-running commercial oil spill ever to pollute the Gulf of Mexico.

Yet more than a decade after crude started leaking at the site formerly operated by Taylor Energy Company, few people know of its existence. The company has downplayed the leak's extent and environmental impact.

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