Associated Press

EPA delays 2014 biofuels mandate to next year

Refiners and biofuels groups will have to wait until next year to find out the final 2014 mandate for ethanol use in transportation fuel stocks, following the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to delay action on the Renewable Fuel Standard.

In a Federal Register notice, EPA said Friday it would seek to complete 2014 rulemaking next year, and added separately that it would pursue a three-year rule that would run through 2016.

The delay was welcomed by biofuels groups opposed to the agency's plan to cut required ethanol use this year, but heavily criticized by refiners who have been fighting the RFS.

All said the additional delay, coming more than year after EPA was to have completed its 2014 rule, added new uncertainty to the implementation of the mandate. EPA will also miss the Dec. 1 deadline to complete action on a 2015 proposal, and said it would extend the compliance deadline for 2013 into the new year. 

Oil

Worker in deadly Gulf blast was cleaning equipment

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A worker killed in an offshore explosion was cleaning a piece of equipment during routine maintenance at its oil-and-gas platform in the Gulf of Mexico, the company that runs the platform said Friday.

Houston-based Fieldwood Energy LLC said another worker suffered "visible injury" and two others reported ringing in their ears after the explosion, which was reported just before 3 p.m. Thursday. The company said the three injured workers have been released from the hospital.

Report: Grouse needs 3-mile buffer from drilling

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A government report with significant implications for the U.S. energy industry says the breeding grounds of a struggling bird species need a 3-mile or larger buffer from oil and gas drilling, wind farms and solar projects.

The study comes as the Obama administration weighs new protections for the greater sage grouse. The ground-dwelling bird ranges across 11 western states.

Jury orders Irish man to pay $2M over ethanol deal

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Jurors are ordering a wealthy Irish investor to pay $2 million in damages to an Iowa doctor in a dispute over an ethanol development in eastern Europe.

A federal jury in Sioux City found that Branimir Catipovic proved his civil claim of unjust enrichment against Irish financier Mark Turley. The jury rejected a breach of contract claim.

Oil

Ford's new F-150 to get 26 mpg, tops among pickups

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — Ford said Friday that its new aluminum-bodied F-150 pickup will get up to 26 mpg on the highway, making it the most fuel efficient gas-powered full-size pickup.

The Ram truck is the current leader among pickups, getting up to 25 mpg on the highway with a gas engine. The Ram gets up to 28 mpg with a diesel engine; Ford doesn't make a diesel version of the F-150.

Toyota recalls nearly 423K Lexuses for fuel leaks

DETROIT (AP) — Toyota is recalling nearly 423,000 Lexus luxury brand cars in the U.S. to fix fuel leaks that can cause fires.

The recalls affect the 2006 to 2011 GS, 2007 to 2010 LS and the 2006 to 2011 IS models.

Des Moines struggling with nitrates in water

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Two rivers that supply water to 500,000 people in the Des Moines area show nitrate levels spiking to levels that make it unsafe for some to drink, a concentration experts haven't before seen in the fall that likely stems from especially wet weather in recent months.

The utility that supplies Des Moines and most of its suburbs had workers blending river water with other sources to lower the nitrate levels, but the situation may be nearing the point at which the city starts a process that costs about $7,000 a day to remove them. If that happens, the utility has threatened to sue the state.

Dow Chemical agrees to add board members

NEW YORK (AP) — Dow Chemical Co. has agreed to add four new members to its board of directors after pressure from hedge fund activist Daniel Loeb's Third Point.

Shares of the specialty chemicals maker rose almost 3 percent in morning trading Friday.

Giraffes on a plane? Most Wanted list released

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Have you seen a man who loaded live giraffes into a Tanzanian military plane for delivery to Qatar? If so Interpol would like to speak with you.

The international police agency Interpol recently began a Most Wanted campaign of suspects who have carried out such environmental crimes as wildlife trafficking, illegal fishing, illegal logging and trading in ivory.

EPA delays 2014 RFS rule

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday that it will not finalize its 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard proposal this year and will set final targets next year, potentially with 2015 requirements. 

The agency is more than a year late in finalizing the annual mandate for biofuels use in transportation fuels. Late last year it proposed to cut required use compared to 2013, which prompted intense lobbying from the biofuels industry in an effort to raise the totals in a final rule.

"Due to this delay, and given ongoing consideration of the issues presented by the commenters, EPA is not in a position to finalize the 2014 RFS standards rule before the end of the year," the agency said in a Federal Register notice.

Oil

Gulf platform explosion kills one, injures three

An explosion at a Gulf of Mexico offshore platform on Thursday has killed one and injured three others, the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said. 

The Echo Platform, owned by Houston-based Fieldwood Energy, was not in production at the time of the explosion and there was no pollution released, BSEE spokeswoman Chauntra Rideaux said in a statement issued late Thursday.

The explosion was reported to the bureau just before 3 p.m. The injured people were being treated at an onshore medical facility, Rideaux said.

The platform is located about 12 miles from New Orleans and damage was limited to the explosion area, she said. The bureau was coordinating with the Coast Guard on an investigation.

Fieldwood Energy did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company said in a statement published by The Times Picayune in New Orleans that the explosion "was an isolated incident that has been fully contained," and that the facility was not damaged. 

Oil

Tribal head to speed North Dakota pipeline talks

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The new leader of North Dakota's oil-rich Three Affiliated Tribes is pledging to speed negotiations on a proposed pipeline through tribal land that would curb the wasteful burning of natural gas in the state by more than 10 percent.

North Dakota's booming oil production has led to an unmanageable increase in the state's output of natural gas, which is a byproduct of oil production. Oneok Inc., the biggest operator of natural gas pipelines and processing plants in North Dakota, wants to build a 20-mile-long pipeline to capture natural gas from oil wells in Dunn County and move it to an existing pipeline network nearby. But the Three Affiliated Tribes has demanded environmental assurances and cash for permission for it to pass through land it recently acquired.

Oil

Russian FM rejects intervention in oil production

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's foreign minister says there should be no intervention in global energy production, even as the country's economy takes a hit from rapidly falling oil prices.

After a meeting with his Saudi counterpart in Moscow, Sergei Lavrov said both Russia and Saudi Arabia did not want oil production targets to be affected by "political or geopolitical designs."

Nicaragua: Studies say canal impact to be minimal

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Officials said Thursday that studies have determined a $40 billion inter-oceanic canal across Nicaragua will have minimal impact on the environment and society, and construction is to begin next month.

Work will start Dec. 22 as planned with a port on the country's southern Pacific coast, said Zhu Xiaoya, an official with China's HKND Group, which was picked to build the canal.

AT&T pays $23.8 M to settle hazardous-waste case

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — AT&T agreed Thursday to pay California authorities nearly $24 million to settle allegations that it improperly disposed of hazardous waste during a nine-year period.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris said Thursday that the telecommunications giant has also agreed to spend $28 million over the next five years to properly dispose of the waste, which includes batteries, electronic equipment and various gels and liquids. The investigation began in 2011 when inspectors with the Alameda County District Attorney's office and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control examined trash bins outside about 235 AT&T warehouse and other facilities, Harris said.

Groups sue feds over Pacific bigeye fishing rule

HONOLULU (AP) — Environmental groups on Thursday sued the National Marine Fisheries Service to challenge a new rule for fishing bigeye tuna, a popular species for sushi and fish steaks.

The regulation undermines international efforts to end overfishing of bigeye, said the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court by the environmental law firm Earthjustice on behalf of the Conservation Council for Hawaii and two other groups.

Welcome to EnergyGuardian!

We cover energy and climate news for policymakers, regulators, the energy industry, advocates, scientists and investors. We are non-partisan. Our only agenda is to cover energy and climate news accurately and fairly, giving you the information you need to know what's going on and to understand the context for new developments..

Energy development and regulation are at the forefront of national and state government and politics. Climate change is a big topic, and what role it should play in government policy is a huge issue in Washington and statehouses across the country. The news is full of stories about energy independence, the impact of energy development on the economy and the environment, and the impact of energy prices on consumers, business and the economy.

That's what we cover, with email newsletters every working day, plus this website. If you'd like to read more about EnergyGuardian, click here.

Interested in a quick digest of top energy and climate headlines? EnergyGuardian Morning Briefing is for you. It's free and is delivered to your email inbox every working morning. To subscribe, email us -- and be sure to give us your name, phone number and email address!

If you are interested in a more complete report on energy and climate news, email us -- and be sure to give us your name, phone number and email address!