Five environmental groups sued the federal government Friday, claiming the Interior Department conducted a petroleum lease sale in a part of northern Alaska known for its wildlife without proper environmental review. The Bureau of Land Management on Dec. 14 conducted the largest-ever lease offering within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, putting out for bid 900 tracts covering 16,100 square miles, roughly the size of New Hampshire and Massachusetts combined.Most tracts received no bids. However, BLM retained no authority to prohibit future activities on the leases that were sold and offered them without preparing a site-specific environmental assessment as required by federal law, the groups said.
The window opened Friday for oil, gas, uranium and coal companies to make requests or stake claims to lands that were cut from two sprawling Utah national monuments by President Trump in December — but there doesn’t appear to be a rush to seize the opportunities.For anyone interested in the uranium on the lands stripped from the Bears Ears National Monument, all they need to do is stake a few corner posts in the ground, pay a $212 initial fee and send paperwork to the federal government under a law first created in 1872 that harkens back to the days of the Wild West.They can then keep rights to the hard minerals, including gold and silver, as long as they pay an annual fee of $155.
The Interior Department has apologized after an official incorrectly blamed the Obama administration for blocking approval of two coal mines. Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt wrote a Jan. 28 opinion piece in the Grand Junction, Colo., Daily Sentinel, his hometown paper, lauding the Trump administration’s pro-coal agenda. One accomplishment Bernhardt boasted about was approving expansion applications for the West Elk and King II mines in Colorado. The Obama administration did indeed put a moratorium on new leases for coal mines on federal land in 2016, as part of an effort to review the environmental and climate impact of coal mining and whether to increase costs.One of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s first actions in office was to roll back the coal moratorium.But the West Elk and King II expansions were far enough along in the process that they were excluded from the moratorium from the beginning. They did not get approved until Trump took office — and Trump expedited the King II process — but their applications did move forward under Obama.
Coal isn’t back — though it may hold steady near today’s level — but the long-term decline of mining in Appalachia will have a ripple effect on related businesses, health, education and regional population, according to a new study. While coal has boom-and-bust cycles, its long-term trend has been downward, said Matt Murray, University of Tennessee economics professor, associate director of the Boyd Center for Business & Economic Research and director of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.“We may see some further declines, but I think the coal industry is close to bottoming out,” he said. “So the worst is behind us. I think the real impacts are in those small number of communities that still have some coal activities going on.”The five-part study, “An Economic Analysis of the Appalachian Coal Industry Ecosystem,” notes that coal production in Appalachia fell nearly 45 percent between 2005 and 2015, more than double the rate of the national decline during the same period.
Somewhere within the walls of a Tennessee lab, researchers stumbled upon an accidental finding that could potentially revolutionize the ethanol market hundreds of miles away in Iowa. Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory unintentionally uncovered a process that uses tiny bits of carbon and copper to convert the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into ethanol fuel.While the research remains in its preliminary phase, it could represent a breakthrough for renewable fuel operations in Iowa. By their nature, ethanol plants produce masses of excess carbon dioxide through the distillation process. If commercialized, the new process could allow ethanol producers to make even more ethanol fuel from the CO2 that's otherwise wasted.
Ethanol companies are enraged by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's comments Thursday that the program ensuring compliance with the federal biofuels requirement needs reform. "Administrator Pruitt's recent comments completely contradict his own rule and repeated promises to support the letter and spirit of the RFS," he said. "It is an about-face to now try and gut the most successful energy program in American history."
The US wind industry installed an impressive 7 gigawatts of new power capacity in 2017 and drove $11 billion worth of new private investment, according to a new report published by the American Wind Energy Association. Even more impressive was the 29 new wind farms totalling 4,125 MW (megawatts) that came online across 16 states in the fourth quarter alone.The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) published its U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2017 Market Report on Tuesday, highlighting the 7,017 MW of new wind brought online during 2017, bringing the country’s cumulative total wind energy capacity up to 89,077 MW spread out across 41 states, and representing enough electricity to power 26 million homes. On top of new installed wind capacity, the report highlighted an additional 2,136 MW w
In mid-December, the California Public Utilities Commission established a new program that aims to reduce methane emissions from manure generated at dairies. The CPUC said the pilot program will incentivize at least five projects where dairy digesters produce renewable natural gas (RNG) from manure. The program was adopted pursuant to SB 1383, which established a goal to reduce California’s methane emissions 40 percent by 2030. As part of this goal, the bill authorizes funding of the dairy biomethane pilot projects to demonstrate interconnection to the gas pipeline system. The pipeline infrastructure is needed to inject RNG into the utilities’ natural gas distribution system.
Alaska's all-Republican congressional delegation three weeks ago praised Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke after he announced nearly all federal waters off the state's coast could be offered for oil and gas drilling. But after hearing from critics who do not want drilling in their home waters, U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young are backtracking.In a letter Friday to Zinke, the delegation requested that most Alaska waters from the state's Panhandle to the Bering Strait be removed from the proposed five-year drilling plan.
A tanker of liquefied natural gas from a Russian company on the Treasury Department’s sanctions list is scheduled to unload the fuel this weekend, making it the first shipment of gas from the country to ever reach the United States. It’s arriving just after the U.S. announced increased economic penalties Friday against Moscow-linked people and businesses because of Vladimir Putin’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine. The fuel shipment originated at a new $27 billion terminal on Russia’s Yamal Peninsula in the Arctic Circle operated by Yamal LNG, a joint venture among Russian gas company Novatek, France's Total and China's CNPC. Russian oil and gas shipments are not subject to U.S. sanctions put in place after Moscow's annexation of Crimea, but Yamal LNG and its majority owner Novatek have been on the sanctions list since 2014.