A federal judge on Tuesday tentatively rejected a plan by the federal Bureau of Land Management to open more than 1,500 square miles of lands in central California to oil drilling and fracking. The BLM failed to take a "hard look" at the environmental effects of the estimated 25 percent of new wells that would be devoted to fracking, U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald wrote in the ruling. The process, formally known as hydraulic fracturing, uses high-pressure mixtures of water, sand and chemicals to extract oil and gas from rock. Fitzgerald ruled that the BLM must provide more study on the effects fracking will have in the area. He gave the agency's attorneys until Sept. 21 to argue why he should not issue an injunction stopping the plan.
Ohio University has received a $2 million grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Partnerships for Opportunities and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) program to create a 28-county regional innovation network in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. The goal of the program is to create 125 new businesses and 1,110 jobs and raise $25 million in company investments from public and private sources over the next six years. Ohio University’s Innovation Center, an incubator for small high-tech businesses, and partners from across the tristate region will work collaboratively on the Leveraging Innovation Gateways and Hubs Toward Sustainability (LIGHTS) program to provide expertise, training and resources to the regional workforce, entrepreneurs, companies and local communities.
The Ohio Supreme Court has rejected a challenge of the way state officials approved a wind farm in Champaign County. In a unanimous ruling released on Wednesday, the court found that the Ohio Power Siting Board was proper in the way it approved revisions to a proposal for the Buckeye I wind farm. But there remains a separate pending appeal that is delaying construction of the project.
On Aug. 24, the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets published a proposed rule in the New York State Register proposing to update the statement’s fuel regulations to allow for the sale of E15 in model year 2001 and newer vehicles. In addition for allowing for the sale of E15 blends, the proposed rule also includes a provision that will require ethanol blends to comply with certain labeling requirements required by federal regulation. The proposal states retailers “must post the octane rating of [all] automotive gasoline, except gasoline-ethanol blends containing more than 10 percent and not more than 15 percent ethanol by volume.” This must be accomplished by “putting at least one label on each face of each gasoline dispenser through which” gasoline is sold. If two or more kinds of gasoline with different octane ratings are sold from a single dispenser, the retailer must but separate labels for each kind of gasoline on each face of the dispenser. In addition, the proposed rule will require automotive gasoline to meet updated ASTM International standards.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will order wastewater disposal wells shut near the epicenter of a 5.6 magnitude earthquake that struck on Saturday around Pawnee, Oklahoma. The quake was one of the strongest ever to hit the state and prompted its oil and gas regulator, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, to order 37 disposal wells shut in a 725-square-mile (1,878-sq-km) area around Pawnee. It also asked the EPA to help shut disposal wells in a 211 square-mile (546.49-sq-km) area of Osage County because the OCC lacked jurisdiction there.
The state has filed suit in federal court against nearly three dozen oil companies for contaminating groundwater with the gasoline additive MTBE that was used to boost engine performance until it was banned in Rhode Island in 2007. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court by Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin and the Department of Environmental Management seeks to recover the cleanup costs associated with MTBE, methyl tertiary butyl ether, which has leaked from underground storage tanks and contaminated groundwater supplies and soils in Rhode Island. The most notable case was the contamination of drinking water in Burrillville, which resulted in the closure of wells in 2001. Despite the state ban in 2007, new instances of contamination continue to be found in Rhode Island because MTBE persists in the environment, according to the lawsuit.
Hard times are turning more worrisome for cities and small towns in the heart of New Mexico oil and natural gas territory as state officials contemplate reclaiming dollars pledged to local construction projects to help fill a budget gap. New Mexico is confronting a $458 million budget shortfall this fiscal year because of weak prices in the oil and natural gas sectors and slow growth in other areas of the economy. State finance and legislative officials have begun compiling a list of incomplete public works projects that might be deauthorized. City governments in oil country, meanwhile, are contending with deficits of their own linked to plunging gross receipts taxes on sales and business services.
The solar industry alone has created one out of every 80 jobs in the United States since the Great Recession. When including wind, LED lighting, and other clean energy categories, that number could be close to one in 33. For the solar industry, a majority of these new employment opportunities are blue-collar construction and manufacturing jobs that pay an average of $21 per hour -- far higher than the $16 per hour non-union manufacturing jobs that South Carolina was touting later in that episode. In fact, the solar industry has hired more veterans than anyone else, retrained coal workers, and even provided a soft landing for oil and gas workers who have lost their jobs. The vast majority of solar and wind workers are trained in less than six months because their previous work experience and training is completely transferrable. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "wind technician" is the fastest-growing job category.
An American Indian tribe succeeded in getting a federal judge to temporarily stop construction on some, but not all, of a portion of a $3.8 billion four-state oil pipeline, but their broader request still hangs in the balance. U .S. District Judge James Boasberg said today that work will temporarily stop between North Dakota’s State Highway 1806 and 20 miles east of Lake Oahe, but will continue west of the highway because he believes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lacks jurisdiction on private land. It wasn’t immediately clear how long of a stretch on which work will stop. He also said he’ll rule on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s challenge of federal regulators’ decision to grant permits to the Texas-based operators of Dakota Access pipeline, which will cross North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois, by the end of Friday.
Thirteen states could lose fewer coal-fired power plants and reduce costs if they work together to comply with a major federal clean-power rule, according to a new report. PJM Interconnection, the power grid operator that handles electric flow in Ohio, Pennsylvania and parts of 11 other states, analyzed the impact of the Clean Power Plan in a lengthy report released last week.