TOP ENERGY NEWS
HACKED. The New York Times, citing private-sector cybersecurity analysts, reports that "Russian hackers have been systematically targeting hundreds of Western oil and gas companies, as well as energy investment firms." The motive appears to be industrial espionage. (Nicole Perloth, New York Times)
BURNED. Lots of natural gas that's produced alongside oil in North Dakota goes up in smoke. "Because North Dakota lacks adequate infrastructure, drillers are forced to burn off whatever they can't capture and ship to market. In April alone, such wells burned 10.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the state, valued at nearly $50 million," The Wall Street Journal reports. Regulators are struggling to keep up and the flaring hurts air quality. (Chester Dawson, Wall Street Journal)
EPA GOES ON COUNTERATTACK ON WATER RULE ... EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will visit Missouri next week to talk to agriculture groups about the agency's proposed Waters of the USA rule, which clarifies what bodies can be regulated under the Clean Water Act. The visit will be the first of a summer-long campaign to talk up the rule with farmers and other stakeholders, according to EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia.
Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner wrote a new blog post that will preview some of EPA's likely talking points.
... WHILE GOP SAYS FIREWORKS ARE AT RISK. Ten Republican Senators opened a new line of attack against the water rule, charging that it would threaten Fourth of July fireworks. In a letter to McCarthy, the legislators say an expansion of regulations risks "exposing landowners and municipalities across the country to costly citizen suit litigation if they should attempt to conduct a neighborhood fireworks show."
INSIDE THE LEGAL STRATEGY AGAINST EPA'S CLIMATE RULE. The Washington Examiner reports that a lawsuit by several states and a coal company against EPA carbon-emissions rules for power plants is a "legal swing for the fences," yet a "decades-old discrepancy in a technical amendment to the Clean Air Act might give it a chance." (Zack Colman, Washington Examiner)
BP STARTS PAYING OIL-SPILL MEDICAL CLAIMS. The oil giant has paid the first 100 of roughly 10,000 claims filed by residents and cleanup workers affected by the 2010 spill. WWL-TV in New Orleans reports: "Payments to cover the costs of treatment for skin and respiratory ailments and other human-health impacts from the April 2010 disaster when a BP well spewed oil into the Gulf for nearly three months, should begin to flow in earnest over the next two to three months, said Matt Garretson, the administrator appointed by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to process and pay those claims." (David Hammer, WWL-TV)
CLIMATE SATELLITE LAUNCH DELAYED. The launch of NASA's satellite designed to monitor carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was postponed on Tuesday after the satellite encountered a technical difficulty. NASA said it would provide more details later in the day, but cited a "water flow problem" as the reason for the delay. (Discovery News)
TEXAS, NORTH DAKOTA PROVIDE BULK OF CRUDE PRODUCTION. Texas and North Dakota accounted for 4 million barrels a day of crude production, nearly half of the nationwide 8.4 million barrels a day produced in April. According to the Energy Information Administration, crude production rose by 37 percent in North Dakota and 28 percent in Texas annually between April 2010 and April 2014, compared with just 2 percent annually in the rest of the country.
GREENS TO LEGO: EVERYTHING IS NOT AWESOME. Greenpeace says the Lego is "letting kids down" by entering into a partnership with Shell to distribute toys branded with the oil company's logo at its gas stations. The green group today launched a protest calling on the toy giant to drop the partnership, saying it allows Shell "to pretend it's a caring, family-friendly company and helping it to get away with its Arctic aggression."
OFFSHORE WIND PROJECT GETS FEDERAL BOOST. The Energy Department has conditionally approved a $150 million loan guarantee for Cape Wind, a long-planned wind farm off the Massachusetts coast. The project could be the first U.S. offshore wind farm, but developers are still raising money to build the wind farm, which has been in the works for a decade. (Erin Ailworth, Boston Globe)
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FEDS COULD MOVE FASTER ON OIL AND GAS PERMITTING. A new report from the Interior Department's Office of Inspector General outlines six ways the Bureau of Land Management could speed up approval for oil and gas drilling on public lands, results that will only add fuel to the conservative contention that the Obama administration has dragged its feet in approving new permits. (Timothy Cama, The Hill)
CLEAN ENERGY COULD SOON SEE BIG MONEY. Renewable sources of power production are on track to capture up to two-thirds of the $7.7 trillion total in projected power plant investment across the globe by 2030. The biggest reason why renewables are forecast to snag that much money? Clean energy is becoming increasingly cost-competitive with fossil fuels. (Marc Roca, Bloomberg)
GAS TALKS LIKELY TO CONTINUE ABROAD. European Union officials continue to try to negotiate an energy accord with Russia after the energy giant shut off gas supplies to Ukraine last month. This time E.U. Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger says he plans to arrange a phone conversation with Russia on Friday to talk about the ongoing gas dispute. (Gabriela Baczynska, Reuters)
GAS PRICES DEFY TRADITION. Unrest in Iraq has driven up the price of crude oil, which in turn means higher gas prices for drivers. According to AAA, gas prices are up 8 to 10 cents nationally, a change from the status quo where prices dip close to the July Fourth holiday. (Ashley Halsey III, Washington Post)
WHAT INSIDERS ARE SAYING
WHAT'S NEXT FOR OIL EXPORTS? After the Commerce Department signed off on exports of an ultralight form of minimally processed crude oil, has the Obama administration taken a step toward lifting the decades-old crude-export ban? How does this stand to affect energy markets at home and abroad?
"Thanks to Ed Markey's sleuthing, we find out that some of the world's most valuable and sensitive commodities—oil and gas—turn out to be governed by laws written before the Trade Consensus of the 1990s, laws in direct conflict with that consensus. Changing these laws would require a very public exposure of the truth that the purpose of oil and gas exports is to make domestic energy pricier, benefit oil and gas, and hurt the rest of the American economy." —Carl Pope, former executive director, Sierra Club.
USING DATA TO BOOST EFFICIENCY. The International Energy Agency holds a webinar, beginning at 7:30 a.m., on "More Data, Less Energy: Making Network Standby More Efficient in Billions of Connected Devices."
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