California’s energy regulator, the California Public Utilities Commission, doesn’t guard against the appearance of improper influence from utilities when making decisions, fails to fully disclose important communications and skirts state rules when handing out contracts, according to a new state audit released Thursday. The audit reveals at greater depth the agency’s problems in recent years as its faced significant criticism over its handling of the 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, negotiations surrounding the 2013 shutdown of San Onofre nuclear power plant and last year’s Aliso Canyon gas leak. (Los Angeles Times)
Decision on Nipomo refinery’s oil-by-rail plan put off again
San Luis Obispo Tribune | Cynthia Lambert
After several more hours of public comment on a controversial oil-by-rail plan Thursday, San Luis Obispo County planning commissioners started to debate various conditions to approve the project, but they did not reach a decision. Instead, the proposal by Phillips 66, which has been the subject of numerous Planning Commission meetings this year, will again be continued. It is scheduled to return Oct. 5.
California’s energy regulator open to improper influence from utilities, contractors
Los Angeles Times | Liam Dillon
California’s energy regulator doesn’t guard against the appearance of improper influence from utilities when making decisions, fails to fully disclose important communications and skirts state rules when handing out contracts, according to a new state audit released Thursday. The audit of the California Public Utilities Commission reveals at greater depth the agency’s problems in recent years as its faced significant criticism over its handling of the 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, negotiations surrounding the 2013 shutdown of San Onofre nuclear power plant and last year’s Aliso Canyon gas leak.
Montana board rejects more fracking disclosures
Billings Gazette | Matthew Brown
Montana regulators on Thursday turned back an effort by environmentalists, health advocates and some landowners who sought to force energy companies to divulge more information about fracking chemicals used to produce oil and gas. The Montana Oil and Gas Conservation Board voted unanimously against a petition that would have made companies either disclose details on the chemicals or justify withholding the information. The board’s action left in place a 2011 state rule that allows companies to conceal the ingredients of chemicals that are considered trade secrets.
New Study Links Texas Quakes to Fracking Wells
Popular Mechanics | David Grossman
Geophysicsts saw in a new study that a 2012 earthquake in East Texas was caused by wastewater injection, a waste product practice by the fracking industry. At the time, scientists told CNN they suspected nearby injection wells were responsible. A new study in Science, “Surface uplift and time-dependent seismic hazard due to fluid injection in eastern Texas,” backs up that hypothesis using Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR).
EPA Plans to Allow Unlimited Dumping of Fracking Wastewater in the Gulf of Mexico
TruthOut | Mike Ludwig
Environmentalists are warning the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that its draft plan to continue allowing oil and gas companies to dump unlimited amounts of fracking chemicals and wastewater directly into the Gulf of Mexico is in violation of federal law. In a letter sent to EPA officials on Monday, attorneys for the Center for Biological Diversity warned that the agency’s draft permit for water pollution discharges in the Gulf fails to properly consider how dumping wastewater containing chemicals from fracking and acidizing operations would impact water quality and marine wildlife.
14 Pipeline Projects in 24 States … Which Will Be the Next Battleground?
EcoWatch | Dan Zukowski
Encouraged by the Obama administration’s shelving of the Keystone XL pipeline and its revoked authorization for construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on federal lands, activists are now eyeing new battles. At least 14 new pipeline projects are in the works, carrying both oil and natural gas. These projects involve at least 24 states, adding to the existing 2.5 million miles of energy pipelines in the U.S.—the largest network in the world. Driven by low natural gas prices and the fracking boom, these new pipelines will cross major urban areas as well as important watersheds.
Sunoco, behind protested Dakota pipeline, tops U.S. crude spill charts
Reuters | Liz Hampton
Sunoco Logistics (SXL.N), the future operator of the oil pipeline delayed this month after Native American protests in North Dakota, spills crude more often than any of its competitors with more than 200 leaks since 2010, according to a Reuters analysis of government data.
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