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Texas voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1, a constitutional amendment to split half of the oil and natural gas severance tax revenues between the state's economic stabilization fund, AKA the Rainy Day Fund, and the state's highway fund. The Rainy Day Fund now is estimated to be worth a total of about $9 billion. The Texas Oil & Gas Association had supported the amendment (see Daily GPIOct. 16). The approval is expected to give the Texas Department of Transportation up to $1.7 billion in the first year of implementation for highway maintenance and to add capacity. The amount of funding would fluctuate annually depending on oil and gas revenues.

There's plenty of work to be had in the shale patch, and nowhere is that more true than in Texas, which added more than 19,000 private-sector oil and gas extraction, drilling and support jobs in 2013 -- six times as many as runner-up New Mexico, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). EIA isn't even counting the jobs at energy company corporate headquarters. Job growth in extraction, drilling and support activities has outpaced national average private-sector job gains in the last decade. "Overall, oil and natural gas production jobs in the United States increased from 292,846 annual jobs in 2003 to 476,356 in 2008, a 63% increase," EIA said. "Following the net loss of 54,323 oil and natural gas production jobs during the 2008-2009 recession and relatively little national job growth, jobs in oil and natural gas production increased another 28% from 2009 to 2013, from 422,033 to 586,884. Additionally, average wages of oil and natural gas production jobs were $108,000 in 2013, more than twice the average wage for all private sector industries." Along with Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and North Dakota have seen substantial job growth, thanks largely to their respective shale plays, EIA said.

Spectra Energy Partners has become the sixth member of PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC. Spectra joins AGL Resources; NJR Pipeline Co., a subsidiary of New Jersey Resources; PSEG Power LLC; South Jersey Industries; and UGI Energy Services (UGIES), a subsidiary of UGI Corp. Spectra Energy Partners and PSEG Power each have a 10% interest in PennEast; the remaining member companies each have a 20% interest. UGIES is the project manager and will operate the pipeline. The 108-mile, 36-inch diameter PennEast is planned to transport 1 Bcf/d of gas from northeastern Pennsylvania to an interconnect with Transcontinental Gas Pipeline in Mercer County, NJ (see Shale DailySept. 5Aug. 12). "This project provides Spectra Energy Partners with a strategic opportunity to leverage our existing assets by directly connecting northeast Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale production to our Texas Eastern Transmission and Algonquin Gas Transmission systems, and allows us to further strengthen our relationship with some of our biggest customers," said Bill Yardley, Spectra Energy president of U.S. transmission and storage.

FirstEnergy Corp. has completed a $3 million transmission line in its Ohio Edison service territory to replace temporary equipment that was serving Pennant Midstream LLC's Hickory Bend Cryogenic processing plant in northeast Ohio. The 3.5-mile, 138 kV line will allow for expansions at the facility and comes as part of FirstEnergy's plan to invest $730 million in area service infrastructure. Hickory Bend, capable of processing 200 MMcf/d of wet gas, is a joint venture of Hilcorp Energy Co. affiliate Harvest Pipeline Co. and NiSource Midstream Services LLC. It entered service earlier this year. At the time, NiSource officials said it could eventually accommodate another two plants, which would bring its processing capacity up to 1 Bcf/d (see Shale DailyJan. 6).

A state judge in Louisiana ruled unconstitutional a bill passed earlier this year by lawmakers intended to block a mega-lawsuit against energy infrastructure companies for coastal wetlands damage. The lawsuit was brought by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (see Daily GPI, July 25, 2013).Judge Janice Clark said the law aimed at blocking the lawsuit failed, in part, because it violated the state constitution's separation of powers clause as it sought to retroactively nullify an earlier court decision. Clark's decision could be appealed to the state supreme court. Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association (LOGA) support the legislation blocking the lawsuit. Jindal's office did not respond to a request for comment Monday. LOGA said, "We have known that this case would be appealed to the First Circuit Court, and now to the Louisiana Supreme Court, for some time...We look forward to having our appeal heard at the appropriate time." Before Clark's ruling last Friday, two of the companies named in the lawsuit agreed to settle for $50,000 (see Daily GPIOct. 31).

Two out of nearly 100 companies named in a lawsuit by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E) over damage to coastal wetlands have agreed to settle for $50,000. White Oak Operating Co. LLC and Chroma Operating Inc. have been dismissed from the lawsuit. Earlier this month, a judge blocked the state's attempt to thwart the lawsuit's progress with legislation adopted earlier this year (see Daily GPIOct. 7). Defendants' motions to throw out the lawsuit are still to be heard by a federal judge. The lawsuit was filed in summer 2013 (see Daily GPIJuly 25, 2013). In response later that year, the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association (LOGA) sued over the contingency fee contract that SLFPA-E used to hire its lawyers (see Daily GPIDec. 17, 2013). On Friday, LOGA President Don Briggs predicted that the energy interests would prevail. "Two companies, out of the 97 total, settling with the plaintiff attorneys in this coastal suit is hardly news," Briggs said. "The settlement amount of $50,000 is but a drop in the bucket towards the $10 billion that the attorneys are looking to rob from the industry to pad their ridiculous contingency fee arrangement. The Louisiana Legislature has spoken and in time the courts will dismiss this suit."

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has returned to being the sole pre-construction air-permitting authority in Texas, including for permits that address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The change marks a departure from the previous two-tiered system in which the TCEQ issued federally required prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) permits for "traditional" pollutants and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued PSD permits for greenhouse gas emissions. The state has now qualified to become the GHG; however, the state still is opposing select components of EPA's GHG permitting program in the court system. "While the state of Texas continues to disagree with the EPA program to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, the TCEQ has a system in place to ensure timely permitting that provides stability and predictability to our state's regulatory framework," said TCEQ Chairman Bryan W. Shaw.

Spectra Energy Partners has become the sixth member of PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC. Spectra joins AGL Resources; NJR Pipeline Co., a subsidiary of New Jersey Resources; PSEG Power LLC; South Jersey Industries; and UGI Energy Services (UGIES), a subsidiary of UGI Corp. Spectra Energy Partners and PSEG Power each have a 10% interest in PennEast; the remaining member companies each have a 20% interest. UGIES is the project manager and will operate the pipeline. The 108-mile, 36-inch diameter PennEast is planned to transport 1 Bcf/d of gas from northeastern Pennsylvania to an interconnect with Transcontinental Gas Pipeline in Mercer County, NJ (see Shale DailySept. 5Aug. 12). "This project provides Spectra Energy Partners with a strategic opportunity to leverage our existing assets by directly connecting northeast Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale production to our Texas Eastern Transmission and Algonquin Gas Transmission systems, and allows us to further strengthen our relationship with some of our biggest customers," said Bill Yardley, Spectra Energy president of U.S. transmission and storage.

FirstEnergy Corp. has completed a $3 million transmission line in its Ohio Edison service territory to replace temporary equipment that was serving Pennant Midstream LLC's Hickory Bend Cryogenic processing plant in northeast Ohio. The 3.5-mile, 138 kV line will allow for expansions at the facility and comes as part of FirstEnergy's plan to invest $730 million in area service infrastructure. Hickory Bend, capable of processing 200 MMcf/d of wet gas, is a joint venture of Hilcorp Energy Co. affiliate Harvest Pipeline Co. and NiSource Midstream Services LLC. It entered service earlier this year. At the time, NiSource officials said it could eventually accommodate another two plants, which would bring its processing capacity up to 1 Bcf/d (see Shale DailyJan. 6).

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