Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Patrick McDonnell plans to hit the road in April for a listening tour about how the agency's Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) can be improved. McDonnell will host nine roundtables with residents and leaders across the state to see how they can get more involved in DEP's decision-making process. The OEJ serves as a point of contact for Pennsylvanians in low income areas and areas with more minorities. It was established more than a decade ago to better protect those communities from industrial development such as oil and gas drilling. OEJ Director Carl Jones said his office wants to go beyond those demographics, however, and start reaching out to include more communities in the public participation process. The agency's oil and gas permitting has slowed in recent years as DEP has faced staff cuts, technical deficiencies and, at times, more applications. A schedule of the roundtables is available on DEP's website.

Stockholders of both San Antonio-based Tesoro Corp. and El Paso-based Western Refining Inc. have approved Tesoro's acquisition of Western in a stock transaction valued at $6.4 billion, which was announced last fall. The separate actions came at special stockholders meetings. The combined company would be headed by Tesoro CEO Greg Goff and the acquiring company's Steven Sterin, executive vice president and CFO. Western CEO Jeff Stevens and Executive Chairman Paul Foster will both join an expanded Tesoro Corp. board. Tesoro officials said that its proposed stock issuance to complete the deal was approved by 99% of the outstanding shares, and about 80% of the Western Refining outstanding shares voted in favor of the merger. The new company would be the sixth-largest U.S. refiner, with slightly more than 1 million b/d of refining capacity concentrated in the West. The companies said they expect the deal to close by the end of the first half of this year.