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Atlas, Range CEOs Hail Election Results

Pennsylvania election results "were a good thing" for natural gas companies operating in the state, Atlas Resources President Richard Weber told a Marcellus Shale conference in Pittsburgh Wednesday.

"We really look forward to working with this administration and with this new legislature to modernize the legislative and regulatory environment here in Pennsylvania...I know with [Tom Corbett] as governor, we're going to get it right."

Weber's enthusiasm was based on the new Republican governor-elect and the fact that instead of the current Democratic-Republican split between the two houses of the Pennsylvania legislature, both will be coming under Republican leadership next year.

The Atlas executive's comments came as about 200 activists demonstrated outside the convention hall, calling for a halt to hydraulic fracturing. It didn't appear that the message got through to conference delegates.

Karl Rove, former senior adviser to President George W. Bush, told convention attendees they wouldn't have to worry any more about climate change legislation, such as the measure passed by the U.S. House, but stalled in the Senate this year. "Climate is gone," said Rove, the keynote speaker at the conference sponsored by Hart Energy Publishing LLP.

Other than that, not much may go anywhere in the new Congress, which while still missing some undecideds, basically adds up to 240 House Republicans and 185 House Democrats trotting up Capitol Hill next year alongside 52 Democratic senators and 46 Republican senators.

Rove doesn't think the House will consider proposed legislation to put the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing under federal rather than state regulation. And in fact, a Washington lobbyist for the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) told NGI Wednesday the Republicans taking over the chairmanships in the House would be sure to launch oversight hearings on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) approach to fracking, among other things.

Fuller also expects to see a slew of oversight hearings on a number of EPA's greenhouse gas actions by various House committees. The hearings would be aimed at reining in some EPA activities, but realists point out that while there may be a lot of sound and fury, any attempts to legislate cutbacks at EPA are unlikely to make it through the Democratic-controlled Senate and a presidential veto.

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