The Pennsylvania Senate has unanimously confirmed Patrick McDonnell as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which regulates oil and gas development in the state. His confirmation comes a year after he took over as acting secretary for John Quigley, who resigned in May 2016, and about eight months after Gov. Tom Wolfnominated him to serve in the position. A longtime state government employee, McDonnell previously served as the agency’s policy director, overseeing regulatory development.
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Gina McCarthy’s challenge to be confirmed by the Senate as chief of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be more difficult once the president rolls out his climate change initiative Tuesday, said an energy specialist with the Bracewell Policy Resolution Group.
Separate reports confirmed the competitiveness of natural gas as a transportation fuel, with the price of compressed natural gas (CNG) maintaining a strong pricing edge over gasoline, diesel and other alternative fuels. At the same time, liquefied natural gas (LNG) is expanding its potential transportation options to include rail.
The Texas Senate unanimously confirmed the appointment of Toby Baker of Austin to serve as a commissioner of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Baker has been serving in that capacity since his appointment by Gov. Rick Perry on April 16. His term will expire on Aug. 31, 2017. Baker also serves as the governor’s designee to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, the Coastal Land Advisory Board, and the state’s representative to the Gulf of Mexico Alliance.
Mack Redford, a former Boise private practice attorney, has been confirmed for a second six-year term on the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) by the Idaho State Senate. Redford was appointed to a second six-year term by Gov. Butch Otter, who originally appointed him to the PUC in 2007, and in 2008-2009 he served as president of the three-member regulatory panel. A former attorney specializing in commercial transactions, construction and engineering law, Redford now serves on the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners, serving on both the international and water committees.
A subsea survey for the fourth time has confirmed the integrity of the Macondo well and the associated relief wells in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, BP plc said. The visual inspection by BP and Transocean Ltd., which owned the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, was to see if residual oil remained trapped under wreckage. The sheen is not recoverable and poses no risk to the shoreline, the U.S. Coast Guard said. No conclusive evidence of hydrocarbons leaking was observed from the surveyed area, but a “white, cloudy substance” appeared to emanate from several places on the overturned rig. Samples were collected, and BP plans to review the results with federal officials.
An 11-month investigation into an Alberta drilling mishap has confirmed that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) poses a unique fluid spill risk and prompted regulatory steps to control the danger.