It’s going to be more costly to conduct hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of shale gas wells in the future due to increased regulation, said a former official with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Articles from Passed
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) is backing two bills dealing with natural gas pipeline safety that passed the state Senate last week and are headed to committees in the lower house Assembly. No hearings have been set yet, and a utility official in Sacramento told NGI Monday that none are expected soon.
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a bill (SB 967) that repealed a controversial law (SB 408) passed six years ago requiring annual state regulatory adjustments to align retail utility rates with the actual amounts of taxes paid by the state’s four major investor-owned utilities. NW Natural, the gas-only utility distribution company based in Portland, said it has had a surcharge in place every year that the tax true-up law has been in existence. As a result of the new law being effective immediately, NW Natural said it will be denied recovery of its surcharge for the 2010 tax year. The gas utility said it is now required to record a one-time pre-tax charge to earnings in the second quarter this year of approximately $7.4 million ($4.4 million, or 17 cents/share, after tax) related to amounts earned from the surcharge last year. The original law grew out of a concern that utilities were collecting more in taxes as part of customer rates than they were paying out to governments (see Daily GPI, April 15, 2008).
The Texas Senate passed a bill that would create the Texas Energy Policy Committee, which would advise lawmakers on energy-related issues. The measure was introduced by Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay). It also would require the Railroad Commission of Texas to study the state’s coal and natural gas reserves and advise on their best use for power generation. The 12-member committee would include the chairs of five state agencies, two senators, two House members, two academic members and an appointed director. The measure is now to be considered by the House.
The New Mexico legislature has passed a bill calling for an investigation of natural gas outages that hit parts of the state in February. Gov. Susana Martinez last Wednesday signed the measure (HB 452), which was unanimously approved by the state Senate March 12. Labeled an emergency investigation under the New Mexico legislative process, the measure creates the Gas Emergency Investigation Task Force composed of designated representatives from state government. The measure spells out the task force parameters and actions, and calls for a report and recommendations to be compiled by Aug. 1. Following energy disruptions caused by a severe freeze in the Southwest which left 28,000 New Mexico Gas Co. customers without service, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee launched investigations and held hearings (see NGI, Feb 28). The task force is to investigate “how and why” many of the state’s rural natural gas consumers were shutoff, the economic and social impacts from that, and determine recommendations for both state and federal regulators on how to avoid a similar occurrence in the future.
Action is pending following hearing of the Washington state legislature’s House Environment Committee, which is considering a Senate-passed measure (SB 5769) calling for the phased closure of the state’s only coal-fired electric generation plant and the construction of a natural gas-fired plant on adjacent property at the Centralia coal facility (see Daily GPI, March 9). A committee staff member told NGI Friday that there is no established date for when the committee will vote on the measure, which is the outgrowth of an agreement earlier this year among Centralia plant operator/owner TransAlta, environmental groups and the state. The legislation is conditioned upon certain state and federal regulatory actions, including getting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to exempt the coal-fired plant from looming greenhouse gas emissions restrictions, that would save TransAlta some $600 million on emission-control equipment while it still sold power to utilities in the region.
The House of Representatives Saturday passed a continuing resolution (CR) that shaves $61 billion from the budget to fund the federal government through Sept. 30.
Reinstating requirements applicable to commodity pool operators (CPO) to apply to certain mutual fund operators, which were excluded in amendments passed in 2003, would level the playing field for investors with respect to pooled vehicles that utilize the same instruments to meet their investment objectives, CPO Steben & Co. of Rockville, MD said in comments filed at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) last Monday.
Reinstating requirements applicable to commodity pool operators (CPO) to apply to certain mutual fund operators, which were excluded in amendments passed in 2003, would level the playing field for investors with respect to pooled vehicles that utilize the same instruments to meet their investment objectives, CPO Steben & Co. of Rockville, MD said in comments filed at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Monday.