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Former Homeland Security Secretary and Energy Supporter In Critical Condition at Austin Hospital: Spokesman

November 16, 2017

Former US Homeland Security Secretary and energy industry supporter Tom Ridge is in critical condition at Del Seton Medical Center at UT in Austin after undergoing a heart procedure.

The onetime governor of Pennsylvania, 72, was attending the Republican Governors Association Conference at Austin’s Marriott when he felt ill and called on hotel employees for assistance, according to a statement from one of Ridge’s staff.

Paramedics attended Ridge as he was rushed to the medical center Thursday morning, after which he underwent a heart catheterization.

Ridge was Homeland Security Secretary from 2003 until 2005, and sometimes referred to natural gas as a major way to help US independence from imported oil.

In 2013, Ridge called natural gas a “transformational energy” with a bright future that was good for his home state of Pennsylvania and good for the nation.

Noted Texas Democrat and Political Donor Steve Mostyn Dies

November 16, 2017


Longtime political donor, prominent Houston lawyer and staunch Democrat Steve Mostyn, 46, has died.

His wife Amber, in a statement on Thursday, confirmed that he passed away Wednesday after a short battle with an unnamed “mental health issue.”

Mostyn and his wife have been considered among the most generous givers to causes and candidates favored by Democrats, notably their 2014 contributions to aid the election of Wendy Davis, who failed in her run for governor against Greg Abbott, and others.

In addition to his wife, Mostyn is survived by daughter Ava, son Mitch and a nephew the Mostyn’s raised, Skyler Anderson.

Amber Mostyn suggested donations as a tribute to Steve to a favored charity, the Mostyn Moreno Education Foundation to help special needs children, or to Special Olympics of Texas.

Oil Inventories Up Almost 2 M Barrels: EIA

November 15, 2017

US commercial crude oil stockpiles increased almost 1.9 million barrels last week when compared to the previous week, the US Department of Energy said Wednesday.

Wall St. Journal analysts said they had expected a decrease of 1.4 million.

Inventories are, at 459 million barrels, in the upper half of the season average range for the year.

Gasoline inventories were up by 900,000 barrels, while distillates were down 800.000 barrels.

Propane and propylene stockpiles were down 2.5 million barrels.

The Energy Information Agency said US crude imports averaged nearly eight million barrels per day, up more than half a million a day when compared to the previous week.

Refineries were operating at 91% of capacity.

The American Petroleum Institute said Tuesday that crude inventories were up a surprising 6.5 million barrels.

API also said gasoline stockpiles were up 2.4 million barrels.

Garcia, Walle (and Garcia?) to Run For Green’s Houston Refinery Row District

November 14, 2017

Texas State Sen. Sylvia Garcia says she will run for the US Congress District 29 seat being vacated by Rep. Gene Green, as will a former Gene Green staff member, Houston-area 140th District state Representative Armondo Walle.

In a tweet Tuesday, Garcia said,

Today I officially announced my run for Congress in TX District 29. Now more than ever we need fighters in congress willing to stand up to Donald Trump and support our communities. Join & follow our campaign!

Garcia cited President Trump is a particular reason she decided to run, stating “we need a champion for the people in Washington to stand up” against the president.

District 29 includes several oil refineries and other industry related businesses in east Houston and a portion of Pasadena.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the chair of the Harris County Democratic Party said Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, who ran for the District 29 seat against Green last year but lost by 19 points, has requested paperwork to file for candidacy again.

TAB Sets Sights on Rebuilding Pro-business Legislature: QR

November 14, 2017

A lawmaker report card is only one of a number of steps the Texas Association of Business is ready to take to make sure the 86th legislature is not another anti-business session, the Quorum Report said Tuesday.

Business leaders say they too often saw lawmakers working at cross purposes with them on key business issues: a pitched battle over the so-called bathroom bill; another round of sanctuary cities legislation; and an attempt to reverse course on incentive programs under Chapter 313.

TAB, like many non-profit associations, keeps something of a firewall between its PAC and its membership, but the board’s new mandate is clear: Get active in the Republican primaries. So CEO Jeff Moseley is doubling down on the fundamentals.

Houston-area US Rep. Gene Green Will Retire from Congress

November 13, 2017

Longtime Texas Democratic politician Gene Green will retire from Congress next year, according to several sources.

The Houston-area US representative, whose constituents include both upstream oil production and downstream refining interests, was elected to the US House in 1992 after two decades in the Texas Legislature.

He’s now the 6th US House member from Texas to announce his intention not to run for re-election.

Most recently, Houston-area Rep. Ted Poe said he was retiring to spend more time with family; Green says the same.

San Antonio’s Lamar Smith, the Dallas area’s Jeb Hensarling, Sam Johnson of Richardson and Beto O’Rourke round out the list of House members from Texas who say they won’t run again for the offices they hold.

All are Republicans, except for O’Rourke, who is running against Republican US Senator Ted Cruz, and Green.

Texas Among Top States In Lower-Carbon Grid Modernization: Report

November 9, 2017

Texas is among the top three states rated as moving most quickly to modernize its electric grid in a new report from a stakeholders group that educates and promotes a more modern national electrical system.

The GridWise Alliance‘s fourth assessment of grid upgrades lists California as the leader in modernization, followed by Illinois, with Texas third.

The alliance joined with the low-carbon-promoting group Clean Edge Inc. in assessing state policies, grid investments and construction, along with customer engagement and support from state leaders, with an eye toward clean energy installations, with Texas and the other two states noticeably ahead of all others.

The group’s latest Grid Modernization Index tracks closely with information already available on increases in wind and solar energy installations, notably in Texas, California and Nevada.

Rounding out the top ten states are Maryland and Oregon, Arizona, Washington DC, New York, Nevada and Delaware.

The report can be found here.

Note: AEP recently said it plans to invest $18.2 billion in capital from 2018 through 2020 with 72 percent of that investment focused on its transmission and distribution operations.

The company expects to invest $1.8 billion in new renewable generation during this period, including approximately $1.3 billion for competitive, contracted renewable projects.

These planned investments do not include the  Wind Catcher project in Oklahoma, which is dependent on regulatory approvals in 2018.

Texas State Rep. Isaac Says He’ll Run for Lamar Smith Seat

November 9, 2017

Texas District 45 state Representative Jason Isaac says he’s running for the US Congress District 21 seat being vacated by Lamar Smith.

Smith last week said he will not seek re-election to the District 21 position next year.

That district includes portions of Bexar Comal, Hays, and Travis counties and encompasses Bandera, Blanco, Gillespie, Kendall, Kerr, and Real counties.

Isaac was a co-author of a bill in this year’s legislature that would have included alternative fuel signs such as electric car recharging stations to be included along Texas highways, though the bill never made it out of the Transportation Committee.

In a statement Thursday afternoon, Isaac wrote that he’s “humbled that many of my constituents have asked me to run, and I look forward to discussing the issues as I campaign across the district.”

Isaac said he’s committed to fulfilling his term as a state representative.

Former RRC ED New President of TX Alliance of Energy Producers

November 9, 2017

A 22-year veteran of the Railroad Commission of Texas is the newly-elected president of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers (TAEP), the largest statewide oil and gas association representing independents.

The group’s executive vice president, John Tintera, moves up to president after Wednesday’s vote, with Tiger Eye Resources LLC President Jim Beck taking over as TAEP’s new vice president.

Tintera is taking over for Alex Mills, who’s stepping down as president.

Tintera is an expert at oil and gas regulatory issues, having served as executive director at the Railroad Commission, and has handled TAEP’s government relations duties on both the state and federal levels.

Mills says he’s retiring, but intends to continue to write his energy column for The Texas Energy Report and some state newspapers.

Tintera will become chief of staff, responsible for daily operations.

The alliance’s Vice President Jo Anne Baker, who’s been with TAEP for more than 25 years, has been re-elected as board secretary.

Chairman of the Board Robert W. Osborne said Thursday that the alliance “is very fortunate to have three experienced professionals to come forward to lead this great organization at this critical time.

“The industry has been through a very rough period, but we’ve had stability for about a year now, and conditions are looking much better.”

Osborne’s two-year term as chairman will end in April, after which Beck will assume the chairman position.

Beck, a petrophysicist and geologist for ANR Production and Transco Exploration, spent 11 years with Schlumberger and for ten years was president of Seneca Resource Corp.

US House Votes to Speed Hydropower Permit Process

November 9, 2017

The US House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a bill to overhaul the permitting process for hydropower projects.

The Hydropower Policy Modernization Act speeds up the timeline for approving hydro projects and aims to run all permitting decisions through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), The Hill reports.

The House approved the bill on a 257-166 vote.

“Ensuring the stability of the grid and improving infrastructure continue to be at forefront of the national debate, which is why modernizing the hydropower licensing process should be a top priority for Congress and the administration,” said Linda Church Ciocci, the Executive Director of the National Hydropower Association.

Shell Enchilada Platform Fire Said to Be Under Control

November 8, 2017

Two people have been injured and about 46 workers evacuated after an oil platform fire in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Coast Guard responded to calls for help Wednesday at the Shell Enchilada platform about 112 nautical miles south of Vermilion Bay, Louisiana.

The platform was safely shut down and workers were evacuated by lifeboat, then taken by supply boat to Shell’s nearby Salsa platform, the company said.

The two injured were emergency-helicoptered to University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Shell said in a statement that “no harm to people or the environment is ever acceptable and Shell deeply regrets that this incident occurred.”

The company’s nearby platforms were shut down as a precaution.

The US Department of the Interior‘s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is investigating.

While the fire was life threatening, a statement by Shell this evening said it “has been reduced to a small flame coming out of a pipe on the platform.”

Word of the fire hit Wall Street this afternoon, helping (along with an EIA increased-crude-inventory report) send WTI briefly flirting with $58 a barrel before settling down at about $56.82 at close.

Huffines Named to Committee Overseeing Radioactive Waste Disposal

November 8, 2017

Dallas State Senator Don Huffines has been named to the Compact Facility Legislative Oversight Committee, the panel that oversees a commission responsible for efficient disposal of radioactive waste in Texas.

That commission, the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission, is a group of six commissioners from Texas and two from Vermont that enforce rules for the handling and underground disposal of low level radioactive waste, much of it from out of state.

There is also one alternate member of the commission: Vermont’s Jane O’Meara Sanders, wife of former Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick named Huffines to the committee on Friday.

The company Waste Control Specialists has been disposing of the waste, made up largely of building materials and other contaminated items from hospitals and closed nuclear plants, in undergound facilities in Andrews County, northwest of Midland.

One of the commission’s members is Richard H. Dolgener, longtime Andrews County Judge.

The original agreement, called the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waster Disposal Compact, is an interstate contract between Texas and the states of Maine and Vermont aimed at ensuring cooperation in the management and disposal of low-level radioactive waste from all three states at a site in Texas.

State Senator Kel Seliger and Representative Brooks Landgraf‘s Senate Bill 1667 passed by the 2017 legislature clarifies that the commission is an independent group established by federal law and is not a state agency.