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Category Archives: Energy

Conflict Minerals and Resource Extraction: Dodd-Frank, SEC Regulations, and Legal Challenges

Conflict Minerals and Resource Extraction: Dodd-Frank, SEC Regulations, and Legal Challenges. Michael V. Seitzinger, Legislative Attorney; Kathleen Ann Ruane, Legislative Attorney. October 15, 2014.

“Two sections of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) require that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC or Commission) issue regulations to make public the involvement of U.S. companies in conflict minerals and in resource extraction payments. Supporters of the Dodd-Frank conflict minerals statute and the SEC implementing rule believe that such disclosures could have an impact on the amount of violence involved with the mining of conflict minerals. Opponents of the statute and rule argue that they require disclosures that are arbitrary and capricious and that some of the required disclosures violate the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech. Supporters of the resource extraction statute and the SEC implementing rule believe that they are needed to achieve the goal of the transparency of payments made by resource extraction issuers to governments in order to foster reform and anti-corruption and to improve the tax collection process. Opponents believe that they are arbitrary and capricious and violate the First Amendment. Legal challenges to the statutes and regulations have occurred, based primarily on administrative law and First Amendment grounds.”

New GAO Reports – Changing Crude Oil Markets, Federal Paid Admin Leave, Food Safety

CHANGING CRUDE OIL MARKETS: Allowing Exports Could Reduce Consumer Fuel Prices, and the Size of the Strategic Reserves Should Be Reexamined, GAO-14-807: Published: Sep 30, 2014. Publicly Released: Oct 20, 2014. FEDERAL PAID ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE: Additional Guidance Needed to Improve OPM Data, GAO-15-79: Published: Oct 17, 2014. Publicly Released: Oct 20, 2014. FOOD SAFETY: USDA Needs to Strengthen Its Approach toContinue Reading

NRC Staff Issues Volume 3 of Yucca Mountain Safety Evaluation Report

News release: “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has published Volume 3 of its safety evaluation  report on the proposed underground geologic nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev. Volume 3 covers the period after a repository at Yucca Mountain would be permanently closed should NRC authorize construction following completion of the remaining steps in the licensing process.Continue Reading

Energy for growing and harvesting crops is a large component of farm operating costs

EIA: “The U.S. agriculture industry used nearly 800 trillion British thermal units (Btu) of energy in 2012, or about as much primary energy as the entire state of Utah. Agricultural energy consumption includes energy needed to grow and harvest crops and energy needed to grow livestock. Crop operations consume much more energy than livestock operations,Continue Reading

Preparing Our Communities for Climate Impacts: Recommendations for Federal Action

“The Georgetown Climate Center released 100 recommendations … to improve federal programs that could be used to prepare for climate change. The new report will inform the White House State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. The report, Preparing Our Communities for Climate Impacts: Recommendations for Federal Action, draws from a seriesContinue Reading

New GAO Reports – Climate Change, Specialty Metals

CLIMATE CHANGE: USDA’s Ongoing Efforts Can Be Enhanced with Better Metrics and More Relevant Information for Farmers, GAO-14-755: Published: Sep 16, 2014. Publicly Released: Oct 16, 2014: “In 2012, the United States produced about $395 billion in agricultural commodities, with about half of this revenue from crop sales and half from livestock. According to the Third National ClimateContinue Reading

New GAO Reports – Combatting Nuclear Smuggling, CPSC, Ocean Acidification

COMBATING NUCLEAR SMUGGLING: Risk-Informed Covert Assessments and Oversight of Corrective Actions Could Strengthen Capabilities at the Border, GAO-14-826: Published: Sep 22, 2014. Publicly Released: Oct 14, 2014: CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION: Challenges and Options for Responding to New and Emerging Risks, GAO-15-17: Published: Oct 14, 2014. Publicly Released: Oct 14, 2014: “CPSC is responsible for ensuring the safety of thousands ofContinue Reading

Priority Agenda Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America’s Natural Resources

“The interagency Council on Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience, established by Section 6 of the Order, convened a Climate and Natural Resources Working Group (CNRWG) to complete the inventory, assessment, and plan called for in Section 3 of the Order. The CNRWG includes Departments of Defense, Interior, and Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National OceanicContinue Reading

Short-Term Energy and Winter Fuels Outlook

“EIA projects average U.S. household expenditures for natural gas, heating oil, electricity, and propane will decrease this winter heating season (October 1 through March 31) compared with last winter, which was 11% colder than the previous 10-year average nationally. Projected average household expenditures for propane and heating oil are 27% and 15% lower, respectively, becauseContinue Reading

Net energy imports as share of consumption at lowest level in 29 years

EIA: “Total U.S. net imports of energy as a share of energy consumption fell to their lowest level in 29 years for the first six months of 2014. Total energy consumption in the first six months of 2014 was 3% above consumption during the first six months of 2013, but consumption growth was outpaced byContinue Reading

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses

CRS – Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses. Kenneth Katzman,  Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs. October 1, 2014 “Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, a priority of U.S. policy has been to reduce the perceived threat posed by Iran to a broad range of U.S. interests. However, a common enemy has emerged in the form of theContinue Reading

U.S. coal exports fall on lower European demand, increased global supply

EIA: “U.S. coal exports have continued to decline from their record volumes in 2012. During the first half of 2014, coal exports totaled 52.3 million short tons (MMst), 16% below the same period in 2013. Most of these exports go to countries in Europe and Asia. Export declines reflect both lower European demand for steamContinue Reading