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Texas Petro Index Reaches Another Record High

The upstream oil and gas economy in Texas has been expanding for the past 4½ years and shows no signs of slowing thanks in part–but not entirely–to global geopolitical tensions, In June, the economic tsunami swept the Texas Petro Index (TPI) to another record, 308.4, marking the TPI’s seventh straight monthly increase and 18th rise in the past 19 months.

“At yearend 2013, the prevailing expectation was that crude oil prices could soften modestly in 2014, and that might have been the case absent the tensions between Russia and the Ukraine and events in Iraq,” said Karr Ingham, the economist who created the TPI and maintains it monthly. “Crude oil prices have risen thus far in 2014 and averaged over $100 in June. The effect of those price increases has been to bring about an uptick of activity in the Texas E&P sector.”

Ingham said Texas has experienced two major expansions of oil and gas exploration and production activity in the past decade. The first, from 2003-2008, was principally natural gas-driven, with 80% of rigs drilling for gas; the current expansion–which began in December 2009–is crude oil-driven, with about 92% of active rigs drilling for oil. 

Three U.S. Oil Fields Now Producing One Million Barrels a Day

According to the Energy Information Agency, “North Dakota's Bakken and Texas' Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale are quietly generating more than a million barrels of oil per day each–comprising at least a third of total U.S. daily oil production. Shale oil drilling generated the equivalent of nearly 90% of the U.S.'s total energy needs in 2013,” CNBC reports.

"In all of human history, there have only been ten oil fields in the world that have ever reached the one million barrel per day milestone," University of Michigan economist Mark Perry wrote for the American Enterprise Institute. "Three of those ten are now active in the U.S.–thanks to the advanced drilling techniques that started accessing oceans of shale oil in Texas and North Dakota about five years ago."

Southern Co. May Announce New Nuclear Plants This Year

During a Bipartisan Policy Center event in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, Southern Co. CEO Tom Fanning told reporters that his company is exploring six possible U.S. sites to build new nuclear reactors. He declined to say in which states those sites were located.

"I would love to announce by the end of the year a new nuclear [plant] option," Fanning said. "I would propose it would be similar to the Vogtle plant [expansion, which uses Westinghouse] AP1000" reactor units.

“The new Vogtle units have seen some delays related to licensing, and Fanning said the delays have added $381 million in costs to the $14 billion project,” Platts reports. “But low interest rates and other factors have provided savings from estimates before the project began, he said.” 

EPA Grants Millions for Urban Water Quality Projects

The EPA is awarding $2.1 million to 37 organizations in 17 states and Puerto Rico to help protect and restore urban waters, improve water quality, and support community revitalization and other local priorities. The funding is through EPA’s Urban Waters program, which supports communities in their efforts to access, improve and benefit from their urban waters and the surrounding land. Urban waters include canals, rivers, lakes, wetlands, aquifers, estuaries, bays and oceans in urbanized areas.

The grants range from $40,000 to $60,000 for projects taking place in areas that align with the 18 designated Urban Waters Federal Partnership locations. The Urban Waters Federal Partnership is made up of 13 federal agencies working to reconnect urban communities with their waterways by improving coordination among federal agencies and collaborating with community-led revitalization efforts. All funded projects work to advance environmental justice in their communities and focus on one of the following three categories: community greening and green infrastructure, communities and water quality data, and integration of water quality and community development in planning. 

Federal Regulators Reopen Eastern Seaboard to Oil and Gas Exploration

On Friday, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced that they are reopening the east coast to offshore exploration and green lighting the use of sonic cannons, which can locate oil and gas deposits deep beneath the ocean floor.

In 2010, Congress mandated a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) be prepared because there had been no comprehensive review of potential environmental impacts of geological and geophysical activities off the Atlantic coast. In developing the PEIS under the National Environmental Policy Act, BOEM coordinated with the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies and organizations to develop a mitigation strategy focused on avoiding injury to marine animals and reducing the potential for behavioral disruption. 

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