DOT COMPLIANCE RESPONSIBILITIES INCREASE FOR RAIL SHIPMENTS OF CRUDE OIL IN THE AFTERMATH OF TRAIN DERAILMENTS


In the wake of recent freight train derailments involving crude oil, U.S. regulators have issued various advisories and alerts that companies need to incorporate in their assessment of the hazardous nature of their crude oil rail shipments and proper tank car packaging. Specifically, the tragic Lac-Mégantic train accident in Quebec on July 6, 2013, followed by additional crude oil train derailments in the United States, triggered a flurry of regulatory activity designed to increase the safe rail transportation of crude oil.
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Managing Regulatory Compliance Risk in Energy Markets


With the recent implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act and other federal and local market regulations, regulators like the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and Department of Justice (DOJ) are now armed with a more aggressive toolkit to identify and take to task those companies that they believe have attempted to manipulate prices in the U.S. energy and commodity markets.  Prior to the adoption of new rules, the regulators not only had to prove that individual traders or companies were in the position and intended to manipulate energy prices to their advantage, they also typically had to prove that the person or company was in fact successful in doing so and was somehow enriched in the process.
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Did EPA’s New Carbon Emissions Rules Put Coal Industry on Life Support?


It’s not dead yet, but the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new limits on carbon emissions has all the appearances of putting the U.S. coal industry into a medically-induced coma with the slimmest hope of recovery coming in the uncertain form of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology.
 
Appearances Can Be Deceiving
 
The EPA’s new carbon emissions rules apply only to new power plants. That means that it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing many, if any, new coal-fired power plants in the works. But that was already the case, even before the EPA’s new limits, because lower prices on cleaner-burning natural gas have made natural gas-powered plants a more attractive option.
 
Coal consumption had already fallen by about 5 percent last year, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), due to low gas prices driving U.S. utilities away from coal. With natural gas plants emitting about half the carbon dioxide as coal plants and the precedent of these new EPA limitations, don’t expect to see those plants returning to coal any time soon.
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Enhancing Employee Compliance with Personal Protective Equipment


It’s no secret that the oil and gas industry can be a dangerous place to work: the occupational fatality rate for oil and gas extraction workers is more than seven times greater than the rate for all U.S. workers.[1] In fact, in 2008, the most recent year for which data are available, 120 people were killed while performing oil and gas extraction and non-fatal incidents occurred more frequently. [Read more...]