OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Feds tally 2012’s extreme weather

NEWS BITES:

Joan Mulhern, attorney who fought for clean water, dies at 51

Joan Mulhern, an attorney with Earthjustice who was front and center in battles against “mountaintop removal” coal mining, died Tuesday at age 51.

Mulhern died at Georgetown University Hospital from complications from a long illness, the environmental group said.

She was veteran of battles to provide Clean Water Act protections for wetlands and streams, including campaigns to shield Appalachian waters from coal mining wastes.

Earthjustice’s Marty Hayden lauded Mulhern in a statement Wednesday.

“A fighter for the planet and for all people who suffered environmental injustice, Joan was a tireless advocate for the underdog in every situation, and she seldom if ever lost. She put her heart and soul into her work — which was driven by her fierce determination to defend the disadvantaged and protect those with less power — in a way few can,” writes Hayden, the group’s vice president for policy and legislation.

Administration lays out Alaskan oil reserve plan

The Interior Department announced Wednesday that it would open up more than half of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska for fossil-fuel development.

In all, 12 million of the reserve’s 23 million acres would be available for energy production. The remaining land would be fenced off for wildlife.

The plan also makes room for a pipeline that could bring offshore Arctic Ocean oil to the trans-Alaska pipeline, according to The Associated Press.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said she was concerned Interior’s plan might be too restrictive.

“I continue to be concerned that the management plan chosen by the administration greatly restricts access to our nation’s oil and natural-gas resources, especially in the eastern portion of the petroleum reserve,” she said in a Wednesday statement.

Study touts shale energy jobs

A new industry-backed study finds that developing oil and gas from shale rock and other “unconventional” sources is creating jobs in states that house energy production and even those that don’t.

The study by the consulting firm IHS finds that the development supports over 576,000 jobs in Texas, a number that’s slated to grow to over 929,000 in 2020.

In Pennsylvania, the industry supports nearly 103,000 jobs, a tally expected to more than double in 2020, according to IHS.

Even in states without unconventional production, the industry is currently linked to over 474,000 jobs, the study states. From the study:

Less well-known are the economic benefits that accrue to non-producing states that lack oil and gas resources but nonetheless host firms that sell goods and services that are critical to the lengthy supply chain supporting unconventional oil and gas development. Among non-producing states, fabricated metal manufacturing in Illinois, software and information technology in Massachusetts, and financial services and insurance in Connecticut are examples of central players in the US unconventional oil and gas supply chain.

The American Petroleum Institute, the Institute for 21st Century Energy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Chemistry Council, America’s Natural Gas Alliance and the Natural Gas Supply Association funded the IHS research.

Click here to read the whole study.

Senate Democrats float extreme-weather resiliency bill

A trio of Senate Democrats introduced a bill Wednesday designed to encourage interagency coordination on extreme-weather preparedness.

Democratic Sens. John Kerry (Mass.), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) co-sponsor the measure, called the Strengthening the Resiliency of Our Nation on the Ground (STRONG) Act.

It would call on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to head a panel that evaluates extreme-weather resiliency practices at federal agencies. The office would then develop resiliency plans to better assist states and localities and the private and public sectors.

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