Overnight Energy: Oil lobby slams greens for 'demonization' of Keystone

TOUGH TALK ON KEYSTONE: American Petroleum Institute (API) President Jack Gerard took on opponents of Keystone XL and fossil fuels Tuesday.

He predicted that environmentalists, fresh off a victory in President Obama's cancellation of the project, will go for other oil and natural infrastructure, or try to reduce drilling.

"The demonization of the Keystone XL pipeline remains a powerful cautionary tale of the dangers of energy policy driven by ideology rather than economic reality and has a chilling effect on expansion efforts for our nation's energy infrastructure," Gerard said at the speech, which he usually uses to lay out the oil group's policy priorities for the year ahead.

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"Emboldened by their ability to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, anti-fossil-fuel advocates have set their sights on all energy infrastructure projects," he said.

Gerard also slammed the "ardent few" who want to keep fossil fuels in the ground, and plugged the oil and gas industry as a solution for climate change.

Read more here.

IN OTHER KEYSTONE NEWS: South Dakota regulators on Tuesday approved, for the second time, Keystone's potential route in the state.

The 3-0 vote from the state's Public Utilities Commission clears the way for construction on the pipeline, should it ever win a presidential permit after Obama leaves office in 2017.

Tuesday was the second time South Dakota formally approved the pipeline. Commissioners signed off on the plan in 2010 but that authorization expired after four years passed without any construction taking place.

Keystone developer TransCanada has promised to continue pursuing the pipeline despite Obama's rejection of it in November. The company will likely need a Republican president to make that happen, as well as other state approvals: weeks after Obama's denial, TransCanada rescinded its request that Nebraska regulators sign off on the pipeline's path through the state.

Read more here.

GREENS TO SUE FOR BUTTERFLY PROTECTIONS: Two environmental groups filed formal notice Tuesday that they will sue federal officials to try to force Endangered Species Act protections for the monarch butterfly.

The Fish and Wildlife Service said in December 2014 that it would evaluate whether to pursue an endangered or threatened designation for the insect species, but the Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Food Safety say the agency's decision is late.

"The threats to the monarch are so large in scale that the butterfly needs the effective protection of the Endangered Species Act if we're really serious about saving this amazing migrating wonder for future generations," Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

Monarch populations have fallen more than 80 percent in the last two decades. Biologists attribute the decline to a drop in milkweed, the butterfly's main food source.

AROUND THE WEB:

Standard and Poor's has lowered Alaska's credit rating, citing low oil prices, the Alaska Dispatch News reports.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) wants to increase spending on a state environmental protection fund to $300 million next year, up from $177 million, the Journal News reports.

Top Pennsylvania state officials say there's no link between the growth in hydraulic fracturing in the state and the decline in the smallmouth bass population in the Susquehanna River, StateImpact reports.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Tuesday's stories ...

-Dems worry about federal drilling lease suspensions
-Oregon gunmen: We're not leaving
-Oil lobby chief laments 'demonization' of Keystone pipeline
-South Dakota again approves Keystone XL permit
-Dem offers bill condemning armed protesters in Oregon
-Poll: 70 percent believe in climate change
-Dem: Media glorifies white militants, demonizes black protesters

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