Tag Archives: Mexico

US eases crude oil export ban; allows trading with Mexico

Repost from Associated Press – The Big Story

US eases crude oil export ban; allows trading with Mexico

By Josh Lederman, Aug. 14, 2015 3:34 PM EDT

AssociatedPressEDGARTOWN, Mass. (AP) — The Obama administration approved limited crude oil trading with Mexico on Friday, further easing the longstanding U.S. ban on crude exports that has drawn consternation from Republicans and energy producers.

Mexico’s state-run oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, had sought to import about 100,000 barrels of light crude a day and proposed a deal last year in which Mexico would trade its own heavier crude for lighter U.S. crude. A major crude exporter for decades, Mexico has seen its oil production fall in recent years.

The license applications to be approved by the U.S. Commerce Department allow for the exchange of similar amounts of U.S. and Mexican crude, said a senior Obama administration official, who wasn’t authorized to comment by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. The official didn’t disclose whether all 100,000 barrels requested would be allowed.

While the Commerce Department simultaneously rejected other applications for crude exports that violated the ban, the move to allow trading with Mexico marked a significant shift and an additional sign that the Obama administration may be open to loosening the export ban. Exchanges of oil are one of a handful of exemptions permitted under the export ban put in place by Congress.

The export ban is a relic of the 1970s, after an OPEC oil embargo led to fuel rationing, high prices and iconic images of long lines of cars waiting to fuel up. But Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, have said those days are long gone, arguing that lifting the ban could make the U.S. an energy superpower and boost the economy.

Republicans from energy-producing states hailed the decision, as did trade groups representing the oil industry. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who has pushed for lifting the ban, called it a positive step but added that she would still push for full repeal “as quickly as possible.”

“Trade with Mexico is a long-overdue step that will benefit our economy and North American energy security, but we shouldn’t stop there,” said Louis Finkel, executive vice president of the American Petroleum Institute.

But environmental groups have opposed lifting the ban out of concern it would spur further drilling for crude oil in the U.S. Pemex’s proposal has also drawn criticism in Mexico, where residents are sensitive about the country’s falling oil production despite warnings from officials that Mexico could become a net importer if it doesn’t explore new oil reserves.

The move to trade crude with Mexico comes as the Obama administration weighs a long-delayed decision about whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. That proposed project would carry crude oil from Canada’s tar sands to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast, so the influx of heavy crude from Mexico could play into a decision about whether the controversial pipeline is necessary.

Last month a Senate panel approved a bill championed by Murkowski that would lift the 40-year-old-ban — plus open more areas of the Arctic, Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean to oil and gas exploration. No Democrats on the committee voted for the bill. The environmental group Oceana called it “a massive give-away to Big Oil.”

    California governor orders aggressive greenhouse gas cuts by 2030

    Repost from Reuters
    [Editor:  See also local coverage in The Contra Costa Times.  – RS]

    California governor orders aggressive greenhouse gas cuts by 2030

    By Rory Carroll, Apr 29, 2015 11:28pm IST 
    California Governor Jerry Brown looks on during a news conference at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California March 19, 2015. REUTERS/Max Whittaker
    California Governor Jerry Brown looks on during a news conference at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California March 19, 2015. REUTERS/Max Whittaker

    (Reuters) – California Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order on Wednesday to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030, a move he said was necessary to combat the growing threat of climate change.

    The targeted reduction was tied to 1990 levels and is “the most aggressive benchmark enacted by any government in North America to reduce dangerous carbon emissions,” Brown said in a statement.

    California operates the nation’s largest carbon cap and trade system. The state sets an overall limit on carbon emissions and allows businesses to hand in tradeable permits to meet their obligations.

    Achieving the new target will require reductions from sectors including industry, agriculture, energy and state and local governments, Brown said.

    “I’ve set a very high bar, but it’s a bar we must meet,” Brown told a carbon market conference in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday.

    Brown said the new target will position California as a leader in combating climate change in the United States and internationally.

    Brown said he has spoken to leaders in Oregon, Washington and Northeastern states about collaborating with California to cut their output of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. Those states could potentially link to California’s carbon market in future years.

    He said he has had similar discussions with leaders in the Canadian provinces of Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario, as well as in Germany, China and Mexico.

    Quebec is already linked to the California market. Leaders in Ontario this month signaled their intention to join the program.

    “This will be a local policy but it will be globally focused,” Brown told reporters on the sidelines of the conference.

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the news and encouraged other states and cities around the world to also take action, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said.

    “California’s bold commitment to tackling climate change is a strong example to states and regions all over the world that they can join their national governments in taking ownership of this critical issue and in showing leadership,” Haq said.

    The plan for how California will achieve the 2030 target will be hammered out over the next year by the California Air Resources Board (ARB), which oversees the cap-and-trade program.

    “With this bold action by the governor, California extends its leadership role and joins the community of states and nations that are committed to slash carbon pollution through 2030 and beyond,” said Mary Nichols, chair of the ARB.

    (Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles and Laila Kearney in New York; Editing by Susan Heavey and David Gregorio)