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Capital Report


August 2015 Issue

US House Hearing on Advancing Commercial Weather Data
The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing entitled “Advancing Commercial Weather Data: Collaborative Efforts to Improve Forecasts, Part Two” to examine NOAA’s weather data policies and acquisition strategies.

Members discussed existing NOAA policies, U.S. international data sharing commitments under the World Meteorological Organization, how expanded use of commercial weather data may impact NOAA’s ability to maintain its existing obligations, how existing obligations may impact NOAA’s ability to develop partnerships with the commercial weather sector, NOAA’s plan to release a Commercial Data Policy this year, and the need for ongoing dialog and discussion.

Legislation Introduced To Incentivize Offshore Wind
Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) introduced a bipartisan bill aimed at boosting offshore wind power, spurring growth in the industry and creating new energy sector jobs, NOIA reported.

The Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act would establish an investment tax credit for offshore wind projects, letting power producers claim a 30 percent tax credit on the first 3,000 MW generated at offshore energy facilities in navigable inland federal waters, coastal waters surrounding U.S. territories, and the Outer Continental Shelf.

Congress passed an extension of the production tax credit for wind power late last year, but the credit expired at the end of 2014.

BP Reaches Agreement With US Government, Five Gulf States
Five years after the Deepwater Horizon accident and spill in 2010, BP has reached agreements in principle to settle all federal and state claims arising from the event.

BP’s U.S. upstream subsidiary, BP Exploration and Production Inc. (BPXP), has executed the agreements with the U.S. government and five Gulf Coast states.

The agreement with Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas also includes settlement of claims made by more than 400 local government entities.

The principal payments are as follows: BPXP is to pay the U.S. a civil penalty of $5.5 billion under the Clean Water Act (CWA), payable over 15 years; BPXP will pay $7.1 billion to the U.S. and the five Gulf states over 15 years for natural resource damages (NRD), in addition to the $1 billion already committed for early restoration, with an additional amount of $232 million to be added to the NRD interest payment at the end of the payment period to cover any further NRD unknown at the time of the agreement; a total of $4.9 billion will be paid over 18 years to settle economic and other claims made by the five Gulf Coast states; and up to $1 billion will be paid to resolve claims made by more than 400 local government entities. NRD and CWA payments are scheduled to start 12 months after the agreements become final. Total payments for NRD, CWA and State claims will be made at a rate of around $1.1 billion a year for the majority of the payment period.

California Updates List Of Impaired Waterways
More than 40,000 miles of California’s rivers and streams are threatened by pollution, according to a list of impaired waterways submitted by the state to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Common impairments in lakes are due to mercury and other toxic metals in fish. High temperatures, sediment and toxic metals are found in many rivers and streams.

EPA is adding Lake Topaz to the state’s 2012 list of impaired waters based on high mercury levels in fish.

The state will submit future list updates in 2016 and 2018.

ICS Worried About US “Protectionist” Policy
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is concerned about what it sees as a U.S. protectionist approach with respect to the future transport of energy exports.

U.S. energy exports by sea are predicted to expand massively as a consequence of the shale revolution.

A regime currently being developed to promote the carriage of LNG exports on U.S.-flag ships may set an undesirable precedent should the U.S. lift the current ban on crude oil exports (as is being considered by Congress), according to ICS.

In December 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama signed legislation requiring the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to implement a program to promote the use of U.S.-flag ships. This is expected to prioritize the processing of licenses for new deepwater LNG export facilities from exporters that indicate they plan to use U.S.-flag gas carriers.

US Gives ACP Grant to Help Plan LNG Import Terminal
The U.S. Trade and Development Agency awarded a grant to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) to support the planning of an LNG import terminal.

A feasibility study will help the ACP set strategic priorities and plan projects related to LNG infrastructure and natural gas utilization at the Panama Canal.

The LNG terminal is anticipated to support the implementation of maritime- and energy-related projects that will accommodate increased shipping traffic through the expanded canal.

US Senate Approves DRIVE Act in Committee
The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has approved the Developing Roadway Infrastructure for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE) Act of 2015, a $278 billion, six-year transportation reauthorization bill that has implications for U.S. ports.

Among priorities included in the bill are: a $13.5 billion program over six years for freight transportation; inclusion of intermodal connectors to seaports in a redesignation of the National Freight Network; $2.4 billion in competitive grants for transportation infrastructure projects; and a national freight plan that is to be revised every five years.


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