From Keystone to the PTC: 10 Big Energy Stories for 2012

Yahoo Contributor Network

From Keystone to the looming expiration of the Production Tax Credit, energy issues were big news in 2012. Here is a look back at some of the biggest U.S. energy stories of the year.

1. The Keystone XL Pipeline: In January, the U.S. State Department denied the presidential permit for TransCanada to construct the Keystone XL pipeline. The project was split into two smaller projects, with the Gulf Coast portion of the pipeline, from Cushing, Okla., to Nederland, Texas, commencing in August. Another application was submitted to the State Dept. in May for the Keystone XL pipeline to be built from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Neb.

2. The EPA's new pollution controls: According to a November study , new regulations from the EPA regarding air emissions, water use and combustion residuals from coal-fired power plants will cost about $100 billion annually and about 2 million jobs.

3. A new nuclear reactor design: After Westinghouse Electric Co. won regulatory approval of its new AP1000 reactor design in December 2011, that reactor design went on to gain license approval in February by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for construction of the first new nuclear reactors since 1978. In early December, Southern Co. hosted a media day at plant Vogtle, where construction on the $14 billion units 3 and 4 was continuing.

4. Marcellus Shale: According to the Associated Press , the Marcellus Shale became the most productive natural gas field in the nation in 2012, with wells in Pennsylvania and West Virginia now producing 7 billion cubic feet of gas per day.

5. The San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant: After a trace of radiation was found at the California nuclear power plant, the plant was shut down in January. According to the Associated Press , talks continued this month between Southern California Edison and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as to when -- and if -- the plant can reopen.

6. Imports vs. exports: President Obama stated in December that the U.S. is on track to become a net exporter of natural gas by 2016. As reported by Reuters , increasing domestic energy production was a key presidential campaign issue this year. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported in August that the boom in oil production from shale formations led to the U.S. dropping its imports to 42 percent this year.

7. Oil and gas leases: In December, the Department of the Interior announced that oil and gas lease sales on public lands generated $233 million in 2012. The BLM held 31 onshore oil and gas sales this year, with offered parcels covering more than 6 million acres -- a 38 percent increase over what was offered in 2011.

8. The price of gas in California: Sharp spikes in gas prices in California prompted Sen. Dianne Feinstein in October to ask the Federal Trade Commission to investigate. In November, six senators sent a letter asking the Department of Justice to look into market manipulation or false reporting by the refineries.

9. The Renewable Fuel Standard: In November, the EPA denied the requests of several state governors to waive the Renewable Fuel Standard due to drought conditions.

10. The Production Tax Credit: In December, the American Wind Energy Association was again calling on Congress extend the wind energy Production Tax Credit. The PTC is set to expire on Dec. 31 unless renewed by Congress. Up to 37,000 jobs across the country could be lost by the first quarter of 2013 if the credit expires.

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