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The EPA Snake Pit

By Alan Caruba

Under President Obama, two women have been the director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Carol Browner, who served in the Clinton administration and was one of the “czars” Obama appointed; her acolyte Lisa Jackson, and up for the post is Gina McCarthy. Browner and Jackson went out of their way to conceal their internal communications from Congress and McCarthy lied to the committee considering her nomination.

How bad is the EPA? The Society of Environmental Journalists, on the occasion of the April 11 hearing on McCarthy’s nomination, released a statement that said, “The Obama administration has been anything but transparent in its dealings with reporters seeking information, interviews and clarification on a host of environmental, health and public lands issues.” The SEJ accused the EPA of being “one of the most closed, opaque agencies to the press.”

Apparently, the primary consideration for the job of EPA Director is an intense desire to destroy the use of hydrocarbons, oil, coal and natural gas, for transportation and all other forms of energy on which our economy depends. Obama, when campaigning in 2008, made it clear he wanted end the use of coal to generate electricity. At the time, fifty percent of all electricity was produced by coal and now that figure is in decline as coal-fired plants are being forced to close thanks to EPA regulations.

If Ms. McCarthy has her way, the cost of driving cars and trucks will go up in the name of protecting the health of Americans. As Paul Driessen, a senior policy advisor for the Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow, recently noted, “Since 1970, America’s cars have eliminated 99% of pollutants that once came out of tailpipes.” Joel Schwartz, co-author of “Air Quality in America”, points out, “Today’s cars are essentially zero-emission vehicles, compared to 1970 models.” The EPA’s latest attack on drivers is the implementation of “Tier 3 rules” intended to reduce sulfur levels to achieve zero air quality or health benefits.

Suffice to say that the air and water in America is clean, very clean. Whatever health hazards existed in the 1970s no longer exist. Like all bureaucracies, the EPA now exists to expand its budget and its control over our lives. The Heritage Foundation has calculated that Obama’s EPA’s twenty “major” regulations—those that cost $100 million or more annually—could cost the U.S. more than $36 billion per year. Obama’s EPA has generated 1,920 new regulations.

Don’t think of the EPA as a government agency. It is a weapon of economic destruction.

This has not gone unnoticed. A recent Wall Street Journal opinion by John Barrasso, a Republican Senator from Wyoming, noted that “During President Obama’s first term, EPA policies discouraged energy exploration, buried job creators under red tape, and deliberately hid information from the public.”

“Many EPA regulations,” said Sen. Barrasso, “chased microscopic benefits at maximum cost,” noting for example that “The EPA has proposed dropping the acceptable amount of ozone in the air from the 75 parts per billion allowed today to 60 or 70 parts per billion. The agency concedes that the rule would have a minimal effect on American’s health, but says it would cost as much as $90 billion a year. A study by the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation estimated it would eliminate up to 7.3 million jobs in a wide variety of industries, including refining.”

The other sector in the EPA’s bull’s eye is agriculture. Not content with laying siege to auto manufacturers, oil refineries, coal-fired plants, and all other energy users that might generate carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases, Barrasso noted that the EPA “has gathered personal information about tens of thousands of livestock farmers and the locations of their operations” which it then shared with environmental groups.

Writing in The Daily Caller, Henry Miller, a physician and molecular biologist and currently the Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, characterized the EPA as “a miasma populated by the most radical, disaffected and anti-industry discards from other agencies,” adding that there was “entrenched institutional paranoia and an oppositional world view.”

“Unscientific policies and regulatory grandiosity and excess,” wrote Dr. Miller, “are not EPA’s only failings; neglecting to weigh costs and benefits is shockingly common, noting that “The EPA’s repeated failures should not come as a surprise because the agency has long been a haven for scientifically insupportable policies perpetrated by anti-technology ideologues.”

Marlo Lewis, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, writing in Forbes magazine, pointed out Gina McCarthy, the nominee to direct the EPA, “has a history of misleading Congress and the public about her agency’s greenhouse gas regulations. “At a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in October 2011, McCarthy denied motor vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards are “related to” fuel economy standards. In doing so,” said Lewis, “she denied plain facts she must know to be true. She did so under oath.”

“The EPA has no statutory authority to regulate fuel economy. More importantly, the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act prohibits states from adopting laws or regulations ‘related to’ fuel economy.”

The point of this exercise is demonstrate that the EPA is the very definition of a “rogue agency” for which neither laws, nor science, are of any consequence as it pursues policies that do incalculable harm at a time when the nation is deep in debt and in need of economic growth, not regulatory strangulation.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

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Anadarko Finds Hydrocarbons Offshore Sierra Leone

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Anadarko’s Jupiter-1 exploration well in Block SL-07B-11 offshore Sierra Leone has encountered hydrocarbons. This has been confirmed by the results of drilling, wireline logs and samples of reservoir fluids.

The well, located over 25 kilometres west of the Mercury-1 well which discovered oil in the block, intersected 30 metres of hydrocarbon pay in the primary Upper Cretaceousobjective and did not encounter a hydrocarbon water contact. The well has been preserved for possible future re-entry, as the area is likely to require additional evaluation.

Jupiter-1 was drilled by the Transocean Discoverer Spirit drillship to a total depth of 6,465 metres in a water depth of 2,199 metres. On completion of operations, the drillship will move 15km northeast to the Mercury-2 well which will target several reservoir levels including extensions of the oil accumulations discovered by the Mercury-1 well.

Anadarko (55%) is Operator of offshore Block SL-07B-11 along with partners Repsol (25%) and Tullow (20%).

Angus McCoss, Exploration Director of Tullow, commented today:

“Jupiter is the third discovery in the Liberian Basin by Tullow and its Partners and provides further support for the stratigraphic play in the region. The presence of a working petroleum system producing gas and light oil in the basin is encouraging. Our technical teams will continue evaluating prospectivity across our significant regional acreage position. We will further test the play through the drilling of Mercury-2 in Sierra Leone and Kosrou-1 which is currently drilling in Côte d’Ivoire.”

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USA: McMoRan Encounters More Hydrocarbons at Lafitte Prospect

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McMoRan Exploration Co., a shallow water Gulf of Mexico exploration company, reported yesterday that its Lafitte ultra-deep prospect, which is located on Eugene Island Block 223 in approximately 140 feet of water, has encountered additional hydrocarbons.

The well has been  drilled to a true vertical depth of 29,756 feet and has been logged with wireline logs to 29,740 feet. The wireline log results indicated 56 net feet of hydrocarbon bearing sand over a 58 foot gross interval in the Cris-R section of the Lower  Miocene with good porosity. Flow testing will be required to confirm the ultimate hydrocarbon flow rates from this zone, which was full to base. McMoRan controls approximately 15,000 gross acres in the immediate area of Lafitte.

The new Cris-R sand interval combined with the 115 feet of potential net pay (250 gross feet) announced previously brings the total possible productive net sands to 171 feet in the Lafitte well. These results enhance the potential of McMoRan’s  other acreage in the Lafitte strategic area, including McMoRan’s Barataria and Captain Blood ultra-deep prospects. Barataria (10,000 gross acres) is located westsouthwest of Lafitte and Captain Blood (10,000 gross acres) is located immediately  south of Lafitte.

McMoRan plans to apply for a permit to deepen the Lafitte well to a proposed total depth of 32,000 feet to evaluate deeper Miocene and Oligocene objectives. Lafitte is McMoRan’s third ultra-deep prospect to encounter Miocene age sands below the salt weld on the GOM Shelf. McMoRan holds a 72.0 percent working interest and a 58.3 percent net revenue interest in Lafitte. Other working interest owners in Lafitte include Energy XXI (NASDAQ: EXXI) (18.0%) and Moncrief Offshore  LLC (10.0%).

McMoRan Exploration Co. is an independent public company engaged in the exploration, development and production of natural gas and oil in the shallow waters of the GOM Shelf and onshore in the Gulf Coast area.

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Brazil: Petrobras Discovers Hydrocarbons in Campos Basin

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Petroleo Brasileiro SA , Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, found traces of oil and gas in an offshore well in the C-M-95 block of the country’s Campos Basin.

The discovery in well 3BRSA960DRJS hasn’t yet been declared commercially viable, according to a posting on the website of Brazil’s National Petroleum Agency.

Petrobras owns 100 percent of the well.

By Karen Eeuwens (Bloomberg)

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