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Energy Update - April 2017

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April 1, 2017

The number of drilling rigs at work in Texas rose to a count of 494, according to a March 24th report by Baker Hughes. Nationally, there were 809 rigs at work, up from 754 at this time last month. Overall, US crude production is rising gradually and currently stands at 9,147 million barrels/day. Meanwhile, the price of West Texas crude has decreased this month from $54.01/barrel to $49.51/barrel.

In Washington, President Donald Trump signed a major executive order undoing the Clean Power Plan, signaling a major shift in US energy policy. The Clean Power Plan was the signature initiative of the Obama administration to combat climate change by instructing states to reduce power plant emissions of carbon dioxide. President Trump falsely claimed that the repeal of the Clean Power Plan would restore lost jobs in the coal industry, which has been in long-term decline due to competitive pressures from cheaper, cleaner renewables and natural gas. The Clean Power Plan was part of the United States' commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement, the landmark accord that committed nearly all countries to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Meanwhile in Austin, the Texas Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and Border Security considered SB 277, which would strip wind power developments of tax abatements if they are located within 30 nautical miles of a military base. The bill is sponsored by Senator Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels), who says she is responding to complaints from some military airfields about the level of wind development on private land near their bases. The 30 nautical mile exclusion zone around all bases includes 39% of the state’s wind farms, and is fiercely opposed by the Texas wind industry. Senator Uresti opposes SB 277, citing the existing review process conducted by the Department of Defense as sufficient for dealing with concerns. The measure passed out of committee but has stalled before reaching the Senate Floor.