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Energy Update - May 2017

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May 1, 2017

The number of drilling rigs at work in Texas rose to a count of 426, more than double the rig count at this time last year, according to an April 21st report by Baker Hughes. Nationally, there were 857 rigs at work, up from 809 at this time last month. Overall, US crude production is rising slowly and has reached 9,265 million barrels/day. Meanwhile, the price of West Texas crude spent the month hovering around the $50 mark.

Meanwhile, a US District Court Judge in Houston ordered ExxonMobil to pay nearly $20 million to compensate victims of air pollution near their Baytown refinery. The court order was a huge win for environmental groups, who had long argued that Exxon’s refineries had been skirting Clean Air Act rules.

In West Texas, a low-level radioactive waste storage facility was put on hold as it came under increasing political and public scrutiny. The company handling the process, Waste Control Specialists, says it still plans to finish construction of the facility but is resolving outstanding regulatory issues. In the past, federal plans for a radioactive waste disposal at Yucca Mountain in Nevada collapsed under a torrent of public and political opposition. Without disposal facilities, radioactive waste is often haphazardly stored on the sites where it is generated. 

In Austin, Senate Bill 600 by Senator Konni Burton (R-Colleyville) was heard in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources. SB 600 would repeal a major state incentive program for renewable energy development, known as Chapter 313. The bill was left pending in committee.