Around the Gulf




Texas Leads Renewable Energy Surge, Outpacing Coal with Solar and Wind Power

Despite some public skepticism from its top officials regarding clean power, Texas has positioned itself as a leader in renewable energy in the United States, notably surpassing coal power with its solar energy production. Texas, which has been at the forefront of wind energy since the early 2000s, continues to lead the nation in wind-sourced electricity, contributing 26 percent of the U.S. total in 2022. The state’s solar power sector is also gaining momentum, with a significant 46 percent increase in solar power generation recorded in January compared to the same month in the previous year. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas manages about 90 percent of the state’s grid and is actively expanding renewable resources. With more than 22,000 megawatts of solar power as of January and expectations to surpass 30,000 megawatts, in Texas solar generation is likely to exceed coal-fired generation. Additionally, wind and solar are poised to overtake natural gas as the state’s largest energy resource by 2025, marking another pivotal moment in Texas’s energy transition, all while maintaining its status as the leading oil and gas producer in the nation.  Read more

Houston-Based Apache Corporation Fined $4M

The Justice Department announced that the Houston-based Apache Corporation will pay $4 million in civil penalties for violations of the Clean Air Act in New Mexico and Texas, notably across 23 of its oil and natural gas production facilities. These violations, occurring between 2019 and 2022, involved improper storage of oil leading to increased air pollutants, exacerbating respiratory issues and contributing to higher ozone levels. The lawsuit revealed Apache’s role in significant excess emissions of harmful pollutants, prompting legal action and a settlement that includes a $4 million penalty and a commitment to invest over $5.5 million in emission monitoring and environmentally safer technology. Read more

Texas Wildfire Triggers Lawsuits Against Utility Company for Negligence and Infrastructure Failures

The largest wildfire in Texas history, which consumed more than a million acres and resulted in at least two fatalities, has been linked to a faulty electrical pole owned by Xcel Energy, the electricity provider for Texas’s Panhandle region. This revelation was supported by an investigation from the state’s forest management agency, which identified a decayed wooden pole’s collapse as the ignition point. The March 2024 incident has already led to multiple lawsuits against Xcel Energy by landowners and victims’ families, seeking millions in damages. Read more

Texas School Fund Pulls Assets from BlackRock Citing State Law

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, has expressed disappointment and urged the Texas Permanent School Fund (PSF) to reconsider its decision to pull $8.5 billion in assets due to a 2021 state law that curbed agencies’ business with financial firms accused of boycotting energy companies. BlackRock has generated $250 million for PSF since 2006 and denies allegations of discriminating against oil and gas firms The move is the latest development in a tussle between Republican state and federal officials and Wall Street firms overusing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in investing.  Read more

Lt. Gov. Calls for Pause on Cement Plant Permits Amid Environmental and Economic Concerns

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has called for a temporary halt on the approval of permits for cement production plants until the 2025 legislative session, following concerns raised by residents about the environmental and economic impacts of a proposed cement plant and limestone quarry by Black Mountain Cement in Dorchester. Despite a review by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) suggesting no air quality danger, Patrick highlighted community skepticism and potential negative effects on local businesses and the economy of Grayson County. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency identifies the cement industry as the nation’s third-largest industrial polluter, emitting more than 500,000 tons annually of harmful pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and carbon monoxide. The EPA is currently undertaking its first study in Texas to assess the cumulative public health impacts of pollution from multiple concrete plants. Read more

Lubbock Embraces Open Energy Market: Navigating Choices and Challenges

After years of anticipation, Lubbock has transitioned from relying on a single municipal electric provider – Lubbock Power & Light – to entering the state’s open energy market, a move that has been in the works for several years. This change, aimed at introducing competition and potentially lowering electricity bills, has been met with both excitement and apprehension among residents. With the opening of the market, residents now face over the choice of more than 30 energy companies, a process made accessible through provider fairs but complicated by the sheer number of options and concerns about the stability of the state’s power grid, managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. Read more


States File Suit Against the SEC Regarding Climate-Related Disclosures

The attorneys general of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to stop a new rule that requires publicly traded companies to disclose climate-related financial risks. The states argue that the rule violates the First Amendment and will drive up business costs. SEC Chairman Gary Gensler countered that the rule is necessary to provide investors with consistent and comparable information about climate risk. The rule, which went into effect this week, requires companies to inform investors of the financial risks associated with severe weather events and rising sea levels.  Read more

Joint Venture to Build Renewable Fuel Plant

Construction has begun on a new oilseed processing plant in Destrehan, which will produce feedstocks for renewable fuels. The plant, a joint venture between Bunge and Chevron, will be able to process up to 7,000 tons of soybeans and softseeds per day and is expected to begin operations in 2026. The joint venture aims to combine Bunge’s expertise in oilseed processing and farmer relationships with Chevron’s knowledge of fuel manufacturing and marketing to produce 100,000 barrels daily of renewable and low-carbon fuel by 2030.  Read more

Steel Manufacturer Expands Port Facility

Benteler Steel/Tube Manufacturing will invest $21 million to expand its facility at the Port of Caddo-Bossier in Louisiana. The expansion will include a new threading facility for hot rolled seamless steel tubes, which are used in high-pressure, high-corrosive environments such as the oil and gas industry. The project will be executed in two phases, with the first phase focusing on installing an initial threading line and improving infrastructure, and the second phase expanding the facility to allow for a second thread line by the end of 2026. The expansion is expected to benefit the state’s economy through investment and job creation, as well as support key industries in Louisiana.  Read more

Inaugural Wind Energy Wind Conference Held

Louisiana’s inaugural Wind Energy Week, a conference that convened business leaders, academics, port authorities, state lawmakers, environmental advocates, and global offshore wind developers, was held in February in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and focused on the state’s potential to contribute to the offshore wind supply chain. A recent analysis highlighted that more than 125 Louisiana businesses are poised to produce components for offshore wind turbines, underscoring the state’s readiness to support this emerging industry. Educational institutions in Louisiana are developing programs to prepare the workforce for opportunities in offshore wind, and a statewide offshore wind supply chain study, endorsed by the Louisiana Legislature, has been announced and aims to map out Louisiana’s strategy to maximize its role in the offshore wind industry.  Read more

Martco LLC to Modernize OSB Plant

Martco, LLC, the parent company of RoyOMartin, will invest more than $30 million to modernize its oriented strand board plant in Allen Parish, with new technologically advanced production equipment. The expansion is expected to retain the plant’s 232 full-time employees and create an additional 600 indirect jobs in the state. The project aims to improve product efficiency and meet growing market demands and was made possible by a performance-based Retention and Modernization Grant from Louisiana Economic Development. Read more

Bond Allocation Awarded to Chevron Geismar Diesel Plant

At the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association’s annual conference, Governor Jeff Landry announced a significant $100 million bond allocation for Chevron’s Geismar Renewable Diesel Plant expansion project. This initiative is set to create 90 permanent and 1,500 temporary jobs, underlining the administration’s commitment to the oil and gas industry and economic growth within Louisiana. Governor Landry also signed a Proclamation and an Executive Order aimed at streamlining permitting processes for the industry, reinforcing the message that Louisiana is actively supporting the sector’s development. The expansion, which was initially announced in 2020 but lacked the bond allocation from the previous governor, will significantly increase the plant’s capacity for renewable diesel production, boosting it from 90 million gallons to 340 million gallons annually.   Read more

Bernhard Capital Partners to Acquire CenterPoint Energy’s Gas Operations in $1.2 Billion Deal

Bernhard Capital Partners has announced a $1.2 billion acquisition of CenterPoint Energy’s natural gas distribution operations in Louisiana and Mississippi, with the transaction expected to close in the first quarter of 2025, pending antitrust and state regulatory approvals. This follows Bernhard’s previous announcement to buy Entergy’s natural gas distribution business for $484 million, a deal set to conclude in mid-2025. Upon finalizing both acquisitions, Bernhard will emerge as a leading natural gas utility in both states, ranking among the top 40 in the United States. The firm aims to establish a Louisiana-based utility company focusing on natural gas delivery. The acquisition from CenterPoint includes 12,000 miles of pipelines in the two states, serving about 247,000 customers, primarily residential, in Louisiana. Approval from the Louisiana Public Service Commission is required for both purchases, with proceedings yet to be scheduled.  Read more


Mississippi to Expand Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure with $50 Million Federal Investment

Currently the state with the lowest number of public electric vehicle (EV) charging stations per capita in the U.S., Mississippi is set to expand its infrastructure with a $50 million boost from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The state has only 145 charging stations, significantly below the national average. The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) plans to use the federal funding to add approximately 30 new stations along the state’s major highways by 2026 or 2027. The new stations, costing between $500,000 and $1.5 million each, will be strategically placed along key interstates with requirements for spacing and accessibility. MDOT is in the process of issuing requests for proposals, with the first round expected to conclude by mid-2025. Read more

Mississippi’s Golden Triangle Regional Airport Unveils First Electric Aircraft Charging Station

Golden Triangle Regional Airport in Mississippi, in collaboration with Avflight and Beta Technologies, has introduced the state’s first electric aircraft charging station. The charging station is designed to accommodate various aircraft models, not limited to those manufactured by Beta, thereby enhancing the airport’s versatility. The facility features two chargers: a level 3 fast charger for aircraft within a secured area and a level 2 charger for electric ground vehicles accessible to the public. Beta Technologies also offers a mobile app for easy interaction with both chargers. The charging station can fully charge Beta’s prototype aircraft, the ALIA CTOL, in about an hour, offering a cost-efficient alternative to traditional aviation fuel.   Read more


Fuel Spill from Overturned 18-Wheeler Causes Environmental Damage in Birmingham

On March 2, an 18-wheeler transporting 7,500 gallons of gasoline overturned on Interstate 59 in northeast Birmingham after hitting a guardrail, subsequently being hit by an SUV, which intensified the accident. According to emergency management officials, the crash led to approximately 2,100 gallons of gasoline and diesel spilling into a nearby grassy embankment and a significant quantity entering Village Creek via a drainage outlet, causing a considerable fish kill in the area.  Read more

Home Explosion Linked to Mining Activity

In early March, a tragic explosion destroyed a home near Adger, critically injuring both and resulting in one death. The explosion occurred above a section where Crimson Oak Grove Resources, LLC, had scheduled mining activities. An investigation linked the incident to the mining operations beneath their home, leading to a lawsuit by the family against Oak Grove Mine, its parent company, and a contractor for their roles in the tragedy. The event has prompted community concern over the mine’s impact, including disruptions like the closure of a local park and fuel shortages at gas stations. Before the March 8 explosion, the Oak Grove mine was cited by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) at least 160 times for significant safety violations, indicating a high likelihood of serious injury or illness. In 2015, a methane gas buildup led to a mine evacuation, and since August 2022, there were five incidents of gas or dust ignition. Following the explosion, MSHA issued 107 violations against Oak Grove, 40 of which were significant, covering a range of issues from inadequate miner training and safety measures to insufficient fire suppression and the dangerous accumulation of combustible materials within the mine.  Read more


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