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Obama floats plan for 1st-ever drilling lease in Atlantic
The Associated Press via Portland Press Herald
The Obama administration recently floated a plan that for the first time would open up a broad swath of the Atlantic Coast to drilling, even as it moved to restrict drilling indefinitely in environmentally-sensitive areas off Alaska. The proposal envisions auctioning areas located more than 50 miles off Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia to oil companies no earlier than 2021, long after President Barack Obama leaves office.
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Legislative Updates



Letter to the editor: Climate-warming statistics often intentionally deceive
Portland Press Herald
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated that "2014 averaged … 1.24 degrees above the 20th-century average," and NASA agreed that it was the hottest as compared to the 1951-1980 average. We have two agencies saying the same thing but using totally different time periods, and using data that is not even available. It is likely they have read the book titled "How to Lie with Statistics."
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Legislature considering measures to lower solar power costs
Maine Public Broadcasting
Maine could increase the use of solar power for electricity, heating and cooling homes under measures before the state Legislature this year. Among the proposals under consideration, allowing more cooperation between individuals to generate solar energy, and providing rebates to lower costs and improve affordability.
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LePage appointee to utilities commission gets unanimous nod from Maine Senate
Portland Press Herald
The state Senate on Jan. 29 unanimously confirmed Gov. Paul LePage's nominee to a state board that plays a key role in energy and utilities regulation. The Senate voted 33-0 in favor of seating Carlisle McLean on the Public Utilities Commission. McLean, who has been LePage's chief legal counsel since 2013, will serve a four-year term, filling the open seat left by former Chairman Tom Welch, who retired in December before his term was up.
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Senate passes bill to build Keystone pipeline
The Associated Press via Portland Press Herald
The Republican-controlled Senate on Jan. 29 approved a bipartisan bill to construct the Keystone XL oil pipeline, defying a presidential veto threat and setting up the first of many battles with the White House over energy and the environment. The 62-36 vote advanced a top priority of the newly empowered Republicans, and marked the first time the Senate passed a bill authorizing the pipeline, despite numerous attempts to force President Barack Obama's hand on the issue. Nine Democrats joined with 53 Republicans to back the measure.
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UMF gets OK to build biomass heating plant as natural gas hopes fizzle
Morning Sentinel
The University of Maine at Farmington is proposing to build an $11 million wood chip-fueled heating plant, which will reduce the school's carbon footprint and close the door to a natural gas pipeline to the town in the foreseeable future. The project was recently approved by the University of Maine System board of trustees.
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Al Franken brings the 'you didn't build that' to fracking boomers
The Huffington Post
With a bevy of fellow senators and natural gas industry experts angling to jack up profits by boosting gas exports, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., had a reminder for them in a recent Senate hearing: You didn't build that gas boom — taxpayers did. Natural gas prices have plummeted since 2005, as firms across the nation have aggressively deployed hydraulic fracturing technologies to extract gas from shale formations deep underground.
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Insurance Topics



A bad combination: Drugs and alcohol in the workplace
Federated Insurance
Where do substance abusers work? Anywhere they can! Seventy-two percent of drug users are employed — but you won't find them working at businesses with effective drug- and alcohol-free workplace programs. Statistics on substance abusers are frightening.
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MEMA Technical Education Center - MTEC



Propane + Natural Gas night classes: Starting Feb. 10!
MEMA
Click here for the schedule.
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Winter HVAC Professional Certification Program full
MEMA
Enroll now for the fall session!
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2014 MTEC students and alumni appear in WMTW channel 8 commercial
MEMA via Facebook
WMTW and MTEC came together to create two great new commercials, both featuring current 2014 MTEC students and some well-recognized alumni! Be sure to follow MTEC on Facebook to stay current with breaking news, course announcements and more interesting videos!
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Why should you choose a career in HVAC?
MEMA
Whether it's job security and great benefits you are after, or you are just ready for a career change, take a moment to Explore the HVAC Industry to determine if this is a good career fit for you or someone you know. The future looks bright for HVAC!
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Industry Headlines



Junk food and alcohol — plain packaging's next target
NACS
With tobacco plain packaging laws in effect in Australia and the pending plan to follow suit in the U.K., some speculate that junk food and alcohol could be the next products to be targeted for generic packaging as a means to dissuade consumers from purchasing the items. The U.K.'s plan to make tobacco companies sell their wares in standardized packs starting next year has revived concern among a broad group of consumer-product companies that other goods deemed unhealthy may be next in line for plain packaging.
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Boston-area natural gas pipeline leaks amount to $90 million annually
WBUR
Harvard researchers say millions of dollars' worth of natural gas escapes from the Boston area's aging pipes and tanks each year. The study by atmospheric scientists at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences was published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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Boston's natural gas infrastructure releases high levels of heat-trapping methane
Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Imagine if every time you filled your car with gas, a few gallons didn't make it into the tank and instead spilled onto the ground. That's essentially what happens every day with the aging system of underground pipes and tanks that delivers natural gas to Boston-area households and businesses, with adverse economic, public health and environmental consequences. Now a group of atmospheric scientists at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has produced hard numbers that quantify the extent of the problem.
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US DOT announces random drug and alcohol test rates for 2015
Petroleum Marketers Association America
The U.S. DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires employers to test all intrastate and interstate CDL drivers for drug and alcohol use. FMCSA requires employers to schedule both announced and unannounced drug and alcohol tests. Each year, the FMCSA establishes rates for the minimum percentage of CDL drivers within a company that must undergo random drug and alcohol testing. The FMCSA 2015 random test rate is 50 percent for drugs and 10 percent for alcohol. These are the same rates as 2014.
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New propane autogas nozzle to modernize refueling
Domestic Fuel
A new nozzle for fueling propane vehicles is being touted as being able to "brings autogas refueling into the modern age at the fuel pump." Staubli's new Autogas Nozzle is suited for new installations, as well as being able to be retrofitted for existing autogas vehicles.
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Miss an issue of MEMA Randoms? Click here to visit MEMA Randoms archive page.


New England growing more dependent on natural gas
OilPrice.com
New England may avoid a spike in natural gas prices this winter, but the region is becoming increasingly dependent on the fuel, ensuring that price spikes in future years are not out of the question. A year ago, the polar vortex brought several bouts of low temperatures and heavy snow to the northeast, causing demand for heating and electricity to jump.
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Lower price of heating oil brings cold comfort to Mainers in need
Kennebec Journal via Portland Press Herald
With heating oil costs down more than $1 per gallon compared to last year, fuel assistance programs in Maine are seeing their dollars go further. But for many people desperate for assistance, the lower price isn't much of a respite, according to administrators of those programs and others who hear firsthand from those in need.
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Deliveries of liquefied natural gas take edge off region's supply gap
Portland Press Herald
A tanker recently offloaded enough liquefied natural gas at Boston Harbor to heat 30,000 homes for a year, bolstering New England's tight pipeline capacity just as a new wave of below-average temperatures threatens to strain energy supplies. But some advocates say this strategic slug of LNG during the coldest days of the winter can do more: It may help lower wholesale power prices from Connecticut to Maine, helping to hold down the cost of electricity for homeowners and businesses.
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Wood banks start to catch on in Maine, but not without some growing pains
The Bangor Daily News
It's hard to keep a good idea under wraps. Maybe that's why the Waldo County Woodshed, a nonprofit started by a group of local people who want to provide firewood to low-income and fixed-income folks, is starting to catch on like wildfire. "Everything is happening at once," Coleen Marsh, the secretary of the Belfast-based organization, said. "Obviously, there's a lot of need, because we've gotten a lot of requests."
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Exxon could be the big winner of the oil crash
Bloomberg
These are tough times for oil companies. Crude prices have fallen 60 percent since last June, demand remains relatively weak, and the world is still producing more oil than it needs. Not to mention that with crude getting harder to find and costlier to extract, oil companies are spending more money for every barrel they produce — hardly a recipe for steady profits.
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Convenience Store News



State of vape
NACS
While the federal government mulls how to regulate electronic cigarettes, many states are growing tired of waiting. Recently, California issued a 21-page report warning that young people could become addicted to nicotine "if lawmakers don't step in to regulate the fast-growing industry soon," reports the Wall Street Journal, adding that a "record 60-plus bills designed to rein in the fast-growing vape industry are being considered in 21 state legislatures stretching from Oregon to Virginia."
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LAST WEEK'S MOST POPULAR ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    If you like your $2 gasoline and heating oil, you can keep it (MEMA President Jamie Py via Maine Wire)
'Reformulated gas' to make a comeback in Maine (Portland Press Herald)
Winter energy crisis averted, but long-term strategy still needed (The Bangor Daily News)
Is $5 a gallon gas on its way? This expert thinks so (The Daily Signal)
Residents raise questions about product in pipeline (keepMEcurrent.com)

Don't be left behind. Click here to see what else you missed.

 



MEMA Randoms
Colby Horton, Vice President of Publishing, 469.420.2601
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Christina Nava, Content Editor, 469.420.2612  
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