Energy news in brief

** President Joe Biden’s ambitious electric vehicle plan has run into a huge hurdle with U.S. trade law, forcing him to choose between swing-state jobs and American intellectual property rules that have come under intense scrutiny during the Covid-19 pandemic.

**  A U.S. auto industry group on Monday urged the government to help as it warned the global semiconductor shortage could result in 1.28 million fewer vehicles built this year and disrupt production for another six months.

** According to the Heating Oil and Propane Update, the average residential price of propane in the United States averaged $2.30 per gallon (gal) as of March 29, which was nearly 43 cents/gal higher than at the same time last year.

** Royal Dutch Shell invests in a sustainable fuel company building an “alcohol-to-jet” facility in Georgia, the latest in a string of deals to gird the oil company for the clean energy transition.

**  Federal officials award $91 million to electric power associations across Mississippi to expand rural broadband internet service.

** The natural gas industry found a cozy regulatory environment in Texas, but it failed to deliver when needed during February’s winter storm, an economics professor writes in the Dallas Morning News.

** Wall Street firms that invested in natural gas plants made millions in profits from February’s storm, partly because they took steps to manage risk and remain operational during severe weather according to the Wall Street Journal.

** Natural gas companies and San Antonio’s city-owned utility trade accusations in court filings over blame for unexpected costs from February’s storm.

** Wisconsin officials order Enbridge to investigate the extent of contamination from a 2019 pipeline spill that leaked more than 1,200 gallons of petroleum products.

** A South Dakota agency wants 15% of the state’s Volkswagen settlement funds to help pay for more electric vehicle fast-charging stations. 

** Hilcorp shuts down two offshore production platforms in Alaska’s Cook Inlet after a helicopter pilot spotted bubbling waters from a natural gas leak last week.

** West Virginia U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin is against President Biden’s massive infrastructure package as is — and he’s not alone. Some “six or seven” other Democrats are also concerned about the proposal, which would hike the corporate tax rate a bit too far for Manchin’s liking to 28 percent.

**  Amazon illegally retaliated against two of its most prominent internal critics when it fired them last year, the National Labor Relations Board has determined. The employees, Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, had publicly pushed the company to reduce its impact on climate change and address concerns about its warehouse workers.

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