Energy news in brief

** Conservation groups are cheering a federal judge’s finding last week that federal agencies improperly authorized hydraulic fracturing in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest.

** Oil giant Saudi Aramco reported its profits dropped 20% in 2019 to $88.2 billion, a sharp decline coming as the kingdom stands ready to flood an already-weakened global energy market amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

** Xcel Energy in Minnesota suspends disconnections and will offer payment plans during the coronavirus outbreak. Consumers Energy announces similar plans for senior and low-income customers in Michigan.

** Officials postpone public meetings in Iowa involving a proposed underground transmission project due to coronavirus concerns.

** The owner of an oil pipeline that spewed thousands of barrels of crude oil onto Southern California beaches in 2015 will pay $60 million to settle allegations that it violated safety laws, EPA announced Friday.

** The Oklahoma Forestry Department says wetting rains late last week through the weekend have served to greatly diminish fire danger across Oklahoma noting that rainfall totals in Cimarron and western Texas Counties registered less than 0.25”. A wet
forecast ahead is expected to further limit fire danger through the week.

** Conservationists on Friday sued the Trump administration over groundwater pumping to serve a military base in southeast Arizona, claiming the activity threatens the region’s last free-flowing river.

** Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) signed a two-year state budget last week while vetoing 19 sections that included across-the-board spending cuts to address falling revenue from the state’s coal, oil and natural gas industries.

**  An Alaska editorial board says it’s hypocrisy for major banks to single out Arctic oil development for divestment.

** An employee at California’s largest oil refinery tested positive for COVID-19 and went into self-quarantine along with several other workers.