Financial digest

April 9, 2013
energy
Energy Dept. choice backs natural gas use

President Obama’s choice to lead the Energy Department pledged Tuesday to increase the use of natural gas as a way to combat climate change even as the nation seeks to boost domestic energy production.

Ernest Moniz, a physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said “a stunning increase” in production of domestic natural gas in recent years was nothing less than a “revolution” that has led to reduced emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that cause global warming.

The natural gas boom also has led to a dramatic expansion of manufacturing and job creation, Moniz told the Senate Energy Committee, which is considering his nomination.

Even so, Moniz stopped short of endorsing widespread exports of natural gas, saying he wanted to study the issue further.

A recent study commissioned by the Energy Department concluded that exporting natural gas would benefit the U.S. economy even if it led to higher domestic prices for the fuel. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate energy panel, called the DOE study flawed and said it relied on old data and unrealistic market assumptions.

Moniz said he is open to reviewing the study to ensure that officials have the best possible data before making any decisions.

— Associated Press

Also in Business

l  Exxon Mobil was found liable Tuesday in a lawsuit over groundwater contamination caused by the gasoline additive MTBE. The jury awarded New Hampshire all $236 million it was seeking to monitor and remediate groundwater contaminated by MTBE. The chemical was added to gasoline to reduce smog.

l  Borrowers whose homes were in foreclosure in 2009 or 2010 can expect to receive $300 to $125,000 under settlements reached between top banks and U.S. regulators earlier this year. The payments will begin going out Friday, the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said Tuesday. The agencies said 1,082 borrowers who were active-duty members of the military had foreclosures completed on their homes and would receive $125,000 each. The largest numbers of borrowers, about 3 million, will receive between $300 and $600.

l  A group of companies led by Microsoft has called on European authorities to launch an
antitrust investigation into Google’s dominance of Internet usage on mobile devices. The complaint comes from the “FairSearch” initiative of 17 companies, including Microsoft, Nokia and Oracle. The group claims that Google is acting unfairly by requiring device makers using its free Android operating system to bundle an entire suite of Google’s services to ensure they can include just one or two “must-have” apps, such as Google Maps and YouTube. A spokesman for the European Commission, the 27-nation bloc’s antitrust authority, confirmed the complaint had been received.

l  The United States lowered its forecast for natural gas output in 2013 by 0.4 percent and raised its outlook for prices. Marketed gas production will average a record 69.33 billion cubic feet a day this year, down from 69.6 billion estimated in March, the Energy Information Administration said Tuesday. Gas prices at the benchmark Henry Hub in Erath, La., will average $3.52 per million British thermal units, higher than the previous estimate of $3.41, according to the report.

l  Amtrak ridership increased in the first six months of fiscal 2013, with ridership in March setting a record as the single best month in Amtrak’s history, the railroad said Tuesday. Ridership grew 0.9 percent from October 2012 to March compared with the prior year.

— From news services

Coming Today

l  2 p.m.: The Federal Reserve releases minutes from the March meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee.

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