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  • Industry Insiders and Administration Officials in Backroom Machinations to Preserve Coal Royalty Loophole

    first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Washington Post:Top Interior Department officials worked privately with energy industry representatives during the first weeks of the Trump administration to suspend a new accounting system that would have forced companies to pay millions of dollars more in royalties to the government, documents show.The push to suspend the Obama-era rule, which is the subject of three federal lawsuits in Wyoming, took on a sense of urgency after an attorney for the coal company Cloud Peak Energy first suggested the move in late January. In email exchanges contained in more than 1,000 pages, obtained by the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council under the Freedom of Information Act, top Interior officials raced to address industry concerns by halting a system that had just taken effect on Jan. 1.Under Secretary Ryan Zinke, the department has launched a broad reassessment of what to charge firms extracting oil, natural gas, coal and other minerals from federal lands and waters, with an eye toward boosting domestic energy production. Interior on Wednesday held the inaugural meeting of a new Royalty Policy Committee, with Zinke’s energy counselor, Vincent DeVito, saying President Trump’s desire for “energy dominance” will help guide royalty rules as well as other aspects of department decision-making.“This committee has a job unlike any other in the past,” DeVito said of the industry-heavy panel. It “has an agenda and authorization to pursue” energy development, he added.Before Zinke or DeVito even arrived at Interior, though, career officials were reassessing how they should regulate these industries in light of Trump’s victory. The discussion focused on whether to revisit a method the Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) had adopted just months earlier for calculating royalties for minerals extracted on federal land.The goal behind the change was to prevent firms from underpaying what they owe the government by selling coal to subsidiaries at an artificially low price — a strategy the government estimates costs taxpayers $75 million a year. Industry officials called the new requirements unclear and burdensome and wanted them halted before they had to file under the system for the first time.More: Interior Department worked behind the scenes with energy industry to reverse royalties rule Industry Insiders and Administration Officials in Backroom Machinations to Preserve Coal Royalty Loopholelast_img read more

  • Latest credit union trends report shows membership and loan portfolio growth

    first_imgCredit unions are gaining members and growing loan portfolios according to our latest trends report. The economic outlook published today, and highlights include the following:During February, credit unions picked-up 538,000 in new memberships, loan and savings balances grew at a 12.8 percent and 8.4 percent seasonally-adjusted annualized pace, respectively. Firms hired 235,000 workers, nominal consumer spending increased 0.1 percent, and long-term interest rates decreased 1 basis point. Real GDP growth is expected to accelerate to 2.3 percent in 2017, faster than the 1.6 percent pace reported in 2016.At the end of February, CUNA’s monthly estimates reported 5,977 CUs in operation, 9 fewer than one month earlier. Year-over-year, the number of credit unions declined by 242, more than the 241 lost in the 12 months ending in February 2016.Total credit union assets rose 1.9 percent in February, above the 1.4 percent gain reported in February of 2016. Assets rose 7.9 percent during the past year due to a 7.5 percent increase in deposits, a 28 percent increase in borrowings, and a 5.7 percent increase in capital. continue reading » 18SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

  • FHFA won’t defend structure’s constitutionality

    first_imgThe Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) won’t defend the constitutionality of its structure, according to a brief filed this week in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.A three-judge panel for the Fifth Circuit last year determined that the agency “is unconstitutionally structured and violates the separation of powers.” However, the full court is now rehearing the case.Although the supplemental filing indicates that the FHFA believes “it is unnecessary for this Court to reach the constitutionality of the … for-cause removal provision” in this specific case, if the court does determine that the issue must be resolved, “FHFA will not defend the constitutionality of [the] for-cause removal provision and agrees … that the provision infringes on the President’s control of executive authority.”On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear a lawsuit challenging the structure of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, which is also under a single director, only removable for cause. Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit sitting en banc upheld the bureau’s constitutionality in another case brought by PHH Corp. However, there continues to be challenges in other courts: the Fifth Circuit is tentatively scheduled to hear oral arguments March 11 for a challenge to the bureau’s constitutionality brought by defendants accused by the bureau in 2016 of engaging in unfair payday lending conduct, and a federal judge in New York – months after the D.C. Circuit’s decision –  ruled the bureau’s structure unconstitutional. ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading »last_img read more

  • Corey Seager opening eyes in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization

    first_img“It’s out of my control,” he said. “I am just trying to do the best job I can and get better every day, wherever I’m at.”First-year Quakes manager P.J. Forbes said he has been pleased with his player’s approach.“He is a very mature kid for his 20 years,” Forbes said. “He has a grasp of what he needs to do to get better and how he needs to go about it. He’ll come up to me between innings and ask a question and it’s the exact question I’m hoping he’s going to ask. He has a good head for the game.”That head for the game comes from being around it and having two older brothers who also play it for a living.Kyle, 26, is in his fourth year with the Seattle Mariners, having reached the majors after just two years in the minors. Justin, 22, is with the Mariners’ Low-A team in Clinton (Iowa) of the Midwest League, after being drafted last year out of UNC-Charlotte.Both have provided a valuable sounding board for the trials and tribulations that come with trying to navigate the minor leagues.The brothers talk often, depending on who is playing in what time zone.“Everything I am going through, (Kyle) already has been through. And everything I am going through, Justin is going through with me,” Corey said. “It definitely helps to have them there when I need them. There is nothing one or more of us haven’t been through.”That acumen has served Seager well. He has worked hard with Quakes hitting coach Mike Eylward, who coached Seager last year in Great Lakes. “He has really grown as a hitter,” Eylward said. “He is really thinking about how pitchers are trying to throw him and what he needs to do to counter that. He has come a long way in that respect.” But it’s the defensive side where Seager has focused much of his efforts. He credits Pat Listach, a coach in the organization last year who is now with the Houston Astros, as well as Juan Castro, the Dodger organization’s infield coordinator.“We’re very happy with where he is at this point in his development,” said De Jon Watson, the Dodgers vice president of player development. “He has a the complete skill set. It’s just a matter of fine-tuning things. It’s really just small things — getting a littler quicker when it comes to pitch recognition, the angle he is taking a ball defensively. But those are very minor things.”Seager has also learned in the past year how to deal with the grind of playing every day. Last year was his first full one as a professional, although he was plagued by a torn hamstring that sidelined him for 34 games. He participated in both the Arizona Fall League and instructional ball to compensate for the time lost.He strained the hamstring in April and missed nine days. But this time he knew better than to try to play through it and got healthy before coming back so it wouldn’t be a lingering problem.The Dodgers’ brain trust has been so pleased with the progress of their prized prospect, it might present them with an interesting dilemma as to whether or not to sign Hanley Ramirez to a long-term extension. Some baseball experts say Seager might be better suited for third base because of his size. Those in the Dodgers’ camp don’t appear to be thinking that way. “He’s a shortstop,” Watson said. “We haven’t seen anything that tells us he shouldn’t play there. Obviously he isn’t quite there yet, but he might not be as far away as people might think.” RANCHO CUCAMONGA >> The end of last season was a bit humbling for highly touted Dodgers prospect Corey Seager. He put up huge numbers at Low-A Great Lakes, which earned him a promotion to High-A California League affiliate Rancho Cucamonga.That didn’t go well. He hit just .160 in 27 games.But that brief struggle is long behind him.This year, Seager has been tearing up the same league in which he previously struggled, albeit briefly. The difference? A year of growth and maturity. “It really helped to come here just to see what the level of competition was all about,” said Seager, whom the Dodgers selected with the 11th overall pick in the first round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.“It gave me an idea what to expect this year because I was pretty sure I was at least going to start the year (in the California League). I have felt pretty good this year, like I have been seeing the ball well.”The North Carolina native has been the most talked-about minor leaguer in the organization next to outfielder Joc Pederson, who is drawing more buzz because he’s playing at Triple-A Albuquerque.Seager, ranked behind Pederson as the No. 2 prospect in the organization by Baseball America, hit .344 in the first half, second in the league. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound shortstop also has a league-high 24 doubles, two triples, 12 home runs and 49 RBIs. His .600 slugging percentage is also second.He doesn’t dwell on the possibility of a promotion to Double-A Chattanooga, although his numbers would seem to warrant one.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more