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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The federal government today will offer 21.9 million acres off the Texas coast to oil and gas developers, though low oil prices are likely to limit interest.

The last two comparable lease sales in the western Gulf of Mexico brought $109.1 million last year and $100.1 million in 2012.

A March 18 sale in the far more popular central Gulf of Mexico brought the lowest number of bids since 1986. Officials said low oil prices were the reason. Since then, the price of U.S. crude has dropped $1.44 a barrel.

Amid high uncertainty in the global oil market, EIA has lowered crude oil price forecasts in the Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), expecting West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices to average $49 per barrel (/b)in 2015 and $54/b in 2016, $6/b and $8/b lower than forecast in last month's STEO, respectively.

Concerns over the pace of economic growth in emerging markets, slowing supply growth, increases in global liquids inventories and the possibility of increasing volumes of Iranian crude oil entering the market contributed to the changed forecast.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration on Tuesday proposed cutting methane emissions from U.S. oil and gas production by nearly half over the next decade, part of an effort by President Barack Obama to curb climate change.

DENVER (AP) — Colorado's battle over who should regulate fracking could be on the fast track to the state Supreme Court.

The Colorado Court of Appeals on Monday asked to bow out of lawsuits over Longmont's ban on fracking and a 5-year-moratorium in Fort Collins.

The move would allow the Supreme Court to take the cases immediately, without waiting for the appeals court to hear arguments and make rulings. The higher court hasn't said if it will take the cases.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The federal government on Monday gave Royal Dutch Shell the final permit it needs to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska's northwest coast for the first time in more than two decades.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement announced that it approved the permit to drill below the ocean floor after the oil giant brought in a required piece of equipment to stop a possible well blowout.

A contentious plan to build a natural gas pipeline has received a boost as it goes for a second time before the commission that regulates development in the New Jersey Pinelands.

The Pinelands Commission staff on Friday gave the project a certificate of filing, which shows that the application from South Jersey Gas is complete and consistent with rules for developments in the protected area of the state.

Willbros Group received notification from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) that the price of its common stock has fallen below the NYSE's continued listing standard, which requires the average closing price to be at least $1 per share over a consecutive 30-day trading period.

With oil prices now dipping close to six-year lows, the energy sector is getting thumped across the board.

The double-dip will likely cause fresh cuts to spending, drilling, and staff. Last week, Baker Hughes reported a surprise uptick in the number of rigs drilling in North America, which jumped by 10 to 884 for the week ending on August 7.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California's biggest power utility says it's paid a $300 million penalty to the state's general fund for a 2010 gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people and destroyed more than three dozen homes in suburban San Francisco.

The payment announced Thursday by is part of a larger $1.6 billion penalty levied against Pacific Gas & Electric earlier this year for the blast in San Bruno.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio's elections chief has moved to invalidate ballot proposals in three counties related to fracking.

Secretary of State Jon Husted (HYOO-sted) ruled Thursday on protests filed with his office that questioned the validity of county charter ballot proposals in Athens, Fulton and Medina (meh-DY'-nuh) counties.

Husted upheld the protests invalidating the proposals and said they wouldn't appear on Nov. 3 ballots. He says in a statement that each proposal attempts to circumvent state law in a way that the courts have ruled violates the Ohio Constitution.

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