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21 Posts authored by: robin.dupre Champion

Fearlessness and a penchant for the Spanish language quick-started @Paula Waggoner-Aguilar's ('95 M.S.) finance career in the energy industry.

 

"After a year at Ernst & Young as a tax accountant, I learned that I couldn't sit at a desk all day," says Waggoner-Aguilar, who earned her master's degree in taxation from UNT's College of Business.

 

Waggoner-Aguilar's love for the Spanish language came from her mother, a former English as a second language teacher in San Luis Potosi and Mexico City. Waggoner-Aguilar grew up visiting Mexico and completed a postgraduate course in advanced Spanish for executives in Cuernavaca after graduating from UNT.

 

After applying for dozens of jobs, banging on doors and hearing multiple times, "Lady, we're not going to send you down to Latin America," Waggoner-Aguilar finally received an offer from Dresser Industries, known today as Halliburton, that did send her there as an auditor. Over the years, she has worked in places like Mexico City and Villahermosa, Mexico; Maracaibo and Caracas, Venezuela; Neuquén, Argentina; Lima, Peru; Bogota, Colombia; San Salvador, El Salvador; Cochabamba, Bolivia; and Rio de Janeiro and Cuiaba, Brazil. She has also worked in the United Kingdom, Norway, Canada and Australia.

 

"Back then, it was unusual to have a woman working in Latin America. I'm still amazed to this day that they were willing to hire me to do that and grateful to the industry and the men that gave me that first shot," Waggoner-Aguilar says.

 

Though it was difficult to get that first job, she says all subsequent positions came organically based on her skillset and willingness to learn new things. Career opportunities led her from the oilfield to working on pipelines and power in Brazil, to serving as Mexican controller for deregulated gas utilities for what was at the time the world's largest independent power producer, to working on contracts and mitigating operating risks pertaining to the commercial side of exploration and production projects, to becoming the first non-engineer to work as a planner for BHP Billiton Petroleum.

 

"I found myself in situations where I was the only trained CPA who speaks Spanish and I was getting promoted and doing things people 20 years my senior had not done," she says, noting that she's gained finance and business experience beyond what an accountant traditionally does.

 

She credits her year at UNT for providing her with a broad understanding of business and stretching her to think differently.

 

"I was getting my master's in tax, but was exposed to economics, finance and marketing," Waggoner-Aguilar says. "My education at UNT provided a broad base and my professors helped develop my critical thinking skills."

 

She worked as a graduate assistant for accounting professors Janet Trewin and Barbara Merino-Mayper and credits them, and Teresa Conover, for providing her with a thorough base in tax research, advanced theory and current value accounting.

 

After more than 15 years working for major companies in the energy industry, Waggoner-Aguilar became a consultant offering small private companies the same financial leadership that benefits major corporations.

 

"When I was working in San Antonio for the largest private independent oil producer in the nation, and first to drill in Mexico since 1938, I interfaced a lot with their vendors," Waggoner-Aguilar says. "I realized what an advantage the vendors would have if they had the financial leadership of a larger company, at a price point they can afford."

 

Since founding The Energy CFO in April 2013, with offices in San Antonio and Houston, Waggoner-Aguilar has provided private energy, technology and life science companies with consulting, interim and permanent fractional outsourced CFO services. The firm specializes in entrepreneurial finance and focuses on helping entrepreneurs and family businesses start-up, grow, evolve and navigate through rough patches. She was named Best CFO for Private Medium-Sized Companies in 2014 by the San Antonio Business Journal.

 

"My accomplishments as a business owner mean so much more to me than any promotion I've ever received," Waggoner-Aguilar says. "There's something different about it when it's your business."

 

She's also found that she has more time to give back to the community and help mentor the future leaders of the energy industry.

 

She helped found the Women's Energy Network of South Texas in 2013 and currently serves on both the Board of Advisors for WEN South Texas and also on the Executive Advisory Board  for Pink Petro, two organizations that promote women in the energy industry and provide networking opportunities, career and leadership development. In addition to helping businesses thrive, Waggoner-Aguilar devotes at least 10 percent of her time in support of local innovation and entrepreneurship, helping energy colleagues in transition explore new endeavors, and supporting efforts that educate and promote women in energy.

 

"It really humbled me when I came to South Texas and saw all these women who are working in energy and really trying to move up," Waggoner-Aguilar says. "It made me realize how fortunate I am to have started in the field, to have the corporate experience and men who taught me along the way. The only way I know how to thank them is by following their lead and paying forward to the next generation."

 

Read the article here

President-elect Donald J. Trump has selected Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general and a close ally of the fossil fuel industry, to run the Environmental Protection Agency.

 

"Attorney General Pruitt has great qualifications and a good record as the AG of Oklahoma, and there were a number of qualified candidates for that particular position that the President-elect interviewed and he settled on Attorney General Pruitt and we'll look forward to the confirmation hearing," Kellyanne Conway told reporters Wednesday.

 

It's a signal the Trump administration is intent on reversing President Barack Obama's moves to curb climate change.

 

In a statement Thursday morning from the Trump transition team making the nomination official, Pruitt was quoted as saying, "The American people are tired of seeing billions of dollars drained from our economy due to unnecessary EPA regulations, and I intend to run this agency in a way that fosters both responsible protection of the environment and freedom for American businesses."

 

Trump has criticized the established science of human-caused global warming as a hoax, vowed to “cancel” the Paris accord committing nearly every nation to taking action to fight climate change, and attacked Mr. Obama’s signature global warming policy, the Clean Power Plan, as a “war on coal,” according to an article posted by The New York Times. 

 

Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, is spearheading Trump’s transition plans for EPA, sources told Scientific American.

Trump also lined up leaders for its Energy Department and Interior Department teams. Republican energy lobbyist Mike McKenna is heading the DOE team; former Interior Department solicitor David Bernhardt is leading the effort for that agency, according to sources close to the campaign.

 

Ebell is an outspoken, longtime skeptic of the scientific consensus that human activity is dramatically changing the climate. He often refers to warnings about global warming as climate “alarmism” and is a vocal critic of President Obama’s climate change regulations. Ebell has argued that the Clean Power Plan is illegal and that the Paris climate change agreement is unconstitutional.

 

The Republican presidential nominee’s EPA would be responsible for implementing his ambitious agenda of dismantling major pieces of Obama’s climate legacy, like the Clean Power Plan for power plants and the Paris agreement.

 

Republican energy lobbyist and strategist Mike McKenna is heading Trump’s Department of Energy transition team, and David Bernhardt, a lawyer at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and former Interior Department solicitor under President George W. Bush, is leading the transition for that department, E&E reported.

 

Women’s Network for Energy, Environment & Transportation (WNEET) is proud to be another founding association of the WISE (Women Investing in Self and Energy) Program powered by @PinkPetro. The PinkPetro WISE Program will bring together associations, organizations, women’s networks, and gender initiative leaders to harness the power of human capital – specifically, women in the energy industry, relevant content, and tremendous technology.

 

WNEET has a membership base of more than 300 women and men in energy in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.  The Network will be the lead association hosting HERWorld 2017 in New York City on March 8, 2017, which will bring women and men together worldwide to tackle current energy topics and issues.    

 

WNEET Members will have access to the PinkPetro platform of services at a discounted rate, and gain the opportunity to engage with this outstanding network. PinkPetro was born out of becoming the most influential global community of women and men in energy, looking to do something serious about the gender gap, and attracting new talent into an unsung industry.

 

“I’m thrilled to see the industry come together through the WISE Program at a time when we need to do something different to attract, retain and develop the next generation of talent in the industry.  We’re excited to have WNEET take the lead in hosting 2017 HERWorld NYC on international women’s day, March 8, 2017,” said Katie Mehnert, CEO and Founder of PinkPetro.

 

If your company or a New York City-based academic institution is interested in sponsoring Pink Petro, WNEET, or HERWorld NYC, please contact WNEET’s HERWorld NYC Ambassador, Kanan Mehra at kanan.mehra@gmail.com

 

ABOUT WNEET:

The Women’s Network for Energy, Environment, and Transportation, Inc. (WNEET) is dedicated to fostering women’s career development by providing educational and networking forums for dialogues on substantive issues related to women, energy, the environment and transportation.   WNEET is a 501 (c) (6) membership organization formed under New York state law and is a non-partisan, policy-neutral organization.

 

ABOUT WANDA J. BELL:

Wanda Bell is presently the sole proprietor of WJB Management Consulting, an entrepreneurial endeavor utilizing her professional and academic experience in energy, management, logistics and policy.

 

Prior to graduating in May 2008 from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Ms. Bell worked for JPMorgan Chase and Co. in Capital Markets, managed a commodities operations group at Morgan Stanley and was a senior analyst on the risk side of the physical business at Hess Corporation.  It was at Hess she made the transition to the logistics side of energy as a marine coordinator, scheduling 6 Oil in New York Harbor and managing refinery supply.

 

Ms. Bell is the founder of the non-profit, Women’s Network for Energy, Environment and Transportation, Inc., which is dedicated to providing quality networking, mentoring and educational opportunities for women in the aforementioned industries.

 

Ms. Bell has also studied energy, environment, and transportation policy and management in France, Brazil and Spain. 

 

ABOUT KANAN MEHRA:

Kanan is an Oil Market Analyst at NYC-based energy data startup, ClipperData. She specializes in global refined products markets, with a focus on fundamental analysis. Kanan holds a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, where she concentrated in international energy management and policy. She earned her B.A. from Bryn Mawr College, where she studied economics.

 

Nairobi, Kenya, Africa / Houston, Texas 

 

Women in Energy and Extractives Africa (WEX) is proud to be the international founding associating of WISE (Women Investing in Self and Energy) Program Powered by PinkPetro. The PinkPetro WISE Program brings together associations, organizations, women’s networks, and gender initiative leaders to harness the power of human capital, content, and tremendous technology across the globe.

 

WEX aims to be the engine behind bridging the gender gaps within the mining, oil and gas and alternative energy sources in Sub-Saharan Africa. Around the world, women and young girls encounter complex traditional, cultural, physical and socio-economic barriers in accessing education at all levels. Through investing in these women and girls we are creating safe spaces for them to be empowered assisting them in skills development and breaking the cycle of gendered poverty through access to finance and economic opportunity. Recognizing women as stakeholders in their own right not only taps upon their economic potential but further cultivates a favorable environment that results in the reduction of poverty and sustainable development.

 

WEX members will have access to the PinkPetro platform of services and gain the opportunity to engage with this outstanding global network. PinkPetro was born out of becoming the most influential global community of women and men in energy looking to do something serious about the gender gap and attracting new talent into an unsung industry.

 

“I’m honored to welcome the WEX network to the Pink Petro global platform. We want to see all girls and women succeed in energy, and WEX is an important international relationship in bringing the world together to develop the next generation of our energy future on our platform that allows greater visibility, connectivity and opportunity,” said Katie Mehnert, CEO and Founder of PinkPetro.

 

“Coming together with Pink Petro as our first international partnership is exciting and couldn’t be more imperative at a time like now in the midst of global commodity markets beginning to recover. It speaks volumes as women and men joining hands around the world in the quest of raising awareness and advocating for gender parity, increased female participation, and women economic empowerment in the extractive industry remain a number one agenda," says Lucky Ogutu Okudo, CEO and Founder.

 

To sponsor WEX or learn more about this phenomenal organization, visit their website. here and make sure to connect with WEX members on the platform soon!

Consensus has been hard to come by during this election season, but if there’s one issue that earns high approval from Americans of all political identifications, it’s American energy leadership, Jack Gerard, API president recently stated.

API conducted an election night survey of actual voters across the country, and the findings reveal that more than 80 percent of voters agree that U.S. oil and natural gas production can help achieve each of their most important priorities: job creation (86 percent), economic growth (87 percent), lower energy costs (82 percent), and energy security (85 percent).

With drivers saving more than $550 in fuel costs and household budgets growing by $1337 due to utility and other energy-related savings in 2015, it should come as no surprise that voters appreciate the positive economic impact of U.S. energy. Americans not only recognize the benefits of the U.S. energy renaissance but they also support actions that would build on our position as the world’s leading oil and natural gas producer.

 

Voters want a Congress and administration that works for their interests. And just as there is bipartisan voter support for energy priorities, there is an opportunity for Republicans and Democrats in Congress to work toward pro-development policies that provide economic growth, job creation, and energy security.

Not all expatriates have jobs to come home to when their overseas assignments come to an end. While global companies may have lateral positions available internationally, smaller organizations may have long filled that old position.

 

So, what’s an expat to do?

 

 

In many ways, expats returning to the workforce face the same problems as anyone who has taken time away from their career.

 

At least it feels the same: you’ve been out of the local workforce, you’ve lost contact with many of your colleagues, and your skills are dated (maybe even obsolete).

 

These are real concerns, but there are steps you can take that make your re-entry easier and ultimately, successful.

Get Your Skills Assessed

Upgrade Your Skills or Retrain

Apply to Startups and Early-Stage Tech Companies

Identify Your Transferable Skills

Look Outside of Your Industry

Your Expat Experience is of Value

 

Read the entire article here

The World Petroleum Council is conducting a global study on women in the oil and gas industry to get feedback on the opportunities for women in the industry. The goal of this survey is to get a comprehensive assessment of the possibilities and define a set of actionable recommendations to help close the talent gap in the industry.

 

 

The survey will take around 10 minutes to complete, and the council assures that each of your voices will be heard. The survey findings will be presented to more than 5,000 oil and gas executives at the 22nd World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul in July 2017.

 

World Petroleum Council aims to put gender equality on the strategic agenda to close the talent gap. Individual responses will be anonymous and confidential.

 

TAKE THE SURVEY HERE

Royal Dutch Shell plc is the most highly-rated employer of oil and gas professionals, according to the first industry-wide survey of its kind since the oil price downturn that began in late 2014, wrote Jon Mainwaring, editor, Rigzone.

Rigzone's Ideal Employer Survey was a research project conducted among 8,400 people in more than 100 countries, carried out between July and September this year. More than 3,000 companies who are active in the oil and gas sector were named by respondents in the survey. The companies were ranked based on questions that focused on their qualities and ratings as an employer.

Shell received the most mentions from respondents who were asked to name the employers they would most like to work for. Shell was followed by Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP plc in second, third and fourth position respectively, while Halliburton – at number five – was the highest-rated oilfield services company.

Responding to the results of the survey, Jonathan Kohn, Shell's HR head for the UK, Ireland, Nordics and South Africa, said he believed the company received such a strong response because of the quality of people it employs.

"Shell people are our strongest ambassadors and we are proud of the quality of the people that we've got. I think it's pretty clear and central to the group's strategy that having that access to quality people really is part of how we compete to win," he said.

NEWS  |  Shell Takes First Place in Rigzone's Inaugural Ideal Employer Survey  |  Rigzone 

His excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, formally opened day two of the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC). World energy leaders remain confident and optimistic about the long-term outlook for the oil industry. Growing energy demand, bolstered by a rapidly developing global economy, is creating a favorable environment for energy sector progress – one in which the petroleum industry will continue to play a prominent role.

 

Ministerial Session

Emerging market energy ministers, His Excellency Tarek El Molla, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Egypt, 

His Excellency Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Pakistan and His Excellency, Arcandra Tahar, Vice Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, Republic of Indonesia were joined by His Excellency Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy, United Arab Emirates, in a frank and forthright Global Ministerial Dialogue Session yesterday to discuss supply, demand and how to stimulate investment.

 

Global Business Leaders

With the price of crude slumping back to US$45 per barrel, producers in the region are preparing for a sustained period of lower hydrocarbon prices. If companies are to prevail in these conditions, they will have to rally behind strong leaders and be willing to collaborate with their peers, according to a panel of experts at ADIPEC’s Global Business Leaders’ session yesterday afternoon. Speakers of this panel were Mark Garrett, CEO Borealis, Jeff Miller, President,Halliburton,
Lisa Davis, CEO, Global Energy Siemens, Lars Christian, Bacher, Executive VP Development and Production International Statoil, Moderated by Dr Daniel Yergin, Vice Chairman, IHS Markit.

 

Women In Energy 

Today saw an incredible lineup of the global oil and gas industry’s most powerful women, who are joining forces to discuss both industry and gender issues in a frank and forthright forum, which promises to help not only inspire women in the energy workplace, but also create an encouraging environment for knowledge sharing and career development.
Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne, Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy for the Federal Republic Of Iraq, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan, President of The Iraq Britain Business Council, H.E. Merete Juhl, Danish Ambassador to the UAE and Qatar H.E. Fatema Al Jaber, Board Member, Al Jaber Group, Magda Maria De Regina Chambriard, Senior Representative, Brazilian Petroleum Industry. Moderated by Malak Fares, Business Presenter, Sky News Arabia.

 

Donald Trump’s surprise victory ends months of an adversarial presidential campaign with bitter disagreements between the two major candidates across a spectrum of policy positions. Despite one question at the end of the second presidential debate, energy policy has taken a backseat to immigration, taxation, foreign affairs and candidate suitability. However, there are indications that the US’s new President-elect could present a more positive outcome for the hydrocarbon industry than the pre-election favourite, stated Matt Loffman, Douglas-Westwood Houston.

Trump’s policy on energy centres around the concept of ‘energy independence’ and  the development of domestic oil, gas and coal reserves.  He has pledged to “open onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands” and ‘eliminate’ a moratorium on coal leasing and open-shale extraction. In contrast, Hilary had campaigned for an expedited transition to renewable energy sources, and had targeted a reduction in domestic oil consumption by 6.5 million bbl/d as a national goal, to be achieved by 2027 with tighter vehicle efficiency standards (recent automotive efficiency gains have been modest – improving 2.5 miles/gallon for new vehicles over five years) and “through cleaner fuels”. A reduction on this scale would have approximately halved anticipated annual liquid consumption growth globally (the equivalent of 650,000 bbl/d) and would likely have become a primary factor in an extended period of depressed crude and LNG prices.

On the Keystone XL pipeline, Trump was quoted in May 2016 saying he “would absolutely approve it, 100%” but would seek to renegotiate terms. Clinton had opposed the Keystone XL pipeline, along with Artic drilling. Furthermore, there was significant uncertainty around Clinton’s support for the lifting of the crude export ban. President-elect Trump has set out to “eliminate all barriers to responsible energy production” which suggests a freer regulatory environment. Whilst the result is undoubtedly a blow for the renewable energy industry, the historic election result is perhaps welcome news for a hydrocarbon industry that has been on the ropes for over two years.

In this week's blog, the Fairy God Boss listed 50 Great Career Resources for Women. Well, Pink Petro made the list. Of course, Katie Mehnert and I did a happy dance, and a high-five while smiling from ear-to-ear. This recognition just means that this community is growing. And will continue to grow, thanks to you.

 

50 Great Career Resources for Women 

There are many great resources online for women looking for community, support, education, events and other resources to advance their careers. The following 50 organizations have a lot to offer women in the workplace. Some are focused on women working in a particular industry, while others are focused on education, students or span across all industries. 

Hello, Pink Petro Community, I’m the organization’s newest team member, serving as Community Manager. My role is to bridge the gap between our members and the industry, and with Katie’s vision of making Pink Petro the premier energy organization, it serves as my guiding light in this ongoing campaign. So please, join me in this quest by leading me to the industry’s go-to resources by shooting me a quick line at community@pinkpetro.com. Let me know your thoughts, concerns, and questions while I pick up steam in this new role. 
Aside from this introduction I also wanted to let our community know about the successful Live Programming of the Energy and Manufacturing Forum held Oct. 26 on Pink Petro TV. So many of our members tuned it to hear The Consumer Energy Alliance's thoughts on the critical need for responsible energy development in the context of jobs, the economy, the revitalization of the U.S. domestic manufacturing sector, and increased energy security. 
"This event really showcased future opportunities for the tri-state region, thanks to the Marcellus and Utica, as well as the many ways local businesses and unions are already thriving, thanks to this resource under their feet. The ability Pink Petro has to broadcast these important discussions to audiences around the world cannot be understated - energy knows no borders," Brittany Thomas - Coordinator, External Affairs - Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation
 

 

The event, held at Oglebay Park’s Wilson Lodge, was attended by the media along with:
•    West Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Sen. Bill Cole
•    U.S. Representative David McKinley
•    George Stark, Director of External Affairs for Cabot Oil and Gas
•    Bob Orndorff, Senior Policy Advisor, State & Local Affairs for Dominion
•    Toby Mack, President and CEO of Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance
•    Brian Joseph, CEO of Touchstone Research Laboratory
•    Derrick Williamson, West Virginia Energy Users
•    Steve White, West Virginia State Building and Construction Trade Council
•    Justin Gray, Business Manager, LiUNA Local 1149
•    Kyle Brown, President, Upper Ohio Valley Building Trades Council.
“Energy is highly regulated, and policy makers at federal and state levels are the ones that determine what the energy impact is going to be. Their decision affects every energy consumer at home, the price at the pump, the price of electricity, and we want to give voters a chance to hear their stance on the issues before they go vote,” said Michael Whatley, Consumer Energy Alliance. 
Whatley asked the public to consider how this election and its winner affects all aspects of the energy industry.  The point of the forum is to bring both Democrats and Republicans together to discuss their vision on energy in America. 
This live event was sponsored by Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. as a part of our Energy Perspectives Series. Look for more events of this nature in our education, development and events calendar for more information. Interested in Energy Perspectives on Pink Petro TV? Click here.

Watch the video here: Pink Petro TV: Consumer Energy Alliance Energy & Manufacturing Forum

 

The election commentary starts at the 3.02 mark.


Wood Group has won a new contract worth approximately US$90 million to deliver services to a major unnamed international oil company (IOC) in Iraq.

 

 

Its subsidiary Wood Group PSN (WGPSN) will provide project management for an onshore facility under the three year contract, which is effective immediately, the company said.

 

Concept and FEED (front-end engineering design) work for future projects will also be included in the contract. The company’s personnel will be based in Wood Group offices in Iraq and Dubai.

 

"Iraq is an area where we see significant growth opportunities for our broad service capabilities and building our presence in this region is a key objective for us" - David Buchan, Wood Group PSN

 

"Iraq is an area where we see significant growth opportunities for our broad service capabilities and building our presence in this region is a key objective for us,” said David Buchan, WGPSN's Eastern Europe, Russia, Caspian and Middle East (ERC & MER) managing director. “This is reflected in our creation of another office in Dubai, which adds to our presence in the Middle East and our commitment to developing local talent, creating job opportunities and building relationships with the supply chain in Iraq.”

 

"This major contract builds on our strong partnerships with clients in Iraq. We look forward to leveraging Wood Group's international knowledge and expertise towards the continued success and development of our client's facility.”

 

Source: Pipeline

Houston Chronicle | November 17, 2015

Olson and Green: Improving hiring of inspectors is key to pipeline safety - Houston Chronicle

 

Pipelines are among the safest and most efficient ways to transport energy. But as we have recently seen, accidents happen. We believe an indispensable prerequisite to maintaining pipeline safety and efficiency is a robust inspection regime. Inspectors are the "cops on the beat" and the better we train our inspectors, the better we can mitigate risks associated with pipeline transportation. As members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee we've introduced, alongside Brian Babin and Janice Hahn on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, a bill to get more inspectors on the job.

 

Texans know our state is crisscrossed with hundreds of thousands of miles of pipelines. Oil and gas lines reach every major city and connect the refineries and petrochemical sites that dot our state, safely passing under neighborhoods and riverways in the process.

The cornerstone of our success is a careful balance between the state Railroad Commission and the federal Department of Transportation (DOT). The DOT's Office of Pipeline Safety is responsible for setting pipeline standards and laying the ground rules for inspections and upgrades.

In recent years, flaws in the system have been exposed. In 2010, the horrific pipeline explosion in San Bruno, Calif., prompted Congress to pass the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty and Job Creation Act of 2011. This important bill created needed safety measures and put in place penalties for bad actors. In Washington, we know there are many stakeholders playing important roles, but the federal government is in charge of setting the rules of the system. That's why Congress' 2011 bill created pipeline safety rules and set a deadline for DOT to improve safety standards. Unfortunately, their response has been slow and uncertain. Congress created 42 regulatory requirements for DOT to implement; regrettably, more than a dozen critical items have slipped past their deadline for action.

At the same time, DOT remains woefully short of pipeline safety inspectors - inspectors tasked with enforcing the rules the agency does update. Congress has allocated new funds to bulk up the number of inspectors, but only half of the new positions have been filled.

As a result, Congress now has an opportunity to step in to keep our communities safe, and keep the economy moving.

In the short term, we need more inspectors in the field. One reason why DOT has had such a hard time hiring new pipeline inspectors is the lengthy hiring process for the federal government to fill vacant positions. DOT is required to rank, test and measure candidates throughout the process. These metrics have a deterrent effect on applicants who may easily find other positions in the private sector.

That's why a bipartisan group of members from both the Energy and Commerce and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees have written a bill designed to cut the red tape for hiring inspectors. By giving DOT the ability to expedite the hiring process, we can spur on a "surge" of inspectors to enforce the new rules. The process will be structured to encourage the hiring of women, veterans and minorities, many of whom are underrepresented and possess unique skills in this field.

In the long term, we intend to keep pressure on DOT to fully implement critical rules. The Energy and Commerce Committee held an important oversight hearing earlier this year on regulatory delays. We also questioned pipeline operators and trade associations to hold them accountable. We must also reauthorize pipeline safety rules, and this presents us with an excellent opportunity for more oversight.

As we continue to work toward making our infrastructure more reliable, this legislation will provide a critical boost to ensure Texas and our nation's energy economy operate at a safer level, reducing the risk of accidents. No single rule will make our pipeline network completely secure. Accidents have happened before but working together, through a multipronged approach, we can keep making our infrastructure safer and our economy stronger.

Olson, a Republican, represents the 22nd Texas Congressional District in the House and is vice chairman of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee. Green, a Democrat, represents the 29th Texas Congressional District in the House and is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Film company seeks to empower, mentor women - Houston Chronicle  

One day after a business meeting, Donna Cole and Alicia Goodrow were casually talking about changing the world.

The two shared their dreams of impacting millions with positive messages about women. Because they both loved movies, they came up with the idea to start a film company, Pantheon of Women, to produce independent films that celebrate strong women and supportive men.

It's a bit of a departure from their high-powered careers. Cole is the CEO and founder of Cole Chemicals, a chemical-supply-chain management firm that she started in 1990. Goodrow is an attorney who has worked with Cross Creek Pictures, which has produced films such as "Black Swan." They also recruited Deborah Kainer, a longtime certified public accountant, to the team.

"If you have a great movie, you can empower millions and mentor thousands. We can change the way men and boys treat women and how women and girls see themselves," Cole said.

At 7:30 p.m. Sunday, their first film - "I Dream Too Much" - will be shown at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston as part of the annual Cinema Arts Festival; the film's showing is sold out.

The movie, which stars Diane Ladd and Eden Brolin, daughter of actor Josh Brolin, is written and directed by Houston native Katie Cokinos. Danielle Brooks of Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black" also stars, and "Boyhood" director Richard Linklater is the executive producer.

Already it has been shown at South By Southwest and at the New Orleans Film Festival. The film focuses on recent college graduate Dora (Brolin), who finds herself caring for her reclusive aunt (Ladd) in upstate New York.

Cole said the movie cost about $1 million to make, and her group is its largest investor.

"I think the movie will translate to everyone because it's about three generations of women who make dreams come true," Cole said. "Normally, dreams don't come true on your own, you need help - mentors and other women."

According to a report by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, about 30 percent of speaking roles in films are held by women in the United States, which lags last globally, behind countries such as Brazil and Korea. The report, drawn from data gathered from the Motion Picture Association of America, also said that of 1,452 filmmakers, only 20 percent are female.

The report also said that female characters, between ages 13 and 39, were likely to be shown in sexy attire, partially or fully naked, and/or referred to as "beautiful."

Those statistics are among the many reasons Pantheon is needed, Goodrow said.

"Women were the keeper of stories, until men figure out they could make money in the business," Goodrow said.

By the 1980s and 1990s, there was a resurgence of women in film, with Nora Ephron's "When Harry Met Sally" and "Sleepless in Seattle," but big-blockbuster films eventually became the norm, Goodrow said.

"It's a lot riskier to make a movie for a smaller audience than one that will translate to many, but it's really our calling as women to tell stories and transmit wisdom," she said.

Pantheon of Women's next film is "Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen," about Cathay Williams, the first African-American female to enlist and serve in the U.S. Army and the only female Buffalo Soldier. They hope to shoot the film in Texas; it is expected to cost $6 million to make.

"The industry is terrified of films about black people, about Westerns and about women, and this is a Western about a black woman," Goodrow said.

While the Pantheon team members know they are industry newbies, they believe their business expertise and their passion for films work in their favor.

"We're all proven businesswomen and spend time mentoring and paying it forward," Goodrow said. "We've spent time observing the gender bias in the media, and I want to do something different. If it's a great movie, people will go see it."

Kainer said that after years working as an accountant, she didn't realize the extent to which gender bias still existed in Hollywood.

"I thought after 40 years of working, things had changed. I just plowed ahead, so I was shocked to find out that there's work to still be done."

The Pantheon of Women is also actively involved in getting out the word about their film projects.

"It's one thing to make a movie and another thing to get it marketed and getting it in film festivals," Cole said. "Social media is really important. I'm tweeting now."

Joy Sewing

Joy Sewing

Fashion & Beauty Editor, Houston Chronicle

Film company seeks to empower, mentor women - Houston Chronicle