Shareholders of Canadian oil firm Nexen voted Thursday to favor a $15.1-billion takeover that would place the company into the hands of the Chinese state-owned CNOOC (China National Offshore Oil Corporation), although the merger still requires approval by the Canadian government. In a 99-percent assenting vote, shareholders approved the $27.50 per-share offer, bestowing China with its largest overseas energy acquisition ever.

Rory Reid, the eldest son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), is the chief representative for a Chinese energy firm planning to build a $5-billion solar plant on public land in Laughlin, Nevada. ENN Energy Group, a clean-energy firm that manufactures a range of renewable energy solutions, is seeking to construct its solar panel facility on a 9,000-acre stretch of land on a Clark County desert plot.

The controversy stems from the fact that Clark County officials voted to sell ENN the public land for $4.5 million, even though it was appraised at $38.6 million. Conveniently, Sen. Reid has been one of ENN’s most prominent supporters, having helped mobilize the firm during a 2011 trip to China.

Hundreds of activists showed up at a hearing about so-called “smart meters” held by the Texas Public Utility Commission this week, with most of them seeking a way to opt-out from receiving one of the controversial electricity meters that critics link to serious privacy and health concerns. A Republican member of the state legislature even promised that if the PUC refused to allow consumers a choice, he would introduce legislation to force its hand.

The federally backed meters have long been a source of controversy and criticism in Texas, which has rolled out millions of the devices in recent years and is reportedly almost 90 percent finished with its state-wide installation scheme. Hundreds of outraged citizens sent comments to authorities before the hearing demanding that their concerns be addressed. Most wanted the option to refuse a smart meter at the very least, with some seeking an “opt-in” system instead.

A new proposal by the Obama administration to expand drilling to half of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A) has attracted criticism from the oil industry, as the plan still leaves a broad area off limits to new oil development. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said new development will be permitted in an 11.8 million-acre geographical area, which purportedly holds about 549 million barrels of oil, while coastal regions such as Kasegaluk Lagoon and Peard Bay — where there is a higher concentration of seals and polar bears — will receive “special protection.”

Reports coming out this August show that our nation has plenty of oil and gas and that we ought to be a major exporter of coal to foreign markets. The economic benefits of an aggressive hydrocarbon energy production policy are vast.