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Extracted

EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 1/24/23

Mark Hefflinger, Bold Alliance (Photo: Bryon Houlgrave/Des Moines Register

By Mark Hefflinger

January 24, 2023

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PIPELINE NEWS

  • WIBW: 90% of oil recovered in Washington Co. spill

  • Reuters: MEG Energy expects Trans Mountain pipeline to be fully operational by early 2024

  • WAND: Navigator temporarily withdraws CO2 Pipeline Proposal

  • Press release: Navigator CO2 Project Expansion Leads to Revised Permit in Illinois

  • Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines: Facing a Wave of Public Opposition, Navigator Temporarily Withdraws CO2 Pipeline Proposal

  • Bloomberg: Oil outages in Canada disrupt flows to US, global markets

  • E&E News: Gas pipelines explode. How far away is enough to survive?

  • North by Northwestern: The voices for clean water against Enbridge’s Line 5 oil pipeline

  • KYUK: A case challenging the pipeline right-of-way permit for Donlin Gold gets its day in court

  • Lake County Examiner: Ruby Pipeline exits bankruptcy

  • Pipeline Fighters Hub: Webinar: “Preemption and Pipeline Regulations” on Jan. 30th

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • The Hill: Environmental advocates express frustration over Biden regulation delays 

  • Politico: Manchin looms large over a post-Glick FERC

STATE UPDATES

  • InsideEPA: Key States Move To Include Cumulative Impacts In Environmental Permits

  • Colorado Newsline: Colorado oil and gas panel to study ‘cumulative impacts’ after environmentalist petition

  • InsideClimate News: Texas Environmentalists Look to EPA for Action on Methane, Saying State Agencies Have ‘Failed Us’

  • Colorado Public Radio: Benzene pollution could be another consequence of recent malfunctions at Suncor Energy

  • Guardian: Oil wells guzzle precious California water. Next door, residents can’t use the tap

EXTRACTION

  • Reuters: Canada oil group says federal, provincial tension blocking carbon capture talks

CLIMATE FINANCE

  • Press release: Danske Bank maps its total carbon footprint and publishes comprehensive climate action plan to enable Danske Bank and its customers to meet Paris Agreement goals

TODAY IN GREENWASHING

  • KHOU: Rodeo announces first-ever Community Day with FREE admission

OPINION

PIPELINE NEWS

WIBW: 90% of oil recovered in Washington Co. spill
Bryan Grabauskas, 1/23/23

“Keystone XL parent company TC Energy says nearly 90 percent of the oil spilt in Washington County has been recovered,” WIBW reports. “TC Energy says its crews continue to use skimmers and vacuum trucks to complete the cleanup. The company has also installed a temporary above-ground water diversion system at Mill Creek, which it says moves water from upstream around the containment site.”

Reuters: MEG Energy expects Trans Mountain pipeline to be fully operational by early 2024
Nia Williams, 1/23/23

“MEG Energy, an oil shipper on Canada’s Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) project, said on Monday the pipeline is expected to start filling with oil in late 2023 and be fully operational early next year,” Reuters reports. “The Canadian government-owned Trans Mountain pipeline, which transports crude from Alberta’s oil sands to the Pacific Coast, will boost capacity to 890,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 300,000 bpd currently once the expansion is complete. The $21.4 billion project is over-budget and behind schedule, but its completion will be a major boost for Canadian oil producers by opening up a significant export route to markets in Asia… “We’re being told linefill potentially at the end of 2023 and fully operational in the first quarter,” MEG Energy CEO Derek Evans told Reuters.”

WAND: Navigator temporarily withdraws CO2 Pipeline Proposal
1/23/23

“Navigator Heartland Greenway LLC filed a motion with the ICC to voluntarily withdraw its Application for a Certificate of Authority to construct a CO2 pipeline through 13 Illinois counties on Friday,” WAND reports. “According to the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines, during its initial application, Navigator failed to secure the easements required for a sequestration site, rendering their application incomplete. Several farmers voiced their concern for the possible installation of the pipeline. Navigator has withdrawn their application, but noted they plan to re-file a new application next month and expand their project by adding another lateral route. “Navigator’s initial petition to the ICC was not just incomplete, it was nonsensical,” Pam Richart, co-founder of the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines and co-Director of the Eco-Justice Collaborative, told WAND. “Without acquiring a sequestration site, there was no way to analyze the proposed route of the pipeline and its potential impact on farmers, landowners, and public safety. A senior staff member with the Illinois Commerce Commission recommended the Commission dismiss the project for that reason nearly two months ago.” Following Navigator’s initial application in July 2022, several organizations including Citizens Against Heartland Greenway Pipeline (CAHGP), the Illinois Farm Bureau, and Sangamon, Knox, McDonough, Christian, and Hancock Counties all filed motions to intervene… “In December, CAHGP and County Intervenors filed a Memorandum arguing that Navigator’s petition should be dismissed at least until PHMSA updates its CO2 regulations, Navigator acquires property rights for its carbon sequestration area, and Navigator provides sufficient information regarding the route and its impact on property values. PHMSA is also conducting a rule-making process to improve safety and oversight of CO2 pipelines, which they hope to complete by October 2024.”

Press release: Navigator CO2 Project Expansion Leads to Revised Permit in Illinois
1/20/23

“Navigator CO2’s vision of creating a comprehensive, safe and cost-effective carbon ecosystem continues to receive broad support from customers, communities and landowners. This support is reflected in the significant progress that the Heartland Greenway, one of the world’s largest proposed carbon capture utilization and storage projects, has made over the past few months. To date, Navigator has successfully negotiated with landowners to secure hundreds of miles of pipeline right-of-way easements, thousands of acres of storage pore space, and the necessary well-sites to accommodate the initial injection capacity. Given the successful progression of permitting and growing commercial commitments, Navigator will be filing a revised permit with the Illinois Commerce Commission before the end of February as a reflection of that expanded scope. With this new permit, Navigator will accelerate the development of additional permanent storage locations across multiple counties in central Illinois, which is a proven home to some of the best geology in the world for carbon sequestration. “There continues to be a growing and diverse number of industrial emitters across the Corn Belt recognizing the value carbon capture technology provides for their businesses,” said Navigator CEO Matt Vining. “With the increasing number of shippers participating in the Heartland Greenway and landowners’ collaborative and responsive feedback, refiling allows us to streamline the application process in Illinois for all parties.”

Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines: Facing a Wave of Public Opposition, Navigator Temporarily Withdraws CO2 Pipeline Proposal
1/20/23

“On Friday, January 20, Navigator Heartland Greenway LLC filed a motion with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to voluntarily withdraw its Application for Certificate of Authority to construct a dangerous CO2 pipeline through 13 Illinois counties. In its initial application, Navigator failed to secure the easements required for a sequestration site, rendering their application incomplete. The application drew skepticism from leaders at the ICC and a tidal wave of concerns from farmers, landowners, and environmental advocates. Faced with mounting public opposition, Navigator withdrew their application, but noted they plan to re-file a new application next month and expand their project by adding another lateral route. Pipeline opponents assert that their concerns about public safety, the impact to farmland, and the impact to Illinois’ economy due to reduced property values remain and that they will continue to oppose the project. “Navigator’s initial petition to the ICC was not just incomplete, it was nonsensical,” said Pam Richart, co-founder of the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines and co-Director of the Eco-Justice Collaborative. “Without acquiring a sequestration site, there was no way to analyze the proposed route of the pipeline and its potential impact on farmers, landowners, and public safety. A senior staff member with the Illinois Commerce Commission recommended the Commission dismiss the project for that reason nearly two months ago.” Following Navigator’s initial application in July 2022, Citizens Against Heartland Greenway Pipeline (CAHGP), the Illinois Farm Bureau, and Sangamon, Knox, McDonough, Christian, and Hancock Counties all filed motions to intervene. In December, CAHGP and County Intervenors filed a Memorandum arguing that Navigator’s petition should be dismissed at least until PHMSA updates its CO2 regulations, Navigator acquires property rights for its carbon sequestration area, and Navigator provides sufficient information regarding the route and its impact on property values. PHMSA is conducting a rule-making process to improve safety and oversight of CO2 pipelines, which they hope to complete by October 2024. This rule-making process was initiated after PHMSA investigated the CO2 pipeline rupture that occurred near Satartia, Mississippi, where a plume of CO2 traveled 1.25 miles, required the evacuation of 200 people, and put 46 people, including first responders, in the hospital. “Navigator is clearly scrambling to find a sequestration location for the proposed carbon dioxide pipeline,” said Sabrina Hamlin Jones, a landowner and organizer in Montgomery County.

Bloomberg: Oil outages in Canada disrupt flows to US, global markets
1/23/23

“A flurry of outages across western Canada’s oil patch have disrupted petroleum flows to the US and global markets,” Bloomberg reports. “Two of Canada’s largest oilsands upgrading facilities — Syncrude Canada and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.’s Horizon — have faced disruptions this month, prompting supply cuts to customers. The reduced supply has led Enbridge Inc. to seek more crude for its massive Mainline system, which delivers to numerous refiners. One of the biggest crude pipelines from Canada to the US — TC Energy Corp.’s Keystone — has been hit by power outages due to ice accumulation. Flows on the conduit have rebounded from lows earlier this week. A Pembina Pipeline Corp. line that transports natural gas liquids has been isolated after a spill in Alberta, and Enbridge’s Express Pipeline from the province to Wyoming experienced problems with third-party utilities that cut rates.”

E&E News: Gas pipelines explode. How far away is enough to survive?
Mike Soraghan, 1/24/23

“An extended family of 12 was sleeping on the banks of New Mexico’s Pecos River on an August morning two decades ago when a nearby gas pipeline ruptured,” E&E News reports. “…All 12 family members — linked by marriage and shared grandchildren — died at the campsite, or later at the hospital… “The blast was 675 feet from the campsite, not far enough to spare them. But federal regulators later adopted a formula, still in use today, that would have deemed the family safe at 600 feet away. Now a federal safety watchdog is urging regulators to change the calculation, which sets what’s called a “potential impact radius,” or PIR… “ Whatever one calls it, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says the formula significantly underestimates the danger of gas pipeline explosions and called it “inconsistent” with evidence in arecent report… “Critics say the industry-crafted formula shows how federal pipeline oversight is tilted away from safety in favor of pipeline operators. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has indicated it is willing to change the formula, telling the NTSB it would “strongly consider” modifications to ensure bigger safety margins. Any increase in the radius of the blast zone could mean costly pipe upgrades for oil and gas companies… “If the estimate of the impact radius is underestimated, Pipeline Safety Trust’s Bill Caram told E&E, then many miles of existing pipelines were built and tested to insufficient standards. The radius is supposed to predict the area that would be “severely impacted” if a gas pipeline explodes. Put a little differently, a person just outside that circle at the time of the blast should have a 99 percent chance of surviving an explosion. But that survival rate rests on a set of assumptions that some safety advocates find unreasonable. It assumes that the person can decide within five seconds to flee, then run at about 5 mph for 25 seconds and find shelter within 200 feet. Stephens has said that he based that on previous research. Safety advocates argue that elderly people or young children can’t run that fast. And they note there are many reasons a person wouldn’t be able to decide what to do in five seconds, starting with sleeping. “They’ve got this little illusion of a story that people can do that in five seconds,” Deaver told E&E.

North by Northwestern: The voices for clean water against Enbridge’s Line 5 oil pipeline
Kim Jao, 1/23/23

“The sound of freshwater rushing against the sand in Lake Superior is common noise for Joe Bates. He is a tribal elder of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Northern Wisconsin,” North by Northwestern reports. “This is my homeland. This is what my ancestors died and fought for, this homeland that we have here. I’m just so grateful to be able to come back to my home and remain here for the remainder of, you know, what I have left.” “…He spends an extensive amount of time capturing drone footage of the lake. But this endeavor isn’t just a hobby to collect B-roll. Bates uses his drone to trace the path of a specific oil pipeline. The pipeline is called Line 5 – an underground oil pipeline built by Enbridge, a multinational Canadian pipeline company… “Jack Kelly and Catherine Buntin are the co-chairs of the Chicago Area Peace Action Climate Group or CAPA. CAPA is an activist organization that supports various climate issues in the Chicago area. They are involved in the fight against Line 5 and have held protests downtown at Chicago Chase bank locations to call out corporations that fund oil pipelines… “Even though it can be disheartening to fight against corporations, activists still persist. For Catherine Buntin and Jack Kelly, it’s about ensuring a bright future for their grandchildren… “As for Bates? He hopes to protect the Bad River Band tribal origins against Line 5. “That’s why we’re here today, and that’s why our tribal members hold it with the highest regards as far as what we have to survive because that’s sustained our elders, our ancestors for centuries. We want to make sure that we do whatever we can to save that for the next seven generations.” The future of Line 5 is uncertain amid the entanglement of laws and Enbridge’s persistence to keep the pipeline functioning. But the tribes, activists and politicians in pursuit of clean lakes will not stand down any time soon.”

KYUK: A case challenging the pipeline right-of-way permit for Donlin Gold gets its day in court
Francisco Martínezcuello, 1/23/23

“A state court judge heard arguments earlier this month from a group of Yukon-Kuskokwim (Y-K) Delta tribes and environmental groups that are challenging state permits issued for a pipeline that would power the Donlin Gold mine,” KYUK reports. “Earthjustice is representing the tribes that oppose the Donlin Gold mine, and attorney Olivia Glasscock told an Anchorage judge that the state is violating its own constitution. Essentially, Glasscock said that when the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued a permit to the company to build more than 200 miles of pipeline across state land, it didn’t consider the effects of the mine project as a whole. She said that the two cannot be considered separately… “She argued that the way the state issued the pipeline permit was violating part of the state’s constitution that says the state has to develop its resources in a way that’s in the public’s interest… “Glasscock argued that in order to consider Alaskans’ public interest in this case, the state had to consider whether it should use public lands, which are where the pipeline would go, to support projects happening on private lands, which are where the mine would go… “This particular case over the pipeline right-of-way was filed by four Alaska Native tribal governments, including Orutsararmiut Native Council, Chevak Native Village, Native Village of Eek, Native Village of Kwigillingok, and one conservation group: Cook Inletkeeper. Most of the mine’s detractors focus on the potential environmental impacts of putting what would be one of the world’s largest gold mines on a tributary of the Kuskokwim River, which is the biggest source of subsistence food for people in the Y-K Delta.”

Lake County Examiner: Ruby Pipeline exits bankruptcy
Kevin Winter, 1/23/23

“Over 10 months of bankruptcy proceedings have ended for the Ruby Pipeline as Tallgrass has successfully completed the purchase of the pipeline’s assets and will take over operations,” the Lake County Examiner reports. “Kinder Morgan and Pembina Pipeline Corp. had jointly owned and operated the nearly 680-mile pipeline which ran from Opal, Wyo. to Malin. The companies had initiated bankruptcy proceedings in April 2022, nearly 12 years to the day since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted permission for construction to begin on the natural gas pipeline. One of the reasons noted for the bankruptcy filing was that the pipeline lost over 65% of its customers who did not renew their contracts in July 2021, with Pacific Gas and Electric as the remaining large customer. Creditors initially argued that they should control the operations of the pipeline as they did not trust either Kinder Morgan or Pembina to continue operating the pipeline as bankruptcy proceedings began. A Delaware bankruptcy judge appointed a committee to operate the pipeline, pay expenses, and develop a reorganization plan.”

Pipeline Fighters Hub: Webinar: “Preemption and Pipeline Regulations” on Jan. 30th
1/24/23

“Carbon pipeline developers have in recent months gone to the extreme step of suing several County Boards in Iowa and South Dakota that passed ordinances or moratoriums to put in place common-sense protections for their communities from the dangerous proposed projects,” according to the Pipeline Fighters Hub. “The number of counties across Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Illinois and Nebraska is growing each day that have either already passed, or are considering voting on ordinances that impose distance “setbacks,” and require public safety-related information needed for county emergency response planning. Other counties have imposed a moratorium on all carbon pipeline construction, until the federal government’s PHMSA pipeline safety agency completes a new rulemaking process for carbon pipelines it started in the wake of its damning report after operator Denbury’s carbon pipeline rupture in Satartia, MS in 2020… “But, using a well-worn page from Big Oil’s playbook, the carbon pipeline companies have threatened these county officials with lawsuits, claiming that federal law’s Pipeline Safety Act “preempts” their presumed lower county-level authority to enact protections for their communities. However, despite industry’s loud trumpeting of the “preemption” threat at countless county board meetings, they will soon be tested in the courts… “Attorney Paul Blackburn with Bold Alliance will speak on the thorny topic of “preemption” — when a higher-level authority’s power to enact laws supersedes a lower-level’s authority — in this instance as it relates to states and counties putting protections in place for their communities when faced with proposed large industrial projects like carbon dioxide pipelines. WHAT: “Preemption and Pipeline Regulations” WHEN: Monday, Jan. 30, 5:30 pm. – 7:00 p.m. (Central Time) WHERE: Register to attend via Zoom:https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/3416745672586/WN_u71M96ARSN6wdZDIW5e9gQ

WASHINGTON UPDATES

The Hill: Environmental advocates express frustration over Biden regulation delays 
RACHEL FRAZIN, 1/24/23

“Environmental advocates, generally strong supporters of the Biden administration, are expressing frustration at what they describe as too-lengthy delays for important regulations,” The Hill reports. “Their frustration follows the administration’s recent release of its semiannual regulatory agenda, which pushed back timelines for a range of rules governing planet-warming emissions and other pollution coming from power plants, drinking water limits for toxic chemicals and stipulations for fossil fuel leasing on public lands.   “We in the advocacy community have seen this film before where a nominally progressive president comes in with grand promises about leveraging the administrative state to advance progressive policy goals and then just waits until the last minute,” James Goodwin, senior policy analyst with the Center for Progressive Reform, told the Hill.  “It is a total unforced error. It is points left on the field.” “…Climate advocacy group Evergreen, for one, recently released a report saying that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was falling “further behind” on power plant regulations… Jamal Raad, Evergreen’s executive director, called the delays “deeply troubling.” “They threaten the administration’s ability to finalize these rules in the first term and those that they do complete may be vulnerable to be blocked altogether by Republicans,” Raad told the Hill. If Republicans hold majorities in both chambers of Congress and the White House in 2024, they could move forward with a resolution under the Congressional Review Act that could enable them to ax any rules put forward during the last 60 legislative days of the Biden administration in which Congress was in session.”  

Politico: Manchin looms large over a post-Glick FERC
Josh Siegel, Catherine Morehouse, 1/23/23

“Under acting chair Willie Phillips, FERC could move to consider the climate and environmental justice impacts of projects the agency approves, including fossil fuel infrastructure,” Politico reports. “But that’s a direction Senator Joe Manchin doesn’t like, which is a major reason why former FERC chair Richard Glick didn’t get a re-confirmation hearing last year. POLITICO’s Catherine Morehouse breaks down FERC’s direction under Phillips and Manchin’s looming influence.”

STATE UPDATES

InsideEPA: Key States Move To Include Cumulative Impacts In Environmental Permits
1/20/23

“Two more states have taken steps to consider cumulative impacts in permitting decisions in efforts to address environmental justice (EJ) and civil rights, with New York enacting an EJ law that requires regulators to weigh such impacts in permits while Massachusetts has proposed a permitting rule requiring assessments of such impacts,” InsideEPA reports. “Both actions took place late last year and are attracting significant attention. The New York law is modeled after a first-in-the-nation New Jersey EJ law for which the state’s Department of Environmental Protect (DEP) is crafting implementing rules including a detailed tool to help regulators decide whether to deny permits in cases where an overburdened community faces adverse cumulative impacts. New Jersey officials have said their rule is a model for several other states including Colorado and Michigan that are considering similar measures, as well as for EPA. Pennsylvania’s legislature has also considered a bill that mirrors New Jersey’s, while EPA, California, Louisiana and Minnesota are watching and tracking the Garden State’s effort.”

Colorado Newsline: Colorado oil and gas panel to study ‘cumulative impacts’ after environmentalist petition
CHASE WOODRUFF, 1/20/23

“Responding to a petition from environmental groups, the agency overseeing oil and gas drilling in Colorado said on Friday that it will hold a series of meetings to receive input on the cumulative risks posed by the tens of thousands of active wells operated by drillers around the state,” Colorado Newsline reports. “Beginning Jan. 27, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will hear from interested parties on how best to address the “cumulative impacts” that result from large-scale oil and gas production and may pose a variety of health and environmental risks in area’s like the northern Front Range… “Senate Bill 19-181, an overhaul of Colorado oil and gas law passed by Democrats in 2019, directed the COGCC to enact a sweeping set of rules aimed at better protecting health, safety and the environment. Key changes that resulted from the law included a new 2,000-foot buffer zone for new drilling sites and more authority for local governments to regulate and restrict industry operations. The law also directed the COGCC — with little specificity — to “evaluate and address the potential cumulative impacts of oil and gas development.” Environmental activists say the agency hasn’t done enough to fulfill that mandate. “In over three years since SB-181 passed into law, the commission has adopted rules to evaluate cumulative impacts, but enacted only a handful of rules to address them,” said representatives of 350 Colorado and WildEarth Guardians late last year, when they submitted a formal petition to the COGCC asking it to initiate a new rulemaking process on the issue. In addition to assessing “nuisance” impacts like noise and dust, environmental groups want the COGCC to scrutinize the industry’s contribution to air-quality problems like ozone pollution and its emission of climate-warming greenhouse gases. Commissioners rejected that petition last month, but promised to begin a “stakeholder outreach” process instead. The agency’s staff released its first report evaluating the issue last year, acknowledging that “the quantity and quality of data and our understanding of cumulative impacts will evolve” over time. A second report is due by the end of February. Members of the public can sign up to speak at one of four meetings held between Jan. 27 and Feb. 6, or submit comments through the COGCC’s website.”

InsideClimate News: Texas Environmentalists Look to EPA for Action on Methane, Saying State Agencies Have ‘Failed Us’
Martha Pskowski, 1/22/23

“The Environmental Protection Agency got an earful from Texans last week,” InsideClimate News reports. “In a marathon three-day public hearing, close to 300 people across the country gave comments on the agency’s supplemental proposal to reduce methane in oil and natural gas operations. Many called in from Texas, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and other oil and gas-producing states that drive U.S. methane emissions. The public comment period closes on Feb. 13 and the EPA will issue the final rule later this year. The rule is a cornerstone of the EPA’s strategy under President Joe Biden to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The rule will have the biggest impact in oil and gas producing states like Texas that do not have broad methane regulations. Texas agencies tasked with regulating the oil and gas industry have questioned several provisions of the proposed rule… “The supplemental proposal includes provisions to ensure that all wells are monitored for leaks, prevent leaks from abandoned wells and create a “super emitter” program to quickly identify and report large methane leaks. Vast quantities of methane leak from wells and pipelines. The rule’s success will hinge on implementation in the country’s largest oil and gas fields. The Permian Basin alone accounts for 40 percent of the U.S. oil supply and 15 percent of the gas supply. “Politically in Texas we have not been able to get the two main state agencies to take methane seriously,” Cyrus Reed, conservation director for the Lone Star Sierra Club, told ICN. “TCEQ does not have specific state rules on methane pollution so we really need the federal government to step in because our state agencies are not going to act.” The proposed rule would crack down on venting and flaring, which are still routine practices in Texas oil and gas fields. Flaring involves burning methane at the wellhead, either to reduce pressure as a safety precaution or, more typically, to dispose of unwanted natural gas that surfaces as a byproduct of oil extraction.” 

Colorado Public Radio: Benzene pollution could be another consequence of recent malfunctions at Suncor Energy
Sam Brasch, 1/20/23

“Recent malfunctions at the Suncor Energy refinery in Commerce City not only injured two employees and forced the company to temporarily pause operations. They may have caused an illegal release of carcinogenic benzene into an adjacent waterway,” Colorado Public Radio reports. “The company reported the release to state regulators on Jan. 6, noting elevated benzene levels in one of its permitted discharge locations on Sand Creek. The state permit allows the refinery’s operators to release water with benzene concentrations of 5 micrograms per liter. Samples taken on the two previous days show levels reached 7 and 9 micrograms per liter respectively. The potential violation occurred due to the “discharge from industrial wastewater,” according to a report and emails in the state’s public pollution database. It notes the company responded by working to determine and correct the cause but doesn’t offer a more thorough explanation. A message from Heather Young, the field services section manager for the Colorado Water Pollution Control Division, said the elevated benzene levels “may be related” to a fire at the refinery. The event could have caused the facility’s wastewater system to collect reformate — a high-octane ingredient in gasoline — which bypassed an on-site water treatment plant and flushed into Sand Creek, she wrote. “As a response, Suncor is isolating areas that may be contributing to benzene in the collection system,” Young noted in her message. Benzene is a common chemical known to cause blood cancer. In 2011, benzene pollution concerns forced Suncor to build a 30-foot-deep barrier to keep contaminated groundwater out of Sand Creek, which feeds directly into the South Platte River. Nearby communities — including Brighton, Thornton, and Aurora — use the waterway to supply some of their drinking water supply, according to a recent report from the environmental advocacy group Earthjustice. Other water districts rely on the South Platte River for irrigation.”

Guardian: Oil wells guzzle precious California water. Next door, residents can’t use the tap
Hilary Beaumont, 1/22/23

“Towering refineries and rusty pumpjacks greet visitors driving along the highways of Kern county, California. Oil wells sit in the middle of fields of grapevines and almond trees. The air is heavy with dust and the scent of petroleum,” the Guardian reports. “The energy fields here are some of the most productive in the US, generating millions of barrels of oil annually and more than two-thirds of the state’s natural gas. And in a drought-stricken state, they’re also some of the thirstiest, consuming vast quantities of fresh water to extract stubborn oil. But in the industry’s shadow, nearby communities can’t drink from the tap. One of those communities is Fuller Acres, a largely Latino town in Kern county where residents must drive to the nearest town to buy safe water. There is no proven link between the unsafe drinking water and the oil industry that surrounds the town, but there is a history of big businesses polluting the resources they share with their neighbors. For instance, nearby farming has left a dangerous pesticide known as 1,2,3-TCP in the drinking water. Advocates say the dichotomy highlights deep-seated inequities in a state where water is a precious resource. The western US is in the midst of a once-in-a-millenium megadrought driven by the climate crisis.”

EXTRACTION

Reuters: Canada oil group says federal, provincial tension blocking carbon capture talks
Nia Williams and Steve Scherer, 1/23/23

“The chief executive of Cenovus Energy Inc (CVE.TO) on Monday said friction between the federal and Alberta governments was making it difficult to hold meaningful discussions on funding carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology needed to decarbonize the oil and gas sector,” Reuters reports.”Cenovus CEO Alex Pourbaix was speaking on behalf of the Pathways Alliance, a collaboration between Canada’s six largest oil sands producers targeting net-zero emissions by 2050. It is planning to develop a CCS hub in northern Alberta, expected to cost C$16.5 billion ($12.3 billion) by 2030. Of that, the group wants public money to fund 66%, or roughly C$10.9 billion, and says government support would speed up decarbonization and help establish a competitive clean-tech industry in Canada. So far the federal government has unveiled an investment tax credit worth C$2.6 billion over the next five years, but both Ottawa and Alberta say the other should contribute more… “Pourbaix told Reuters there still needs to be a “significant discussion” between the federal and provincial governments and industry, and Pathways has set a target for that to happen early this year… “Asked to comment on the industry’s call to tone down political rhetoric, Taylor Hides, a spokesperson in Smith’s office, told Reuters Alberta’s government is willing to invest in CCS and is looking forward to “working with our industry partners” to create jobs. Keean Nembhard, a spokesperson for the federal natural resources ministry, told Reuters the government is looking forward to “continued dialogue with provinces and territories” on the best ways to promote CCS growth, but noted the technology alone is not a “silver bullet” to cut emissions.”

CLIMATE FINANCE

Press release: Danske Bank maps its total carbon footprint and publishes comprehensive climate action plan to enable Danske Bank and its customers to meet Paris Agreement goals
1/23/23

“As part of the work on preparing Danske Bank’s new climate action plan, the Group’s direct and indirect carbon emissions have been mapped. The figures highlight Danske Bank’s impact on the green transition and the opportunities to work with customers to achieve significant reductions in carbon emissions by 2030 and 2050. Danske Bank is fully committed to leading the green transition. We have reduced investments in and lending to oil and gas production companies by 37% and 50% respectively since 2020… “This data shows that the Group’s entire carbon footprint amounts to 41.1 million tonnes of carbon emissions, which underlines Danske Bank’s important role in the green transition as Denmark’s total carbon emissions in 2021 amounted to 44 million tonnes. The mapping forms the basis for a comprehensive new climate action plan – a plan to ensure that by 2030 and 2050 Danske Bank and its customers will have reduced their carbon emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement… “The vast majority – 99.9% – of Danske Bank’s climate footprint comes from so-called financed emissions. These are indirect downstream carbon emissions that are generated as a result of Danske Bank’s financing and investment activities… “The goals in the plan have been set in line with the criteria and recommendations provided by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).”

TODAY IN GREENWASHING

KHOU: Rodeo announces first-ever Community Day with FREE admission
Michelle Homer, 1/23/23

“The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo announced big plans for a brand new Community Day with free admission for everyone until noon on Wednesday, March 8. The special day sponsored by TC Energy will also include discounts for carnival rides and games and lower prices on some food and drinks,” KHOU reports. “…For every person that walks through the gates between 8 a.m. and noon that day, TC Energy will donate $1 to the local community through its social impact program, Build Strong, which invests in organizations that are integral to local communities. “Our partnership with the Rodeo reflects our commitment to build strong, vibrant communities where we live and work,” Tina Faraca, President U.S. Natural Gas Pipelines at TC Energy, told KHOU.

OPINION

Durango Herald: Capturing methane leaks protects all of us
Gwen Lachelt has worked to reform oil and gas policies since 1988; she is a former two-term La Plata County commissioner and is the executive director of Western Leaders Network, 1/22/23

“Thirty-five years ago this month, The Durango Herald ran a front-page article announcing that Amoco was planning to drill a thousand gas wells in La Plata County,” Gwen Lachelt writes for the Durango Herald. “Today, over 3,500 wells have been drilled, and more than 30,000 gas and oil wells have been developed across the state line in New Mexico… “The San Juan Basin was a guinea pig for an experimental drilling and fracking process to extract gas from underground coal seams, known as coalbed methane. The drilling boom outpaced the ability of local, state and federal agencies to respond appropriately to the initial problems. County residents were experiencing (and some still experience) a staggering number of health and environmental impacts, including methane migrating into area water wells, basements and crawl spaces; wells being drilled 150 feet from homes; choking dust and noise from heavy truck traffic; fumes, odors and noise from well facilities; poor air quality; and degradation of wildlife habitat… “The EPA’s final rule must go even further by requiring that gas associated with oil drilling is captured, a broader range of storage tanks are subject to emission standards, and communities have the data and technology necessary to participate in the super-emitter response program. The people who live with oil and gas operations in their communities have done their part. Every day, they bear the burden of what it means to supply our country with energy. They need the EPA in their corner. And we all need the EPA in our corner. We are all affected by climate-damaging methane emissions from oil and gas, and we deserve the very best protections possible.”

Globe and Mail: The ‘Just Transition’ fracas is just noise – for now
Jen Gerson, 1/23/23

“There is much sound and fury emanating from Alberta ahead of federal “Just Transition” legislation planned for later this year. But I have to admit something: I don’t get it,” Jen Gerson writes for the Globe and Mail. “I understand the history between Alberta and Ottawa on the energy file. I understand why the former would distrust the latter to manage something as contentious as a “transition” away from carbon-intensive energy sources. I get the fear Alberta feels at the prospect of losing its primary industry. And it’s not hard to grasp the anger this province feels after years of pipeline projects and oil sands investments have gone awry, at least in part owing to federal meddling… “But when I actually looked into the plans for the “Just Transition” legislation, I didn’t see anything worth getting particularly worked up about – at least not yet. All I see is another small-scale boondoggle in the making: a garden-variety package of federal incompetence that is more likely to waste cash on feel-good programs than effectively shut down the oil and gas sector… “If the “Just Transition” carrot is paired with a heavy stick – for example, the imposition of an emissions cap on the oil sands beyond the 100mt that the province has already decreed – then Alberta’s screaming will be justified. And the federal government has already stated that the oil and gas industry would need to reduce emissions by 42 per cent if the country is to meet its 2030 climate goals. Doing so would require significant investment and expansion in carbon capture technology and, according to Reuters, a fight is already under way between the federal and provincial governments about who ought to be footing the bill.”

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