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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 1/26/23

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

By Mark Hefflinger

January 26, 2023



  • E&E News: 4th Circuit May Uphold Mountain Valley Pipeline Water Permit

  • Roanoke Times: Company that inspects the Mountain Valley Pipeline has conflict of interest

  • Canadian Press: Coastal GasLink fined again for sediment, erosion in pipeline work

  • The New Republic: This Company Is Suing the U.S. Over the Keystone Pipeline Cancellation. Taxpayers Are Footing the Bill.

  • NPR Illinois: Plans for a CO2 pipeline in Illinois are on hold

  • Iowa Capital Dispatch: Proposed legislation could kill or restrict carbon dioxide pipelines in Iowa

  • KIOW: Guth Discusses the Proposed Carbon Pipeline

  • Oelwein Daily Register: Supervisors hear budget and pipeline requests

  • Reuters: Kinder Morgan sees tax credits speeding up clean energy investments

  • St. Louis Public Radio: Property owners are still dealing with damage from Spire’s gas pipeline construction

  • Times Union: Greene County gas pipeline expansion will highlight ongoing climate battle

  • WVVA: Mercer County secures funding for natural gas pipeline extension

  • Law360: Contract Claims In LNG Project Spat Must Be Nixed, Co. Says

  • Memphis Commercial Appeal: Justin J. Pearson wins special election to fill House District 86 seat


  • E&E News: Oil industry takes offshore fracking case to Supreme Court

  • Press release: Feinstein, Huffman Introduce Bill to Permanently Ban Offshore Drilling Along West Coast

  • Reuters: Biden rubberstamped Trump-era oil and gas leases in New Mexico’s Permian Basin – lawsuit

  • E&E News: States Call For NEPA Review Of Massive Gulf Lease Sale

  • E&E News: Democrats Plot Amendment Strategy For Republican Oil Bill

  • E&E News: Meet the top House recipients of oil and gas money


  • Bloomberg: Los Angeles County Blocks New Oil Wells, Mirroring Citywide Ban

  • Center for Biological Diversity: Lawsuit Filed to Challenge EPA’s Failure to Protect Colorado From Oil, Gas Industries’ Asthma-Causing Smog

  • NM Political Report: Bill to classify natural gas as renewable dies in first committee

  • New York Times: Oil Drilled in the Amazon Rainforest Ends Up in California

  • E&E News: Texas Oil And Gas Regulator Opens Public Outreach Office




E&E News: 4th Circuit May Uphold Mountain Valley Pipeline Water Permit
Niina H. Farah, 1/25/23

“A federal appeals court with a track record of rejecting permits for the Mountain Valley pipeline appeared Tuesday likely to uphold one of the natural gas project’s approvals,” E&E News reports. “During oral arguments, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seemed unconvinced by environmental groups’ claims that the Virginia Water Control Board and Department of Environmental Quality improperly certified the pipeline’s stream and wetland crossings in the state. The hearing comes as the Mountain Valley pipeline has faced a bevy of losses in the 4th Circuit that have prompted lawmakers on Capitol Hill to target permitting reforms that would enable the project’s construction. The Sierra Club and other groups told the 4th Circuit on Tuesday that Virginia officials had not met their requirement to analyze the direct impacts of crossings or alternative routes before certifying the project’s compliance with state water quality standards. Virginia has the authority to deny certification when the location of pipeline crossings was not ‘most preferable,’ said Derek Teaney, an attorney with Appalachian Mountain Advocates. He urged the court to toss out the state’s December 2021 certificate for the pipeline, which would carry natural gas more than 300 miles from West Virginia into Virginia.

Roanoke Times: Company that inspects the Mountain Valley Pipeline has conflict of interest
Laurence Hammack, 1/25/23

“A company that monitors environmental compliance by the Mountain Valley Pipeline has a conflict of interest caused by its work on separate projects by developers of the controversial pipeline, according to a government attorney,” the Roanoke Times reports. “Cardno Inc. has “a relatively small but continuing conflict of interest,” Charles Beamon, associate general counsel for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, wrote in memorandum to two other officials with the commission. The memo, filed Tuesday on FERC’s online docket, states that despite the conflict, Beamon found that it is appropriate for Cardno to continue its longstanding work. Since construction of the natural gas pipeline began in 2018, Cardno has acted as a third-party contractor for FERC, employing nine full-time inspectors to monitor the 303-mile long pipeline to ensure it complies with federal laws. In May 2020, the company submitted an annual conflict-of-interest form that contained new information: Cardno was acquired the preceding year by a larger company, Stantec, and together they had provided services for “multiple projects” by four of the five companies that are partners in Mountain Valley. Both Cardno and Stantec “make money from the companies who want to build the Mountain Valley Pipeline,” David Sligh, conservation director of Wild Virginia, which has joined other environmental groups in fighting the pipeline, told the Times. “That should be enough to disqualify Cardno, because it means we can’t be sure their actions as inspectors on the MVP, which should be done in the public interest, won’t be influenced by their private profits.” “…Pipeline opponents point to what they say are shortcomings in Cardo’s work as a third-party inspector for FERC — a job that is actually funded by Mountain Valley.”

West Virginia Public Broadcasting: Coal Industry Opposes Natural Gas Pipeline State Leaders Support
Curtis Tate, 1/26/23

“Environmental groups have opposed the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and they’ve had some success blocking it in court,” West Virginia Public Broadcasting reports. “They may have an unlikely ally: the West Virginia Coal Association. Coal Association President Chris Hamilton told Sen. Bill Hamilton, R-Upshur, and a member of the Economic Development Committee, that the association had supported the pipeline in the past. But Chris Hamilton said the 300-mile natural gas pipeline would displace coal-fired electricity generation at four power plants in North Carolina. “So you’d be against it now?” Bill Hamilton asked. “Yes,” Chris Hamilton said. “Unfortunate, thank you,” Bill Hamilton said. The committee then approved Senate Bill 188, which would expedite permitting for natural gas projects in West Virginia. Chris Hamilton encouraged lawmakers to modify the bill with language that gave equal favor to coal and natural gas for electricity generation, but the committee voted down the effort.”

Canadian Press: Coastal GasLink fined again for sediment, erosion in pipeline work

“The company that is building a natural gas pipeline across northern British Columbia has been fined for a third time as a result of failure to comply with the requirements of its environmental assessment certificate,” the Canadian Press reports. “The B.C. government issued a bulletin saying Coastal GasLink has been fined $213,600 for “continued deficiencies with erosion and sediment control measures.” The bulletin issued Wednesday says recurring issues with erosion and sediment control have resulted in ongoing compliance and enforcement action, though more recent inspections have shown improvement.  The Environmental Assessment Office says more than 50 inspections have been done along the pipeline construction route since the project started in 2019, resulting in 37 warnings and two other financial penalties imposed last year: $72,500 in February and $170,100 in May. The office says it entered into a compliance agreement with Coastal GasLink last July that takes a more proactive approach to erosion for about 100 kilometres of the 670-kilometre pipeline route where ground had yet to be broken.”

The New Republic: This Company Is Suing the U.S. Over the Keystone Pipeline Cancellation. Taxpayers Are Footing the Bill.
Kate Aronoff, 1/16/23

“Life is pretty good for arbitrators tasked with deciding whether a corporation should get a government payout,” The New Republic reports. “Your $900 per diem will get you a room at the finest hotel, with enough money left over for a plate of ortolan if you can find a restaurant daring enough to serve it. You’ll get $250 for each hour you spend in transit. That’s on top of the $500 a day you get while working on the case. And if you work while you’re traveling you’re entitled to $500 an hour. Of course it’s cushy: You were the one to decide how much you’d get paid! That, at least, is according to documents released as part of a $15 billion case being brought by Calgary-based gas giant TC Energy against the United States government, after Joe Biden “canceled” the Keystone XL pipeline by revoking a key permit. The case is set to be heard in Washington, D.C., under the auspices of the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID, pronounced “ick-sid”). The company brought their suit under a multilateral deal that no longer exists, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)—which is why the U.S. thinks the suit should be thrown out. NAFTA’s Trump-era successor, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, eliminated most (but not all) options for pursuing these investor-state dispute settlements… “What makes ISDS so outrageous—and why it’s become so unpopular—is that there are these arbitration panels that private sector lawyers sit as arbitrators making top dollar per diems,” Melinda St. Louis, director of the non-profit Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, told TNR. “But then they also can, separately, be corporate lawyers that are bringing cases on behalf of corporations to other arbitration tribunals. What we typically think of as a judicial system—as independent—that is not the way this works.” “…As more states embrace industrial policy, climate-friendly investment, and trade approaches that favor building up domestic production, the ISDS system could become a historical artifact. For now, those tasked with administering it are still living large.”

NPR Illinois: Plans for a CO2 pipeline in Illinois are on hold
Sarah Nardi, 1/25/23

“Plans for a carbon dioxide pipeline in Illinois have been temporarily halted,” NPR Illinois reports. “Navigator Heartland Greenway LLC has voluntarily withdrawn its Application for a Certificate of Authority to construct the pipeline that would cross through 13 Illinois counties. Navigator said it plans to refile a new application with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) next month, including plans for an additional route. Environmental groups and landowners from around Illinois have organized to protest the pipeline. Pamela Richert is the co-founder of the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines. She said Navigator was forced to withdraw its application after failing to secure land agreements for a sequestration site. Richert told NPR she was “pleasantly surprised” by the development. “The Illinois Commerce Commission doesn’t look at sequestration sites, they look at pipelines,” she told NPR. But without a place to sequester the CO2 that would be travelling through the pipeline, the ICC deemed Navigator’s application incomplete. The company approached several residents in Christian County about easement agreements that would allow Navigator to sequester CO2 under their land, Richert told NPR. But those agreements were roundly rebuffed. Karen Brockelsby told NPR her family was approached a year ago with an offer to buy pore space underlying their Christian County farm, where carbon from the pipeline would be sequestered in the soil 6000 feet underground. When the family declined to sell, Brockelsby said Navigator proposed a leasing agreement. “I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the details, because by that point, we had determined we didn’t want any part of it,” Brockelsby told NPR of the lease. Navigator hasn’t been able to address any of the family’s safety concerns, she said. And she doesn’t think it’s worth the risk… “I would like to slow them down to the point where they give up on Illinois entirely,” Brocklesby told NPR. “I don’t really want it in anybody else’s backyard either, because I believe it’s dangerous. I believe it’s a threat to the future of farming in Illinois.

Iowa Capital Dispatch: Proposed legislation could kill or restrict carbon dioxide pipelines in Iowa
Jared Strong, 1/25/23

“A spate of bills introduced in the Iowa Senate this week would severely restrict ongoing plans by three companies to build pipelines to transport captured carbon dioxide from ethanol plants in the state,” the Iowa Capital Dispatch reports. “Five bills introduced by Sen. Jeff Taylor, a Sioux Center Republican, would curtail eminent domain opportunities for hazardous liquid pipeline companies, limit their ability to conduct land surveys and negotiate easements for that land, and require them to identify their investors. Taylor was among a minority of vocal Republicans to push for more protections in last year’s legislative session for landowners who oppose three projects that would lay about 2,000 miles of pipe across the state… “In my sixteen years in the Iowa House, I have never heard more concerns from constituents related to a single issue than the CO2 pipeline project currently proposed for our area,” Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, wrote in a letter to state regulators about a week before the election… “Taylor’s bills would have far-reaching consequences for the projects. One would eliminate the use of eminent domain for their construction… “Taylor told the Dispatch that proposal faces the largest uphill battle in the Legislature. In lieu of that, another bill would require the companies to gain the permission of landowners for 90% of the route to enable eminent domain for the remainder. The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation recently indicated it would support that law change.”

KIOW: Guth Discusses the Proposed Carbon Pipeline
AJ Taylor, 1/25/23

“The hotbed issue of the construction and operation of a carbon pipeline in the area has many farmers and landowners upset and asking questions of their lawmakers as to why they would be in favor of it,” KIOW reports. “Some believe that the construction of the pipeline would ruin farmland for many years to come and the remuneration for lost crops would never equal what they would earn if the land went untouched. Others are upset that government and private businesses such as a pipeline company have more rights to landowners’ property then landowners do through the random use of eminent domain. They also ask these same lawmakers why they support and hold such actions over these land-owning voters. State Senator Dennis Guth has made it clear he is not in favor of the pipeline or the use of eminent domain to take property from one family in order to placate the pipeline owners… “Guth and fellow legislators are listening to constituent voters who want action on the floor of the House and Senate in Des Moines. As a result, they are taking action. These bills must clear subcommittees before going to full committees and eventually the floors of their respective chambers.”

Oelwein Daily Register: Supervisors hear budget and pipeline requests
Kaci Maire, 1/25/23

“…Earlier, citizens concerned about the proposed CO2 pipeline requested Supervisors write a letter to the Iowa Utilities Board stating opposition of the use of eminent domain as it pertains to this pipeline,” the Oelwein Daily Register reports. “The Supervisors were in agreement that they would not write a letter at this time as they are continuing to gather information regarding the proposed pipeline. The Supervisors thanked the citizens for the information they provided as some of it was new as this is an evolving project. The Supervisors indicated they will continue to research and seek out information on the pipeline to determine how they can best support Fayette County residents.”

Reuters: Kinder Morgan sees tax credits speeding up clean energy investments

“U.S. funding for clean energy projects will help energy pipeline operator Kinder Morgan (KMI.N) accelerate its investments in renewable natural gas and carbon sequestration, executives said on Wednesday,” Reuters reports. “The $430 billion Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) signed into law last September expanded tax credits for industrial projects that capture, reuse or permanently store carbon dioxide, a gas that contributes to climate change. The funding “accelerates growth opportunities” in renewable natural gas (RNG), renewable diesel, hydrogen as well as carbon capture and storage (CCS), according to a presentation by Kinder Morgan, the largest operator of carbon dioxide pipelines in North America… “Last week, Kinder Morgan said it would move forward with an agreement with Red Cedar Gathering Company to transport and sequester carbon. It also decided to go ahead with a plan to convert its Autumn Hills landfill to an RNG facility, with construction scheduled to begin this month.”

St. Louis Public Radio: Property owners are still dealing with damage from Spire’s gas pipeline construction
Eric Schmid, 1/25/23

“The saga surrounding the embattled Spire STL Pipeline appears mostly resolved after a federal regulator approved its operating permit, but some property owners along the route through Illinois’ Greene and Jersey counties are still contending with construction damage,” St. Louis Public Radio reports. “We have several outstanding damages,” Jacob Gettings, who owns a farm in Jersey County, told SLTPR. “After repeated efforts from Spire to renovate the problems, they have ignored certain aspects of it and totally failed in others.” The requirements placed on Spire during construction included an Agricultural Impact Mitigation Agreement with Illinois, which provides guidelines to limit agricultural damages. This agreement was in place to protect the foot and a half of topsoil across his farm, Gettings explained. “I’m not trying to brag, but it’s some of the best soil in the state,” he told STLPR. “They were required to remove all that, keep it separate, dig their trench for the pipe, put the pipe down and the subsoil back around the pipe and cover with the rich soil on top.” But this didn’t happen for Gettings or dozens of his neighbors, he told STLPR. Instead, he’s left with a “terrible mixture of soil” that is compacted and subsoil that doesn’t drain well, Gettings told STLPR. “The productivity will never be what it was,” he told STLPR. “It’s all because they didn’t follow the guidelines set forth.” “…Gettings told STLPR he allowed the company to attempt to fix remaining issues in September 2022 but was left with new ones. After Spire reworked the soil on a little more than six acres, the company seeded a cover crop with straw over it, but failed to remove the plastic wrapping the straw, he told STLPR. “I’m in worse shape now than I was before, because I have plastic net wraps spread all over the ground,” Gettings told STLPR. “This is not biodegradable. This will not go away.”

Times Union: Greene County gas pipeline expansion will highlight ongoing climate battle
Rick Karlin, 1/25/23

“A proposal by the Iroquois gas pipeline company to install 12,000 horsepower compressors here in Greene County and in Dutchess County is turning into an early example of the choices state regulators must make in light of new climate goals,” the Times Union reports. “On the one hand, the Iroquois Gas Transmission System says it needs the extra capacity to meet demand for more natural gas hookups for cooking and heating by residents and businesses in New York City and Long Island… “On the other hand, the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act calls for a wholesale long-term move away from using gas to heat buildings and for cooking… “This built-in dilemma of the demand for more gas-fired heat versus the push to get off fossil fuels will be on display next Tuesday during a hearing before the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which must decide whether to grant a permit for the compressors… “Instead of increasing gas use, the state needs to decrease it,” Pete Sikora, Climate and Inequality Campaigns director at New York Communities for Change, one of the many organizations pushing for the rapid electrification of buildings, told the TU. Local organizations such as the Concerned Citizens of Dover have also spoken out against the plan, expressing worry about construction of the larger gas compressors in their community. Opponents also fear increased capacity will provide more fuel for two gas-fired power plants in the region, CPV and Cricket Valley, both of which are running at less than full capacity. Iroquois, however, said the new compressors are for heating and cooking rather than power plant consumption. Iroquois and the utilities say they are trying to meet ongoing consumer demand for natural gas. In recent years, homeowners have switched from oil to gas seeking lower costs, so housing renovations have increased demand. They also note that the transition away from gas won’t happen overnight.”

WVVA: Mercer County secures funding for natural gas pipeline extension
Ben Schwartz, 1/25/23

“A natural gas pipeline is set for extension in Bluefield, W.Va.’s Cumberland Industrial Park, following the Mercer County Economic Development Authority’s securing of $1,000,000 in American Rescue Plan funding,” WVVA reports. “The project is set to cost $6,000,000 in total — with other funding coming from the state and federal level. Economic development leaders in Mercer County said the area is currently missing out on opportunities to attract business without natural gas access in the industrial park… “But now with $6,000,000 secured, and a project led by the U.S. Department of Energy, leaders said Wednesday they are nearly ready to move forward and break ground.”

Law360: Contract Claims In LNG Project Spat Must Be Nixed, Co. Says
Caroline Simson, 1/25/23

“A Kinder Morgan affiliate is asking a New York court to nix breach of contract claims asserted by Italian oil and gas giant Enil in a high-stakes, long-running dispute connected to a botched deal to import liquified natural gas through a billion-dollar Mississippi processing facility,” Law360 reports. 

Memphis Commercial Appeal: Justin J. Pearson wins special election to fill House District 86 seat
Micaela A Watts, 1/25//23

“In a special election that offered voters a choice between younger candidates that promised new approaches and seasoned political veterans that offered experiences and past accomplishments, the voters of Tennessee House District 86 opted for the former by choosing Justin J. Pearson by a significant margin,” the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports. “Pearson, 28, gained traction as a community leader when he co-founded grassroots organization Memphis Community Against the Pipeline in response to a planned crude oil pipeline that would cut through backyards in South Memphis, particularly in the Boxtown neighborhood. The work of MCAP and Pearson was largely credited as the entity that stopped the intended pipeline plans from Plains All American… “The Shelby County Commission voted unanimously — and with bipartisan support — Wednesday to appoint Pearson as interim representative to the statehouse position. That will allow him to start work at the legislature as soon as he can be sworn in, rather than having to wait until the formal election in March… “I’m just happy to be a vessel. It’s people power that wins victories. It is not just one person. The more we can move that message, the better,” Pearson told MCA.”


E&E News: Oil industry takes offshore fracking case to Supreme Court
Niina H. Farah, 1/26/23

“The fossil fuel industry is asking the Supreme Court to resolve a legal battle over hydraulic fracturing off the California coast — a fight companies say carries “enormous practical and legal significance,” E&E News reports. “On Wednesday, the American Petroleum Institute, Exxon Mobil Corp. and DCOR LLC filed a petition for justices to reverse a 2022 ruling from a lower bench that upheld a ban on all new permits for unconventional oil production methods on the Pacific outer continental shelf. A ruling by the high court could have implications for the pace of the nation’s transition away from fossil fuels. The Pacific outer continental shelf is estimated to contain about 10 billion barrels of untapped oil and 16 trillion cubic feet of untapped natural gas, industry challengers said. “If allowed to stand, the decision below will undermine the development of oil, natural gas, and renewable energy on the entire Outer Continental Shelf,” industry lawyers said… “On the other side of the legal dispute, environmental groups hailed the June ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as a key victory toward curbing rising greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the biodiverse Pacific outer continental shelf, sometimes known as the “Galapagos of North America.” Environmental groups have fought to block well stimulation practices such as offshore fracking, acid fracturing and matrix acidizing, which are techniques used to boost production from declining reservoirs. “The decision to halt fracking was exceedingly well-reasoned, and I hope the court rejects the oil industry’s reckless attempt to overturn the 9th Circuit’s ruling,” said Kristen Monsell, oceans legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement.” 

Press release: Feinstein, Huffman Introduce Bill to Permanently Ban Offshore Drilling Along West Coast

“Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Jared Huffman (both D-Calif.) today introduced the West Coast Ocean Protection Act to permanently ban oil and gas drilling in federal waters off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington… “In the Senate, the legislation is cosponsored by Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). “The era of offshore oil and gas production in the Pacific is coming to a close,” said Senator Feinstein. “We’re in the midst of a historic transition to cleaner energy sources, including offshore wind. Offshore drilling and the risks it poses to the environment and our robust ocean and coastal economies are not part of that clean-energy future. It’s time to permanently ban new drilling leases in federal waters off the West Coast.” “…No new offshore drilling has been allowed in federal waters along the Pacific Coast since 1984. However, the Trump administration released a five-year offshore leasing plan in 2018 that proposed opening up the entire West Coast to new drilling despite widespread opposition in Pacific coast states. That proposal was blocked by the courts but the threat of drilling will remain until a permanent ban is enacted. The West Coast Ocean Protection Act would permanently protect these waters that are essential to coastal economies and healthy marine ecosystems. Nearly 70 percent of Californians opposed offshore drilling according to recent polling by the Public Policy Institute of California. The bill is supported by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Oceana, the Sierra Club, Environment America, Environment Washington, Environment Oregon, Environment California, Surfrider Foundation, League of Conservation Voters, Surf Industry Members Association, WILDCOAST, Business Alliance for Protecting the Pacific Coast, Paddle For Peace and the National Audubon Society.”

Reuters: Biden rubberstamped Trump-era oil and gas leases in New Mexico’s Permian Basin – lawsuit
Clark Mindock, 1/24/23

“The Biden administration rubberstamped approvals for oil and gas leasing in New Mexico’s Permian Basin that would raise greenhouse gas emissions despite the president’s promise to focus on curbing climate change, a new lawsuit filed in federal court claims,” Reuters reports. “The Biden administration rubberstamped approvals for oil and gas leasing in New Mexico’s Permian Basin that would raise greenhouse gas emissions despite the president’s promise to focus on curbing climate change, a new lawsuit filed in federal court claims. Conservation groups including the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians and New Mexico residents sued the Interior Department Monday in New Mexico federal court, claiming the Biden administration backed Trump-era oil and gas lease sales on nearly 6,000 acres of land, despite those sales being rushed through during Trump’s final days without adequate environmental reviews. The same groups sued the administration over drilling permits in New Mexico and Wyoming in June… “The suit claims the government failed to conduct a thorough environmental review of the proposed lease sales, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other laws, and in so doing put the public’s health at risk.”

E&E News: States Call For NEPA Review Of Massive Gulf Lease Sale
Niina H. Farah, 1/25/23

“Washington and nine other blue states called Tuesday for a federal appeals court to require the Biden administration to take a hard look at the environmental impact of a massive Gulf of Mexico lease sale reinstated under landmark climate legislation,” E&E News reports. “The states urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to uphold a ruling from a lower bench that canceled the sale after finding that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management had not accounted for how Lease Sale 257 would affect foreign oil demand. The sale was later revived under the historic Inflation Reduction Act, but the courts have yet to decide how to handle the Biden administration’s National Environmental Policy Act obligations in light of the climate bill’s passage. BOEM’s exclusion of ‘critical information’ from its review of the November 2021 sale violated NEPA requirements for agencies to make informed decisions and protect against pollution and climate change, the states told the D.C. Circuit Tuesday. ‘This Court should affirm the district court’s determination that NEPA requires federal agencies to fully consider the reasonably foreseeable climate impacts of a proposed action, including reasonably foreseeable effects on foreign greenhouse gas emissions,’ the states wrote in their friend of the court brief. Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont also joined the filing.

E&E News: Democrats Plot Amendment Strategy For Republican Oil Bill
Nico Portuondo, 1/25/23

“House Energy and Commerce Democrats are planning to use the Republican’s open amendment process this week to push left-leaning energy and environmental priorities, especially as the new minority accuses the GOP of working to raise consumer prices,” E&E News reports. “H.R. 21, from House and Energy Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), would limit drawdowns of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve until the Department of Energy develops a plan to increase the percentage of federal lands leased for oil and gas production.” 

E&E News: Meet the top House recipients of oil and gas money
Scott Waldman, 1/26/23

“The oil and gas industry donated millions of dollars to members of the House in the last election cycle. Now, many of the top recipients are well-positioned to advance its interests,” E&E News reports. “Two of them — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) — serve in leadership positions. Several more have been assigned to House committees where they will wield outsize influence over energy and climate policy. Of the top 10 recipients of oil and gas money in the 2022 election cycle, eight are Republican, according to data from OpenSecrets, which tracks political spending… “McCarthy was the top recipient with $616,563 in oil and gas donations. Scalise received $368,291 from the industry, enough to land him fourth on the list. Six of the top 10 lawmakers hail from Texas, including Rep. Wesley Hunt, a rising star in the Republican party. That an industry would give money to politicians to gain influence is neither new nor unique to the fossil fuel sector. But it highlights the problem with American campaign financing, Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer under former President George W. Bush, told E&E. The contributions buy real influence, he told E&E. And oftentimes, it has nothing to do with the interests of the constituents in a congressional district, told E&E. “These industries pick their favorites and back their favorites and expect their legislation or a lack of regulation in return,” he told E&E, adding, “This is a pattern that you see a lot, and fossil fuels is definitely a GOP industry.” In response to a question from E&E News, Amanda Eversole, API’s executive vice president and chief advocacy officer, said the powerful lobbying group backs candidates who can further its causes.


Bloomberg: Los Angeles County Blocks New Oil Wells, Mirroring Citywide Ban
Julia Fanzeres, 1/24/23

“Los Angeles County has blocked new oil and gas drilling and will phase out of existing operations, expanding on a city-wide ban that was imposed last month,” Bloomberg reports. “The county’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously passed the ordinance that takes effect in 30 days. “We can’t afford to make the same mistakes of the past,” LA County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, who represents 2 million residents, said at a briefing. “That’s why our county is committed to developing an equitable and data-informed approach to phasing out oil drilling as we know it.” The strategy for shutting down existing wells will be informed by an analysis of the financial, employment and health impacts, said Mitchell. The ban doesn’t include the Baldwin Hills area, which encompasses the Inglewood Oil Field, one of LA’s most productive. A report by LA County last year found that there were 1,046 active wells, 637 idle wells and 2,731 abandoned wells within the region — most of them disproportionately located close to communities of color and lower-income levels… “More widely, California, the seventh-largest crude-oil producing state, is implementing a ban on new oil wells within 3,200 feet of homes, businesses, schools and other populated areas — a move that the California Independent Petroleum Association is trying to overturn via a 2024 ballot measure.”

Center for Biological Diversity: Lawsuit Filed to Challenge EPA’s Failure to Protect Colorado From Oil, Gas Industries’ Asthma-Causing Smog

“The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency today to limit pollution from drilling and hydraulic fracturing for oil and methane gas in Colorado. “Colorado can’t keep letting more and more oil and gas wells spew their pollution if we’re going to have any hope of fixing our severe smog problem,” said Robert Ukeiley, a senior attorney at the Center. “Our lawsuit is aimed at forcing the EPA to crack down on this dangerous pollution.” The Denver Metro/North Front Range area has levels of ozone, commonly referred to as smog, that are well above the EPA’s science-based standards intended to protect public health and the environment. The oil and methane gas industry is one of the biggest contributors to smog in Colorado. The plan submitted to the EPA by Colorado’s Air Pollution Control Division to clean up the smog includes loopholes that allow unlimited air pollution from drilling and fracking.”

NM Political Report: Bill to classify natural gas as renewable dies in first committee
Hannah Grover, 1/24/23

“A Republican-sponsored bill attempting to get combined cycle natural gas included in the definition of renewable energy died in its first committee on Tuesday,” according to NM Political Report. “The bill’s lead sponsor was Rep. James Townsend of Artesia, a retired executive from a fossil fuel company. Townsend told the Report that House Bill 96 attempted to fix a problem that is “readily apparent in New Mexico.” That problem, he told the Report, is rolling brownouts and blackouts related to a shortage of electricity… “The House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee voted on party lines to table the bill. “Natural gas is not a renewable, but it works,” Townsend told the Report in response to questions about the Energy Transition Act, which was not among the laws that would be amended to include combined cycle natural gas… “Nationwide, there has been a trend for conservative state legislators to introduce bills either directly supporting fossil fuels or seeking to limit competition for fossil fuels. The Ohio governor signed a bill this year that does include natural gas as a “green” energy source. The Ohio bill was pushed by a dark-money nonprofit group with ties to the fossil fuel industry.  While oil and gas companies are seeing record revenues, fossil fuels’ share of the electric generation capacity in the United States has plummeted in recent years. A federal report released this month by the Energy Information Administration projects that more than a quarter of electricity produced in the United States will come from renewable sources in 2024 as new utility-scale photovoltaic and wind projects come online.”

New York Times: Oil Drilled in the Amazon Rainforest Ends Up in California
Catrin Einhorn, 1/25/23

“If you live in California, you may have a closer connection to oil drilling in the Amazon rainforest than you think,” the New York Times reports. “In a recent article, Manuela Andreoni, Erin Schaff and I took readers to Yasuní National Park in Ecuador, one of the most biodiverse places on the planet and home to Indigenous groups that live in isolation. The Ecuadorean government, cornered by debt and the need for revenue, is drilling for oil in a parcel of rainforest there that it once sought to protect. Much of that oil, advocates say, is shipped to California for processing. In fact, half of the crude exported from the Amazon overall goes to California, according to a report by Amazon Watch and, two nonprofit groups that work to protect the rainforest. They also modeled how that oil is distributed once it’s refined. “One in every nine tanks of gas, diesel or jet fuel pumped in California comes from the Amazon,” Angeline Robertson, the lead author of the report and a senior researcher at, told the Times. “So if you take nine trips somewhere, one of those trips was Amazon oil.” “…We know that we need a phaseout of fossil fuels all over the world, but this is really one of the last places on earth we should be looking for fossil fuels,” Kevin Koenig, director of climate, energy and extractive industry at Amazon Watch, told the Times.”

E&E News: Texas Oil And Gas Regulator Opens Public Outreach Office
Carlos Anchono, Jason Plautz, 1/25/23

“The Texas Railroad Commission has launched an Office of Public Engagement, in a bid to communicate more with residents who are largely unaware of the agency’s role overseeing the oil and gas industry,” E&E News reports. “Commission Executive Director Wei Wang recently announced the new office, which will sit under the agency’s Communications Division and have three full-time employees. The decision comes after unsuccessful efforts to change the agency’s name to better reflect its mission, which no longer has anything to do with railroads… “Texas’ energy agencies have come under criticism in the past for being too opaque, particularly after 2021’s Winter Storm Uri caused widespread electricity outages and led to the deaths of more than 200 people.”


Financial Times: Big Oil’s profits juggernaut on pace to slow but not stop
Justin Jacobs, 1/25/23

“Oil companies will defy the gloom overshadowing many other industries when they start to report earnings this week, with analysts forecasting tens of billions of dollars in fourth-quarter profits,” the Financial Times reports. “But the outlook is dimmer for the coming year: early projections compiled by S&P Capital IQ have the five western oil supermajors collectively earning $150bn in 2023, down from an estimated $200bn haul in 2022. The deceleration in oil producers’ cash machine comes after energy prices pulled back from highs reached last year after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. But even with a $50bn decline in annual profits, the companies would still rake in their second-highest earnings ever recorded. The US major Chevron kicks off Big Oil’s earnings season on Friday, followed by ExxonMobil next Tuesday and Europe-based Shell, BP and TotalEnergies in early February. The five companies’ combined profits for the last three months of 2022 are forecast to be $41.8bn, up more than 40 per cent from $29.4bn a year before, according to S&P Capital IQ… “Governments’ increased focus on energy security after the Ukraine invasion has brought back some of the investors who shunned fossil fuel producers over climate-damaging emissions, analysts say. The market’s “peak ESG concerns have been fading”, Matt Portillo, an analyst at Texas-based investment bank TPH, told FT, referring to environmental, social and governance investing. As investors shifted focus back to the companies’ core oil and gas businesses, it has been “constructive for the equities,” Portillo told FT.”

Reuters: Exxon halts routine gas flaring in the Permian, wants others to follow

“Exxon Mobil Corp said it has stopped routine flaring of natural gas from production in the top U.S. shale basin and will press for stronger regulations for rivals to do the same, company officials said in an interview,” Reuters reports. “The largest U.S. oil producer is battling lawsuits that accuse it and other oil companies of contributing to global warming and rising sea levels. At the same time, it has moved to cut its own emissions and supported government efforts to crack down on oil and gas operators to find and fix gas leaks. Exxon said its embrace of tighter methane regulation is designed to put oil and gas producers on equal footing… “It levels the playing field,” Exxon’s chief environmental scientist Matt Kolesar told Reuters. “We need strong regulations so it doesn’t matter who owns the facility” or where they operate around the world… “Still, Exxon remains opposed to making oil companies responsible for emissions from the use of products sold to consumers. Some oil companies such as Europeans Shell and BP have included emissions by customers in their 2050 net-zero targets. Exxon counters that focusing on methane, which can be up to 80 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, is a better route to slowing climate change… “Environmentalists say coupling emissions cuts with increased oil and gas production is short-sighted. “Companies need to reduce their oil production, not only emissions,” Robin Schneider, executive director with environmental group Texas Campaign for the Environment, told Reuters.

Canadian Press: First Nations say Alberta’s oilsands mine security reform unlikely to fix problems
Bob Weber, 1/26/23

“Alberta is preparing to change how it ensures oilsands companies are able to pay for the mammoth job of cleaning up their operations, but critics fear a year of consultations hasn’t been enough to avoid repeating past mistakes,” the Canadian Press reports. “There’s no signal to me from this government that they are going to hold industry accountable for clean-up costs,” Melody Lepine of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, one of the Indigenous groups consulted, told CP. Official estimates price that cleanup at $33 billion while internal estimates from the Alberta Energy Regulator put it closer to $130 billion. Even at the lower figure, industry has only put up about four per cent of the money required, a percentage that is shrinking as the liability grows… “The provincial government did not address concerns raised by the First Nations in response to queries from The Canadian Press. After attending all the meetings, four First Nations submitted a document to the government, obtained by The Canadian Press, that suggests they fear meaningful reform is not forthcoming. “(The Athabasca Region First Nations’) overall assessment is that the review was often perfunctory, especially in the initial phase, and that (Alberta Energy Regulator) and (Alberta Environment and Parks) staff were often defensive and less than forthcoming,” it said… “The document said the program is not designed for an increasingly low-carbon world. Mine closures are slated to coincide with worldwide net-zero targets, meaning oil demand — and its price — are likely to start falling just as that money is needed for cleanups… “The stakes, Lepine told CP, could not be higher. Taxpayers have billions of dollars on the line, but First Nations have even more.  “We got nowhere else to go. It’s been our home for thousands of years,” she told CP. “But if it becomes a toxic wasteland, will we be forced to leave? I don’t know.” 

DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory: Scientists unveil least costly carbon capture system to date

“The need for technology that can capture, remove and repurpose carbon dioxide grows stronger with every CO2 molecule that reaches Earth’s atmosphere. To meet that need, scientists at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have cleared a new milestone in their efforts to make carbon capture more affordable and widespread. They have created a new system that efficiently captures CO2—the least costly to date—and converts it into one of the world’s most widely used chemicals: methanol. Snaring CO2 before it floats into the atmosphere is a key component in slowing global warming. Creating incentives for the largest emitters to adopt carbon capture technology, however, is an important precursor. The high cost of commercial capture technology is a longstanding barrier to its widespread use… “PNNL scientists believe methanol can provide that incentive. It holds many uses as a fuel, solvent, and an important ingredient in plastics, paint, construction materials and car parts. Converting CO2 into useful substances like methanol offers a path for industrial entities to capture and repurpose their carbon.”


Storm Lake Times Pilot: Editorial: Who controls the land?
Art Cullen, 1/25/23

“A string of bills introduced last week by Sen. Jeff Taylor, R-Sioux Center, could put a crimp on pipelines or, at least, their developers’ pocketbooks,” Art Cullen writes for the Storm Lake Times Pilot. “Taylor proposes to ban eminent domain for pipelines or require that 90% of affected landowners approve for it to be invoked. He would require pipeline companies to identify their investors. He would bar pipeline surveyors from private land. The 90% sign-up requirement has the support of the Iowa Farm Bureau, according to Iowa Capital Dispatch. “In my sixteen years in the Iowa House, I have never heard more concerns from constituents related to a single issue than the CO2 pipeline project currently proposed for our area,” House Speaker Pat Grassley wrote to state regulators… “CO2 emissions are not a chief concern of rural Republicans. Property rights are a religious issue. Landowners are declaring their primacy over corporations. Few things so stir the soul in Iowa. It will be difficult for the pipeline lobbyists to defend against it. Taylor could attract Democrats to his cause… “The first beneficiaries of the pipeline will be the investors, protected by the state under the current regulatory regime. Landowners are not necessarily protected from future loss. Who actually gets the general benefit? And, most important: Who owns my land? It’s good that legislative leaders are hearing these questions and considering them. Rural property owners have proven they will go to great lengths to establish their legal right to do as they wish with the land they have purchased. Ultimately the government controls all land. We will see who controls the government.”

Farm Progress: More than a pipeline
Holly Spangler, 1/26/23

“All across parts of western and central Illinois, people are showing up to knock on landowners’ doors, maps in hand and dollar-figure promises at the ready. They represent Navigator CO2 Ventures, and they want to lay 250 miles of carbon dioxide pipeline across parts of 11 counties, ending in Christian County,” Holly Spangler writes for Farm Progress. “…As you might imagine, folks in Illinois are skeptical about this proposition. The Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines, Citizens Against Heartland Greenway Pipeline (annual membership is $500) and more have mobilized. Even the Sierra Club is against it. Heartland Greenway filed an application for approval with the Illinois Commerce Commission in July, but just last week withdrew it. Some groups claimed victory thanks to landowner opposition, but Navigator said not so fast. They withdrew in order to reorganize and expand the pipeline footprint they’re requesting… “The Mount Simon Sandstone formation is three solid-rock layers down, about 1.25 or 1.5 miles underground. That’s what makes this region unique. And valuable. That means Illinois landowners need to brace up. Because regardless of what any of us believes about greenhouse gas emissions or carbon credits or anything else relative to climate change, this conversation will continue to amp up in the coming years. And the pipelines will point to the Mount Simon Sandstone in Illinois… “But can you pipe it across a thousand miles? That’s a different question, and one the opposition groups are asking. They’re also asking what’s in it for the landowner, and folks in the ethanol business have an answer for that one… “Illinois has a really valuable resource that a lot of other locations in the U.S. don’t have,” Weinzierl told FP. “People will try to capitalize on that resource to help them in this future trajectory of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” But to do that, you’ve gotta get the CO2 from where it’s produced to where it’s sequestered. And how do you do that? Pipelines. That, my friends, is why CO2 is dominating the conversation in Illinois. And why — like it or not — it’s not going away anytime soon.”

The Hill: We need a strong federal methane rule to protect Latino communities
Dharma Santos-Santiago is a climate justice and clean air advocate for GreenLatinos in New York City; Irene Burga is the climate justice and clean air program director of GreenLatinos in Whittier, Calif., 1/25/23

“The climate crisis is here, and Latinos (who we’ll refer to as Latine communities) across the country are already experiencing some of the most severe impacts. Thankfully, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering a plan to reduce methane emissions, which is the fastest, easiest and cheapest thing we can do to immediately slow the pace of climate change,” Dharma Santos-Santiago and Irene Burga write for The Hill. “Reducing methane pollution from the oil and gas industry will slow climate change and improve the health of Latine communities across the country. It’s time we put the health and safety of our communities ahead of polluters in the oil and gas industry. The EPA should adopt strong, comprehensive methane safeguards to protect our health and our planet… “In New York City, the third hottest heat island in the country, methane pollution from the oil and gas sector contributes to the never-ending uptick in heat waves, which is especially dangerous in industrial neighborhoods. As someone with asthma, I (Dharma) sometimes feel my chest tighten up when I’m outside, and I carry around an inhaler — just in case. Millions of Latine children and families across the country — especially those living near oil and gas operations — also face this unacceptable reality.  Meanwhile, on the other coast, Latine families in Whittier, Calif. are surrounded by the oil and gas industry. Growing up near the Santa Fe oil field, I (Irene) frequently found playdates interrupted by a friend urgently needing an inhaler to reopen their airway… “Both federal agencies, EPA and BLM, must hear from people on the frontlines of oil and gas development. Everyone concerned about climate change, health and our economic future should speak up and ask the Biden administration to reduce methane pollution from oil and gas to advance public health and environmental justice.” Could Canada Pass Something Similar To The Inflation Reduction Act?
Haley Zaremba, 1/25/23

“Canada’s oil industry is one of the dirtiest in the world,” Haley Zaremba writes for “… Because of the particularly weighty negative externalities associated with the oil sands, investors, banks, and major oil companies have been shying away from Albertan projects for years now. But that doesn’t mean that production has waned – far from it. The tar sands are on track to produce more oil than ever, and experts predict that they will continue producing for at least another two decades. In spite of major pushback from both private and public sectors, demand for energy is high and growing higher as Russia’s war in Ukraine drags on and China begins to reopen after easing its stringent Zero Covid Policy. Put simply, in the words of the Wall Street Journal, “so long as existing oil fields—no matter their carbon footprint—remain profitable, they are likely to remain in production long after big-name multinational companies walk away.” Unless the government steps in, that is. And that’s exactly what left-leaning Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is trying to do… “Passing a quasi-Inflation Reduction Act in Canada will probably be as difficult in Canada as it was in the United States – which is to say, very… “While politics are rarely certain on either side of the border, one thing is guaranteed: if Trudeau is unable to push through some sort of energy transition legislature, Canada will continue missing its emissions targets.” 

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