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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 2/6/23

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

By Mark Hefflinger

February 6, 2023



  • KCUR: Two months after the Keystone’s biggest oil spill, residents of a Kansas county wonder what’s next

  • Energy News Network: Illinois county offered payments to back Navigator carbon dioxide pipeline

  • South Dakota legislators back at it today; Carbon pipeline bills on agenda for Mortenson and House State Affairs Committee today

  • Mitchell Republic: Gevo, maker of biofuel for jets, adding South Dakota plant to Summit Carbon pipeline

  • Oelwein Daily Register: Summit has easements for 2/3rds of Iowa pipeline route

  • KIWA: Area farmer defends carbon pipeline projects

  • E&E News: Biden energy agenda exposes regulatory gap


  • E&E News: White House Advances NEPA Rule Changes

  • InsideEPA: House GOP Seeks To Redirect BIL Funds, Step Up New Permit Reform Push 

  • E&E News: Western Dems Want To Ban ‘Harmful’ Flaring On Public Lands


  • KUNM: Report: National parks in NM threatened by oil and gas development

  • E&E News: ‘SCOTUS bait’: Legal battle over Calif. waiver begins


  • NBC: Ohio village under evacuation order after train derailment causes fire

  • Texas Public Radio: Carbon Capture Project Is ‘Band-Aid’ To Greenwash 10 Billion-Dollar LNG Plant, Locals Say



  • The Hill: Republicans launch group to combat ‘threat’ posed by ESG investing



KCUR: Two months after the Keystone’s biggest oil spill, residents of a Kansas county wonder what’s next
Celia Llopis-Jepsen, 2/3/23

“It’s been almost two months since the Keystone pipeline erupted on a December night and crude oil rained down upon several acres of native prairie and cropland, and coated more than three miles of Mill Creek in a toxic sheen,” KCUR reports. “…Much of the oil landed on the Pannbacker farm. “I don’t think either of us were prepared for the emotion of this,” Chris Pannbacker told KCUR. “Some days we’re good and some days, we’re just kind of mad. It’s hard to explain, because some people say ‘It’s just grass,’ or ‘It’s just a pasture,’ or ‘It’s just a creek.’” “…At night, the scene gives off a glow visible for miles around, as workers toil round the clock. What was farmland belonging to their neighbor now looks like massive parking lots where trucks, bulldozers and backhoes maneuver. Trees, torn down by the cleanup crews, lay in huge piles. Topsoil and bluestem grasses have been stripped from part of the ridge that the Pannbackers so cherish — a spot for sentimental family moments, picnics and class gatherings going back decades… “By morning, federal and state regulators had arrived. Cleanup crews poured in. The smell of oil filled the air in the county seat (also called Washington) and miles away, making people’s eyes water. “The traffic was absolutely nonstop,” Dan Thalmann, publisher of The Washington County News, told KCUR. “I’ve never seen anything like it — just truck after truck after truck hauling all sorts of equipment of all kinds.” “…Almost two months after the Kansas spill, the cleanup site remains a busy place, sometimes with more than 800 workers daily… “I would say you’re still looking at months” of cleanup, he told KCUR. “Once all the bulk oil comes off the surface (of Mill Creek), you start looking at the impacted creek bank and other debris in there.” He told KCUR he didn’t know when landowners would get to use the creek and adjoining crop fields and pastures again… “Chris Pannbacker worries that TC Energy has too much control over what her family gets to know. She wants to know how the cleanup works in detail. “It’s a story that’s being heavily filtered,” she told KCUR. “Because we don’t have access. I mean, the EPA has never talked to us. … KDHE has never talked to us.” She’s also frustrated that the federal government let TC Energy restart the Keystone without first disclosing what happened… “TC Energy gets 90 days to give the federal government a report on the cause, yet the federal government allowed it to restart the Keystone just a few weeks after the break.”

Energy News Network: Illinois county offered payments to back Navigator carbon dioxide pipeline
Kari Lydersen, 2/3/23

“The company seeking to build a controversial carbon dioxide pipeline through five states is offering to pay as much as $19 million for cooperation from an Illinois county that last fall passed a two-year moratorium on such pipelines, according to a draft agreement posted online by pipeline opponents,” Energy News Network reports. “A draft agreement that will be discussed at the McDonough County Board Law and Legal Committee meeting on Monday, Feb. 6, appears to be the company’s latest attempt to build the pipeline despite significant opposition from landowners, officials in multiple counties, and the Illinois Farm Bureau. Navigator has not been able to obtain enough leases for the pipeline’s route across Illinois or for a carbon sequestration site in the state, and on January 20 it withdrew its application for eminent domain powers, after state regulators said the application was incomplete. The draft agreement with McDonough County offers the county $20,000 per mile of pipeline per year for up to 30 years, with a $630,000 annual cap. The draft says the payment would be contingent on the county acting “in good faith” to “provide positive assistance” to the company, including obtaining road access and rights of way on county land… “Navigator will clearly stop at nothing to move forward with its project,” Central Illinois resident Pam Richart, lead organizer with the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines, told ENN. “I believe that Navigator is hoping they can make deals with local governments like McDonough County in order to buy them off.” “…The Illinois Times reported in October that Navigator had made a similar pitch to officials in Montgomery County, offering to pay up to $1.5 million a year for up to 30 years. No agreement has been instated there, but the issue has been on monthly board meeting agendas for the past few months… “As Navigator faced opposition and apparently had difficulty securing enough leases for sequestration “pore space” in Christian County, it added Sangamon and Montgomery counties as possible terminal points for the pipeline, filings with the commerce commission show.” South Dakota legislators back at it today; Carbon pipeline bills on agenda for Mortenson and House State Affairs Committee today
Jody Heemstra, 2/6/23

“Today (Feb. 6, 2023) is Day 18 of the 38-day South Dakota Legislative session,” reports. “The big issue is whether carbon dioxide pipelines should receive the right of eminent domain for right of ways. At 7:45 a.m. (CT), the House State Affairs Committee will consider seven bills on the matter. It is an intrasquad agricultural fight between economic titans, pitting the ethanol plants who want to decrease their carbon footprint against farmers and ranchers who don’t want the pipelines going across their property.”

Mitchell Republic: Gevo, maker of biofuel for jets, adding South Dakota plant to Summit Carbon pipeline
Jeff Beach, 2/5/23

“A renewable jet fuel plant under construction in South Dakota has signed on to the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline project,” Mitchell Republic reports. “Colorado-based Gevo broke ground on its $800 million Net-Zero 1 plant to make jet fuel from corn at Lake Preston in September 2022 and Summit released a statement to Agweek that Gevo has signed on as a partner. A project update from Gevo in January said the plant is on schedule to startup in 2025… “Summit Carbon Solutions says it will provide Gevo with the same services as its 32 ethanol plant partners — gathering carbon dioxide emissions and piping it to western North Dakota for underground storage… “The Gevo plant is not part of Summit’s pipeline permit application with the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission. Hearings before the PUC are scheduled for September… “The project has proven to be controversial, with landowners concerned about the use of eminent domain to obtain right-of-way, as well as worries about lost crop production and property values, as well as the safety of the hazardous materials pipeline. At a December PUC meeting, Brian Jorde, an attorney for landowners, estimated there were about 70 lawsuits involving Summit and landowners in South Dakota alone. Summit also has sued four South Dakota counties, accusing them of overstepping their authority related to carbon capture pipelines. There also are several bills introduced in the South Dakota Legislature that would make it more difficult to build a carbon capture pipeline.”

Oelwein Daily Register: Summit has easements for 2/3rds of Iowa pipeline route
Shane Butterfield, 2/5/23

“Two-thirds of Iowa landowners with property along the proposed route of Summit Carbon Solutions’ carbon capture, transportation and storage pipeline project have now reached voluntary agreements with them, the company announced in a press release last Thursday,” the Oelwein Daily Register reports. “…A total of 1,050 Iowa landowners from 29 of the state’s counties have consented to and signed 1,840 easements with their company, the release explains… “In addition to Summit’s effort, both the Navigator and Wolf companies are also endeavoring to acquire voluntary easements from the state’s property owners before installing their own carbon pipelines… “Those opposing the proposed pipelines, however, have been numerous and vocal. According to Summit, however, the belligerence of many entities in this category reflects their negative views of ethanol. “Some organizations like the Sierra Club and Food & Water Watch oppose carbon capture projects because they want to see the end of the ethanol industry along with its ability to purchase nearly 60% of the corn grown in our state,” Summit Carbon Solutions’ Vice President of Government Affairs Jake Ketzner told the Register.”

KIWA: Area farmer defends carbon pipeline projects

“An O’Brien County farmer is speaking out in favor of carbon pipelines,” KIWA reports. “Kelly Nieuwenhuis, who farms near Primghar, is calling on what he tells KIWA is the silent majority to join him in speaking out for carbon capture utilization and storage, or CCUS… “Nieuwenhuis serves on the board of directors for Siouxland Energy, an ethanol production plant in Sioux Center, and he’s also the chair of the National Corn Ethanol Committee… “Nieuwenhuis calls opponents of such projects, like the Sierra Club, extremist environmental groups. Nieuwenhuis told KIWA the Sierra Club has three reasons for fighting against carbon capture and the pipelines. The first he told KIWA is they don’t like the livestock and the cattle production industry. Second, he told KIWA they don’t like production agriculture and they’re anti-GMO.”

E&E News: Biden energy agenda exposes regulatory gap
Mike Soraghan, 2/6/23

“Energy companies are racing to build new energy infrastructure that could have a major influence on emissions and the Biden administration’s agenda, but there’s a catch: Regulators can’t keep up,” E&E News reports. “New liquefied natural gas export terminals and hydrogen projects — as well as thousands of miles of carbon dioxide pipelines — could be built before many federal regulations overseeing them are updated or put into place. Some rules are decades old and safety advocates tell E&E important questions about safety remain unanswered with these technologies… “For example, LNG, carbon dioxide pipelines and hydrogen are each generally covered by existing regulations administered by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which is part of the Department of Transportation, but there are no rules specifically on hydrogen pipelines… “PHMSA also says its standards for CO2 pipelines need updating after a pipeline ruptured in Mississippi three years ago… “Advancing CO2 pipelines, hydrogen and LNG are a top priority of the Biden White House, according to officials at PHMSA — which is in charge of pipelines and gas transportation — but so is regulating them properly. “This is something the White House and PHMSA are prioritizing,” an agency spokesperson told E&E. “We are working across government and with stakeholders to move quickly on these critical issues.” “…Some climate hawks, though, contend hydrogen, natural gas exports and carbon capture pipelines are the wrong response to climate change. Opponents tell E&E they’re really just ways for fossil fuel companies to respond to climate scrutiny without substantial changes to their business models… “Carbon dioxide pipelines that carry gaseous CO2 at lower pressures are not covered by existing rules. And current regulations don’t require operators to notify regulators if they’re blending hydrogen into existing gas pipelines… “It doesn’t appear that federal regulations will fully be in place to oversee those lines when they start construction… “Regulators at PHMSA aren’t expecting to have a first draft, or “notice of proposed rulemaking,” of potential carbon dioxide pipeline rules until October 2024. In the meantime, though, agency officials say they’re working to provide new guidance and “lessons learned” that can be provided to companies more quickly. Environmentalists and conservative farmers have mounted a resistance to the Midwest projects, protesting the likely use of eminent domain to condemn land for construction and raising safety concerns… “Critics have called for a moratorium on CO2 pipelines until revised federal regulations are completed. But that could be a long way off, and project developers don’t want to wait that long.”


E&E News: White House Advances NEPA Rule Changes
Kelsey Brugger, 2/2/23

“The White House has inched closer to rewriting one of the most notable Trump environmental rule rollbacks,” E&E News reports. “The Council on Environmental Quality on Monday sent the White House Office of Management and Budget a second tranche of changes to National Environmental Policy Act standards. The Trump administration completed the first major change of NEPA rules in decades. The former president moved to nix climate considerations and limit public input to accelerate permitting reviews. But last year the Biden White House released the first phase of an effort to erase many of Trump’s changes. It was an attempt to highlight climate change and environmental justice. The particulars of the second proposal remain elusive. According to a page on the government regulations website, CEQ is working ‘to find necessary revisions’ in order to ‘ensure public involvement in the NEPA process,’ ‘provide regulatory certainty to stakeholders’ and promote better decisionmaking. ‘In the coming months, the Council on Environmental Quality will propose to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of environmental reviews to help agencies make smart decisions that protect our environment, build resilience and benefit — rather than harm — vulnerable communities,’ a CEQ spokesperson told E&E.”

InsideEPA: House GOP Seeks To Redirect BIL Funds, Step Up New Permit Reform Push 

“House Republicans are stepping up their promised efforts to overhaul the Biden administration’s clean energy funding programs, signaling plans to redistribute infrastructure dollars intended for electric vehicles (EVs) toward addressing supply chain and worker shortage concerns while kicking off a new effort to overhaul permitting,” InsideEPA reports. “‘[Democrats] are focusing on the wrong issue: they’re trying to put a lot of money out there, but they’re not going to be able to do their projects any more than anybody else will be able do them because of permitting issues,’ Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said at a Feb. 1 House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on transportation infrastructure and supply chain challenges. Westerman’s comments come as he and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) met Feb. 1 to discuss legislation to overhaul permitting, according to E&E News, kicking off talks after Manchin’s permit streamlining legislation fizzled in the last Congress amid opposition from both sides.” 

E&E News: Western Dems Want To Ban ‘Harmful’ Flaring On Public Lands
Heather Richards, 2/3/23

 “Four Western senators are urging the Bureau of Land Management to ban routine venting and flaring of natural gas on public lands, a stiffer standard that would mirror some state regulations,” E&E News reports. “The ask — from Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper of Colorado, as well as New Mexico’s Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján — comes as BLM aims to finalize draft rules to cut methane waste from federal oil and gas production. The Biden administration has proposed to limit the amount of royalty-free flaring of natural gas allowed from federal oil and gas leases, alongside other new directives, like making drilling permits potentially contingent on waste minimization plans.”


“Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Representatives Jared Huffman (CA-02) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) today reintroduced their Arctic Refuge Protection Act, legislation that will restore critical protections to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—home to the Gwich’in people and the nation’s largest national wildlife refuge—by designating the Coastal Plain ecosystem as wilderness under the National Wilderness Preservation System. This legislation would permanently halt any new oil and gas leasing, exploration, development, and drilling on the Coastal Plain, and would safeguard the subsistence rights of the Arctic Indigenous Peoples who depend upon the unique ecosystem within the Arctic Refuge. It would enshrine the protections sought by President Biden on his first day in office, which were reaffirmed last June when the Administration temporarily suspended drilling lease sales in the Arctic Refuge. Despite these executive actions, the Coastal Plain ecosystem remains at risk due to oil and gas lease sales mandated by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law by then-President Trump. “The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a national treasure and a cultural and spiritual home for Arctic Indigenous peoples. The traditional relationship that the Gwich’in and Inupiat have had with the Refuge for generations, as well as the singular ecosystem on the Coastal Plain, should not be put into harm’s way because of old failed promises of a fictional financial windfall,” said Senator Markey. 

KUNM: Report: National parks in NM threatened by oil and gas development
Nash Jones, 2/1/23

“A report from the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks sounds the alarm on harm from oil and gas development on four national parks, calling on the federal government to do more to protect them,” KUNM reports. “Half of the parks are in New Mexico, the second-leading oil-producing state in the country. Carlsbad Caverns National Park borders the Permian Basin, the largest oil-producing region in the country. The report highlights threats to above- and below-ground resources at the site, which has more than 119 caves, along with potential dings to the state’s tourism industry, due to poor air quality. The National Park Service in 2021 told the state Environment Department that the level of ozone at the park exceeds national standards and that — of all the parks it studied — the pollution at Carlsbad Caverns was the most impacted by oil and gas… “The report is critical of the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to punt on its consideration of naming the Permian Basin an ozone nonattainment area for exceeding federal air quality standards. Doing so would have further curbed emissions and potentially drilling in the area… “Updated: February 3, 2023:  The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with environmental advocates on Feb. 1, ruling that the Bureau of Land Management violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it “failed to take a hard look at the environmental impacts from [greenhouse gas] emissions and hazardous air pollutant emissions” before approving 199 drilling permits in the area surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park. The court halted permitting in the area until a district court rules on “the appropriate remedy” for the violations.”

E&E News: ‘SCOTUS bait’: Legal battle over Calif. waiver begins
Lesley Clark, 1/31/23

“California’s decades-old right to impose its own automobile emissions standards could be on a collision course with a Supreme Court that has recently widened the target for challenges against EPA climate action,” E&E News reports. “Historically home to some of the nation’s worst air quality, California has for 50 years set pollution requirements stricter than those imposed by the federal government. But 17 Republican-led states have challenged that authority, arguing EPA violated the Constitution and states’ sovereign rights by granting California a Clean Air Act waiver allowing the Golden State to tackle planet-warming emissions on its own. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments on California’s waiver in September. Environmental attorneys tell E&E the case could eventually land at the Supreme Court amid a conservative push to challenge the limits of the executive branch. “A colleague often refers to these types of issues as SCOTUS bait,” said Jonathan Brightbill, a partner at Winston & Strawn LLP, during a recent Federalist Society webinar.”


NBC: Ohio village under evacuation order after train derailment causes fire

“Officials said a train carrying hazardous materials derailed Friday night, causing a massive fire in East Palestine, Ohio. Thousands were ordered to evacuate. The NTSB is investigating the cause of the crash, but residents now fear they could be inhaling harmful toxins. NBC News’ Dana Griffin takes a closer look at the potential long-term effects,” NBC reports. 

Texas Public Radio: Carbon Capture Project Is ‘Band-Aid’ To Greenwash 10 Billion-Dollar LNG Plant, Locals Say
Matthew Green, 2/3/23

“As the Mexican Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, festivities drew to a close, Dina Nuñez called to order a meeting of women grassroots activists in a modest home in the heart of Port Isabel, Texas. Top of her agenda: how to stop a Houston-based oil and gas company from building a 10-billion-dollar project to export liquefied natural gas on a nearby stretch of coast,” Texas Public Radio reports. “For Nuñez and her friends, the fight against the scheme – known as Rio Grande LNG – is about protecting their community from air pollution; preserving shrimping and tourism; and defending habitats for pelicans, endangered ocelots and aplomado falcons at the project site on unspoiled wetlands between Port Isabel and the larger city of Brownsville.”


Wall Street Journal: Oil Industry’s Windfall Fails to Excite Wall Street
Collin Eaton and Jenny Strasburg, 2/5/23

“Oil companies delivered the market’s best shareholder returns last year, but Wall Street is still wary,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “The biggest Western oil companies, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and Shell together cleared a record of more than $132 billion in annual profit in 2022 and handed investors $78 billion via share buybacks and dividends, about 50% more than the last time oil topped $100 a barrel in 2014. Fifteen of the 20 companies with the best returns in the S&P 500 index last year belonged to the oil industry, including Occidental Petroleum Corp., which had a 119% total shareholder return, according to Dow Jones data. After lagging behind every other sector from 2018 to 2020, energy has supplanted tech to lead the index for the past two years. Yet many investors are still keeping their distance… “Some shareholders deserted U.S. shale after incurring losses in the industry’s debt-fueled oil boom in the 2010s, and fear a repeat. Others such as pension funds, endowments and faith-based organizations have sold some or all of their oil-and-gas holdings, citing concern about the industry’s greenhouse-gas emissions… “The entire universe of investors has clearly misunderstood the time it will take to wean off oil and gas,” Brad Demicco, director of private markets at Southern Methodist University’s investment office, told the Journal. The energy sector will continue to outperform the broader market for years while supplies remain tight,  Mr. Demicco, who helps invest SMU’s $2 billion endowment, told the Journal. While some investors might buy shares if an economic downturn weakens oil prices, he told the Journal, it appears many have exited for good because of their climate commitments… “The companies say the new Inflation Reduction Act will boost cleaner-energy investments in the U.S. through tax credits that make some projects economical in ways they weren’t before. But the hoped-for wall of cleaner-energy spending faces hurdles including supply shortages, inflation and red tape, while some of the technologies the companies have committed to, including carbon capture and hydrogen, are unproven.”


The Hill: Republicans launch group to combat ‘threat’ posed by ESG investing

“House Republicans are creating a new working group to further their pushback against environmental, social and governance investing, known as ESG,” The Hill reports. “A press release from the House Financial Services Committee announcing the group said it will be aimed at combating what they described as a “threat to our capital markets.” The group will be led by Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.). It will seek to “develop a comprehensive approach” to the ESG issue and “hold Biden’s rogue regulators accountable,” Financial Services Committee Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) said in the release. The press release did not give specifics as to how it would do so, and a spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions from The Hill… “Huizenga, in the press release, specifically called out a proposal from the Securities and Exchange Commission that would require companies to disclose their contributions to climate change. Both this proposed rule and ESG in general have gotten pushback from Republicans, who have raised concerns about its impacts on the fossil fuel industry, as burning fossil fuels is the main driver of climate change. Republicans have also raised concerns that ESG could push money managers toward choosing social issues over profits for their clients.” 


Brown Political Review: Waking Up From Pipe Dreams

“The residents of Yazoo County, Mississippi were confronted with a danger the world had yet to witness in February 2020: a carbon dioxide pipeline explosion,” Lauren Griffiths writes for the Brown Political Review. “Within minutes, residents were dazed, foaming at the mouth, and left unconscious by the green cloud sweeping over their town. Individuals who were not too disoriented to walk scrambled to their cars—the most logical escape route. Those who made it as far as their vehicles were met with the frightening realization that the gas paralyzed their cars’ engines. They were trapped. While this was the first noted instance of mass outdoor exposure to piped CO2, it is unlikely to be the last. The tragedy of Yazoo County is a clear warning sign of the United States’ unpreparedness to handle a CO2 pipeline network expansion, which recent legislation is destined to bring… “Had the explosion happened just a few hours later, rather than breathing apparatuses, first responders might have needed body bags.Such a scenario could take place if action is not swiftly taken. A report published in March of 2022 by the Pipeline Safety Trust (PST), a prominent pipeline safety group, warned that the nation’s CO2 pipeline regulations are dangerously insufficient and fail to address public safety risks… “As we await these regulations, new pipelines are being planned in populated areas, posing a risk to the communities surrounding them and raising significant concerns regarding environmental justice… “The lack of awareness and preparation for this potential danger is especially frightening considering recent investments to expand our nation’s CO2 pipeline network. The Inflation Reduction Act enables a large upscaling of the carbon capture industry through updates to the 45Q tax credit, which incentivizes the use of carbon capture and storage… “While the United States’ groundbreaking climate legislation should be lauded, it must be coupled with regulations to address the risks that accompany CCS expansion. Agencies like PHMSA are in the process of updating regulations, but further steps must be taken to fund local emergency response teams, implement additional local and state regulations, and reduce the public safety risks to surrounding communities. In doing so, we can prevent disasters like the one in Yazoo County.”

High Country News: The state of the land: Biden’s mixed conservation record
Jonathan Thompson, 2/2/23

“President Joe Biden is scheduled to give his second State of the Union address to Congress next week, which I’m sure means that Republicans, with their narrow majority in the House, are already rehearsing their performances for the cameras,” Jonathan Thompson writes for High Country News. “…Theatrics aside, the State of the Union is traditionally a time to assess the current administration’s progress on various issues, including what Biden has and hasn’t done on public lands and climate issues. The report card ranges widely, from the Center for Western Priority’s grade, which amounts to what might be a B-minus, to George Wuerthner, who gave Interior Secretary Deb Haaland a D-minus accompanied by a stern scolding… “The latter includes the Center for Biological Diversity’s take, which has gotten the most play lately, spawning this headline from Yahoo! News: Biden granted more oil and gas drilling permits than Trump in his first 2 years in office… “Whether the current administration has done enough to tackle climate change is certainly up for debate, but using Trump’s first years in office as a benchmark is a bit disingenuous. Those two years happened to be one of the slowest periods for drilling in the last couple decades, with or without energy dominance, because the price of oil was so crappy that producers were shutting down existing wells. Forget drilling new ones… “I’m not trying to defend Biden’s record here, but rather pointing out the flaws in playing the numbers game, especially since drilling permits are handed out by bureaucrats in field offices far removed from Oval Office machinations. It would be far more productive to analyze Biden’s policies or scrutinize decisions on larger projects in which upper-level officials might play a role… “But he has also stood up to the oil and gas industry, in some cases even more forcefully than Obama. In addition to the permitting slowdown, Biden’s BLM has leased out fewer acres than either Obama or Trump, is working to block drilling around Chaco Culture National Historical Park and along Colorado’s Thompson Divide, restored the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, hiked royalty and bonding rates, limited non-competitive leasing and is in the process of restoring and strengthening methane emissions rules rescinded by Trump.”

Globe and Mail: How the oil sands compete in a world of lower demand and far lower emissions

“Oil production in Alberta has never been higher – output almost reached 4 million barrels a day last November, led by the oil sands,” the Globe and Mail Editorial Board writes. “…Government support was key and in the 1970s it helped get one of the first two oil sands mines built. In the mid-1990s Alberta and Ottawa offered major tax and royalty breaks that helped spur a boom that led to the present… “Today, a new round of innovation, collaboration and foresight is necessary. The challenge is twofold: reducing voluminous greenhouse gas emissions as fast as possible, and preparing for a decrease in demand for the oil that has so enriched Alberta and Canada… “Preparing for the oil sands future – like the 1970s, like the 1990s – is essential, and slashing emissions is the mission. The potential emergence of carbon border tariffs – import taxes on dirty oil and other emissions-heavy products – means Canada could find advantage against cheaper oil by lowering oil sands emissions. The oil sands companies have pledged a cut of one-third by 2030 and net zero by 2050. This page has argued before: Why not 2040? Government backing will play a role. Ottawa last year put $7-billion of subsidies for carbon capture in the federal budget through 2030 and some more is likely.”

Los Angeles Times: Column: Newsom promised to punish “Big oil” for profiteering, but so far it’s just talk
George Skelton, 2/6/23

“Since early fall, Gov. Gavin Newsom has been loud and adamant about punishing “greedy Big Oil” for its “windfall” profits. But talk is cheap. He still hasn’t produced a detailed plan,” George Skelton writes for the Los Angeles Times. “And the Legislature, which must approve any plan, hasn’t shown much enthusiasm. Newsom dramatically called a special session of the Legislature in early December to slap oil companies with a windfall profits tax. The “T” word ultimately was switched to “penalty” to make it seem more like a fee… “Neither the governor nor the Legislature has been rushing into this, despite Newsom’s oratory… “The inaction is not because the Legislature is beholden to the oil industry for political favors, although some lawmakers are, undoubtedly. It’s because neither the governor nor any legislator has figured out exactly how to punish the industry. How do you determine what’s an excessive profit? How much do you penalize the profiteers? This can be called a “penalty,” but how do you craft the thing so the courts don’t see it as a tax?.. “Newsom’s aides have been meeting with Democratic legislators in an effort to agree on a plan. The staffers have been soliciting ideas from legislators without much success. Lawmakers have listened but aren’t inspired, I’m told… “Meanwhile, Newsom faces a new potential hurdle besides the Legislature and inevitable lawsuits in his attempt to punish oil profiteers. It’s an anti-tax initiative that qualified last week for the 2024 ballot. If it passes, the measure will require voter approval of any state tax increase enacted after Jan. 1, 2022. That could include the refinery profits penalty, depending on court interpretation… “Big Oil knows that California is moving beyond fossil fuels, so on their way out these corporations are doing everything they can to squeeze out profits as they pollute our communities,” Newsom declared in a prepared statement. “We’re not standing for it … and it starts with passing our price gouging penalty to prevent extreme gas price spikes.” The governor keeps promising that. But he hasn’t figured out how to deliver.”

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