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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 3/16/23

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

By Mark Hefflinger

March 16, 2023



  • Iowa Capital Dispatch: Pipeline permit hearing will be held during harvest

  • Dakota News Now: Landowners prepare for hearing against Summit Carbon Solutions

  • KMA: Page County board hears continued push for carbon pipeline ordinance

  • KETV: Waste Management dumps Keystone Pipeline spill at Douglas County landfill

  • San Luis Obispo Tribune: Natural gas pipeline in SLO County ‘impacted by heavy rainfall.’ Crews are working to fix it 

  • WOLF: Appeal filed in hopes of stopping the fracked gas pipeline from jeopardizing any waters

  • Cornelius Today: State to hold public hearing tomorrow for Colonial Pipeline permit

  • CBC: Why Canada likely won’t need any more big new oil pipelines after Trans Mountain

  • Spring Magazine: Kamloops Residential School survivor sentenced to 28 days in jail for resisting TMX pipeline

  • Sierra Club: A Battle for the Future of the Great Lakes


  • InsideEPA: Schatz Cites ‘Very Real Possibility’ Permitting Deal Fails This Congress 

  • E&E News: Senate hope for permit deal alive after DOA House energy bill

  • E&E News: Where Biden’s Arctic oil strategy may succeed — or fail

  • Washington Post: National Audubon Society, pressured to remove slave-owning naturalist’s name, keeps it

  • Reuters: Bid in for $500 mln U.S. climate grant for direct air carbon capture

  • Press release: DOE Invests $47 Million to Reduce Methane Emissions From Oil and Gas Sector


  • Associated Press: Major oil project approval intensifies Alaska Natives’ rift

  • Washington Post: Texans sued Exxon over pollution 13 years ago. A big decision looms.


  • Colorado Sun: Suncor will finally reopen after a 3-month closure. But will anything change for its neighbors?

  • Los Angeles Times: Newsom gives up call for lawmakers to cap oil industry profits

  • Gizmodo: Texas Lawmakers Have a New Scheme to Punish Renewables and Prop Up Fossil Fuels


  • Canadian Press: Federal, Alberta governments to study public notice process around oilsands tailings leak

  • CBC: Canada is sitting on 12 ‘carbon bombs.’ Here’s where they are

  • Assessment of methane emissions from onshore LNG facilities


  • CNBC: Larry Fink: BlackRock is not the ‘environmental police’

  • Capital Monitor: Explainer: What is Gfanz and is it working?

  • Salt Lake Tribune: Utah Treasurer Marlo Oaks tells Republicans that ESG is part of ‘Satan’s plan’


  • National Observer: Complaint filed against oilsands alliance over ‘false and misleading’ claims


  • Financial Post: Joe Oliver: The Trans Mountain financial fiasco just got worse

  • Guardian: Biden just betrayed the planet – and his own campaign vows


Iowa Capital Dispatch: Pipeline permit hearing will be held during harvest

“The initial weeks of a permit hearing for Summit Carbon Solutions’ proposed carbon dioxide pipeline will take place during this fall’s harvest, despite the objections of farmers who want to attend,” the Iowa Capital Dispatch reports. “…An order from the board is forthcoming for the schedule, but Huser said a weekslong evidentiary hearing will start Oct. 23 in Webster County. That hearing is tentatively set to conclude in December but could spill into next year. It will include parcel-by-parcel discussions about the company’s eminent domain requests. The hearing would be preceded by four public comment hearings in outlying counties starting in mid-September and four days of public comment hearings in Webster County the week before the evidentiary hearing starts. “This is not workable,” said Dean Kluss, chairperson of the Wright County Board of Supervisors. Kluss said he is a farmer who starts harvesting crops about Sept. 20 and doesn’t finish until the middle of November… “IUB staff had first proposed holding the evidentiary hearing in May 2024, but two of the three board members decided to start in October, according to IUB records. “I am concerned that the process is being expedited without valid reason, which increases the chance of mistakes,” wrote Josh Byrnes, a board member, in opposition to a February board order to hold the hearing starting in October. “The parties deserve a meticulous and careful analysis of this petition. It takes time to complete a thorough and comprehensive review of infrastructure projects, and the procedural schedule should reflect this.” Huser and board member Richard Lozier overruled Byrnes. Their order did not include a rationale for the start date… “The board is expected to issue an order to officially set the hearing date yet this month.”

Dakota News Now: Landowners prepare for hearing against Summit Carbon Solutions
Sarah Parkin, 3/13/23

“The tension between landowners and Summit Carbon Solutions is continuing in court,” Dakota News Now reports. “On Monday, Brown County landowner Craig Schaunaman and Spink County landowner Ed Fischbach spoke about their struggles with Summit Carbon Solutions to the Aberdeen Democratic Forum… “House Bill 1133 would have excluded carbon dioxide as a common carrier. House Bill 1230 would have clarified references to the court in a condemnation action. Landowners affected by the Summit Carbon Solutions carbon dioxide pipeline were hoping both bills would pass to give them leverage against Summit utilizing eminent domain to survey and construct the pipeline. Both bills were moved to the 41st Legislative Day by the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee, but Fischbach said the support the landowners did receive was a win, regardless of the outcome… “On Tuesday, landowners from Spink, McPherson, Edmunds and Brown County will face Summit Carbon Solutions in court. Summit filed a lawsuit against landowners in those counties that refused to allow survey teams onto their property, including Schaunaman. ”Where I come from, this is a landowner’s rights issue to me. For one, I don’t think that the legislature can grant that authority for someone to come in and just survey my property without just compensation, and that’s what you’re going to hear tomorrow,” said Schaunaman. Schaunaman said he doesn’t believe Summit should be allowed to survey unless they receive a permit from the Public Utilities Committee. The application hearing for the pipeline project is scheduled for September… “The following statement was given to Dakota News Now by Summit Carbon Solutions: “While we can’t comment on ongoing litigation, Summit Carbon Solutions remains incredibly encouraged that South Dakota landowners have voluntarily signed easement agreements accounting for nearly two-thirds of the company’s proposed route in the state.” 

KMA: Page County board hears continued push for carbon pipeline ordinance
Ethan Hewett, 3/15/23

“At least one Page County landowner is still urging county officials to move swiftly on an ordinance governing liquid carbon pipelines,” KMA reports. “During its regular meeting Tuesday, the Page County Board of Supervisors heard from Imogene landowner Marty Maher who continued to air concerns over carbon pipeline proposals across the state, particularly Summit Carbon Solutions’ Midwest Express CO2 pipeline planned for nearly 700 miles of western Iowa. Maher questioned why the board had yet to formally discuss a possible county ordinance regarding carbon pipelines, given the timely nature of the subject. Additionally, he cautioned the board on advice from Summit to wait on the result of ongoing litigation with Shelby County, which was one of the first counties to implement an ordinance and subsequently sued by the pipeline company. “Let’s say the Shelby County ordinance is overruled — then Summit has won the game,” said Maher. “But lets say the Shelby County ordinance is upheld, the pipeline can either go through Shelby County more carefully or they can go around Shelby County. But, all the rest of the counties will be too late to get an ordinance put in place, because that has to be done this year.” Additionally, Maher called the concerns of ordinances halting the project far-fetched, primarily due to the projected revenues for the pipeline companies through federal tax credits… “On top of airing continued safety concerns over the project and the lack of adequate setbacks, Maher also takes issue with the idea that the pipeline is needed to protect the ethanol industry. He cites multiple ethanol plants in the area that have not signed on to Summit’s carbon capture and sequestration project… “Supervisors Chair Jacob Holmes assured Maher the pipeline ordinance is one of several the county will be reviewing over the next few months, and they have already taken several examples of a carbon pipeline ordinance.”

KETV: Waste Management dumps Keystone Pipeline spill at Douglas County landfill
Alex McLoon, 3/14/23

“For the next month, trucks will dump about 48,000 tons of soil at Pheasant Point Landfill in Bennington, collected from the Keystone Pipeline spill in Kansas,” KETV reports. “Douglas County commissioners have more questions for the company collecting the material, Waste Management. Specifically, the threat to surrounding soil and water sources—following the hazardous train derailment in Ohio. “This waste is not uncommon,” Waste Management’s Michael Hay said. “This is what we commonly refer to as a petroleum-contaminated spill.” Hay and other representatives from Waste Management declined to answer more questions from KETV NewsWatch 7 following their presentation to county commissioners Tuesday… “The company’s corporate representatives say the soil is sampled by a third party. Then it will be sampled at the landfill to test protection systems like the leachate collection and composite liner… “Douglas County earns $3 for each ton brought to Pheasant Point.”

San Luis Obispo Tribune: Natural gas pipeline in SLO County ‘impacted by heavy rainfall.’ Crews are working to fix it 

“SoCalGas crews continued working Wednesday on a natural gas line in Cayucos that was exposed during a recent rainstorm, according to a notice sent to customers via email,” the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports. “Since the situation was reported, utility and work-crew vehicles have filled the North Coast community’s popular 24th Street parking lot. “SoCalGas crews have isolated a natural gas pipeline near Morro Strand State Beach in Cayucos that has been impacted by heavy rainfall in San Luis Obispo County,” the emailed notice read. Flows from Whale Rock Reservoir also added to the impact, according to Brittany Paul, SoCalGas community education and outreach manager. Paul said in a series of emails that “the pipeline is not damaged and there are no reports of customer impacts.” “We sent out the notice because the line is on lower pressure” until it can be secured, SoCalGas representative Jim Mahoney said by phone Wednesday morning… “Crews have been working at the site, often in windy and rainy conditions, since the exposed gas line was reported Sunday night. They “will be onsite 24 hours a day,” Paul said. Two holes were dug into the pavement at Studio Drive, reportedly to provide better access to the line.”

WOLF: Appeal filed in hopes of stopping the fracked gas pipeline from jeopardizing any waters
Taylor Whartnaby, 3/15/23

“The Transcontinental Gas and Pipeline Company wants to expand a natural gas pipeline through more than 22 miles of Luzerne County and roughly 14 miles of Monroe County,” WOLF reports. “The Department of Environmental Protection approved the project but now one group is suing as they make a case to protect local waters and wetlands… “PennFuture and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network have filed an appeal in hopes of stopping the fracked gas pipeline from jeopardizing any waters. “This is an appeal of permits that the State Department of Environmental Protection has issued for the Transco Regional Energy Access Explansion Line,” Jessica O’Neill, PennFuture’s senior attorney, told WOLF… “The Department of Environmental Protection has a responsibility as a trustee under Pennsylvania’s green amendments also known as the environmental rights amendments, and as a trustee you cant put on the blinders,” Kacy Manahan, senior attorney at Delaware riverkeeper network, told WOLF… “Penn Future claims 114 Exceptional Value wetlands and 77 bodies of water supporting cold water fisheries and numerous streams would be impacted by the pipeline expansion.”

Cornelius Today: State to hold public hearing tomorrow for Colonial Pipeline permit

“The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Resources will hold a public hearing Thursday for a Colonial Pipeline wastewater permit,” Cornelius Today reports. “Colonial Pipeline has requested a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Wastewater Discharge permit to allow the discharge of treated groundwater to North Prong Clark Creek in the Yadkin-Pee Dee River basin… “Colonial estimates 2 million gallons leaked from a section of pipeline that had broken some time in July of 2020. The groundwater contains very high levels of benzene, a known carcinogen, and other toxic contaminants related to petroleum products: toluene, xylene, naphthalene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAH. Since the accident, Colonial has been pumping contaminated groundwater from the site and hauling it away for disposal. But groundwater being groundwater – it likes to move according to gravity, especially when it mingles with gasoline – the plume is expanding… “To reduce costs of hauling contaminated wastewater offsite, Colonial is proposing to build a permanent wastewater treatment plant on land it has purchased. The plant would discharge treated water, as much as 500,000 gallons per day, into the North Prong of Clark Creek. DEQ would limit concentrations of contaminants in the wastewater, but those maximums have not been finalized. DEQ is reviewing the company’s wastewater discharge permit application.”

CBC: Why Canada likely won’t need any more big new oil pipelines after Trans Mountain
Kyle Bakx, 3/16/23

“Construction of the Trans Mountain expansion project is set to wrap up later this year, and it’s likely the last new oil export pipeline the country will ever need,” CBC reports. “…As oil production growth slows in Alberta, some in the industry suspect there won’t be a need for any more new oil export pipelines. “I think we’ll be good,” Alex Pourbaix, president and CEO of Cenovus Energy, told CBC. “I don’t think we’re going to see another large-scale liquid pipeline coming forward, certainly in the next decade.” “…Despite all of the problems, experts say the economic case for the pipeline remains, since it will allow Canadian oil to reach the coast and fetch a better price than shipping it to the United States, where the majority of Canadian oil flows. The industry also needs another export channel, since existing pipelines are running out of space. “We’re pretty close,” Kevin Birn, a vice-president with S&P Global Commodity Insights in Calgary, who expects the Trans Mountain expansion to be full of oil when it’s up and running, told CBC… “Birn told CBC he also doubts that the country will see the construction of any more large oil pipelines — not only because there won’t be enough oil production to justify the need, but because all of the problems with the Trans Mountain expansion would make a pipeline developer cautious and hesitant to build a big project in Canada.”

Spring Magazine: Kamloops Residential School survivor sentenced to 28 days in jail for resisting TMX pipeline
Karissa Chandrakate, 3/16/23

“February is one of the coldest months in Kamloops, BC. But that didn’t stop Secwépemc leaders and their supporters from coming out in the cold windy morning to drum and conduct ceremony in front of the Kamloops Court House,” Spring Magazine reports. “On February 22, six land defenders were getting ready to hear their final sentencing carried out by Judge Shelley Fitzpatrich over resisting the Transmountain Pipeline expansion project (TMX) in October 2020. Secwépemc Matriarch Miranda Dick spoke directly to the group and invited everyone to the court room to “see the acts of genocide that Canada is doing to our people.” “…Heather Lamoreaux was sentenced to 29 days, Susan Bibbings and Laura Zadorozny 28 days, and Romilly Cavanaugh for 32 days. Lamoreaux, Bibbings and Zadorozny accepted their sentences and are now serving time for the resistance. Cavanaugh has applied for bail. Miranda Dick and her father Sawses were also both sentenced to 28 days in jail, however both have already appealed stating “blatant bias against Indigenous communities and in favour of TMX” by Judge Shelley Fitzpatrick… “While Isitt was providing submissions to the court, he made note that one of the arrestees – Susan Bibbings- had helped plant 215 trees to honour the evidence of unmarked children’s graves of former “students” at KIRS, saying “their bodies had been unearthed.” “There are no bodies,” Fitzpatrick nonchalantly replied, to which Isitt responded with “remains had been unearthed.” “They have been?” she asked him. Isitt provided a clarification, stating that remains had been identified through ground penetrating radar and he stands corrected. “Potentially,” she replied, which prompted outrage and gasps from the courtroom filled with Indigenous people. “They have been identified,” one person shouted. “How dare you say that?” said another. “There’s no respect,” said one Indigenous woman as she promptly left the courtroom. Hereditary Matriarch April Thomas shouted “Racist!” from the courtroom, which led to a courtroom sheriff asking her to leave.”

Sierra Club: A Battle for the Future of the Great Lakes

“…Line 5 is just one artery in the Enbridge Lakehead System, a 1,900-mile-long web of pipelines that originates in the tar sands of Alberta,” according to the Sierra Club. “Over 600 miles long, Line 5 every day transports 23 million gallons of natural gas liquids, light crude oil, and light synthetic crude, partially refined from Alberta tar sands, through the heart of the Great Lakes. It cuts through northern Wisconsin and hugs the southern coast of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. When it reaches the Straits of Mackinac, Line 5 splits into twin pipelines and plunges below the water. Since 1967, the pipeline has experienced numerous spills totaling well over one million gallons (as of 2017). Another artery in the system, Line 78, formerly known as Line 6B, is responsible for one of the largest inland tar sands oil spills in US history… “By the time they shut off the oil, according to the EPA, almost a million gallons of crude had spilled into Talmadge Creek, which, swollen by recent rains, swept the oil into the Kalamazoo… “Before cleanup crews could corral it, the oil traveled 38 miles downstream. Another 80 miles and it would have reached Lake Michigan… “The Kalamazoo spill came as a shock to many Michiganders. To some, it also came as a revelation and an impetus to action. Over the past decade, the Sierra Club helped lead a coalition of environmental activists, residents and their at­torneys, and all 12 federally recognized tribes in Michigan in opposition to Line 5. Eventually, this became “a citizens movement that politicians couldn’t ignore,” said Michigan Chapter chair Anne Woiwode.”


InsideEPA: Schatz Cites ‘Very Real Possibility’ Permitting Deal Fails This Congress 

“A key advocate for legislation to speed transmission needed for clean power is tempering expectations that lawmakers will strike a deal on relevant permit fixes this Congress, pledging to push hard on the issue but arguing House Republicans might be more focused on political messaging than reaching a compromise on the issue. ‘Although I think this is an essential aspect of moving forward, I don’t want to catastrophize the very real possibility we are not going to enact anything in this Congress,’ Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) told a March 14 webinar hosted by the World Resources Institute on the link between power transmission and clean energy deployment. If lawmakers fail to act, he added, federal policymakers should advance multiple administrative efforts to ease transmission buildout while state officials can also help in building new projects. The remarks by Schatz, one of the most outspoken Democrats on the need for permit streamlining to boost clean energy, provide an important data point in the new Congress about the uphill battle to strike a deal on permitting issues. They also come as House Republican leaders formally introduced their energy package March 14, including an overview of the legislation and a section-by-section summary, ahead of expected floor consideration later this month. However, observers are interpreting the legislation as an opening bid that is unlikely to resemble any final agreement.”

E&E News: Senate hope for permit deal alive after DOA House energy bill
Jeremy Dillon, 3/16/23

“Senate Democrats are still holding out hope for a deal on permitting reform, but a House Republican energy bill is not going to do the trick,” E&E News reports. “On Wednesday, Democrats in the upper chamber said they found some promise in the GOP package, H.R. 1, even if they dismissed it as a nonstarter. “I think there’s a realistic chance for compromise, but we’re not going to enact that,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). Senate Environment and Public Works ranking member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said informal talks had already begun. “What we’ll do is we’ll take what the House has, consider parts of it and then expect [Democrats] to do the same thing, and pick apart what you like and don’t like and start a negotiation,” Capito told reporters. “I mean, that’s how you do it.” “…Capito is planning a lunch with Westerman in the near future. She’s also collaborating with Environment and Public Works Chair Tom Carper (D-Del.). “We haven’t nailed down in the specifics, but we’re definitely talking about what’s within our jurisdiction, because I personally believe we’re going to get permitting reform. We have to go through committees,” Capito told E&E. 

E&E News: Where Biden’s Arctic oil strategy may succeed — or fail
Heather Richards, 3/16/23

“The Biden administration promised this week to ink new protections against oil drilling in the Arctic in an apparent counter to approval of ConocoPhillips’ Willow oil project,” E&E News reports. “But will the administration’s plan help curb the industry’s future expansion in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska as the White House claims? And is it a winning political strategy for President Joe Biden? Many observers are skeptical, and industry sees an oil revival for public lands in the far north. “The decision is a milestone for Alaska’s upstream sector,” Mark Oberstoetter, upstream oil and gas analyst for Wood Mackenzie, told E&E, pointing to several adjoining projects on nearby state and Alaska Native lands that together constitute enough oil to push Alaska back from the brink of significant decline. “A revival of North Slope production is now on.” The administration may need to harness a 1976 law granting the Interior Department authority to protect the Arctic ecosystem and wildlife if it wants to counter that narrative, although it’s unclear how the law’s language might be interpreted to change the status quo, experts tell E&E… “But even a smorgasbord of new rules or administrative delays are not expected to keep the NPR-A from becoming a hot spot for oil and gas drilling on Alaska’s North Slope, representing a severe blow to conservation groups and some Alaska Native organizations that tried to block Willow on climate grounds. “You can’t move forward with significant oil and gas development on the one hand and have protections that are meaningful on the other hand,” Kristen Miller, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League, told E&E. What is clear is that the Willow approval is a turning point for the Biden administration’s management of the federal oil program and is a major retreat from a campaign promise to end drilling on public lands.”

Washington Post: National Audubon Society, pressured to remove slave-owning naturalist’s name, keeps it
Dino Grandoni, 3/15/23

“The National Audubon Society, one of the country’s best-known bird conservation organizations, decided in a closed-door vote this week to retain the name of John James Audubon, famed 19th-century naturalist and wildlife illustrator who was also an unabashed enslaver,” the Washington Post reports. “The move comes even as about half-a-dozen of the organization’s regional chapters have moved to scrub his name from their titles, part of a broader reckoning over the U.S. environmental movement’s history of entrenched racism. The National Audubon Society’s 27-person board of directors voted to retain its current name during a Zoom meeting on Monday after more than a year of deliberating and gathering feedback from both members and outsiders. Susan Bell, chair of the board, declined to provide a breakdown of the final vote. “The name has come to represent not one person, but a broader love of birds and nature,” Bell told the Post. “And yet we must reckon with the racist legacy of John James Audubon, the man.” Activists in and outside the organization have called upon the group — an influential player in national climate and environmental policy — to jettison Audubon’s name. After months of conducting listening sessions and surveying people in both camps, the national organization’s board of directors decided the moniker is now nearly synonymous with the avian conservation movement — and shouldn’t be abandoned… “The announcement underscores the challenge of rebuking a racist past while retaining a history that has made “Audubon” a household name associated with protecting birds. The internal debate at Audubon mirrors a broader reassessment of the American environmental movement over race… “Carrying John James Audubon’s name does not serve us well ethically,” Judy Pollock, president of the Chicago chapter, wrote in a letter last month to the national group. “Audubon is not an appropriate standard-bearer for our organization.” “…To that end, the National Audubon Society announced Wednesday that it will spend $25 million to expand its work on equity and diversity, which will include funding for urban conservation centers and chapters at historically Black colleges and universities. Currently, a bit more than a quarter of the group’s staff are people of color, up from 18 percent in 2017.”

Reuters: Bid in for $500 mln U.S. climate grant for direct air carbon capture
Valerie Volcovici and Peter Henderson, 3/15/23

“Two companies developing technology to suck carbon out of the air, Switzerland’s Climeworks and California’s Heirloom, have teamed with non-profit firm Battelle to bid for a $500 million U.S. grant to commercialize the climate-friendly technology,” Reuters reports. “The U.S. Department of Energy launched a five-year program last year to spend $3.5 billion to build four regional Direct Air Capture, or DAC, hubs to kickstart commercialization of technology to capture carbon dioxide from the air and store it permanently. Scientists view direct air carbon capture as vital to limiting global warming, but the technology is nascent… “Unprecedented federal investment, private sector activity and endorsement by scientists of the need for carbon removal to meet global climate goals has created a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to deploy the technology, Battelle’s energy and resilience manager, Shawn Bennett, told Reuters… “Geologic storage company Gulf Coast Sequestration would permanently store captured carbon underground at a southwestern Louisiana site if the hub is selected, but it is not part of the group seeking the grant… “Occidental Petroleum (OXY.N) last year outlined plans to spend $1.1 billion on a facility in the Texas Permian basin oil field that aims to start up in 2024. A California-based company also announced plans last year to launch in Wyoming what it says could be the first large-scale DAC project to capture and store 5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year by 2030.”

Press release: DOE Invests $47 Million to Reduce Methane Emissions From Oil and Gas Sector

“The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced nearly $47 million in funding for 22 research projects to advance the development of new and innovative measurement, monitoring, and mitigation technologies to help detect, quantify, and reduce methane emissions across oil and natural gas producing regions of the United States… “The selected projects will advance cutting-edge technologies under five areas: Mitigating Methane Emissions from Upstream/Midstream Sources – Six projects will address mitigating methane emissions from engines and machinery used in the extraction and production of natural gas and oil to advance the development of cleaner fuels for the industry. Surface-based Methane Monitoring and Measurement Networks – Two projects will gather and compile surface-based methane emissions data and appropriate wind speed and direction measurements to effectively characterize methane sources and emission rates across a broad area that includes multiple operators of oil and gas production facilities. Basin-Specific Needs to Mitigate Methane Emissions – Across the United States, oil- and gas-producing basins have characteristics that require unique approaches to resource production, transportation, and storage. Five projects will demonstrate methods to measure and quantify methane emissions along the natural gas supply chain focusing on basin-specific requirements. Integrated Methane Monitoring Platform Design – Seven projects will aim to develop integrated methane monitoring platforms to continually collect and analyze methane emissions data across the natural gas supply chain to characterize methane emissions from chronic and super-emitters and inform near real-time mitigation decisions. Investigating Emissions from Storage Tanks – Two projects will work to identify the primary sources of methane emissions from storage tanks and their associated equipment across the oil and natural gas value chain and evaluate monitoring technologies. DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) will manage the selected projects. “


Associated Press: Major oil project approval intensifies Alaska Natives’ rift

“The Biden administration’s approval this week of the biggest oil drilling project in Alaska in decades promises to widen a rift among Alaska Natives, with some saying that oil money can’t counter the damages caused by climate change and others defending the project as economically vital,” the Associated Press reports. “Two lawsuits filed almost immediately by environmentalists and one Alaska Native group are likely to exacerbate tensions that have built up over years of debate about ConocoPhillips Alaska’s Willow project. Many communities on Alaska’s North Slope celebrated the project’s approval, citing new jobs and the influx of money that will help support schools, other public services and infrastructure investments in their isolated villages… “But some Alaska Natives blasted the decision to greenlight the project, and they are supported by environmental groups challenging the approval in federal court. The acrimony toward the project was underscored in a letter dated earlier this month written by three leaders in the Nuiqsut community, who described their remote village as “ground zero for industrialization of the Arctic.” They addressed the letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a member of New Mexico’s Laguna Pueblo and the first Native American to lead a Cabinet department… “They are payoffs for the loss of our health and culture,” the Nuiqsut leaders wrote. “No dollar can replace what we risk….It is a matter of our survival.” “…The Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic, Sierra Club and other groups that sued Tuesday said Interior officials ignored the fact that every ton of greenhouse gas emitted by the project would contribute to sea ice melt, which endangers polar bears and Alaska villages. A second lawsuit seeking to block the project was filed Wednesday by Greenpeace and other environmental groups. For Alaska Natives to reconcile their points of view with one another, it will take discussions. “We just continue to try to sit at the table together, break bread and meet as a region,” Leavitt, who also is the secretary for the tribal council representing eight North Slope villages, told AP. 

Washington Post: Texans sued Exxon over pollution 13 years ago. A big decision looms. 
Maxine Joselow, 3/16/23

“Residents of Baytown, Tex., have been tangled in a lawsuit with ExxonMobil for 13 years, as they seek redress for chronic air pollution caused by the company’s oil refinery and petrochemical complex. Now, a big decision is on the horizon, according to the Washington Post. “Since 2010, the oil giant has fought residents’ efforts to force it to curb pollution and pay a fine for the thousands of days it reported violating its Clean Air Act permits. If the company prevails in court, environmental lawyers said it could weaken ordinary Americans’ ability to sue industrial polluters across the country… “Exxon argues that the plaintiffs have not been able to explicitly prove that they were injured by the facility’s operations. Still, advocates say the 3,400-acre complex is one of the worst polluters in the region, releasing chemical compounds that pose long-term risks of cancer, asthma and other respiratory illnesses, even if immediate exposure levels are not toxic.”


“The shelter in place has been lifted after an oil well failure caused a traffic shutdown Wednesday afternoon in Edmond,” KWTV reports. “Edmond Police said the southbound lanes at Covell Village Drive are still closed to traffic. An oil well mechanical failure has caused a traffic shutdown Wednesday afternoon in Edmond.”

Colorado Sun: Suncor will finally reopen after a 3-month closure. But will anything change for its neighbors?
Joshua Perry, 3/15/23

“Lucy Molina and Shaina Oliver were eating a late breakfast in Molina’s kitchen, trying to figure out how to operate the silvery, basketball-sized metal container sitting on the table next to them. It’s a special instrument designed to collect a local air sample to analyze it for the presence of chemical contaminants. The pair was about to go out into the warm, February morning air and test the air monitor for the first time. Then Molina saw the alert message on her phone,” the Colorado Sun reports. “…This is life in the shadow of the Suncor refinery, which Molina can see from her small lawn on Clermont Street in Commerce City, just north of Denver. These alerts from Suncor, about 10 so far this year, are designed to provide local residents like Molina and Oliver with instant notification about accidents, leaks and spills. They come when Molina is out running errands. They come when Oliver is at home with her kids. They come out of thin, usually foul-smelling, air and remind Suncor’s neighbors that they can’t trust what they’re breathing… “Oliver is a member of the Navajo Nation and a state coordinator with the Colorado chapter of Moms Clean Air Force, a national environmental advocacy nonprofit working to prevent fossil fuel polluters from exposing people, particularly in disadvantaged communities, to harmful chemicals and carcinogens. Molina, who ran for Commerce City Council in 2019, is an organizer and advocate involved with many organizations, including 350 Colorado, Cultivando, MCAF and more. Oliver and Molina are moms 24/7, but they have a second job, too: working to keep their neighbors informed and aware of what companies like Suncor are releasing into the environment.”

Los Angeles Times: Newsom gives up call for lawmakers to cap oil industry profits
TARYN LUNA, 3/15/23

“Gov. Gavin Newsom is giving up his high-profile call for the California Legislature to set a cap on oil company profits and instead will ask lawmakers to increase transparency and oversight of the industry,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “The governor’s amended proposal, announced Wednesday afternoon, would give the California Energy Commission more authority to investigate gasoline price spikes and the option, through a public hearing process, to place a cap on profits and penalize oil companies, Newsom’s aides told the Times… “Newsom called for swift passage of a penalty on oil companies in October when he announced his intent to convene state lawmakers into a special session to rein in the oil industry’s excessive profits. He accused oil companies of price gouging at the pump after gasoline prices topped $6 a gallon. But determining the level at which refinery profits should be penalized became a political hot potato in Sacramento. Democrats were concerned that the plan could potentially backfire because of the complicated nature of the oil markets, lack of transparency from the industry, and concern that it could carry unintended consequences on gasoline prices… “The bill would create an independent watchdog authority within the commission with subpoena authority to monitor gas prices and investigate spikes. Oil companies would also be required to provide more data to the state to help regulators understand pricing.”

Gizmodo: Texas Lawmakers Have a New Scheme to Punish Renewables and Prop Up Fossil Fuels
Molly Taft, 3/15/23

“Texas Republicans are at it again. Last week, Republican politicians in the state legislature introduced a package of bills intended to punish renewable energy and boost fossil fuels, despite the fact that Texas is currently one of the nation’s top generators of renewable power,” Gizmodo reports. “…According to the Dallas Morning News, the bills include one that would create up to 10,000 megawatts of natural gas-fueled generation; one to smooth out what Schwertner said were pro-wind and solar “market distortions” that federal tax breaks create; one to get rid of any remaining state tax credits for renewables; and one that would limit new renewable energy facilities being built based on how much natural gas facilities are also being built, in an attempt to keep natural gas competitive. The bills are an echo of some of the concepts raised in bills introduced two years ago, the last time the legislature was in session, introduced shortly after a 2021 winter freeze and subsequent blackouts killed hundreds of people—and while the GOP was still erroneously trying to blame the issues with the grid exclusively on renewable energy (a lot of the blame actually lay with natural gas supply). While the renewables bill didn’t end up passing, Texas Republicans have kept beating the drum to try to use grid reforms to sink renewables and prop up fossil fuels.”


Canadian Press: Federal, Alberta governments to study public notice process around oilsands tailings leak
Bob Weber, Janet French, 3/15/23

“The Alberta and federal governments say they will work together to understand what happened around a nine-month delay in notifying the public about toxic seepage from an oilsands tailings pond,” the Canadian Press reports. “Alberta Environment Minister Sonya Savage and federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault “reiterated a dual commitment to review information exchange processes and committed to maintaining open communication channels with Indigenous communities in the area with updates on water sampling and other monitoring results,” said a news release from the Alberta government on Wednesday. The provincial and federal governments have committed to sharing test results from their separate environmental monitoring efforts, Savage said on her way into the legislature on Wednesday… “The seepage was discovered in May, but neither politician was told about it until nine months later. They learned of it from an environmental protection order issued by the AER after a second release of 5.3 million litres of oilsands wastewater at Kearl from a catchment pond… “Area First Nations have also said they were not updated after initial notification of discoloured water found on the site… “Although Savage maintained that no test results have indicated the leaked material has entered waterways, Environment Canada has said the released tailings are harmful to fish. In a statement sent Wednesday, Mikisew Cree First Nation Chief Billy-Joe Tuccaro told CBC the Environment Canada finding casts doubt on the statements from Imperial and the provincial government. “It’s easy to say there’s no impact on wildlife when no one has looked for it,” he told CBC. “But we’ve seen moose on the site, and know it’s too soon for Alberta or Imperial to have done the work to look for the impact to wildlife.” Tuccaro told CBC Mikisew Cree First Nation will not drink or bathe in the water or eat fish from nearby waterways until they have proof it is safe.

CBC: Canada is sitting on 12 ‘carbon bombs.’ Here’s where they are
Dexter McMillan, Tara Carman, 3/16/23

“Just under the surface of B.C. and Alberta, in a rock formation known as the Montney Play, lies enough potential greenhouse gasses to blow past Canada’s 2030 emissions targets 30 times over,” CBC reports. “It’s one of 12 fossil fuel reserves researchers in the journal Energy Policy have identified in Canada — called “carbon bombs” — that would each release a billion tonnes or more of carbon into the atmosphere if their resources were extracted and burned. This would be catastrophic for the world’s efforts to slow rising global temperatures, the authors argue. But development in the Montney is set to ramp up in the next few years, and government subsidies for the natural gas industry mean many of these projects have been earmarked to make important contributions to the economy… “Kjell Kühne, the lead researcher on the paper and a director of Leave it in the Ground, an initiative aimed at stopping the extraction of fossil fuels, told CBC Canada needs to find a way to stop these projects, or risk increasing our contribution to climate-related disasters… “Thinking about these projects as “carbon bombs” includes the downstream emissions of actually burning the fuel, which is a better way of measuring climate impact than how the Canadian government tallies emissions, Julia Levin, associate director of Environmental Defence, who was not involved in the research, told CBC. The Canadian government reports only carbon dioxide emitted in Canada. It does not count the greenhouse gas emissions produced when those fossil fuels are exported and burned somewhere else. “It allows countries — big producers of oil and gas, like Canada — to completely abdicate climate responsibility for the oil and gas that we pull out of the ground,” Levin told CBC. To prevent catastrophic global temperature rise, Canada needs to “end production by 2034,” she told CBC. “The science is unequivocal.” Assessment of methane emissions from onshore LNG facilities
National Physical Laboratory, 3/14/23

“Scientists at NPL have performed measurements using its DIAL facility to better quantify the oil and gas industry’s contribution to global methane emissions. Results from the study have been published in Environmental Science & Technology,” according to “…In order to characterize the climate impact of liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities, the emissions across the whole supply chain need to be well understood. To achieve these goals, this study focused on collecting high quality data from several LNG facilities based exclusively on a direct emission measurement approach. The DIAL enabled quantification of emissions from the key functional elements (FEs), allowing emission factors (EFs) to be determined for each FE using activity data. Among the benefits in obtaining data with this level of granularity is the possibility to compare the emissions of similar FEs on different facilities including FEs present in both liquefaction and regasification sites… “However, it is critical in the future to continue this type of focused emission monitoring campaigns to measure emissions from FEs under different operational statuses that are representative of the facilities’ different activities over the year. This is vital not only to reconcile results obtained with facility-level and component-level approaches but also to develop a Tier 3 inventory approach for the LNG industry that would lead to more accurate revised worldwide methane emission inventories. Therefore, additional measurements at both regasification and liquefaction facilities are needed to complement this work and contribute to the design of emission factors, particularly for noncontinuous operations such as truck loading, ship loading, and unloading.”


CNBC: Larry Fink: BlackRock is not the ‘environmental police’
Catherine Clifford, 3/15/23

“Asset managers like BlackRock are not “the environmental police,” Larry Fink said in his annual chairman’s letter to investors, which was published on Wednesday,” CNBC reports. “As I have said consistently over many years now, it is for governments to make policy and enact legislation, and not for companies, including asset managers, to be the environmental police,” Fink wrote… “For years now, we have viewed climate risk as an investment risk. That’s still the case,” Fink said. Fink has become a target for Republican lawmakers who view environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing as a proxy for financiers impressing their political viewpoints… “It is not the role of an asset manager like BlackRock to engineer a particular outcome in the economy, and we don’t know the ultimate path and timing of the transition. Government policy, technological innovation, and consumer preferences will ultimately determine the pace and scale of decarbonization,” Fink wrote. “Our job is to think through and model different scenarios to understand implications for our clients’ portfolios.” “…While Fink advocates the importance of measuring climate risk in business, he also says oil and gas are necessary to meet energy needs in the short-term. BlackRock is investing in natural gas pipelines, with efforts made to mitigate methane emissions from those natural gas pipelines, Fink said. At the same time, BlackRock is providing options for investors to invest in clean tech, such as carbon capture storage pipelines and technology that turns waste into natural gas, he said.”

Capital Monitor: Explainer: What is Gfanz and is it working?
Silvia Pellegrino, 3/15/23

“The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (Gfanz) was first introduced in April 2021 at COP26, held in the Scottish city where the alliance gets its name. The aim is to potentially direct trillions of dollars to tackle the environmental crisis,” Capital Monitor reports. “…A group known as a Principals Group of business leaders from institutions like banks and the financial field are leading Gfanz, with co-chairs Mark Carney and Michael Bloomberg. The role of vice chair and head of the secretariat is covered by Mary Schapiro, former head of the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Gfanz aims to offer support and resources such as guidelines and accountability mechanisms to members of the financial sector to make it easier to reach net-zero objectives… “These may entail banks, asset owners and managers, service providers and investors. The mutual element among all these companies is the commitment to reaching net zero by 2050 as well as coming up with and achieving other environmental targets by 2030 to keep the progress stable… “Gfanz has been under intense scrutiny since the latter half of 2022 when some banks and other financial institutions filed complaints that claimed the targets were unrealistic and had been proposed without consultation… “However, the organisation can’t do anything if a member fails to commit to net zero. Even if each member has to come up with a plan by 2030, there is no official requirement for members to actually reduce their carbon emissions before 2050.”

Salt Lake Tribune: Utah Treasurer Marlo Oaks tells Republicans that ESG is part of ‘Satan’s plan’
Bryan Schott, 3/14/23

“Utah State Treasurer Marlo Oaks said Saturday that corporate sustainability standards, known as ESG, are part of “Satan’s plan,” the Salt Lake Tribune reports. “Oaks, speaking to the Salt Lake County Republican Party Convention, said programs like ESG and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were laudable pursuits — like ending world hunger and poverty — but were part of “outcomes-based systems” designed to reach a pre-determined conclusion… “Oaks then veered into the biblical “war in Heaven” from the Book of Revelation, calling it another “outcomes-based” effort. “Outcomes-based governance like the U.N.’s SDGs and ESG opens the door to authoritarianism. It is Satan’s plan,” Oaks told the GOP delegates. ESG is a framework used by companies to evaluate their approach to issues like the use of green energy, air and water pollution, diversity in hiring and gender equality. Last year, Oaks pulled about $100 million in state funds from the Blackrock investment firm because of their use of ESG in evaluating investments. When asked for clarification about his remarks, a spokesperson for Oaks said the issues raised by ESG are important and should be debated. “Treasurer Oaks said his use of scripture was an attempt to speak to an audience that might understand the example and illustrate the problem with systems that attempt to push outcomes on everyone. His opposition is to coercion as a mechanism in society,” the spokesperson said in an email.


National Observer: Complaint filed against oilsands alliance over ‘false and misleading’ claims
John Woodside, 3/16/23

“A complaint has been filed against the Pathways Alliance, urging Competition Bureau Canada to investigate the group’s claim it is committed to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions,” the National Observer reports. “The complaint filed Thursday by Greenpeace Canada takes specific aim at Pathways Alliance’s “Let’s clear the air” campaign launched in August… “Since August, Pathways Alliance has placed splashy advertisements across social media, billboards, at high-profile sporting events like the FIFA World Cup and the Super Bowl, and in some of Canada’s largest media outlets like the Toronto Star and CBC, claiming to be “on a path to net zero.” “The Pathways Alliance of major oilsands companies [fills] the airwaves with net-zero claims but instead, their emissions are going up, they’re investing a fraction of their profits in clean solutions and are lobbying against climate action,” former climate minister Catherine McKenna, who now chairs the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Expert Group on Net-Zero Commitments of Non-State Entities, said in a statement. “Time to draw a red line around greenwashing.” The complaint says the advertisements are aimed at “creating the public and political support necessary to maintain their oilsands production,” and that Pathways Alliance is engaging in “anti-competitive” behaviour by “attempting to unfairly gain an advantage … over other Canadian oil producers and clean energy producers trying to compete with oil in the market.” “If the alliance’s misrepresentations are accepted, it will position the alliance’s oil as more climate-friendly than that of other Canadian oil producers, even though the downstream emissions from all oil is the same and contributes the majority of the overall climate impact,” the complaint says. “It also risks undermining actual clean energies from being competitive in the market since they will be seen as unnecessary when we already have ‘climate-friendly’ oil.” Greenpeace Canada is requesting Competition Bureau Canada investigate Pathways Alliance and, if the group’s advertising is found to be false and misleading, for the regulator to require the alliance to remove all advertisements, issue a public retraction and pay a fine of at least $10 million to “preferably Indigenous-led” organizations to clean up oilsands pollution.”


Financial Post: Joe Oliver: The Trans Mountain financial fiasco just got worse
Joe Oliver was minister of natural resources and minister of finance in the Harper government, 3/16/23

“Late Friday afternoon, the traditional slot for bad news, Trans Mountain Corporation (TMC) announced its pipeline expansion costs have ballooned to an eye-watering $30.9 billion, 44 per cent more that its year-ago estimate of $21.4 billion, which was up from its previous guesstimate of $12.6 billion, which was more than quadruple its first pie-in-the-sky projection of $7.4 billion and 5.7 times original owner Kinder Morgan’s (KM) costing of $5.4 billion,” Joe Oliver writes for the Financial Post. “Also, the operational date was extended yet another six months, to the first quarter of next year… “Then there is this chilling warning in the company’s press release: “As with all projects of this size, risks to the final costs and schedule will remain as work is completed through 2023. The current cost estimate does not include reserves for extraordinary risks that can impact projects of this nature.” That raises concerns over how large these reserves are and how likely it is they will be drawn down, thereby driving up the astronomical expenditure even further. In the unlikely event there are no further escalations or delays, TMC will still go down in history as a shockingly high-priced project with startling cost overruns. Recall that the parliamentary budget officer (PBO) declared it unprofitable when the price hit $21.4 billion. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland claimed that “As we committed to Canadians last year, no additional public money will be invested in this project as construction is completed.” Not so fast. Private-sector lenders are not usually receptive to a project whose costs are out of control and which may be unable to repay on-going interest charges or principal. They might be willing to rely on an implicit government backstop for needed additional loans, provided they rank ahead of any public-sector claims. More likely, lenders will require a Government of Canada guarantee, as the banks did for their last $10 billion loan. Given its materiality, any such guarantee will have to be disclosed in public accounts… “The only question is how many billions of Canadian taxpayers’ dollars the government will lose.”

Guardian: Biden just betrayed the planet – and his own campaign vows
Rebecca Solnit, 3/14/23

“The Willow project is an act of terrorism against the climate, and the Biden administration has just approved it,” Rebecca Solnit writes for the Guardian. “This massive oil-drilling project in the wilderness of northern Alaska goes against science and the administration’s many assurances that it cares about climate and agrees that we must make a swift transition away from fossil fuel. Like the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, Joe Biden seems to think that if we do some good things for the climate we can also do some very bad things and somehow it will all even out… “I call it an act of terrorism, because this drilling project in Alaska produces petroleum, which will be burned, which will send carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, where it will contribute to climate chaos that will affect people in the South Pacific, the tropics, the circumpolar Arctic, will affect the melting of the Greenland ice shield (this month reaching a shocking 50F warmer than normal)… “This makes it, like the Permian Basin oil extraction in the US south-west and the tar sands in Alberta, a carbon bomb… “There is actual bargaining in the government’s record of decision, stating that “Permittee shall offset 50% of the projected net [greenhouse gas emissions] … in accordance with US commitments under the Paris Agreement. GHGs shall be offset through reforestation of land …” Pretending that trees are our atmospheric janitorial service belies both the ways that forests across the globe are devastated by climate crisis – burgeoning pests, drought, fire, ecosystems changing faster than trees can adapt – and that planting trees does not necessarily result in a healthy long-lasting forest. Each tree, according to this document, can sequester 48lbs of carbon dioxide a year. Except that tiny saplings will not be doing that, and it will be too late to help our current climate goals by the time the trees, if they survive, are full-grown… “We are already failing to stop runaway climate change. Adding this carbon bomb to the total makes it worse – both for the actual damage to the climate and for the signal the US is sending to the world. The Biden administration has made a colossal mistake.”

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