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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 3/7/23

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

By Mark Hefflinger

March 7, 2023



  • Iowa Capital Dispatch: Judge says pipeline survey lawsuit should go to trial

  • Fort Madison Daily Democrat: Supervisors asked to resist pipeline plan

  • Bismarck Tribune: Survey: Rural bankers back carbon capture if landowners are adequately compensated

  • Common Dreams: Health Pros Demand US Regulators Stop Fracked Gas Pipeline Expansion

  • Bloomberg: DC Circuit Judges Critical of US in Pipeline Regulation Dispute

  • SeekingAlpha: Lack of U.S. investment in gas pipelines ‘scary,’ Cheniere CEO says


  • Politico: House GOP Readies Its First Big Agenda Push: A Massive Energy Bill 

  • InsideEPA: Environmentalists Press CEQ To Require Site-Specific NEPA Reviews 

  • E&E News: How Ohio train wreck could complicate permitting overhaul

  • The Hill: Environmental groups sue Biden administration over offshore oil lease sale

  • Newsweek: Stop Willow Project Petition Signed by 2.5M as Anger Grows Against Biden

  • Reuters: Factbox: What is the Willow project and why does it spark green opposition?

  • Washington Post: Podesta says permitting overhaul is top White House priority

  • E&E News: CERAWeek: Podesta permitting push, climate, Kerry LNG spat

  • Truthout: Warren Urges Regulators to Stop Railroad Merger in Wake of East Palestine Crash

  • The American Prospect: After East Palestine, ‘Bomb Trains’?


  • Wyofile: State Investigates Massive Methane Release 

  • Guardian: ‘We don’t feel safe’: US community in shock after record methane leak

  • Capital and Main: New Mexico’s Latest Hydrogen Bill Dies While Oil and Gas Reform Act Advances

  • The Hill: Bennet warns railway project would endanger Colorado River basin

  • KDVR: Suncor refinery announces progressive restart of Plants 1 and 3


  • Canadian Press: Alberta regulator ignored law by not disclosing oilsands leak, lawyer says

  • Reuters: CERAWEEK-UAE’s Jaber urges Big Oil to join fight against climate change

  • Guardian: Revealed: 1,000 super-emitting methane leaks risk triggering climate tipping points

  • Calgary Herald: Varcoe: Oilsands giants warn Canada falling behind U.S. on carbon capture incentives

  • E&E News: Q&A: CCS coalition chief on industry’s ‘dramatic’ shift


  • Financial Post: Enbridge, Suncor targets of climate-focused shareholder activism ahead of 2023 proxy season

  • Axios: New pressure on Vanguard


  • Chicago Tribune: Editorial: Carbon capture could be a boon for rural Illinois

  • Bangor Daily News: EPA methane rule may be good news

  • The Hill: We can’t let the petrochemical industry off the hook for the East Palestine disaster


Iowa Capital Dispatch: Judge says pipeline survey lawsuit should go to trial

“A district court judge has denied a request from a carbon dioxide pipeline company to grant it access to private property in Woodbury County without holding a trial, according to court records,” the Iowa Capital Dispatch reports. “As such, a trial scheduled for Tuesday is set to proceed. Navigator CO2 Ventures sued William and Vicki Hulse last year to gain access to their rural Moville farmland for a land survey. They were among four sets of landowners that Navigator sued who have barred surveyors from doing the work… “Generally, the cases hinge on whether Navigator followed the procedures dictated by Iowa law and whether that law is constitutional… “Navigator had sought summary judgment for its request for a court injunction against the Hulses — eliminating the need for a trial — because the facts of the case that it says are undisputed do not require a trial to decide… “Brian Jorde, the Omaha, Nebraska, attorney who is representing the Hulses and other landowners, has argued that the survey law amounts to an unconstitutional taking of land because there is not a sufficient process to compensate landowners for damage that might result from the surveys. The Hulses “are at the mercy of Navigator to be judge and jury as to if damages occurred,” Jorde said in court records… “They further argue that they were not sufficiently notified of the surveys as required by law. William Hulse suffers from dementia and lives at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. He has not received a land survey notification there, Jorde wrote in a recent court filing. The person who leases their farmland also wasn’t notified, and Vicki Hulse has rejected certified mailings from Navigator, Jorde has said. The trial is set to start at 9 a.m. Tuesday.”

Fort Madison Daily Democrat: Supervisors asked to resist pipeline plan
Robin Delaney, 3/7/23

“Lee County Supervisors were asked to to be more assertive in their efforts to oppose and regulate pipeline projects coming through the area, particularly the Navigator Greenway CO2 pipeline, at its meeting Monday,” the Fort Madison Daily Democrat reports. “West Point landowner Andrew Johnson said several counties, such as Shelby, Wright, Hardin and Floyd Counties, have enacted zoning requirements and 21 cities have filed formal objections to the Navigator, Summit and Wolf pipeline projects… “Johnson said supervisors should enact zoning that establishes a setback between residents and the pipeline route. “This pipeline is extremely close to the town of West Point. It’s only 1,400 feet from our nursing home,” he said, adding that the regulations coming out after the pipeline construction begins will prompt the company to seek an exception… “Supervisor Chuck Holmes said he learned at a landowners meeting in Donnellson that there eventually could be as many as 600 pipeline projects crossing through Iowa. He said it would take 250 pipelines to reduce the CO2 atmospheric content by 10 percent and the one pipeline bring proposed will reduce it by 0.04 percent “It’s crazy to spend billions of dollars to reduce the CO2 content .04 percent. I don’t even know how this project got off the ground,” Holmes said. Supervisor Ron Fedler said he has encouraged West Point officials to get more involved in opposing the project, particularly because of its proximity to the nursing home. Supervisor Chairman Garry Seyb said he was encouraged a resident was suggesting a zoning ordinance since the topic is traditionally met with overwhelming opposition.”

Bismarck Tribune: Survey: Rural bankers back carbon capture if landowners are adequately compensated

“Rural bankers in Midwest and Plains states are weighing in on the issue of carbon capture and sequestration, and carbon dioxide pipelines,” the Bismarck Tribune reports. “About 63% of bank CEOs who took part in Creighton University’s 10-state Rural Mainstreet survey in February said they support capturing climate-warming carbon emissions from ethanol plants in the region, provided farmers are adequately compensated for pipelines crossing their land… “Not all bankers think sequestration is the answer. “My opinion is that CO2 storage is another ‘green’ scam,” Jim Eckert, CEO of Anchor State Bank in Anchor, Illinois, said in the survey report. “CO2 is not a greenhouse gas. Plants like and need it.” …“The Rural Mainstreet economy continues to experience slow economic growth,” said Creighton economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey. “Only 7.4% of bankers reported improving economic conditions for the month, with 85.2% indicating no change in economic conditions from January’s slow growth.”

Common Dreams: Health Pros Demand US Regulators Stop Fracked Gas Pipeline Expansion

“As of Monday, more than 500 physicians and other medical professionals had signed on to a letter urging federal regulators to prevent the expansion of a fracked gas pipeline in the Pacific Northwest,” Common Dreams reports. “The sign-on campaign comes as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is expected to weigh in on TC Energy’s Gas Transmission Northwest (GTN) Xpress project as soon as this month… “We are in a climate crisis, where we are already experiencing the devastating effects of rising temperatures, the direct result of burning fossil fuels, including so-called ‘natural gas,’ i.e., methane,” the health professionals wrote, noting that methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over its first 20 years. Dr. Ann Turner of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) said that “as medical practitioners, we see the impact the climate crisis has on people each and every day. And we have a responsibility to sound the alarm. We urge FERC to prioritize the health of our most vulnerable communities over profit.” “…Dr. Mark Vossler, a board member at Washington PSR, pointed out that “states in the Northwest have made great strides in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and creating healthier communities.” “I urge FERC to consider the human health impact of the proposed pipeline expansion and respect the leadership of local, state, and tribal governments in addressing the climate crisis,” he said. “FERC should deny the permit for this pipeline expansion proposal, which is both unnecessary to meet our energy needs and harmful to people in our communities.”

Bloomberg: DC Circuit Judges Critical of US in Pipeline Regulation Dispute
Madison Alder, 3/6/23

“Federal appeals judges in Washington questioned the Biden administration’s handling of an energy pipeline safety regulation, appearing to side with industry complaints that the government was heavy handed and overreached,” Bloomberg reports. “Comments by two members of a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit at oral argument on Monday centered on trade group pushback over the Transportation Department’s final rule last year. Senior Judge Harry T. Edwards called it “very strange” that the government would ignore the kinds of issues alerted in this case. He said he “couldn’t comprehend” why the agency wouldn’t have …

SeekingAlpha: Lack of U.S. investment in gas pipelines ‘scary,’ Cheniere CEO says
Carl Surran, 3/6/23

“Cheniere Energy said Monday it expects to ship more liquefied natural gas to Asia this year, after delivering ~70% of LNG cargoes to Europe in 2022,” SeekingAlpha reports. “Noting Cheniere (LNG) has expanded its long-term customers to 30 from 12, it does not matter how much Russian gas returns to the market if producers including Cheniere continue signing customers to long-term contracts, CEO Jack Fusco told the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston… “Fusco called the lack of U.S. investment in natural gas pipelines “scary,” noting last year was the lowest year for building pipeline infrastructure in the U.S. since 1995. Europe is adding the infrastructure needed to import LNG for the long-term, reducing its reliance on Russian pipeline gas, but the U.S. will need more development to meet future demand, Fusco said. Southwest Louisiana used to be the “easy button” for building pipelines, but infrastructure there and in the U.S. generally has not kept up with the country’s rapidly accelerating pace of gas exports, chief commercial officer Anatol Feygin said.”


Politico: House GOP Readies Its First Big Agenda Push: A Massive Energy Bill 
Sarah Ferris, Josh Siegel, 3/5/23

 “And there’s another big reason House Republicans are relishing the chance to bring this to the floor. It’s considered their opening bid on the wonky yet critical issue of energy permitting — a rare policy area that both parties believe could lead to a bipartisan deal that President Joe Biden’s willing to sign,” Politico reports. “They know that their package’s pro-fossil-fuel proposals and its targeting of Biden’s progressive climate policies are unlikely to garner bipartisan support, but GOP lawmakers hope the permitting plank in particular represents an aggressive starting point for negotiations with Senate Democrats. Perhaps their most politically vulnerable centrist, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), watched his permitting reform plan fall short last year even as his party controlled both the House and Senate. ‘The dynamics of the last Congress, with Manchin leading it, weren’t really conducive to getting something done. And this approach of doing something that originates in the House is a better start,’ Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), a McCarthy ally and party leader on energy issues, told Politico.”

InsideEPA: Environmentalists Press CEQ To Require Site-Specific NEPA Reviews 

 “Environmental groups are pressing the White House to require federal land management agencies to conduct site-specific National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews rather than more-generic assessments, warning that the U.S. Forest Service in particular is ‘at the forefront of an unlawful trend of agencies attempting to sidestep NEPA.’ The groups presented the request during a Feb. 28 meeting with the White House Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to discuss the Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) draft ‘phase 2’ NEPA rule that will seek to undo portions of a major Trump-era streamlining regulation from 2020. Their letter, dated Feb. 3, says that instead of conducting traditional NEPA reviews that assess the effects of a particular project, the Forest Service and other land agencies are ‘deploying an analytical framework known as ‘condition-based management (CBM).’ This emerging practice is ‘unlawful, unwise’ and one that ‘undermines basic NEPA principles.’ The groups explain that CBM entails an approach in which disclosure of site-specific information and evaluation of those factors is deferred until after the NEPA process is complete. They allege the Forest Service has been ‘aggressively’ pitching forest vegetation management projects with a ‘set of loosely applicable project variables and possible mitigation techniques.’”

E&E News: How Ohio train wreck could complicate permitting overhaul
Jeremy Dillon, 3/7/23

“Last month’s train derailment and chemical spill in Ohio has led to finger-pointing from both sides of the political aisle, but it is also now hardening attitudes on a still-live issue on Capitol Hill: permitting overhaul,” E&E News reports. “The connection may not be perfect, but progressives see the accident as a warning sign — that deregulation leads to disastrous environmental results. “You get things like [East Palestine] when you take shortcuts,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), ranking member on the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries, said last week. Most Republicans, on the other hand, see the derailment as a call for building even more energy infrastructure. “It should highlight how much safer pipelines are than trains, so it should make what, to me, is an obvious case [for more pipelines],” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) told E&E. As the East Palestine incident undergoes congressional scrutiny, the growing divide among lawmakers could further scramble negotiations on permitting… “In recent hearings Democrats have already been trying to connect the dots between Ohio and the attempt to ease environmental reviews of energy projects. “The results of deregulation are not more pointed than what happened in East Palestine and that derailment,” House Natural Resources ranking member Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said last week during a hearing on GOP legislation. “That happened, cause and effect, after the former administration, the Trump administration, effectively deregulated some of the safety regulations that existed for railroads,” he added… “Huffman told E&E, “I think when you start thinking about projects that could involve major threats to the environment … do you want to have impacted communities engaged and empowered in those decisions, or do you want to just steamroll them on behalf of polluting industries?”

The Hill: Environmental groups sue Biden administration over offshore oil lease sale

“A coalition of environmental organizations on Monday announced a lawsuit against the Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM), arguing the bureau’s sales of leases in the Gulf of Mexico were unlawful,” The Hill reports. “In the lawsuit, plaintiffs argued BOEM’s plans to lease more than 70 million acres of Gulf waters for fossil fuel development are based on a “deeply flawed” environmental review. The Biden administration had previously canceled the lease sales due to contradictory court rulings, but following a provision negotiated by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) in the Inflation Reduction Act requiring the sales, they are set for March 28. The lawsuit argues the BOEM environmental impact statement failed to properly incorporate risks from factors such as oil spills and ship strikes and that it did not properly assess the risks from greenhouse gas emissions. The plaintiffs also charge that, in violation of the National Environmental Protection Act, the EIS only evaluated the leasing of “almost all available areas” in the Gulf waters rather than considering a smaller-scale alternative. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include national organizations such as the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, EarthJustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council, as well as local advocacy groups including Healthy Gulf and Bayou City Waterkeeper.”

Newsweek: Stop Willow Project Petition Signed by 2.5M as Anger Grows Against Biden

“A petition to stop the approval of a new oil drilling project in Alaska gained 2.5 million signatures as of 7:30 a.m. ET Friday, as anger grows at the Biden administration over a potential green light for the plans. Another petition has received more than 300,000 names,” Newsweek reports. “Lawmakers in Alaska have been calling on the White House to approve the project. It hopes to build new drilling sites on the North Slope, the northernmost borough of the state, representing the largest oil field in Alaska in decades. However, environmentalists have been calling on the administration to shelve the project. They say it would call into question Biden’s climate-change credentials as the president pushes to electrify transport and decarbonize the U.S. economy… “ However, even before one has been made, activists have been targeting their anger over the proposal at the president… “Newsweek has reached out to the White House for comment. Biden’s prior efforts toward bolstering the U.S.’s renewable energy sector and expanding its electric-vehicle infrastructure were heralded by environmentalists. They also cheered his decision to cut the Keystone XL oil pipeline that would have carried oil from Canada to Nebraska if built. However, Biden has faced criticism from climate activists for allowing the sale of drilling leases of 1.7 million acres of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. To minimize criticism of an approval of the new project in Alaska, the Biden administration is looking to reduce further the number of drilling sites to two… “In Thursday’s press briefing, Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, dodged questions on its involvement in deliberations. She said that the decision was “going to be made by the Secretary of Interior,” Deb Haaland. The U.S. Interior Department has said it had “substantial concerns” about the project. These include “direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions and impacts to wildlife and Alaska Native subsistence.”

Reuters: Factbox: What is the Willow project and why does it spark green opposition?

“Environmental and climate activists are rallying online against ConocoPhillips’ proposed Willow oil and gas drilling project in Alaska as the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden weighs whether to greenlight the controversial plan,” Reuters reports. “A petition on opposing the project has gathered over 2 million signatures, while the hashtag #StopWillow has been trending in social media posts… “But environmental groups remain staunchly opposed, arguing the project conflicts with the Biden administration’s promises to fight climate change and poses a threat to pristine wilderness. “The Willow project would have a devastating effect on public lands and our climate, and approving it after passing the largest climate bill in history would be a giant step in reverse,” the Sierra Club said in a February press release, referring to the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act. “Allowing Willow to move forward will pose a threat to some of Alaska’s last undisturbed wilderness, to the populations of wildlife that call it home, and to the public health of nearby communities and makes it harder to achieve our climate goals. We must end new leasing on public lands and conserving more nature to secure our climate future,” it added. BLM’s parent agency, the Interior Department, has emphasized that the selection of the preferred alternative was not a final decision on approval of the project, adding that it had “substantial concerns” about Willow’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions and wildlife.”

Washington Post: Podesta says permitting overhaul is top White House priority
Maxine Joselow, 3/7/23

“John Podesta, a top White House climate adviser, pledged Monday that President Biden will work to speed up the permitting process for major energy projects, including new action this week to fast-track transmission lines,” the Washington Post reports. “Right now it’s often more difficult to permit clean energy infrastructure than fossil fuel infrastructure,” Podesta told a packed room at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston. “Permitting has never been a top priority for administrations in the past. Now, thanks to President Biden, it is.” His remarks came as the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Council on Environmental Quality on Monday released a memo for federal agencies on the administration’s strategies for accelerating the permitting process. Podesta said the White House is invoking the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to encourage federal agencies to use their authority to overcome obstacles, such as state resistance and red tape, that often stall new transmission development. The issue is vital to Biden as he seeks to ensure wind, solar and other clean-energy projects funded by last year’s Inflation Reduction Act can connect to the grid quickly and efficiently, Podesta said… “Using the portion of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that Podesta described will put the administration in uncharted territory, Mark W. Menezes, who was deputy energy secretary under President Donald Trump, told the Post. It will give federal agencies the authority to expedite permits and give the president authority to override them if they don’t — if the order is backed up by analysis, Menezes told the Post.”

E&E News: CERAWeek: Podesta permitting push, climate, Kerry LNG spat
Brian Dabbs, 3/7/23

“…[At] the CERAWeek by S&P Global conference in Houston John Podesta, senior adviser to President Joe Biden for clean energy innovation and implementation, also pushed for faster environmental reviews at federal agencies, touted the Department of Energy’s authority to site new transmission lines in priority corridors and said an Interior Department decision on the Willow project, a crude oil production proposal in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, would come “very soon.” “…Podesta spoke before John Kerry, the special climate envoy in the Biden White House, who said natural gas is “absolutely” part of the energy transition. “But if you get to 2030 and you’re abating those emissions, you’re then contributing to the problem,” he said. On Monday, Kerry also huddled with Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) on the sidelines of the conference. The informal meeting followed a public spat last week on Capitol Hill over Kerry’s role in the liquefied natural gas market development. During a confirmation hearing for an EPA official, Sullivan accused Kerry — who was not present in the hearing room — of telling foreign governments not to buy U.S. LNG. In remarks to E&E News on Monday, Kerry flatly denied Sullivan’s accusation. “All we’ve said to people is we have to be able to try to capture emissions but never, ever said that they shouldn’t do that,” Kerry told E&E, referring to the accusation. “I told him [Sullivan] that.” “…Republicans, meanwhile, are starting to move permitting proposals through the House. Key changes include provisions setting shot clocks and page limits for environmental reviews and restricting the opportunities for legal challenges. Mike Sommers, the president of API, told E&E Republicans may condition their support for federal government funding later in the year on permitting changes… “Despite the complaints of slow permitting, industry laid 21,000 miles of new pipeline in 2022, according to American Gas Association President Karen Harbert.”

Truthout: Warren Urges Regulators to Stop Railroad Merger in Wake of East Palestine Crash
Sharon Zhang, 3/6/23

“As scrutiny of the railroad industry increases in the wake of a disastrous crash in Ohio last month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) is advocating against a proposed merger between two large rail companies that she says would only compound problems within the industry,” Truthout reports. “In a letter sent to the Surface Transportation Board (STB), an agency charged with regulating the rail industry and approving or denying mergers, Warren said that allowing a proposed $27 billion merger would increase anti-competitiveness in an industry that’s already undergone high consolidation in the past decades. This could even further increase shipping costs while also potentially contributing to unsafe conditions for both frontline communities and rail workers, she said. The proposed merger is between Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern, two companies classified as Class I railroads, the top category of railroad companies in terms of revenue… “Members of the communities along the rail lines that would see higher traffic as a result of the merger have also raised concerns… “These concerns became real for the community of East Palestine last month when a Norfolk Southern train derailed, killing tens of thousands of animals and posing major short- and long-term health risks to residents. Environmental and climate advocates elsewhere along the route of the proposed rail network have added that an increase in the transportation of fossil fuel products would also increase risks to their communities. The merger would create a route connecting bitumen oil sands mines in Alberta, Canada, to coastal Texas, which would in turn increase fossil fuel refining along the Gulf coast in an area already home to the highest concentration of oil refineries in the U.S.”

The American Prospect: After East Palestine, ‘Bomb Trains’?

“The train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, last month has sparked renewed attention by lawmakers to a pending rail merger between the sixth- and seventh-largest U.S. rail companies, which would also heighten the risk of runaway “bomb trains” carrying tar sands oil,” The American Prospect reports. “Last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent a letter to Surface Transportation Board chair Martin Oberman, urging him to block the $27 billion deal between Kansas City Southern and Canadian Pacific. Her letter argues that further concentration in the railroad industry, which has given the dominant carriers greater market power to throttle shippers and jack up fees, will invigorate the very conditions that caused the East Palestine disaster by undercutting labor staffing and decreasing service quality. Canadian Pacific in particular has been routinely cited by transportation authorities for safety violations related to its outdated braking system, which has led to fatal crashes. The Norfolk Southern derailment in East Palestine “raised significant questions about … the extent to which safety concerns have been exacerbated by government deregulation, industry cost-cutting, and efforts ‘to squeeze as much productivity out of these workers as they can,’” the letter reads… “Warren’s broadsides echo the calls by a collection of outside groups who wrote to the STB back in December to spur the board to nix the deal. Organized by the Open Markets Institute, the letter pointed to many of the underlying problems across the rail industry that would show up months later in Ohio. These groups highlighted how years of downsizing and cutting corners escalated the risks of poor rail service quality. “By allowing massive consolidation in our railroads, we’ve exposed ourselves to worse service and safety while Wall Street investors siphon off greater profits,” Phillip Longman, Open Markets Institute policy director, told TAP. “Opposing this merger is an important start at bringing back competition and real investments that actually improve rail, not pull money out of it.”


Wyofile: State Investigates Massive Methane Release 
Dustin Bleizeffer, 3/3/23

“Three separate satellites detected a large methane plume stretching about 4.7 miles north of Douglas in December, according to analysis by the United Nations’ International Methane Emissions Observatory,” Wyofile reports. “The errant methane — a valuable commodity and potent greenhouse gas — came from the Douglas Gas Plant, a natural gas processing plant owned and operated by Tallgrass Energy. The company purposely vented the gas over the course of two days — Dec. 6-7 — because it discovered traces of oxygen in a gas pipeline, creating a potential hazard, according to documents Tallgrass submitted to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality and obtained by WyoFile. The company played by the book in conducting the gas releases for safety purposes, according to Wyoming DEQ officials. It notified the agency soon after it began venting operations and consulted with DEQ to ensure that wind and other atmospheric conditions would sweep the gas up and away from the town of Douglas, posing no risk to the public, DEQ Public Information Supervisor Kimberly Mazza told Wyofile. The company’s actions do not appear to violate its state permits, Mazza told Wyofile.

Guardian: ‘We don’t feel safe’: US community in shock after record methane leak
Nina Lakhani, 3/6/23

“It was an ordinary autumn afternoon pottering around the back yard for Doug Harrison when an engine-like roar suddenly drowned out the sound of the leaf blower,” the Guardian reports. “It sounded like two jets were directly above my house,” Harrison, 50, a former steelworker from Jackson Township, a rural community in Pennsylvania, told the Guardian. “I swear to God I thought this is it, those jets are going to crash into my property.” Residents for miles around exchanged frantic messages while scouring flight radar and emergency service scanner apps for clues, as the township’s volunteer firefighters sped past, sirens blazing. But this was no terrorist attack or aviation calamity. The deafening noise and the foul smell of rotten eggs that followed was a massive methane leak at a nearby gas storage facility, an unfolding climate catastrophe captured by satellites in space. Over the next few weeks, more than a billion cubic feet of methane and other toxins were spewed into the atmosphere from a failed storage well at an ageing fossil-fuel facility operated by Equitrans Midstream Corporation on Rager Mountain. This sleepy community, surrounded by rolling hills and forests, was the scene of the biggest gas leak in Pennsylvania’s history – and one of the worst ever detected in the US… “According to some calculations, the Jackson Township leak was equivalent to planet-warming emissions from burning more than 1,080 rail cars of coal or from running 360,000 cars for a year. The incident triggered a bomb scare at one school after a student overheard a bus driver talking about the risk of explosions. The relentless racket and stench caused people to suffer severe headaches, lightheadedness, sore throat, burning nose, nausea and sleep deprivation as the company struggled to plug the leak. Harrison’s wife, Tammy, 49, missed several days of work. For some residents – already fed up with the proliferation of fossil fuel pipelines and power plants – this was the final straw. “I have to get out,” Beth Shoff, 52, a college professor, told the Guardian. The Pennsylvania climate disaster was among more than 1,000 super-emitter incidents in 2022 revealed by the Guardian’s investigation into global methane leaks. Satellites captured 154 mega-leaks in the US, with Turkmenistan, Russia, Algeria, China, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Iran and Iraq among the world’s other worst emitters.”

Capital and Main: New Mexico’s Latest Hydrogen Bill Dies While Oil and Gas Reform Act Advances
Jerry Redfern, 3/3/23

“A bill to overhaul New Mexico’s 88-year-old Oil and Gas Act passed out of its first committee hearing this week on a straight party vote, while a bill that would have promoted hydrogen production from natural gas disappeared from the Legislature’s calendar,” Capital and Main reports. “The latest version of the Advanced Technology Energy Act, HB12, died quietly over the weekend without even receiving a committee hearing after its sponsors learned that tribal leaders from across the state strongly opposed it. Mark Mitchell, the chairman of the All Pueblo Council of Governors (which represents 19 pueblos in New Mexico and one in Texas), sent a letter outlining the group’s dismay to four of the bill’s five sponsors. He said tribal leaders were worried about the impacts of advanced technology energy projects “on water, groundwater, cultural resources, and sacred sites.” He then recommended the bill be tabled until legislators addressed tribal concerns. While calling the bill “well intentioned,” Mitchell recommended legislators do a better job of explaining the hazards and communicating clearly with tribal people before the next legislative session. HB12 promoted hydrogen development from fossil fuels like natural gas, as well as nuclear power and carbon sequestration schemes, all of which have been deeply unpopular with New Mexico’s environmental and frontline communities… “Rep. Angelica Rubio (D) was an initial sponsor and author of HB188 and a co-sponsor of the combination bill until she heard on Friday that tribes were opposed. “We needed to pull the language from 188 out of the advanced technology legislation, because I just didn’t feel right moving forward without tribal support,” she told Capital and Main.

The Hill: Bennet warns railway project would endanger Colorado River basin

“Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D) is asking the Biden administration to pump the brakes on a railway project that he warns could contaminate the Colorado River basin if a train derailment spills crude oil into the famed river’s headwaters,” The Hill reports.”In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack dated Monday, Bennet asked the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service not to authorize the construction of a railway through the Ashley National Forest. Bennet is raising the alarm over “the risks to Colorado’s communities, water, land, air, and climate” from the Uinta Basin Railway Project, which would connect shale oil fields in Utah’s Uinta Basin to the national rail network, sending up to 350,000 barrels of oil a day through Colorado.   Bennet says this could set the stage for another environmental disaster on a scale similar to the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, which spewed toxic chemicals into the surrounding watershed that feeds into the Ohio River.   “These trains would run for over 100 miles directly alongside the headwaters of the Colorado River — a vital water supply for nearly 40 million Americans, 30 Tribal nations, millions of acres of agricultural land,” Bennet wrote in the letter, which was signed by Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse… “Bennet and Neguse want the Agriculture Department and the Forest Service to work with federal agencies to more fully review the dangers of oil spills and fires posed by the rail project. “We urge you to prevent this dangerous project from moving forward until a robust supplemental review can be completed,” they urged Vilsack.”   

KDVR: Suncor refinery announces progressive restart of Plants 1 and 3
Samantha Spitz, 3/3/23

“Colorado’s only petroleum refinery is preparing to restart full operations, which could be good news for gas prices,” KDVR reports. “Suncor has been closed for a little over two months after a Christmas Eve fire injured two employees. After slowly reopening Plant 2 at the start of February, Suncor announced it’s now preparing to restart operations for Plants 1 and 3. Suncor did not give FOX31 a specific timeline, but the company expects to return to full operations by late March. Stephan Weiler, a professor of economics at Colorado State University, told KDVR 30% of gasoline for Denver comes from Suncor, along with the majority of the Front Range. “Suncor definitely has an impact on gas prices, particularly at the margin,” Weiler told KDVR. “It’s not all of the fuel we get, but it’s enough of the fuel that it can actually bring prices down when they open up their spigots and bring prices up when they close them…I think there is a chance we could see gas prices coming down in the next few weeks.” “…We’re now preparing for the restart of Plant 1 and Plant 3. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be safely and steadily increasing production with an expected return to full operations by late March. During this time, there may be increased flaring, noise and traffic. We are taking precautions to ensure these disruptions are kept to a minimum. We are also continuously monitoring air quality in the community through CCND Air and our fenceline monitoring program…The investigation into the events related to the shutdown is ongoing,” Suncor told KDVR.


Canadian Press: Alberta regulator ignored law by not disclosing oilsands leak, lawyer says

“A Calgary lawyer says the province’s energy regulator may have ignored provincial law by not publicly disclosing that waste from a large oilsands tailings pond was escaping containment and seeping into groundwater,” the Canadian Press reports. “Drew Yewchuk of the University of Calgary’s Public Interest Law Clinic is asking the province’s Information Commissioner to investigate how and why the Alberta Energy Regulator chose not to release information on the release at Imperial Oil’s Kearl mine. Yewchuk points out that Alberta’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act says any public body must immediately release information that involves significant harm to the environment or to the health or safety of the public. The regulator notified local First Nations as early as May 2022 about some sludge that had been found outside a tailings pond at Kearl. But it said nothing else to anyone until Feb. 6, when it released an environmental protection order. Two First Nations have expressed anger that they weren’t told about the extent of the release for nine months while their people continued to harvest from nearby lands.”

Reuters: CERAWEEK-UAE’s Jaber urges Big Oil to join fight against climate change
Maha El Dahan, 3/6/23

“A top oil executive from the United Arab Emirates on Monday urged the energy industry to join the fight against climate change, borrowing a famous line from a U.S. astronaut aboard a damaged spacecraft during the Apollo 13 mission in 1970,” Reuters reports. “Houston, we have a problem,” Sultan al-Jaber, chief executive of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and president-designate of the COP28 climate summit, said to loud applause from the nearly 1,000 attendees of at the CERAWeek energy conference. “Energy leaders in this room have the knowledge, experience, expertise and the resources needed to address the dual challenge of driving sustainable progress while holding back emissions,” Jaber said in his speech to an audience that included OPEC Secretary General Haitham Al Ghais and U.S. climate envoy John Kerry… “Jaber was a controversial pick to lead the COP28 climate summit because his country is an OPEC member and major oil exporter… “He called on his peers to get behind efforts to limit global warming. “Alongside all industries, the oil and gas needs to up its game, do more and do it faster,” Jaber said.

Guardian: Revealed: 1,000 super-emitting methane leaks risk triggering climate tipping points
Damian Carrington, 3/6/23

“More than 1,000 “super-emitter” sites gushed the potent greenhouse gas methane into the global atmosphere in 2022, the Guardian can reveal, mostly from oil and gas facilities. The worst single leak spewed the pollution at a rate equivalent to 67m running cars,” according to the Guardian. “Separate data also reveals 55 “methane bombs” around the world – fossil fuel extraction sites where gas leaks alone from future production would release levels of methane equivalent to 30 years of all US greenhouse gas emissions… “The two new datasets identify the sites most critical to preventing methane-driven disaster, as tackling leaks from fossil fuel sites is the fastest and cheapest way to slash methane emissions. Some leaks are deliberate, venting the unwanted gas released from underground while drilling for oil into the air, and some are accidental, from badly maintained or poorly regulated equipment… “The methane super-emitter sites were detected by analysis of satellite data, with the US, Russia and Turkmenistan responsible for the largest number from fossil fuel facilities. The biggest event was a leak of 427 tonnes an hour in August, near Turkmenistan’s Caspian coast and a major pipeline. That single leak was equivalent to the rate of emissions from 67m cars, or the hourly national emissions of France.”

Calgary Herald: Varcoe: Oilsands giants warn Canada falling behind U.S. on carbon capture incentives
Chris Varcoe, 3/6/23

“The heads of two of the country’s largest oilsands producers say Canada has fallen behind its biggest trading partner, and governments north of the border need to bolster assistance for new carbon capture and storage projects,” the Calgary Herald reports. “In an interview, Cenovus Energy CEO Alex Pourbaix and Suncor Energy interim CEO Kris Smith told the Herald Canada trails the new U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in offering incentives to major decarbonization initiatives, such as for carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) projects. “If we were able to achieve something that looked like the American program, we would say that was a fair outcome for everybody involved and I think that would protect our competitiveness with our largest competitor globally,” Pourbaix told the Herald. “I would describe this as a bit of a crossroad for the industry, for Alberta, for Canada,” added Smith… “The federal and provincial governments have lobbed a series of verbal grenades at each other in the past year over support for carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) projects proposed in Alberta… “The IRA covers about two-thirds of the operating and capital costs of a CCUS development, while Canada’s investment tax credit “really only covers probably about 15 per cent of the total capital that we intend to invest,” over 30 years, Pourbaix said. A report by BMO Capital Markets estimated the American program would cover about two-thirds of the total costs of more complex CCUS applications, compared with Canada’s investment tax credit at less than 25 per cent of total costs for such facilities. Smith said companies are looking at making long-term investments and there’s a need for urgency on all sides to “close the loop” around financial supports. “The competitive dynamic is shifting quickly. And while the ITC is a good first step, it’s not sufficient.”

E&E News: Q&A: CCS coalition chief on industry’s ‘dramatic’ shift
Carlos Anchondo, 3/3/23

“Jessie Stolark, executive director of the Carbon Capture Coalition The Carbon Capture Coalition, spoke to E&E News about the industry’s evolution, the game-changing provisions in the climate law, and the nonprofit’s plans for the rest of the year,” E&E News reports. 


Financial Post: Enbridge, Suncor targets of climate-focused shareholder activism ahead of 2023 proxy season
Meghan Potkins, 3/7/23

“Enbridge Inc. and Suncor Energy Inc. are the latest corporate targets of climate-focused investors looking to pressure boards and management with shareholder votes in the upcoming season of annual general meetings,” the Financial Post reports. “Canadian shareholder advocacy organization Investors for Paris Compliance (I4PC) is among a growing cohort of activist investors targeting corporations with ESG proposals. The group has filed shareholder proposals for the upcoming May AGMs of both companies, seeking increased reporting and accountability when it comes to the disclosure of emissions and promised expenditures on capital projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions… “Duncan Kenyon, director of corporate engagement for I4PC, told the Post Canadian energy companies are failing to grasp the extent to which they may be competitively disadvantaged in the near future as demand drops off — particularly when faced with the additional economic challenge of decarbonizing oil and gas production that is already higher-cost compared to regions like the Middle East… “Enbridge shareholders will vote on the proposal calling on the company to disclose all of its scope 3 emissions — which include indirect emissions both upstream and downstream of Enbridge activities — using internationally accepted definitions. Currently, I4PC said, Enbridge provides an incomplete picture of its scope 3 emissions, failing to capture their scale and growth potential given the company’s investments in oil and gas transmission, storage and exports. The resolution bound for Suncor’s AGM asks the company for greater disclosure regarding its stated commitment to devote 10 per cent of its capital expenditures to investments that advance the company’s low-carbon offerings. I4PC said the company has failed to provide any rationale for the target or detail on how the money will help the company meet its net-zero goals.”

Axios: New pressure on Vanguard

“Clients of asset management giant Vanguard are putting fresh pressure on the firm to act more aggressively on climate — and hinting at litigation if they’re not satisfied,” Axios reports. “Individual investors — over 1,400, organizers say — sent letters expressing “serious concern” that Vanguard is doing a lousy job managing climate risks to portfolio values. They allege Vanguard is “lagging behind its industry peers” and calls for steps including: “Best-in-class” standards, consistent with Paris Agreement temperature goals, for assessing portfolio companies. More investment offerings that are “1.5°C-aligned” and on a “zero-emissions pathway.” The first author is Paul Rissman, a Vanguard client and member of the Sierra Club Foundation’s board. He’s the former chief investment officer of Alliance Growth Equities… “Vanguard recently left an industry coalition called the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative. But the company said it remains committed to helping investors navigate climate risks.”


Chicago Tribune: Editorial: Carbon capture could be a boon for rural Illinois
The Editorial Board, 3/6/23

“Unlikely as it sounds, rural Illinois is getting a whiff of economic hope from some of the leading producers of air pollution,” the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board writes. “…Realistically, though, fossil fuels will be needed to produce electricity and industrial goods for decades to come. During that inevitably lengthy transition, something needs to be done to reduce their impact on the environment. The solution may lie far under the Earth’s surface in the unique geology of what’s known as the Illinois Basin… “The key formations in the Illinois Basin have the capacity to hold as much as 150 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. Talk about clearing the air… “Private interests alone cannot solve a problem as vast as carbon emissions. Unsurprisingly, given the level of ambition, many early carbon capture projects have disappointed. We don’t fault the government for stepping in to advance a technology that has promise but needs scale. Others, however, do. Hardcore environmentalists see any effort to reduce the impact of fossil fuels as playing into the hands of polluters who want business as usual. The mindset is that fossil fuels must go, period. Anything that would keep fossil-fuel plants operating, even if their carbon emissions could be dealt with responsibly, is therefore automatically bad. This absolutist vision gives rise to unintended consequences. A good example is environmentalists’ knee-jerk hostility to new pipeline projects, including the Keystone XL pipeline that this page supported. One of the main barriers to carbon capture technology is the bias against pipelines. Skepticism is understandable from stewards of the land like John Feltham, of Illinois’ Knox County, whose century-old family farm is in the path of a proposed 1,300-mile underground pipeline for liquefied carbon dioxide. Among other concerns, Illinois landowners like Feltham fear accidents could result in a release of suffocating gas, horror-movie style. California, too, is facing opposition to pipelines needed for its ambitious carbon capture plans. Illinois already is crisscrossed with pipelines because they are the most efficient and safest method for transporting oil and similar liquid commodities… “There is no simple solution to climate change… “Central Illinois can and should play an important part in the solution.”

Bangor Daily News: EPA methane rule may be good news
The Rev. Richard Killmer is a retired Presbyterian minister living in Yarmouth, 3/5/23

“Most of us take for granted that we will enter a dark room and can flick on the lights, that our homes will be warm in winter, that we will look out the window of a car and watch the world go by. We just assume that the energy needed to make those things work will always be there. But the energy sources are changing,” Richard Killmer writes for the Bangor Daily News. “…There is a new step that can be taken that keeps the good news on clean energy coming. In November, President Joe Biden and the Environmental Protection Agency proposed an updated draft rule to cut methane and other harmful pollutants from oil and gas operations across the country. This proposal is an important step forward in addressing the climate crisis, protecting God’s creation and the health and safety of communities across the country… ““The final rule will be more effective in both reducing the methane in the gaseous blanket around the earth, which causes the climate crisis and harms air quality, if it does three things: Ensures that operators at wells capture methane and limit flaring of that gas; makes the standards applicable to more tanks; and provides a clear pathway for communities and individuals to participate and engage in the Super Emitter Response Program, which is designed to address very large leaks from the oil and gas industry without delay. Let’s keep the good news coming. The EPA can make these additions and release the final rule quickly.”

The Hill: We can’t let the petrochemical industry off the hook for the East Palestine disaster
Joseph O. Minott is the executive director and chief counsel of the Clean Air Council, 3/6/23

“I’ve worked closely with local, state and federal elected officials and senior leadership at environmental agencies for 40 years, running one of the largest environmental non-profits in Pennsylvania,” Joseph O. Minott writes for The Hill. “…But after seeing the devastating environmental disaster unfolding in East Palestine, Ohio, my frustration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ohio EPA is running high. Following the Feb. 3 Norfolk Southern train derailment and the reaction from state and federal officials, it is harder to trust the promises and assurances from those leaders responsible for protecting our communities, especially frontline communities. The only way we can responsibly move forward from this tragedy is to take full account of who is to blame and hold those actors accountable — and without question that includes the petrochemical industry… “But, above all, we must hold the petrochemical industry accountable. You cannot separate what happened in East Palestine from the overproduction of plastics. The train that derailed was carrying vinyl chloride, a cancer-causing, explosive chemical ingredient used to make hard plastic. This most recent tragedy is proof that petrochemicals are a danger to our people and our planet at every stage, from production and transport to use and disposal. Petrochemical companies cannot be let off the hook for their part in creating and transporting these dangerous materials through our communities.”

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