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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 4/17/23

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

By Mark Hefflinger

April 17, 2023



  • Reuters: Biden admin greenlights LNG exports from Alaska project

  • FOX News: Biden admin approves massive gas pipeline project in huge blow to climate activists

  • KCUR: CO2 pipelines would be a boon for ethanol. But some question if they’re really a climate solution

  • AgWeek: Are carbon pipelines the future for ethanol?

  • Billings Gazette: Comments on Fallon County CO2 pipeline being sought by BLM

  • E&E News: Why injecting CO2 underground is a legal morass

  • CBC: Coastal GasLink reports 2 spills while tunneling under Morice River in northern B.C.

  • Tap Into Yorktown: Enbridge to Pay Yorktown Over $1 Million

  • WPLN: Tennessee raises felony charge for ‘interfering’ with oil and gas pipeline projects

  • WAVE: Louisville Metro Council passes resolution opposing gas pipeline through Bernheim Forest

  • Appalachian Chronicle: A Catholic Community Shares the Experience of Being a ‘Neighbor’ to the MVP in Southern West Virginia


  • E&E News: GOP eyes debt ceiling pitch with energy, permitting

  • Truthout: AOC, Bowman Call for Biden Administration to Reverse Willow Oil Project Approval

  • E&E News: Alaska Lawmakers Call On 9th Circuit To Back Willow 


  • Sacramento Bee: SMUD wants to be carbon-free by 2030: Calpine’s Sutter Energy Center looks to capture carbon, store it underground

  • Colorado Sun: Suncor released dangerous sulfur dioxide in Commerce City, state says

  • Associated Press: Environmentalists: Wasted gas hurts climate, state revenue

  • InsideClimate News: Environmental Justice Advocates Urge California to Stop Issuing New Drilling Permits in Neighborhoods

  • Grist: What happens when a Black enclave is built by Big Oil


  • Reuters: G7 ministers agree to cut gas consumption and speed-up renewable energy

  • Financial Times: Rising costs and competition threaten US boom in LNG projects

  • National Observer: Oil and gas, transportation remain biggest obstacles in Canada’s quest to cut emissions

  • Canadian Press: Alberta regulator reconsiders Fort Hills oilsands approval after critical report


  • The Hill: G7: Liquefied natural gas is a bridge fuel to climate disaster

  • The Hill: State-based climate litigation jeopardizes energy security policy


Reuters: Biden admin greenlights LNG exports from Alaska project
Timothy Gardner, 4/13/23

“The Biden administration on Thursday approved exports of liquefied natural gas from the Alaska LNG project that one day could help the United States compete with Russia to ship natural gas from the Arctic to Asia,” Reuters reports. “The Department of Energy approved Alaska Gasline Development Corp’s (AGDC) exports of LNG from the project to countries with which the United States does not have a free trade agreement. Backers of the roughly $39 billion project hope it will be operational by 2030 if it gets investments and all required permits. The LNG would be exported mainly to countries in Asia. Frank Richards, president of Alaska-owned AGDC, told Reuters the company will review the 51-page decision as it develops the project, which will “provide Alaskans and U.S. allies with a significant source of low-emissions, responsibly produced energy consistent with international environmental priorities.” “…Joe Biden’s climate presidency is flying off the rails,” Lukas Ross at Friends of the Earth told Reuters… “Earthjustice, an environmental law firm, told Reuters the decision cleared the way for additional lawsuits seeking to stop the project.”

FOX News: Biden admin approves massive gas pipeline project in huge blow to climate activists
Thomas Catenacci, 4/14/23

“The Biden administration green-lit an 807-mile natural gas pipeline project in Alaska that environmentalists blasted as a threat to the climate and wildlife,” FOX News reports. “The Department of Energy (DOE) issued a supplemental record of decision, reaffirming its original approval of the project in 2020 under the Trump administration, but amending it to include additional environmental protections. In addition to the pipeline, the $38.7 billion project proposed by the state-owned Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) also includes liquefied natural gas (LNG) export infrastructure. “The Department of Energy today issued an order amending a 2020 decision to impose new environmental requirements that prevents venting carbon dioxide, in addition to reaffirming all prior environmental conditions,” the DOE said in a statement.

KCUR: CO2 pipelines would be a boon for ethanol. But some question if they’re really a climate solution
Katie Peikes, 4/14/23

“Jeff Reints only has to look out across his field to see where most of his corn ends up,” KCUR reports.  “We’re directly west of the Shell Rock POET ethanol plant approximately a short mile away,” he told KCUR while walking through corn stalks left from last year’s harvest… “But when he found out the nearby ethanol plant would be a part of a proposed pipeline to carry away carbon dioxide, he was concerned. When he learned the pipeline would run underneath his northeast Iowa farm, he became staunchly opposed. “This is some of the best farmland the good Lord has entrusted us with to be stewards of,” Reints told KCUR. “It’s just a shame to think that just for private gain, that they’re going to put that scar across our land.” “…Farmers across the Midwest are fighting the carbon dioxide pipelines — largely over property rights. At the same time, environmentalists are raising concerns over whether carbon capture is the best way to curb emissions, especially compared to other strategies in the energy and agricultural sectors… “Monte Shaw, the executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, said the state either needs to be friendly to carbon pipelines or risk devastation for its corn growers and ethanol plants. “If Iowa screws this up, we’re in big trouble,” Shaw told KCUR. “We will absolutely lose a huge chunk of our industry and put the Iowa ag economy in a tailspin.” “…Yet Reints and many other farmers, as well as environmentalists, say they don’t buy the narrative that ethanol will shrivel up without carbon pipelines. Some point to better ways to sequester carbon or cut it altogether. The proposals are creating unusual alliances between farmers, such as Reints, who are concerned about property rights and safety, and environmentalists who question whether sequestering CO2 from ethanol is the best way to cut emissions… “Jess Mazour, the conservation program coordinator for the Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club, helped organize the rally. She argues carbon pipelines are not a real solution to climate change. “There are tried and true ways to solve our climate crisis that are better uses of our public tax dollars than this questionable technology that puts risky pipelines in our backyards, that destroys farmland,” Mazour told KCUR… “Asked if carbon pipelines should be a part of efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions in general, Mazour said she doesn’t see it. “I think rather than putting a Band-Aid on emissions, let’s stop burning them in the first place,” she told KCUR.

AgWeek: Are carbon pipelines the future for ethanol?
Jeff Beach, 4/17/23

“Nearly half of all the corn grown in the United States goes to producing ethanol, with the industry capable of producing more than 17 billion gallons each year, and ethanol is blended into just about every gallon of gasoline sold at the pump,” AgWeek reports. “So is spending billions of dollars to build thousands of miles of capture pipelines really necessary for the future of the ethanol industry?… Some staunch opponents, including some farmers, say the projects are just a money-grab at federal tax credits for carbon capture and landowners in the path will be stuck with a hazardous liquid pipeline and the ethanol industry and corn growers will have little to show for it. Geoff Cooper is president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, representing ethanol plants and other renewable fuels. While he calls carbon capture important, he says it’s not do or die. “There’s going to be markets for all forms of ethanol produced — with carbon capture and sequestration and without carbon capture and sequestration,” Cooper told AgWeek. “We remain very optimistic and very bullish about the future of ethanol. Yes, carbon capture is a huge opportunity. Yes, these pipelines are critically important to helping the industry lower its carbon intensity. But there’s lots of other ways to do that as well.” “…A study done for the Renewable Fuels Association by Informed Sustainability Consulting, looked at ways for ethanol to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The author of the study, Isaac Emery, told the Press he ranked the action items based on effectiveness (the size of the carbon reduction), cost (carbon reduced per dollar spent), and feasibility (is the intervention on the market now or still in the research stage). The rankings were: Renewable energy at plant: Using renewable electricity at 50% of ethanol plants by 2030, up to 90% in 2050; Fiber fermentation: Corn kernel fiber fermentation at 20% of dry mills by 2030, up to 50% by 2050. Efficiency: Better-than-business-as-usual industry-wide efficiency improvements and ethanol yields based on the historical trends of industry leading producers; Renewable energy on farm: Adoption of renewable electricity by 25% of corn suppliers in 2030, up to 90% in 2050; Carbon capture: Installation of carbon capture and sequestration technology at 40% of ethanol facilities by 2030, up to 90% by 2050; Manure power: Sourcing of bio-methane from manure biogas at 28% of ethanol facilities in 2030, up to 78% by 2050; Reduced tillage: Expanding reduced tillage practices to an additional 7.5% of corn farmers in 2030, 30% by 2050… “Renewable energy ranks the highest, he told AgWeek, because it is proven technology known to be cost effective. “You don’t have as many safety concerns or land ownership concerns,” Emery told AgWeek. “It’s much more straightforward than some of these kinds of pipeline projects.” “…Emery’s rankings were for the ethanol industry as a whole. He also ranked the action items for an individual ethanol plant, and in that scenario, carbon capture came out No. 2, still behind renewable energy.”

Billings Gazette: Comments on Fallon County CO2 pipeline being sought by BLM

“Denbury Inc. has submitted a right of way application for a proposed CO2 pipeline that would connect its existing Cedar Creek Anticline Enhanced Oil Recovery Development facilities with their Cabin Creek project site, both in Eastern Montana’s Fallon County,” the Billings Gazette reports. “The deadline for comments is May 10. Denbury plans to begin construction in July. The proposed 25.8 mile-long 12-inch CO2 pipeline would transport liquid CO2 to be used in enhanced oil recovery production. The pipeline would cross 0.07 miles (369.6 feet) of BLM-managed lands. Both temporary and permanent access roads crossing BLM land would also be needed. The project is within 2 miles of four active sage grouse leks in areas classified as General Habitat by the Montana Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program, and 4 miles of six active sage grouse leks in a Core Area… “More information, relevant documents, maps and a venue for submitting comments are available on the BLM e-Planning project website at Search using the NEPA number: DOI-BLM-MT-C020-2023-0038-EA.”

E&E News: Why injecting CO2 underground is a legal morass
Shelby Webb, 4/17/23

“Texas is the Wild West when it comes to injecting carbon dioxide emissions into the earth.The Lone Star State has yet to pass laws regulating such long-term storage for CO2 emissions,” E&E News reports. “…But who owns that pore space? What happens to companies hoping to extract oil or gas on the same land? And who pays for remediation if injecting millions of tons of CO2 into the earth creates problems?… “Only two states — North Dakota and Wyoming — can authorize permits for carbon dioxide sequestration wells. Projects in other states have to wait out the EPA backlog. But when the federal government starts approving more of these projects — and gives more states the authority to permit them — project operators, landowners and oil and gas producers will begin to run up against a series of thorny legal issues… “North Dakota has had carbon sequestration laws on the books since 2009, Reice Haase, deputy director of the North Dakota Industrial Commission, told E&E. Those who own the surface land also own the pore space beneath, according to statute. Carbon sequestration project developers must receive approval from those that own 60 percent of the pore space by acreage. That issue of ownership has bred some controversy among landowners, Haase told E&E… “Some landowners have called for that 60 percent figure to be increased, Haase told E&E. Wyoming requires approval from those that own 80 percent of acreage… “Then there’s the issue of how carbon injection rights interact with mineral rights. For some pieces of property, one person may own the surface land while someone else owns the rights to extract minerals from beneath the ground… “Some oil and gas companies argue that carbon dioxide injections could complicate or prevent their efforts to produce crude or natural gas. Bruce Gates, founder and president of Ageron Energy, told E&E carbon dioxide can quickly corrode even some of the strongest pipes used for extracting oil and gas… “He told E&E when carbon dioxide mixes with ancient salt water deep underground, it can create corrosive carbonic acid. And the earth beneath much of Texas is full of the extra briny, ancient seawater. Carbonic acid is “fairly weak” compared to other chemical compounds, like hydrochloric acid, but it alone can still cause corrosion issues with steel and polymers, Hugh Daigle, a petroleum engineering professor with the University of Texas, Austin, told E&E. “This is certainly a concern for the injection wells where CO2 is actually being injected.”

CBC: Coastal GasLink reports 2 spills while tunneling under Morice River in northern B.C.

“The B.C. Energy Regulator (BCER) is investigating after Coastal GasLink (CGL) reported two spills of clay lubricant while it was tunnelling under the Morice River to build a natural gas pipeline through northern British Columbia,” CBC reports. “The area around the Morice River has for years been the site of conflict between Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and supporters, and CGL, its workers and the RCMP.  The salmon-bearing Morice River, on Wet’suwet’en traditional territory, is considered a sacred headwater called the Wedzin Kwa. On Wednesday, CGL issued a statement that one spill had been detected on land, and another in a small tributary west of the Morice… “The company told CBC in an email that the size of the spills and what caused them were still being investigated, adding that the clay is “non-toxic” and no adverse impacts to fish or waterways are expected… “According to the company, micro-tunnelling uses hydraulic jacks and a tunnel boring machine to push concrete casing segments through the soil deep under rivers during pipeline construction… “Jesse Stoeppler, co-executive director of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, a member of the Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan Nations and deputy chief of the Hagwilget Village council, worries about the lack of information about what actually happened. “When it comes to a mega project of this size, there have been a lot of requests from title holders and the public as to why there is next to no regulation on the ground,” he told CBC. “How is it possible this industry gets away with self-monitoring and self-assessing and self-reporting to these regulators?” CGL has received dozens of warnings about environmental violations, many related to failures to protect sensitive waterways and wetlands.”

Tap Into Yorktown: Enbridge to Pay Yorktown Over $1 Million
Sophia Caselnova, 4/14/23

“Yorktown will be paid over $1 million in response to the sinkhole that closed Woodlands Legacy Fields on Dec. 24,” Tap Into Yorktown reports. “Enbridge, the Canada-based company that operates the Algonquin Gas Pipeline, is to pay Yorktown $1,050,000 to compensate for the closure. “Enbridge is making a good-faith payment to the people of Yorktown for inadvertently depriving them of the use of this popular park,” Town Supervisor Tom Diana told TIY. “I thank Enbridge for it’s corporate responsibility to communities that are hosts to the company’s pipelines.” “…The sinkhole was above a 42-inch regional natural gas pipeline, which was not compromised. Following in-depth analyses during the duration of the park’s closure, Enbridge poured fill materials into the sinkhole to support the pipeline. The company will conduct semi-weekly aerial patrols of the gas line, monthly site visits, and electrical surveys to ensure that new sinkholes do not form.” 

WPLN: Tennessee raises felony charge for ‘interfering’ with oil and gas pipeline projects

“In the past four years, Tennessee has passed multiple laws aimed to protect fossil fuel projects from community challenges, like the law that preempts local governments from blocking fossil fuel projects, or the one that allows the state to boycott banks that divest from fossil fuels,” WPLN reports. “One of these recent laws targets protestors. In 2019, Tennessee criminalized protests against fossil fuels by expanding the definition of “critical infrastructure” to include oil and gas pipelines – and changed the existing misdemeanor offenses to felony offenses. Last week, state lawmakers passed new legislation that would further criminalize activity that “destroys, injures, interrupts, or interferes with critical infrastructure,” raising the charge from a Class E felony to a Class C felony if the damages equate to at least $1,000… “State legislation criminalizing protests followed the next year, and now at least 17 states have such laws, which were drafted in part by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, according to a report by Climate Cabinet. “We know these bills are directly related to these protests,” Emma Fisher, the deputy director at Climate Cabinet, told WPLN News last year. “The way they’re written is that harsh penalties and open-ended definitions create a situation for protestors that is intentionally vague and risky.” 

WAVE: Louisville Metro Council passes resolution opposing gas pipeline through Bernheim Forest
Dustin Vogt, 4/14/23

“A resolution passed in Metro Council on Thursday night urges Louisville Gas & Electric to stop legal efforts to seize land from Bernheim Forest for use to install a new natural gas pipeline,” WAVE reports. “Bernheim Forest said it is looking to appeal a recent ruling from a Bullitt Circuit Court judge granting LG&E the ability to exercise eminent domain for property going through Bernheim’s Cedar Grove wildlife corridor. Metro Council voted 17 to 5 on Thursday for a resolution opposing LG&E’s plans for eminent domain seizure of the land to construct the 12-mile natural gas pipeline across Bullitt County. Bernheim Forest supporters argued that the pipeline would destroy a significant amount of forest and would negatively impact wildlife living in the area. “The Louisville community has made clear that Bernheim is a unique resource, beloved by Kentuckians for its unparalleled commitment to connecting people with nature and for protecting our regional environment,” councilwoman Betsy Ruhe said. “I am opposed to any development in this forest that threatens its natural lands, clean water, and biodiversity. It needs to be defended.” “…Metro Council’s resolution also recommends LG&E seek alternatives for the proposed pipeline, including infrastructure that would deliver carbon-free sustainable energy and promoting efficiency programs that reduce fossil fuel consumption.”

Appalachian Chronicle: A Catholic Community Shares the Experience of Being a ‘Neighbor’ to the MVP in Southern West Virginia
Eric Fitts, 4/14/23

“On April 3, The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacated a Clean Water Certification from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP),” the Appalachian Chronicle reports. “… One group I contacted was the Catholic Committee of Appalachia (CCA). They offered a response, which is from CCA member and Director Eric Fitts of Bethlehem Farm, a Catholic community within one mile of the MVP in southern West Virginia… “The main problem with the MVP is that we do not need any more carbon released into Earth’s atmosphere, due to the worsening effects of climate change, the ecological, spiritual and emotional costs of which are detailed at length in the papal encyclical Laudato Si’: On the Care of Our Common Home and by many others. The fracking industry that the MVP would support is a serious polluter, which was detailed at length in CCA’s pastoral letter The Telling Takes Us Home: Taking Our Place in the Stories that Shape Us… “The MVP project, its use of eminent domain for private gain, its potential to pollute our living waters, and the further fragmentation of the Eastern Hardwood Forest, disrupting local ecologies, is another example of how the people and place of Appalachia are one of many “crucified peoples” and “crucified places”, as detailed in the pastoral letter… “Senator Manchin is attempting to get Congress to approve the completion of the MVP by yoking it to permitting “reform” for future energy projects. While we should not be surprised by this tactic, it does not bode well for any community in the country that Manchin is misrepresenting principled judicial review as something that should be circumvented.”


E&E News: GOP eyes debt ceiling pitch with energy, permitting
Nico Portuondo, Emma Dumain, Jeremy Dillon, 4/17/23

“Lawmakers are set to ramp up negotiations this week on what will likely be an extended political skirmish to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a potentially devastating financial crisis, talks that are likely to tie in major energy and infrastructure permitting disputes,” E&E News reports. “All eyes will be on House Republican leaders who, after passing their largely partisan signature energy package, H.R. 1, are now looking to use debt ceiling negotiations as a bargaining tool to gain traction on their energy and spending priorities… “The opening list of Republican demands for raising the debt ceiling by $2 trillion — or suspend the issue to next year — includes the recently passed “Lower Energy Costs Act,” which would codify Trump-era orders on permitting and encourage all types of energy production on federal lands and waters… “They’re eyeing a vote on a formal debt-ceiling-raise bill by late May, according to POLITICO… “So far, Democrats and Biden have signaled little leeway to meet any of the Republican demands. They argue that House Republicans are using political brinksmanship to achieve unrealistic partisan priorities, and have maintained that they are still looking for a no-strings-attached deal… “Wrapped into the broader political drama is a bipartisan desire to reach a compromise on permitting reform, with lawmakers from both parties recognizing that existing regulatory structures may be too burdensome for upcoming clean and traditional energy projects. However, Republicans and Democrats still stand far apart on what exactly that permitting reform would entail. Democrats see it as an avenue to more quickly deploy transmission lines and renewable energy projects, while Republicans want more firm review deadlines and easier paths for fossil fuel projects like pipelines and liquefied natural gas export facilities. House Natural Resources Chair Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) are currently spearheading the House negotiations to come up with a bipartisan permitting reform compromise. And while Senate Democrats are unlikely to take up the broad regulatory rollbacks included in H.R. 1, a pair of Senate committees are expected to take up and discuss the issue later this month.”

Truthout: AOC, Bowman Call for Biden Administration to Reverse Willow Oil Project Approval
Sharon Zhang, 4/13/23

“A group of 33 House Democrats is urging Biden administration officials to heed calls from numerous climate and Indigenous groups to suspend a permit that would allow fossil fuel giant ConocoPhillips to construct a massive drilling operation on pristine Alaskan land,” Truthout reports. “The lawmakers, led by Representatives Jamaal Bowman (D-New York), Jared Huffman (D-California) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), said that the administration should suspend the permit while the $8 billion project is in litigation, and reject future permits that the company may file to pursue the project. “Given the permanent damage ConocoPhillips’ preliminary construction efforts will inflict on the surrounding ecosystem and community, necessary steps must be taken to mitigate harm as it undergoes comprehensive review,” the group wrote in a letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Thursday. “Suspending the Right of Way Permit and rejecting future filings by ConocoPhillips … would ensure we take the right steps for our future and grant all stakeholders the chance to be heard.” Numerous groups are in the midst of suing the Biden administration for its approval of the massive oil and gas drilling undertaking known as the Willow project, alleging that administration officials are running afoul of their duties to properly assess the climate impacts of the project, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act, Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act, and others. In a separate lawsuit, plaintiffs say that officials are failing their duty to protect the land and wildlife in approving the project.

E&E News: Alaska Lawmakers Call On 9th Circuit To Back Willow 
Niina H. Farah, 4/17/23

“Alaska’s congressional delegation urged a prominent West Coast appeals court late Friday to reject efforts to halt construction of ConocoPhillips’ controversial Willow project in a remote portion of Alaska’s North Slope,” E&E News reports. “The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is weighing a request from environmentalists to reverse an order from a lower bench that cleared the way for limited winter construction on the $8 billion oil project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska after an approval from the Biden administration. Alaska Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola and state lawmakers warned in a ‘friend of the court’ brief that a 9th Circuit order blocking the project ‘would do considerable harm to the public interest — including at the local, state, and national levels.’ The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, ConocoPhillips and the project’s other supporters also urged the 9th Circuit in a series of filings late Thursday to allow work that began earlier this month to continue.”


Sacramento Bee: SMUD wants to be carbon-free by 2030: Calpine’s Sutter Energy Center looks to capture carbon, store it underground

“In a project that would be the first of its kind in the country, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District is considering a proposal to capture carbon emissions from a natural gas power plant and deposit them deep underground,” the Sacramento Bee reports. “Calpine Corporation, one of the nation’s largest producers of natural gas and geothermal electricity, is appealing to SMUD to develop carbon capture and storage technology at the Sutter Energy Center, a gas plant outside Yuba City… “As SMUD vies to eliminate carbon emissions by 2030, proponents of CCS say it will help preserve reliability while achieving that goal… “But the relatively new technological process has yet to win wide acceptance, particularly in the electricity sector where carbon-free alternatives like solar and battery storage are abundant. Critics, meanwhile, warn of unknown environmental consequences and argue that carbon capture merely prolongs the life of fossil fuel facilities… “George Peridas, director of carbon management partnerships at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, told the Bee some carbon storage projects pose the risk of man-made earthquakes triggered by leaking pipes. But the risk is minimal in this case, he told the Bee, and regulations are strong enough to keep carbon from escaping… “Katie Valenzuela, senior policy advocate with the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition and a Sacramento City Council member, is concerned about the proposal and disappointed by SMUD’s response after years of advocating for skepticism of carbon capture technology in the state legislature… “This technology and the claims they’re making is an unfortunate delay on the real climate action that we want to take,” Valenzuela told the Bee. “I’m seeing my worst nightmare come to reality, which is that this technology is going to be used to prolong a natural gas power plants that I do not believe should continue to be in operation.”

Colorado Sun: Suncor released dangerous sulfur dioxide in Commerce City, state says
Michael Booth, 4/13/23

“The Suncor refinery in Commerce City sent potentially dangerous spikes of sulfur dioxide into the surrounding neighborhood early Wednesday after an equipment failure, though the state health department’s notice didn’t go out until Wednesday evening,” the Colorado Sun reports. “Sulfur dioxide detected from Suncor leapt to 155 parts per billion and 186 parts per billion, while the EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards are 75 parts per billion. But to reach an official exceedance, the sulfur dioxide levels must be that high for over an hour. By 9 a.m. Wednesday, a state news release said, the levels had “dropped significantly.” The state release at 6:23 p.m. said the spike readings “were verified a short time ago.” Despite the drop in the monitored sulfur dioxide levels, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment urged families in the future to limit outdoor exercise, keep windows closed and consider an air purifier. “The short exposures to sulfur dioxide that occurred earlier could have exacerbated asthma and made breathing difficult, especially during exercise or physical activity,” the health department said… “Neighbors and environmental advocacy groups have been expanding independent monitoring of emissions from Suncor, and amplifying calls for a complete shutdown or at least far tougher state regulation of the refinery… “In an email Thursday afternoon, state health department spokesperson Leah Schleifer offered this explanation for the timing of the Wednesday announcement: “Releasing this type of information is always a balance between providing accurate information, timely information, and assessing the potential of an ongoing problem. We decided to do this notification because we have heard from the community that they would like more information – and we are making a concerted effort to be as transparent as possible. In addition, we wanted to provide the information since Suncor didn’t send a notification.”  

Associated Press: Environmentalists: Wasted gas hurts climate, state revenue
Kevin McGill, 4/13/23

“Louisiana lost more than $82 million worth of natural gas in 2019 due to leaks, venting or flaring at production sites, according to a study released Thursday by an environmental group and government watchdog organizations,” the Associated Press reports. “The Environmental Defense Fund’s report said state fossil fuel producers wasted more than 27 billion cubic feet (760 million cubic meters) of gas in 2019. It’s an economic loss for the state, the report said, estimating the tax and royalty revenue lost to state government that year at $2.5 million… “More than 81% of wasted gas was from leaks. Less than 1% was from purposeful venting, and 19% was lost by flaring… “That’s enough lost gas to meet more than 2/3 of residential natural gas demand in the state for a year,” a statement accompanying the report said… “When the industry is allowed to waste natural gas, it robs the state of important tax revenue, which then has to be made up through other taxes or else leave the state without the revenue it needs to fund critical programs,” Jan Moller of the Louisiana Budget Project told AP.

InsideClimate News: Environmental Justice Advocates Urge California to Stop Issuing New Drilling Permits in Neighborhoods
Liza Gross, 4/14/23

“The first thing Nalleli Cobo wanted to do when she heard the oil well in her South Los Angeles neighborhood was shutting down was scream,” InsideClimate News reports. “…Cobo grew up breathing foul-smelling, toxic emissions from an oil production site just 30 feet from her home… “At first she didn’t connect the unexplained ailments she couldn’t shake—uncontrolled nosebleeds, punishing headaches, stomach pains and crippling body spasms—to the oil wells next door. Cobo’s mother and sister suffered from similar health problems. When they started comparing notes with neighbors, they realized headaches, nosebleeds and other ailments were rampant in their close-knit community, where most residents are low-income and Latino. They blamed the cluster of neighborhood wells that bordered their homes, a daycare, senior living facility and school for students with disabilities… “Environmental justice and health groups thought they had finally won the same protections for communities across the state last fall, when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 1137 to prohibit oil drilling in neighborhoods… “Neighborhood oil drillers bankrolled a referendum that suspends the law until voters decide its fate in 2024. And the California Geologic Energy Management Division, or CalGEM, approved some 900 new oil and gas permits since January. The vast majority are neighborhood wells like the one Cobo worked so hard to shut down… “Cobo’s experience strengthened her resolve to fight so other kids don’t have to go through what she did. Her work helped convince both the L.A. City Council and County Board of Supervisors to ban new oil wells and phase out existing operations in a unanimous vote. And last year, Cobo won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her years of tireless activism.”

Grist: What happens when a Black enclave is built by Big Oil
Adam Mahoney, 4/16/23

“When Tara Bettis is at her home in Beaumont, Texas, the 57-year-old doesn’t need a clock to know what time it is. Her body instinctively knows based on the pitches of whistles and bells ringing from her neighbor’s property: a massive, land-gobbling oil refinery and chemical plant owned by ExxonMobil,” Grist reports. “…The bells, smells, and fires lighting the midnight sky from her neighbor are only expected to become more of a nuisance for her and her 82-year-old mother, daughter, and two grandchildren. In February, the plant completed a $2 billion expansion — the biggest project in the U.S. in over a decade. The 68 percent refining capacity increase makes the plant’s production capabilities the seventh-largest in the world. Despite a historic focus on environmental injustices by the Biden administration, ExxonMobil leaders last year cited his administration’s calls for the country’s oil companies to ramp up production as one of the motivators behind completing the project… “The irony underscores decades-old circumstances that have worked to engorge and disappear Black communities across the country. Beaumont is one of the first Black strongholds in Texas. Oil helped attract Black residents to the city in the early 20th century, ushering in a new level of economic stability, but now it’s left a majority-Black community captured under its reign… “When I was coming up as a teenager, they used to let off a smell that would actually knock me out,” she told Grist. She fears that her lifelong exposure to pollution may potentially lead to future health complications for her and maybe even her grandchildren.”


Reuters: G7 ministers agree to cut gas consumption and speed-up renewable energy
Katya Golubkova and Yuka Obayashi, 4/15/23

“The Group of Seven rich nations have agreed to call for reducing gas consumption and increasing electricity from renewable sources while phasing out fossil-fuels faster and building no new coal-fired plants, France’s energy transition minister said on Saturday,” Reuters reports. “G7 environment and energy ministers, however, could not agree on a specific date to exit coal power, France’s Agnes Pannier-Runacher told reporters on the first of two days of climate and energy talks in Sapporo in northern Japan. “The G7 countries have agreed that the first response to the energy crisis must be to reduce energy and gas consumption… For the first time ever, the G7 said that we must accelerate the phasing out of all unabated fossil fuels… Finally, it sent a message about accelerating renewable energy,” Pannier-Runacher told Reuters. The G7 decided to endorse a goal to “drastically increase electricity generated by renewable energies,” a person with knowledge of the discussions separately told Reuters, asking not to be identified because the information is not public. Energy-poor Japan was pushing for investments to stay for the gas industry in order to keep the liquefied natural gas in the energy mix as a transition fuel, winning some – but not all – support from the rest of G7.”

Financial Times: Rising costs and competition threaten US boom in LNG projects
Myles McCormick, 4/16/23

“Intense competition between developers and escalating costs are complicating efforts to bring new liquefied natural gas projects online in the US, even as the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine creates huge appetite for American fuel exports,” the Financial Times reports. “A new wave of multibillion-dollar LNG projects on the US Gulf Coast has gathered pace over the past year as the energy upheaval triggered by the war prompts a global dash to secure fossil fuels from vast Texas shale fields. Since Moscow began its full-blown invasion of its neighbour 14 months ago, four projects, together worth $40bn, have reached the crucial “final investment decision” milestone. But others have faced repeated delays as they vie with each other to secure the long-term purchase agreements needed to underwrite their projects and contend with sharply escalating construction and financing costs. “It’s dramatically more expensive,” Charif Souki, who pioneered the development of the US LNG export industry more than a decade ago, told FT. “There are fewer and fewer construction companies that can actually handle these kinds of loads. But you have to confront . . . your supply chain issues and all the cost inflation.” Souki, who now heads up developer Tellurian, has seen his $25bn Driftwood development flounder after a fundraising failure last year led pivotal buyers to abandon the project. This month it announced plans for the sale and leaseback of land as it scrambles to raise funds. Two other projects that developers had hoped would reach FID by the end of March — Energy Transfer’s Lake Charles conversion and Next Decade’s Rio Grande terminal — have been delayed to later in the year… “Projects under construction or entering service will increase US capacity by roughly 70 per cent once they all come online by 2027, making the country the world’s pre-eminent LNG superpower: this year the US will leapfrog Australia and Qatar to boast the world’s biggest export capacity. If every potential project in the pipeline was to come online, they would triple US capacity by 2030, according to Wood Mackenzie. But analysts expect many of these to fail, as a race to build them in time intensifies and funding for long-term fossil fuel projects in a decarbonising world becomes harder to secure.”

National Observer: Oil and gas, transportation remain biggest obstacles in Canada’s quest to cut emissions
John Woodside & Natasha Bulowski, 4/17/23

“Canada’s progress on significantly cutting pollution by 2030 is being undermined by growing emissions from the country’s oil and gas industry, according to the federal government’s annual emissions report to the United Nations,” the National Observer reports. “Overall, Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions rose in 2021, the most recent year for which data is available… “Emissions from the oil and gas sector in particular climbed, but Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault pointed out that the industry’s methane emissions — a potent greenhouse gas that has 80 times more planet-warming power than carbon dioxide over the first 20 years — fell by 21 per cent from 2005 levels, calling it a “noteworthy achievement.” “…But a close look at the data reveals the outsized impact of increased emissions from the oil and gas and transportation sectors. Together, those sectors increased their emissions 13 megatonnes from 2020. In other words, those sectors are spewing out more pollution and cancelling out the progress made by other sectors… “A strong cap on oil and gas sector emissions — which will be ready by the end of the year, according to Guilbeault — is key to ensuring the sector delivers the reductions required to stay on track, Keith Brooks, programs director of Environmental Defence, told the Observer.

Canadian Press: Alberta regulator reconsiders Fort Hills oilsands approval after critical report
Bob Weber, 4/17/23

“Alberta’s energy regulator is reconsidering a project it approved months ago after receiving a critical report on Fort Hills Energy’s plan to mine oilsands from a unique carbon-storing wetland,” the Canadian Press reports. “In September, the Alberta Energy Regulator approved plans to mine a portion of the McClelland Lake Wetland Complex — a large and intact wetland once considered for environmental protection that lies partly within the company’s lease. The approval came after a two-decade regulatory history and the submission by Fort Hills of plans saying it could mine about half the wetland without affecting the remainder. But in March, the Alberta Wilderness Association presented the regulator with an independent scientific analysis of the company’s plan that found significant shortfalls. It asked the regulator to revisit its decision… “The regulator approved True North’s application to develop the site, despite warnings from an environmental impact assessment that mine dewatering and other disturbances would likely kill the fen’s distinctive peat-forming mosses. The approval came with conditions that included developing a plan to protect the unmined portion of the wetland. That plan, finally submitted in 2021, is what is now being reconsidered, although the project now belongs to Fort Hills Energy, majority-owned by Suncor Energy Inc… “It is untested,” Lorna Harris, an ecologist specializing in peat with the Wildlife Conservation Society, who has worked at universities in Canada and England, told CP. “We do not have any certainty that it will work.” That wall will have to work for decades, she told CP. “We know that these structures do leak. “We’ve just seen (that) recently with (Imperial Oil’s) Kearl Lake (oilsands) tailings leak. It’s known from other sites as well.”


The Hill: G7: Liquefied natural gas is a bridge fuel to climate disaster
Leah Qusba is the executive director of Action for the Climate Emergency (ACE), 4/14/23

“The eyes of the world are on Sapporo, Japan this weekend as energy ministers of some of the world’s largest economies, the G7, meet to discuss global climate and energy policy,” Leah Qusba writes for The Hill. “In early versions of the G7 draft publication, countries emphasized financing liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports as a supposed bridge fuel to a clean energy future. These claims were met with alarm and disgust from scientists, activists, policymakers and even some G7 nations — and frontline groups, youth advocates and other climate advocates jumped into action to ask the Biden administration take a stand against U.S. further LNG liquefaction and export expansion. Later drafts have since walked back language on investing in LNG exports, though, there is still much in the draft to spark concern. LNG is not a bridge fuel to a clean-energy future. The production and transportation of LNG results in significant emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is responsible for approximately 30 percent of global warming. The carbon footprint of LNG is often larger than that of coal, due to the leakage of methane during the production and transportation process. It’s a bridge that ends in a hotter, more dangerous world for all of us, especially the world’s most vulnerable people and ecosystems. We cannot afford to build that bridge—one there’s no coming back from. Last year, the G7 committed to ending financial support for the fossil fuel industry by the end of 2022. However, according to a report from Oil Change International, G7 countries financed $73 billion for fossil fuel projects between 2020 and 2022, over twice the financing they provided for clean energy during this time period ($28.6 billion)… “Without government financing of new LNG and other gas facilities around the world, these risky, dirty and harmful new projects would be dead on arrival… “Our message to the G7 is clear: Don’t be hypocrites. Honor your commitments and end financing and support of new LNG infrastructure.”

The Hill: State-based climate litigation jeopardizes energy security policy
Pınar Çebi Wilber is executive vice president and chief economist for the American Council for Capital Formation, 4/16/23

“The clash between President Biden’s climate change agenda and the realities of our global energy demands came to a head recently at the feet of the U.S. Supreme Court,” Pınar Çebi Wilber writes for The Hill. “A recent decision by the Biden administration’s solicitor general recommending that SCOTUS keep a Boulder climate lawsuit in state court rather than being heard in federal court was scrutinized by the energy companies who filed the petition, saying the decision catered to political allies behind the lawsuits… “If each case is allowed to proceed in state courts, it will create a convoluted and disjointed patchwork response for addressing the globally complex phenomenon of climate change… “Should state courts be creating this hostile and complex environment? That answer should be obvious particularly when you consider that climate change is a global challenge that must be balanced with how much energy we still need to produce to meet growing energy needs… “So, how do we balance climate action goals with ensuring our energy security? First, we all must accept that oil and gas will be critical in our journey to find climate change solutions that get us to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050… “Second, we must also accept that industry will require a great deal of long-term investment to sustain the operations needed to provide today’s energy, while making the transition to the low carbon solutions needed to achieve climate goals. New punitive taxes and lawsuits will only guarantee a decrease in the pool of resources available to reinvest, especially in pledges these companies have made to support this important transition… “Endless lawsuits are only adding another hurdle for the industry and tying up resources that could be used for more productive activities, like improving efficiency or investing in research and development that could bring that next big clean energy advancement… “Rejecting these meritless climate lawsuits will be a valuable course correction.”

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