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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 4/25/23

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

By Mark Hefflinger

April 25, 2023



  • E&E News: Granholm backs Mountain Valley pipeline

  • E&E News: Granholm’s Mountain Valley pipeline support creates firestorm

  • Law360: Justices Reopen Fight Over Mountain Valley Pipeline

  • The Center Square: Illinois lawmakers, industry, environmentalists and citizens debate CO2 pipelines

  • Pipeline Fighters Hub: What Did PHMSA’s “Consent Agreement” Over Denbury’s CO2 Pipeline Rupture in Satartia Really Do?

  • Pipeline Fighters Hub: Webinar: Analysis of PHMSA Report on Denbury CO2 Pipeline Rupture in Satartia, MS

  • KPFA: Against the Grain: Popular Protest Against Oil Pipelines

  • KCAL: Huntington Beach oil spill settlement wins final approval

  • WSPY: Plano residents displeased over pipeline replacement


  • E&E News: Supreme Court unlocks climate cases by rejecting oil industry bid

  • New York Times: E.P.A. to Propose First Controls on Greenhouse Gases From Power Plants

  • E&E News: Biden’s newest big climate rule will rest on rarely used technology

  • E&E News: CCS policy road map calls for tax credit, safety changes

  • New York Times: Many Young Voters Bitter Over Biden’s Support of Willow Oil Drilling

  • Natural Gas Intelligence: DOE Denies Lake Charles LNG Request to Extend Start of Exports


  • Denver Post: Colorado Democrats weaken oil and gas permitting bill after facing opposition from Gov. Jared Polis

  • KTVH: Montana House endorses bill removing greenhouse gas emissions from environmental reviews

  • South Dakota Searchlight: State regulators propose, then roll back, stricter environmental requirements for oil wells

  • Associated Press: Groups push US land managers for lasting Chaco protections


  • Wall Street Journal: America’s Oil Patch Loses Its Luster

  • APTN News: Alberta regulator won’t say when it knew of Kearl tar sands spill

  • Reuters: Alberta’s energy regulator apologises for poor communication around tailings leak


  • Reuters: Climate activists spray protests on U.S. bank offices on eve of annual meetings

  • Washington Post: Should banks curb lending to fossil fuel companies? Shareholders weigh in this week

  • Bloomberg: These Anti-ESG Republicans Are Longtime Supporters of Green Power

  • CNBC: State leaders targeting climate investing have quiet stakes in the fossil fuel industry


  • Enbridge: Listening, learning and redefining Indigenous partnerships


  • Bloomberg: Even Fox News Admits Climate Change Is Real Now

  • The Hill: Europe backs off climate push as voters rebel — will Biden take note?


E&E News: Granholm backs Mountain Valley pipeline
Miranda Willson, Carlos Anchondo, 4/24/23

“The Biden administration has thrown its weight behind the Mountain Valley pipeline, a major natural gas project favored by West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and opposed by environmental advocates,” E&E News reports. “The 303-mile pipeline and other natural gas projects like it will “play an important role” in supporting the transition to clean energy and in safeguarding the energy system, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a letter Friday evening to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “Energy infrastructure, like the MVP project, can help ensure the reliable delivery of energy that heats homes and businesses, and powers electric generators that support the reliability of the electric system,” Granholm said in the letter… “I think the timing is interesting in that it’s ahead of the release of the new power plant rules, in the sense that it’s an indication that the administration is still supportive of the role of natural gas,” Paul Bledsoe, a strategic adviser at the Progressive Policy Institute and a former White House climate aide, told E&E… “In a statement, the senator said he was pleased to see the administration join him in supporting the pipeline. “This project is vital to ensure the reliable, affordable energy America is blessed with can be used to benefit the country and our allies,” Manchin told E&E. “We cannot afford additional delays.” “…Granholm said the Department of Energy “takes no position” on outstanding permits needed for the pipeline or on pending litigation. She also noted that FERC “has completed its regulatory authorizations” for the project. “I request that if there is any further Commission-related action on this project, it proceeds expeditiously,” the letter said.

E&E News: Granholm’s Mountain Valley pipeline support creates firestorm
Emma Dumain, Miranda Willson, 4/25/23

“Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm’s endorsement of the controversial Mountain Valley pipeline on Monday is putting environmentalists on high alert and stirring speculation about how the move will affect the project and congressional permitting negotiations,” E&E News reports. “This has all the hallmarks of a backroom, Faustian deal with Joe Manchin,” Rep. Jared Huffman of California, a senior Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, said Monday. Widespread confusion — and anxiety — over what might be the motivation behind the letter Granholm sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in support of the project comes as congressional Republicans are eager to pressure Democrats into a deal on overhauling the energy permitting process as part of an agreement to raise the debt ceiling… “Huffman, who is leading a new Climate Action, Energy and Environment Task Force within the Congressional Progressive Caucus, wondered if Granholm’s letter was designed to compel Manchin to “release the hostage” of that fifth FERC commissioner. “She sounds like a cheerleader for the fossil fuel industry; it’s really quite pathetic,” said Huffman to E&E News, who added that he was a “big fan” of Granholm. “But if this is what it takes for Manchin to release his hold on the FERC nominee so we can move forward with FERC reform and streamlining of electricity transmission projects, maybe that’s a necessary evil.” “…Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, told E&E the administration’s actions were “hypocritical” given its support for environmental justice issues. “Literally, the same day [Granholm] is at a White House event celebrating environmental justice, she’s writing a letter to use the power of her agency to put the thumb on the scales against very communities most harmed by these types of projects,” Hartl told E&E… “Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee who led the fight against Manchin’s permitting proposal last year, warned in a statement Monday that “fully greenlighting the pipeline will condemn Appalachian communities to generations of pollution and related health and safety issues, while also doing nothing for our ambitious climate goals.”

Law360: Justices Reopen Fight Over Mountain Valley Pipeline
Tom Lotshaw, 4/24/23

“The U.S. Supreme Court has told the D.C. Circuit to take another look at a case where three landowners are challenging the constitutionality of the statute allowing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to delegate eminent domain authority to a private company for the $6 billion Mountain Valley gas pipeline across West Virginia and Virginia,” Law360 reports. 

The Center Square: Illinois lawmakers, industry, environmentalists and citizens debate CO2 pipelines
Greg Bishop, 4/24/23

“What kinds of regulations there will be on future carbon sequestration projects in Illinois depends on if common ground can be found,” The Center Square reports. “…During a joint hearing of Illinois House and Senate committees Monday, the Sierra Club’s Christine Nannicelli said there’s skepticism the process is a net positive on the environment. “And so we are asking for the state legislature to act and to make sure that Illinois taxpayers, our land and our climate are adequately protected,” Nannicelli said. There are competing bills lawmakers are discussing with environmental groups, industry associations and private citizens… “Illinois Farm Bureau’s Bill Bodine said they have discussed the issues with industry representatives and have gone from opposed to neutral to the industry-favored legislation. “Now the proposal we’ve negotiated with the industry isn’t perfect, we will admit that, but it does create protections for property rights issues associated with carbon storage that we believe will be amongst the strongest in the country,” Bodine said. Central Illinois resident Kathleen Campbell opposes pipelines carrying concentrated CO2 and said while the IFB has its positions, others disagree. “Those of us that live along the pipeline do have a lot of safety concerns and we do not feel they are being addressed,” Campbell told the committees. “I’d also like to mention that four county farm bureaus along the pipeline are in full opposition formerly.” “…Of the proposed Illinois bills, none have advanced out of committee for a full vote.”

Pipeline Fighters Hub: What Did PHMSA’s “Consent Agreement” Over Denbury’s CO2 Pipeline Rupture in Satartia Really Do?
Paul Blackburn, 4/24/23

“On March 24th, 2023, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA) issued a “Consent Agreement” between it and Denbury Gulf Coast Pipelines, LLC, which is the owner of the carbon dioxide pipeline that ruptured near Satartia, Mississippi, on February 22, 2020,” the Pipeline Fighters Hub reports. “According to an independent investigation, this rupture sent 49 people to the hospital, some with long-term injuries, and required the evacuation of 250 more… “It appears that the Consent Agreement may not have required Denbury to take any actions that it had not already completed or imposed any specific operational improvements on Denbury. This situation is like having a person who, due to bald tires, crashes his car into a CO2 pump station causing a rupture that sends 49 people to a hospital, then negotiating a settlement with a district attorney in which he admits no wrongdoing, but agrees to pay $300 (based on a $50,000 per year salary) and promises to replace tires that he has already replaced. The Consent Agreement does give PHMSA authority to monitor and enforce these requirements in the future, but for liability reasons alone it is very likely that Denbury will comply with them, regardless. As are many federal laws, industry has worked with Congress and federal agencies to rig the pipeline regulatory system in favor of pipeline companies. In many ways, Congress has tied PHMSA’s hands, but PHMSA has also limited its own enforcement capacity by adopting vague and difficult to enforce safety standards. The bottom line is that local first responders and citizens should not trust the federal government or pipeline operators to adequately inform them of the risks caused by CO2 pipeline ruptures, or to provide them with meaningful support immediately after a rupture. Instead, they should protect themselves by seeking the information they need to conduct proactive local planning, preparation, training, and public education. Local agencies and residents near pipelines should see themselves as being full partners in CO2 pipeline rupture planning and response, and not helpless victims.”

Pipeline Fighters Hub: Webinar: Analysis of PHMSA Report on Denbury CO2 Pipeline Rupture in Satartia, MS
Mark Hefflinger, 4/24/23

“On this Pipeline Fighters Hub webinar, Pipeline Safety Trust executive director Bill Caram, and Bold Alliance attorney Paul Blackburn provided an overview and analysis, and then answered attendees’ questions about the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) recently issued “Consent Order and Agreement” with pipeline operator Denbury, whose pipeline carrying supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) ruptured in Satartia, Mississippi in 2020. The toxic plume of 31,405 barrels of CO2 released caused the entire town to be evacuated and sent 45 people to the hospital, reporting symptoms of CO2 poisoning and oxygen deprivation. According to PHMSA, Denbury had several areas of non-compliance that exacerbated the failure’s effects on the community of Satartia. Most critical were that Denbury did not notify local responders to advise them of the failure (nor train them how to handle one before the incident happened), address the risks of geohazards to its pipeline system, or correctly determine the areas that could be affected by a CO2 release in its plume dispersion modeling. The discussion focused on the implications of this Order on other potential CO2 pipeline operators besides Denbury (Summit, Navigator, Wolf et al.) that are currently proposing massive CO2 pipelines spanning the Midwest that would endanger countless communities and first responders in their paths.”

KPFA: Against the Grain: Popular Protest Against Oil Pipelines

“Many have concluded that the climate emergency will only be addressed by mass collective action,” KPFA reports.  “But given the small size of the U.S. left, who would populate such a movement? Scholar and participant-activist Kai Bosworth draws lessons from the struggles against the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines in the Upper Midwest, which brought together a broad coalition of opponents, ranging from anti-capitalist to landowners. He discusses the populist side of that movement — its openings and limitations, including xenophobia and nationalism.”

KCAL: Huntington Beach oil spill settlement wins final approval

“A federal judge in Santa Ana signed off final approval of a $50 million settlement of a lawsuit involving the pipeline oil leak that gushed thousands of gallons of crude into the ocean off Huntington Beach in 2021,” KCAL reports. “U.S. District Judge David O. Carter gave final approval to the lawsuit against Amplify Energy… “Another significant improvement was that when a leak is observed a notice will go out to everyone involved all at once instead of relying on a chain of people, Aitken told KCAL. Another key to the settlement is the way claims will be paid out, Aitken told KCAL. A system was worked out so that the fishers and other merchants affected by the oil spill will get checks directly without having to fill out a claim form, Aitken told KCAL. Of the $50 million Amplify Energy will pay to settle the lawsuit, $34 million will go to a class of fishers, $9 million will go to property owners and about $7 million goes to the tourism industry such as whale watching companies, Aitken told KCAL… “The next big step is preliminary approval of a $45 million settlement with the two shipping companies that damaged the pipeline, the MSC Danit and M/V Beijing… “All told, about 25,000 gallons of oil seeped into the ocean from the ruptured 16-inch pipeline, which is submerged about 4.7 miles west of Huntington Beach… “More than a dozen companies doing business in the region sued Amplify Energy Corp. for damages resulting from the spill. Fishing resumed in late November 2021 along the Orange County coast, following a two-month shutdown of fisheries due to the spill.”

WSPY: Plano residents displeased over pipeline replacement
Doug Nelson, 4/24/23

“Earlier this month, TC Energy began replacing a 700-foot section of natural gas pipeline in Plano’s northwest side neighborhood of Lakewood Springs Unit 6,” WSPY reports. “…Residents of the neighborhood are upset as they did not receive notice of the work and did not know that the woodland behind their neighborhood sat on a right of way for the pipeline. When TC Energy began cutting down trees, neighbors were upset. Plano Mayor Mike Rennels told WSPY that 2005 planning documents for Lakewood Springs Unit 6 spelled out that the TC Energy pipeline would keep the right of way above the pipeline clear of large trees, and that the current work is allowed by agreements between the City of Plano and the subdivision’s original creators. Rennels also told WSPY that the replacement of the pipe was due to regulations regarding population density near pipelines, and that all site soil mitigation and control during pipeline replacement was permitted by the Kendall County Zoning Department… “Residents of Lakewood Springs, however, have not been shy about expressing their dissatisfaction… “Some residents have said that the pipeline has offered to create a trail or soccer field. Most residents seem to just want a wooded lot, according to email traffic shared with WSPY.”


E&E News: Supreme Court unlocks climate cases by rejecting oil industry bid
Lesley Clark, 4/5/23

“The Supreme Court’s decision to reject a batch of climate liability petitions from oil companies paves the way for a flood of lawsuits against the industry to be heard in state courts from Maryland to Hawaii,” E&E News reports. “The high court on Monday turned down five requests from the oil industry to intervene in cases brought by a dozen municipalities. The decision involves a narrow slice of law — whether climate lawsuits against the fossil fuel industry should be heard by state or federal judges — but the outcome could be sweeping. The move stands to accelerate nearly two dozen climate lawsuits filed by states and municipalities that have been stalled for years by oil industry efforts to move the cases from state to federal court, where the companies believe they have a better chance to win. The lawsuits ask for compensation to help pay for local responses to the effects of climate change. “The high court’s decision is a major victory for communities across the country that are fighting to hold Big Oil accountable and make them pay for the climate damages they knowingly caused,” Richard Wiles, president of the Center for Climate Integrity, which backs the cases, told E&E. “Now it’s time for these polluters to face the evidence of their deception in court.” “…Nearly two dozen local governments from Hawaii to Delaware have filed climate liability lawsuits, seeking compensation for the costs of responding to eroding coasts, raging wildfires and other effects of a warming planet… “The Supreme Court decision Monday could persuade other communities to file similar litigation, Korey Silverman-Roati, a climate law fellow at the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School, told E&E… “The decision will also help challengers in 12 other cases argue that their lawsuits against fossil fuel companies should be heard in state court, rather than federal court, he told E&E. “If the cases move towards discovery and trial, the governments would aim to gather more evidence that fossil fuel companies knew that their products would cause climate disasters, deceptively marketed them as safe, and as a result, communities have been on the hook for billions in repairs,” Silverman-Roati told E&E… “The high court’s decision Monday came after six federal appeals courts rejected the industry’s arguments that the lawsuits belong in federal court.”

New York Times: E.P.A. to Propose First Controls on Greenhouse Gases From Power Plants
Coral Davenport and Lisa Friedman, 4/22/23

“President Biden’s administration is poised to announce limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that could compel them to capture the pollution from their smokestacks, technology now used by fewer than 20 of the nation’s 3,400 coal and gas-fired plants, according to three people who were briefed on the rule,” the New York Times reports. “If implemented, the proposed regulation would be the first time the federal government has restricted carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, which generate about 25 percent of the planet-warming pollution produced by the United States. It would also apply to future plants. Almost all coal and gas-fired power plants would have to cut or capture nearly all of their carbon dioxide emissions by 2040, according to the people familiar with the regulation, who asked not to be identified because the rule has not been made public… “It would not mandate the use of carbon capture equipment, a nascent and expensive technology; rather, it would set caps on pollution rates that plant operators would have to meet. They could do that by using a different technology or, in the case of gas plants, switching to a fuel source like green hydrogen, which does not emit carbon, according to the people familiar with the matter. But the regulation could lead to the broader adoption of carbon capture technology, the people told the Times… “Some environmental groups are also critical of carbon capture technology, arguing that it makes more sense to switch to wind, solar and other clean energy sources that don’t pollute in the first place… “A 2021 report by a group of 600 global investors, including BlackRock, State Street Global Advisors and other top shareholders of U.S. investor-owned utilities, said the high costs of carbon capture “make it a risky and potentially expensive decarbonization strategy.” “…Once considered by many to be a boondoggle, the technology has matured. The Biden administration is investing billions in research and demonstration projects to advance it further. And while there are only about 40 power plants with the equipment worldwide, that number is growing, albeit slowly.”

E&E News: Biden’s newest big climate rule will rest on rarely used technology
Jean Chemnick, 4/24/23

“The Biden administration’s upcoming attack on one of the nation’s largest contributors to climate change is expected to rest on a novel technology for capturing power plants’ greenhouse gas pollution, according to two people familiar with the deliberations,” E&E News reports. “…They say the proposal would require power companies to capture most of their carbon emissions rather than letting it enter the atmosphere. No commercial power plants in the United States use carbon-capturing technology now, but the agency views it as ready to be used widely, the two people familiar with the discussions told E&E. EPA is poised to release the two power plant rules near the end of the week, the people told E&E. One rule would target existing coal- and natural-gas-fired plants, and the other would address new gas plants… “We’ve been encouraged by what we’ve heard from EPA” about the power plant proposal, “and what we’ve seen from them in other rules,” Lissa Lynch, director of the federal legal group for the Natural Resources Defense Council, told E&E… “Coal plants that are scheduled to retire and gas units that run at times of peak demand will face laxer standards. New gas plants will be given a schedule by which they must begin using carbon capture systems or meet an alternative standard based on hydrogen… “Environmentalists say carbon capture has been adequately demonstrated even though it hasn’t been widely deployed.”

E&E News: CCS policy road map calls for tax credit, safety changes
Carlos Anchondo, 4/24/23

“One of the biggest U.S. supporters of carbon capture technology called Monday for adjusting a federal tax credit as part of a new policy blueprint, following a report from the International Energy Agency that found a need to boost capture capacity significantly by 2030,” E&E News reports. “The outline from the Carbon Capture Coalition — a consortium of companies, policy organizations and other groups that support carbon management — includes a spate of federal recommendations aimed at expanding both carbon capture and carbon removal… “The U.S. industry is at an inflection point, Jessie Stolark, the Carbon Capture Coalition’s executive director, told E&E. With billions of dollars flowing into the sector because of last year’s federal Inflation Reduction Act, there’s “tremendous interest and energy,” she told E&E.

New York Times: Many Young Voters Bitter Over Biden’s Support of Willow Oil Drilling
Lisa Friedman, 4/24/23

“In the past three weeks, President Biden’s administration has proposed regulations to speed the transition to electric vehicles, committed $1 billion to help poor countries fight climate change and prepared what could be the first limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants,” the New York Times reports. “And yet, many young voters alarmed by climate change remain angry with Mr. Biden’s decision last month to approve Willow, an $8 billion oil drilling project on pristine federal land in Alaska. As the president prepares to announce his bid for re-election, it’s not at all clear that those voters who helped him win in 2020 because of his commitment to climate action will turn out again. Alex Haraus, 25, told the Times he and other young people felt betrayed by the Willow decision, after Mr. Biden had pledged as a candidate that he would end new oil drilling on public lands “period, period, period.” Mr. Haraus, whose videos on TikTok opposing the Willow project amassed hundreds of thousands of views, described his reaction as “mad and frustrated and disappointed.” About a dozen young climate activists interviewed told the Times they were not assuaged by the other actions by the Biden administration, even if they significantly draw down greenhouse gas emissions that are dangerously heating the planet, Mr. Haraus said. What they want, he told the Times, is for the president to rein in oil and gas companies, which enjoyed record profits last year. “I don’t think any of those things encourage people to forgive the Biden administration for projects like Willow,” Mr. Haraus, who lives outside Chicago, told the Times. “Young voters see our future getting thrown out the window. We need Biden to take on the industry, otherwise there’s not much for us to hope for.” Young voters overwhelmingly — about 62 percent — support phasing out fossil fuels entirely, Alec Tyson, an associate director of research at Pew Research Center, told the Times… “Michele Weindling, electoral director of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led environmental group, told the Times young people want to see Mr. Biden fight. “This was a cultural moment for my generation,” Ms. Weindling said of Willow. “It was a huge moment to say ‘No’ to the oil and gas industry,” she told the Times. “It was a moment for President Biden to show us, what side are you on? He chose the wrong side. That makes our job a lot harder, to tell Generation Z and young voters that Biden will live up to his climate promises.”

Natural Gas Intelligence: DOE Denies Lake Charles LNG Request to Extend Start of Exports

“The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has denied an Energy Transfer LP affiliate’s request to again extend the deadline for starting exports from its proposed Lake Charles LNG facility in Louisiana,” Natural Gas Intelligence reports. “In an order denying the application for an “unprecedented second extension,” DOE said Friday that the project had failed to show good cause for it. The agency sided with environmental groups that oppose the plant, finding the company’s arguments for the project’s stalled development were generalized. In a policy statement issued the same day, DOE reaffirmed its expectations that LNG projects should be able to start exporting the super-chilled fuel within seven years of receiving export authorization. DOE also said it would not consider applications for extending the seven-year deadline unless a project has both started construction and can demonstrate that “extenuating circumstances outside of its control” are to blame for delays. Projects with export licenses that are unable to demonstrate such circumstances could apply for a new authorization. DOE said the policy would increase transparency for license holders and “pending applicants who have not yet commenced exports, while providing greater certainty about DOE’s approvals for the LNG export market.” ClearView Energy Partners LLC said the policy would prevent license holders from deferring construction indefinitely.”


Denver Post: Colorado Democrats weaken oil and gas permitting bill after facing opposition from Gov. Jared Polis

“Colorado Democrats stripped a massive oil and gas permitting bill of its most stringent measures late Thursday night in an effort to garner support from Gov. Jared Polis and to improve its chances of making it through a legislative session that is swiftly nearing its end,” the Denver Post reports. “Almost all of the air-quality provisions of HB23-1294 that would have made it more difficult for oil and gas companies to receive new drilling permits were removed by the bill’s sponsors during a House committee meeting that ended after 10:30 p.m. and drew comments from nearly 140 supporters and opponents, the latter of which were led by the oil and gas industry… “A provision that would have required state regulators to perform a modeling analysis of potential air pollution before companies applied for a permit with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission was removed. The oil and gas industry had complained that step would slow down the permitting process so much that new permits essentially would be impossible to get. The bill’s sponsors retained provisions that will enhance the complaint process for citizens who find oil and gas operators have violated state and federal air emissions regulations… “If we’re ever going to address our ozone crisis, we have to talk about permitting reforms,” Becca Curry, Colorado policy counsel for EarthJustice, told the Post. “While our focus has been on reducing pollution, we cannot have faith we’re going get back into compliance with ozone standards unless we look closely at how we are bringing new sources online.” “…The bill “is unworkable and the policies it seeks to compel would do no less than shutter the industrial processes upon which hundreds of thousands of Coloradans rely for work, let alone the millions who depend on the products and services they provide,” Lynn Granger, Midwest and Mountain West Region director for the American Petroleum Institute, said during Thursday’s hearing.

KTVH: Montana House endorses bill removing greenhouse gas emissions from environmental reviews
Jonathon Ambarian, 4/21/23

“The Montana House has given initial approval to a bill introduced late this session that seeks to revise the state’s rules for environmental reviews, in response to a court decision that stopped work on a proposed natural gas-fired power plant near Laurel,” KTVH reports. “…The bill would prevent the state from considering greenhouse gas emissions or their potential impacts on climate change when doing an environmental review on a proposed project. “House Bill 971 makes it clear that, until the federal government by the act of Congress mandates that carbon is a regulated pollutant, or unless and until Montana policymakers enact laws to regulate carbon, a procedural review does not include climate analysis,” Kassmier said.The vote comes just two weeks after a judge in Yellowstone County put a halt on NorthWestern Energy’s construction of the 175-megawatt Laurel Generating Station. On April 6, District Court Judge Michael Moses ruled the Montana Department of Environmental Quality had failed to take the required “hard look” at greenhouse gas emissions and lighting impacts when granting an air quality permit for the project. He vacated the permit and ordered DEQ to do additional analysis.

South Dakota Searchlight: State regulators propose, then roll back, stricter environmental requirements for oil wells

“State regulators proposed stricter environmental requirements for three oil wells in South Dakota but are poised to roll back some of the requirements after the affected company objected,” South Dakota Searchlight reports. “The company is Citation Oil & Gas Corp. of Houston, Texas. It’s attempting to renew an expiring surface-water discharge permit for three wells – including one that’s not currently producing – in South Dakota’s Harding County… “Citation needs a discharge permit because its wells bring up water from deep underground with oil. The company uses chemicals, heat and gravity to separate the oil from the water. The separated water flows from treatment tanks into a manmade detention pond, and some water drains into nearby tributaries that lead to creeks. The creeks provide water for fish, wildlife, livestock, irrigation and recreation… “Water discharged from oil wells may contain substances such as dissolved solids, petroleum hydrocarbons, radium, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene… “Citation contends that unreasonable limitations are being established in the draft permit such that undue harm may occur to both Citation and the landowner without any environmental justification,” the letter said, in part.

Associated Press: Groups push US land managers for lasting Chaco protections

“Native American activists and environmentalists are pushing the U.S. Interior Department to move ahead with its promise to include tribal perspectives when making management decisions that could affect culturally significant areas beyond the boundaries of Chaco Culture National Historical Park,” the Associated Press reports. “A coalition of more than 20 groups and individuals sent a letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Wednesday saying oil and gas development in northwestern New Mexico remains a threat and that they want the agency to halt leasing until cumulative effects on cultural resources and the environment can be addressed. The letter includes recommendations that supporters say would ensure lasting protections for an expansive area around the national park. One includes the creation of a tribal advisory committee and an environmental justice advisory committee with authority to inform resource development on federal lands… “The groups suggest that pausing development is within the agency’s authority and would be in line with the Biden administration’s policy mandates… “The debate over closing off a 10-mile (16-kilometer) radius around the park has pitted the Navajo Nation against other tribes in the region. Some Navajos have called for a smaller area to be protected as a way to preserve the royalties and other revenues that some families depend on.”


Wall Street Journal: America’s Oil Patch Loses Its Luster
Jinjoo Lee, 4/24/23

“The oil-field services sector is still humming along, but its clients are casting their gaze past America’s once-booming shale patch,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “…While spending on short-cycle U.S. shale powered the growth of oil-field services companies last year, long-cycle international spending is expected to take center stage in 2023. SLB said on Friday that the North American land market could see a plateau in activity this year as low natural-gas prices make it uneconomic for some producers to drill for the commodity… “Domestic oil-drilling activity has also been weak. The U.S. oil rig count has dropped almost every week since early February, according to Baker Hughes data… “Both SLB and Baker Hughes lowered their expectations for North American spending growth this year… “Additionally, major international oil companies that previously held back on expensive, long-cycle offshore drilling projects have again embraced it after generating prodigious cash flows last year. Investors have become more receptive to such projects after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine highlighted the importance of energy security, Michael Bradley, partner at Veriten, an energy-focused research and investment firm, told the Journal… “Weakness in North American short-cycle activity notwithstanding, oil-field services firms’ unwavering pipeline of long-cycle contracts signal that the world’s producers, whether major European oil companies or national oil companies, are still in the fossil-fuel business for the long haul.”

APTN News: Alberta regulator won’t say when it knew of Kearl tar sands spill
Fraser Needham, 4/24/23

“The head of the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) refused to tell a parliamentary committee on Monday when the provincial government was notified of the Kearl tar sands tailings pond spill,” APTN News reports. “Well we do have a review that’s being conducted by our board of directors and so I think it would be best to leave that…,” AER CEO Laurie Pushor told the environment and sustainability committee before being interrupted by Alberta NDP MP Heather McPherson. “So you can’t tell us the date that you let the provincial government that this was happening?” she asked. Pushor responded, “I think it’s best that we let that review be a full independent review and all of those questions will be addressed in that review and the board has made a commitment that those findings will be released publicly.” “…With all due respect, I have just received information from Indigenous communities that says they have not been informed of the deep water monitoring that AER is conducting,” McPherson replied… “We are very concerned that the Dene were not informed about this disastrous incident and the obvious health and environmental risk associated with the leaks and also the spills,” said AFN Regional Chief for N.W.T. Gerald Antoine. “This indeed is an emergency.”

Reuters: Alberta’s energy regulator apologises for poor communication around tailings leak
Nia Williams, 4/24/23

“The CEO of the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) on Monday apologised for his organisation’s failure to fully inform local Indigenous communities about a toxic tailings leak from Imperial Oil’s Kearl oil sands mine in northern Alberta,” Reuters reports. “Appearing before a parliamentary committee in Ottawa, Laurie Pushor echoed an apology made by Imperial’s CEO last week. His comments come after representatives of First Nations and Métis communities called on the regulator to be disbanded. “It is clear that neither Imperial nor the AER met community expectations to ensure they are fully aware of what is and what was happening. And for that I am truly sorry,” Pushor said. Imperial, a unit of Exxon Mobil Corp, first spotted discolored water pooling near its Kearl site in May. The company informed the AER and local Indigenous communities, but failed to tell those communities the water contained tailings until February, after a second leak… “The AER is investigating Imperial’s conduct throughout the incident, while the AER’s board of directors has launched an independent review of the regulator’s internal process.”


Reuters: Climate activists spray protests on U.S. bank offices on eve of annual meetings
Tatiana Bautzer, 4/24/23

“Climate protesters spray painted graffiti on Citigroup Inc (C.N) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC.N) offices in New York’s Bryant Park on Monday, accusing the banks of being “climate criminals” a day before the lenders are scheduled to hold their annual shareholder meetings,” Reuters reports. “The largest banks in the world invest hundreds of billions of dollars in new fossil fuel infrastructure,” Jim Gordon, one of the protesters outside the Citigroup office in midtown Manhattan, told Reuters. “I’m not generally a person that likes to go out in the street and do things like this, but I have grandkids and I’m terrified for their future.” “…The protesters represented groups that included Climate Organizing Hub, Extinction Rebellion, Green Faith, Oil and Gas Network and Stop the Money Pipeline. They planned protests at the headquarters of the biggest U.S. banks on Monday before their annual general meetings on Tuesday, including Citigroup in New York, Bank of America in Charlotte, North Carolina and Wells Fargo in San Francisco… “Pressure has been building on major U.S. banks to commit to stopping funding for new fossil fuel projects. The actions outside the biggest U.S. banks will mirror several shareholder resolutions urging banks to phase out funding for new oil, gas, and coal development.”

Washington Post: Should banks curb lending to fossil fuel companies? Shareholders weigh in this week
Maxine Joselow, 4/25/23

“Shareholders of Citi, Wells Fargo and Bank of America will vote today on several resolutions demanding the banks set stronger climate targets and stop financing fossil fuels,” the Washington Post reports. “Although not legally binding, successful shareholder resolutions put pressure on a company’s board of directors to execute them — or risk being voted out. The climate resolutions are not expected to garner the majority support needed to pass. But activists believe even 10 to 15 percent support would dial up the pressure on the nation’s biggest banks to do more to address climate change, even as conservative lawmakers scold businesses that prioritize environmental causes rather than pure profits… “Resolutions filed by Harrington Investments at Citigroup, by Trillium Asset Management at Bank of America and by Sierra Club Foundation at Wells Fargo call on the banks to stop lending to fossil fuel companies developing new oil, gas and coal projects. This year, the boards of all three banks have again urged shareholders to vote against the resolutions, with Citi’s board warning that “a timebound commitment to phase out fossil fuels, without ensuring continued access to energy, could lead to a disorderly transition that fails to accommodate critical energy security considerations and the workers and communities that could be harmed.” But climate activists are undaunted. “What may sound like a really small dissent from shareholders can send a really powerful message to corporate management,” Ben Cushing, who directs the Sierra Club’s Fossil-Free Finance campaign, told the Post. “So we’ll definitely be watching to see how the vote total may grow from last year. These votes can grow over time and are often multiyear efforts.”

Bloomberg: These Anti-ESG Republicans Are Longtime Supporters of Green Power
Saijel Kishan and Ari Natter, 4/20/23

“Some key Republican senators who’ve slammed Wall Street’s efforts to tackle climate change are themselves big supporters of green energy,” Bloomberg reports. “The list includes Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, Mike Crapo of Idaho and Mitt Romney from Utah. All three have criticized environmental, social and governance investing—which helps channel money to clean energy—and opposed President Joe Biden’s landmark Inflation Reduction Act and its climate provisions. But each has been a long-time advocate of renewable energy in their home states, and in some cases received campaign contributions from businesses that stood to gain. From where he sits, Grassley doesn’t see a conflict between his criticism of ESG in Washington and his green advocacy at home. His spokesman, Taylor Foy, told Bloomberg ESG involves “coercive elements” that are contrary to Grassley’s view that capital markets should drive a low-cost shift to cleaner energy. While it’s no secret politicians sometimes say one thing and do another, the disconnect between words and actions is particularly stark when it involves ESG—a huge financial business that’s been vilified by Republicans. While their financial backers in Big Oil and other polluting industries are pushing opposition to sustainable energy, their constituents are likely to reward them for bringing green jobs to their states. The IRA will potentially spark trillions of dollars in investments for everything from solar energy to charging stations. In addition to Iowa, Idaho and Utah, many of the new electric vehicle and battery factories that stand to benefit are being built in GOP-run states like Tennessee, Ohio and Georgia. And though every Republican in Congress opposed the law, many have touted the billions of climate dollars that will soon be landing in their districts as a result. “These are contradictions,” Cary Krosinsky, who teaches sustainable investing at Yale and Brown universities, told Bloomberg. “Republicans run the danger of advocating against things they are otherwise already doing and encouraging.”

CNBC: State leaders targeting climate investing have quiet stakes in the fossil fuel industry
Brian Schwartz, 4/24/23

“A handful of state financial officers who have criticized environmental, social and governance investing own stakes in the fossil fuel industry, according to their financial disclosures,” CNBC reports. “The investments could pose conflicts of interest, as those oil and gas companies could suffer from wider adoption of clean energy, according to ethics experts. Republicans have increasingly criticized ESG investing platforms and pulled state funds away from BlackRock and other firms that have adopted them… “In October, Scott Fitzpatrick, then-treasurer of Missouri, announced his state would pull $500 million out of pension funds managed by BlackRock… “As he homed in on BlackRock, Fitzpatrick quietly held a financial stake in a massive fossil fuel company that could suffer from the broader adoption of alternative energy. Fitzpatrick and his wife owned a more than $10,000 stake in Chevron during both of 2022 and 2021, according to his latest financial disclosures filed with the state. Fitzpatrick is among a group of powerful Republican state leaders who have waged similar fights against environmentally conscious investing as they held personal investments in, or saw political support from, the fossil fuel industry. A handful of state financial officers who have similarly attacked ESG practices owned stock or bonds in oil, gas or other fossil fuel companies in recent years, according to the latest state financial disclosure reports reviewed by CNBC. Some of the state officials have received campaign donations from fossil fuel companies or their executives… “This is a problem that we have elected officials at the federal and state level that are simply not willing to avoid personal financial conflicts of interest,” Richard Painter, who was the chief White House ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, told CNBC in an interview. “You could have someone own stock in a company and pursue policy that could benefit that company. What’s good for Exxon Mobil’s stock is not necessarily good for America.”


Enbridge: Listening, learning and redefining Indigenous partnerships

“Enbridge’s goal to be the “first-choice partner” for Indigenous Nations interested in pursuing energy infrastructure opportunities is taking shape,” according to Enbridge. “Listening. Learning. Adapting. Understanding that the word “partnership” may mean something different to each and every Indigenous Nation on the continent… “Greg Ebel, recently appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of North America’s leading energy infrastructure company, shared this hopeful and plausible vision today in Vancouver at the sixth annual Values Driven Economy conference, presented by the First Nations Major Projects Coalition (FNMPC), where he spoke in front of leaders of more than 130 Indigenous communities across Canada… “Over the past several years, Enbridge has pioneered a structure for Indigenous equity ownership in major infrastructure projects. The efforts and the lessons learned have helped define the company’s values, Ebel said. “We want to build partnerships with Indigenous Nations. We continue to listen to and learn from Indigenous leaders and communities, and that’s informing how we engage communities in B.C. and across North America,” he said… “Partners in Enbridge’s proposed open access CO2 transportation and storage hub (the Wabamun Hub) near Edmonton include four Treaty Six First Nations that could own up to a 50% interest in the project… “We won’t assume that everyone wants the same thing,” he said. “We see ourselves as leaders in the energy transition, and (see) Indigenous partnerships as critical to achieving that transition.”


Bloomberg: Even Fox News Admits Climate Change Is Real Now
Mark Gongloff, 4/24/23

“The good news is that after nearly half a century, 1.1C of global heating and countless natural disasters, people for the most part finally accept the basic science of human-caused climate change. The bad news is that they still don’t seem willing to do very much about it,” Mark Gongloff writes for Bloomberg. “A new study of TV coverage of the 2021 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found few expressions of doubt about the basic science of anthropogenic global warming — almost all of which were confined to right-wing media such as Fox News. And even Fox has mostly morphed, relative to coverage of previous IPCC reports, from questioning the reality and causes of climate change to doubts about its severity and the need to take action… “Conservatives, the study notes, now generally acknowledge climate change is real and caused by humans. But they also suggest aggressive climate action will hurt economic growth, fuel inflation, punish low- and middle-income families and foster energy insecurity. They argue other polluting countries, particularly China, should act first. As has long been the case for climate skeptics — going back to the days when Exxon contradicted the science of its own researchers — the goal seems to be delaying the transition to renewable energy for as long as possible. “Any definitive shift towards response skepticism across the media, such as vocal opposition to net zero policies, represents an important new challenge to climate action,” Oxford researcher James Painter wrote in a column about his study. Such arguments may already be having a real impact. Foot-dragging on climate is everywhere you look… “Meanwhile, Republican politicians in the US are attacking banks, money managers and companies for trying to hasten the transition to renewable energy. Fortunately, companies are starting to push back, because all basically now agree that climate change isn’t just some liberal obsession but a real and growing threat to business.”

The Hill: Europe backs off climate push as voters rebel — will Biden take note?
Liz Peek is a former partner of major bracket Wall Street firm Wertheim & Company, 4/24/23

“There is a lesson here for President Biden. Unfortunately, he and his White House climate zealots are unlikely to learn from what is going on across the Atlantic,” Liz Peek writes for The Hill. “Ironically, it is the French Green Party that most recently tried to block plans pushed by the European Parliament to put a carbon tax on fuel used in heating and transport. Its members fear that the measure will reignite the protests of the Gilets Jaunes, the yellow vest group that emerged overnight to oppose a proposed carbon tax on diesel fuel and whose protests all but shut down France… “The proposal to force businesses to buy emissions allowances on fuel and heating would increase household costs by an estimated 50 percent — too much to be politically acceptable… “Here at home, as it barrels toward a fanciful green economy devoid of gasoline-powered cars, the Biden White House is ignoring polling that shows decidedly tepid enthusiasm for electric vehicles… “Biden especially needs to re-energize climate voters since he did the unthinkable and allowed Chevron to drill on Alaska’s North Slope. Greenlighting the Big Willow project breached the president’s campaign promise to halt drilling on federal lands and marred his almost perfect anti-oil record. Before Biden proceeds further down the new green road, he should consider that his aggressive (some say impossible) and expensive proposals could cost the climate effort significant popular support. It is happening in Europe, and it could happen here.”

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