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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 4/27/23

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

By Mark Hefflinger

April 27, 2023



  • Dakota News Now: Brown County approves hazardous pipeline ordinance

  • Oelwein Daily Register: Carbon pipeline protest reaches Whitver’s door

  • Iowa Capital Dispatch: Senate Ethics Committee does not discipline lawmakers on pipeline, social media complaints

  • Illinois Times: A pause on the pipeline

  • Edwardsville Intelligencer: State lawmakers consider carbon capture regulations

  • Reuters: Canada Energy Regulator says injury halts work on Trans Mountain expansion project

  • WPBN: Michigan Dems send letter to Biden regarding Line 5 litigation

  • The Center Square: Enbridge spokesman: Army Corps of Engineers’ tunnel approval process too long

  • Law360: Shell, Property Owners Spar Over 9th Circ. Panel Rehearing

  • Iowa Utilities Board: IUB approves permit application for NuStar hazardous liquid pipeline

  • Farm and Dairy: Appeals court halts plans for pipeline through preserved Union Co. farm

  • Penn Capital Star: ACLU report examines ‘pipeline’ legislation in Pa.


  • Washington Post: Exclusive: Reps. Casten, Levin unveil permitting proposal

  • E&E News: Greens Sue For Oil And Gas Leasing Phaseout 

  • E&E News: Biden’s unfinished climate business


  • Colorado Newsline: ‘Extreme risk’ posed by Utah oil train proposal, Colorado AG Weiser warns feds

  • Wisconsin Public Radio: 5 years after an explosion, the process to restart Wisconsin’s only oil refinery is underway

  • Grist: In ‘Cancer Alley,’ a teacher called to fight


  • Reuters: Carbon capture project in Norway temporarily halted by high costs

  • Reuters: Canada oil sands leak heightens First Nations’ calls to clean up tailings

  • Bloomberg: Oil Patch Is Poised for Buyout Wave as US Drillers Seek New Land


  • Bloomberg: Goldman Investors Reject Proposals for Tougher Climate Goals

  • Reuters: TotalEnergies sheds Canadian oil sands, promises to reward shareholders

  • Reuters: Venture firms unite to guide startups on net zero

  • Energy News Network: The higher education divestment movement has arrived in Virginia



  • Common Dreams: Despite Environmental Justice Pledge, Biden Disrespects People Like Me in Path of Fracked Gas Pipeline

  • New Times SLO: Exxon’s corroded pipeline 

  • Financial Times: Big Oil should play its part in the energy transition

  • Gizmodo: Don’t Fall for the New GOP Environmentalism


Dakota News Now: Brown County approves hazardous pipeline ordinance
Sarah Parkin, 4/26/23

“Less than a year after passing a pipeline moratorium, Brown County has approved a 1,500 foot pipeline setback ordinance,” Dakota News Now reports. “The setback ordinance will directly impact Summit Carbon Solutions’ carbon sequestration pipeline project… “Some landowners and concerned citizens have been vocally opposed to the project, fearing Summit will utilize eminent domain if easements can’t be obtained. Those landowners were hoping for setbacks as far as 2 miles. “The consensus from the landowners was pretty much that they felt it should be even farther than the 1,500 feet that our ordinance says, primarily for safety reasons,” said Brown County Commission Chair Duane Sutton. When researching for the setback ordinance, Sutton said the Planning and Zoning Department found 1,500 feet from the plot line was safe and could be reasonably upheld should the ordinance be taken to a judge… “Lincoln County is considering setbacks as far as 2,500 feet, but neighboring Minnehaha County is proposing only a 750 foot setback. As for what Summit Carbon Solutions wants, no one really knows. ”They have yet to give us a number. They had every opportunity to say, ‘We think it should be 50 feet.’ At least then, they’ve gone on record saying, ‘This is what we’d like to see,’” Sutton told DNN… “While the ordinance will require a 1,500 foot setback, Summit could obtain waivers from landowners to bypass the setback… “On the same day, a letter from a McPherson County employee circulated to landowners. The letter was an invitation to a private meeting with Summit Carbon Solutions on behalf of one of their employees, Trevor Jones. The letter was sent to McPherson County Commissioners, but advised that only two commissioners attend in order to avoid a quorum that would make the meeting public. This sparked fear that Summit Carbon Solutions was attempting to lower the setback distance in the ordinance, but Sutton said he attended a previous meeting along with first responders in the county. No private information was shared at the meeting and no action was taken. Mainly, Summit discussed its safety plans should the pipeline leak.” “…Lincoln County has formed an ad hoc committee to discuss their setback ordinance, and that committee is set to meet on May 15th. The Minnehaha County Commission will review their pipeline ordinance on May 23rd.”

Oelwein Daily Register: Carbon pipeline protest reaches Whitver’s door
Shane Butterfield, 4/26/23

“With the end of the current legislative session fast approaching and further action on regulating carbon pipelines stalled, more than two dozen members of the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) rallied against the construction of the pipelines at the state Capitol Tuesday, taking their protest to the office door of Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver before they were dispersed to the building’s lower level by law enforcement,” the Oelwein Daily Register reports. “In staging the protest, the Iowa CCI, a non-profit community organizing group which, according to its Twitter page, “has been fighting for social, economic, environmental and racial justice since 1975,” was responding to what it perceived as a lack of responsiveness on the part of Senate leadership in putting up for a vote House File 565 in its original form, which would impose strict new regulations on companies wishing to build carbon capture pipelines in the state. “After hundreds of calls, emails, letters, and meeting requests were ignored by the Senate Majority Leader,” the CCI explained in a Tuesday press release, “CCI members went to his office to deliver their demands directly.” “…Tuesday’s CCI action at the Capitol included protestors marching to Whitver’s office, where they were instructed by office staff that they were currently dealing with “other issues,” according to a portion of the encounter recorded and posted on the CCI’s Twitter page. “Hundreds of people have reached out, and have been ignored,” said one protester, in response, “so what are we supposed to do?”

Iowa Capital Dispatch: Senate Ethics Committee does not discipline lawmakers on pipeline, social media complaints

“The Iowa Senate Ethics Committee did not take disciplinary action Wednesday against either of two senators accused of ethics violations,” the Iowa Capital Dispatch reports. “One of the complaints accused Sen. Mike Bousselot, R-Ankeny, of a conflict of interest in his management of legislation dealing with liquid carbon dioxide pipelines… “Barb Kalbach, an Adair County farmer and board member of the activist organization Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, filed the complaint against Bousselot for failing to schedule a subcommittee meeting on House File 565. The bill would require pipeline companies to gain voluntary easements for 90% of their planned routes before they could use eminent domain for the remainder of the route. The House passed the legislation with bipartisan support in March, but it was not taken up for consideration by the Senate before the second funnel deadline. Bousselot told the Cedar Rapids Gazette there was not sufficient time to schedule a subcommittee meeting before the deadline. The ethics complaint states Bousselot violated the Senate code of ethics’ requirement “to strive to avoid both unethical and illegal conduct and the appearance of unethical and illegal conduct” by not scheduling a meeting because of his ties with one of the pipeline companies that would be affected by the bill. The senator previously worked as managing director and head of external relations of Summit Agriculture Group, which owns Summit Carbon Solutions, one of the three companies planning to build a carbon dioxide pipeline in Iowa. The complaint said Bousselot’s connections with Bruce Rastetter, CEO of Summit Agricultural Group and a large Republican donor, as well as with former Gov. Terry Branstad, who serves as a senior policy adviser for Summit Carbon Solutions, constitute a conflict of interest. Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, an ethics committee member, said she spent a “sleepless night” reading over the complaint documents and Senate code of ethics… “Senator Bousselot has at the very least, exercised questionable judgment and at worse, engaged in the appearance of unethical conduct,” Jochum said. “This is one of those times when a senator should have declined to serve as a subcommittee chair of a bill that had a direct financial gain for Summit Solutions.” The committee unanimously approved the decision to not take action unless further information is provided. Bousselot criticized the complaint in a news release Wednesday, saying it was “as preposterous and partisan as the organization who filed it.” “The ethics complaint from an extremist Democrat organization and a failed Democrat political candidate has no merit, is an abuse of the Senate Ethics process, and a waste of the Senate’s time,” Bousselot said in a statement. “No conflict of interest exists and that fact was confirmed today.” But members of Iowa CCI told the Dispatch they still plan to pursue further action on the complaint, as well as planning to file an open records request on Bousselot’s and other lawmakers’ communications with pipeline companies.”

Illinois Times: A pause on the pipeline
Dean Olsen, 4/26/23

“A Sangamon County Board committee’s recommendation April 20 to continue a moratorium on construction of the proposed Navigator Heartland Greenway carbon-dioxide pipeline is the latest of numerous efforts by elected county and state officials to balance safety and economic development,” the Illinois Times reports. “Until we have all the evidence, I can’t vote for any of this at all,” said Jeffrey Thomas, a member of the County Board who sits on the county’s zoning and land use committee. The rural Pawnee Republican and almost all other members of the panel voted to support an extension of the county’s seven-month moratorium, set to expire May 1. The full County Board will consider the proposal to extend the moratorium to the end of 2023 at its May 9 meeting… “Navigator officials said they are considering potential sequestration sites in Sangamon, Logan, DeWitt and McLean counties in future phases of the project if the initial pipeline plan is approved… “In addition to Sangamon County, several counties along the pipeline route, including Christian and Montgomery, have adopted moratoriums, though it’s unclear whether moratoriums would be binding or trumped by federal or state authorities if Navigator’s plans are approved… “The county’s zoning and land use committee decided not to consider Navigator’s proposed “development agreements” until after the panel conducts a public hearing on the issue, likely in July. The panel also delayed until then a proposal to oppose state and federal approval of any CO2 pipeline until various concerns are addressed. Committee Chairman Greg Stumpf, a Springfield Republican, asked any groups supporting or opposing the Navigator pipeline to submit written comments by May 24.”

Edwardsville Intelligencer: State lawmakers consider carbon capture regulations
Andrew Adams, 4/26/23

“As Illinois considers ways to achieve its goal of relying entirely on clean energy by 2050, one technology that has courted controversy is carbon capture,” the Edwardsville Intelligencer reports. “…With several planned projects in the state, some lawmakers are looking to regulate it to ensure safety for people living near pipelines or sequestration wells. “We can’t let it continue without some significant regulation around it,” state Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago told EI… “One of the bills, backed by environmental groups, is sponsored by Williams, although she said negotiations are ongoing. “We certainly don’t have a final product,” she told EI. House Bill 3119 would ensure that a company engaging in carbon transport or injection is solely liable for any damages caused by carbon dioxide transportation. It would also establish that the owner of surface land also owns the title to the “pore space” underneath it. This is the underground area into which carbon dioxide can be injected. The bill would also establish a permitting structure for carbon capture projects and requirements for setbacks from occupied land, alongside a fee structure to fund the new regulatory mandates. Ariel Hampton is the legal and government affairs director for the Illinois Environmental Council, an advocacy group that supports the legislation. “A lot of this process isn’t really covered by the federal government,” Hampton told EI. She added that investments in carbon capture can sometimes do more harm than good for the environment, either through their design or because captured CO2 can be used in “enhanced oil recovery.” “…Williams’ bill would ban using captured CO2 for this purpose… “Another set of bills, House Bill 2202 and Senate Bill 2153, have support from industry groups like ADM, Navigator CO2 and the Illinois Manufacturers Association… “The bills codify pore space ownership and create an application process at the Department of Natural Resources for companies to follow when obtaining rights to use pore space. Mark Denzler, head of the Illinois Manufacturers Association, told EI the two bills the organization supports are focused on “landowner’s protection.”

Reuters: Canada Energy Regulator says injury halts work on Trans Mountain expansion project

“The Canada Energy Regulator said it was notified on Tuesday of a serious injury at a work site on the government-owned Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion project near Chilliwack, British Columbia,” Reuters reports. “The regulator said work has been stopped at the job site, and inspection officers and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are attending. “Safety is always our top priority, including all workers and contractors on job sites,” the CER said in a statement posted to its website. The Trans Mountain expansion will nearly triple the flow of crude from Alberta’s oil sands to the Pacific coast, but the project has been beset by years of delay and massive cost overruns.”

WPBN: Michigan Dems send letter to Biden regarding Line 5 litigation

“In a letter sent to President Joe Biden, dozens of Michigan Democrats and other organizations are calling on him to back the Michigan Attorney General’s federal appeals court case that seeks to return a Line 5 lawsuit to state court,” WPBN reports. “A lawsuit to shutdown the Line 5 pipeline, which runs underneath the Straits of Mackinac, was filed in state court by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel in 2019. The lawsuit is currently “stalled” in federal court, the organization Oil & Water Don’t Mix said in a statement. “Returning that case now to state court – where Enbridge had been litigating the public trust doctrine matter for well over a year – may be the best alternative for final resolution of this most important matter,” the letter states. “Line 5 poses too great of a risk to continue to allow 540,000 barrels of oil and natural gas liquids to pass through each day,” said James Mortimer, an official with the Iosco County Democratic Party. “Line 5 is a threat to all that is Pure Michigan including our fisheries, our pure Great Lakes water, our economy, our health, our environment, our homes, and our businesses depending on tourism,” Mortimer said. UpNorthLive News reached out to Enbridge, the Canadian company that owns the pipeline, and received the following response: We are confident that Judge Neff’s August 2022 decision is correct. She said the Attorney General’s case properly belongs in federal court, and the AG ‘desires a race to judgment and a collision course between the state and federal forum’ and to ‘perpetuate a forum battle.’ The Judge found that ‘policy considerations as judicial economy, fairness, convenience, equitable administration, and consistent results as counseling for keeping this case in federal court.”

The Center Square: Enbridge spokesman: Army Corps of Engineers’ tunnel approval process too long
Bruce Walker, 4/26/23

“Waiting is the hardest part, according to singer Tom Petty, and an Enbridge spokesman is expressing the same sentiment,” The Center Square repots. “The Canadian company Enbridge has operated the Line 5 dual pipeline that has spanned five miles of the Straits of Mackinac for the past 70 years. The company received approval to remove the pipeline from the lake floor to a tunnel that would be built up to 100 feet beneath the lakebed during the final days of former Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration in 2018… “Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy concluded its permitting process in 2021. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is also required to sign off on the project, a process the Corps originally said would be completed by the end of 2023. Last month, the Corps said it would be 2025 before they could finish their environmental impact statement. Enbridge’s Ryan Duffy, a corporate communications and media relations strategist, told The Center Square that’s too long. “We believe that the project can and should be permitted much more quickly,” Duffy told TCS. “The project is intended to enhance environmental protection to the Great Lakes, by removing the dual pipelines and other utilities from the waters of the Straits and placing them far beneath the lakebed as requested by the state of Michigan. We think that the Army Corps and others should have an interest in achieving this goal as soon as possible.” Carrie Fox, the Corps interim public affairs chief, explained to The Center Square via email why the process was delayed 18 months. She told TCS there have been no changes to the timeline since the March 23 announcement.

Law360: Shell, Property Owners Spar Over 9th Circ. Panel Rehearing
Isaac Monterose, 4/26/23

“Shell Pipeline Co. and California property owners filed dueling rehearing petitions for the Ninth Circuit’s ruling that reduced the property owners’ $40.9 million jury award in a suit accusing Shell, Paramount Petroleum Corp. and Alon Bakersfield Property Inc. of trespassing with recorded and unrecorded pipeline easements,” Law360 reports. 

Iowa Utilities Board: IUB approves permit application for NuStar hazardous liquid pipeline

“The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) today issued its final decision and order granting the revised petition (application) for a proposed hazardous liquid pipeline permit by NuStar Pipeline Operating Partnership L.P (NuStar) in Docket No. HLP-2021-0002. NuStar filed its petition for a hazardous liquid pipeline permit with the IUB on January 27, 2022, under Iowa Code chapter 479B. While the IUB granted the petition for the permit, the order specifies the IUB will not issue the permit until NuStar submits several corrective filings and the IUB approves them. Today’s decision grants eminent domain over six parcels and denies eminent domain over two parcels. The order will require NuStar to modify and submit revised easements related to two specific landowners… “The order requires NuStar to file revised exhibits; provide proof of at least $2.5 million in general liability insurance; and provide weekly construction updates, an as-built map, and notice of construction start and completion.”

Farm and Dairy: Appeals court halts plans for pipeline through preserved Union Co. farm
Gail Keck, 4/26/23

“The Ohio Third District Court of Appeals is blocking construction of a natural gas pipeline across Union County farmland preserved with agricultural easements,” Farm and Dairy reports. “…For Don Bailey and his family, the ruling means they can plant this spring without wondering if their crops will be dug up. The ruling may also benefit other farmers who have land protected by ag easements, he told FD. “We’re hopeful that it will have long-term effects, and reinforce the farmland preservation program… “Laura Curliss, an attorney who represented the Bailey family in the case, told FD the opinion is notable because the appellate court thoroughly discussed whether the ag easement prevented taking of the pipeline easement by eminent domain. The court looked at the terms of the ag easement, the fact that the ag easement established a prior public use for the property, and federal tax implications… “The Ohio Farm Bureau, which submitted a brief to the appeals court in support of the Baileys’ position, issued a statement on the appeals court ruling. “This is a very important outcome for not only the Bailey family and the Arno Renner Trust, but anyone who enters into agricultural easements with the intention for their land to remain in agriculture and not just for their family, but for future generations… “The district court ruling comes more than three years after the Bailey family first heard of plans by Columbia Gas of Ohio to bury a natural gas pipeline through their land just south of Marysville. The land has been protected from non-farm development since 2003, when Arno Renner, donated an agricultural easement to the Ohio Department of Agriculture.”

Penn Capital Star: ACLU report examines ‘pipeline’ legislation in Pa.

“A new report from the ACLU is shedding light on legislation that it says “create new crimes, enhance existing penalties, or expand current laws that result in more people going to prison or jail,” the Penn Capital Star reports. “The ACLU’s third annual More Law, Less Justice legislative session report found that pipeline legislation, policies that make criminalization and incarceration more likely, is prevalent in Pennsylvania. “Mass incarceration begins at the statehouse,” Elizabeth Randol, legislative director at the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said in a statement. During the 2021-2022 legislative session, a total of 308 pipeline bills were introduced. Eighteen of those bills were enacted — all with bipartisan support, according to the report… “None of these bills make Pennsylvanians any safer,” Randol told the Star. “And yet lawmakers insist on reaching for the same, broken tool in their toolbox. We cannot arrest, convict, and incarcerate our way out of this crisis.” To combat the growing amount of pipeline legislation, the ACLU report recommended that state lawmakers: Oppose any proposed legislation that adds new criminal offenses, penalties, or sentencing enhancements; Increase their reliance on public defenders as stakeholders and experts when analyzing legislation; Subject legislation that proposes a new criminal offense to a crimes comparison to existing law and an impact statement regarding any racial or economic disparities that the new legislation might compound…”


Washington Post: Exclusive: Reps. Casten, Levin unveil permitting proposal
Maxine Joselow, 4/27/23

“Reps. Sean Casten (D-Ill.) and Mike Levin (D-Calif.) today will unveil a discussion draft of legislation aimed at accelerating the permitting process for clean energy and transmission lines while ensuring community input, according to a copy of the proposal shared first with the Washington Post. The lawmakers, who co-chair the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition’s task force on clean-energy deployment, told the Post they’re hoping to juice permitting negotiations after Democratic leaders tried unsuccessfully to pass a permitting bill from Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) last year… “The Clean Electricity and Transmission Acceleration Act differs significantly from Manchin’s measure as well as the permitting provisions in House Republicans’ energy package, which passed the chamber last month and primarily focused on boosting fossil fuel projects. The legislation would accomplish the following goals, according to a section-by-section summary from Casten’s office: Give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission siting authority for national interest transmission lines, or those that cross at least two states and have a capacity greater than 1,000 megawatts; Establish an Office of Electricity Transmission at the commission; Authorize $2.1 billion to address the shortage of electricity transformers through the Defense Production Act; Require federal agencies to hold multiple hearings in environmental justice communities on proposals that affect them.”

E&E News: Greens Sue For Oil And Gas Leasing Phaseout 
Niina H. Farah, 4/26/23

“Environmentalists are heading to federal court to put more pressure on the Biden administration to end nearly all oil and gas leasing on public lands in a little over a decade,” E&E News reports. “The lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups asks a judge to order the Interior Department to respond to their request to write a rule phasing out nearly all oil and gas development on federal lands by 2035. More than 360 climate, environmental justice and religious groups had signed the January rulemaking petition. The legal action is the latest in a long string of challenges to public lands leasing that have sought greater consideration of the climate risks posed by continued fossil fuel development. The groups warned that existing oil and gas fields and coal mines already have enough carbon to push the rise in global temperatures past 1.5 degrees Celsius, the target the United Nations has set to prevent some of the worst potential climate impacts.”

E&E News: Biden’s unfinished climate business
Robin Bravender, 4/25/23

“President Joe Biden is running for reelection. And he’ll use climate change to make the case that voters should give him another four years on the job,” E&E News reports. “…As Biden makes his pitch to voters, his record on climate and the environment — and promises about what he’d do with another four years in office — are certain to be central themes. “I would anticipate that President Biden and Vice President [Kamala] Harris would campaign heavily on their climate record,” Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president of government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters, told E&E. “They’ve accomplished so much in this area — more than any administration in our nation’s history. “At the same time, there is so much more to do, and it’s critically important that they have the chance to finish the job.” “…Playing up his green credentials could help Biden woo young voters who are invested in climate policies and who helped Biden topple Trump in 2020. “I would expect the Biden campaign would make his climate change accomplishments a key part of his appeal to young voters,” Dan Weiss, a longtime environmental and clean energy advocate, told E&E… “Some environmental advocates were quick to signal Tuesday that Biden shouldn’t take their support for granted. Some are still fuming over the administration’s recent decision to allow a massive oil drilling project in Alaska… “For President Biden to win in 2024 he must energize the young voters who have determined the outcome of every election since 2018,” Varshini Prakash, executive director of the advocacy group Sunrise Movement, said Tuesday in a statement. “That means President Biden must commit to rebuilding trust with our generation by following through on his climate promises, declaring a climate emergency, and doing everything he can between now and November to fight for our generation.”


Colorado Newsline: ‘Extreme risk’ posed by Utah oil train proposal, Colorado AG Weiser warns feds

“Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is the latest state official to decry a proposed Utah rail project that could result in a daily procession of trains carrying crude oil through sensitive Colorado River watersheds and the Denver metro area,” Colorado Newsline reports. “In an April 21 letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Weiser wrote that the 88-mile Uinta Basin Railway “poses an extreme risk to Colorado’s most important water source and the surrounding environment.” The multibillion-dollar project would connect Utah’s oil-producing Uinta Basin region to the national rail network, allowing 350,000 barrels of crude oil per day to be transported to refineries along the Gulf Coast — a route that would run directly through mountain communities in central Colorado and the densely populated Front Range… “More than a hundred local governments and advocacy organizations across the state have announced their opposition to the railway, and Colorado’s Eagle County has joined five environmental groups in suing the U.S. Surface Transportation Board over its 4-1 vote to approve the project in December 2021… “This rail project to transport waxy crude oil through Colorado poses significant risk to our State, our communities, and our natural resources,” wrote Weiser in his letter to Buttigieg. “I ask that the Department reject any use of tax-exempt Private Activity Bonds — or any other source of federal funds — for this project.”

Wisconsin Public Radio: 5 years after an explosion, the process to restart Wisconsin’s only oil refinery is underway
Danielle Kaeding, 4/26/23

“After an explosion five years ago, Wisconsin’s only oil refinery is starting up in Superior after a $1.2 billion effort to rebuild the facility,” Wisconsin Public Radio reports. “On April 26, 2018, an explosion at the refinery and subsequent fires injured three dozen workers and caused thousands of people in the city to temporarily evacuate… “Cenovus said Wednesday the refinery is on track to resume full operations by the end of June… “The cost to rebuild the refinery tripled from initial projections, and it took years longer than expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A final report released by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board in December found the refinery’s lack of safeguards during a maintenance shutdown led to the explosion… “Superior Mayor Jim Paine told WPR he’s working with the Superior Fire Department to ensure the recommendations are implemented to the city’s satisfaction… “In 2018, more than 2,500 residents in the city of 27,000 evacuated over fears that hydrofluoric acid may be released. The highly toxic chemical is used at the refinery to produce high-octane gasoline, and can cause severe burns and lung damage… “City leaders in Duluth and Superior called on former owner Husky Energy to remove the chemical from its operations, but officials said it was necessary to make the refinery economically viable… “Around 350 employees will now work at the refinery, which previously employed around 200 workers year-round. Cole said the additional workforce will ensure “adequate” coverage to comply with more protocols and procedures at the plant in the wake of the explosion.”

Grist: In ‘Cancer Alley,’ a teacher called to fight

“Sharon Lavigne lives in St. James Parish, Louisiana, in an area known as “Cancer Alley,” Grist reports. “If you haven’t heard of it, Cancer Alley is an 85-mile stretch of petrochemical plants, oil refineries, and other industrial operations that runs from New Orleans to Baton Rouge along the Mississippi River. Air pollution in the area means that residents face a lifetime cancer risk estimated to be up to 47 times higher than what the EPA deems acceptable. And Black communities are hit the hardest. Sharon spent most of her life as a special education teacher. But as the years went by, the air quality in St. James Parish got worse and worse. Eventually, Sharon learned the connection between the plants, the air and the terrifying rates of sickness and death in her community, and she decided to do something about it. This is her story. My name is Sharon Lavigne, and I’m 70 years old, and I am an environmentalist and the director and founder of RISE St. James… “I have a friend right now with liver cancer and it’s spreading. We have another friend that used to cut the grass in the graveyard. He is down with cancer right now. He can’t work anymore. I have two brothers with cancer. One had the prostate taken out. And they both worked at plants. My brother’s wife, the one that had the prostate cancer, his wife died with cancer in the breast, and she worked at industry. That was a friend of mine, we were the same age. Sometimes I don’t like to talk about it. It hurts. And I feel like .. I feel like we are next. I just feel like that. I’m going to a funeral Saturday. I have a funeral tomorrow of a friend. I imagine myself laying in that casket. I really do. Especially friends that I know that died because of industry. We just buried one of my friends. He was working at a plant, and his wife says she know the plant caused him to get sick after 40 years. And she say – she hugged me so tight and she told me that she think it came from there. That’s what I think so too. Other people say, “Oh, no, it wasn’t because of that, it was stress.” I say it might have been stress because of that.”


Reuters: Carbon capture project in Norway temporarily halted by high costs
Nora Buli, 4/26/23

“A project to capture carbon emissions from a waste plant in the Norwegian capital Oslo has been paused for a year amid projections of large cost overruns, potentially dealing a blow to wider Norwegian plans to foster the fledgling technology,” Reuters reports. “New cost calculations show that we cannot implement the original plans for the carbon capture project within the existing budget,” Knut Inderhaug, head of project operator Hafslund Oslo Celsio, said in a statement. The reasons were higher costs from suppliers due to inflation, the geopolitical instability that has lifted energy prices, and a weakened Norwegian crown, Celsio told Reuters without providing specific overrun figures. Investment costs for the Klemetsrud waste plant, which are being subsidised by both the Oslo city council and the Norwegian government, were initially set at 5.5 billion Norwegian crowns ($518.88 million)… “The company will now take a 12-month hiatus to find ways to reduce costs, which would delay the project from its initial 2026 commissioning date, it said.”

Reuters: Canada oil sands leak heightens First Nations’ calls to clean up tailings
Nia Williams, 4/27/23

“In early February, Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in northern Alberta started fielding calls from community members after the provincial regulator revealed toxic wastewater had been leaking for months from a tailings pond at Imperial Oil’s (IMO.TO) Kearl oil sands mine,” Reuters reports. “Many in the community hunt and fish downstream of Canada’s huge bitumen mines, and wanted to know if the game meat in their freezers was safe to eat. “I just told them throw the meat away,” Adam told Reuters. “Don’t even feed it to your dog.” The seepage was discovered by Imperial, a unit of Exxon Mobil (XOM.N), last May but local communities only learned the water contained tailings in February, after a second leak occurred. Imperial CEO Brad Corson apologized for the leak and the lapse in communication during questioning at a parliamentary committee in Ottawa last week. In response to Reuters questions, Imperial said it is addressing the seepage by drilling extra monitoring and collection wells, and there is no indication of impacts to wildlife or fish. The leaks have reignited concerns among First Nations, policy makers and environmentalists about Canada’s vast oil sands tailings ponds, which reached a volume of 1.35 billion cubic metres in 2021… “But some Indigenous communities and environmental groups say they do not trust industry to make the wastewater safe. They are urging Ottawa to slow the development of the regulations, due by 2025, and overhaul how tailings are managed. “There were already concerns about tailings seeping into the river – this (leak) heightens the fear, the concern and the lack of trust,” Melody Lepine, director of government and industry relations for the Mikisew Cree First Nation, told Reuters. Lepine told Reuters her community was questioning whether the wastewater could be removed from the region altogether for disposal. Other possibilities include pumping some of the water into deep wells or storing it in underground lakes, experts said, but the sheer volume of accumulated tailings means there are no good options.”

Bloomberg: Oil Patch Is Poised for Buyout Wave as US Drillers Seek New Land
Rachel Butt, David Wethe and Kevin Crowley, 4/26/23

“The US energy patch is ripe for a takeover boom, as oil and gas producers flush with cash turn to dealmaking to find new sites to drill,” Bloomberg reports. “Energy producers raked in record profits after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent crude prices soaring, helping them rebound from their crash during the pandemic. Now that they are back on solid financial footing, companies are seeking to bulk up and consolidate, particularly in the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico, the largest and most productive oil field in the US, industry experts say. Tie ups bring several benefits, including expanding their supply of well locations and scale that can strengthen their bargaining power with suppliers. “The world needs more US oil, and the Permian has several thousand locations remaining that are viewed as high quality,” Pete Bowden, global head of industrial, energy and infrastructure banking at Jefferies Financial Group Inc, told Bloomberg. “If you’re a major oil company, you have to think about getting that supply while it’s available.” Consolidation in the oil fields threatens to further slow production growth from the Permian. Companies are looking to buy up rivals to secure drilling sites for the future — not to boost their output immediately. They often cut back on drilling rigs when they close deals, which slows production growth and could put upward pressure on oil prices. As much as $230 billion may be spent on oil and natural gas deals in North America this year, ending a three-year slump in activity, McKinsey & Co. wrote in February. Energy companies announced $25 billion in deals this year, with Ovintiv Inc. leading the way with an agreement this month to buy Permian assets from EnCap Investments for about $4.3 billion. Exxon Mobil Corp. has made no secret of its hunt for deals. Exxon has held preliminary talks with Pioneer Natural Resources Co., according to the Wall Street Journal. Pioneer is one of the biggest players in the Permian, with a market value of about $53 billion.”


Bloomberg: Goldman Investors Reject Proposals for Tougher Climate Goals (2)
Clara Hudson, 4/26/23

“Goldman Sachs shareholders on Wednesday voted against several proposals calling on the bank to overhaul its climate approach,” Bloomberg reports. “A proposal from As You Sow sought a climate transition report for the bank to disclose how it plans to align its financing activities with its 2030 sectoral greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. The proposal secured approximately 30% of investor support. “It’s a good result, and we think banks will strengthen their transition planning as a result,” Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow, told Bloomberg Law. She said the organization is working with banks to “help clarify what’s useful…”

Reuters: TotalEnergies sheds Canadian oil sands, promises to reward shareholders
America Hernandez, 4/27/23

“Energy major TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA) said on Thursday it had accepted an offer to sell its carbon-heavy Canadian oil sands operations to Suncor Energy (SU.TO) for $4.1 billion, with potential additional payments of up to $450 million,” Reuters reports. “The company initially planned to spin off the business but said the sale to Suncor would be more straightforward and the price tag was comparable to its own valuations for a listing of the business. Taking into account the sale, which should close by the end of the third quarter, it plans to distribute at least 40% of the cash flow generated this year to shareholders through a share buyback or special dividend… “Biraj Borkhataria, head of European energy research at RBC Europe Ltd, told Reuters the surprise sale marked “a clean exit” and the expected cash distribution was “a positive signal”.

Reuters: Venture firms unite to guide startups on net zero
Isla Binnie, 4/25/23

“Twenty-three venture capital firms have joined up to guide young companies and their investors towards a low-carbon future, in the latest effort to steer money towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the global economy,” Reuters reports. “The Venture Climate Alliance (VCA) of firms active in the United States and Europe aims to help companies its members have invested in to set climate-related goals in their growth strategies from the outset, the VCA said in a statement. The group will operate under the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), which currently houses groupings of bigger companies that aim to cut emissions to no more than can be absorbed into natural sinks like forests or by using technology. “We want to establish a framework that allows all early stage investors, climate-focused or not, to come into the fold,” Stephan Feilhauer, a managing director at VCA founder member S2G Ventures, told Reuters.  Part of the plan is to develop guidelines for monitoring and reporting carbon emissions, data which global regulators want companies to start disclosing soon… “Alexandra Harbour, a principal at founder firm Prelude Ventures, told Reuters the goal was to “bridge the gap” with public markets, where many companies have made net-zero commitments. VCA, whose members’ portfolios range from less than $50 million to more than $50 billion, will also be a formal partner of the U.N.’s Race to Zero campaign.”

Energy News Network: The higher education divestment movement has arrived in Virginia
Elizabeth McGowan, 4/25/23

“A small yet motivated coterie of environmentally minded University of Richmond students is urging the top liberal arts college to be the first in Virginia — and one of barely a handful across the South — to divest from the fossil fuel industry,” Energy News Network reports. “Senior Mason Manley and other GreenUR members spearheading the cause know that a single school’s actions won’t halt the climate crisis. But they are resolute in their belief that pivoting money away from coal, gas and oil and toward clean energy would signal their alma mater is attentive to the topsy-turvy future it’s preparing them to face. “We have the potential to influence how billions of dollars are invested,” Manley, an environmental studies major, told ENN. “When else am I going to have the chance to do that? “…Thus far, university officials are “aware” of students’ passion, but noncommittal on altering their approach to managing a $3.2 billion endowment. “I’m proud of the students and the thinking they’re doing on this issue,” Dave Hale, the university’s COO and executive vice president, told ENN. “However, we have to take a very broad view of how we manage our financial assets and steward them over the near- and long-term.” “…Since Hampshire College in Massachusetts launched the divestment charge in 2011, at least 82 U.S. colleges have followed suit on a full or partial basis. While Northeast and West Coast universities dominate the list, it is geographically diverse.”


Wall Street Journal: How to Spot Greenwashing: When Companies Aren’t as Green as They Claim [VIDEO]

“Companies, countries and organizations are attracting consumers and investors with promises to be more environmentally friendly,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “But what happens when they fall short? Here’s how greenwashing is misleading consumers about how sustainable products and services are.”

Iron County Reporter: Enbridge awards $5,000 grant to Bates Hall Project

“Rich Smith (Electrical Technician), represented Enbridge with a grant award in the amount of $5,000 to the Bates Hall Preservation Society for the Bates Hall Project,” according to the Iron County Reporter. “Receiving the check from Smith is Avie Powell (Director) along with Sue Passamani (Director), and Margee Brennan (President).”


Common Dreams: Despite Environmental Justice Pledge, Biden Disrespects People Like Me in Path of Fracked Gas Pipeline
Maury Johnson is a southern West Virginia landowner, whose organic farm has been impacted by the Mountain Valley Pipeline, 4/26/23

“I am saddened by the depths that proponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) will go to advance a false narrative and spread inaccuracies,” Maury Johnson writes for Common Dreams. “This time it is Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm who on Friday, April 21, 2023 wrote a cheerleader’s letter rooting for the MVP, Joe Manchin’s pet project. It is very ironic and even a bit disturbing that she wrote this letter one day after she appeared before the Senate Energy Committee and the very next day after she told me personally that she (or her staff) would meet with me in the next week or two… “She apparently decided that she did not need to talk to those most affected by the project or even entertain an opposing viewpoint. Like many agencies, she did not talk with or listen to any affected landowner and totally continued to perpetrate the social, racial, and environmental injustice concerns that President Joe Biden had just a few hours before expressed that his administration would take seriously. You can’t have it both ways: You either listen to impacted communities or you don’t. This letter appears to be written to appease Senator Manchin and others in the MVP camp. It is also strange that this letter was filed just before Equitrans Midstream Corporation—the company behind the pipeline—had its shareholder meeting on Monday morning, April 24… “I believe it is totally inappropriate to write such a letter, especially when just one day before she said she would meet with me and the president issued the Executive Order Revitalizing Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All on the morning before she wrote her letter to the FERC. The president said all executive branch agencies have a duty to pursue environmental justice. Apparently Secretary Granholm did not get the message. Meanwhile, I am still in Washington D.C. waiting to hear from Secretary Granholm. Personally, I don’t understand her rush to write her letter cheering for the MVP. It is also typical of how most government leaders have treated landowners and other citizens in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.”

New Times SLO: Exxon’s corroded pipeline 
Seth Steiner, 4/26/23

“Exxon’s asking Santa Barbara County to allow it to reopen a 123-mile-long pipeline that caused the 142,000-gallon Refugio spill in 2015,” Seth Steiner writes for New Times SLO. “The pipe is more than 30 years old, is eight years older now than when it caused that great destruction, and has not been fully inspected and repaired in all this time. Rather than spend the money to repair the old pipe, Exxon proposes to install valves that would supposedly limit future spills to manageable levels. That massive spill has done more than enough damage in our county. There are still countless clumps of tar below the sand’s surface. Will my wife and I ever again be able to walk on Refugio Beach without getting it on our feet?.. “The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission should consider the values of the Gaviota Coast Plan and Exxon’s historic record. Otherwise, the next ruinous Santa Barbara spill is surely only a matter of time.”

Financial Times: Big Oil should play its part in the energy transition

“Western oil supermajors are being buffeted by opposing currents. Some shareholders — and politicians — want them to pump more; others, along with climate activists, want to accelerate their shift to clean energy,” the Financial Times Editorial Board writes. “The mostly European companies trying to do their bit to tackle climate change are trading at a hefty discount to US counterparts sticking firmly with oil and gas… “It is little wonder, perhaps, if the likes of BP and Shell are modifying their green targets. But to revert to more of a business-as-usual strategy would be a mistake… “Companies that want to thrive long term — and their investors — should be looking out beyond a 10-year horizon. Few in the industry seriously doubt oil demand will peak, probably within a decade or so. US majors such as ExxonMobil have adopted what amounts to a “last man standing” strategy. But they will struggle, in a shrinking market, to compete with low-cost behemoths such as Saudi Arabia. Oil companies that have not by then developed solid positions in wind, solar and clean technologies risk slowly withering away… “It may be partly up to governments to find more ways to nudge oil companies and others to invest more and engage in fewer buybacks. It is certainly the role of governments, not of oil companies, to curb fossil fuel demand, by adopting more ambitious policies. The climate crisis will be solved only by massive collective action. But it is in society’s interests, and their own, for the oil majors to play a part.”

Gizmodo: Don’t Fall for the New GOP Environmentalism
Molly Taft, 4/26/23

“In case you missed it, conservatives deeply care about whales and the oceans now,” Molly Taft writes for Gizmodo. “At least, that’s the message being sent by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank that in 2021 filed suit against an offshore wind project in New England. Despite taking a lot of money from the oil and gas interests, TPPF has waged a battle over the past year and a half claiming deep concern for the whales allegedly at risk from offshore wind turbines. (I don’t remember this kind of distress coming from conservatives over how increased offshore oil development in the Gulf of Mexico may harm whale habitat, or alarm over any of the myriad studies showing that a rapidly warming ocean is going to fundamentally change life on earth, but no matter.) “…Another branch of GOP faux-environmentalist is poised to take advantage of this tension: the type that uses other environmental concerns as a way to delay climate action. In an essay titled “How Climate Alarmism Killed Real Environmentalism,” published this month in American Greatness, a right-wing publication, author Edward Ring lists “environmental disasters” that he claims are not discussed “because [people are] making too much money pushing the climate change scam;” these disasters include a loss of insect diversity (partly, he claims, due to wind turbines) and oceanic garbage patches (no mention of how the oil industry keeps pushing plastic production). This is a version of the same strategy being taken by the Texas Public Policy Foundation and other organizations in trying to stop offshore wind development out of supposed concerns for whales, birds, and other marine life… “In case you needed a reminder, the driving force behind all this faux-concern: dirty money. Ring is a senior fellow at the California Policy Center, which is part of the Koch-funded State Policy Network; American Greatness is the news arm of the American Greatness Fund, a research organization and related PAC established by Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale. Another conservative group that is working against wind turbines, ostensibly for whale safety, is the Caesar Rodney Institute, which is also part of the State Policy Network and has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in oil and Koch-affiliated money.”

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