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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 4/28/23

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

By Mark Hefflinger

April 28, 2023



  • Des Moines Register: Federal regulators will hold Des Moines forums on carbon capture pipeline safety next month

  • Topeka Capital-Journal: Pipeline operator investigates similar sites to Kansas oil spill — but won’t say where

  • Dominion Post: Capito promotes permitting reform, Mountain Valley Pipeline completion during talk with West Virginia press

  • E&E News: Water Officials Brief Lawmakers On Dakota Access, Drought 

  • KVRR: Sen. Hoeven Pushes For Dakota Access Pipeline Review To Be Completed

  • Michigan Advance: Line 5 opponents urge Biden’s solicitor general to intervene in Nessel v. Enbridge

  • Santa Maria Times: Oil pipeline safety valve upgrade denied by Santa Barbara County Planning Commission

  • Reuters: TC Energy beats profit estimates on strong demand


  • Washington Post: Climate protesters smear paint on case housing Degas sculpture in D.C.

  • Politico: GOP’s climate counter punch: pushing more fossil fuels

  • E&E News: SCOTUS decision helps climate case — D.C. attorney general

  • E&E News: Republicans Grill BOEM Chief On Offshore Wind, Oil And Gas 


  • Washington Post: New York set to pass first statewide law banning gas in new construction

  • Colorado Public Radio: Colorado leaders are rallying against a railway project that would carry crude oil along the Colorado River

  • E&E News: Sinkholes are emerging in Texas. Is oil and gas to blame?


  • New York Times: New Rules for Power Plants Could Give Carbon Capture a Boost. Here’s How.

  • InsideClimate News: Carbon Removal Projects Leap Forward With New Offset Deal. Will They Actually Help the Climate?

  • Canary Media: EPA rules may push power plants to capture carbon. Is the tech ready?

  • Bloomberg: Greenpeace Warns Europe’s LNG Hunt Risks Locking In Pollution

  • Bloomberg: Germany Deepens LNG Push Over Fears of More Pipeline Attacks

  • Natural Gas Intelligence: NextDecade CEO Says Rio Grande LNG Will Soon Be Financed

  • Atmos: The New Era of Social Media Is Shaking Up Climate Activism. Here’s How.


  • Guardian: Climate protesters disrupt BP’s shareholder meeting in London

  • Financial Times: Investors defy Goldman, Wells Fargo and BofA in vote for climate plans

  • Guardian: A leading private equity firm claimed to be a climate leader – while increasing emissions


  • Reuters: Factbox: What are the U.S. Green Guides and can they stamp out ‘greenwashing’?

  • Bloomberg: Drop the ‘Natural’ in Natural Gas, Climate Activists Urge US Officials


  • Chicago Sun Times: Bring carbon capture technology and its environmental benefits to Illinois

  • Guardian: Ali died days before he could challenge BP’s CEO on the dangers of gas flaring. Don’t let his death be in vain


Des Moines Register: Federal regulators will hold Des Moines forums on carbon capture pipeline safety next month
Donnelle Eller, 4/28/23

“Federal regulators, seeking to bolster oversight of carbon capture pipelines after a Mississippi break sent a dangerous plume over a nearby village, want to hear from residents in Iowa, where similar projects have sparked widespread opposition,” the Des Moines Register reports. “The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, a U.S. Department of Transportation agency, said it will hold public meetings May 31 and June 1 in Des Moines, after announcing nearly a year ago it plans to strengthen carbon capture pipeline safety oversight following an investigation into a pipeline rupture near Satartia, Mississippi. Federal regulators fined the Mississippi pipeline owner Denbury Gulf Coast Pipelines of Plano, Texas, nearly $4 million for violations tied to the rupture. In February 2020, the pipeline burst, sending a cloud of carbon dioxide toward the village of Satartia, forcing the evacuation of 200 people and sickening 45 people. No one died in the incident… “Iowa opponents have been concerned that increased federal pipeline safety requirements could come long after proposed pipelines are in the ground. “Any CO2 pipeline permits given before those gaps have been filled will be gambling with public and environmental safety,” the groups said in a February letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. “We know the forthcoming regulatory overhaul will impact the siting and therefore the risk/safety of communities.” “…Regulators said they are holding the meetings to help inform “rulemaking decisions.” They want to discuss emergency responses to a pipeline break, including needed equipment and training; dispersion modeling; and safety measures like leak detection and reporting, among other issues… “The agency said it expects key stakeholders like public advocacy groups, pipeline operators, researchers and state officials to attend. No location has been set yet. Those interested in attending the meetings must register online by May 12. They will be livestreamed online as well, the agency said.”

Topeka Capital-Journal: Pipeline operator investigates similar sites to Kansas oil spill — but won’t say where
Andrew Bahl, 4/28/23

“The operator of the Keystone pipeline said it is working to investigate sites with similar characteristics to the site of a major north-central Kansas oil spill, but it is unknown how many of those exist and whether any are in Kansas,” the Topeka Capital-Journal reports. “In a news release last week, TC Energy said they had received a more detailed analysis of the causes of the Washington County spill, when 12,000 barrels of crude oil flowed from the Keystone pipeline into Mill Creek in the largest spill in the pipeline’s history… “The company has maintained that a unique confluence of events led to the pipeline failure. But part of its plan to implement recommendations contained in the report will include “excavations to investigate other sites with characteristics like the incident location.” It is unclear where those sites are, however. TC Energy didn’t respond to questions about whether any of those excavations had occurred in Kansas. When asked by legislators about how many similar welds might exist across the pipeline system, Gary Salsman, TC Energy’s vice president of field operations, said in February that it was “not a huge number.” This hasn’t satisfied some legislators and environmental activists, who worry that other parts of the state could be at risk, particularly in south-central Kansas where seismic activity has become increasingly common. The company has also begun inspections throughout the pipeline, including the 300-mile segment that includes north-central Kansas… “A 2021 General Accounting Office report shows spills on the pipeline have become more frequent in recent years and a federal order also said at least three incidents since 2009 have occurred because of girth welding failures.”

Dominion Post: Capito promotes permitting reform, Mountain Valley Pipeline completion during talk with West Virginia press
David Beard, 4/27/23 

“Permitting reform remains alive and well in the U.S. Senate, despite two previous failed bills,” the Dominion Post reports. “Permitting reform is front and center on my agenda,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito told West Virginia reporters on Thursday afternoon. All kinds of projects—energy, water, broadband—are “stymied in a ping pong of regulatory mayhem.” “…At the GOP press conference, she cited the Biden administration’s Build Back Better effort, but said, “You can’t build back anything better because you can’t build it.” “… A bipartisan reform agreement needs certain critical components. One, it has to be fuel-neutral and project-neutral. “It has to be a fair process that treats every project fairly.” Two, reform must include enforceable timelines with clear limits and predictable schedules for environmental reviews and judicial reviews—without cutting any environmental corners… “Agencies must face consequences when they fail to act within the time frames. Whenever possible, she said during the GOP press conference, permitting responsibilities should be pushed to the states, which know their own needs and issues the best… “Pipeline infrastructure is also needed to transport hydrogen fuel, and carbon dioxide to carbon capture sites.”

E&E News: Water Officials Brief Lawmakers On Dakota Access, Drought 

“At a Senate hearing Wednesday, a top official at the Army Corps of Engineers said the agency is circulating an ‘administrative draft’ of its long-awaited review of the Dakota Access pipeline, with a public version on track for release this summer,” E&E News reports. ”Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael Connor revealed the new timeline in remarks before the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, which also heard testimony on budget requests from both the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation. ‘We’ve got about six cooperating agencies as well as 30 tribes now who have reviewed it, provided us comments,’ Connor said, referring to the ‘administrative draft’ circulating among North Dakota and tribal officials. He said the goal was to have a draft environmental statement out for public review by the end of June. The Army Corps did not respond to questions about whether changes recommended by those officials or incorporated into the document will be tracked for public review. Although the 1,172-mile pipeline is currently operational, a federal court in 2020 ordered the Army Corps to restart a key environmental assessment.” 

KVRR: Sen. Hoeven Pushes For Dakota Access Pipeline Review To Be Completed
TJ Nelson, 4/27/23

“A new environmental impact review of the Dakota Access Pipeline was ordered by a judge in 2020 and it’s still not done,” KVRR reports. “…Sen. John Hoeven is once again pressing the Army Corps of Engineers to complete the review as soon as possible so oil keeps flowing. “We’ve got about six cooperating agencies as well as 30 tribes now who have reviewed it, provide us comments. We are currently taking account and incorporating those comments, having some additional technical discussions with the goal of coming out with a draft environmental statement for public review by the end of June,” Michael Connor, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, told KVRR. Hoeven told KVRR the pipeline is important not only to the energy industry in North Dakota, but to U.S. energy security.”

Michigan Advance: Line 5 opponents urge Biden’s solicitor general to intervene in Nessel v. Enbridge

“With an appeals court now weighing whether to keep Attorney General Dana Nessel’s Line 5 battle in federal court or send it back to state court — either of which would significantly sway the final outcome — dozens of local Democratic party leaders have sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging his administration’s legal support,” Michigan Advance reports. “The letter was sent to Biden on March 29 and released publicly on Wednesday. In it, 44 chairs of counties, congressional districts and caucuses within the Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) request that “all concerned federal agencies” be asked to consider intervening in the case’s removal appeal in favor of Nessel. Specifically, the coalition asks that the solicitor general file an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in a Michigan appeals court that is considering a major jurisdictional question in Nessel v. Enbridge. The solicitor general is Elizabeth Barchas Prelogar… “Enbridge won a major advantage in late August, when a federal judge ruled that Nessel v. Enbridge would play out in her federal court rather than the state court it originated from. Nessel then attempted to appeal that ruling; her request lay untouched for months… “Now, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit will have a say on whether the case belongs in federal or state court and whether Neff’s actions call for a writ of mandamus to be issued. Nessel v. Enbridge is stayed and administratively closed until then, pending the outcome of that interlocutory appeal.”

Santa Maria Times: Oil pipeline safety valve upgrade denied by Santa Barbara County Planning Commission
Mike Hodgson, 4/27/23

“A project to increase the number of safety valves along a currently unused oil pipeline from the Gaviota Coast to Kern County to meet a state law mandate was denied Wednesday on a split vote of the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission,” the Santa Maria Times reports. “Commissioners voted 3-2 to uphold three appeals of the zoning administrator’s approval of the Pacific Pipeline Co.’s application to install five new check valves and 11 new motor-operated valves on the connected pipelines designated 901 and 903… “More than 30 members of the public, most of them opposed to the project, spoke during the continued hearing, repeating arguments for and against it that were raised March 1… “But the majority of the board saw the appeal as being connected to the entire pipeline project, its original environmental impact report that was certified in 1985 and the condition of the pipeline today. They echoed some of the arguments that were put forth by the appellants — the Tautrim family, the Gaviota Coast Conservancy and GreyFox LLC — who said the pipeline was corroded and dangerous and there would be no reason to install the valves unless the pipeline was going to be put back into operation… “Second District Commissioner Laura Bridley, who would second his motion, said the “EIR is stale” and she wasn’t comfortable with the California Environmental Quality Act exemptions to requiring an extended environmental review. “A lot of things have changed since 30 years ago,” she said. Commission Chairman and 3rd District Commissioner John Parke said the county had been consistently told the pipeline would be replaced with a new pipeline, but now it seems the old pipeline will be restarted.”

Reuters: TC Energy beats profit estimates on strong demand

“Canada’s TC Energy Corp beat analysts’ estimates for first-quarter profit on Friday as elevated energy prices boosted demand for the pipeline operator’s services,” Reuters reports. “While global oil prices have on average declined 20% from peaks hit last year when the Ukraine crisis fueled supply concerns, the levels are still high enough for energy producers to drill profitably, thus boosting demand for pipeline operators… “The Calgary, Alberta-based company reported comparable earnings of C$1.21 ($0.8864) per share for the three months ended March 31, while analysts on average had expected earnings of C$1.15 per share, according to Refinitiv data.”


Washington Post: Climate protesters smear paint on case housing Degas sculpture in D.C.
Ellie Silverman, 4/27/23

“Protesters smeared black and red paint on the case and pedestal of Edgar Degas’s “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” sculpture at the National Gallery of Art in D.C. on Thursday to bring attention to the climate crisis and demand that President Biden declare a climate emergency,” the Washington Post reports. “The protesters — a man and a woman, dressed in black suits — slathered their hands, then crouched down to paint the pedestal on which the ballerina sculpture is displayed. They then stood up and smeared their hands across the clear case protecting the artwork. Police removed the two people in handcuffs and ushered out the people inside the gallery. Declare Emergency, the climate group that organized the stunt, identified the protesters as Joanna Smith, 53, of New York City and Tim Martin, 54, of Raleigh, N.C. “The Earth is beautiful, and we’re destroying it with climate change,” Smith said as security officials asked the small crowd to back away from the sculpture… “This follows protests around the world targeting galleries and museums… “Climate activists are turning to these types of disruptive tactics because they feel the world is running out of time to curb catastrophic, irreversible warming, Dana R. Fisher, a University of Maryland sociology professor who studies protests and social movements, told the Post. She noted suffragists had slashed artwork in the past, and these recent protests target protective casings or frames as opposed to damaging the art. The point, Fisher told the Post, is to draw attention. And research shows these kinds of “radical tactics” can persuade people who are sympathetic to the climate issue to be more supportive of moderate perspectives, she told the Post. “This is purely performative protest. It’s disruption as shock,” Fisher told the Post. “Nobody’s going to like these guys for throwing paint at ‘Little Dancer’ … but that’s okay. That’s not their point. If the goal here is to get general attention and to shift the conversation to focus more on climate change, there’s a lot of evidence that this is more effective.”

Politico: GOP’s climate counter punch: pushing more fossil fuels

“Republicans are confident they’ve found an issue that can help them unseat President Joe Biden and expand their control of the Hill: fossil fuels,” Politico reports. “The GOP’s House campaign arm is planning a 2024 push that showcases the economic priorities embodied in the sprawling energy bill the chamber passed in March… “The energy bill, which would promote speedier approvals of oil, gas and coal developments — as well as clean energy — is Republicans’ counter to the massive climate law that Biden signed last year. But so far, the voters they’re hoping to attract don’t seem to care. The party’s early messaging promoting the bill amplifies attacks that fell flat for Republicans in the 2022 midterms. And new polling shared with POLITICO shows that the GOP’s legislative achievements aren’t energizing voters in some key states on the 2024 map, threatening their ambitions once again to win the Senate and White House. Most Republicans and independents — 59 and 66 percent, respectively — in Arizona, Montana, Nevada, Pennsylvania and West Virginia had heard nothing or little about efforts to speed up federal permitting of energy infrastructure projects, a centerpiece of Republicans’ agenda, according to a Public Opinion Strategies survey of 1,200 registered voters… “Republicans, however, have faith in the message, even as they acknowledge the difficulty in translating energy permitting into campaign trail slogans… “The National Republican Congressional Committee plans to use Democrats’ votes against H.R. 1 as a primary line of attack in frontline House districts where voters might lean more moderately and be open to Republicans’ focus on inflation. On April 17, the NRCC sent out a memo hitting Democratic Reps. Gabe Vasquez of New Mexico, Mary Peltola of Alaska and Yadira Caraveo of Colorado for voting against the bill, calling their opposition “likely the beginning of the end of their reelection campaign” given the size of their states’ oil and gas industries.” 

E&E News: SCOTUS decision helps climate case — D.C. attorney general
Lesley Clark, 4/26/23

“The District of Columbia is citing a day-old Supreme Court decision to bolster its argument that its climate liability lawsuit against the oil industry belongs in state court,” E&E News reports. “In a letter filed Tuesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Washington Attorney General Brian Schwalb (D) noted that the high court Monday denied five requests from the industry asking it to determine the proper venue for the lawsuits. The court’s decision not to take up the cases, Schwalb wrote, “leaves in place” the decisions by four appeals courts that upheld lower court decisions that found the cases could be heard in state court. The filing comes weeks before the D.C. Circuit will hear arguments over whether the district’s lawsuit seeking compensation from Exxon Mobil Corp. and other companies should be heard by federal judges or the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, where it was originally filed in 2020 by Schwalb’s predecessor.”

E&E News: Republicans Grill BOEM Chief On Offshore Wind, Oil And Gas 
Scott Streater, 4/27/23

“The partisan divide over domestic energy production and the roles offshore oil and gas and wind energy should play was on full display Wednesday during a House hearing,” E&E News reports. “The Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources questioned officials from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Full committee Chair Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) pressed new BOEM Director Liz Klein on the pace of offshore oil and gas leasing, and why the agency is nearly a year late in releasing a new five-year plan for offshore drilling. The Interior Department holds auctions based on a five-year schedule. Klein said a final draft of the five-year plan should be released in September and that Interior Secretary Deb Haaland plans to approve it by year’s end. ‘We are working very hard to go ahead and put out the proposed final program by September 2023,’ Klein said. Westerman seemed surprised when Klein conceded that BOEM has yet to start any of the National Environmental Policy Act reviews that are necessary before a lease sale can occur and will not while it works to finalize the five-year plan.”


Washington Post: New York set to pass first statewide law banning gas in new construction
Maxine Joselow, 4/28/23

“New York is on the verge of becoming the first state to pass a law banning natural gas in most new buildings, according to a handshake agreement that Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) reached with state lawmakers late Thursday,” the Washington Post reports. “The exact terms of the agreement have not been made public, but environmentalists told the Post they expect the law to prohibit natural gas hookups for most new buildings under seven stories starting in 2026, and for taller buildings starting in 2029… “Although environmental and social justice groups have cheered the law, they have expressed concern that the final deal could include a provision that would effectively allow local governments to veto the policy. Such a provision was backed by the oil and gas industry. Meanwhile, the law will likely face legal challenges. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit this month struck down the city of Berkeley’s gas ban, dealing a potential setback to the California city and 25 others with similar policies.”

Colorado Public Radio: Colorado leaders are rallying against a railway project that would carry crude oil along the Colorado River
Tom Hesse, 4/27/23

“A railway project in Eastern Utah is drawing significant pushback in Colorado as elected officials voice concerns about crude oil risks to the Colorado River, which is the West’s primary freshwater river,” Colorado Public Radio reports. “The Uinta Basin Railway project would build around 80 miles of train tracks connecting oil production to America’s rail network. That would allow producers to ship crude oil on trains through Colorado to refineries elsewhere in the country. The U.S. Surface Transportation Board and the United States Department of Agriculture have given the project the go-ahead, prompting a letter from U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse criticizing the federal review of the project. “First, it focused solely on the Project’s risks in Utah with no evaluation of its potential harm to Colorado, including the risk of a derailment and oil spill in the headwaters of the River”, the March 28 letter read. “Second, this review also failed to include any analysis of the Project’s effect on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. We urge you to conduct a supplemental review to fully account for these potential harms.” “…The only times that the crude is a liquid is when it is heated and loaded into the railcars and when it is reheated back above the 110 degrees pour point, so it can be unloaded and processed,” Keith Heaton, director of the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition in Utah that’s advocating for the rail, told CPR.  “In short, Uinta Basin waxy crude is transported as a solid, not a flammable or hazardous liquid. It does not present an environmental concern if there were a derailment.” “…Heaton told CPR the studies done on the rail estimate less than one derailment a year and, if there was an accident, clean-up would be like “picking up a bunch of candles.” “…Some opponents of the project have raised skepticism that the oil would be transported as a solid, and that it may retain some of its heat and therefore liquid form.” 

E&E News: Sinkholes are emerging in Texas. Is oil and gas to blame?
Shelby Webb, 4/28/23

“The emergence of a new gaping sinkhole in Southeast Texas is dredging up decades-old questions about how much of a role oil and gas production plays in causing the ground to open up,” E&E News reports. “While not as well-documented as the link between oil and gas and earthquakes, the nexus between industry and sinkholes is of concern to some researchers who say drilling activity can help create gaping scars in the earth, posing risks to nearby communities. “Sinkhole formation is very common,” Zhong Lu, a professor of earth sciences at Southern Methodist University, told E&E. “Critically, we disturb [the earth] with hydrocarbon activities.” The issue came to the forefront this month when a fourth sinkhole developed in Daisetta, Texas, a small town of 1.48 square miles located between Houston and Beaumont. It occurred on land that used to house an oil field service company — the same piece of property where another sinkhole nearly 500 feet in diameter cracked open in 2008, prompting evacuations and fears the earth could soon swallow up the town’s high school located a quarter-mile away. The two others formed near oil and gas activity decades earlier. While both of the recent sinkholes seem relatively stable for now, and scientists haven’t definitively pinpointed the cause of their formation, the development is stirring debate about the role of oil and gas… “Some studies suggest a link. In areas of the Permian Basin in Texas, Lu and other researchers at SMU found in 2018 oil and gas activity caused the ground surface to rise and fall both due to injecting wastewater into the earth and pulling out crude. In studying a 4,000-square-mile section of the oil patch, they found that the areas around active, inactive and orphaned wells experienced subsidence of between 1 and 4 inches over a matter of months. The study published in Nature reported 40 inches of subsidence in 2 ½ years.”


New York Times: New Rules for Power Plants Could Give Carbon Capture a Boost. Here’s How.
Brad Plumer, 4/26/23

“The Biden administration’s plan to limit, for the first time, greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants could hinge on the ability of plant operators to capture carbon dioxide before it is pumped into the atmosphere,” New York Times reports. “Yet none of the nation’s 3,400 coal- and gas-fired power plants are currently using carbon capture technology in a significant way, raising questions about the viability of that approach… “While electric utilities could pursue other strategies to reduce pollution, such as switching to wind or solar power, experts say capturing carbon dioxide and burying it underground might be one of the few options for some large coal and gas plants to keep operating while complying with the new rules. Carbon capture technology has been around for decades, but electric utilities have struggled with its high cost and complexity. And while some insist that it is an essential tool for solving climate change, major hurdles remain… “In the 2010s, several early projects partly funded by the federal government were abandoned because of high costs. Only one coal plant in the United States ended up using carbon capture on a large scale: The $1 billion Petra Nova facility in Texas, completed in 2017. It sold the captured carbon dioxide to oil drillers that injected the gas into oil fields to extract more crude. That facility shut down in 2020 when oil prices plummeted, although its owners plan to restart it this year. (There is also one coal plant in Canada that uses carbon capture.) “…Some utilities might simply find it cheaper to shutter their large coal and gas plants and get more electricity from wind, solar and batteries, which were also heavily subsidized in the new climate law. In other cases, it might prove easier to modify existing gas plants so that they can run entirely on clean hydrogen fuel that doesn’t produce emissions. “We just don’t see a lot of carbon capture being deployed in the power sector,” John Larsen, a partner at Rhodium Group, told the Times. “It’s not because there are big technical barriers, but because there’s so much competition from other sources.” “…Some environmental groups also oppose carbon capture, arguing that it doesn’t do enough to reduce conventional air pollution from power plants and would do little to address leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from natural gas wells and pipelines. Critics have also raised questions about whether the technology actually reduces emissions by as much as advertised, noting that Chevron’s carbon capture facility in Australia has fallen far short of expectations. “The track record has not been good at all, and that’s being charitable,” David Schlissel, an analyst for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis who has criticized carbon capture projects, told the Times. 

InsideClimate News: Carbon Removal Projects Leap Forward With New Offset Deal. Will They Actually Help the Climate?
Nicholas Kusnetz, 4/28/23

“The open secret behind corporate climate pledges is that many companies don’t know how they will meet them,” InsideClimate News reports. “…In recent years, governments and private financiers have begun devoting billions of dollars to building a carbon removal industry, and the deal announced this week shows that some of these projects are beginning to take shape, Danny Cullenward, a research fellow at the Institute for Carbon Removal Law and Policy at American University, told ICN… “Cullenward told ICN the NextGen deal stands out because it relies on large-scale carbon removal projects, “and that is bringing into reality the very large industrial footprint of carbon management. It’s also going to, I think, illustrate some of the really concerning trade-offs around carbon management and other environmental goals,” he added, “and I think ethanol is maybe the best example of that.” The ethanol and carbon capture project, by a company called Summit Carbon Solutions, has been particularly controversial. Some landowners and American Indian tribes along the proposed route through North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska have tried to block the pipeline, which would carry carbon dioxide compressed into a “supercritical” liquid, concerned that potential leaks could pose a safety hazard and about the potential seizure of land through eminent domain… “The new deal will help Summit secure financing from banks by presenting an additional revenue stream for the project. While the companies did not disclose the value of the NextGen deal, their target average price is $200 per ton, meaning the total package announced this week could be worth roughly $40 million for the three developers involved… “Cullenward and other experts say the NextGen deal raises a host of accounting questions that remain unanswered, including whether emissions reductions get counted more than once and whether the projects achieve “additionality” by ensuring the credits generated represent actual removals that wouldn’t have happened otherwise… “Anu Khan, deputy director of science and innovation at Carbon180, a carbon removal think tank, told ICN additionality is a concern for any large-scale biofuels operation. Because an ethanol plant’s main business is selling ethanol, and that fuel could sell at a premium in certain markets if carbon capture equipment lowers its carbon footprint, it can be difficult to say whether the sale of carbon credits is actually necessary to the project or used merely to pad profits. If the credits were not necessary, they would fail the “additionality” test and ultimately provide only the illusion of a reduction for whoever buys them.” Nelson, with Summit Carbon Solutions, told ICN the company would not be able to operate without selling credits, and that it is developing a methodology that will ensure additionality and avoid any double counting. That methodology is being developed with Gold Standard for the Global Goals, which verifies carbon offset projects, and will be available for public comment in May.”

Canary Media: EPA rules may push power plants to capture carbon. Is the tech ready?
Maria Gallucci, 4/28/23

“…In the coming weeks, the Biden administration is reportedly set to unveil its plan for dramatically reducing carbon dioxide pollution from existing and future power plants by 2040,” Canary Media reports. “…If the proposed rules go into effect, experts say they expect that latter approach — carbon capture and storage, or CCS — to be the most appealing lever many plant operators have to pull. Carbon-capturing technology has been tried and tested at U.S. power plants in recent decades, with very little success. None of the country’s 3,400 commercial power-plant units currently use carbon-capture systems in significant ways, despite years of research and billions of dollars in government and utility funding. Several high-profile initiatives have been canceled or shelved after companies encountered major setbacks and soaring costs… “The only reason [carbon capture] hasn’t been deployed more widely is simply because you’re asking businesses to penalize their own operations,” Ahmed Abdulla, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, told Canary… “Abdulla was the lead author on a 2021 paper that found that roughly 80 percent of 149 projects worldwide seeking to commercialize carbon capture and storage have ended in failure. To understand why, Abdulla and his colleagues analyzed the experiences of 39 U.S. projects in particular. They found that the main reason large projects floundered is that they cost huge amounts of money to build, which made them more vulnerable to skittish lenders, impatient investors and other financial risks… “If they do build CO2-scrubbing systems, companies will still have to navigate other complex hurdles, such as figuring out how to transport the CO2, whether to inject it deep underground or sell it to manufacturers, and how to develop large-scale projects without causing harm to adjacent communities. Environmental-justice groups have warned that, because facilities use more energy to run carbon-capture systems, they risk spewing more toxic air pollution in surrounding neighborhoods. “Some [companies] will decide they don’t have the land to install a new capture system, or they can’t get to a pipeline, or there’s public opposition,” Abdulla told Canary. ​“It’s not a result of technical immaturity. It’s a result of project execution.”

Bloomberg: Greenpeace Warns Europe’s LNG Hunt Risks Locking In Pollution
John Ainger, 4/26/23

“Greenpeace activists are warning that Europe’s new liquefied natural gas infrastructure — built in record time to ease the energy crisis — could pose a disaster for the region’s climate ambitions,” Bloomberg reports. “Eight new LNG import terminals have been approved in the European Union, with 38 more in the pipeline, allowing for 950 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, according to a report by the environmental organization. That’s equivalent to a third of the bloc’s total emissions in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic triggered an economic slowdown. While a proportion of those emissions would have been discharged into the atmosphere anyway if the EU were still using Russian pipeline gas, the risk is that new infrastructure creates a “structural oversupply” as countries rush to secure new long-term contracts, Greenpeace said. It could also result in billions of euros worth of stranded assets in both Europe and supplier countries, like the US. “This infrastructure buildout is irrational,” the report said. “The LNG boom replacing pipelined gas raises grave concerns about the EU energy transition away from fossil fuels, and the energy future of the continent.” “…The fossil fuel industry has cynically capitalized on the invasion of Ukraine,” Silvia Pastorelli, a climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace EU, told Bloomberg. “Governments must lead in the climate fight, not be puppeteered by gas operators.”

Bloomberg: Germany Deepens LNG Push Over Fears of More Pipeline Attacks
Michael Nienaber, Petra Sorge and Kamil Kowalcze, 4/27/23

“Germany plans to at least double its import capacities for liquefied natural gas on the Baltic Sea island of Rügen to prepare for the risk that a key pipeline from Norway could be interrupted by acts of sabotage,” Bloomberg reports. “Chancellor Olaf Scholz sees the possibility of another attack on underwater infrastructure — similar to the mysterious explosions that rendered the Nord Stream links inoperable last year — as real, according to people familiar with the matter. Norway has become the country’s largest gas supplier, accounting for about a third of Germany’s imports by the end of last year, and any damages to its links could threaten the nation’s energy security.”

Natural Gas Intelligence: NextDecade CEO Says Rio Grande LNG Will Soon Be Financed

“NextDecade Corp. CEO Matthew Schatzman said this week that FERC’s order reaffirming its approval for Rio Grande LNG was a crucial milestone that’s likely to vault sanctioning of the project across the finish line,” Natural Gas Intelligence reports. “This was a strong order,” Schatzman told NGI in an interview this week days after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission made its decision. “It removes any regulatory uncertainty from the project. It allows us to move swiftly in bringing the project to a positive final investment decision (FID).” “…Schatzman acknowledged there is still much work to do to make the project a reality, but he believes Rio Grande will be one of the final U.S. greenfield projects to reach FID and move ahead in the coming years as the energy landscape grows more complex and the global natural gas market has become increasingly competitive… “Schatzman: The big announcement that everyone is waiting for is FID. We haven’t changed our current guidance that we expect to make FID before the end of the second quarter… “NGI: What does the future hold for U.S. LNG exports? Schatzman: First, I don’t think as much LNG capacity gets built as people think. I think we’ve overestimated how much will get built, not because of demand, but just the physical limitations of how quickly we can build it. But the world needs more LNG, and the projects currently being developed like ours will help meet baseload demand. It won’t be swing capacity. In the future, it’s going to be a lot harder to get projects off the ground unless you already have scale.”

Atmos: The New Era of Social Media Is Shaking Up Climate Activism. Here’s How.

“The news that TikTok is doubling down on climate misinformation comes just as Twitter’s position as a reputable social media platform reaches a new low,” Atmos reports. “Atmos speaks with climate activists on what the future of online advocacy holds for their cause. It was about time that TikTok made a positive headline—after countless negative press… “Despite its popularity, the app’s negative publicity has raised questions about its future. The tide turned last week (even if momentarily) when, in the leadup to Earth Day, the social media giant said it would be clamping down on climate misinformation. It outlined a new set of guidelines, including the removal of climate misinformation and new search features that prioritize science-backed claims, aimed at promoting authoritative sources and discouraging the spread of climate-related falsehoods. In a statement, TikTok said the move would “empower accurate climate discussions” and “reduce harmful misinformation.” “…But just as TikTok shows signs of doubling down on its commitment to promoting science-backed information, the reputation of another social media giant—Twitter—is unraveling. “It is bizarre to see a platform that has for many years been described as a platform that upholds democracies be suddenly torn apart by this one man from the U.S. who is choosing to spend his billions of dollars to toxify it,” climate activist Dominika Lasota, who is active with Fridays for Future movement in Poland, told Atmos, referencing business magnate Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter in October 2022. “We have been using Twitter to push governments to tax the rich; We have been using Twitter to campaign for governing bodies to phase out fossil fuels. And now we have to campaign for the platform itself to be brought to a safe and just place.”


Guardian: Climate protesters disrupt BP’s shareholder meeting in London
Jillian Ambrose, 4/27/23

“Climate protesters have disrupted BP’s annual general meeting where the oil company faced a backlash from some shareholders over its decision to water down its climate commitments,” the Guardian reports. “t least four demonstrators were forcibly removed from inside the shareholder meeting within 10 minutes of BP chair, Helge Lund, beginning his opening remarks. The protesters, organised by the campaign group Fossil Free London, repeatedly interrupted Lund’s address by calling for the company to take responsibility for its role in the climate crisis. Lund also faced growing dissent from BP investors angered by the company’s decision to weaken its climate policies, with almost 10% of shareholders voting against his re-election as chair. That compares with just 3% who voted against him last year. “You need to be taking action right now, today,” said one female protester. “It’s not enough. It’s just not good enough. People are dying because of your operations now. Step up and take responsibility. Stop your drilling. Stop your lies.” The campaigners were warned by BP’s company secretary, Ben Mathews, to wait until the question and answer segment of the meeting, or risk being removed by security. The protesters were carried out – one still remaining in a chair – to a smattering of applause from some shareholders. “This is an emergency,” one woman shouted as she was removed. Another protester, dressed in a smart suit and tie with neatly combed grey hair, was carried out on his back by four security guards.

Financial Times: Investors defy Goldman, Wells Fargo and BofA in vote for climate plans
Attracta Mooney, Aime Williams, 4/27/23

“A rising tide of investors have backed demands for climate change plans from Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo and Bank of America this week, as lenders face continued pressures over the role they play in financing global warming,” the Financial Times reports. “Three in 10 of voting shareholders, including some of the world’s biggest investors, backed the resolution on Wednesday for Goldman to set out a climate risk transition plan that describes how it is aligning its financing activities with targets to reduce greenhouse gas emission. This was despite the board’s recommendation that investors vote against the proposal. Wells Fargo disclosed on Thursday that almost 31 per cent of shareholders also voted for a transition plan resolution at the annual meeting on Wednesday. Similarly, at Bank of America, preliminary figures showed 28.5 per cent of shareholders who voted backed an equivalent resolution, also against the board’s recommendation. Significant shareholder dissent is generally regarded as being a vote against a management recommendation by at least 20 per cent of the shares voted. The level of support for the resolutions is a sign of the increasing demands on banks over their financing of carbon-intensive companies and projects… “Despite the votes falling short of majority backing, Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow, which filed the resolutions at the US banks, told FT the group was “glad to see such a strong showing of support from shareholders”. “…Beau O’Sullivan, a strategist at campaigning group Bank on our Future, told FT the pressure on banks over their financing of climate change “is not going away, for sure.” “You will see this accelerate now. What we see in these transition plans is key,” he told FT.

Guardian: A leading private equity firm claimed to be a climate leader – while increasing emissions
Nina Lakhani, 4/27/23

“A leading private equity firm that claims to be an industry climate leader in fact almost doubled its average annual greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel investments over the past decade, according to new research,” the Guardian reports. “The Carlyle Group’s portfolio of fossil fuel companies emitted an estimated 277m metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) – a measure that includes methane and other potent global-heating gases – from 2011 to 2021, according to an investigation into the company’s energy portfolio. The research calculates the multinational’s 10-year greenhouse gas footprint to be roughly equivalent to the “carbon bomb” that Alaska’s Willow arctic drilling project is to emit over its decades-long operation, and would take an estimated 4.6bn new trees a decade to remove from the atmosphere. The new research, by the Private Equity Climate Risks project, calculated Carlyle’s greenhouse gas footprint using an industry-designed tool developed by the Initiative Climat International (iCI) to document direct and indirect emissions by private equity firms – having first verified which oil, gas and coal companies they back, own or invest in through publicly available information. Carlyle’s investment portfolio contributes substantially to the global climate crisis and inflicts environmental harms most commonly in areas with large proportions of low-income and Black and brown households, according to the report, which calls on lawmakers to close regulatory loopholes and require greater transparency. “Despite its public statements to the contrary, Carlyle is a driving force behind climate change through its substantial financing of greenhouse gas emitting sectors,” Oscar Valdés Viera, co-author and research manager at the Americans for Financial Reform education fund, told the Guardian. “Without meaningful regulatory oversight, private equity firms like Carlyle will continue to get away with endangering low-income and Black and brown communities, who are at greater risk from pollution and environmental harm.”


Reuters: Factbox: What are the U.S. Green Guides and can they stamp out ‘greenwashing’?

“The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will weigh major changes for the first time in a decade to its Green Guides, a set of standards for companies making environmental claims, as it sifts through thousands of comments it received on the topic,” Reuters reports. “…The regulator received nearly 60,000 responses to questions it posed about several frequently-used environmental claims, ranging from “low carbon” to “net zero;” to claims of the recyclability, sustainability and compostability of products. The guides were created by the FTC to “help companies avoid running afoul of the FTC’s ban on deceptive advertising. They have been increasingly cited in class action litigation challenging false environmental claims, known as “greenwashing.” “…In its December notice seeking public comment on the guides, the commission highlighted several specific issues on which it expected the most comments, including: carbon offsets and climate change claims; the term ‘recyclable;’ the term ‘recycled content;’ and other claims like “compostable,” “degradable,” ozone-friendly,” “organic,” and “sustainable.” One term that many commenters questioned is “net zero,” which is used by governments and companies in setting emission reduction goals and which is generally meant to suggest greenhouse gas emissions from certain sources are either eliminated or offset by other means. In its comments to the FTC, the Center for Climate Integrity called on the FTC to define the term “net zero,” arguing that over 700 major companies have announced “net zero” targets without a clear standard for what that means… “A coalition of environmental groups that includes Greenpeace and Beyond Plastics told Reuters marketers should not claim products will be recycled into another products when “a substantial portion of plastic waste collected under the guise of recycling is landfilled, incinerated, or exported without verification of recycling.”

Bloomberg: Drop the ‘Natural’ in Natural Gas, Climate Activists Urge US Officials
Jennifer A Dlouhy, 4/26/23

“Since almost two centuries ago — not long after it was identified bubbling up in a creek in western New York — the flammable below-ground substance composed of methane and other hydrocarbons has been called “natural gas” in the US.,” Bloomberg reports. “Now, some environmental activists say it’s time to ditch that label. “There’s nothing natural about fracking; there’s nothing natural about thousands of miles of pipelines and there’s nothing natural about the indoor air pollution that is associated with gas,” Caleb Heeringa, campaign director of the environmental advocacy group Gas Leaks, told Bloomberg. Heeringa and other environmentalists are pushing federal regulators to set a policy discouraging companies from using the term “natural gas” in marketing, arguing it inaccurately casts the substance as a clean, green source of energy. Alternatives pitched by activists include “methane gas” and “fossil gas.” Their campaign — which also seeks to curtail corporate overuse of other terms, including “sustainable” and “net-zero” — aims to influence the Federal Trade Commission as it plans updates to its Green Guides, which govern environmental marketing claims… “But environmentalists asking the FTC to discourage use of the term argue “natural” is now used strategically to obscure the climate consequences of gas while promoting it as a healthy option, often alongside images of green leaves and blue drops. “The idea that this is just naturally occurring doesn’t really relate to the reality of how it’s marketed or how people perceive it,” Duncan Meisel, executive director of Clean Creatives, a campaign prodding the advertising industry to cut ties with fossil fuel clients, told Bloomberg. Instead, he told Bloomberg, “The word ‘natural’ plays a very vital role in the perception of the product.” 


Chicago Sun Times: Bring carbon capture technology and its environmental benefits to Illinois
Pat Devaney is the secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO and Mark Denzler is the president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, 4/28/23

“When business and labor come together to support legislation, it’s a win for workers, families and our state’s economy,” Pat Devaney and Mark Denzler write for the Chicago Sun Times. “The Illinois General Assembly is considering legislation that would further enable carbon sequestration in the nation’s best geological areas, but we currently cannot site underground storage of captured carbon emissions in Illinois. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) delivers crucially important environmental and economic benefits. The time is now for Illinois to deliver these benefits to the state and the planet… “The science is clear on CCS: This is a safe and effective means to reduce carbon emissions.. “CCS also presents an incredible opportunity for Illinois’ economy and its highly skilled work force. A recent state-commissioned report by the University of Illinois estimates CCS development has a potential statewide demand of 14,440 jobs… “Legislation jointly supported by business and labor will set clear permitting and ownership requirements, establishing the holistic framework needed for considerable investments in projects moving forward. Also important to note is that this bill does not require taxpayer money for CCS. Job-creating leaders in this space are simply asking that the State of Illinois clarify rules to support a strong CCS market in Illinois… “Unfortunately, as with many ground-breaking innovations, there is a degree of opposition. Some are even intent on advancing an anti-CCS bill, stating the “people of Illinois need protection” from this technology — which, again, has been developed in lockstep with federal agencies and regulators to ensure its safety.”

Guardian: Ali died days before he could challenge BP’s CEO on the dangers of gas flaring. Don’t let his death be in vain
Jess Kelly is a documentary film-maker and journalist, 4/27/23

“Ali Hussein Jaloud, a 21-year-old Iraqi who lives next to one of BP’s biggest oilfields, was meant to ask a question at the company’s annual shareholder meeting today,” Jess Kelly writes for the Guardian. “He was going to challenge the CEO on why his company continues to poison his neighbourhood with cancer-causing pollution. But, just a few days ago, Ali died of a form of leukaemia that has been linked to chemicals released by the burning of fossil fuels. His grieving father will ask why BP did not use its vast profits to help save his life… “Routine gas flaring is a wasteful and avoidable practice used by oil companies to burn off the natural gas expelled during drilling. The process releases both greenhouse gases and dangerous air pollution. The gas could be captured instead and used to power people’s homes, saving them from dangerous emissions. But for more than a decade, BP and its partners have failed to build the necessary infrastructure… “Ali had been told by doctors that pollution had probably caused his cancer, and he quietly started advocating for a greener Iraq, one where children could breathe clean air. In his last Instagram post, just days before his death, Ali called for the oil companies to stop routine gas flaring and “save the youth of the country from kidney failure and cancer.” “…Companies like BP are still breaking Iraq’s law by gas flaring illegally close to people’s homes. If you are looking down on us now, Ali, please know that your death will not be in vain. Britain’s biggest pension fund, Nest, and other investors are launching a shareholder rebellion against BP for rolling back on its climate targets. They told us their actions were partly inspired by our film. And this story could help secure justice for the thousands of lives put at risk by pollution from fossil fuel companies.”

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