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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 5/16/23

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

By Mark Hefflinger

May 16, 2023



  • Roanoke Times: MVP regains permit to pass through the Jefferson National Forest

  • Common Dreams: Outrage as Biden Admin Says Mountain Valley Pipeline Can Run Through National Forest

  • CBC: Trial begins for Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief accused of blocking Coastal GasLink pipeline

  • Hope Standard: VIDEO: Trans Mountain confirms sinkholes at pipeline project site

  • Cedar Rapids Gazette: Iowa based Summit Agricultural backs world’s biggest plant for ethanol jet fuel

  • WXPR: Oil pipeline hearing, tree planting volunteers, allergy season

  • Press release: The Greenpeace Ship “Arctic Sunrise” arrives in Mexico to save the Veracruz reefs from a massive gas pipeline 

  • Pipeline Fighters Hub: Along the Route: A Pipeline Discussion (KMEG / Siouxland News) [VIDEO]


  • Politico: A crucial climate technology provokes fears in oil country

  • Common Dreams: Watchdog Group Launches Counter Attack on ‘Dangerous Carbon Capture Hype’

  • E&E News: Climate experts are split over how much CO2 can be cut with EPA’s rule

  • E&E News: Biden admin launches $11B program to electrify rural America

  • Washington Post: USDA announces $11 billion to bring clean energy to rural America 

  • Associated Press: Biden plan to sell land leases for conservation gets pushback

  • Bloomberg: US Lawmakers Want to Boost Ethanol’s Green Appeal as EVs Threaten Fuel Use


  • The Advocate: In win for industry groups, House rejects bills targeting Maurepas carbon capture project

  • Casper Star-Tribune: Carbon capture rule gets low marks

  • Press release: The California Senate has formally endorsed the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty 

  • Canary Media: Colorado to bar utilities from charging customers for lobbying

  • Associated Press: Fire breaks out at Marathon refinery in Texas; 1 worker dead


  • Bloomberg: Big Money Rushes Into Carbon Capture. Can It Deliver This Time?

  • Bloomberg: Microsoft Inks Deal to Pay for CO2 Stored Below the Sea

  • Canadian Press: Overhaul permitting process in Canada to keep up with U.S., TC Energy CEO urges

  • E&E News: Oil companies’ carbon led to vast wildfire damage, researchers find

  • Reuters: Alberta regulator monitoring more avian deaths at Suncor tailings pond


  • Nature: How oil companies’ soaring profits compare with green-energy investments

  • Upstream: Oil and gas industry needs $600 billion to cut emissions this decade: IEA


  • The Hill: Gutting the National Environmental Policy Act is a political vendetta, not permitting reform 

  • MinnPost: Minnesota needs carbon management to secure decarbonized future

  • The Conversation: How corporations use greenwashing to convince you they are battling climate change

  • Salon: How Big Oil is manipulating the way you think about climate change


Roanoke Times: MVP regains permit to pass through the Jefferson National Forest
Laurence Hammack, 5/15/23

“Construction of a natural gas pipeline through the Jefferson National Forest, held to a near standstill since 2018 by litigation, received its latest approval Monday from the U.S. Forest Service,” the Roanoke Times reports. “The permit, issued for the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s 3.5-mile path through the forest in Giles and Montgomery counties, is a step toward the company’s goal of completing construction by the end of this year. However, the $6.6 billion project still must receive authorizations from other government agencies — and survive legal challenges from environmental groups — if it is to avoid additional delays. In an announcement late Monday, the Forest Service said it approved amendments to its Land and Resource Management Plan to allow the massive buried pipeline. But work in the national forest, which will include boring a tunnel under the Appalachian Trail at the top of Peters Mountain, cannot start until Mountain Valley has other permits in hand. “We maintain that the Mountain Valley Pipeline cannot be built through the Jefferson National Forest without lasting damage to sensitive forests, habitats and waters,” Jessica Sims, Virginia field coordinator for Appalachian Voices, told the Times. “Amending a forest plan 11 times to accommodate a ruinous project on federal land is unacceptable.” “…The Forest Service said it considered significant public input that consisted of 359 comment letters, roughly 9,100 forms and several petitions. Appalachian Voices has said that more than 30,000 individuals and organizations oppose the pipeline’s route through the forest.”

Common Dreams: Outrage as Biden Admin Says Mountain Valley Pipeline Can Run Through National Forest

“The U.S. Forest Service on Monday gave a green light for the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline to run through the Jefferson National Forest, a decision that sparked outcry from conservationists who say the Biden administration is ignoring the fracked gas project’s potentially devastating impacts on the environment and wildlife,” Common Dreams reports. “I can see the Jefferson National Forest from my kitchen window,” said Russell Chisholm, managing director of the Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights (POWHR) coalition. “This land is precious to me. It is home. The Biden administration is trying to destroy my home with the Mountain Valley Pipeline, despite the national forest’s protected status.” “This unfinished, unnecessary pipeline project has accrued hundreds of violations,” Chisholm added. “The Biden administration’s next move must be to stop the MVP. On June 8th, we’ll be on his front doorstep demanding he do so.” “…The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit rejected the Forest Service’s 2018 and 2022 decisions granting approval for the project in the Jefferson National Forest, faulting the agency for failing to adequately consider “the actual sedimentation and erosion impacts of the pipeline,” among other possible damage. Appalachian Voices, one of the groups that sued over the previous authorizations, said Monday that the Forest Service’s new decision “ignores outstanding concerns about the proposed changes to standards for soil health, old-growth forest, forest edge, species competition, and scenic viewshed standards will bring significant harmful impacts to biodiversity and lands held in the public trust.” “…The Forest Service’s latest decision comes weeks after U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm reiterated the Biden administration’s support for the Mountain Valley Pipeline in a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), drawing outraged responses from environmentalists who say the White House is violating its pledge to treat the climate crisis as an existential threat.”

CBC: Trial begins for Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief accused of blocking Coastal GasLink pipeline
Betsy Trumpener, 5/15/23

“The trial of a Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief charged with criminal contempt for allegedly blocking construction on the Coastal GasLink pipeline opened Monday in B.C. Supreme Court in Smithers in northern B.C.,” CBC reports. “The Crown alleges Chief Dtsa’hyl (Adam Gagnon), who is being tried by judge alone, seized and decommissioned pieces of Coastal GasLink’s heavy equipment, publicly defying a court injunction to stay away from pipeline construction. His lawyer told the court that Wet’suwet’en matriarchs were present in the courtroom and that several Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs would be called later as witnesses for the defence.  In an agreed statement of fact, the court heard Dtsa”hyl was arrested in October 2021 while driving a red truck on a remote road near an area of pipeline construction and that four heavy-duty equipment batteries were visible in the truck. The prosecution says it will call witnesses, including an RCMP officer, Coastal GasLink security guards, as well as company officials, who will testify about the work interruptions and financial impact caused by Dtsa’hyl’s alleged actions. The first Crown witness, Julia Jones, told the court she was hired by the RCMP to collect social media evidence. A former British police detective and undercover operator, Jones owns the company Human-i Intelligence Services… “The court heard that the RCMP hired Jones to download about a dozen web pages and video from public Facebook and Instagram accounts operated by opponents of Coastal GasLink’s pipeline… “A dozen protesters, who call themselves land defenders and water protectors, have also been charged with criminal contempt for publicly defying the court order by blockading CGL. They are scheduled to go on trial later this year, but their lawyer has filed a charter challenge, alleging “systemic disregard for Indigenous rights and sovereignty.” Coastal GasLink has signed benefit agreements with 20 band councils along the project’s 670-kilometre route. But Wet’suwet’en hereditary leadership who oppose the project say band councils do not have authority over land beyond reserve boundaries.”

Hope Standard: VIDEO: Trans Mountain confirms sinkholes at pipeline project site

“An advisory about traffic restrictions in Langley was issued after a second sinkhole was discovered near a Trans Mountain pipeline work site,” the Hope Standard reports. “Langley Township Councillor Rob Rindt told the Standard when the first sinkhole was discovered a few weeks ago, on 240th Street, between 80th and 72nd Avenues, across from his family farm, a representative of Trans Mountain told him it was a “one-off,” assuring him that he didn’t have to worry about. Then, a second sinkhole was discovered on the other side, “on my property,” Rindt told the Standard… “In response to a Langley Advance Times query, a statement from a Trans Mountain spokesperson on Monday, May 15, confirmed there have been two sinkholes associated with the construction of their pipeline through Langley. “Trenchless construction is occurring on 240th Street for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project,” the statement said. “There is currently a horizontal directional drill (HDD) underway, which is a method to safely cross underneath watercourse crossings, railways, highways, sensitive environmental areas and in places with restricted workspaces, such as urban areas.”

Cedar Rapids Gazette: Iowa based Summit Agricultural backs world’s biggest plant for ethanol jet fuel

“Honeywell and Iowa-based Summit Agricultural are partnering to build the world’s largest plant making ethanol-based aviation fuel — a project that is likely to become a $1 billion facility and expected to open in 2025,” the Cedar Rapids Gazette reports. “The plant eventually will produce enough jet fuel to power thousands of flights per year, according to Summit Agricultural, run by Iowa entrepreneur Bruce Rastetter. The facility will be located on the U.S. Gulf Coast and use Honeywell’s technology to transform ethanol into sustainable aviation fuel, known as SAF, the companies said Monday… “But perhaps the most controversial effort to boost the market for ethanol is the construction of underground pipelines meant to capture the CO2 emissions of ethanol plants and sequester them underground. Critics say the pipelines are unproven and pose risks to people and the environment. But beyond that, two of the three pipeline projects proposed for Iowa — which would generate federal tax credits — are asking the state for eminent domain power to be able to force easements from reluctant landowners. Rastetter runs one of the pipeline companies, Summit Carbon Solutions, and is seeking permission of the state’s regulators for its approximately 680-mile route in Iowa — and also for eminent domain authority… “Ethanol plants that participate in carbon capture will have access to significant new markets like this both here in the U.S. and abroad,” Rastetter wrote Monday in an email to Iowa legislators. “We continue to believe that embracing new opportunities and markets will prove to be incredibly beneficial for Iowa agriculture. It’s hard not to be incredibly bullish on Iowa agriculture given the opportunities in front of biofuels going forward.”

WXPR: Oil pipeline hearing, tree planting volunteers, allergy season
John Burton, 5/15/23

“A court hearing is planned as environmental and tribal advocates voice concerns about an oil and gas pipeline across northern Wisconsin,” WXPR reports.

Press release: The Greenpeace Ship “Arctic Sunrise” arrives in Mexico to save the Veracruz reefs from a massive gas pipeline 

“Greenpeace Mexico announced the arrival of the Arctic Sunrise at a press conference today in the port of Veracruz in Mexico. The ship will remain in Mexican waters from May 13th to June 5th to conduct research on the Veracruz reefs and launch its campaign Mar adentro, mar afuera (“The open sea – the sea outside”) against the Sur de Texas Tuxpan Pipeline that will bring US fossil gas into the country. “The planned Sur de Texas Tuxpan will serve a blow to President Obrador’s stated agenda. By importing U.S. fracked gas to Mexico, we are forgoing our energy sovereignty and sacrificing some of the poorest communities from both countries who are immediately at risk of pollution and losing their livelihood. Finally, planned in the heart of a massive coral reef, this pipeline would turn Mexico’s ambitious climate and biodiversity targets into pipe dreams,” said Pablo Ramírez, Greenpeace México Climate & Energy campaigner. In the coming weeks, the Greenpeace team, joined by researchers of the University of Veracruz, will document the current state of the reef in the central and northern areas of the State of Veracruz – an understudied ecosystem that remains outside designated protected areas. The planned construction of the Sur de Texas Tuxpan Pipeline, a gas pipeline that aims to connect Texas with Tuxpan, Coatzacoalcos, and Dos Bocas in the State of Veracruz, is a project of CFE (Mexican Federal Commission of Electricity), TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) and the U.S. company Allseas. It threatens the reef ecosystems of the region and the coastal communities that depend on them. “TC Energy has a history of violating the rights of local communities and destroying the environment. They’re currently building a pipeline through unceded Indigenous territory in Canada and this is another example of how they blatantly disregard the devastating local and global impacts of fossil fuel expansion,” said Laura Ullmann, Greenpeace Canada Head of Climate.

Pipeline Fighters Hub: Along the Route: A Pipeline Discussion (KMEG / Siouxland News) [VIDEO]

“The case for both support and opposition to hazardous carbon pipelines has been put forth in a multi-part series of reports by Siouxland News. Anchor Katie Copple met with a variety of stakeholders, from impacted landowners to the manager of an ethanol plant intending to capture carbon for the proposed Summit carbon pipeline. You can watch the full series below.”


Politico: A crucial climate technology provokes fears in oil country

“Named for the friend of a French king, Louisiana’s Lake Maurepas is a large tidal estuary at the confluence of four rivers, a geographic lace-hole in the boot-shaped state. But if a company called Air Products gets its way, the 93-square-mile expanse will also be the setting for a mile-deep pool of carbon dioxide, a project aided by the Biden administration’s big bet on carbon capture technology,” Politico reports. “Many Louisiana residents are big supporters of the oil and gas industry, but they worry about the idea of using relatively untested technology to pump 5 million metric tons a year of carbon dioxide — more than what 1 million cars emit in a year — into a cavern underneath the smooth waters of their lake. Kim Landry Coates, a council member of neighboring Tangipahoa Parish, told Politico many of her constituents are concerned about burying the colorless, odorless gas that, in high concentrations, can choke people unconscious. Or worse. One thing is particularly worrisome, Coates told Politico. And that’s the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency, the part of the federal government currently tasked with analyzing applications to store carbon dioxide underground, is looking to pass that job to the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources. The department has said it has so few employees with expertise in the matter that it will have to outsource positions… “But a three-month POLITICO investigation shows that both the federal government and the states are far short of the resources necessary to properly investigate and ensure the safety of a dangerous emerging technology. The EPA itself has received at least 75 applications for carbon capture permits, with dozens more expected in the pipeline… “But so far, the EPA has only been able to process two. It is now negotiating with states to take the job over. Louisiana, one of those states, says it has three people ready to move those applications and will have to hire and train triple that number in the first several years to meet the demand. Regardless, EPA last month took the first step toward letting Louisiana control permitting of wells to store CO2. Another state looking to take over for the EPA, Texas, would put the job into the hands of a three-person commission, the Texas Railroad Commission, with a history of being dominated by the oil, gas and mining industries it oversees… “It’s like giving a toddler who’s really into trucks a full-sized 18-wheeler and telling them to have fun on I-10,” Watt told Politico of the EPA making the commission responsible for the safety of carbon sequestration wells. “They are going to crash into everything. They are not technical people. They don’t have the technical expertise.” The result, both environmental officials and carbon capture experts told Politico, is that many of the projects are likely to face either serious delays while waiting for safety assessments or — worse — be waved through with less than thorough scrutiny. The EPA did not respond to questions about the safety of carbon storage and the size of the agency’s program to monitor it. Some climate activists — who’ve long claimed that carbon capture is merely a way to perpetuate a fossil-fuel economy — tell Politico the lack of regulatory apparatus is a sign of rushed decision-making. And they say it could put low-income residents and communities of color at risk, despite the Biden administration’s pledges to address historical disparities in how environmental burdens are distributed… “PHMSA has some experience overseeing CO2 pipelines, agency spokesperson Samantha Keitt told Politico, but it will need to train local emergency responders and persuade federal authorities to bolster staff to deal with the crush of new projects.”

Common Dreams: Watchdog Group Launches Counter Attack on ‘Dangerous Carbon Capture Hype’

“The national climate watchdog group Food & Water Watch on Monday unveiled a new interactive multimedia resource where users can learn more about “false narratives” regarding carbon capture and storage, an unproven technology pushed by fossil fuel companies eager to avoid what scientists and energy experts say is the actual solution to the climate emergency: Ending the burning of coal, gas, and oil to bring down carbon emissions,” Common Dreams reports. “Visitors to the group’s new “resource hub” first encounter a title card reading, “The Carbon Capture Solution” before the last word is crossed out and replaced with “Scam.” “What carbon capture and storage is, is a complex set of machines that is attached to a smokestack where carbon dioxide is being emitted, and it captures that CO2,” said biologist Sandra Steingraber in a video featured on the site. “Problem one, it’s going to increase the energy, just to run the machinery, by 20%. These are chemicals that we know cause heart attack and stroke, that shorten lifeaspans, that are linked to childhood asthma, and are also linked to preterm birth—preterm birth being the number one cause of disability in the United States.” Despite evidence that CCS is more expensive than its proponents admit as well as being energy-intensive and actually contributing to a net increase in emissions, the Environmental Protection Agency last week unveiled new power plant rules that rely heavily on the unproven technology and include plans to build thousands of miles of new pipelines to carry the emissions proponents say will be trapped and stored. “The fossil fuel industry has spent millions of dollars promoting carbon capture and policy makers at all levels have taken the bait, doling out billions of dollars to support its development. But CCS is a lifeline for the fossil fuel industry and a dangerous distraction from the pressing need to move off oil and gas,” said Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter on Monday.

E&E News: Climate experts are split over how much CO2 can be cut with EPA’s rule
Benjamin Storrow, 5/12/23

“The draft regulation might fail to meet the country’s goal of cutting carbon emissions in half over seven years,” E&E News reports. 

E&E News: Biden admin launches $11B program to electrify rural America
Brian Dabbs, 5/16/23

“The Agriculture Department is kicking off the awards process for nearly $11 billion in funding to electrify and decarbonize rural parts of the United States,” E&E News reports. “Drawing from two pots of money enacted in the Inflation Reduction Act, the funding is available for a sweeping set of potential projects, from new or retrofitted transmission lines to hydrogen projects to carbon capture… “This is about renewable energy systems. It’s about zero-emissions systems. It’s about carbon capture systems,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters on a call Monday… “Carbon capture technology also has not been used widely in the power sector, and existing carbon dioxide pipeline proposals are creating pushback in rural areas of the Midwest. Even so, EPA’s major proposal last week to regulate emissions in the power sector relies heavily on carbon capture and storage (CCS). “There is an enhanced and generous tax credit in the IRA for carbon capture and sequestration, which I think there’s now renewed interest in,” Podesta told E&E. “There’s every indication that industry is interested in this.”

Washington Post: USDA announces $11 billion to bring clean energy to rural America 
Maxine Joselow, 5/16/23

“The Agriculture Department today announced the availability of nearly $11 billion in grants and loans to help deploy clean energy in rural communities, marking the largest investment in rural electrification since former president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1936 Rural Electrification Act,” the Washington Post reports. “The money, which was authorized by the Inflation Reduction Act, will come from two programs… “The Empowering Rural America Program will deliver $9.7 billion to eligible rural electric cooperatives to deploy renewable energy and carbon capture technology. “An investment in rural America is an investment in all America,” John Podesta, the White House senior adviser for clean-energy innovation and implementation, told reporters on a call yesterday. “We’re committed to do all we can to make sure that the best strategy reaches every corner of our country.”

Associated Press: Biden plan to sell land leases for conservation gets pushback

“Biden administration officials on Monday sought to dispel worries they want to exclude oil drilling, livestock grazing and other activities from vast government-owned lands, as they faced pushback from Republicans and ranchers and over a contentious proposal to put conservation on equal footing with industry,” the Associated Press reports. “The proposal would allow conservationists and others to lease federally owned land to restore it, much the same way oil companies buy leases to drill and ranchers pay to graze cattle. Leases also could be bought on behalf of companies such as oil drillers who want to offset damage to public land by restoring acreage elsewhere. But more than a century after the U.S. started selling grazing permits and oil and gas leases, the proposal is stirring debate over the best use of public land, primarily in the West. Opponents including Republican lawmakers and agriculture industry representatives are blasting it as a backdoor way to exclude mining, energy development and agriculture… “U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican who tried to block Stone-Manning’s 2021 Senate confirmation, says the proposed rule is illegal… “Stone-Manning told the AP that critics were misreading the rule, and that conservation leases would not usurp existing ones. If grazing is now permitted on a parcel, it could continue. And people could still hunt on the leased property or use it for recreation, she told AP… “Environmentalists have largely embraced the changes, characterizing the proposal as long overdue. Joel Webster with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, a coalition of conservation groups and hunting and fishing organizations, told AP the administration’s plan would set up a process to ensure landscapes are considered for conservation without forcing restrictions.”

Bloomberg: US Lawmakers Want to Boost Ethanol’s Green Appeal as EVs Threaten Fuel Use
Kim Chipman and Jennifer A Dlouhy, 5/15/23

“US representatives from Iowa, Illinois, Texas and Oklahoma are introducing a bill that would allow corn-based ethanol to qualify as an “advanced biofuel” — a bid to boost the gasoline additive’s green credentials,” Bloomberg reports. “The bipartisan legislation is bringing together lawmakers from Midwestern states that grow corn along with regions tied to oil production. It’s a rare move that shows how factions that were once at odds are now working together as the proliferation of electric vehicles is threatening demand for both biofuels and traditional gasoline… “In years past, lawmakers from oil-producing states and those from the Corn Belt have clashed over how much ethanol should be blended into gasoline. But as consumers turn to EVs to reduce their carbon footprint, crop growers and fossil-fuel producers are looking to the biofuel as a way to boost the appeal of gasoline-powered cars… ”Corn-based ethanol is currently prohibited from qualifying as an advanced biofuel, even if it can meet the required scientific thresholds, under that regulation.”


The Advocate: In win for industry groups, House rejects bills targeting Maurepas carbon capture project
SAM KARLIN, 5/15/23

“Amid pressure from high-powered petrochemical groups, the Louisiana House shot down efforts to either halt or slow a controversial carbon-capture project slated for Lake Maurepas,” The Advocate reports. “The votes to kill two bills – House Bill 120 by Rep. Nicholas Muscarello, R-Hammond, and House Bill 267 by Rep. Bill Wheat, R-Ponchatoula – were a win for petrochemical firms and their lobbying groups, which told lawmakers to oppose the measures or risk threatening “billions” in possible investments in petrochemical plants and carbon-capture projects in Louisiana. The House rejected arguments by Lake Maurepas area residents, Republican legislators and other local officials who are vehemently opposed to Air Products’ plans for a series of carbon capture injection wells on the lake. That company’s project – and what company officials recently conceded has been poor communication about its details – has resulted in a groundswell of opposition. Muscarello’s bill would have banned the state from permitting well platforms and the like on Lake Maurepas… “A coalition of environmental groups in Louisiana have called carbon capture a “false solution,” arguing the industry is simply seeking to keep their fossil-fuel projects alive using unproven technology.”

Casper Star-Tribune: Carbon capture rule gets low marks
Nicole Pollack, 5/15/23

“Wyoming leaders swear — almost across the board — that carbon capture is destined to be a vital part of electricity generation. Just not yet,” the Casper Star-Tribune reports. “The Biden administration’s proposed emissions constraints for power plants that burn coal or natural gas, a long-awaited rule announced Thursday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), relies heavily on carbon capture for plants staying open beyond the 2030s… “Many in Wyoming don’t see the rule’s reliance on carbon capture as a vote of confidence in the emerging technology. They argue instead that it’s an attack on the fossil fuels at the heart of the state’s economy. “The proposed rule basically says to coal plants — convert to carbon capture or close,” Randall Luthi, Gov. Mark Gordon’s chief energy adviser, told the Star-Tribune. For older coal plants, in particular, he said, installing carbon capture will be unlikely to make financial sense within the EPA’s timeline. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., each issued scathing statements declaring the move calamitous for Wyoming and unworkable for energy producers nationwide. “As Senator Barrasso has advocated for years, we should continue investing in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology so it has a chance to be commercially deployed at a scale power plants can realistically make work,” said Laura Mengelkamp, Barrasso’s communications director, in an email… “Meanwhile, the Powder River Basin Resource Council, an environmental group, pointed in a statement to carbon capture’s history of major cost overruns at the handful of coal plants where it has already been deployed. The group has pushed back against repeated efforts by state lawmakers over the last several years to force Wyoming utilities to keep coal plants open and attempt to install carbon capture. “Now, looking at these failures,” Lynne Huskinson, a board member, told the Star-Tribune, “we ask why would the administration choose this costly and unproven technology to curb carbon pollution?”

Press release: The California Senate has formally endorsed the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty 

“In a momentous vote, the California Senate approved today a resolution formally endorsing the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty proposal. The resolution calls upon President Biden to support Pacific nation states seeking a negotiating mandate for a new treaty to manage a global phase out of coal, oil and gas production. The SJR2 resolution was introduced by California Senate Majority Whip Senator Lena A Gonzalez, and co-sponsored by Indigenous Environmental Network and With a majority of 27 votes, the Senate approval is a major step toward the State of California joining 85 other subnational governments and cities who have formally endorsed the Fossil Fuel Treaty proposal… “The Fossil Fuel Treaty proposal has gained significant momentum in recent months, with a block of Pacific nation states – Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Tonga, Fiji, Niue and the Solomon Islands – formally and publicly expressing their intention to seek a negotiating mandate for the a new treaty. They are now pushing to build an alliance of national and subnational governments globally who can join them in developing the initiative. The proposal has also had formal support from the European Parliament, the World Health Organization and the President of Timor-Leste. These calls from governments are backed by a diverse and global campaign network that consists of 3,000 scientists and academics, 650 parliamentarians from 84 countries, 101 Nobel laureates and over 2,000 civil society organisations who have all backed the core pillars of the proposed treaty. The California Senate’s endorsement serves as a crucial step towards building stronger political support, further bolstering the proposal’s chances of success at the global level. “We can prevent further harm to our communities, and that is why I thank my colleagues in the Senate for supporting SJR 2 and urge my colleagues in the Assembly to do the same, so that our nation can be a part of the solution, to forge strong unity and commitment to phasing out the use of fossil fuels,” said California Senate Majority Whip Senator Lena A Gonzalez. 

Canary Media: Colorado to bar utilities from charging customers for lobbying
Akielly Hu, 5/15/23

“Utilities across the country use money collected from customers’ monthly bills to fund political campaigns and lobbying efforts, often with the goal of blocking climate progress,” Canary Media reports. “But in Colorado, that’s about to change. Last week, the state legislature passed the country’s most comprehensive bill to prevent utilities from using customer funds to support political activities. The legislation was approved on May 8 by the state Senate after clearing the state House two days prior, and it’s expected to be signed by Governor Jared Polis (D) soon. It will prohibit investor-owned utilities from charging their customers — known as ratepayers — for membership dues in trade associations, lobbying expenses, or any other activities influencing legislation, ballot measures, and other regulatory actions. It will also bar utilities from spending ratepayer money on political advertising or any messaging intended to boost the utility’s brand… “It’s common practice, for example, for investor-owned utilities to funnel money from customers to trade associations like the American Gas Association and the Edison Electric Institute, which are well known for their political lobbying efforts to protect industry interests. One report from the London-based think tank InfluenceMap found that close to half of the 25 largest investor-owned utilities in the U.S. are actively working to delay the energy transition through lobbying, political messaging or campaign donations, including via trade groups… “A few other states, including New York and Minnesota, have passed similar laws to address the issue, but none are as comprehensive as Colorado’s. Unlike other such laws, Colorado’s includes an annual reporting requirement to ensure that utilities are complying with the new rules. But the bill stops short of requiring the state’s Public Utilities Commission to impose fines on noncompliant utilities.”

Associated Press: Fire breaks out at Marathon refinery in Texas; 1 worker dead

“A fire at a Marathon Petroleum refinery near Houston on Monday caused visible flames and left at least one worker dead, the company said,” the Associated Press reports. “Marathon told AP the cause of the morning fire was under investigation. Aerial footage from Houston television stations showed crews trying to put out flames at the Galveston Bay refinery, which is along a stretch of Texas coast that is heavily populated by petrochemical facilities. Neither the company nor authorities immediately said whether anyone else was injured… “Texas City police said that by Monday afternoon the fire was under control and contained in the facility. The company had earlier said it had accounted for all workers. Fires at refineries in the area are not uncommon. Earlier this month, a fire at a Shell facility in nearby Deer Park sent nine workers to the hospital and caused massive plumes of smoke. In March, an explosion and fire at a facility owned by INEOS Phenol in nearby Pasadena, Texas, left one injured. The fire comes after a 2005 explosion — one of the worst refinery explosions in U.S. history — left 15 dead and 180 others injured at this same facility, which was then owned by BP.”


Bloomberg: Big Money Rushes Into Carbon Capture. Can It Deliver This Time?
Akshat Rathi, 5/16/23

“The prospect of trapping carbon dioxide and storing it away so it can’t warm the planet has always been tantalizing. Now governments and companies are throwing their weight behind the technology as a way of solving the climate problem like never before,” Bloomberg reports. “The oil and gas industry has long argued that real emissions reductions can be delivered by removing CO2 from smokestacks and burying it deep underground — an approach known as carbon capture and storage (CCS). But after decades of failing to reach the scale needed to make a real difference, the people responsible for approving generous subsidies and directing billions in investment want proof that this time it will really work… “Earlier this month, COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber signaled that CCS will also  play a major role in the annual United Nations climate summit to be hosted by the United Arab Emirates… “It’s an exciting year for the industry,” Jessie Stolark, executive director of Carbon Capture Coalition, a US lobby group, told Bloomberg. “But we’re not suggesting it’s a silver bullet. It’s important to deploy carbon-management technologies alongside a full portfolio of emissions-reduction strategies.” “…Despite its 50-year history, all the CCS plants deployed globally capture only about 40 million tons of CO2 each year. That’s less than 0.1% of global greenhouse-gas emissions. If every plant in the pipeline collated by the Global CCS Institute gets built, that would grow to about 0.5%… “The majority of CCS plants in the world are operated by oil and gas companies. That’s because the industry has developed the expertise needed to safely handle large volumes of gas. However, unless CCS was tied directly to revenue in the form of oil or carbon taxes, few plants found viable business models that justified significant investment.” 

Bloomberg: Microsoft Inks Deal to Pay for CO2 Stored Below the Sea
Will Mathis, 5/15/23

“Microsoft Corp. is buying credits for CO2 captured at two Danish power plants and then stored beneath the North Sea in a sign that corporate emission-reduction goals can help spur carbon storage technology,” Bloomberg reports. “The tech giant’s deal with Orsted A/S helped the utility in its bid to secure backing from the Danish government to trap CO2 from the biomass-fired power stations. It’s a key step for the scaling up of a technology that will be crucial for Europe to reach its goal of net zero emissions by 2050… “Orsted will be paid by the Danish government for every metric ton of CO2 that it stores, with a target to trap 430,000 tons a year. Additionally, Microsoft agreed to buy credits for 2.76 million tons of carbon removal over a period of 11 years. If Orsted can meet its annual capture target, that would see Microsoft paying to take credit for more than half the annual emissions stored… “But by trapping carbon at the plant, it is being counted as a negative emissions technology. That claim will have to be rigorously proven after previous analyses found that the emissions from cutting down, chopping and transporting trees can often be higher than the CO2 they trap.”

Canadian Press: Overhaul permitting process in Canada to keep up with U.S., TC Energy CEO urges
James McCarten, 5/15/23

“Canada might be outmatched by the U.S. on raw spending power, but retooling the way Ottawa signs off on infrastructure projects could help it gain ground in the race to build North America’s green economy, industry leaders say,” the Canadian Press reports. “But the federal government had better hurry: lawmakers on Capitol Hill already have the same idea. Resource companies are less attracted to monetary incentives than they are to the decidedly less sexy idea of regulatory consistency and predictability, TC Energy president and CEO François Poirier said Monday. Given the choice of whether to deploy resources in Canada, the U.S. or Mexico, “the size of the incentives is not the determining factor in my decisions,” Poirier told a gathering of business executives in Washington, D.C. Factors like consistent timelines and permitting criteria for any given project are decidedly more attractive to stability-craving companies than the multibillion-dollar subsidies on offer in the U.S., he said.  And it may only be days or weeks before the U.S. catches up, if a permitting reform bill from West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin ends up part of any forthcoming deal between Republicans and the White House on the debt ceiling.  “While Canada and Mexico are pondering how to achieve parity or close to parity with the U.S. to attract capital to be invested in energy, the U.S. has already moved on to the realization that permitting reform is critical,” Poirier said. “My advice to our Canadian government and to the government in Mexico would be to provide as much certainty as possible with respect to permitting…If we are to achieve our ambitions for emission reductions by 2030, we only have a couple of years where we can make meaningful change and implement that change in time. Speeding up regulatory processes — but also, more importantly, making them predictable and consistent among the three jurisdictions — is really what’s necessary for all of those countries who are competing with the U.S.”

E&E News: Oil companies’ carbon led to vast wildfire damage, researchers find
Chelsea Harvey, 5/16/23

“The world’s top corporate carbon emitters are responsible for more than a third of the area burned by wildfires in the western United States and southwestern Canada since the 1980s, a new study says,” E&E News reports. “The analysis, published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, focuses on the top 88 fossil fuel producers and cement manufacturers, from which a majority of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions originate. It’s a kind of climate attribution study that connects rising temperatures with worsening wildfires and the source of the emissions that have spurred them. “We know that wildfires in western North America are growing worse due to climate change,” study co-author Carly Phillips, a research scientist at the Union for Concerned Scientists’ Science Hub for Climate Litigation, told E&E. “And we also know, based on previous research, that emissions from these top 88 carbon producers have contributed a significant amount to global temperature increase. And so we wanted to kind of combine those two lines of inquiry to be able to put a spotlight on the fossil fuel industry’s role in driving the wildfires.” “…The American Petroleum Institute, an industry group representing fossil fuel companies, disputed the study and said its authors have a “clear agenda.” “…Such studies can potentially be used in climate litigation, Phillips told E&E… “We know that there are lots of lawsuits against fossil fuel actors right now that are citing attribution science as evidence of the impact of these companies’ products. So this really adds to that body of work that can be used to inform those cases.”

Reuters: Alberta regulator monitoring more avian deaths at Suncor tailings pond

“The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) said on Sunday it was monitoring the situation after 27 waterfowl were found dead at one of Suncor Energy Inc’s oilsands tailings ponds,” Reuters reports. “The company informed the regulator on May 13 that the birds were found at its Syncrude Mildred Lake Settling Basin, AER said in a post on its website. The deceased birds at Syncrude included seven Grebes, with another five of the endangered bird species being found at the Millennium Mine site tailings pond at Suncor Base Plant. The Western Grebe, facing the danger of becoming extinct, is listed as “special concern” in Canada and as “threatened” in Alberta… “Separately, Canada’s federal environment ministry has opened a formal investigation into a months-long tailings leak at Imperial Oil Ltd’s Kearl oil sands mine in northern Alberta, signaling a potential prosecution.”


Nature: How oil companies’ soaring profits compare with green-energy investments
Katharine Sanderson, 5/16/23

“Many of the world’s biggest oil-and-gas companies have announced huge first-quarter profits, as climate campaigners worldwide protest over the slow progress in transitioning away from fossil fuels,” Nature reports. “Total profits from nine of the biggest energy companies approached US$100 billion for the first three months of 2023, and annual profits for 2022 from the same firms totalled $457 billion. The yearly profits of just those firms are around one-sixth of the annual investment needed to meet the pledges that governments have made to combat climate change, according to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA)… “Meanwhile, protests against fossil-fuel firms and over the climate crisis have become an almost weekly occurrence in cities worldwide, as groups such as Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion demand more urgent action from governments… “But investments in renewable energy, needed to tackle climate change, by nations to meet their carbon-cutting pledges is falling behind. According to the IEA, an intergovernmental policy group in Paris, to meet existing targets, nations must invest $2.7 trillion annually in clean energy by 2030… “Current annual spending on green energy is about $1.4 trillion, the IEA estimates… “Duma wants to know whether current oil-and-gas prices and profits will be the basis for investment decisions that could see fossil fuels still produced for the next 20 or 30 years. “Our research shows that fossil-fuel production must decline immediately for the world to have a chance at meeting the Paris targets,” he told Nature. But, he adds, “Observing the behaviour and decisions of major oil-and-gas-producing countries and companies, the plans are to continue or even expand production”… “Big oil should reinvest its profit in low-carbon-energy infrastructure,” Wilson told Nature, adding that some countries have tried to encourage this by allowing companies to avoid ‘windfall’ taxes — levied on bumper earnings — if profits are ploughed back into energy-production capacity.”

Upstream: Oil and gas industry needs $600 billion to cut emissions this decade: IEA
Xu Yihe, 5/16/23

“The global oil and gas industry will require $600 billion to achieve its target of cutting emissions this decade, which is only a fraction of the record windfall income that producers accrued in 2022, according to International Energy Agency,” Upstream reports. “The Paris-based organisation in a new report said that oil and gas operations accounted for about 15% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in 2022, equivalent to 5.1 billion tonnes of CO2, and the industry has the ability and resources to cut them quickly and cost effectively. In the IEA’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario, the emissions intensity of these activities falls 50% by the end of the decade. Combined with the reductions in oil and gas consumption in this scenario, this results in a 60% reduction in emissions from oil and gas operations in 2030. The report — Emissions from Oil and Gas Operations in Net Zero Transitions — identified five key levers to achieve this reduction: Tackling methane emissions; eliminating all non-emergency flaring; powering upstream facilities with low-emissions electricity; equipping oil and gas processes with carbon capture, utilisation and storage; and expanding the use of low-emissions hydrogen in refineries.”


The Hill: Gutting the National Environmental Policy Act is a political vendetta, not permitting reform 
Raúl M. Grijalva is ranking member of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources. Melanie Stansbury is Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee ranking member of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, 5/12/23

“At the end of March, House Republicans passed H.R. 1, a shameless giveaway of handouts and loopholes to the oil, gas, and mining industries, fittingly dubbed the Polluters Over People Act. While oil companies’ record-breaking profits make it clear that they’re not an industry under duress, Republicans continue to push legislation to gut our most fundamental environmental and public health laws, namely the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), to line industry pockets,” Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva and Melanie Stansbury write for The Hill. “But of course, if you listen to industry-branded talking points you won’t hear that side of the story. You’ll hear relatively innocuous-sounding words, like “streamlining,” “modernizing,” or the latest turn of phrase — “permitting reform.” “…But, the way Republicans are using permitting reform as a foil to wage a full-scale political attack on NEPA and other bedrock environmental laws most certainly is dirty… “As the GOP seizes every possible opportunity to wage war on NEPA, these attacks ignore the fact that it was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress because it gave the American people a seat at the table in federal decision-making. These attacks ignore the fact that good-government process put into place by NEPA are often communities’ only line of defense against pollution and other harms. And, these attacks ignore how critical NEPA is for environmental justice communities, which have long been excluded from decisions and treated as collateral damage by irresponsible polluters. But perhaps most curiously, Republican attacks ignore the fact that slicing and dicing NEPA won’t speed up permitting processes. That’s because a whopping 95 percent of all projects are already exempt from detailed reviews under NEPA. Of the less than 1 percent of projects that go through NEPA’s full Environmental Impact Statement process, these are the largest and most complex — making their environmental and public health impacts deserving of closer scrutiny and public input… “To put it simply, Republicans appear to be more interested in advancing a pro-polluter political agenda than putting real and meaningful permtting solutions in place. They know that if they weaken longstanding environmental protections and hollow out federal agencies, polluters can pursue projects with as little accountability (and as much profit) as possible… “Permitting reform may indeed be necessary for our clean energy future, but let’s not let a worn-out political vendetta against NEPA goad us into believing it’s a necessary evil.”

MinnPost: Minnesota needs carbon management to secure decarbonized future
Kevin Pranis is the marketing manager for the Laborers’ International Union of North America in Minnesota and North Dakota and serves on Gov. Tim Walz’s Climate Advisory Council, 5/15/23

“Minnesota lawmakers helped secure a better future for current Minnesotans and generations to come when they passed the 100% Clean Energy Law,” Kevin Pranis writes for MinnPost. “…In order to meet the goal affordably and reliably, utilities will need to access every tool in the toolbox, including technologies that capture, remove, transport, reuse and store carbon dioxide (CO2) that would otherwise be released into the air as pollution… “Minnesota has the opportunity to create an annual average of up to 1,030 project jobs over a 15-year period and 680 ongoing operations jobs through the deployment of carbon capture at 19 industrial and power facilities. The retrofit of equipment at these facilities has the potential to capture 16.6 million metric tons of CO2 per year that would otherwise enter the atmosphere. Carbon capture technologies would generate up to $3.1 billion in private investment in our state alone… “The climate debate can no longer pit technologies against each other but must recognize that all mitigation solutions need to be deployed as soon as possible. Carbon capture and storage and renewables are partner technologies working toward the same objective: decarbonization. With the 100% Clean Energy Law, we’re even closer to this objective. With carbon management, we can achieve it.”

The Conversation: How corporations use greenwashing to convince you they are battling climate change
Tom Lyon, Professor of Sustainable Science, Technology and Commerce and Business Economics, University of Michigan, 5/15/23

“Many corporations claim their products are “green-friendly.” But how do you know if what they’re selling is truly eco-safe? SciLine interviewed Thomas Lyon, professor of sustainable science, technology and commerce at the University of Michigan, on how to buy environmentally sustainable products, whether carbon credits actually work and the prevalence of greenwashing,” The Conversation reports. “What is greenwashing? Thomas Lyon: Greenwashing is any communication that leads the listener to adopt an overly favorable impression of a company’s greenness… “One of the increasingly common forms of greenwashing … is a hidden trade-off between the company’s market activities and its political activities. You may get a company that says: Look at this, we invested US$5 million in renewable energy last year. They may not tell you that they spent $100 billion drilling for oil in a sensitive location. And they may not tell you that they spent $50 million lobbying against climate legislation that would have made a real difference… “Thomas Lyon: Overall, it’s better that they’re trying to do something than just ignoring the issue. But this is where you, the consumer, have to start doing your homework … and look for a provider that has a strong reputation and that is making claims validated by external sources.”

Salon: How Big Oil is manipulating the way you think about climate change
Kathleen Dean Moore, Ph.D., is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Emerita at Oregon State University and the author or co-editor of a dozen books about our cultural and moral relation to the natural world, 5/13/23

“…As a philosophy professor, this is how I explain the fallacy to my students: If the argument is not going your opponent’s way, a common strategy — though a fallacious and dishonorable one — is to divert attention from the real issue by raising an issue that is only tangentially related to the first,” Kathleen Dean Moore writes for Salon. “If our collective philosophical literacy were better, we might notice that this fallacy seems to be working spectacularly well for the fossil-fuel industry, the petrochemical industry, and a bunch of other bad actors who would like to throw us off the trail that would lead us fully to grasp their transgressions. We shouldn’t keep falling for it… “Another example of this subterfuge, also from the fossil fuel world, is the idea of carbon sequestration. How can we capture the carbon dioxide that is spewing into the atmosphere? Embed it in concrete blocks, engineers propose. Pipe it to underground caverns, store it in algae blooms or marshes or timber-frame skyscrapers… “But the best, fastest way to reduce the carbon dioxide load of the atmosphere is to stop burning fossil fuels — not to spend billions of dollars developing an entire new industry devoted to sequestering carbon in all kinds of complicated ways. Close down the coal plants. Phase out oil and gas drilling. Get those brilliant engineers back on track, addressing the real question of how we are going to stop oil and gas drilling, and soon… “The best way to defend against a red herring fallacy, I tell my students, is to call it out by name — “Oops. That’s a red herring, a question that is intended to distract us from the central issue” – and then to restate the central issue – “Let us focus full attention on the real issue here, which is, how can we stop the fossil-fuel industry from destroying the life-sustaining systems of the planet in their seemingly endless, and certainly shameless, quest for profit”? You have to be alert and you have to be smart, I tell my students, because the people who would deceive you are sophisticated professionals. But the pros are making a serious mistake, and that is to assume that the average American is not much smarter than a Cocker Spaniel, and so can easily be misled. The work ahead is to prove them wrong.”

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