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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 5/18/23

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

By Mark Hefflinger

May 18, 2023



  • Bloomberg: A Pipeline Pushed to the Limit Preceded Keystone’s Worst Oil Spill

  • Topeka Capital-Journal: Keystone Pipeline operator missed chance to address issue before Kansas oil spill: Report

  • Press release: AG Nessel Files in Wisconsin Federal Court Asking for Emergency Shutdown of Enbridge’s Line 5 Pipeline

  • Associated Press: Wisconsin tribe to ask court to shut down oil pipeline

  • Canadian Press: Enbridge punches back on Line 5 challenge: ‘Nothing but counterfactual speculation’

  • S&P Global Platts: Gas utilities increasingly focus on pipeline blending in hydrogen pilot projects

  • The American Prospect: Rahm Emanuel’s Gas Pipeline


  • Washington Post: The two parties are still far apart on permitting reform in debt limit talks

  • Wall Street Journal: Overhauling Energy Permitting Is a Heavy Lift in Debt-Ceiling Talks

  • New York Times: Manchin Clashes With Biden Administration Over Climate Law

  • E&E News: Carper rolls out green-friendly permitting overhaul

  • E&E News: White House pushed for stronger, faster climate rule as court challenges loom

  • Associated Press: Biden administration invests in carbon capture, upping pressure on industry to show results

  • Reuters: Alaska LNG project clears legal challenge over environmental harms


  • Casper Star-Tribune: Wyoming air quality affected by oil and gas, study finds

  • Louisiana Illuminator: LNG lobbyists ghost wrote Louisiana officials’ letters supporting gas storage project

  • Bismarck Tribune: Coal Creek carbon capture effort gets $38 million federal boost

  • InsideClimate News: New Report Finds Methane Mitigation in Texas Could Create Thousands of Jobs

  • StateImpact Pennsylvania NPR: Methane leaks from pipelines targeted by proposed federal rule

  • Los Angeles Times: Chevron scrambles to batten down oil fields amid threat of Kern River flooding

  • Associated Press: BP subsidiary agrees to record $40M penalty and pollution-cutting steps at Lake Michigan refinery


  • Wall Street Journal: Global Warming Likely to Pass 1.5-Degree Threshold in Next Five Years, U.N. Report Says

  • Wall Street Journal: As Oil Giants Retreat Globally, Smaller Players Rush In

  • Guardian: Could Guyana’s Exxon ruling scare big oil off risky exploration?

  • Ethanol Producer: Summit Carbon Solutions announces stakeholder consultation

  • Associated Press: German court convicts, fines Jesuit priest over climate protest


  • Bloomberg: JPMorgan Investors Say No to Climate Proposals at Annual Meeting

  • Bloomberg: Barclays, Morgan Stanley Lead Banks Into Milestone CO2 Deal

  • MIT Technology Review: Inside the little-known group setting the corporate climate agenda

  • Climate Change News: US backs Indonesian oil refinery despite pledge to end fossil fuel finance



  • Common Dreams: It Is Time to Kill the ‘Dirty Deal’ Once and For All

  • Bismarck Tribune: Letter: Uproar over carbon pipeline hypocritical

  • Washington Post: Audiences want a different climate change message. Hollywood should deliver.

  • The Hill: Biden’s fossil fuel turn is bad politics — and even worse science


Bloomberg: A Pipeline Pushed to the Limit Preceded Keystone’s Worst Oil Spill
Robert Tuttle and Ari Natter, 5/17/23

“When a seam joining two segments of the Keystone oil pipeline ruptured on a frigid night last December — spewing more than 12,000 barrels of heavy crude that polluted a Kansas creek — the disaster had already been years in the making,” Bloomberg reports. “More than a decade ago, US regulators warned that the type of weld that would go on to trigger the worst spill in Keystone’s history had a pattern of failure. And since Keystone began operation in 2010, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has notified operator TC Energy Corp. at least five times that elements of Keystone’s building and operating practices posed safety risks. Yet the 2,687-mile (4,324-kilometer) pipeline running from Canada’s oil sands through America’s heartland has gone on to suffer almost two dozen accidents in 12 years, with the severity of leaks increasing over time, according to the Government Accountability Office. Since 2010, it has spilled more oil than any other pipeline on US soil, PHMSA data show. Government records reveal TC Energy pushed the pipeline to the limit, cranking a measure of stress on the line higher than what’s typically allowed to move more oil while keeping costs down. US regulators signed off on all of it and — even as they warned of danger — refrained from taking maximum enforcement action to curb worsening spills. Now, as the disruption of global energy flows by Russia’s war in Ukraine revives political will and investor appetite for new US pipelines, Keystone’s record stands as a stark reminder of the risks such systems can pose. “Some pipelines run for decades without incident,” Richard Kuprewicz, president of Redmond, Washington-based consultancy Accufacts Inc., which provides technical expertise to regulators and companies, told Bloomberg. “The fact that they have had numerous ruptures, it suggests that something isn’t quite right here.” “…In 2008, the same year Keystone began construction, federal inspectors identified quality issues with pipe manufactured by companies that supplied TC Energy and other pipeline operators, according to the GAO. Certain pipe didn’t meet strength requirements, and was found to deform when operated at certain pressure. PHMSA ordered TC Energy, as well as other companies, to inspect affected pipelines and replace segments as needed, an effort that took years, according to the Government Accountability Office. The agency also required Keystone to operate at a reduced SMYS, or stress level, when it started service in June 2010… “Even as federal warnings multiplied and the size of the spills increased, the Trump administration in 2020 authorized TC Energy to increase the line’s capacity by nearly 27% to 760,000 barrels a day… “Keystone repeatedly ignored good engineering practice to chase low budget,” Evan Vokes, who said he was fired from TC after filing a complaint about the company’s practices with Canadian regulators in 2012, told Bloomberg. Among issues he raised: a failure to follow proper welding procedures, something PHMSA warned TC Energy about in 2013. Following his complaint, Canadian regulators launched an audit of TC Energy, and the company committed to take corrective action… “To date, Keystone has spilled about 26,000 barrels of oil, enough to fill almost two Olympic-sized swimming pools. But it has accrued just $306,000 in federal penalties, a tiny fraction of TC Energy’s $42 billion market cap… “The books aren’t strong enough,” Bill Caram, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, a Bellingham, Washington-based watchdog group, told Bloomberg. “The PHMSA regulations are really written to grant a lot of latitude to the operator to see how they think best to operate their pipeline.” That could change. The severity of the December spill, combined with the pattern of worsening leaks, gives PHMSA “a lot more leeway” to take meaningful action, Cynthia Quarterman, who served as administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration during the Obama administration, told Bloomberg…“It’s a fairly new pipeline and you do have to ask those questions. Why are there so many failures?”

Topeka Capital-Journal: Keystone Pipeline operator missed chance to address issue before Kansas oil spill: Report
Andrew Bahl, 5/17/23

“More than 100 other points along the Keystone Pipeline use similar fittings to the one at fault for the December oil spill in north-central Kansas, a fuller review of the incident, made public this week, shows,” the Topeka Capital-Journal reports. “…An outside analysis of the event conducted by an Ohio firm and posted by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration this week says TC Energy, the pipeline operator, missed opportunities to address a faulty bend in the pipeline system… “The report said TC Energy underestimated the risk of an oval-shaped deformation in the fitting occurring and that it did nothing to address or investigate the deformation when excavating the site in 2013. Ultimately the core root causes of the spill were “gaps in company standards, policies, and administrative controls” for designing the bend, as well as shortcomings in construction that created significant stress on the pipeline, according to the report. There are 108 sites in the Keystone system that use fittings similar to the one in Washington County, with TC Energy saying last month in a response to the report that it was investigating and excavating sites with characteristics that mirror the spill site… “In a report to shareholders, TC Energy said the full cost of cleaning up the spill is expected to reach $650 million, though it says insurance has already covered $102 million of the costs incurred to date… “Meanwhile, legislators say they are still awaiting answers promised by TC Energy’s representatives during a hearing on the spill earlier this year… “But three of the four legislators who had unanswered questions following the hearing said they had heard nothing from the company… “Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita, told the Journal that it was rare for a company or agency to decline to provide information to the Legislature when asked to do so, with most presenters complying without any need for follow up. “The time is now long overdue for TC to live up to, as they described it, transparency,” he told the Journal. Rep. Jerry Stogsdill, D-Prairie Village, told the Journal he had not heard back on his search for greater details on the pipeline’s engineering as it runs through south-central Kansas, where there has been an increase in seismic activity in recent years. “There were a lot of questions I still had,” he told the Journal.

Press release: AG Nessel Files in Wisconsin Federal Court Asking for Emergency Shutdown of Enbridge’s Line 5 Pipeline

“Today, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel asked a Wisconsin federal court to take emergency action to protect Lake Superior from an imminent threat posed by Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline. Nessel filed an amicus brief in support of an emergency motion filed last week by the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians of the Bad River Reservation. The rising waters of the Bad River near Superior, Wisconsin have caused extreme erosion along the banks of the river and dramatically increased the likelihood that the Line 5 pipeline will rupture. In 2022, the court concluded that the presence of Line 5 on the Bad River Reservation constitutes a trespass, but the court did not order an immediate shutdown or rerouting of the pipeline. At that time, more than 30 feet of riverbank separated the pipeline from the water’s edge. But intense recent erosion has rapidly eaten away the bank, with one location losing over 10 feet of bank in a single week. As a result of this erosion, there are presently locations with as little as 11 feet of riverbank between the pipeline and the water’s edge. If the bank continues to erode and the water reaches the pipeline, the pipeline will be vulnerable to rupture due to the force of currents, debris strikes, or erosion of the ground beneath the pipeline leaving it suspended without adequate support. If the pipeline ruptures, it will release oil and natural gas liquids into the Bad River, which flows directly into Lake Superior a mere 16 miles downstream. The Band has asked the court to order an emergency shutdown of the pipeline, and Nessel’s brief today supports that request. “Lake Superior is a priceless natural and cultural resource and, like all the Great Lakes, it is vital to our way of life in Michigan,” Nessel said. “As Attorney General, I owe a duty to the people of Michigan to protect all of Michigan’s waters, not only for us today, but also for future generations. I will always do everything in my power to protect the Great Lakes from the threat posed by those who care more about their bottom line than about Michigan’s residents and natural resources.” The purpose of the State’s brief is to ask the court to consider the impacts to the State of Michigan, its residents, and its natural resources if the pipeline ruptures and contaminates Lake Superior, and to inform the court that Michigan believes that the risk of a rupture outweighs any risk posed by a shutdown.”

Associated Press: Wisconsin tribe to ask court to shut down oil pipeline

“Attorneys for a Wisconsin Native American tribe are set to argue Thursday that a federal judge should order an energy company to shut down an oil pipeline that the tribe says is at immediate risk of being exposed by erosion and rupturing on reservation land,” the Associated Press reports. “The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa asked U.S. District Judge William Conley last week to issue an emergency ruling forcing Enbridge to shut down the Line 5 pipeline after large chunks of riverbank running alongside it were washed away by the river in northern Wisconsin. The tribe says less than 15 feet (4.6 meters) of land now stands between the Bad River and Line 5 in four locations on the reservation. In some places, more than 20 feet (6 meters) of riverbank has eroded in the past month alone. Experts and environmental advocates have warned in court that an exposed section of pipeline would be weakened and could rupture at any time, causing massive oil spills. Enbridge’s engineers contend that there is almost no chance the pipeline will be exposed by erosion, let alone rupture, in the next year. The company said in court filings that the tribe hasn’t cooperated with its requests to line the riverbank with sandbags that would protect against erosion. Enbridge also asked the tribe on Monday for a permit to install stabilizing barricades made of trees along the riverbank.”

Canadian Press: Enbridge punches back on Line 5 challenge: ‘Nothing but counterfactual speculation’

“There is no “imminent threat” of Line 5 spilling crude oil in Wisconsin, lawyers for Enbridge Inc. say in a fresh batch of court documents on the eve of a hearing that could see the controversial cross-border pipeline shut down,” the Canadian Press reports. “The stage is set for oral arguments Thursday in the state capital of Madison as a federal judge contemplates whether to order the taps turned off and the pipeline’s contents purged to forestall a watershed-fouling rupture. The Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa, through whose territory the line runs, has filed a motion arguing that spring flooding along the riverbanks has rendered the risk of a breach too great to ignore. Nonsense, Enbridge argues back in an opposition brief filed late Tuesday that takes direct aim at the band’s claims of a looming environmental emergency, as well as the “drastic remedy” its lawyers are requesting. “Despite having to prove both liability and grounds for an injunction, the band has done neither. The motion must therefore be denied,” the brief reads, describing their argument as “alarmist” and “counterfactual speculation.” “No release of oil is ‘ready to take place,’ ‘happening soon’ or ‘real and immediate.”‘ The 50-page filing includes among its exhibits an email exchange between Enbridge and the band’s natural resources officials to support its argument that the band has been unwilling to allow the Calgary-based company to do any remedial work… “Even if the risk were high, shutting down the pipeline would not be the appropriate remedy, Enbridge says, pointing to a court-ordered contingency plan that spells out the steps it would take if the threat were indeed urgent. “Enbridge will pre-emptively purge and shut down the line well in advance of any potential rupture,” the brief says, adding that the area remains under constant 24-hour video surveillance. “Any flooding and erosion has not, and would not, catch Enbridge by surprise.”

S&P Global Platts: Gas utilities increasingly focus on pipeline blending in hydrogen pilot projects
Tom DiChristopher, 5/17/23

“Gas utilities have announced more than three dozen hydrogen pilot projects across the US as the industry continues to explore the fuel’s potential to decarbonize distribution systems,” S&P Global Platts reports. “Reflecting that goal, more than half of the 39 projects identified by S&P Global Commodity Insights were focused on blending low- or zero-carbon hydrogen with natural gas into pipeline networks. Gas utilities have announced at least 22 pipeline blending projects through April, up from 13 pilots in October 2021, when Commodity Insights last published data. Pipeline blending has the potential to reduce the carbon intensity of the nation’s gas grids because hydrogen does not release CO2 during combustion. However, research has shown that pilots are needed to fill substantial knowledge gaps about hydrogen’s impact on gas infrastructure and leakage rates, particularly at blends greater than 5% of total volume. Many climate activists and safety advocates argue that low-carbon hydrogen should be reserved for hard-to-electrify applications, including high-heat industrial processes and heavy transport. Some investors also remain unconvinced that hydrogen will catch on for heating in residential and commercial buildings… “Several gas utility operators have requested or received cost recovery for pipeline blending projects, with total project costs ranging from $2 million to nearly $29 million… “Many of the other gas utilities piloting hydrogen blending are also supporting regional applications to the program. The inclusion of a hydrogen production tax credit in the sprawling Inflation Reduction Act has also encouraged gas utility executives.”

The American Prospect: Rahm Emanuel’s Gas Pipeline
LEE HARRIS, 5/17/23

“The Biden administration is going to bat for a new pipeline and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export infrastructure complex that has long been seen as commercially nonviable,” according to The American Prospect. “The Alaska LNG Project, which would help the U.S. sell more gas to Asia, has struggled for years to raise capital, despite billions of dollars in federal loan guarantees. Oil companies ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, and BP pulled out of the project in 2014, after a natural gas supply glut caused prices to collapse… “Officials have fought to persuade investors that demand for LNG will remain tight for years to come. A raft of new LNG projects being built along the Gulf Coast, in the Middle East and Australia, as well as projected decline in global demand for the fuel, makes the Alaska project a tough sell. But the White House has stepped into the gap to provide certainty, putting up more subsidies and dispatching officials to hawk the $44 billion facility. That includes one unlikely ally: Rahm Emanuel, the former Chicago mayor and Obama alum turned unusually enterprising U.S. ambassador to Japan, who has become a top crusader… “Emanuel is using his post to gin up support for the Alaska project, writing in a December op-ed that an export terminal on the West Coast of the U.S. could help make Japan “the energy export hub for the Indo-Pacific.” Emanuel hosted a summit last October on Alaska LNG with investors including Goldman Sachs and BlackRock, and is expected to continue his promo tour with next week’s keynote address at the Alaska Sustainable Energy Conference. State Department energy envoy Amos Hochstein has joined Emanuel in attempting to restore confidence in the flagging gas market… “Rahm Emanuel did more than any single individual to sabotage Barack Obama’s climate agenda at a time when there were congressional majorities,” Lukas Ross of Friends of the Earth, a climate group, told TAP. “It comes as no surprise to find him 13 years later trying to light the fuse of a massive carbon bomb.”


Washington Post: The two parties are still far apart on permitting reform in debt limit talks
Maxine Joselow, 5/18/23

“Congressional Democrats are increasingly wary of walking into a Republican trap on permitting reform,” the Washington Post reports. “House Republicans are advocating for a two-step approach to overhauling the nation’s permitting process for energy projects, as we reported yesterday. The approach would include modest permitting changes in a deal to raise the government’s debt ceiling, with the promise that lawmakers would pass a separate bill later to address Democrats’ top permitting priorities. But several Democrats yesterday urged the White House to reject this approach, saying they don’t trust Republicans to hammer out a deal later that delivers on their priorities. “They must think we’re really, really stupid. I mean, that’s not a serious proposal,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s task force on permitting, told reporters. “Let’s be serious,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), one of the most vocal climate hawks on Capitol Hill, told the Post. “The idea that we’re going to do your stuff first, and my stuff later, is just not how politics works.” Even Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, acknowledged it seems unlikely that Congress would take a second stab at a permitting overhaul. “I just don’t think we’re going to get two bites of the apple,” Capito told the Post. “I’m not saying it’s impossible. I just think it would be a pretty tough hill to climb.” Democrats tried a similar approach last summer: To secure the support of Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) for the Inflation Reduction Act, party leaders agreed to pass a separate permitting bill. But almost a year later, Manchin has little to show for it.  With just days before a June 1 deadline to raise the nation’s borrowing limit, the two parties remain far apart on a possible permitting overhaul.

Wall Street Journal: Overhauling Energy Permitting Is a Heavy Lift in Debt-Ceiling Talks
David Harrison, 5/16/23

“The bipartisan debt-ceiling talks have raised the prospect that an agreement could include a provision to ease the federal permitting process, potentially resolving one of Capitol Hill’s thorniest policy problems and speeding the construction of energy projects,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “Participants in the talks told the Journal Tuesday that permitting is one of the topics under consideration, along with spending caps, clawing back unspent Covid-19 requirements and additional work requirements for benefits programs… “But two weeks isn’t much time to smooth over differences over some of the more technical points. And some lawmakers, such as Delaware Democratic Sen. Tom Carper, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, are reluctant to see their long-running work on permitting legislation sucked into the debt talks. “I like the idea of people coming up with ideas, having hearings, giving people the opportunity to debate them, having amendments and so forth,” Mr. Carper told the Journal. His Republican counterpart on the committee, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, who recently introduced a permitting overhaul bill of her own, told the Journal reaching a deal by early June “would be difficult but it’s possible.” “…But there are significant differences that will have to be overcome… “There’s certainly space there for agreement if everybody is willing to get there,” John Larsen, a partner at the Rhodium Group, a research firm, told the Journal. “The timeline is really challenging. Some of the proposals you’ve seen out there are so far apart from each other that knowing where the landing spot might likely be for a bipartisan deal is still really hard.” “…In March, the House passed a far-reaching Republican permitting bill that would limit environmental reviews and make it easier to build oil and gas projects. Mr. Graves told the Journal the bill could serve as a basis for bipartisan negotiations. He also suggested it might make sense to break up a permitting overhaul into several bills to ease passage. “We could perhaps do some permitting reform now and come back even in months and do some of these other things that need to be done,” he told the Journal.

New York Times: Manchin Clashes With Biden Administration Over Climate Law
Luke Broadwater, 5/16/23

“Ever since Senator Joe Manchin III, the conservative West Virginia Democrat, cast the crucial vote last year for the Inflation Reduction Act, delivering President Biden his biggest legislative victory to date, the bill has weighed him down politically,” the New York Times reports. “Mr. Manchin’s poll numbers in his solidly Republican and coal-rich state dropped last year after he played a critical role in writing the climate, health and tax legislation. He has since worked to rebrand the pro-environment law, telling voters it would not only combat climate change but also ensure fossil fuel production in the United States. The senator, who is up for re-election next year and has been flirting with a presidential run of his own, has declared a sort of legislative war against the measure he helped push through Congress. He has professed frustration and dismay at what he calls the “radical climate agenda” that he says is driving the Biden administration’s rollout of the law. And he is still irritated that his colleagues failed to include one of his top priorities: an initiative to speed permitting of energy projects. Mr. Manchin went on Fox News last month and threatened to try to reverse the legislation — “I will vote to repeal my own bill,” he said — making common cause with Republicans who have demanded the reversal of several of its provisions in exchange for raising the debt limit. Democrats who control the Senate have no intention of allowing any such measure to move forward, but Mr. Manchin, who relishes his role as a bipartisan deal-maker on Capitol Hill, has suggested he wants to play a role in brokering a compromise on the debt ceiling that could address some of his top priorities. He has spoken one-on-one with Speaker Kevin McCarthy about a potential deal that would include energy permitting, one of several areas that have emerged in talks between White House and congressional officials as a possible patch of common ground. “We absolutely need to get permitting reform done for the good of our country,” Mr. Manchin told the Times. His position reflects his political vulnerabilities and at least one of the crosscurrents at play in bipartisan debt talks.”

E&E News: Carper rolls out green-friendly permitting overhaul
Jeremy Dillon, 5/18/23

“Senate Environment and Public Works Chair Tom Carper is backing an accelerated two-year timeline for environmental reviews for projects solely related to climate mitigation and resilience as part of his vision for a permitting overhaul,” E&E News reports. “Carper (D-Del.) released a discussion draft containing that language Thursday morning, a day after he convened a hearing that sought to keep up momentum for a bipartisan compromise on permitting. It also comes as congressional leaders are working separately with the White House on hammering out a deal on the debt limit, which may include provisions on permitting. The two-year timeline — set more as a guideline than an enforceable shot clock — could help speed up the permitting process for projects covering renewable energy deployment, coastal erosion improvements and transmission infrastructure build-outs, among other projects. The measure abides by Carper’s pledge that he would back a permitting package only if it would result in a lower emission profile. That two-year timeline, though, ignores more carbon-intensive infrastructure such as pipelines and natural gas export terminals sought by Republicans, who have demanded any permitting reform package include some sort of enforceable deadline for environmental reviews that also does not discriminate against fossil fuel energy projects… “Carper’s version, dubbed the “Promoting Efficient and Engaged Reviews (PEER) Act,” focuses more intently on traditional Democratic demands in the process. Provisions include language to speed up the deployment of transmission lines and expanded requirements and funding for affected communities to engage with project developers earlier in the review process. “The PEER Act would help accelerate clean energy projects and create good-paying jobs across our country while ensuring that communities have a say in infrastructure projects,” Carper said in a statement. “Importantly, our bill would improve the permitting process without undermining our nation’s bedrock environmental protections.”

E&E News: White House pushed for stronger, faster climate rule as court challenges loom
Benjamin Storrow, Scott Waldman, 5/17/23

“The climate rule that the Biden administration unveiled last week was even stronger than what the Environmental Protection Agency had originally drafted, six people familiar with the regulation told POLITICO’s E&E News — after White House officials pressed for a proposal that would take effect sooner and encompass a larger selection of power plants,” E&E News reports. “The political maneuvering illustrates the stakes the Biden administration faces as it attempts to enact the country’s first successful federal standards for greenhouse gas emissions on the nation’s sprawling network of electricity-generating sources… “The White House officials urged EPA to include existing gas plants — not just future plants — under the regulation, according to three of the six people. The officials also pushed the agency to expand the number of coal plants that would be required to capture carbon pollution. The proposed rule that the agency unveiled last Thursday is less aggressive on coal plants than the White House has wanted, one of the people told E&E… “They have to walk a careful line between a rule that is effective and force the electric industry to change and a rule that is viewed as too aggressive and too transformative by the Supreme Court and not survive judicial review,” Michael Wara, climate and energy program director at Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment, told E&E. The six people who spoke with E&E News said the White House asked EPA to add more stringent pollution controls after it received the agency’s draft plan, with much of the pushback coming from the White House Office of Climate Policy. Three of the people said the greatest point of contention concerned existing gas plants, which were not included in the draft that EPA had sent to the Office of Management and Budget for its review… “Another person told E&E the White House sought to expand the number of coal plants that would need to install carbon capture in 2030 to those that planned to run past 2035, instead of 2040. The suggestion was not included in the rule.”

Associated Press: Biden administration invests in carbon capture, upping pressure on industry to show results

“The Biden administration on Wednesday announced $251 million for carbon capture and storage projects in seven states, aiming to reduce planet-warming pollution from power plants and other industrial facilities,” the Associated Press reports. “The announcement represents a vote of confidence by the government in the nascent technology, which proponents, often from oil and gas industries, say could have a huge role in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, many environmentalists note that the technology is far from scale and argue that focusing on it distracts from established renewable energy solutions. Between the direct investments announced Wednesday, billions more earmarked from legislation and public statements by President Biden and U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry, the government is increasing pressure on the carbon capture and storage industry to show that the technology can significantly help combat climate change. “We’re trying to get commercial lift off in the carbon management industry as a whole,” Noah Deich, deputy assistant secretary for the Department of Energy’s Office of Carbon Management, told AP… “One of the awardees is BP, which is receiving $33.4 million for two sites along the Gulf Coast in Texas. The rest of funding is for three studies into how to transport carbon dioxide from power plants, ethanol facilities and other industrial operations to locations for reuse or permanent storage… “While oil and gas corporations and carbon capture industry groups say the technology is crucial to America’s overall decarbonization efforts, opponents note that it’s far from scale, putting in doubt how much it can really help combat climate change. They also worry that large-scale investment in such technology will simply delay investment in renewable energy like solar and wind. “We are headed towards global catastrophe, and do not have the luxury of time or resources to squander on speculative solutions such as CCS, especially when proven solutions already exist,” Basav Sen, the climate justice policy director for the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank, told AP.

Reuters: Alaska LNG project clears legal challenge over environmental harms
Clark Mindock, 5/17/23

“A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday rejected a lawsuit filed by environmental groups challenging federal approvals needed to construct a $39 billion project that would move natural gas from Alaska’s North Slope across the state,” Reuters reports. “A three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s review of plans for the state-run Alaska Gasline Development Corp’s project satisfied the National Environmental Policy Act requirements to take a hard look at environmental impacts of major proposals, and that the approvals complied with the Natural Gas Act and other laws. The Alaska LNG project would transport natural gas along a pipeline that bisects the state from north to south. Backers say it could help the United States compete with Russia to ship natural gas from the Arctic to Asia. But, environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club, which sued in 2020 claim it would “wreak havoc” on Alaska’s wildlife and the climate.”


Casper Star-Tribune: Wyoming air quality affected by oil and gas, study finds
Nicole Pollack, 5/16/23

“Air pollution from oil and gas production is harming Wyomingites’ health, a new study says,” the Casper Star-Tribune reports. “Researchers from Boston University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, PSE Healthy Energy and the Environmental Defense Fund compared emissions of a trio of pollutants — nitrogen oxide, ozone and fine particulates — to rates of respiratory and cardiovascular hospitalization and childhood asthma in 2016. Their peer-reviewed analysis, which was published May 8 in the journal Environmental Research: Health, found that oil and gas activity contributed to 7,500 premature deaths, 410,000 asthma attacks and 2,200 new childhood asthma cases nationally that year. Roughly 13 of those deaths occurred in Wyoming. And about 11,000 children in the state are living with asthma. Those numbers pale in comparison to more populous states: Wyoming ranks 37th in total oil-and-gas-related deaths and 33rd in asthma exacerbations. But, Jon Goldstein, senior director of regulatory and legislative affairs at the Environmental Defense Fund, told the Star-Tribune, “Wyoming does have significant impacts when you look at that per-capita basis, in terms of things like childhood asthma.” Upwards of 6% of Wyoming residents live within a mile of an oil and gas well, according to the study. In 2016, it found, the state ranked 20th in premature deaths per million people and 12th in childhood asthma exacerbations per million people related to the pollutants it tracked. “Wyoming has a history of leading on oil and gas air quality rules and regulations,” Goldstein told the Star-Tribune, pointing to the tightened emissions constraints it imposed on new wells years ago, first in the Upper Green River Basin, where air pollution has proven a particular challenge, and then more broadly. “What the state hasn’t done is kind of take the next natural step, which is apply those sorts of standards to existing wells.”

Louisiana Illuminator: LNG lobbyists ghost wrote Louisiana officials’ letters supporting gas storage project
SARA SNEATH, 5/17/23

“In an effort to gain federal approval for a natural gas storage project in south Louisiana, Sempra LNG lobbyists crafted letters for Louisiana elected officials to send to federal regulators in support of the project,” the Louisiana Illuminator reports. “…In 2018, Sempra notified FERC that the company hadn’t gone through with the gas storage project because of unfavorable market conditions and requested to reapply for approval if market conditions improved. The company refiled in January 2021 as liquefied natural gas exports grew. That same year Sempra lobbyists reached out to Louisiana Sen. Mike Reese and Rep. Les Farnum for help in the last few days of the federal public commenting period on the project. Coordination between Sempra lobbyists and the elected officials was discovered in emails obtained through record requests by Documented, an investigative watchdog group, and reviewed by DeSmog. Despite Louisiana’s vulnerability to climate change and warnings from international scientists that new fossil fuel development must stop in order to avoid worsening climate disasters, elected officials in Louisiana have continued to use the weight of their offices to aid fossil fuel firms in developing projects in the state. In September 2021, Jim Nickel — with the Baton Rouge-based lobbying firm Courson Nickel — emailed Rep. Farnum with a request. Sempra is among the companies that the lobbying firm actively represents, according to the Louisiana Ethics Administration Program. “We are looking to get some comments in to the FERC in support of the Hackberry Storage Project,” Nickel wrote to Rep. Farnum on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. “They are due this Sunday – September 26. Sorry for the last minute request.” “…Michael Tritico, a retired biologist who grew up less than 30 miles north of the proposed storage site, wrote several letters to the federal agency outlining his concerns about the project’s potential to cause a cavern collapse, which could release a huge amount of methane as well as lead to an oil leak from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the emergency crude oil stocks owned by the federal government and stored in salt caverns as close as 500 feet to the Sempra project… “Why risk a cavern collapse?” he told LI. Tritico is also worried that Sempra’s plans to withdraw approximately 3.6 billion gallons of water from the Chicot aquifer over a period of about 27 months will draw down the drinking water for the town of Sulphur. “I’m just sick of them,” Tritico told LI of the elected officials who submitted letters to FERC drafted by Sempra in support of the project. “They’re intermediaries from here that make the carpetbaggers happy.”

Bismarck Tribune: Coal Creek carbon capture effort gets $38 million federal boost

“The federal government is providing $38.1 million for a carbon capture project that could be key to the long-term future of North Dakota’s largest coal-fired power plant,” the Bismarck Tribune reports. “The federal Energy Department on Wednesday announced it is giving the money to the University of North Dakota’s Energy & Environmental Research Center in Grand Forks. The EERC is working with Bismarck-based Rainbow Energy Marketing Corp. to develop a system to capture climate-warming CO2 emissions at Coal Creek Station power plant in central North Dakota’s McLean County. The money is through the Energy Department’s CarbonSAFE initiative, which aims to support the development of commercial-scale CO2 storage facilities. The EERC funding is part of $251 million being doled out to 12 projects in seven states that focus on CO2 transportation and storage infrastructure… “…Hoeven, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Cramer, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, on Wednesday both praised the $38 million award for the Coal Creek project… “Critics of the emerging carbon capture technology say it is unproven and expensive, and question whether it’s a realistic solution. Some projects attempting to use the technology at coal plants have faced larger-than-expected costs and technical problems. The Dakota Resource Council has called the technology “risky.” Several GRE co-op members have expressed concerns about the financial viability of Coal Creek’s carbon capture plans.”

InsideClimate News: New Report Finds Methane Mitigation in Texas Could Create Thousands of Jobs
Martha Pskowski, 5/17/23

“A new report finds that methane regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency  could spur job growth in Texas as oil and gas operators measure, monitor and mitigate the harmful greenhouse gas,” according to InsideClimate News. “While Texas officials argue the methane regulations would kill jobs, the report, published today by the Texas Climate Jobs Project and the Ray Marshall Center at the University of Texas, Austin, found that new federal methane regulations could create between 19,000 and 35,000 jobs in the state… “We want to show that environmental policies are not job killers,” Christopher Agbo, research and policy coordinator for the Texas Climate Jobs Project, an affiliate of the Texas AFL-CIO, told ICN. “You can create tens of thousands of good-paying, family-sustaining union jobs while also cutting back on emissions.” “…But Texas has been a stubborn opponent of federal methane regulations. In January 2021, shortly after Biden ordered the EPA to develop new methane rules, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order directing state agencies to use every legal avenue to oppose federal action challenging the “strength, vitality, and independence of the energy industry.”

StateImpact Pennsylvania NPR: Methane leaks from pipelines targeted by proposed federal rule
Rachel McDevitt, 5/16/23

“A federal proposal to reduce leaks of greenhouse gases from pipelines would be the first major change in standards since the 1970s,” StateImpact Pennsylvania NPR reports. “There are more than 2.7 million miles of pipelines carrying natural gas across the country. Pennsylvania has been a hotspot for pipeline construction following the shale gas boom. The proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration would put more responsibility on pipeline operators to find and fix leaks by requiring them to do more frequent inspections using updated technology. It also requires companies to fix all leaks. Right now, they only have to repair leaks determined to present an immediate public safety threat, regardless of resulting environmental harms. Emma Bast, a staff attorney with PennFuture, told StateImpact the rule would bring inspection requirements into the 21st century. She told StateImpact she’s pleased to see an explicit requirement for reducing harm to the environment. Bast told StateImpact reducing methane and other pollutants found in natural gas could improve people’s health. “It saves people locally from volatile organic compounds that give people cancer and asthma and breathing problems and it saves people on a broader scale from all the direct and indirect impacts of climate change,” Bast told StateImpact. She added the proposal could cut costs for the state. ”Because right now pipeline operators have basically been able to externalize the costs of their environmental impacts and their impacts to public health onto the neighboring communities and onto the state itself,” Bast told StateImpact.

Los Angeles Times: Chevron scrambles to batten down oil fields amid threat of Kern River flooding

“Preparing for the threat of massive flooding during California’s “Big Melt,” federal engineers have been releasing more Kern River water from Lake Isabella than is flowing into the reservoir from the snowbound peaks of the southern Sierra Nevada,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “The action is needed, officials say, to prevent water from spilling over the reservoir dam and sending floodwaters rolling into low-lying areas that include the city of Bakersfield, farm towns, Highway 99, and portions of Kern County’s famed oil patch — an intrusion that would risk significant ecological harm. Now, with temperatures rising and river flows approaching an all-time record of 7,000 cubic feet per second, Chevron Corporation is taking steps to avoid an oil spill at its Kern River Oil Field in the event of catastrophic flooding. In areas where pumpjacks bob along the shoulders of the Kern River, Chevron has been shutting down wells, draining pipelines, turning off electrical power, erecting dikes and bolstering river banks with riprap. Crews on the ground and in spotter planes are fanning out each day to search for emerging hazards along the river’s edge. The measures are just one more consequence of California’s epic winter. With record accumulations in the southern Sierra Nevada, snowpack in the Kern River watershed now contains roughly three times more water than Lake Isabella can hold, officials say.”

Associated Press: BP subsidiary agrees to record $40M penalty and pollution-cutting steps at Lake Michigan refinery

“A BP subsidiary will pay a $40 million penalty and install technology to control releases of benzene and other contaminants at its Whiting oil refinery on the Indiana shoreline of Lake Michigan, Biden administration officials said Wednesday,” the Associated Press reports. “The actions will settle a civil case against BP Products North America Inc. filed by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency, which described the penalty as the largest ever under the Clean Air Act for pollution from a structure. Additionally, the company will invest around $197 million in improvements. “This settlement will result in the reduction of hundreds of tons of harmful air pollution a year, which means cleaner, healthier air for local communities,” said Larry Starfield, acting assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. The 134-year-old refinery, located between Hammond, Indiana, and Chicago, is the biggest in the U.S. Midwest and sixth largest nationally. It processes about 440,000 barrels of crude oil daily, making a variety of liquid fuels and asphalt. It has a record of pollution rule violations, reaching settlements in 2019 and 2022 over releases of sooty “particulate matter” linked to asthma and other respiratory diseases. A new federal complaint accused the BP unit of breaking rules limiting benzene in refinery wastewater streams and emissions of hazardous and volatile air contaminants… “Under the agreement, BP will add equipment to strip benzene from wastewater streams flowing to its lakefront treatment plant… “The Environmental Integrity Project, an advocacy group that previously sued BP over Whiting refinery emissions, praised the latest settlement “for holding BP accountable for its illegal emissions and for the tough new cleanup standards” it imposes.


Wall Street Journal: Global Warming Likely to Pass 1.5-Degree Threshold in Next Five Years, U.N. Report Says
Gareth Vipers, 5/17/23

“Global temperatures are likely to surge to record levels over the next five years and breach the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold set out in the Paris climate agreement, scientists said in a new report,” according to the Wall Street Journal. “Warning that the world could be entering a new phase of climate change, researchers at the World Meteorological Organization, a U.N. agency, said there is a 66% likelihood that annual average global temperatures will exceed the threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels by 2027. “This report does not mean that we will permanently exceed the 1.5°C level specified in the Paris Agreement which refers to long-term warming over many years,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas told the Journal. “However, WMO is sounding the alarm that we will breach the 1.5°C level on a temporary basis with increasing frequency.” Warming at those levels could have profound implications for health, food security and water management, he told the Journal. “A warming El Niño is expected to develop in the coming months and this will combine with human-induced climate change to push global temperatures into uncharted territory,” Taalas told the Journal… “The predicted increase in global mean temperatures is moving the world “further and further away from the climate we are used to,” Leon Hermanson, a meteorologist who led the report, told the Journal. In January, political and business leaders told the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos that enough isn’t being done to put the world on track to meet the 1.5-degree limit. “We feel that a global reset is needed,” said Sherry Rehman, minister of climate change for Pakistan, which was devastated by flooding last year and is expected to be one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change.”

Wall Street Journal: As Oil Giants Retreat Globally, Smaller Players Rush In
Nicholas Bariyo, 5/18/23

“Under pressure from shareholders and activists, major energy companies are retreating from higher-polluting and riskier projects around the world. A bunch of smaller companies are rushing in to fill the void,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “In Nigeria, smaller companies now hold nearly half of the country’s oil and gas oil leases acquired from major companies that have retreated in recent years. In Latin America, an independent firm has pushed into oil exploration in areas eschewed by Occidental Petroleum and BP. In Asia, Chevron is pulling out of a controversial gas project in Myanmar, and a little-known Canadian firm has agreed to snap up its stake. The moves illustrate how smaller and more nimble firms are taking advantage of higher energy prices and the openings left by global companies that are now pivoting toward cleaner energy, or focusing on their most profitable projects. The trend also shows that despite major oil companies’ efforts to reduce their carbon footprints, their exodus from fossil-fuel projects has little effect on emissions overall. In Nigeria, gas flaring—an emissions-heavy process that burns the natural gas associated with oil extraction—has increased by 10% over the past decade. “What we are seeing is that the larger companies are reducing their share in aging assets with little upside production that have relatively large emissions,” Audun Martinsen, head of energy-service research at Rystad Energy, an energy-sector research firm, told the Journal. “Their space has been filled by smaller exploration and production companies.” Such companies usually have lower costs and are better placed to run such operations, he told the Journal, since they can quickly recoup returns on investments before a downturn cycle. Watchdog groups and human-rights advocates warn that smaller or private companies can at times pose a greater risk to climate and human rights in some corners of the world, because they aren’t subject to the same public scrutiny and pressure as more globally known, publicly traded players.”

Guardian: Could Guyana’s Exxon ruling scare big oil off risky exploration?
Amy Westervelt, 5/17/23

“A ruling from Guyana’s high court could change the face of offshore oil drilling throughout the Caribbean, according to financial and legal analysts,” the Guardian reports. “The ruling ordered the country’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require an independent liability insurance policy from Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) and an “unlimited guarantee” from its parent company, ExxonMobil, in the case of any damage caused by the company’s oil and gas development in the country. “ExxonMobil Guyana and our Stabroek block co-venturers have adequate and appropriate insurance and proposed guarantees in an amount that exceeds industry precedents and an estimate of potential liability,” Exxon said in a statement. The $600m (£481m) insurance policy EEPGL holds from Exxon’s wholly owned subsidiary Ancon UK Ltd, and its $2bn parent company guarantee is well below the potential cost of damages for a catastrophic event, however. “BP has said it spent $69bn to meet its obligations after [the 2010] Deepwater [Horizon spill],” Tom Sanzillo, the director of finance at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, told the Guardian. That sum included the cost of immediate response and cleanup, economic claims from local residents as well as fishing and tourism businesses affected by the spill, legal settlements, and restoration. The environmental impact assessment for the project in the Guyana case, the first of five Exxon well sites permitted there so far, found that a catastrophic well event could carry oil to 12 different Caribbean islands. “These are countries whose economies rely heavily on tourism and fishing,” Sanzillo told the Guardian. “Damages could be in the tens of billions, or more. Guyana taxpayers are currently exposed.” Justice Sandil Kissoon ruled that it should be the company, not the country, that takes on that risk, and that the law is clear on this requirement.”

Ethanol Producer: Summit Carbon Solutions announces stakeholder consultation

“Summit Carbon Solutions, developer of the world’s largest carbon removal project, is pleased to announce the release of its Gold Standard methodology for public stakeholder consultation… “Developed with the support of Anew Climate, the methodology was created under Gold Standard for the Global Goals’ (GS4GG) rigorous requirements, ensuring environmental integrity, safeguards, stakeholder engagement, and sustainable development… “GS4GG is one of the leading global registries through which carbon dioxide removal credits (CDRs) are verified and generated to ensure project quality and sustainable development goals are met. Globally, scientists predict that up to 10 Gt of CO2 will need to be removed annually from the atmosphere by 2050. For companies setting climate strategies under their Net Zero Standard, the Science Based Targets Initiative requires that only carbon credits representing carbon sequestration or ‘carbon removals’ be used to neutralize remaining emissions once a company has reached their Net Zero target… “By Leveraging Anew’s subject matter expertise, we are accelerating the deployment of this transformative decarbonization technology. CDR investors want certainty that the projects they support will deliver real climate and sustainable development benefits. The GS4GG methodology and standard will help ensure that projects utilizing this protocol are of the highest quality,” said Janet Peace, head of advisory at Anew. 

Associated Press: German court convicts, fines Jesuit priest over climate protest

“A German court on Tuesday convicted a Jesuit priest of coercion in connection with a climate protest last year and ordered him to pay a small fine,” the Associated Press reports. “The district court in Munich handed down its verdict in the case of the Rev. Joerg Alt after he participated in a road blockade in the Bavarian capital on Oct. 28. Also appearing in the proceedings were Cornelia Huth, a biologist and member of the group Scientist Rebellion, and Luca Thomas, a student. The court convicted all three of coercion and imposed fines in line with their income. In Alt’s case, that was a 10-euro ($10.85) fine; the court said the other two defendants’ fines added up to a “low to mid-three-digit” sum. Numerous similar protests have taken place across Germany and other countries recently as climate activists try to draw attention to the urgency of tackling global warming. The public and political response to such road blockades has been mixed. So far, most courts have acquitted the protesters or handed down fines, though in at least one recent case a judge sentenced three activists to prison terms ranging from three to five months. Activists accuse the government of failing to do enough to put Germany on course to meet its goal of cutting emissions to “net zero” by 2045.”


Bloomberg: JPMorgan Investors Say No to Climate Proposals at Annual Meeting
Clara Hudson, 5/16/23

“JPMorgan Chase & Co. shareholders voted against a volley of climate proposals at the bank’s annual meeting on Tuesday,” Bloomberg reports. “Activist shareholders proposed a series of resolutions seeking to have the bank adopt sweeping climate commitments. They asked that the bank provide a climate transition plan, commit to a fossil fuel phase-out for its lending and underwriting projects, and report its absolute greenhouse gas reduction goals. Reporting absolute emissions is a more rigid approach than disclosing emissions intensity targets, which measure emissions relative to economic output.”

Bloomberg: Barclays, Morgan Stanley Lead Banks Into Milestone CO2 Deal
Frances Schwartzkopff and Alastair Marsh, 5/16/23

“A group of banks led by Barclays Plc and Morgan Stanley is working on a compromise deal to unlock a months-long stalemate that’s stalled efforts to calculate and disclose the carbon footprints of the industry’s capital-markets operations,” Bloomberg reports. “Any agreement would mark a milestone in climate finance. Assigning responsibility for so-called facilitated emissions — or those that are enabled through debt and equity underwriting — remains a divisive subject, which is the main reason climate accounting has so far focused on direct lending. But that’s about to change. The Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF), a global alliance of banks created to figure out how to get the industry to align with the goals of the Paris climate accord, initially indicated that a deal may be reached during the first quarter. That target was missed after banks involved in the talks disagreed over how much banks should disclose.Some banks in the eight-member PCAF working group for capital markets emissions, including NatWest Group Plc, want the industry to report 100% of their facilitated emissions. Others argue the figure should be 17%, which reflects capital markets’ share of all industry financing and derives from analysis by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. To end the stalemate, banks in the PCAF working group have revived a previously rejected option of 33%, a person familiar with the process who asked not to be named discussing non-public information told Bloomberg. After months of deadlock, the figure looks like a viable path to breaking the impasse, the person told Bloomberg. Still, there’s no guarantee the group will coalesce around that number. Reporting facilitated emissions means the global capital markets will no longer be free to ignore their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. The development is “key in delivering the low-carbon transition,” according to ShareAction.” 

MIT Technology Review: Inside the little-known group setting the corporate climate agenda
Ian Morse, 5/16/23

“As thousands of companies trumpet their plans to cut carbon pollution, a small roundtable of sustainability consultants has emerged as the go-to arbiter of corporate climate action,” MIT Technology Review reports. “The Science Based Targets initiative, or SBTi, helps businesses develop a timetable for action to shrink their climate footprint through some combination of cutting greenhouse-gas pollution and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  For a fee, this team of several dozen analysts and technical experts will work with companies to set and publicize targets for cutting their share of emissions, deeply and quickly enough to conform with international efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 ºC above preindustrial levels. SBTi says the goals it sets are meant to convey that the business has put in place a credible schedule for driving down or eliminating emissions, in line with “the latest climate science.”  After years of small-scale sustainability work, SBTi is growing rapidly. It has now stamped its approval on the emissions reduction timelines of more than 2,600 companies, including Nestlé, PepsiCo, and Apple. It’s working to develop climate targets with more than 2,300 more, and hopes to help set them for some 10,000 businesses by 2025… “But its rising influence has also attracted scrutiny and raised questions about its outsize role. The fact that a single organization is setting the standards for many of the world’s largest companies makes it essential for those climate targets to be trustworthy. A number of researchers now question whether SBTi’s corporate guidelines are adequately aggressive, equitable, and clear. Critics say SBTi is giving companies too much latitude in how they set their targets; that it is allowing them to rely on certain dubious tools to address emissions; and that it is holding emerging companies in poor nations to the same standards as huge historic polluters. Several studies find that the group’s methods may overstate corporate climate progress.” 

Climate Change News: US backs Indonesian oil refinery despite pledge to end fossil fuel finance
Matteo Civillini, 5/16/23

“The US export credit agency has approved a loan worth nearly $100 million for the expansion of an oil refining facility in Indonesia, despite a promise to end public finance for overseas fossil fuel projects,” Climate Change News reports. “Financial support from the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) will help a state-controlled plant on the island of Borneo turn 40% more oil into products like jet fuel and diesel. In a closed door meeting last Thursday, Ex-Im’s board approved $99.7 million in support for the Balikpapan oil refinery run by Indonesia’s national oil company Pertamina. Ex-Im said the loan would enable an expansion of the facility, alongside fuel efficiency and safety upgrades. But the plan has been criticised for seeming to contradict a climate finance commitment. At Cop26, the US and 19 other countries signed the Glasgow Statement pledging to end new direct public finance for overseas fossil fuel projects by the end of 2022. Since then the US has been accused of backsliding on its promise. Unlike other signatories, the White House has not released publicly any policy explaining how the pledge would be implemented. Shruti Shukla from advocacy group the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) told CCN the lack of transparency is allowing for “untenable” decisions to slip through. “To spend the limited public finance available on the upgrade of an oil refinery is not the best use of those resources which should go towards clean energy alternatives,” she told CCN.


Climate Change News: Regulators crack down on corporate carbon neutrality claims
Isabella Kaminski, 5/17/23

“Companies are increasingly being warned against greenwashing the climate impact of their products and services – and governments are starting to follow,” Climate Change News reports. “The European Parliament last week supported new rules that would make it harder for companies to make misleading claims about the climate impacts of their products. The draft law, which updates previous directives on consumer rights, aims to help the public make more sustainable choices and encourage companies to offer them more durable products. It bans companies from using terms such as ‘climate neutral’ if they cannot be backed by detailed evidence. It also aims to ban environmental claims that are based solely on carbon offsetting schemes, which have come under growing criticism for misleading consumers and failing to represent actual cuts in carbon. Legal action is already being taken over climate marketing claims under existing EU consumer law. A case against the TotalEnergies oil company in France was admitted by the court yesterday. Another against KLM in the Netherlands recently resulted in the airline pulling advertising bearing the slogan ‘Fly Responsibly’ in the country… “Hiske Arts, a campaigner with Fossielvrij NL, which brought the case against KLM, told CCN the new law would be a “great step forward to protect citizens from greenwashing by large polluters”.


Common Dreams: It Is Time to Kill the ‘Dirty Deal’ Once and For All
Maury Johnson is a southern West Virginia landowner, whose organic farm has been impacted by the Mountain Valley Pipeline. He is a member of Preserve Monroe and the POWHR (Protect Our Water, Heritage, & Rights) Coalition both who have been fighting the MVP and other harmful projects across WV/VA&NC for 8 years, 5/17/23

“Here we go again! Last year my Senator, Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced his “Dirty Deal Bill” to placate his fossil fuel friends and funders. This bill would gut the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) and silence most citizens who oppose any fossil fuel project, especially the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) that travels across my farm, near my home in southern West Virginia,” Maury Johnson writes for Common Dreams. “His bill is also championed by some House Republicans who passed H.R. 1 at the end of March of this year. Both of these bills are just shameless giveaways that contain blatant handouts and loopholes for the oil, gas, and mining industries… “While oil companies’ record-breaking profits make it clear that they’re not an industry that needs any government assistance, Manchin, Republicans, and a few others like Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and President Joe Biden continue to push legislation to gut our most fundamental environmental and public health laws, namely the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), legislation that will only lock us in to another generation of unnecessary fossil fuel dependency and line the pockets of industry CEOs. Do not be fooled by industry talking points that use innocent sounding words like “streamlining,” “modernizing,” “energy independence,” or the latest popular catch phrase—“permitting reform.” This is just a ploy to pull the wool over the American people’s eyes and push through their climate disaster ideas with legislation like the “Dirty Deal” and the “Polluters Over People Act.” “…Permitting reform may be needed, but not their brand of reform. What is needed is permitting reform like the recently introduced A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act… “If you agree with me and House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.), who authored a new opinion piece for The Hill on NEPA and believe that our rights to protect ourselves from the greed and pollution of these uncaring corporations is an important issue, please let your senators and representatives in Congress know. You can also join me in front of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission offices at 888 First Street NE in Washington D.C. on Thursday morning May 18 or on June 8 at the White House to let Biden and others know we don’t want the MVP or other unnecessary fossil fuel projects.”

Bismarck Tribune: Letter: Uproar over carbon pipeline hypocritical
Patricia Hager, Bismarck, 5/17/23

“It is very interesting to read that Bismarck and developers are in an uproar over the proposed carbon capture pipeline north of Bismarck,” Patricia Hater writes for the Bismarck Tribune. “When the members of Standing Rock protested over a pipeline coming very close to their water source, a majority of Bismarckers scoffed at this, said racist things about the members of Standing Rock and were downright nasty. Now when a pipeline is proposed to come near their property it’s a whole different story. Seems like “hypocrisy” to me!”

Washington Post: Audiences want a different climate change message. Hollywood should deliver.
Amanda Shendruk, 5/17/23

“For decades, Hollywood has produced climate change entertainment that depicts only one potential future: catastrophe. Instead, it should play a positive role in the fight against global warming by offering a wealth of stories that help humanity make sense of and address the present and future of life on a dangerously warming planet,” Amanda Shendruk writes for the Washington Post. “This is not an idle ask. Given their ability to elicit emotion, spark conversation and circulate ideas, movies and TV programs have enormous power to shift cultural norms… “In 2001, calls to an HIV/AIDS hotline rose to a record-high after a character in the “The Bold and the Beautiful” discovered he was HIV positive… “When he was vice president, Joe Biden praised “Will & Grace” for playing an important role in changing the narrative on same-sex marriage and directly influencing his own views… “So far, most climate-fiction movies have told bleak tales. After watching 61 of them, Michael Svoboda, an assistant professor of writing at George Washington University, found that most featured disaster. The genre includes all sorts of catastrophes, from floods and ice ages to hurricanes and sea-level rise. The fossil-fuel industry is rarely even acknowledged. The trouble is, audiences have become inured to end-of-the-world stories. And despite being highly entertaining — I, myself, love them! — tales of doom, told over and over, don’t encourage action. “It’s a psychological thrill, a fun bedtime story, and then we go back to what we were doing,” Svoboda told the Post. But with global warming, he told the Post, “we cannot let bedtime stories lull us into inactivity.” Together, Svoboda and I updated his research to include 100 climate change films and television series, spanning 1966 to present day, and found that 66 percent depict disaster or a grim future.”

The Hill: Biden’s fossil fuel turn is bad politics — and even worse science
Basav Sen directs the Climate Policy Program at the Institute for Policy Studies, 5/17/23

“President Biden has officially announced that he’s running for a second term in 2024. Among the first-term achievements he touted were his actions to address climate change. There’s a good reason for that — Biden’s reelection may well hinge on turnout among young voters who care passionately about the climate,” Basav Sen writes for The Hil. “But worryingly for Biden, a Fossil Free Media and Data for Progress poll this spring showed a dramatic drop in approval for the president’s climate and energy policies, particularly among independent voters and youth. The dip followed Biden’s decision to approve the Willow oil drilling project in Alaska, breaking a campaign promise to end oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters… “Barely three weeks after the Willow decision, the Energy Department gave final approval for a massive gas export terminal in Alaska. This isn’t just bad politics by Biden. It’s bad science… “Even the Biden administration’s biggest climate achievement, the Inflation Reduction Act, mandated oil and gas leases on public lands and waters as a condition for renewable energy leases and offered subsidies for unproven, dangerous carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies to prolong the life of the fossil fuel industry. A rule on limiting electric power plant emissions the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is likely to propose soon also relies on CCS technology. But if science doesn’t move Biden, maybe politics will… “Biden, in short, is alienating key constituencies in his base. The youth-led Sunrise Movement issued a stark warning to Biden: The youth vote “is vital to Democrats if they hope to win in 2024.” Biden still has the opportunity to win back that trust by reversing course on fossil fuels. He can direct federal agencies to stop appealing court decisions overturning permits for controversial projects such as the Mountain Valley Pipeline. He can also direct them to stop issuing permits for new fossil fuel infrastructure. He can use his executive power to ban crude oil exports. Best of all, he can declare a climate emergency, unlocking a wide range of powers to transition the U.S. from fossil fuels. Biden can still take decisive action in defense of people and the planet — and maybe save his political career, too.”

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