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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 5/19/23

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

By Mark Hefflinger

May 19, 2023



  • Politico: Granholm defends support for gas pipeline, citing energy security

  • E&E News: Granholm Backs Pipeline, Gas And ‘Backstop’ Authority

  • Associated Press: Judge not inclined to shut down pipeline, pleads with Wisconsin tribe to work with oil company

  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: ‘It’s an extraordinary request’: Judge voices hesitance on bid to close Enbridge Line 5 fuel pipeline

  • Kansas City Star: Keystone Pipeline was under stress for 12 years before Kansas oil spill, new report shows

  • Times Citizen: Summit talks CO2 boons at Eldora council

  • KXNET: Concern grows in Bismarck over Summit Carbon Solution’s CO2 pipeline

  • Summerland Advocate: Commissioners learn how Iowa landowners are battling a proposed carbon-capture pipeline

  • Cedar Rapids Gazette: Navigator deal would provide CO2 from Midwest ethanol plants for electrofuels

  • Vancouver Island Free Daily: Coastal GasLink completes final major B.C. river crossing, pipeline to be finished this year

  • Law360: Pipeline Co. Must Disclose Disaster Records, Pa. Panel Says


  • Press release: Carper, Schatz Unveil Environmental Review and Permitting Reform Proposal

  • The Hill: Democrats warn Biden against cutting debt ceiling deal with McCarthy

  • U.S. Dept. of Energy: Biden-Harris Administration Invests $251 Million to Expand Infrastructure to Support CO2 Transport and Storage

  • The Hill: Markey bill would restore ban on US fossil fuel exports

  • E&E News: Court leans toward feds in Wyoming NEPA gas fight

  • E&E News: Biden review of ANWR oil program expected in fall, DOJ says

  • Guardian: Sierra Club clashes with union over layoffs and restructuring plan


  • Associated Press: California lawmakers block bill allowing people to sue oil companies over health problems

  • Colorado Newsline: Oil and gas permits in Colorado would be phased out by 2030 under proposed ballot initiative

  • Pro Publica: It Will Cost Up to $21.5 Billion to Clean Up California’s Oil Sites. The Industry Won’t Make Enough Money to Pay for It.

  • Virginia Mercury: Natural gas industry says no need for state methane emission regulation

  • Grist: Replace fossil fuels — with more fossil fuels? That’s one major utility’s plan.


  • Grist: The laws that took down mobsters are now being turned against Big Oil

  • Bloomberg: Exxon Says Reaching Net Zero Global Emissions by 2050 ‘Highly Unlikely’

  • Bloomberg: Climate Pledges Reach Threshold to Keep Warming Below 2C

  • Canary Media: Chart: Carbon capture and removal projects hit a record high in 2022

  • The Verge: Saving the forests won’t be enough to stop climate change — we need substantial emission cuts

  • Western Standard: Report says up to 80% of Alberta’s oil sands production at risk from wildfires as natural gas spikes


  • Reuters: Analysis: Shell faces tense shareholder meeting as profits and climate collide

  • Bloomberg: Green Banks Spring Up in States, Spurred by $27 Billion Fund


  • The Hill: Documents reveal how fossil fuel industry created, pushed anti-ESG campaign


  • Truthout: Pipeline Companies Use Expired Materials to Cut Costs, Flouting Regulations

  • The Hill: The problems — and opportunities — with US energy policy

  • Climate Change News: G7 leaders must fulfil their promise to stop funding fossil fuels

  • The Conversation: Canadian financial institutions are fuelling the climate change crisis

  • National Observer: The campaign to abolish the RCMP unit called C-IRG

  • Counter Punch: EPA’s Dangerous Carbon Capture Gamble 


Politico: Granholm defends support for gas pipeline, citing energy security

“Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Thursday defended her support for moving forward with the Mountain Valley Pipeline, an Appalachian natural gas project opposed by environmental activists — including several who disrupted POLITICO’s energy summit in D.C.,” Politico reports. “Granholm endorsed the pipeline in a recent letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — the federal agency that regulates the nation’s sprawling pipelines — arguing the controversial project is needed for U.S. energy security, but is also crucial to transitioning to a zero-emissions power system… “The secretary’s remarks were disrupted by a handful of protesters who rushed toward the stage, shouting variations of “no MVP” and “Granholm, you are killing me.” In response to a later question on the Biden administration’s support for sending natural gas abroad to help U.S. allies cope with market disruptions from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Granholm acknowledged the trade-offs. “To the point of the protesters here, these are really hard decisions,” she said. “We are in this transition. We want to be able to ensure that our allies can turn on the lights.” The secretary said the U.S. has an abundance of natural gas and is going to be “a friend” to its allies, while also working with them to accelerate the transition to clean energy sources. “Everybody recognizes we’re in this interim period that we do not want to be in for long,” she said.

E&E News: Granholm Backs Pipeline, Gas And ‘Backstop’ Authority

“Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm put her stamp of approval on a fiercely contested natural gas pipeline Thursday and provided new details about the Biden administration’s strategy to support large transmission lines critical for a surge in renewable power,” E&E News reports. “We know that there’s a real desire to have energy security in areas where there is huge demand for power,’ Granholm said at POLITICO’s energy summit in Washington. ‘We also know that we have got to accelerate investment in clean [energy].’ Those dual objectives — maintaining energy security with fossil fuels and unleashing renewables — have punctuated the Biden administration’s policies of late. In recent months, the Biden administration signed off on the Willow crude oil project and a major Alaska liquefied natural gas project, angering environmentalists.” On Thursday, Granholm said the Mountain Valley pipeline is “on a path” to soon begin transporting natural gas, regardless of congressional action on permitting.”

Associated Press: Judge not inclined to shut down pipeline, pleads with Wisconsin tribe to work with oil company

“A federal judge said Thursday he is unlikely to force an energy company to shut down an oil pipeline in northern Wisconsin, despite arguments from a Native American tribe that the line is at immediate risk of being exposed by erosion and rupturing on reservation land,” the Associated Press reports. “U.S. District Judge William Conley said the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa didn’t prove that an emergency exists along a stretch of the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline where large sections of nearby riverbank have been washed away in recent weeks. Conley also expressed frustration with the tribe for not allowing Enbridge to reinforce the land around the pipeline. “The band has not helped itself by refusing to take any steps to prevent a catastrophic failure at the meander,” Conley said. “You haven’t even allowed simple steps that would have prevented some of this erosion.” “…Conley said the tribe’s inaction undermined its repeated claims that the pipeline must be shut down. “It looks like a strategy, even if it’s just idiocy,” he said. “I’m begging the band to just act. Do something to show you’re acting in good faith.” Conley planned to issue a ruling in the next two weeks explaining what conditions would have to be met for him to order a shutdown. “There’s going to come a time when there will be an imminent risk that will require me to step in,” he said.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: ‘It’s an extraordinary request’: Judge voices hesitance on bid to close Enbridge Line 5 fuel pipeline
Laura Schulte, 5/18/23

“A federal judge expressed frustration Thursday with a move in his court asking him to shut down an oil pipeline that a Wisconsin Native American tribe says is at risk of rupturing on reservation land in northern Wisconsin,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. “Judge William Conley of the Western District of Wisconsin said that being put in the position to possibly shut down Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 made him “uncomfortable,” and said that the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has repeatedly not allowed Enbridge to take actions to reduce the risk of a failure caused land around it being eroded by the river… “Conley said that if the band didn’t allow solutions to be worked on and continued bringing the case to court, he was worried that the U.S. Supreme Court could end up ruling in a way that could take away rights held by tribes. “You’re jeopardizing rights recognized by the court,” he said. “I don’t know if you’ve been watching the Supreme Court, but I’m flummoxed.” The band’s lawyers argued that they were reviewing Enbridge’s plans to shore up the soil around the pipeline, while Enbridge’s legal team argued that the band was holding up their attempts at revetment… “The Bad River Band in 2019 filed a filed a lawsuit to remove the pipeline after right-of-way easements between the tribe and the company expired in 2013. The pipeline operates on about 12 miles of reservation land. Tribal officials no longer wanted Enbridge to operate the pipeline on tribal lands and feared that a rupture would pose grave environmental damage. In response to the lawsuit, Enbridge proposed a 41.2-mile reroute of the 645-mile-long pipeline… “The environmental impact statement for the reroute is under review by the Department of Natural Resources, with no date yet projected for when it will be completed… “The reroute proposal has been met with criticism and concern over oil spills or pipe leaks, as well as the potential impacts to the environment when the company disrupts forests and digs underneath streams and rivers.” 

Kansas City Star: Keystone Pipeline was under stress for 12 years before Kansas oil spill, new report shows

“T.C. Energy December’s massive oil spill in rural northern Kansas may have been more than a decade in the making, a newly released third party report shows,” the Kansas City Star reports. “The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which regulates oil pipelines in the U.S., released a partially redacted version of the 240-page report this week, more than six months after the spill… “This wasn’t just normal pressure from the soil above the pipeline. Instead, significant land movement or heavy machinery may have caused the pipe to deform into an oval shape over time, Richard Kupriewicz, an independent pipeline advisor who has testified before Congress on pipeline safety and has over 20 years of experience advising on pipeline operation and regulation, told the Star. “Just because you threw dirt over it, it doesn’t crush the pipe,” he told the Star. “It can tolerate some loading (weight), but it wouldn’t necessarily cause the pipe to lose its roundness.” A slightly deformed shape, external pressure, gaps in welding — none of these factors are unusual in pipelines around the country, he said. Alone, they’re typically not a cause for concern. But the combination can create a “perfect storm” and cause a significant spill. “All those factors kind of came together,” Kupriewicz told the Star. “(The segment) was under stress from day one.” Kupriewicz told the Star it’s unlikely TC Energy knew about the growing cracks in the faulty weld. That’s because pipeline operators are only required to do x-ray testing on 10% of the welds holding the pipeline together — although he said some companies voluntarily inspect all of their welds in order to catch problems early. However, the report shows that operators knew the pipe segment was deformed into an oval shape. During a 2013 inspection, the company obtained a specially redesigned inspection device called a “smart pig” after the oval shape of the pipeline segment damaged other tools sent through it. “It’s not unusual to have a pipeline not be completely circular,” Kupriewicz told the Star. “But to have it to such a point that you can’t get a pig through it, that’d be raising some questions.” He added that while the company may not have been purposefully neglectful, issues with the segment were detected before the spill that could have helped prevent it. “These multibillion dollar projects, it’s easy for the management team to lose control,” he told the Star. “They may have the best of intentions, they may have procedures and all that. But are they actually being followed in the field?” “…Jane Kleeb, the founder of the environmental protection group BOLD Nebraska, told the Star that there have been signs since its construction that the Keystone Pipeline is not structurally sound. “There is no question given the amount of money, staff and technology that TC Energy has, that they knew these problems exist, and that they know these problems continue to exist,” she told The Star. “Citizens have essentially been the watchdogs and have been raising the flag at so many levels.” Kleeb told the Star landowners and activists in the area have long known that the pipeline was built using faulty steel and shoddy construction practices. But she told the Star that PHMSA is so understaffed that its inspectors are only able to monitor around 5% of the pipelines they regulate… “But some, like Kleeb, don’t trust the company to do its own inspections. She told the Star she thinks PHMSA should run its own x-ray and “smart pig” testing on the entire length of the pipeline to identify structural issues, rather than waiting for TC Energy to self-report them. “They’ve had three corrective action orders and 22 spills. That’s not normal for a pipeline of this age,” she told the Star. “Not only has their pipe eroded, but their trust has eroded with the public and the people who live along this route.”

Times Citizen: Summit talks CO2 boons at Eldora council
Shawn Digity, 5/17/23

“While the planned agenda was relatively short for Eldora’s May city council meeting, the public comment section was ripe with pipeline talk,” the Times Citizen reports. “Representatives from Summit Carbon Solutions, Grant Terry, “one of the two principal project managers responsible for direct oversight of pipeline construction,” and Shari Timmons, Regulatory Affairs Manager for Summit Iowa, were in attendance to present info and answer questions on the economic boons of CO2 pipelines… “Building Summit’s case, Timmons clarified that a report found that nearly “75 percent of ethanol production would cease by 2030 if carbon capture wasn’t a part of the formula.” “…Eldora’s council had several questions on the matter. For starters, Mayor David Dunn asked about the proximity of the project’s footprint to the city limits, to which Timmons and Terry said it would not breach that threshold. It will pass within a mile of Eldora’s corporation limits, but Terry added it would not require any “road-processing permits or temporary use permits.” Councilman Jerry Kramer inquired on the potential role Eldora would play in emergency pipeline events in nearby areas, under the impression that Summit would expect the city to jump into action in a “worst-case situation.” So with that, the councilman asked what — or if any — situational training and reimbursement would be offered by Summit. “My understanding is yes,” Timmons responded, but Terry took over to confirm that there would eventually be paid training sessions (comped by Summit) for local first responders that would report to a pipeline crisis. He also verified that training costs would be reimbursed for the initial and any ongoing sessions… “Kramer continued, “And if you don’t get everybody to sign on, what is your plan?” “…One question regarded extra water usage, and he explained that during the capturing process, there would be an additional 10 percent of water usage at an ethanol plant. Another question was about power consumption increases, to which Terry responded that he had exact estimates, but they would vary from plant to plant.”

KXNET: Concern grows in Bismarck over Summit Carbon Solution’s CO2 pipeline
Christina Randall, 5/18/23

“The Bismarck City Commission is supporting the decision of moving or delaying the proposed route for the carbon dioxide pipeline, proposed by Summit Carbon Solutions,” KXNET reports. “…Residents and Bismarck City leaders have concerns over the proposed location of the Summit Carbon Solutions CO2 Pipeline. “The nature of this pipeline is different than many others that have been put forward. It is 24 inches wide its over 2,100 pounds of pressure. So, it’s not something landowners or insurance agencies have seen a lot in the past,” said Chad Moldenhauer, the owner of K and L Homes. Not only is the Bismarck-Mandan Home Builders concerned over the safety of residents, but there is also a growing concern about insurance. “Insurance companies do not cover liability associated with pollutes. Most insurance companies or many insurance companies treat CO2 as a pollutant,” said Moldenhauer… “And Bismarck-Mandan Home builders association is blaming the lack of these unanswered questions on Summit Carbon Solutions. “There’s been a lot of conjecture. perhaps misinformation out there that is 100% caused by the fact we don’t have the information of what would happen if there is a strike on the pipeline or if there is a rupture or a leak because Summit has not provided our community with that information,” said Moldenhauer. The Burleigh County Commission has asked for the pipeline to be pushed 10 miles away from Bismarck. The City of Bismarck Commission has requested it too but pushed back 25 miles away. The current route for the pipeline will pass through Northern Burleigh County and is less than two miles from Bismarck’s extraterritorial area.”

Summerland Advocate: Commissioners learn how Iowa landowners are battling a proposed carbon-capture pipeline
Elizabeth Odell, 5/18/23

“A proposed carbon-capture pipeline, scheduled to cross Antelope and Holt counties, is an example of “environmentalism gone amok,” according to an Iowa resident who addressed Antelope County Commissioners, May 9,” the Summerland Advocate reports. “Tammy Kobza, a Nebraska native who serves as a field representative for The John Birch Society, said Nebraskans can learn a lot about landowner rights and eminent domain by watching their eastern neighbors battle Summit Carbon Solutions… “Kobza outlined an explosion of a carbon-capture pipeline near Sartartia, Mississippi… “That’s why Iowans are fighting this,” she said. “When it ruptures, it consumes air. You have four to 15 minutes to leave, depending where you live along the route.” “…That’s why county governments need to protect their citizens, according to Kobza… “Antelope County Zoning Administrator Megan Wingate said Antelope County is currently updating its regulations to include carbon pipelines… “According to Kobza, a driving force for the pipelne is for its use in enhanced oil recovery. “Plus, there are the 45Q and 45Z tax credits. The owners are going to make billions and we’re going to be taxed for it. It’s a scam,” she said. Kobza and Doug Nelson, a Wayne farmer and biologist spoke to a crowd of approximately 40 individuals, May 9, in Brunswick. Landowner rights and environmental aspects of the proposed pipeline were discussed.”

Cedar Rapids Gazette: Navigator deal would provide CO2 from Midwest ethanol plants for electrofuels
Erin Jordan, 5/18/23

“Navigator Heartland Greenway on Thursday announced a deal with electrofuels provider Infinium to provide 600,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year from ethanol plants connected to Navigator’s proposed pipeline,” the Cedar Rapids Gazette reports. “The CO2 would be used to create low-carbon fuels at a “future Infinium facility” in the Midwest, Navigator said in a news release. “We are committed to delivering long-term, sustainable decarbonization solutions from our growing Heartland Greenway platform, and it’s exciting to see Infinium’s innovative approach to leverage carbon,” Navigator CEO Matt Vining said in a prepared statement… “Navigator’s announcement Thursday is the second in a week about a CO2 pipeline company planning to use some of the CO2 for another purpose, rather than sequestering it all underground. Iowa-based Summit Agricultural and Honeywell are partnering to build the world’s largest plant producing ethanol-based aviation fuel — a project that is likely to become a $1 billion facility and is expected to open in 2025… “While the federal government provides an $85 tax credit for each ton of CO2 permanently stored underground, there are other tax credits for reducing emissions from fuel production that don’t require sequestration. That opens up the possibility of using the CO2 captured at ethanol plants for other industrial purposes, such as making electrofuels.”

Vancouver Island Free Daily: Coastal GasLink completes final major B.C. river crossing, pipeline to be finished this year
THOM BARKER, 5/18/23

“Coastal GasLink (CGL) has completed micro-tunnelling under the Morice River south of Houston. The tunnel marks the 10th and final major river crossing for the 670-kilometre pipeline that will transport natural gas from northeast B.C. to the processing facility currently under construction in Kitimat,” the Vancouver Island Free Daily reports. “Once the pipe is pulled through the concrete tunnel this summer, all major river crossings will be 100 per cent complete… “Microtunneling is a technologically-advanced technique for building trenchless, small-diameter tunnels that are too small for a traditional human-operated boring machine to complete. The smaller boring machine is operated remotely via computer console… “The release also indicated the company is confident it will complete the pipeline by the end of 2023.”

Law360: Pipeline Co. Must Disclose Disaster Records, Pa. Panel Says
Peter McGuire, 5/18/23

“Expert reports that regulators demanded from Energy Transfer Partners subsidiaries about the cause of a gas pipeline rupture in rural Pennsylvania five years ago are not shielded from discovery in a $55 million lawsuit against the company, according to a Keystone State appeals court,” Law360 reports.


Press release: Carper, Schatz Unveil Environmental Review and Permitting Reform Proposal

“U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, along with Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), today led a group of their colleagues in releasing the Promoting Efficient and Engaged Reviews (PEER) Act. The bill would make thoughtful, commonsense reforms to our nation’s environmental review and permitting processes that advance clean energy deployment, support community engagement, and protect our environment. “After enacting historic infrastructure and clean energy investments last Congress, we need efficient permitting processes that allow our nation to meet our climate goals with the urgency that science demands,” said Chairman Carper. “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. Importantly, our bill would improve the permitting process without undermining our nation’s bedrock environmental protections… “Original sponsors of the PEER Act include Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.). “We need commonsense permitting reform to safely and quickly build out the clean energy infrastructure of the future,” said Senator Whitehouse. “This plan, which includes my SITE Act to thoughtfully speed the build-out of interstate transmission lines, is an important proposal to have in the mix as we seek bipartisan compromise. I thank Chairman Carper for his leadership on this important issue.”

The Hill: Democrats warn Biden against cutting debt ceiling deal with McCarthy

“Senate Democrats, caught off guard by President Biden’s decision to tap two senior advisers to negotiate a debt ceiling deal with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), are warning the president not to agree to anything that would hurt low-income Americans or undermine the battle against climate change,” The Hill reports. “Democratic senators are increasingly concerned that any deal that Biden strikes with McCarthy will include major concessions to House conservatives that they would find hard to support… “What Democratic senators see as the growing likelihood that Biden will agree to cut tens of billions of dollars in nondefense domestic spending and make it easier to approve new fossil-fuel extraction projects has spurred some of them to urge the president to raise the debt limit unilaterally and circumvent Republican lawmakers altogether. A group of Senate Democrats including Sens. Tina Smith (Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) signed onto a letter urging Biden to prepare to use the 14th Amendment to raise the debt limit in the absence of a deal with McCarthy… “Yes, he’s negotiating. I don’t know what else what you call it,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), who had urged Biden not to let House Republicans use the debt limit as a hostage, told The Hill.  Schatz warned that Democrats on Capitol Hill wouldn’t vote for a deal that includes even a quarter of the proposals included in the House Republicans’ Limit, Save, Grow Act, which would cut spending by $4.8 trillion over the next decade and greenlight new fossil-fuel projects around the country… “Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told The Hill he will oppose any effort by House Republicans to use debt limit legislation to roll back the clean energy tax breaks included in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act… “At the same time, conservative Republicans say if Biden does not agree to significant spending reforms and policy concessions, any debt limit deal that may emerge from talks with McCarthy will fall flat with members of the House Freedom Caucus.”  

U.S. Dept. of Energy: Biden-Harris Administration Invests $251 Million to Expand Infrastructure to Support CO2 Transport and Storage

“As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $251 million to support 12 selected projects across seven states that will bolster the nation’s carbon management capabilities. The projects, funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will expand carbon dioxide (CO2) transportation and storage infrastructure to help significantly and responsibly reduce CO2 emissions from power generation and industrial operations. In addition, DOE announced the second opening of a five-year $2.25 billion funding opportunity to provide for the continuous development of commercial-scale carbon storage infrastructure. Expanding commercial CO2 transport and storage will provide new economic opportunities and help achieve President Biden’s goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050. “Less pollution, cleaner air and more jobs are the upshots of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Thanks to historic clean energy investments, DOE is building out the infrastructure needed to slash harmful carbon pollution from industry and the power sector, revitalize local economies, and unlock enormous public health benefits.” “…Nine projects were selected for a total of $242 million in funding to support the development of new and expanded large-scale, commercial carbon storage projects with capacities to securely store 50 or more million metric tons of carbon dioxide… “Three projects were selected for a total of $9 million in funding to perform detailed engineering design studies for regional CO2 pipeline networks. The studies will develop innovative methods to efficiently and safely transport captured CO2 from key sources like power plants, ethanol facilities, and other industrial operations to locations that will either use the CO2 to manufacture long-lived products—such as carbon-based building materials, fuels, and chemicals—or for permanent storage. Projects will focus on carbon transport costs, transport network configurations, and technical and commercial considerations that support broad efforts to develop and deploy carbon capture, conversion, and storage at commercial scale… “DOE also announced the re-opening of the $2.25 billion Carbon Storage Validation and Testing funding opportunity announcement. The funding opportunity has been modified to accept applications under a broader scope, including storage complex feasibility in addition to the site characterization, permitting, and construction stages of project development. It also expands the definition of large-scale storage to allow for additional storage options.”

The Hill: Markey bill would restore ban on US fossil fuel exports
ZACK BUDRYK, 5/18/23

“Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced legislation Thursday that will reimpose a ban on U.S. fossil fuel exports, citing environmental hazards and possible impacts on domestic prices,” The Hill reports. “The measure would “help prioritize American consumers, protect our climate and promote environmental justice and put the United States on a path to self-sufficiency through domestic clean energy production,” Markey said Thursday at a press conference on Capitol Hill, flanked by supporters of the bill from communities in the Rio Grande Valley and the Gulf Coast. Markey disputed the idea that the ban would result in higher prices for American consumers, pointing to International Energy Agency data indicating that increased U.S. exports were accompanied by higher domestic prices for natural gas. “So ordinary families have to pay more on their natural gas bill, because the big oil and gas companies want to sell it overseas, but that leaves less here, which drives up the price for natural gas for people who are trying to heat their homes,” he said. Then-President Obama signed a bill in 2015 lifting a four-decade restriction on U.S. oil exports… “Reps. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) and Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) introduced corresponding legislation in the House. The bill is likely doomed in the GOP-majority House, but it marks the latest collaboration between Markey and climate-focused House Democrats aimed at promoting aggressive climate action.”

E&E News: Court leans toward feds in Wyoming NEPA gas fight
Niina H. Farah, 5/18/23

“A federal appeals court Wednesday appeared to lean in support of an Interior Department review of wildlife risks associated with a natural gas project spanning more than 140,000 acres in northwest Wyoming,” E&E News reports. “During oral arguments, judges of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seemed skeptical of environmental groups’ claims that Interior’s Bureau of Land Management should have required stronger protections for a pair of iconic Western species — the greater sage grouse and the pronghorn — before greenlighting the project proposed by Colorado-based Jonah Energy LLC. Judge Timothy Tymkovich asked whether BLM’s approval effectively requires the agency to evaluate the project’s impacts “at the back end” when considering specific drilling permits — rather than, as environmentalists claim, at the early stage of its National Environmental Policy Act review. “Isn’t that what they are doing, looking at the permit impact on sage grouse and pronghorn?” said Tymkovich, a George W. Bush pick. “How is that really meaningfully different from them saying in the first instance that they are going to phase it in at the permit level?”

E&E News: Biden review of ANWR oil program expected in fall, DOJ says
Heather Richards, 5/17/23

“The Biden administration will release its highly anticipated environmental review of oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by this fall, charting next steps for one of the most politically contested U.S. oil fields in history, according to a recent update in Alaska federal court,” E&E News reports. “Interior Secretary Deb Haaland paused oil and gas activity in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in 2021, citing “alleged legal deficiencies” in a Trump-era environmental review of the first-ever oil program on those lands. Previously planned for release early this year, a draft of that supplemental review is now expected in the third quarter, the Department of Justice recently told a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska. The update was first reported by Petroleum News. ANWR has long been a focal point for Alaska drillers because it may hold more than 10 billion barrels of oil. But as one of the nation’s most remote and untrammeled frontiers, the refuge is also a rallying point for climate activists, environmental groups and some Alaska Native organizations, which have noted the land and abundant wildlife is held sacred to the Gwich’in people and other Indigenous communities.”

Guardian: Sierra Club clashes with union over layoffs and restructuring plan
Dharna Noor, 5/18/23

“The Sierra Club, one of the US’s oldest and largest environmental advocacy groups, is going through a turbulent restructuring, which a union has issued two formal complaints about and warned could lead to more than 100 job losses,” the Guardian reports. “Some staff also raised questions about how the changes might affect its recent efforts to improve workplace culture following allegations of misconduct, and boost inclusivity in the aftermath of scrutiny over the racial views of its founder, the conservationist John Muir. Dozens of employees have been laid off since late April and even more have taken voluntary buy-outs, said the Progressive Workers Union, which represents about 400 of Sierra Club’s pre-layoff count of 800 employees. The moves come under the leadership of Ben Jealous, a prominent civil rights leader who was named Sierra Club’s new executive director in November. In April, he said he inherited an annualized deficit of $40m, and that layoffs and cost-cutting would be needed… “I am terrified for the future of the organization,” one staffer who requested to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation told the Guardian. “I do not see how we survive this.” “…But some employees say the Sierra Club’s reorganization process has been opaque and exclusionary… “Progressive Workers Union has filed two official unfair labor practice complaints with the National Labor Relations Board over the restructuring. The first, filed on Tuesday, alleges that Sierra Club is bargaining in bad faith and violating the union’s collective bargaining agreement, including by telling staff that they were employed at-will and informing employees that if they refused to sign new job descriptions, they would be treated as having resigned… “Last week, Progressive Workers Union filed a separate claim alleging that management failed to adequately share details about the restructuring plan… “Sierra Club spokesperson Jonathon Berman told the Guardian the allegations in both filings are “baseless” and said management is adhering to the union’s collective bargaining agreement… “But some workers fear the organizational overhaul could compromise Sierra Club’s progress on environmental justice.”


Associated Press: California lawmakers block bill allowing people to sue oil companies over health problems

“California lawmakers blocked two big environmental bills Thursday: One that would have ramped up the state’s emissions targets, and another that would have made oil companies liable for the health problems of people who live close to oil wells,” the Associated Press reports. “They are among the hundreds of bills that did not survive the Legislature’s suspense file, a mysterious process where lawmakers decide — with no explanation — which bills will get a chance to become law later this year and which ones should not move forward. Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law that bans drilling new oil wells within 3,200 feet (975 meters) of sensitive areas like homes and schools. But the law hasn’t taken effect because the oil industry qualified a referendum on the 2024 ballot asking voters to overturn it. That referendum angered environmental and health advocates. They decided if the oil industry wanted to block that law, then they would try to pass another law to let people who got sick from living too close to wells to sue the oil companies responsible for them. The bill, authored by Sen. Lena Gonzalez, would have required oil companies to pay up to $1 million to people who have cancer or other health problems associated with the well. “Today, we missed a key opportunity to advance legislation that would hold polluters accountable and prevent further harm to families who are just trying to stay healthy and have a better quality of life,” Gonzalez said in a statement. The Senate Appropriations Committee stopped the bill from getting a vote by the full Senate, meaning it is not likely to become law this year. Jamie Court, president of the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, blamed committee chair Sen. Anthony Portantino, a Democrat from Burbank who is also running for Congress… “Kara Greene, a spokesperson for the Western States Petroleum Association, which opposed the bill, told AP it would have been unfair to oil and gas companies and done more harm than good.”

Colorado Newsline: Oil and gas permits in Colorado would be phased out by 2030 under proposed ballot initiative
SARA WILSON, 5/16/23

“A ballot initiative proposal in Colorado seeks to scale back the state’s oil and gas industries by phasing out new permits by 2030,” Colorado Newsline reports. “A coalition of climate and environmental groups called Safe and Healthy Colorado submitted the draft ballot initiative to the Colorado Legislative Council in late April, and the state’s Title Board set a title for it on May 3. It now awaits a rehearing Wednesday. “Colorado can continue to be a leader in a clean energy economy, and we can clean up our air and water, but we can’t do that while continuing to commit ourselves to the polluting industries of the last century,” Safe and Healthy Colorado spokesperson Heidi Leathwood said in an April statement. “This ballot initiative is a chance for the people to stand up to the polluters, take control and move our state toward the clean energy future we deserve.” The ballot initiative aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, as well as “enhance economic growth in the state as part of an ongoing transition to clean renewable energy,” according to its declaration of purpose. The initiative would change state statute, not the state’s Constitution. The group submitted two versions of the ballot initiative, both of which call for a “gradual phase out of new permits by 2030,” prioritizing disproportionately impacted communities that have a history of being the target of environmental racism. One version of the initiative would account for workers impacted by the energy transition… “Former state Rep. Timothy Foster and Steven Ward motioned for a rehearing for both initiative drafts, primarily on the basis that, according to them, the titles are misleading and violate the state’s single-subject requirement. Lawyers for the initiative proponents argued during the May 3 Title Board hearing that the single subject is pollution reduction. The initiative version that includes an impacted worker program still adheres to that single subject, they said. Foster disagrees.”

Pro Publica: It Will Cost Up to $21.5 Billion to Clean Up California’s Oil Sites. The Industry Won’t Make Enough Money to Pay for It.
Mark Olalde, 5/18/23

“For well over a century, the oil and gas industry has drilled holes across California in search of black gold and a lucrative payday. But with production falling steadily, the time has come to clean up many of the nearly quarter-million wells scattered from downtown Los Angeles to western Kern County and across the state,” Pro Publica reports. “The bill for that work, however, will vastly exceed all the industry’s future profits in the state, according to a first-of-its-kind study published Thursday and shared with ProPublica. “This major issue has sneaked up on us,” Dwayne Purvis, a Texas-based petroleum reservoir engineer who analyzed profits and cleanup costs for the report, told Pro Publica. “Policymakers haven’t recognized it. Industry hasn’t recognized it, or, if they have, they haven’t talked about it and acted on it.” The analysis, which was commissioned by Carbon Tracker Initiative, a financial think tank that studies how the transition away from fossil fuels impacts markets and the economy, used California regulators’ draft methodology for calculating the costs associated with plugging oil and gas wells and decommissioning them along with related infrastructure. The methodology was developed with feedback from the industry… “Plugging wells, dismantling surface infrastructure and decontaminating polluted drill sites would cost at least $13.2 billion, based on publicly available data. Adding in factors with slightly more uncertainty, like inflation rates and the price of decommissioning miles of pipeline, could bring the total cleanup bill for California’s onshore oil and gas industry to $21.5 billion. Meanwhile, California oil and gas production will earn about $6.3 billion in future profits over the remaining course of operations, Purvis estimated. Compounding the problem, the industry has set aside only about $106 million that state regulators can use for cleanup when a company liquidates or otherwise walks away from its responsibilities, according to state data. That amount equals less than 1% of the estimated cost. Taxpayers will likely have to cover much of the difference to ensure wells are plugged and not left to leak brine, toxic chemicals and climate-warming methane.”

Virginia Mercury: Natural gas industry says no need for state methane emission regulation

“Members of Virginia’s natural gas industry say there’s no need for the state to impose its own regulations to reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that can leak from gas pipes and is a significant contributor to climate change,” Virginia Mercury reports. “Methane reductions “are likely to be accomplished through the upcoming federal rules,” said Stephen Holcomb, director of environmental policy and sustainability at NiSource, a natural gas company that provides service in the commonwealth through subsidiary Columbia Gas of Virginia. “That’s why, at this time, we do not support additional state methane regulation on the natural gas industry.” Holcomb’s remarks were made May 11 during a meeting of a working group put together under a 2022 state law to determine whether it’s feasible for Virginia to set methane reduction goals and craft a plan to meet them… “ And while industry members argued Virginia regulations are unnecessary, environmental groups said state rules could fill in any gaps within federal proposals. “We would certainly support a methane reduction goal in Virginia,” Greg Buppert, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, told the Mercury. Braven Beaty, an ecologist with the Nature Conservancy, warned that “to put it off, kick the can down the road entirely until some in-the-works federal reg[ulation] may change or come about is too uncertain.” “…But environmental groups said state rules could still address issues not resolved by new federal regulations.” 

Grist: Replace fossil fuels — with more fossil fuels? That’s one major utility’s plan.
Katie Myers, 5/19/23

“Austin Wall was attending an environmental law conference at the University of Tennessee not long ago when, during a discussion of natural gas pipeline projects, a map appeared on the screen and gave him a surprise,” Grist reports. “…Wall’s family lives in rural Dickson County, and its ranch lies within a 10-mile “blast zone” of a pipeline planned for north-central Tennessee. That got his attention. A pipeline exploded in that area in 1992, scorching more than five acres of forest, and a similar disaster could decimate the family’s livelihood raising cattle. But what really dismayed him is why the Tennessee Valley Authority wants to build the project: It plans to replace two coal-fired power plants with natural gas facilities… “The agency once boasted 14 coal-fired power plants, including one that was for much of the 1960s the world’s largest. Today just five remain, and the agency wants to replace two in Tennessee, one in Cumberland and the other in Kingston, with gas-powered plants. Doing so all but commits its customers to fossil fuels for the next 25 to 30 years, obliterating the utility’s chance of reaching any national or international, or even its own, climate goals. Despite that, the TVA argues that building the capacity for solar and wind energy takes too much money and time to allocate all at once. Its officials insist that methane burns cleaner than coal, and they echo a common argument in claiming that it provides a tidy bridge between coal and truly renewable energy. Some, including the Environmental Protection Agency, oppose the plan for climate reasons, arguing that, in addition to carbon dioxide, the plant will emit methane, an even more powerful greenhouse gas. Others worry about how the pipelines needed to serve the new operations will impact their communities.  Wall joined other opponents of the plan who gathered earlier this month in a cavernous middle school gym in Norris, Tennessee, for a TVA board meeting. Together, they told the agency exactly what they thought of the plan. Wall sees the plant slated for Cumberland as part of a history of exploitation throughout the rural South. “


Grist: The laws that took down mobsters are now being turned against Big Oil
Kate Yoder, 5/19/23

“The flood-prone city of Hoboken, New Jersey, sued Exxon, Chevron, and other oil companies three years ago, hoping to put them on trial for deceiving the public. Like other lawsuits set in motion by “Exxon Knew” investigations, Hoboken made the case that they breached state consumer protection laws by hiding the risks of burning fossil fuels,” Grist reports. “But the lawsuit recently took a novel twist. Hoboken’s lawyers amended the complaint in late April, alleging that Big Oil had violated the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO, as first reported by the accountability site ExxonKnews. New Jersey’s statute is modeled after a federal RICO law passed in 1970 designed to take down organized crime. These racketeering lawsuits aren’t just for the Mafia anymore; they’ve also been successful against tobacco companies, such as Philip Morris, and pharmaceutical executives tied to the opioid epidemic. It could be the start of a new wave of climate lawsuits, Korey Silverman-Roati, a fellow at Columbia Law School, told Grist. Thirty-three states and two U.S. territories have RICO laws, and judgments in these cases can award plaintiffs triple the damages. The use of RICO is another sign that cities and states are trying to learn from “the successes and failures of the tobacco litigation movement and the opioid litigation movement,” Silverman-Roati told Grist… “Hoboken’s lawsuit is the second to argue that Big Oil colluded in a “fraudulent scheme” to conceal how their products contribute to climate change. In November, cities across Puerto Rico accused Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, and other fossil fuel companies of violating the federal RICO law. The towns seek to make companies pay billions of dollars for the extensive damages suffered during hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017. Both lawsuits argue that evidence of a conspiracy traces back to 1989, just as governments around the world started talking about reining in global warming… “Both RICO lawsuits highlight “this decades-long pattern of fossil fuel companies knowing that their products are harmful, deceptively marketing them to the public as safe, and then public communities being on the hook for huge sums to pay for those harms,” Silverman-Roati told Grist. “It’s really a way of underlining that pattern aspect of the behavior, the conspiratorial aspect of the behavior, and tying that to criminal violations like fraud.”

Bloomberg: Exxon Says Reaching Net Zero Global Emissions by 2050 ‘Highly Unlikely’
Kevin Crowley, 5/18/23

“Exxon Mobil Corp. said the prospect of the world reaching net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 is “highly unlikely” due to the drop in living standards that would come with such a scenario,” Bloomberg reports. “The Texas oil giant made the comments in a regulatory filing that argued against proxy adviser Glass Lewis’ view that the cost of phasing out oil and gas operations would be a material financial risk. The International Energy Agency’s Net Zero Emissions scenario, which models a phaseout of most fossil fuels by 2050, has little bearing in reality, Exxon said. “Glass Lewis apparently believes the likelihood of the IEA NZE scenario is well beyond what the IEA itself contends: that the world is not on the NZE path and that this is a very aggressive scenario,” Exxon said. “It is highly unlikely that society would accept the degradation in global standard of living required to permanently achieve a scenario like the IEA NZE.” “…Exxon urged shareholders to reject a resolution, backed by Glass Lewis, that the company should produce a report at its annual meeting on May 31 on the cost of shutting oil and gas operations that no longer are needed.”

Bloomberg: Climate Pledges Reach Threshold to Keep Warming Below 2C
Zahra Hirji, 5/18/23

“The world can successfully keep global warming below 2C if every country meets every commitment made through June 2022 to slash greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new study,” Bloomberg reports. “That includes both medium- and long-term commitments. If countries were to meet only their 2030 goals, the report finds it wouldn’t be enough to keep warming at 1.5C or even “well below” 2C — limits baked into the Paris Agreement in 2015. But if national governments hit climate commitments for 2030, 2050 and 2070, four climate models concluded that limiting warming to 1.7C to 1.8C  is likely, per an analysis published Thursday in the journal Nature Climate Change.”

Canary Media: Chart: Carbon capture and removal projects hit a record high in 2022
Maria Virginia Olano, 5/19/23

“Even before the Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to push fossil-fueled power plants toward carbon capture and storage (CCS), the technology was experiencing a renaissance. After activity fell off in the early 2010s, interest in carbon capture and removal is back in full force, with a record number of projects in the pipeline as of last year,” Canary Media reports. “But most of the recent uptick in CCS comes from early-stage project development. Actual operational capacity has grown at a much slower pace in recent years: In 2022, there were only 30 facilities operating around the world, with a combined capacity of just over 42 million metric tons, according to the Global CCS Institute, about 31 percent more than five years earlier. That’s because between 2010 and 2017, numerous projects in the pipeline were shelved and never built due to failures and cost overruns. The recent growth is driven in part by new U.S. policies incentivizing carbon capture and removal, moves significant enough that BloombergNEF estimates the country could host nearly half of all global CCS capacity by 2030… “As of September 2022, there were 164 commercial CCS projects in the development pipeline, with enough combined capacity to capture nearly 200 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. In terms of overall planned capacity, the pipeline in 2022 was more than seven times bigger than at its low point in 2017. The largest increase is in the number of projects in an advanced stage of development, which nearly doubled between 2021 and 2022. But despite the new wave of interest, the Global CCS Institute and the International Energy Agency have both called current efforts on CCS insufficient. Under a net-zero scenario, global operational CCS capacity would need to scale up to over 1,200 million metric tons by 2030, per IEA projections — a tremendous amount of growth that, even if achieved, would still mitigate only a tiny sliver of global CO2 emissions.”

The Verge: Saving the forests won’t be enough to stop climate change — we need substantial emission cuts
Jéssica Maes, 5/18/23

“Increasingly, companies are releasing new net-zero goals to neutralize their greenhouse gas emissions in the future. And instead of substantially reducing their carbon emissions, a lot of those pledges rely on using a technique called forest carbon capture. But a new study reinforces what scientists have been saying for a while: counting on trees to do the dirty work of removing the CO2 we have put on the atmosphere won’t be enough to stop climate change,” The Verge reports. “A paper published today in Science posits that, if we stop all human management on forests (for example, wood harvesting) under current climatic conditions and with the CO2 concentration that already exists, their aboveground biomass could increase by up to 44.1 gigatons of carbon. If that seems like a lot, it’s because it is. However, it would mean a 15–16 percent increase over current levels of carbon storage, which equals about four years of current CO2 emissions by human activities. Without strong reductions in emissions, the paper concludes that this strategy has a low potential to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. The researchers also highlight that the forest carbon sink (its ability to absorb carbon) should be preserved to offset residual emissions from sectors where they are unavoidable, rather than to compensate for present emission levels.”

Western Standard: Report says up to 80% of Alberta’s oil sands production at risk from wildfires as natural gas spikes
Shaun Polczer, 5/18/23

“In what could be a body blow to Alberta’s already strained infrastructure, a European energy consultancy is warning that up to 80% of the province’s oil sands production is at risk due to the worsening wildfire situation,” Western Standard reports. “According to Oslo-based Rostand Energy, up to 2.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of mined and pumped bitumen is at risk due to “extreme” and “very high” wildfire warnings in the northern part of the province. Given that Alberta produces about 3.4 million bpd of upgraded synthetic oil and raw bitumen, that means about 80% of the province’s daily output is at risk of shut-ins or damage. Of projected production for the month of May, Rystad said about 60% are subject to “extreme” wildfire warnings, while another 40% are in areas with “very high” risk, it said. In 2016, wildfires in Fort McMurray knocked out more than a million bpd for almost two months. That’s on top of an estimated 300,000 conventional barrels and at least two billion cubic feet per day of gas that has already been shut in due to fires. Rystad that number is almost certainly low as the number of oil producers continued to report outages.”


Reuters: Analysis: Shell faces tense shareholder meeting as profits and climate collide
Ron Bousso and Shadia Nasralla, 5/18/23

“Shell (SHEL.L) will likely face one of its most acrimonious annual meetings next week as it struggles to balance investor pressure to capture profits from oil and gas and a vocal minority saying it must move faster to tackle climate change,” Reuters reports. “…Executives at both Shell and BP have told Reuters in recent months that a growing number of major investors have pressed them to focus on returns, rather than energy transition plans, in the wake of the energy shock. In response, BP scaled back plans to cut its oil and gas output this decade, while Shell’s Chief Executive Wael Sawan, who took office in January, indicated the British firm was reviewing a pledge to reduce oil output by 1-2% a year by 2030. The shift has alarmed many climate-focused investors, who have issued rare public rebukes. In some cases, investors are getting personal, voting against the re-appointment of directors after largely supporting in recent years their efforts to gradually shift their century-old operations towards renewables. Many of the funds, which make up a small but increasingly vocal part of BP, Shell and TotalEnergies’ shareholder bases, will also support – against the boards’ recommendation – a shareholder resolution filed by activist group Follow This calling for tougher emission reduction targets by 2030.”

Bloomberg: Green Banks Spring Up in States, Spurred by $27 Billion Fund
Dean Scott, 5/18/23

“The EPA’s new $27 billion clean energy fund is fueling interest in both red and blue states to launch their own green banks to leverage investment in solar, wind, and energy efficiency projects,” Bloomberg reports. “Green banks opened in about a half dozen states in the past two years, including California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, and other states are getting closer to instituting them. Illinois launched two green banks in 2021, and Maine passed legislation that year establishing its Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator to mobilize funding for renewable energy, grid improvements, and electric vehicle charging stations. “I don’t think it’s a blue or red state thing—I think under the IRA, you would be foolish to not try to find ways to bring one of the fastest growing areas of investment activity into your state because it’s a job-rich” proposition, Rachel Kyte, dean of Tufts University’s The Fletcher School, told Bloomberg,  referring to the Inflation Reduction Act, which included the $27 billion clean energy fund. The fund provides about $20 billion to promote green bank financing and leverage other climate-friendly investments. An additional $7 billion is reserved for states, municipalities, and tribal governments’ efforts to benefit low-income and other disadvantaged communities. Green banks have generally found more fertile ground in blue states, but they’re making inroads in red states including Alaska, Florida, and Texas.’


The Hill: Documents reveal how fossil fuel industry created, pushed anti-ESG campaign
SAUL ELBEIN, 5/18/23

“The recent Republican push against sustainable investing likely originated in a backroom campaign by the fossil fuel industry in states like West Virginia and Texas,” The Hill reports. “Its tactic: to tar moves by the financial sector to weigh the climate risks posed to the oil, gas and coal businesses as “discrimination,” according to internal documents obtained by InfluenceMap.  InfluenceMap is a nonprofit think tank that reports on corporate lobbying around climate policy — an issue that has become almost entirely subsumed over the past year in the broader Republican campaign against what Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) calls “woke investing.” That campaign began as a failed 2021 attempt to get West Virginia to ban banks that figured into loans then-obscure metrics around environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors.  But over the past two years, the approach has gained rapid ground, as the ESG issue has bloomed into a major focus of state Republican politics and a key battleground in the national culture wars. The documents obtained by InfluenceMap — which date back to the first attempts to craft anti-ESG legislation — reveal fossil fuel companies’ role as the major driver in the fight against sustainable finance. While it has largely failed to resonate with voters, the anti-ESG push has been successful in weakening climate commitments from major banks, which could now face a tide of anti-ESG lawsuits enabled by a rising wave of state laws. Eighteen GOP-controlled state legislatures have passed bans of ESG, as has Congress — a piece of legislation that caused President Joe Biden to issue the first veto of his term… “Documents obtained by InfluenceMap via a Freedom of Information Act request show that in February 2021, the West Virginia Coal Association sent a draft anti-ESG bill to state delegate Zack Maynard, who introduced it to the legislature that session… “The West Virginia bill was “part of a multi-state initiative to counter back against corporate cancel culture specifically ESG,” a lobbyist from Alliance Resource Partners — a major coal producer — wrote the head of the state pension committee. This campaign began early on “to cast ESG as a threat,” Cleo Rank, the InfluenceMap researcher who obtained and analyzed the documents, told The Hill.”


Truthout: Pipeline Companies Use Expired Materials to Cut Costs, Flouting Regulations
Bill Kitchen, 5/18/23

“Ductile” is not a word you come across very often. It means flexible, and it’s written in the federal register as a result of the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968, which required the Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop and enforce minimum safety regulations for the transportation of gases by pipeline,” Bill Kitchen writes for Truthout. “…For more than half a century there’s been a law on the books that says pipelines must have a protective external coating that is “sufficiently ductile to resist cracking” in order to protect the pipe from external corrosion… “But before those sections of pipe finally come to rest in a ditch, they will be lifted many times over a period of months or years. Each time they’re lifted the pipe will flex, which is why the coating must be “sufficiently ductile” to also flex. If it’s not sufficiently ductile, the coating will crack… “Way back in 2004, the National Association of Pipe Coating Applicators (NAPCA) put out an eight-page bulletin which stated, at the very beginning, that FBE-coated pipe should not be stored above ground for more than six months without protection from the sun… “As the years rolled on, it became increasingly clear that climate science was warning against building new fossil fuel pipelines. Pipeline projects started running into resistance and took much longer to get built, if they got built at all. Pipe for Keystone XL (KXL) was manufactured and coated from 2009-11. Thankfully, that pipeline never got built. But in 2018, when Canadian TC Energy was still hoping KXL might get built on former President Donald Trump’s watch, testing was done on the corrosion-proof FBE coating that had been sitting out in the sun all those years. Long after NAPCA’s six-month window had passed, a whitewash coating was applied to the KXL pipe in a half-assed attempt to protect the FBE coating from the sun. But they didn’t even apply the whitewash to the entire length of the pipe, leaving a few feet on each end without whitewash so as not to cover up stenciling and other markings. That would be like going to the beach and applying sunscreen from your ankles to your neck, lying out in the sun all day and then wondering why your feet and face got so sunburned, or, more to the point, doing it day after day, month after month, year after year, and wondering how you got skin cancer. The results of the testing were written up in an important article that appeared on page 16 of the January/February 2020 issue of Corrosion Management, a publication of the Institute of Corrosion. TC Energy had a hand in writing the article… and it shows. It’s basically an attempt at greenwashing whitewashing. They were trying to show that the FBE corrosion-proof coating would be just fine sitting out in the sun for years as long as it was whitewashed. The article states that overall the test results of the whitewashed pipe proved excellent and that the whitewashed FBE coating was still totally fit for purpose. But that’s not what the study showed. It said that even whitewashed FBE coating demonstrated a “serious deterioration in its flexibility performance.” “…Because the biggest problem with new fossil fuel pipelines isn’t that their corrosion-proof coating is defective; it’s that they are, well, new fossil fuel pipelines… intended to keep operating for decades as the climate crisis accelerates. But there may be some hope in that word: “ductile.” It’s long past time for government to begin truly enforcing the safety regulations already on the books, and perhaps environmental lawyers and organized citizens can use that word to try and stop some of these dangerous, fossil-foolish pipelines.”

The Hill: The problems — and opportunities — with US energy policy
REP. SEAN CASTEN (D-ILL.), 5/18/23

“What is the overarching goal of United States energy policy? Most of my colleagues in Washington would agree it’s to minimize energy cost and pollution, incentivize reliability and innovation, and—as much as possible—rely on domestic supply. And yet, what we actually do is at odds with those goals,” Rep. Sean Casten writes for The Hill. “The truth is that we’ve never had a coherent energy policy… “There are no technology-, capital- nor talent-based limitations on our ability to reduce CO2 emissions, reduce our exposure to volatile fossil energy markets, reduce the wealth flowing to petro-state dictators AND grow our economy. Given the option to have our cake and eat it, we don’t have to figure out how to get China to act with us; we can simply act and leave their economy in the dust if they don’t catch up… “We can start by eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, fixing our permitting process to remove the barriers to clean energy, reforming our energy markets to remove disincentives to conservation… and so much more. The choice before us is simply whether we want to get rich on a healthy, sustainable planet, or keep paying people to dig holes in our backyard. That shouldn’t be a hard choice.”

Climate Change News: G7 leaders must fulfil their promise to stop funding fossil fuels
Elizabeth Bast, Tasneem Essop and Kanna Mitsuta, 5/18/23

“As G7 Leaders gather in Hiroshima this weekend, they are faced with a choice: double down on their commitments and shift towards a clean, sustainable, and more secure energy future or continue the destructive path of fossil fuel dependence and climate chaos,” Elizabeth Bast, Tasneem Essop and Kanna Mitsuta write for Climate Change News. “Last month climate ministers from the group of wealthy nations stated they are “steadfast in their commitment to … keeping a limit of 1.5°C global temperature rise within reach”. If they want to stay true to their word, they must close the door to new gas investments, including for hazardous Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), keep their commitment to end international fossil fuel finance, and resist Japan’s push for fossil-fuel based technologies. Stopping new gas projects is critical to avoiding the worst impacts of the climate crisis. The latest reports from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) show that maintaining a 50% chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C requires an immediate end to investments in new coal, oil, and gas production and hazardous liquified fossil gas infrastructure. These findings remain unchanged in the context of the war in Ukraine and its impact on global energy markets. Leaving the door open for new investments in gas is also in direct contradiction to last year’s G7 commitment to end international public finance for fossil fuels by the end of 2022 “except in limited circumstances … consistent with a 1.5°C warming limit”.

The Conversation: Canadian financial institutions are fuelling the climate change crisis
Bruce Campbell, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, York University, Canada, 5/18/23

“Once again, Canada will almost certainly fail to meet its target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45 per cent by 2030 in accordance with the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommendations,” Bruce Campbell writes for The Conversation. “This is despite the government’s optimistic spin on the release of its latest emissions inventory report. Jerry DeMarco, the environment commissioner in the Auditor General’s office, has criticized the government’s record as a litany of broken promises: “We have been repeatedly ringing the alarm bells. Now, these bells are almost deafening.” Canada is the only G7 nation with 2022 carbon emissions levels that are above its 1990 levels. It has among the highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the world, and its fossil fuel industry is also among the world’s largest. And its financial institutions — banks, pension funds and private equity firms — fund the industry and are therefore helping fuel the climate crisis. As a result, financial institutions’ assets are at risk. So too are the economy, people’s lives and ultimately the survival of the planet due to catastrophic fires, floods and droughts. The federal government has so far been unable to effectively regulate financial institutions’ investments in the fossil fuels industry in accordance with its climate commitments… “Sen. Rosa Galvez recently argued that OSFI should ensure financial institutions have capital adequacy requirements to protect against the eventuality of climate-related stranded assets. Financial institutions need to adopt the standard of putting aside one dollar for every dollar of their fossil fuels assets so that if they can’t sell them due to shrinking demand, they’ll have enough money to compensate depositors, workers and shareholders and avoid declaring bankruptcy… “Pension funds are also rife with conflicts of interest. The report found that seven of Canada’s 10 largest public pension funds have at least one director who also sits on the board of a fossil fuel company… “Introduced more than a year ago, Galvez’s Climate Aligned Finance Act — which seeks to hold financial institutions accountable for investments that increase climate risk — has passed second reading but is still waiting to go to committee and hear from witnesses… “Countervailing measures must be urgently implemented to combat regulatory capture and ensure the public interest takes precedence over profit.”

National Observer: The campaign to abolish the RCMP unit called C-IRG
Shiri Pasternak is the co-founder and former research director at Yellowhead Institute. She is an associate professor in criminology at Toronto Metropolitan University, 5/19/23

“With the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)’s 150th anniversary looming next week, it’s a good time to take a closer look at their actual operations, beyond mythologization. A campaign to abolish an elite police group in British Columbia has united a coalition of lawyers, Indigenous communities and organizations, human rights organizations, non-profits, environmental activists, politicians, academics, and abolitionist groups across the country,” Shiri Pasternak writes for the National Observer. “The Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG) has targeted the peaceful occupations of the Unist’ot’en and Gidimt’en clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, Gitskan solidarity blockades in New Hazelton, Secwépemc land defenders against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, conservationists at Argenta and Johnsons Landing Face, and anti-logging activists at Fairy Creek on Vancouver Island. These are not the usual police operations. The C-IRG polices conflicts specifically related to industrial resource extraction projects and is designed to handle “major incidents” such as hostage takings that require emergency safety and negotiation protocols and co-ordination across the force and government offices. The emergencies the C-IRG manages, though, have been primarily the enforcement of corporate injunctions against Indigenous people and environmental activists at extractive sites. In fact, the C-IRG was created at the tail end of 2016 to manage resistance to the construction of the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline and the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline… “Records show intelligence sharing for C-IRG operations also happens across the provincial government. Information is shared with multiple provincial ministries. This includes assistant deputy ministers’ “liaison civil unrest” meetings and “critical incident” conference calls hosted by the Public Safety and Solicitor General’s Office… “While the government claimed the protest was “environmental” in nature, the opposition to the pipeline explicitly involved Wet’suwet’en assertions of Aboriginal rights and title to their territory. These issues fall under federal jurisdiction. By denying this responsibility, the Ministry of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Indigenous Services Canada violated its fiduciary obligations… “The call to abolish C-IRG is also a demand to reframe Indigenous land defence and climate activism as “emergency” police matters. These are urgent political issues. Not issues for corporate injunctions to solve.”

Counter Punch: EPA’s Dangerous Carbon Capture Gamble 

“As expected, the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rules to reduce emissions from power plants rely on so-called ‘carbon capture.’ In theory, this would remove some climate pollution before it enters the atmosphere. There is still one major problem with the technology: It still does not work as advertised,” Wenonah Hauter writes for Counter Punch. “…There is no reason to believe that carbon capture can realize this vision – and plenty of evidence to show that it does not. Despite billions of dollars of support for over a decade, there are still no power plants equipped with carbon capture in the United States. A series of publicly-funded projects produced expensive failures, and we have seen little progress since then. Betting our climate future on this technology is beyond foolish – especially when the White House is not taking actions to limit fossil fuel production in the first place… “To put it plainly, we are not certain how much of the carbon we are paying to sequester has actually been sequestered at all. The shortcomings of carbon capture schemes should give lawmakers pause. Unfortunately, Congress and the Biden administration are eager to expand this corporate tax giveaway. If reducing climate pollution is really the Biden administration’s goal, it would make more sense to focus on reducing the supply of fossil fuels at the source. That means using existing executive authority to reject new fossil fuel pipelines, power plants and gas export terminals. This is how the White House could show real climate leadership.”

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