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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 5/22/23

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

By Mark Hefflinger

May 22, 2023



  • Politico: Biden boosts embattled gas pipeline

  • NPR: The U.S. is expanding CO2 pipelines. One poisoned town wants you to know its story

  • Des Moines Register: Iowa regulators propose using mediators to settle Summit carbon capture pipeline disputes

  • Iowa Utilities Board: IUB sets partial procedural schedule for proposed Summit Carbon CO2 pipeline

  • AgWeek: North Dakota Legislator calling for investigation into Summit Carbon Solutions investors

  • Des Moines Register: Company trying to build carbon-capture pipeline in Iowa plans to provide CO2 for fuel

  • Charles City Press: Proposed zoning amendment would regulate placement of hazardous liquid pipelines in Floyd County


  • Cost of Trans Mountain Pipeline project expansion skyrockets

  • Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative: Judge declares Line 5 pipeline will be shut down:” It’s just a question of when”


  • E&E News: Biden, McCarthy to meet as debt limit talks go wobbly

  • E&E News: Progressives gird for battle as permitting talks escalate

  • Associated Press: Will Biden’s hard-hat environmentalism bridge the divide on clean energy future?

  • E&E News: Gaps in climate rule reveal ‘last-minute’ changes

  • E&E News: House Hearing Targets Contentious BLM Rule 

  • The Lever: Biden Admin Boosts Big Oil’s Colorado River Scheme


  • Colorado Sun: Colorado gets $32 million to create carbon-stuffing hub underground at Pueblo 

  • Washington Post: Why Montana is emerging as a must-watch climate battleground

  • Star-Tribune: Ellison asks feds to regulate health harms from gas kitchen stoves

  • Bloomberg: An American Oil Hub Is Pivoting to Offshore Wind

  • Washington Post: ‘Too toxic’: Refinery fires leave East Texas residents reeling


  • Guardian: Fossil fuel firms owe climate reparations of $209bn a year, says study

  • TIME: Government Climate Rules Fail To Target Nearly 90% of Global Methane Emissions

  • Carbon Economist: IEA’s Birol sees role for oil and gas as part of ‘orderly’ energy transition

  • World Oil: European Commission, Wintershall recognize CCS as “clear means” of decarbonization

  • Financial Times: G7 disappoints on climate progress without deadlines on gas and coal use

  • Bloomberg: Company Eyes Cheap Direct Air Capture For ‘Green Methane’


  • Washington Post: Biden and other world leaders vowed to stop funding fossil fuels overseas. That isn’t happening, activists say.

  • Bloomberg: ESG Investing Goes Quiet After Blistering Republican Attacks

  • Pensions & Investments: Divesting fossil fuels looms larger for more funds


  • Orilla Matters: Severn man converts pipeline corridor into wildflower meadow



Politico: Biden boosts embattled gas pipeline

“An East Coast pipeline project is keeping the Biden administration stuck in a political battle that pits U.S. fossil fuel demand against the fight to curb climate change,” Politico reports. “The Interior Department authorized the $6.6 billion Mountain Valley Pipeline’s crossing through a national forest, giving another boost to the 303-mile project that would carry natural gas through West Virginia and Virginia to mid-Atlantic and Southeastern markets. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm stressed the pipeline’s importance at POLITICO’s energy summit Thursday. She said the U.S. is tethered to gas and other fossil fuels until the nation builds out more wind and solar power, battery technology and other carbon-free energy sources… “Environmental advocates say the administration can’t have it both ways. Granholm’s remarks were interrupted by protesters from the group Climate Defiance who shouted chants such as “No MVP, no LNG, Granholm you are killing me.” “I really don’t want to see the Mountain Valley pipeline go through my home state,” Rylee Haught, an activist who participated in the protest, told Brian Dabbs, David Iaconangelo and Peter Behr. “We’ve already been treated like a sacrifice zone for … gosh, I wanted to say decades, but at least a century. We’re fed up and tired of it,” Haught told the Post… “The administration’s backing of the pipeline came after Sen. Joe Manchin stalled the confirmation process for a Biden nominee. That led some lawmakers to speculate that the administration’s support was an attempt to appease the West Virginia Democrat.”

NPR: The U.S. is expanding CO2 pipelines. One poisoned town wants you to know its story
Julia Simon, 5/21/23

“On Feb. 22, 2020, a clear Saturday after weeks of rain, Deemmeris Debra’e Burns, his brother and cousin decided to go fishing. They were headed home in a red Cadillac when they heard a boom and saw a big white cloud shooting into the evening sky,” NPR reports. “Burns’ first thought was a pipeline explosion. He didn’t know what was filling the air, but he called his mom, Thelma Brown, to warn her to get inside. He told her he was coming… “Little did she know, her sons and nephew were just down the road in the Cadillac, unconscious, victims of a mass poisoning from a carbon dioxide pipeline rupture. As the carbon dioxide moved through the rural community, more than 200 people evacuated and at least 45 people were hospitalized. Cars stopped working, hobbling emergency response. People lay on the ground, shaking and unable to breathe. First responders didn’t know what was going on. “It looked like you were going through the zombie apocalypse,” Jack Willingham, emergency director for Yazoo County, told NPR.  Now, three years after the CO2 poisoning from the pipeline break, some in Satartia see the incident as a warning at a critical moment for U.S. climate policy. The country is looking at a dramatic expansion of its carbon dioxide pipeline network, thanks in part to billions of dollars of incentives in last year’s climate legislation. Last week, the Biden administration announced $251 million for a dozen climate projects that focus on CO2 transport and storage… “But the rupture in Satartia underscores growing concerns across communities that face the prospect of more CO2 pipelines being built to address climate change. Safety advocates and community residents worry about pipeline safety and gaps in federal regulation, Bill Caram, executive director of the nonprofit Pipeline Safety Trust, told NPR. “We’re looking at those pipelines being a lot closer to people and communities than they are right now,” Caram told NPR. “We are not yet ready.”

Des Moines Register: Iowa regulators propose using mediators to settle Summit carbon capture pipeline disputes
Donnelle Eller, 5/19/23

“Iowa regulators propose hiring mediators to settle easement disputes between an Ames company and landowners in the path of its nearly 800-mile carbon-capture pipeline who could be targeted for eminent domain,” the Des Moines Register reports. “The Iowa Utilities Board floated the idea Friday in an order outlining part of its schedule for determining whether Summit Carbon Solutions should receive a permit to build a hazardous liquid pipeline across the state. Landowners’ use of “impartial, third-party mediators,” is voluntary, the three-member panel said Friday in its order. The board said it would hire the mediators, whose services would be provided at no cost to landowners. Regulators said they’re “exploring actions that are focused on assisting landowners impacted by this project and on facilitating a more efficient hearing.” The Sierra Club’s Iowa Chapter said Friday it’s not the Iowa Utilities Board’s “job to encourage landowners to negotiate with pipeline companies. Iowa law clearly states a landowner does not have to negotiate with a pipeline company seeking eminent domain,” the group said in a statement. Thousands of Iowans, including county supervisors and state lawmakers, have written to the board, voicing opposition to Summit’s project, as well as two other carbon-capture pipelines… “Opponents say they’re concerned about developers’ possible use of eminent domain to force unwilling landowners to sell access to their property for the pipelines’ construction. Residents also have voiced concern about the pipelines’ safety and the impact construction would have on farmland and underlying drainage systems… “If no agreement is reached or a landowner declines mediation, “the board could then receive testimony and evidence from landowners” targeted by Summit for eminent domain, the board said. Additionally, the board said it’s considering having “individual board members or other presiding officers” hear “testimony or other evidence” from landowners who face eminent domain. The full board would consider the testimony in reaching decisions in the case, it said. The board said it’s considering using mediators and presiding officers due to the “number of parcels impacted” by the proposal and its “desire to expand public access to and simplify the proceeding.” “By having neutral, third-party mediators and presiding officers addressing” eminent domain requests, the board said it will be able to “reduce the impact of the hearing to everyone involved, including landowners. Having a hearing which lasts six, eight or 10-plus weeks places a burden on everyone involved and creates uncertainty as to when evidence relating to any one area of the state or issue to be decided will occur.“ The board also directed Omaha attorney Brian Jorde to provide more information about how 251 landowners he represents would be impacted by the pipeline project before regulators decide on whether they will be allowed to intervene in the case.”

Iowa Utilities Board: IUB sets partial procedural schedule for proposed Summit Carbon CO2 pipeline

“The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) issued an order today establishing a partial procedural schedule for Summit Carbon Solutions, LLC’s, (Summit Carbon) proposed carbon capture hazardous liquid pipeline, filed in Docket No. HLP-2021-0001. The partial schedule includes status conferences in June and July to explore options to expand access for public participation in this case.  The IUB’s actions are focused on assisting landowners affected by the proposed pipeline and on facilitating more efficient hearing logistics. The IUB has not set the public evidentiary hearing dates at this time. Due to the number of landowner parcels impacted by Summit Carbon’s proposed pipeline and a desire to expand public access to the proceeding, the IUB will ask the parties in the docket to discuss the following topics at a June 6, 2023 status conference: the use of impartial, third-party mediators to assist landowners, if they desire, with the easement process;  the use of presiding officers to receive testimony and evidence from landowners subject to eminent domain and Summit Carbon as it relates to that landowner’s parcel; and the establishment of satellite locations allowing for remote participation in or viewing of the public hearing as required under Iowa Code § 479B.6, from locations closer to the homes and businesses of affected individuals.  IUB Board Member Josh Byrnes said the IUB is seeking a more efficient and less time-consuming process while facilitating greater landowner access through a proceeding that is orderly, open, and fair. “Landowner access and timing of the hearing has been a concern since the beginning,” Byrnes said. “These added options help alleviate those concerns and can reduce the burden of a multi-week public hearing.” The June 6 status conference will begin immediately following the IUB’s monthly public Board meeting, which starts at 9 a.m. A second status conference is scheduled following the July 10 monthly public Board meeting.”

AgWeek: North Dakota Legislator calling for investigation into Summit Carbon Solutions investors
Jeff Beach, 5/19/23

“A group of North Dakota legislators wants to press the state attorney general’s office to investigate the ownership of pipeline company Summit Carbon Solutions,” AgWeek reports. “State Sen. Jeff Magrum announced that there will be a press conference Tuesday, May 23, at the North Dakota Capitol to ask for the investigation. The question of who has invested in Summit Carbon Solutions has been raised at North Dakota Public Service Commission hearings. At the most recent hearing, May 9 in Linton , Magrum brought up North Dakota’s newly passed laws affecting foreign investment in the United States. Magrum, a Republican from Hazelton, said Friday that Summit’s investors include entities from China, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. North Dakota law now bans investment from “foreign adversaries,” which would include China. When asked on May 9 where Summit’s investors were located, Summit Chief Operating Officer Jimmy Powell said the investors include funds and would not be able to know where all the investors in those funds are from. Attorney Randy Bakke asked Powell about the TPG Rise Fund, which he said is partially owned by China’s Silk Road Fund. Powell responded by saying, “I’m not an expert in who the investors are in TPG Rise Fund.” “…Some of Summit’s announced investors include John Deere, Continental Resources, and Gary Tharaldson, owner of Tharaldson Ethanol in Casselton, North Dakota. SK E&S of South Korea announced last year it acquired a 10% share of Summit.”

Des Moines Register: Company trying to build carbon-capture pipeline in Iowa plans to provide CO2 for fuel
Donnelle Eller, 5/19/23

“Navigator CO2 says it’s reached an agreement to provide some of the carbon dioxide it proposes capturing from ethanol and other industrial ag plants in Iowa and four other Midwestern states to a California company to make climate-friendly fuel,” the Des Moines Register reports. “Omaha-based Navigator said it reached an agreement to provide Infinium, a Sacramento-based alternative fuel company, with 600,000 tons of CO2 each year. Navigator said Infinium would reach deals for CO2 with ethanol and other companies sending carbon through the pipeline. Infinium said the carbon will be used in a future plant but wouldn’t say where it might be located. “We are working on new development opportunities in the Midwest,” an Infinium spokeswoman said in an email to the Register. Navigator’s project is one of three carbon-capture pipelines proposed in Iowa, garnering opposition from residents concerned about the possible use of eminent domain to force unwilling property owners to sell access to their land for the pipelines’ construction. Residents also have voiced concern about the pipelines’ safety and the impact construction would have on farmland and underlying drainage systems… “Infinium said Thursday it will use renewable energy to make green hydrogen that will be combined with carbon dioxide to make “ultra-low carbon” fuel, which it calls electrofuel or eFuel. Infinium said its fuels can be used in planes, ships and trucks “as an immediate replacement for petroleum jet and diesel fuels.” Infinium said it also produces a fuel that can replace petroleum-derived naphtha in chemical and industrial processes to make goods such as plastics and solvents.”

Charles City Press: Proposed zoning amendment would regulate placement of hazardous liquid pipelines in Floyd County
Bob Steenson, 5/19/23

“A proposed zoning amendment would regulate where any hazardous liquid pipelines can be built in Floyd County – including two underground carbon dioxide transport pipelines currently proposed to go through the area,” the Charles City Press reports. “The proposal is currently in the hands of the Floyd County Zoning Commission, which will make a recommendation to the county Board of Supervisors on whether to approve it. The supervisors will then decide whether or not to make it law. The amendment is an 18-page document that spends the first five pages making the case for why the county should be allowed to regulate the location of hazardous liquid pipelines – including because of the county’s authority and mandate to regulate land use, preserve agricultural land, design regulations to ensure safety from “fire, flood, panic and other dangers,” and provide emergency response and hazard mitigation planning. If passed – and validated by the courts after it is likely challenged – the law could require significant changes in the route planned through Floyd County by Summit Carbon Solutions, the project furthest along in the state permitting process. Supervisor Chair Mark Kuhn has advocated for the amendment since his first day in office after being elected in November. He has repeatedly said he isn’t working to prevent the pipelines from being built, but he wants the county to be able to control where they are located through appropriate land use policies. Kuhn is particularly concerned about the route Summit Carbon Solutions would take through the Avenue of the Saints Development Park in Charles City, which he says threatens the marketability of that state-certified development site. “We’re trying to protect our economic development opportunities, increase Floyd County’s tax base, and maintain our rural residents’ property values,” Kuhn told the Press. “I think it expresses our concerns about siting and routing of the two proposed pipelines, and it’s consistent with our comprehensive plan. … In essence I believe it does set up some common sense setback distances from sensitive areas that are in need of protection of potential release of a hazardous liquid such as carbon dioxide,” he said.

Alleen Brown, Naveena Sadasivam, 5/22/23

“THEIR PROTEST ENCAMPMENT razed, the Indigenous-led environmental movement at North Dakota’s Standing Rock reservation was searching for a new tactic. By March 2017, the fight over the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline had been underway for months. Leaders of the movement to defend Indigenous rights on the land — and its waterways — had a new aim: to march on Washington,” The Intercept reports. “Native leaders and activists, calling themselves water protectors, wanted to show the newly elected President Donald Trump that they would continue to fight for their treaty rights to lands including the pipeline route. The march would be called “Native Nations Rise.” Law enforcement was getting ready too — and discussing plans with Energy Transfer, the parent company of the Dakota Access pipeline. Throughout much of the uprising against the pipeline, the National Sheriffs’ Association talked routinely with TigerSwan, Energy Transfer’s lead security firm on the project, working hand in hand to craft pro-pipeline messaging. A top official with the sheriffs’ PR contractor, Off the Record Strategies, floated a plan to TigerSwan’s lead propagandist, a man named Robert Rice. “Thoughts on a crew or a news reporter — or someone pretending to be — with a camera and microphone to report from the main rally on the Friday, ask questions about pipeline and slice together [sic]?” Off the Record CEO Mark Pfeifle suggested over email. A security firm led by a former member of the U.S. military’s shadowy Special Forces, TigerSwan was no stranger to such deception. The company had, in fact, used fake reporters before — including Rice himself — to spread its message and to spy on pipeline opponents. The National Sheriffs’ Association’s involvement in advocating for a similar disinformation campaign against the anti-pipeline movement has not been previously reported. The email from the National Sheriffs’ Association PR shop was among the more than 55,000 internal TigerSwan documents obtained by The Intercept and Grist through a public records request. The documents, released by the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board, reveal how TigerSwan and the sheriffs’ group worked together to twist the story in the media so that it aligned with the oil company’s interests, seeking to pollute the public’s perception of the water protectors. “It is extremely dangerous to have private interests dictating and coloring the flow of administrative justice,” Chase Iron Eyes, director of the media organization Last Real Indians and a member of the Oceti Sakowin people, told the Intercept… “The National Sheriffs’ Association also tried to undermine the credibility of well-known advocates Bill McKibben and Jane Kleeb, who founded the environmental organizations and Bold Alliance, respectively. Pfeifle circulated memos on the two movement leaders… “Another memo said, “Kleeb admitted her pipeline opposition was about political organization and opportunity, not the environment.” Kleeb and McKibben expressed bemusement at TigerSwan and the sheriffs’ association’s fixation on their work. “It’s all pretty creepy,” McKibben, a former Grist board member, said in an email. “I live in a county with a sheriff, and it seems okay if he tracks the speed of my car down Rte 116, but tracking every word I write seems like… not his job.” Cost of Trans Mountain Pipeline project expansion skyrockets
Amy Judd, 5/19/23

“The controversial Trans Mountain Pipeline project is generating more debate due to the potential increased cost to Canadian taxpayers,” reports. “The pipeline to transport oil from Alberta to the B.C. coast was purchased by the federal government in 2018 after Kinder Morgan threatened to scrap the expansion project in the face of environmental opposition. The government bought the project for just under $5 billion but the cost of completing the pipeline has exploded over the past five years and is now estimated at more than $30 billion. The former head of ICBC and economist Robyn Allan told Global News that the ballooning costs are being incurred by a government that preaches environmental responsibility. “On the one hand we’re told that we’re going to tackle our dependency on fossil fuels, and then they overspend to buy a heavy oil pipeline, the worst among the fossil fuels in the world,” Allan told Globalnews. “They overspend to buy it, and then they mismanage to build it, so Canadian taxpayers are going to be on the hook for something like 25 to 30 billion dollars.” “…In a statement to Global News, the Canadian government’s Department of Finance said the government acquired the project as it was a serious and necessary investment. “The federal government does not intend to be the long-term owner of the project, and we will launch a divestment process in due course. BMO Capital Markets and TD Securities have been engaged by the government to provide advice on certain financial aspects of the project. Their analysis confirms that third-party financing is a feasible option to fund the completion of the project and believe that both strategic and financial investors would participate in a divestment process to acquire the company once the project becomes operational.” Allan told Globalnews, having crunched the numbers, the pipeline project is likely to end up as the single biggest subsidy to the oil industry in Canada’s history. “Every barrel of diluted bitumen that goes through that pipeline, to be burned into the atmosphere, Canadian taxpayers who are struggling with climate change are on the hook for around half the cost of shipment because Ottawa has not managed this project properly and ensured that the big oil companies that said they wanted this project so badly actually pay for it,” she told Globalnews.

Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative: Judge declares Line 5 pipeline will be shut down:” It’s just a question of when”
Barbara With and Rebecca Kemble, 5/19/23

“At a hearing on an emergency motion filed by the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa on May 18, Western District Court Judge William Conley stated that it was only a matter of time before the 70-year-old Enbridge Line 5 crude oil pipeline that runs across the Bad River Band’s territory would be shut down,” the Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative reports. “While Conley denied the Band’s request for immediate shut down as a remedy to protect the watershed from the dangerous situation, he acknowledged that Enbridge is operating illegally, that the Band has the authority to evict them, and that since the November 2022 trial, the threat of a rupture in the line has increased. At the November trial, Bad River requested that the threshold to shut down Line 5 be established at the point when the river reaches within 20 feet of the pipeline. Conley deemed that figure too conservative but failed to put a different standard in place… The Judge agreed there would be more environmental degradation and weakening of the river banks with the remedies that Enbridge has proposed. At the same time, he continued to admonish Bad River for “dragging their feet ” and not responding to Enbridge’s proposed remedies, when in reality MNRD responded in a timely fashion to Enbridge’s incomplete applications and last-minute sandbag plan… “As a sovereign Tribal nation, we did not file this injunction for protection lightly or frivolously,” said Bad River Chairman Mike Wiggins. “We’ve watched the river live its life and do what it does as a beautiful, pristine life force within our sovereign boundaries. It’s done what we knew it would, continued to erode and pound away at the meander at a particular place where the pipeline crosses, and it’s within a point of imminent threat of blowing that particular area out and rupturing Line 5. Filing for an injunction was a responsible governmental action on behalf of our tribe and our Tribal Council. Protecting our our lands, our ecosystems, our waters and our people is at the heart and soul of what we want to do for our people in real time and also all those future generations.”


E&E News: Biden, McCarthy to meet as debt limit talks go wobbly
Emma Dumain, 5/22/23

“President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy plan to meet Monday afternoon to discuss progress on negotiations to raise the debt ceiling after several days of talks from proxies have failed to meaningfully break the current impasse,” E&E News reports. “…In the meantime, it’s not clear what it will take for Democrats and Republicans to reach a deal, with McCarthy, a California Republican, telling reporters at the Capitol on Sunday that he and the president are “still apart.” “…The White House has signaled a willingness to engage on an overhaul of the permitting process to more quickly jump-start energy projects in a major olive branch to the GOP. But congressional Republicans are favoring an approach critics say could weaken existing environmental protections, while Capitol Hill Democrats are largely only interested in a path that leads to more renewables without benefitting oil and gas. Ultimately, the permitting conversation might be moot at this juncture, said McCarthy’s chief negotiator Sunday. “The speaker has been very clear: A red line is spending less money,” said Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), who is also author of the House GOP’s opening bid on permitting reform, “and unless and until we’re there, the rest of it is really irrelevant.” “…There are growing fears on the left that the administration has backed itself into a corner and is poised to concede to a host of conservative policy demands to avoid default. “We believe that relenting to Congressional Republicans’ economic ransom and negotiating on devastating budget cuts,” including “fast-tracking fossil fuel projects that undermine our shared climate achievements is antithetical to our shared Democratic values,” 66 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus wrote to Biden on Friday… “Senate progressives made a similar plea in a letter the day before. With Biden seemingly taking unilateral action off the table, Democrats are lining up to voice their preferences for how permitting reform could look in the confines of a compromise tied to the debt ceiling. Biden also nodded at Democratic concerns that negotiations were favoring Republican demands, saying “it’s time for Republicans to accept that there is no bipartisan deal to be made solely … on their partisan terms. They have to move as well.” On Friday, House Natural Resources ranking member Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) formally submitted a letter signed by 78 other House Democrats, including 10 additional ranking members, urging Biden and Democratic leadership to reject Republican efforts, “under the guise of ‘permitting reform’ … [that] would eliminate requirements to consider climate change and pollution impacts, cut public input opportunities, and limit judicial review.”

E&E News: Progressives gird for battle as permitting talks escalate
Emma Dumain, 5/19/23

“Progressive Democrats and climate hawks are firing warning shots at party leaders and President Joe Biden not to compromise with Republicans on permitting reform as a way to raise the debt ceiling,” E&E News reports. “In a series of letters, floor speeches and ad campaigns, many on the party’s left wing says they will not accept a debt limit deal that includes any undermining of bedrock environmental laws. “If Republicans insist on selling out working Americans or trying to flood America with fossil fuels, then the President must use his constitutional authority to protect America and end this hostage taking,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), tweeted Thursday. The push has echoes from just a few months ago, when left-leaning lawmakers said they were prepared to shut down the government or delay funding for defense programs rather than vote on a proposal to overhaul the nation’s energy project permitting laws. Ultimately, they won out, as the permitting effort fizzled. The stakes this time, however, are far higher… “In debt limit talks between the White House and House Republicans, it’s not clear what negotiators are eyeing in terms of changes to the permitting process. The White House has confirmed the administration has put it on the table for discussions to avert a default as early as June 1. “We’ve been clear we support permitting reform, with Senior Advisor John Podesta outlining our priorities last week,” Michael Kikukawa, assistant press secretary, told E&E News in a statement earlier this week. “We have seen bipartisan support for permitting reform and certainly hope there is bipartisan progress. But we’re not going to detail what negotiators are discussing.” “…The Democrats, in their letter, call for four principles to be retained in any debt ceiling discussion that includes permitting: “The primary focus on permitting must be properly implementing existing laws — not gutting or changing our core environmental laws and protections;” “federal permitting and environmental review offices must be fully funded and staffed;” “administrative and legislative action to facilitate the rapid buildout of new electricity transmission infrastructure is needed;” “efforts to hold must-pass legislation hostage with extreme proposals must be rejected.” The Democrats further wrote: “We remain deeply concerned that sacrificing any of these four principles will result in serious and detrimental harm to millions of Americans — especially those living in low-income communities, Indigenous communities, and communities of color overburdened already by decades of irresponsible industry development.”

Associated Press: Will Biden’s hard-hat environmentalism bridge the divide on clean energy future?

“When John Podesta left his job as an adviser to President Barack Obama nearly a decade ago, he was confident that hundreds of miles of new power transmission lines were coming to the Southwest, expanding the reach of clean energy throughout the region,” the Associated Press reports. “So Podesta was shocked to learn last year, as he reentered the federal government to work on climate issues for President Joe Biden, that the lines had never been built. They still hadn’t even received final regulatory approval. “These things get stuck and they don’t get unstuck,” Podesta told AP. Podesta is now the point person for untangling one of Biden’s most vexing challenges as he pursues ambitious reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. If the president cannot streamline the permitting process for power plants, transmission lines and other projects, the country is unlikely to have the infrastructure needed for a future powered by carbon-free electricity. The issue has become an unlikely feature of high-stakes budget talks underway between the White House and House Republicans as they try to avoid a first-ever default on the country’s debt by the end of the month. Whether a deal on permitting can be reached in time is unclear, with Republicans looking for ways to boost oil drilling and Democrats focused on clean energy… “We have to start building things again in America,” Podesta told AP. “We got too good at stopping things, and not good enough at building things.” “…Despite broad interest in permitting changes, reaching a deal will likely involve trade-offs that are difficult for Democrats and environmentalists to stomach… “Podesta argues that it’s impossible to immediately phase out oil and gas, and he told AP the status quo won’t suffice when it comes to building clean energy infrastructure… “Brett Hartl, government affairs director for the Center for Biological Diversity, told AP the administration made a mistake by allowing Manchin’s proposal to be a starting point. The White House, he said, “negotiated away the game at the beginning and put the football on the 2-yard line.” He also criticized Podesta’s approach to permitting. “He’s dogmatically saying that environmentalists are the problem here,” he told AP. “It’s easy to caricature environmental legislation as the boogeyman.”

E&E News: Gaps in climate rule reveal ‘last-minute’ changes
Jean Chemnick, 5/22/23

“EPA hurried to include existing gas power plants in its climate rule — and it shows,” E&E News reports. “The draft carbon regulations released this month omit the kind of detailed analysis for current gas facilities that ordinarily buttress major rules, according to experts. The absence contrasts sharply with other sections of the rule that offer hundreds of pages of analysis to back up the agency’s proposals for coal plants and future gas facilities. Experts say the lack of information sheds light on the agency’s abrupt decision to extend the climate rule to include existing gas plants after facing pressure from the White House in a series of political moves that was first reported by E&E News… “White House officials asked EPA experts to expand the rule in the weeks before it was released to accelerate the timetable on coal plants and require many of the nation’s gas-fired electric facilities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. EPA rejected the coal suggestion, but it included the gas provision… “Signs of the eleventh-hour changes can be seen in the truncated justification that EPA offered in supporting documents to make the case for regulating existing gas plants… “The proposals on coal and future gas plants were run through sophisticated models. The existing gas standard wasn’t… “The lack of detail about current gas plants pulls the curtain back on how the political process influenced the regulation. But it won’t necessarily undermine the rule in the eyes of the court system, which promises to play a heightened role as opponents challenge the rule… “Holmstead pointed to the rule’s standard that would require many of the nation’s power plants to install carbon capture and sequestration, or CCS, systems, if they don’t announce plans to retire. “I just think the biggest legal problem they have is there is not a commercial-scale gas plant anywhere in the world that uses CCS,” Holmstead told E&E.

E&E News: House Hearing Targets Contentious BLM Rule 
Scott Streater, 5/22/23

“House Republicans are continuing to target policies they say are blocking public use of federal lands,” E&E News reports. “The Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations — led by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) — has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday to look at what the Republican majority calls an ongoing effort by the Biden administration to ‘limit access to public lands.’ The focus of the hearing appears to be the draft rule the Bureau of Land Management unveiled in late March that proposes elevating conservation as a use for public lands on par with livestock grazing, energy development and recreation. Republicans appear most upset with a provision in the draft rule that would establish a system to lease public lands for up to 10 years to allow restoration work to be done. They argue that it could be used by environmentalists to remove large swaths of federal land from multiple uses such as livestock grazing, mining and energy development. The Interior Department, BLM leaders and the language in the draft rule itself say that will not be the case. And officials note that energy developers and mining companies could purchase the ‘conservation leases’ and use them as compensatory mitigation to offset impacts from projects at other sites.”

The Lever: Biden Admin Boosts Big Oil’s Colorado River Scheme
Julia Rock, 5/19/23

“In the parched Southwest, one in eight Americans rely on a single drought-stressed river that carries snowmelt from Rocky Mountain peaks down to desert communities. But instead of strengthening protections for that crucial water supply, the Biden administration has quietly laid the groundwork for a financial firm full of former government officials to use it as a route for oil trains — amid heightened concerns about derailments,” The Lever reports. “This spring, the project’s backers took the initial steps to apply for special Transportation Department bonds subsidized by tens of millions of dollars in annual tax breaks. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg — a former McKinsey consultant who has previously touted such bonds — is under pressure from Democratic lawmakers, local communities, and environmental groups to deny the bonds, but has remained silent. Meanwhile, the firm at the center of the project has never successfully developed a major infrastructure project, though it says it is “leveraging a proprietary set of relationships” its executives built during their time in government, according to corporate documents reviewed by The Lever. As climate change jeopardizes the American West’s tenuous water supplies, the Utah project — which already received federal permitting approval — is audacious. It aims to run trains full of petroleum from Northeast Utah’s Uinta Basin along the banks of the Colorado River as it winds through treacherous canyons prone to rockslides and mudslides. Critics say those hazards could easily trigger derailments, spilling crude oil into the water that millions of Americans living downstream need to survive. Indeed, even the federal agency that approved permits for the project admitted that such rail lines are susceptible to derailments, and that accidents involving oil trains often involve the release of toxins. “If issued, this would not only constitute the largest [private activity bond] the [Department of Transportation] has ever issued; it would also irretrievably sink taxpayer dollars into a project that has proven unable to contain its own costs,” wrote Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet (D), John Hickenlooper (D), and Rep. Joe Neguse (D) in a March 9 letter to Buttigieg, demanding he reject the developers’ request for tax breaks. “The project could result in as many as five, two-mile-long crude-oil trains running over 100 miles directly alongside the headwaters of the Colorado River each day.” In an earlier letter to a top Biden environmental adviser, Bennet and Neguse declared: “We urge you not to allow this project to move forward… We simply cannot afford the risk of an oil train derailment in these sensitive areas.”


Colorado Sun: Colorado gets $32 million to create carbon-stuffing hub underground at Pueblo 
Michael Booth, 5/18/23

“The Colorado School of Mines got $32 million Wednesday from the federal Department of Energy to study and develop a carbon sequestration hub in southern Colorado, considered a key to meeting greenhouse gas reduction goals in coming years,” the Colorado Sun reports. “The hub will be located in the Pueblo area, where massive carbon emissions from two power plants and cement kiln, among other major carbon producers, may need to be stuffed underground to meet state and U.S. climate change targets. The large DOE grant gives School of Mines and partners — including Los Alamos National Laboratory — financing to define and drill test sites, and set the boundaries for a carbon sink in the Lyons Sandstone formation thousands of feet beneath Pueblo County.  “It’s a happy occasion,” Manika Prasad, professor of geophysics and director of the Mines Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage Innovation Center, told teh Sun. “Drilling a well costs a lot of money. And that’s a major chunk of the work.” The $200 million-plus round of national grants announced Wednesday are the third stage in a four-stage Carbon Safe development process, DOE officials said, aimed at identifying and preparing geological formations to effectively store carbon from fossil fuel combustion for the long term. Colorado and some other states have already begun research, and the new round of grants is meant to help them achieve “commercial liftoff” for big carbon capture projects, Noah Deich, deputy assistant secretary for the DOE’s Office of Carbon Management, told the Sun… “Not all environmental groups are aligned with carbon sequestration as a large part of the climate change solution. Many advocates want to force a faster changeover to clean renewable energy, without giving the fossil fuel industry what they call an “out” of offsetting burning through carbon storage. 

Washington Post: Why Montana is emerging as a must-watch climate battleground
Scott Dance, 5/19/23

“Montana is the land of big skies, glaciers and fly-fishing — where natural beauty is so important, the state imposed a constitutional right to a clean environment. But it also boasts the country’s largest recoverable coal reserves, which are critical to its economy, making it one of the most intense climate battlegrounds in the country,” the Washington Post reports. “This month, Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) signed a law barring the state from calculating the climate impacts of major projects. At the same time, a state judge has ruled that a first-of-its-kind lawsuit testing whether Montana’s constitution requires the state to combat climate change will go to trial next month. They are signs that America’s larger climate conflict — the shift away from fossil fuels and the boom in renewable energy — has made its way to Montana. Its coal industry is already facing head winds, as Washington and Oregon will soon cut off imports of carbon-intensive power from their neighbor. Montana, with deep attachments to both the environment and fossil fuels, remains torn. “We’re a weird state,” Anne Hedges, co-director of the Montana Environmental Information Center, an environmental advocacy group, told the Post. “We have this right, but we also have more coal than anybody else in the Lower 48.”

Star-Tribune: Ellison asks feds to regulate health harms from gas kitchen stoves
Chloe Johnson, 5/20/23

“Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is urging the federal government to investigate the health risks of gas kitchen stoves, which have been linked to indoor air pollution and childhood asthma by peer-reviewed academic research and environmental groups,” the Star-Tribune reports. “Ellison and a handful of other states’ top lawyers asked the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) earlier this month to “take action that would reduce the health hazards posed by these appliances,” including public education efforts and better ventilation requirements in homes where the stoves are installed. A long-simmering discussion on the risks of cooking with gas burst into public view earlier this year. In January, Richard Trumka Jr., a CPSC commissioner, told Bloomberg News that the agency was considering several regulations for the appliances, including banning the sale of new stoves. Trumka walked back his remarks in subsequent interviews, but the CPSC did solicit comments on how it should regulate gas cooktops in the future… “In an emailed statement, Ellison noted that federal agencies have long known gas stoves could create indoor pollution that would be considered hazardous if it occurred outside… “Ellison signed a letter to the CPSC along with others including the attorneys general of the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. The American Gas Association, an industry group, argued in a statement that scientific research “does not provide sufficient or consistent evidence demonstrating that there are chronic hazards from gas ranges,” and cited a review of studies the association funded.”

Bloomberg: An American Oil Hub Is Pivoting to Offshore Wind
Josh Saul, 5/22/23

“Every morning, more than 600 workers clock in at the Louisiana shipyard where the Eco Edison, the first US-built vessel to service offshore wind farms, is under construction,” Bloomberg reports. “At quitting time, a parade of pickups and dusty sedans forms a traffic jam on the road back into town, past buildings that serve the long-dominant oil and gas industry. This is just one slice of the energy transition reshaping the Gulf of Mexico region, which is increasingly dotted with offshore wind projects. In February, the Biden administration announced the first-ever sale of offshore wind leases in the Gulf, off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana. Dominion Energy Inc. is spending $500 million on the first US-built installation vessel, the 472-foot Charybdis, in Brownsville, Texas; and hundreds of people are working on the first US-built substation near Corpus Christi. In Louisiana, where the National Football League team wears black because that’s the color of oil, new companies.”

Washington Post: ‘Too toxic’: Refinery fires leave East Texas residents reeling
Amudalat Ajasa, 5/20/23

“First Shell, then Marathon, then Valero. In the last three weeks, major fires have broken out at these companies’ oil refineries and chemical plants in East Texas, leaving one dead and over a dozen injured,” the Washington Post reports. “The blazes in Deer Park, Galveston Bay and Corpus Christi follow a years-long string of explosions, fires and toxic releases in a region where oil refining and chemical production is highly concentrated, often close to residential neighborhoods. And while some residents have grown accustomed to the incidents, others are alarmed by how frequently they are hitting home. “I have grown up here and watched neighborhoods near the refineries become too toxic to live in and people forced to leave their homes due to the toxicity,” Kristina Land, a resident of Corpus Christi, told the Post. On Wednesday, a fire broke out at the Valero West Refinery in Corpus Christi, sending smoke plumes into the sky and prompting emergency responders to mobilize. The cause of the fire is yet unknown. Land, who is 45 years old, was in her home 20 miles from the refinery when she saw the black smoke on the horizon. She had to go on social media to find out what was happening. She blames local officials for not encouraging more transparency. “Our local government doesn’t ever want us to know how bad [the fires] really are, so we never truly know,” Land told the Post. “They just sweep everything under the rug and never talk about it again.” “…Environmentalists told the Post the accidents keep happening because the oil industry has little fear of penalties from regulators. “Without a change from industry … communities are going to continue to feel the effects of these chemicals being spewed out by these facilities,” Cassandra Casados, the communications coordinator at Air Alliance Houston, told the Post. 


Guardian: Fossil fuel firms owe climate reparations of $209bn a year, says study
Nina Lakhani, 5/19/23

“The world’s top fossil fuel companies owe at least $209bn in annual climate reparations to compensate communities most damaged by their polluting business and decades of lies, a new study calculates,” the Guardian reports. “BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Total, Saudi Arabia’s state oil company and Chevron are among the largest 21 polluters responsible for $5.4tn (£4.3tn) in drought, wildfires, sea level rise, and melting glaciers among other climate catastrophes expected between 2025 and 2050, according to groundbreaking analysis published in the journal One Earth. It is the first time researchers have quantified the economic burden caused by individual companies that have extracted – and continue to extract – wealth from planetheating fossil fuels. Amid growing debate about who should bear the economic cost of the climate crisis, the paper, titled Time to Pay the Piper, presents a moral case for the carbon corporations most responsible for the climate breakdown to use some of their “tainted wealth” to compensate victims. The study considers this to be a substantial yet conservative price tag, as the methodology excludes the economic value of lost lives and livelihoods, species extinction and other biodiversity loss, as well as other wellbeing components not captured in GDP. “This is only the tip of the iceberg of long-term climate damages, mitigation, and adaptation costs,” co-author Richard Heede, co-founder and director of Climate Accountability Institute, told the Guardian.”

TIME: Government Climate Rules Fail To Target Nearly 90% of Global Methane Emissions

“Methane belched from livestock operations, bubbling from rice paddies, and seeping from landfills, coal mines, and leaking pipelines is about 25 times as powerful as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the Earth’s atmosphere,” TIME reports. “The world urgently needs to begin to draw down those emissions in order to limit the worst effects of climate change. But, so far, governments around the world have only made miniscule efforts to address the methane problem, even as emissions of the potent greenhouse gas continue to increase. That is the conclusion of the first comprehensive assessment of methane policies from around the world, published in the journal One Earth today. According to the study’s findings, policies designed to cut methane emissions only cover about 13% the methane being released globally. And many of those policies don’t clamp down on emissions nearly as much as they need to, often because they are based on poor information about the real extent of the emissions problem. “The conclusion is very surprising,” Maria Olczak, a PhD candidate at Queen Mary University of London and a consultant at the Environmental Defense Fund, who served as first author on the paper, told TIME. “Especially given the fact that we know exactly what we need to do in order to be closer to the trajectory that is compatible with net zero targets.”

Carbon Economist: IEA’s Birol sees role for oil and gas as part of ‘orderly’ energy transition
Paul Hickin, 5/22/23

“Energy security and energy sustainability do not always make the most comfortable of bedfellows,” Carbon Economist reports. “Concerns over sufficient oil and gas, stemming partly from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, have raised questions over the pace, cost and practicality of climate goals. But for the Paris-based IEA—the global energy authority—security of supply, environmental sustainability and increased energy cooperation around the world make up its triple-headed mission. Carbon Economist sat down at the IEA’s headquarters with its executive director, Fatih Birol, to discuss the big energy issues facing the world. How has the IEA’s mission evolved from a focus on energy security to a focus also on energy sustainability.”

World Oil: European Commission, Wintershall recognize CCS as “clear means” of decarbonization

“The European Commission has recognized carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a clear means of decarbonizing the industrial sector and has set up support programs for this purpose,” World Oil reports. “This strengthens us in our plans to build up a new business field with CCS and hydrogen projects,” said Hugo Dijkgraaf, Chief Technology Officer of Wintershall Dea, at a panel discussion with political stakeholders on May 22 in Brussels. “Climate change must urgently be stopped. Low-carbon hydrogen and CCS are two solutions to complement renewables. With our CCS and hydrogen activities, we plan to save 20 to 30 million tonnes of CO2 annually by 2040.” Dijkgraaf considers the recent European Commission proposal for a Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA) a “boost” for CCS, as it calls CCS a “strategic net zero technology” that should benefit from faster permitting and easier access to funding. The act also formulates a very ambitious EU injection-capacity goal of 50 million tonnes per year as early as 2030, which would encourage CCS companies to deploy CCS at scale in order to meet the European climate targets. Dijkgraaf suggested, however, that CO2 from the EU stored in European Economic Area (EEA) countries like Norway should also count for the injection target, considering Norway’s enormous storage potential. Equally important, he continued, is that Member States and EEA countries make enough licenses available, such as by organising exploration licensing rounds. As a general matter, the EU is signaling a strong willingness to act with its programs, such as the Innovation Fund, Horizon Europe and the recently revised TEN-E regulation, which now includes cross-border CO2 networks as an additional priority.”

Financial Times: G7 disappoints on climate progress without deadlines on gas and coal use
Camilla Hodgson, 5/22/23

“Climate experts criticised the G7 group of advanced economies for failing to commit to tougher action on fossil fuels after Germany and Japan prevailed on the continued use of gas and coal respectively,” the Financial Times reports. “In their final communique, the leaders of the G7, including the UK, US, France, Italy and Canada, said they were committed to achieving a “fully or predominantly” decarbonised power sector by 2035, and “accelerating” the phaseout of unabated coal power but failed to set a deadline for the latter. Using the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and resulting energy crisis, the G7 also stressed the “important role that increased deliveries of [liquefied natural gas] can play”. It also said that “publicly supported investment in the gas sector can be appropriate as a temporary response” to the crisis. Alden Meyer, a senior associate at E3G, said Germany’s “insistence on more public investment in gas” and Japan’s “resistance to phasing out coal power” generation “undercut the G7’s leadership at a time when it is desperately needed”. The lack of a coal phaseout date and the inclusion of the word “predominantly” put Japan behind its peers, as the remaining countries were all taking concrete steps to becoming coal free, E3G said. The G7 countries had “chosen to remain on a fossil-fuelled collision course,” May Boeve, executive director of campaign group, told FT. The Climate Action Network, made up of 1,900 civil society organisations, said the “weak commitments, riddled with loopholes” were an “unacceptable disregard to the growing warnings from scientists worldwide”… “The G7 also noted that carbon capture and storage technology, which is unproven at scale, could be important for decarbonising heavy industry.”

Bloomberg: Company Eyes Cheap Direct Air Capture For ‘Green Methane’

“Santos Ltd., Australia’s second-biggest gas producer, says it can slash the cost of sucking carbon dioxide directly out of the atmosphere, allowing it to manufacture a synthetic version of natural gas that it says would have no climate impact,” Bloomberg reports. “The Adelaide-based company is testing technology that could bring the cost of “direct air capture” to just $75 a ton by 2030, far cheaper than current methods, CEO Kevin Gallagher told journalists on Thursday. Direct air capture is a nascent technology that its proponents argue could one day draw significant amounts of CO2 out of the atmosphere and store it underground, slowing global warming — provided the cost is brought down. So far only a handful of direct air capture projects are up and running and the cost is in the hundreds of dollars per ton of CO2 captured.”


Washington Post: Biden and other world leaders vowed to stop funding fossil fuels overseas. That isn’t happening, activists say.
Maxine Joselow, 5/22/23

“In 2021, President Biden directed federal agencies to stop using U.S. taxpayer dollars to fund fossil fuel projects in other countries. And last year, leaders of the Group of Seven industralized nations vowed to follow suit,” the Washington Post reports. “In theory, these climate pledges should steer billions of dollars away from coal plants and other polluting projects around the globe. But in practice, Biden and other leaders of the world’s wealthiest economies are failing to follow through on this commitment, climate activists say. The leaders are “in direct breach of that commitment,” Louise Burrows, energy finance lead at the climate think tank E3G, said in a statement Saturday after the G-7 meeting in Hiroshima, Japan. Biden administration officials, however, strongly reject the notion that the president has violated his policy on ending overseas fossil fuel finance, pointing to exemptions for independent agencies and projects with compelling national security concerns. (More on that below.) In December 2021, shortly after the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Biden ordered federal agencies to halt financing for coal plants and other carbon-intensive projects abroad. But the United States recently broke this promise, climate activists say, when leaders of America’s Export-Import Bank agreed to lend nearly $100 million for the expansion of an oil refinery in Indonesia… “It was really a deep betrayal,” Collin Rees, U.S. program manager at Oil Change International, told the Post. “It’s absolutely against both the spirit and the letter of Biden’s fossil fuel finance commitments.” Jeff Ordower, North America director at, agreed. “In direct contradiction to his posturing and climate finance commitments, President Joe Biden continues to provide loans for fossil fuel extraction abroad, while ramping up its expansion domestically — this is not the behavior of a climate president,” he told the Post.

Bloomberg: ESG Investing Goes Quiet After Blistering Republican Attacks
Saijel Kishan, 5/19/23

“Sustainable investing was a feel-good business for Wall Street, a way for asset managers to tout their ability to make money while paying attention to companies’ carbon footprint and social impact. Then it got pulled into America’s culture wars,” Bloomberg reports. “The acronym ESG—for environmental, social and governance investing—was transformed from finance industry jargon into another three-letter acronym for something conservatives don’t like, alongside DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) and CRT (critical race theory). Elon Musk has attacked ESG on Twitter, and many Republicans want to cancel it. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a likely 2024 White House candidate, signed a bill in May barring the use of ESG when investing public money. Other anti-ESG bills are wending through statehouses, while GOP-controlled states have collectively pulled billions of dollars from funds run by Wall Street’s biggest ESG champion, BlackRock Inc. Speaking recently to a local Republican Party convention, Utah State Treasurer Marlo Oaks described ESG as part of “Satan’s plan.”

Pensions & Investments: Divesting fossil fuels looms larger for more funds

“As the race toward renewable energy and away from fossil fuels to address climate change heats up, more pension funds may look at divestment, willingly or otherwise,” according to Pensions & Investments. “According to a divestment commitment database maintained by, a climate action advocacy group, 1,591 organizations worldwide with a collective $40.51 trillion in assets have publicly committed to some level of fossil fuel divestment. Pension funds represent 11.7% of those commitments, compared with 35.8% from faith-based organizations, 15.7% from educational institutions and 11.9% from foundations. The pressure on other pension funds, including the $456.7 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System, Sacramento, and the $307.2 billion California State Teachers’ Retirement System, West Sacramento, to join that list is increasing from legislators in some states. The boards of both California pension funds oppose pending legislation that would prevent new investments in fossil fuel companies and require divestment from such companies they hold byJuly 1, 2030. CalPERS officials estimate that the transaction cost of divesting $9.4 billion in current holdings and reinvesting the capital into other investments would range between $75 million and $125 million. They and other pension fund investors also worry that divestment does not translate to better climate impacts, and would make it harder for investors alone or collectively to influence better behavior.” “…Public pressure on private asset owners to divest is also expected to ramp up. A campaign is shining a spotlight on four private hospital systems whose pension funds have $4.6 billion invested in fossil fuels: the Mayo Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, Ascension Health System and HCA Healthcare. As one organizer of’s campaign, First, Do No Harm, put it, “The health sector divested from tobacco in the 90s, now it’s time we do it with fossil fuels.”


Orilla Matters: Severn man converts pipeline corridor into wildflower meadow
Greg McGrath-Goudie, 5/19/23

“A local man’s hope to convert a pipeline corridor into a pollinator habitat is coming to fruition, and now nature just has to do the rest,” according to Orilla Matters. “Almost a year ago, Severn Township resident Matt Thomson set out to beautify a four-acre stretch of pipeline land with various pollinator plants. After working with the County of Simcoe and TC Energy Corporation to carry out the project, Thomson and 10 volunteers tilled the land and seeded it with more than a dozen flowering species earlier this month.”


The New Republic: The Republicans’ Debt Ceiling Trap
Kate Aronoff, 5/22/23

“Debt ceiling talks are set to resume Monday with a meeting between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy,” Kate Aronoff writes for The New Republic. “Let’s get real: The GOP intends to “blow stuff up” whatever strategy Democrats adopt… “In exchange for not risking a default that could plummet the United States into a recession and send shock waves through the global economy, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has drafted a ransom list that includes spending limits and work requirements on core social programs. He’s also included a phrase with a remarkable capacity to confuse even well-meaning policymakers: “permitting reform.” A catchall term that members of both parties have used to describe what’s needed to meet the country’s energy goals, “permitting reform” is in the eye of the beholder. For many Democrats it refers to a collection of changes needed to deploy clean energy quickly enough to reach net-zero by 2050. A key prize in that is making it easier to build transmission lines, many more of which will be needed as things like transportation and home heating and cooling are electrified. For Republicans and their donors, “permitting reform” means precisely one thing: being able to build as much fossil fuel infrastructure as they please. As part of debt ceiling talks, they’ve proposed a two-step deal. The first step would include changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, potentially including limits on the length of environmental review and curbs on the sorts of legal challenges that can be brought against projects. Then, sometime soon, Republicans pinky-swear to pass something that makes it easier for the federal government to approve interstate transmission lines. In essence, the offer is: Give us what we want now, and we’ll get around to doing that thing you want later—or else. Over the last several years, there’s been a tense debate among climate advocates about how much poison Democrats will have to swallow to extract policies needed to preserve life on Earth. So let’s consider: Why would a party content to plunge the country into a recession pass a permitting-reform package as part of debt ceiling negotiations that will benefit renewables more than the fossil fuel industry? The short answer is that they wouldn’t. This two-step proposal is a trap, and a pretty transparent one. The good news is that lots of Democrats don’t seem to be falling for it. “Let’s be serious,” Senator Brian Shatz said last week. “The idea that we’re going to do your stuff first and my stuff later is just not how politics works.” Even the climate advocates most bullish on permitting reform have said Republicans’ two-step idea is a nonstarter. On Friday, Politico reported that a bipartisan group of senators who’ve been backing more and less fossil fuel–friendly permitting-reform packages—including Joe Manchin, Shelley Moore Capito, Tom Carper, and John Barasso—met to discuss excising such proposals from the debt ceiling talks. Still, there’s no guarantee that permitting-reform provisions are gone for good in budget talks… “As of now, though, Democrats are still debating which bomb to blow up—and have been troublingly open to the idea that Republicans’ “permitting reform” proposals could yield major upsides for the climate. They should look to defuse the bomb entirely by ending the talks and minting the coin.”

Wall Street Journal: Norway’s Government Uses Oil Wealth to Pressure U.S. Firms
James Freeman, 5/19/23

“Climate activism and hypocrisy have become nearly synonymous given the high correlation between prominent advocacy and private jet travel,” James Freeman writes for the Wall Street Journal. “Then of course there’s the bonfire of fossil fuels needed to create inefficient apparatuses to collect wind and solar energy. But this week brings a new contribution to the genre. A foreign government that got rich on oil is now using its pile of petro-money to impose costs on U.S. companies. Richard Milne reports this week for the Financial Times: Norway’s $1.4tn oil fund will step up its use of shareholder proposals to send messages on environmental, social and governance topics to US companies after quietly testing them out at a small number of annual meetings… “So Norwegian pols weren’t offended enough by emissions to avoid collecting that $1.4 trillion pile of oil wealth but now they want to use it to limit emissions at U.S. companies… “By all means, Norway’s government can do as much as it wants on climate and impose as many costs on its citizens as voters will bear. But brazenly demanding that Americans pay for Norway’s virtue signals is wrong. Norway’s taxpayers can rightly argue that they too will bear some of the costs if their oil fund’s U.S. investments suffer under pressure from Oslo to embrace unprofitable political agendas. But all of the other shareholders, not to mention U.S. workers, will share in the suffering. If the government of Norway really wants to do penance for its oil-gotten gains, the sacrifices should be made entirely by Norwegians.”

Financial Post: Our oilsands tortoise may outlast the Americans’ shale-oil hare
Heather Exner-Pirot is director of energy, natural resources and environment at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, 5/3/23

“Canada’s oilsands have faced strong headwinds over the past decade. Coming online just as their main customer, the United States, saw its own oil production explode thanks to shale, its economics have been pretty tough,” Heather Exner-Pirot writes for the Financial Post. “And they’ve been compounded by a hostile regulatory and political environment in an Ottawa fixated on emissions. But as shale fields pass their peak production, the oilsands are now poised for prime time… “But shale’s astonishing rise is expected to be followed by an equally rapid decline… “The decline of American shale has huge political implications for Canadian oil. Some policy-makers contemplate a “just transition,” but a more likely scenario — which we should be preparing for — is that global oil demand will grow at least until the 2030s and then level off at something above 100 million barrels/day, with the U.S. share of production declining. If that does happen, oil prices will rise to a point that threatens the global economy and creates an energy crisis, while OPEC countries and Russia use their market control and energy exports to advance their own illiberal foreign policy goals. Canada must offset the worst of it… “People are always entitled to hope for the best: maybe revolutions in finance, labour, policy and technology will allow us to quickly reduce oil consumption and hit net zero, not only in Europe and North America, but in the developing countries where the other seven billion of us live and where energy demand is growing fastest. But those responsible for our security must also prepare for the worst. And that means ensuring Canadian oil is available to those who need it, for as long as they need it.”

Jacobin Magazine: Canada’s Prairies Are on Fire. The Time for Bold Climate Action Is Now.

“On a Friday evening at the beginning of the month, I sat on a rooftop patio along a main street in Edmonton as ash floated down from the sky and into my friend’s beer,” Emma Jackson writes for Jacobin Magazine. “Hours later, my phone blared with the third evacuation alert of that evening, notifying people in a nearby county to evacuate because of approaching wildfires. I returned home to discover I had left my windows open. When I crawled into my bed, it smelled like a campfire. The next day, as tens of thousands of people were forced from their homes, Alberta’s premier Danielle Smith declared a state of emergency. Soon, more than a hundred wildfires were burning across Alberta… “But while there couldn’t be a better moment to reckon with the roots of this emergency, neither political party has shown the courage to address, or even to name, the crises fueling the fires: austerity and climate change. The province has never been riper for a compelling vision of what a thriving and safe future for Alberta could look like, yet Notley seems bent on missing the opportunity. Instead of underestimating the readiness of everyday Albertans to grapple with the climate emergency, Notley could be appealing to what they’re most proud of — their diehard commitment to protecting their neighbors in the face of crisis. But with indigenous communities being devastated and far-right extremists sowing the seeds of conspiracy, what’s unfolding is a dangerous sign of what’s to come if we continue to let Big Oil and the corporate elite set the political agenda… “According to reports from CityNews Edmonton, officials believe people have been violating orders and reentering their communities. Far-right websites and social media accounts have also begun to spread rumors that “radical eco-terrorists” set the fires, without any evidence. With social cohesion and trust in government at an all-time low, first responders and public officials have been on the receiving end of harassment and vitriol. Far-right extremists have gone so far as to suggest that “feminist firefighters” from a women-in-training program accidentally set Banff ablaze. Meanwhile, northern First Nations and Metis communities across the province have been amongst the hardest hit by the fires, once again showing that indigenous peoples bear the brunt of the climate crisis.”

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