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Extracted

EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 5/31/22

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips May 31, 2022

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PIPELINE NEWS

  • Politico: Strange Bedfellows: Farmers and Big Greens square off against Biden and the GOP

  • E&E News: Biden releases plan to avoid ‘dangerous’ CO2 pipeline failures

  • Bloomberg: Biden’s Pipeline Rules Target Key Link of Carbon Capture Buildout

  • Press release: PHMSA Announces New Safety Measures to Protect Americans From Carbon Dioxide Pipeline Failures After Satartia, MS Leak

  • Bloomberg: Gas, Oil Pipelines Need Separate Water Permits, Interior Says

  • Bloomberg: Enterprise Products Wins Texas Eminent Domain Fight for Pipeline

  • KIOW: Local Pipeline Issues are Prevalent Causing Concern for Future Lines 

  • Ottumwa Courier: Anti-CO2 pipeline group to speak in Fairfield

  • CBC: Former chef at B.C. pipeline camp sues for sexual battery, failure to warn of protests

  • WWLP: Springfield climate group to rally against Eversource pipeline

  • World Pipelines: Enbridge advancing construction of natural gas pipeline

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • Canadian Press: U.S. proposal could change the way oil companies report their carbon footprint

  • E&E News: Bracewell launches pro-CCS group ahead of funding explosion

  • E&E News: Are high energy prices displacing climate action in Congress?

STATE UPDATES

  • Palm Springs Desert Sun: Seven more oil wells leak explosive methane near Bakersfield homes, bringing total to 13

  • KX News: Abandoned, radioactive proppant from fracking spreading into Little Muddy River

  • Capital and Main: Why Won’t the EPA Fine New Mexico’s Greenhouse Gas Leakers?

EXTRACTION

  • WGBH: Hard Facts About Carbon Capture And Storage (VIDEO)

  • Press release: Suncor Energy, Together with Joint Venture Owners, Plan Restart of West White Rose Project

CLIMATE FINANCE

  • Financial Times: Vanguard refuses to end new fossil fuel investments

  • Press release: Vanguard Releases Worst Climate Targets of Major Asset Managers; Vanguard S.O.S. campaign blasts net zero signatory for laughably inadequate climate plan

  • Grist: Shareholders win majority support for climate proposals at Exxon, Chevron

  • E&E News: What’s next for climate-minded investing?

TODAY IN GREENWASHING

  • Middlesex Centre: Deerhaven Park gets a little greener thanks to Enbridge Gas and local Scouts

OPINION

  • Des Moines Register: Opinion: Reject the carbon pipelines, which are not supported by science or ethics

PIPELINE NEWS

Politico: Strange Bedfellows: Farmers and Big Greens square off against Biden and the GOP
ARIEL WITTENBERG, 5/29/22

“Kathy Stockdale is no climate activist. The corn and soybean grower and conservative Christian says God controls the weather — “not the carbon dioxide,” Politico reports. “Until now, Stockdale and her husband Ray couldn’t imagine linking arms with the Sierra Club, a critic of the corn ethanol industry and an environmental ally of President Joe Biden. But in this overwhelmingly Republican part of central Iowa, farmers who sell their crop to ethanol makers, like the Stockdales, have been thrust into Biden’s search for a climate policy that both slashes greenhouse gas emissions and satisfies crosscutting political interests… “But just as the pipeline would slice through Iowa’s prized cornfields, it also cuts against the usual grain of American politics and flips age-old alliances on their head. Conservative farmers are teaming up with the Sierra Club in open rebellion against the ethanol industry. They fear a pipeline running under their land could ruin their crop yield and potentially expose their families to a hazardous gas. And the Sierra Club is targeting a Democratic White House eager to bring federal bucks to Iowa and anywhere else willing to invest big on solving the climate problem. The environmental group is pushing back against the idea that any technology that can drive down heat-trapping carbon emissions deserves a place in Biden’s policy playbook. Progressives are upset about Biden’s openness to a decadeslong GOP talking point — carbon capture and storage technology, or CCS, or “clean coal” — the idea that climate pollution can be bagged and eradicated forever at its source: whether it’s a coal plant or an ethanol refinery… “Until recently, the Stockdales, both in their 70s, and their 37-year-old son Kurtis, would have said that what is good for ethanol is good for the family. Now, they aren’t so sure. “The land, the farm, the ethanol, it becomes a part of you,” Kathy told Politico. “So, it’s a Catch-22, because I’m for the ethanol, but I’m not for the carbon sequestration.” “…The White House agency said CCS deployment “can and should reduce emissions of other kinds of pollution” other than carbon dioxide, which would “protect communities from increases in cumulative pollution, and maintain and create good, union-friendly jobs across the country.” “…The Biden administration has cited papers from the Great Plains Institute and Princeton University’s Net-Zero America project that envision “an interstate CO2 highway system.” They talk about building along existing rights of way carved out for other pipelines and telecommunications lines… “Omaha-based attorney Brian Jorde, who helped organize landowners against the Keystone XL pipeline, is working with the Sierra Club, too. He and Mazour co-host weekly Zoom strategy sessions for landowners who oppose the pipeline. They’ve also filed legal documents with the Iowa Utilities Board accusing pipeline developers of not following the letters of the law… “At the end of the day we just have to hope that the IUB has the courage to do the right thing for Iowa and not just for the millionaires backing this project,” Jorde told Politico. “You have to place these projects under land, and that land is owned by real people who clearly do not want them.”

E&E News: Biden releases plan to avoid ‘dangerous’ CO2 pipeline failures
Mike Soraghan, Carlos Anchondo, 5/27/22

“The Biden administration yesterday stepped into a debate about the safety of carbon dioxide pipelines, announcing plans for new safety rules and seeking a nearly $4 million fine for a rupture two years ago in Mississippi that sent at least 45 people to the hospital,” E&E News reports. “The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration also rolled out several other CO2 pipeline measures, including a 269-page investigative report on the failure in Mississippi and an updated safety advisory to the industry. The package is designed to protect the public from “dangerous pipeline failures” and address concerns that have been voiced about proposals to ship carbon dioxide underground to reduce the climate effects of fossil fuel production (Energywire, March 31). The $3,866,734 fine is the largest fine ever sought by PHMSA… “Advocates of carbon capture, utilization and storage said they welcome safety rules for pipelines, which they say have an excellent safety track record. “CO2 pipelines are actually some of the safest infrastructure that we’ve built in terms of all of the infrastructure that’s going to be necessary to mitigate climate change,” Jessie Stolark, the public policy and member relations manager at the Carbon Capture Coalition, told E&E… “PHMSA’s accident investigation and penalty notice released yesterday allege a cascade of failures by Denbury before and during the incident. Denbury failed to tell emergency officials and some people living near the line about the dangers if the pipeline were to rupture, the reports say, and gave no information about what to do. An in-depth investigation of the Satartia rupture by the Climate Investigations Center found that dispatchers initially told panicked callers that there had been a natural gas leak. PHMSA said emergency officials initially thought they were responding to a chlorine leak. The company “significantly” underestimated the size of the area likely to be affected by a release of CO2, PHMSA said, and failed to address known dangers to the pipeline such as landslides, conducted inadequate monitoring of the ground above the pipeline and took too long to notify officials after the blast… “The rupture shows the need to close gaps in the safety rules for carbon dioxide pipelines, Bill Caram, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, the main pipeline safety advocacy group, told E&E. He called PHMSA’s plan for new rules “encouraging.” “CO2 releases can be incredibly hazardous to our communities,” Caram told E&E. “The list of proposed new CO2 pipeline projects seems to grow every week, which makes it all the more important to modernize our safety regulations immediately.” PHMSA did not offer dates or a timeline for the new rulemaking it announced. The standards, it said, are to include “requirements related to emergency preparedness, and response.”

Bloomberg: Biden’s Pipeline Rules Target Key Link of Carbon Capture Buildout
5/27/22

“The Biden administration’s new rulemaking for carbon dioxide pipeline safety, and a nearly $4 million fine for a 2020 pipeline rupture, are seen as a step toward carbon capture goals that envision building out thousands of miles of pipelines, industry watchers said Friday,” Bloomberg reports. “…The incident prompted national alarm about the safety of carbon pipelines and emergency response readiness as the Energy Department aims to spend billions on carbon technology as a way to meet mid-century climate goals. “The pipeline network needs to expand in order to address our climate needs, but it has to be done safely,” John Thompson, technology and markets director at the Clean Air Task Force, told Bloomberg… “Climate advocacy groups are divided on the role of carbon capture in reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Proponents, led by the Biden administration and a bipartisan group of lawmakers, say the technology is essential to decarbonizing heavy industry in the near future. Opponents, including environmental justice groups that have advised the White House, argue the technology locks in polluting fossil fuel infrastructure… “A December 2020 Princeton University study projected 65,000 miles of carbon dioxide pipelines by 2050. Several major carbon pipeline projects have been proposed for the Midwest, generating local opposition… “In order to scale up the infrastructure, “there must be full public and policymaker confidence in CO2 pipeline safety,” Jessie Stolark, public policy and member relations manager for the Carbon Capture Coalition, told Bloomberg… “The Pipeline Safety Trust, a watchdog group skeptical of carbon pipelines, has called for the agency to take broad action. “The list of proposed new CO2 pipeline projects seems to grow every week, which makes it all the more important to modernize our safety regulations immediately,” Bill Caram, the group’s executive director, said in a statement. “It is encouraging that PHMSA recognizes the risks and regulatory gaps and is taking steps to protect our communities.”

Press release: PHMSA Announces New Safety Measures to Protect Americans From Carbon Dioxide Pipeline Failures After Satartia, MS Leak
5/26/22

“The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) today announced it is taking steps to implement new measures to strengthen its safety oversight of carbon dioxide (CO2) pipelines around the country and protect communities from dangerous pipeline failures. The new measures, as well as an enforcement action taken today are a result of PHMSA’s investigation into a CO2 pipeline failure in Satartia, Mississippi in 2020 that resulted in local evacuations and caused almost 50 people to seek medical attention.  To strengthen CO2 pipeline safety, PHMSA is undertaking the following: initiating a new rulemaking to update standards for CO2 pipelines, including requirements related to emergency preparedness, and response; issuing a Notice of Probable Violation, Proposed Civil Penalty, and Proposed Compliance Order (NOPV) to Denbury Gulf Coast Pipeline, LLC for multiple probable violations of Federal pipeline safety regulations (PSRs). The proposed civil penalties amount to $3,866,734; completing a failure investigation report for the 2020 pipeline failure in Satartia, Mississippi; issuing an updated nationwide advisory bulletin to all pipeline operators underscoring the need to plan for and mitigate risks related to land-movements and geohazards that pose risks to pipeline integrity like the 2020 incident in Satartia, Mississippi; and conducting research solicitations to strengthen pipeline safety of CO2 pipelines. PHMSA’s investigation identified a number of probable violations in connection with the 2020 accident, including the following alleged failures: the lack of timely notification to the National Response Center to ensure the nearby communities were informed of the threat;  the absence of written procedures for conducting normal operations, as well as those that would allow the operator to appropriately respond to emergencies, such as guidelines for communicating with emergency responders; and a failure to conduct routine inspections of its rights-of-way, which would have fostered a better understanding of the environmental conditions surrounding its facilities that could pose a threat to the safe operation of the pipeline.”

Bloomberg: Gas, Oil Pipelines Need Separate Water Permits, Interior Says
5/27/22

“Oil pipelines and natural gas pipelines should be permitted separately under the Clean Water Act, the Bureau of Land Management urged the Army Corps of Engineers,” Bloomberg reports. “The land bureau wants to see the Army Corps’ Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12) for oil and gas pipelines split because “the potential environmental impacts are different for each of these minerals,” the bureau wrote in its Thursday comments on changes that the Corps is considering making to the permit. Nationwide permits are fast-tracked, streamlined Clean Water Act permits that the Corps issues for specific activities such as oil and gas pipeline construction…”

Bloomberg: Enterprise Products Wins Texas Eminent Domain Fight for Pipeline
5/27/22

“Enterprise Product Partners LP and its affiliates will be able to move forward with their Oyster Creek Lateral Project, a 49-mile propylene pipeline, after they proved that the pipeline qualifies as common carrier under Texas law, the state’s high court said Friday,” Bloomberg reports. “To meet Texas’ common carrier standard, a pipeline must deliver its product to at least one customer and the product must be considered a crude oil or derived from it. Propylene is an oil-based product, because the state’s natural resources code defines crude oil as a petroleum product that includes “any other liquid petroleum product or byproduct derived …”

KIOW: Local Pipeline Issues are Prevalent Causing Concern for Future Lines 
AJ Taylor, 5/30/22

“Controversy surrounding carbon pipelines coming through the area have now taken an interesting local twist,” KIOW reports. “The controversy is whether family farms want to give up land to companies in order to bury pipelines bearing carbon from ethanol plants to the Dakotas. Gary Schleusner, a farmer near Duncan already has a problem with a gas pipeline running through land that he farms. Schleusner told KIOW these gas lines are no longer at the depth they were when they were originally installed where he farms. For Schleusner, this cumulative half acre of farmland is becoming more and more problematic. He cites this as a possible example of what could happen in the future with carbon pipelines buried in the ground. While the pipeline appears to be getting closer to the surface, it may eventually render the ground above and around it unfarmable. KIOW News called the gas company who owns the lines and they said they are working directly with the owner of the land on a remedy to the situation. Barely visible gas line marking flags (lower right and upper left) mark where the gas lines are on the land Schleusner farms. The vast majority of farmers in the path of planned pipelines are against the idea of future lines getting into the ground. Schleusner wants everyone to know the issues he is dealing with. Landowners should take note that the carbon lines will not fall under federal regulatory control like these gas lines are. Instead, the Iowa Board of Public Utilities will, but they do not have the same exact rules and regulations that the federal authorities do. Schleusner is concerned that without federal regulation the lines may become a problem for future generation farmers.”

Ottumwa Courier: Anti-CO2 pipeline group to speak in Fairfield
5/26/22

“The anti-CO2 pipeline group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement will be holding an informational meeting June 10 at the Fairfield Public Library to discuss the Navigator carbon-capture pipeline proposed to run through Jefferson County,” the Ottumwa Courier reports. “The meeting will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. and will consist of presentations from the three pipelines in Iowa. The meeting will also provide a time for engagement for concerned residents of the area as well as “bringing community members together to fight CO2 pipelines and plan action that will bring proposed projects to a halt,” the group said in a press release… “The meeting is on behalf of the Iowa Carbon Pipeline Resistance Coalition, which is made up of the Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club, Great Plains Action Society, Food and Water Watch and the Science and Environmental Health Network.”

CBC: Former chef at B.C. pipeline camp sues for sexual battery, failure to warn of protests
Jason Proctor, 5/31/22

“A woman who worked as a chef at a Coastal GasLink pipeline work camp is suing the company and the contractor who hired her for allegedly exposing her to “harassing and abusive behaviours by inebriated employees,” the CBC reports. “In a notice of claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court earlier this month, the woman — who the CBC is identifying by her initials, J.M. — said she suffered “sexual battery” by someone who embraced her at one of the camps without her consent and “fondled, then forcibly grabbed” her buttocks. The 30-year-old is suing both Civeo Premium Services — the company which provides accommodation and hospitality for workers building the 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline — and Coastal GasLink, which she calls “the vicarious defendant.” J.M. is suing Civeo for breach of contract and both companies for negligence and damages she claims she suffered as a result of a “callous disregard” for her privacy and well-being. She claims the companies failed to “screen for suitability [their] agents, employees and guests, especially in light of the remote nature of the worksite and prevalence of sexual violence at such remote worksites.” “…She claims the alleged sexual battery happened in her private office when an “agent” of Coastal GasLink embraced her without her consent, grabbed her buttocks and “inappropriately” commented on her body. She claims that her employers failed to properly investigate and that her supervisor disclosed details of the incident to her colleagues and subordinates, leaving her “further humiliated.” “…She accuses the companies of “restricting the access of supplies, water, and septic services to 9A Lodge and P2 Lodge, thereby creating a sustained unhygienic and unsafe working and living environment.” J.M. claims she and her kitchen team were not permitted “to wash their clothes or leave their workstation to bathe for approximately 10 days on three separate occasions.” She claims she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and that the situation has worsened a pre-existing heart condition.”

WWLP: Springfield climate group to rally against Eversource pipeline
Kayleigh Thomas, 5/31/22

“A local activist group will rally at Springfield City Hall Tuesday afternoon in opposition of an Eversource pipeline expansion project,” WWLP reports. “According to the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition, Eversource has initiated the permitting process with the state for a proposed natural gas pipeline in Springfield and Longmeadow. The group will rally on the steps of the city hall in opposition to the project at one Tuesday afternoon. They are calling for a full environmental impact report of the project. Eversource previously said the pipeline was necessary to maintain reliable service in western Massachusetts.”

World Pipelines: Enbridge advancing construction of natural gas pipeline
Sara Simper, 5/30/22

“Enbridge Inc. is pleased to announce the advancement of its Venice Extension Project and Gator Express Meter Project to deliver 1.5 billion ft3/d of natural gas to Venture Global’s Plaquemines LNG facility located in Plaquemines Parish, LA,” World Pipelines reports. “The Projects generally will involve 36 in. diameter pipe, metering, and compressor station additions and improvements. The Gator Express Meter Project is expected to be in service in 2023 and Venice Extension Project is expected to be in service in 2024, with an estimated cost for both projects of US$400 million, which is underpinned by long-term take or pay contracts. “Enbridge is excited to continue working with Venture Global on their second LNG project to bring clean, reliable natural gas to the US Gulf Coast for export to global markets,” said Cynthia Hansen, Enbridge Executive Vice President and President, Gas Transmission & Midstream. “Our Texas Eastern system is ideally positioned to supply growing North American LNG exports, which are essential to meeting society’s energy security and climate change goals.”

WASHINGTON UPDATES

Canadian Press: U.S. proposal could change the way oil companies report their carbon footprint
5/30/22

“The officially disclosed carbon footprints of Canada’s largest oil companies could balloon in size if tough new climate rules proposed earlier this year by a U.S. regulator come into effect.,” the Canadian Press reports. “The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposal – which at this point has not been enacted and faces stiff opposition from industry groups and conservative lawmakers – would require publicly listed companies to account for their total “life-cycle” greenhouse gas emissions. The rules would apply not only to publicly listed companies south of the border, but also to the more than 230 Canadian companies that are listed on U.S. stock exchanges. Under the new proposal, companies would have to disclose their Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions (terms that encompass the greenhouse gases produced directly by a company’s operations, as well as indirectly through the generation of energy the company purchases such as electricity to power the business). But they would also have to publicly account for their Scope 3 emissions, meaning all the other greenhouse gases they produce indirectly, including emissions produced by customers when they use a company’s product… “The moment we ask companies to report Scope 3, we’re now focusing on the carbon intensity of the product itself,” Tima Bansal, Canada research chair in business sustainability at the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey Business School, told CP. “It’s not the carbon intensity of their process – which they can reduce and can reduce quite substantially – it’s the carbon intensity of their product.” “…In fact, the oil and gas industry as whole has been very reluctant to talk about the emissions produced by the combustion of its product itself. “Reporting Scope 3 emissions continues to be a challenge at this time and will prove difficult to provide in a timely manner, if at all,” wrote the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers in a recent submission to the Canadian Securities Administrators. “We believe this (Scope 3 disclosure) would not only add additional burden to industry, but is also not practical in that upstream oil and gas producers don’t have knowledge or control over the end use of their sales products,” the industry lobby group wrote… “Duncan Kenyon, director of corporate engagement with climate change activist group Investors for Paris Compliance, told CP more than 80 per cent of emissions from fossil fuels fall under the umbrella of Scope Three – that is, they’re produced when the product is consumed. “I hear it all the time from (oil companies), that Scope 3 is ‘not our problem, it’s the consumers choice,’ ” Kenyon told CP. “But you can’t be a Paris-aligned, climate believer if you’re going to say that 80 per cent is someone else’s problem.” “It also undermines the claims that “oh well, if we capture it all and put it underground, we’ll be OK for 2050,’” he added. “Because no, you won’t.”

E&E News: Bracewell launches pro-CCS group ahead of funding explosion
CARLOS ANCHONDO, CORBIN HIAR, 5/31/22

“A public policy firm that represents electric utilities and oil companies recently launched a new group to tout technologies that capture carbon from smokestacks as a climate solution,” E&E News reports. “Bracewell LLP created the Capture Action Project in April as federal officials prepare to spend $8.2 billion on efforts to catch, transport and store carbon dioxide from industrial facilities… “The Capture Action Project also stands out for the way it targets critics of CCS, according to experts. “This looks like a glossy effort to showcase the benefits and also try to take out the legs of the opposition” to carbon capture, Wil Burns, a professor at Northwestern University and a senior fellow at the Institute for Carbon Removal Law and Policy, told E&E. Bracewell’s advocacy for carbon capture and storage is a reversal of the firm’s previous positions on CCS, which it opposed on behalf of its electric utility clients… “During his conference presentation last week, Segal acknowledged that local pipeline opposition could pose a threat to the plans of Navigator and other companies… “CO2 pipelines are fundamentally different, he argued. “Communities that have the pipelines as a fact of life here, with respect to Heartland Greenway, also are the communities that benefit from the enhanced value proposition for commodity agriculture and for biofuel production,” Segal said. “That is a very different corporate citizen.” Bracewell’s Capture Action Project has sought to undermine some groups that have raised concerns about carbon capture pipelines. “Recently, a group called Food & Water Watch has been treating those living near potential carbon capture projects to a barrage of adverse arguments, including the unsurprising conclusion that folks would rather not see eminent domain authority used solely for private gain,” CAP staff wrote on the website. The post went on to highlight a February tweet from the environmental organization that said “all pipelines” are disastrous. “These hardly seem like objective views that people can use to call balls and strikes on projects so important to maintaining energy security and addressing greenhouse gas emissions,” the CAP post said. A Food & Water Watch representative told E&E Bracewell’s criticism demonstrated that the environmental group’s campaign to “protect Iowa and other states from these dangerous, unneeded carbon capture pipelines is gaining steam.” “The Capture Action Project expresses an apparent concern for our climate future, but nowhere does it even mention the aggressive shift to clean, renewable energy that will be required to save this planet from deepening climate chaos moving forward,” Emily Wurth, managing director of organizing for Food & Water Watch, said in an email. “We have the solutions to fight climate change — and it doesn’t involve corporate-backed boondoggles like CCS.” Bracewell’s CCS advocacy group has also targeted the Pipeline Safety Trust. Earlier this year, the safety advocacy group warned that the U.S. is “ill prepared for the increase of CO2 pipeline mileage being driven by federal CCS policy.” Bracewell dismissed the Pipeline Safety Trust by highlighting its links to the Democratic megadonor George Soros and calling its proposal for increased federal oversight “unnecessary hyperbole and scare tactics that aren’t reflective of reality.” Later, the post sought to put the safety record of CO2 pipelines in context by noting that they “have had less than half the reported incidents of oil pipelines and caused zero fatalities.” But there are currently 5,000 miles of CO2 pipeline in the U.S., a fraction of the more than 190,000 miles of oil pipelines criss-crossing the nation. Bill Caram, the Pipeline Safety Trust’s executive director, called Bracewell’s pushback “uncompelling, vague and disingenuous.”

E&E News: Are high energy prices displacing climate action in Congress?
Nick Sobczyk, 5/27/22

“Progressives and environmental advocates made huge gains in the 2020 campaign by pushing climate change to the forefront, but they are increasingly concerned that high energy prices and calls for greater fossil fuel production could destroy those hard-fought wins,” E&E News reports. “And there’s good reason for that concern, they say. “If you’re paying attention, you should be worried,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) told E&E. “All of that progress is at stake, and the question is, how do we respond to this moment?” He added, “If we start doing a bunch of long-term investments in fossil fuel infrastructure, it’s game over.” It is a perilous time for climate change advocacy. The “Build Back Better Act,” which contains hundreds of billions in clean energy tax credits and other climate provisions, remains stalled. Democrats are flailing in their efforts to beat back high gasoline prices, blaming energy companies for current woes and pushing doomed-to-fail legislation. And the midterm elections are looming. Amid this backdrop, most Democrats are trying to put on a happy face, even as their climate rhetoric has undergone a drastic shift to counter GOP attacks. They argue Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — and the energy price surge that followed — only highlights the insecurity of fossil fuel supply chains and offers opportunity for a quicker energy transition… “Progressives, fearing Democrats will have little to show on climate in November, are ramping up a push to get Biden to declare a national climate emergency to unlock additional executive authority to deploy clean energy. “I think there’s probably a deep concern that the events of the day and frankly the responses of the Biden administration and Democratic establishment significantly undermine their ability to address the climate crisis, through, unfortunately, accepting a lot of oil industry premises and Republican premises about these crises and what to do,” Brett Hartl, chief political strategist for the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund, told E&E.

STATE UPDATES

Palm Springs Desert Sun: Seven more oil wells leak explosive methane near Bakersfield homes, bringing total to 13
Janet Wilson, 5/26/22

“Seven more oil wells were discovered leaking methane near a Bakersfield neighborhood, state inspectors reported this week,” the Palm Springs Desert Sun reports. “In total, inspectors have found 13 wells in eight days emitting the potent greenhouse gas, which at high enough levels can also be explosive or cause serious health impacts. In a report filed Wednesday at 8:05 p.m. with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, state inspectors said they had found five more wells leaking methane at 50,000 parts per million each — high enough to explode — as well as a sixth leaking 26,500 ppm and a seventh emitting 4,000 ppm.   The owner of the wells, Andrew Sanders, with Zynergy LLC, said he did not want to comment other than to say the leaking wells are being addressed. “We’re taking care of it,” he told the Sun, adding that work on the idle wells to address the leaks should be completed by the end of the day Thursday. After the first leaking wells were discovered in the same Morning Star neighborhood in northeast Bakersfield, California’s top oil regulator, Uduak-Joe Ntuk, told the Sun the risks were minor… “A state staffer told The Desert Sun earlier in the week that Ntuk is “lying” about the possible risks, that the leaking wells were “a ticking time bomb” and that while the methane levels might drop off sharply above ground, the real risk lies underground, with unknown amounts of methane possibly building up in tight spaces. Meanwhile, air pollution experts and environmentalists point to research showing dangerous air contaminants linked to smog and carcinogens are also often emitted from idled or improperly plugged wells. State and regional inspectors, working with the Bakersfield fire department, are now conducting inspections of more idle wells in the area.”

KX News: Abandoned, radioactive proppant from fracking spreading into Little Muddy River
Kyara Brown, 5/26/22

“Since fracking made oil deposits more accessible, it’s no secret that some environmental damage could lie ahead,” KX News reports. “KX News journeyed to a warehouse in Williston where large amounts of the radioactive material have been abandoned. North Dakota’s Department of Environmental Quality has acted against Sea Pacific International Trading Company for the cleanup of the company’s dangerous fracking proppant bags. Fracking proppant is a solid material, typically sand-like, that is man-made and designed to keep hydraulic fractures open, allowing for the extraction of oil. The many bags of hydraulic fracking proppant have been sitting outside for over three years. The bags have started to deteriorate and as a result, the radioactive proppant material has spread across the area, which is near a local river. The state was notified in 2019 of the abandonment and they determined that a cleanup plan could cost over $20 million. “What happens is, it causes your cost to exponentially increase by getting a radioactive level back. Because, North Dakota, 5 picocuries per gram, that’s the legal limit,” Kelly Harrelson, an environmental clean-up expert, told KX… “The many broken, open bags of the proppant have allowed the material to make its way to the mouth of a local river called Little Muddy. Little Muddy is a popular river in Williston, where many swim and fish, but it also runs into the Missouri River… “Because of its high radioactive level, the proppant cannot be disposed of in North Dakota and would have to be taken to Montana or Colorado, to do so. Leaving the proppant where it’s at could make the location permanently radioactive.”

Capital and Main: Why Won’t the EPA Fine New Mexico’s Greenhouse Gas Leakers?
Jerry Redfern, 5/25/22

“In the fall of 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired a helicopter equipped with a leak-detecting infrared camera to criss-cross the Permian Basin looking for gaseous emissions, part of a monitoring program undertaken at the behest of and in partnership with the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED),” Capital and Main reports. “Over the course of nine days, the EPA found leaking valves, leaking hatches, unlit and partially lit gas flares on wells, leaking tank batteries and compressor stations. In all, the flights documented 111 emissions at facilities run by 23 different oil and gas companies… “Then, in March of this year, the EPA issued consent agreements with 11 companies — some of the biggest producers in the country, including Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Occidental — for violations of the Clean Air Act based on the 2019 flights. Yet under those agreements, two and a half years in the making, only one company was fined for environmental violations, despite the fact that all of the companies were cited for “directly releasing emissions to atmosphere.” The EPA fined another company for a paperwork violation… “The need for proper monitoring and crackdowns on violators could hardly be more pressing, but the EPA has been slow in enforcement… “It’s also not clear why the EPA didn’t fine companies for their violations of the Clean Air Act. After days of costly helicopter flights, infrared camera rentals and more than two years of office and inspection work confirming that the companies had vented unknown amounts of methane and other gases into the atmosphere, the EPA wrote to most of the companies: “Upon review, EPA hereby confirms that you have completed all requirements … satisfactorily.” No fines. No punishment. According to EPA documents, the companies simply fixed the leaks and pledged not to do it again. NMED Secretary James Kenney, who requested the flights in the first place, thinks that’s unlikely to happen. “Unless there is significant deterrence, there’s no change in behavior,” he told Capital and Main. “And what you want to see from an enforcement program is a change in behavior.”

EXTRACTION

WGBH: Hard Facts About Carbon Capture And Storage (VIDEO)
Neva Goodwin, Ph.D., June Sekera, MPA,  5/18/22

“How much CO2 does the much-promoted carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology actually extract from the atmosphere—and at what cost?,” WGBH reports. “Answer: very little extraction and at great cost with serious environmental risks. CCS keeps the fossil fuel industry going at taxpayer expense, although renewable energy and biological sequestration are available, much less expensive, and environmentally beneficial –definitely the only viable solution to the excess atmospheric CO2 crisis. This discussion provides important facts the public rarely gets.”

Press release: Suncor Energy, Together with Joint Venture Owners, Plan Restart of West White Rose Project
5/31/22

“Suncor today announced that concurrent with the decision to restart the West White Rose project by the joint venture owners, Suncor has increased its ownership in the White Rose asset. In exchange for a cash payment of approximately $50 million from Cenovus to Suncor and in accordance with the conditional agreement announced on September 8, 2021, Suncor’s interest in the White Rose asset increases from 27.5% to 40.0% and in the West White Rose project from 26.1% to 38.6%. The decision to restart the West White Rose project is the result of a robust project evaluation which included the impact of a finalized agreement with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador on a competitive royalty framework for the project. This amended royalty structure provides safeguards to the project’s economics in periods of low commodity prices. “This project is expected to extend the production life of the White Rose field, securing long-term value for shareholders and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador,” says Shelley Powell, Senior Vice President of Exploration and Production, and In Situ. “The decision to restart the West White Rose project and increase our interest underscores Suncor’s confidence in East Coast Canada’s energy future, the importance of our offshore business within our integrated model and the positive role of Canadian oil and gas from a global energy security and ESG perspective.”

CLIMATE FINANCE

Financial Times: Vanguard refuses to end new fossil fuel investments
Chris Flood, 5/25/22

“The world’s second-largest asset manager Vanguard has refused to stop new investments in fossil fuel projects and end its support for coal, oil and gas production,” the Financial Times reports. “Chief executive Tim Buckley told FT the group, which manages $8.1tn for more than 30mn investors and is the largest investor in coal companies globally, was determined to safeguard its clients from climate risks but this would not require it to end new commitments to fossil fuel industries. “Vanguard does not seek to direct company strategy. We engage with companies on climate change, ask them to set goals and to report how they are mitigating climate risks. That transparency will ensure that climate risks are priced appropriately by the market,” Buckley said in an interview with the Financial Times. Companies that have a large carbon footprint now could play a critical role in the transition to a low-carbon future, he added. “Our duty is to maximise long-term total returns for clients. Climate change is a material risk but it is only one factor in an investment decision. There is already a pensions crisis and we have to make sure that climate concerns do not make that even worse,” said Buckley… “Buckley’s comments were made ahead of the publication of Vanguard’s first progress report towards the goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions across its investment portfolios by 2050… “Environmental campaigners argue that none of the world’s three largest asset managers — BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street — have policies that will achieve absolute reductions in carbon emissions by the end of the decade. Vanguard ranked last of 25 large asset managers in a fossil fuel and climate change evaluation published by Reclaim Finance and Urgewald, two environmental campaign groups, in April. “Asset managers need to send clearer signals to the fossil fuel industry. Any investor committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 must immediately cease all investments in companies developing new oil and gas supply projects,” Lara Cuvelier from Reclaim Finance told FT.

Press release: Vanguard Releases Worst Climate Targets of Major Asset Managers; Vanguard S.O.S. campaign blasts net zero signatory for laughably inadequate climate plan
5/26/22

“Vanguard, the world’s second-largest asset manager, today released its “initial commitment” as part of its membership in the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative (NZAM). In the announcement, Vanguard stated that what amounts to less than 5% of its total assets under management are currently in line with net zero by 2050. It expects this number to rise by 2030 but did not commit to a target, did not insist that companies’ net zero commitments be science-based, failed to include its passive index funds in its “commitment,” and failed to demonstrate any ambition to proactively drive emissions reductions in its portfolio. Vanguard’s climate “pledge” pales in comparison to its industry peers. BlackRock committed to an inadequate but much better 75% of its corporate and sovereign assets, or 58% of its total assets, while several members of the NZAM have committed to 100% net zero alignment. “Vanguard should be laughed right out of the NZAM for this absurd attempt at a climate target,” said Casey Harrell, Senior Strategist at the Sunrise Project. “Today, Vanguard pledged to free ride on the progress of other asset managers in dealing with the climate repercussions of passive index funds. Vanguard needs to start over and do better.”

Grist: Shareholders win majority support for climate proposals at Exxon, Chevron
Emily Pontecorvo, 5/26/22

“Exxon and Chevron held their annual meetings for shareholders on Wednesday, where the companies were once again confronted by strong support for resolutions asking them to do more on climate change,” Grist reports. “This year, climate-related proposals at the two oil majors centered around three main issues: methane emissions, climate risks, and emissions targets. There was no major reckoning compared to last year’s upheaval at Exxon, when shareholders ousted three board members due to concerns the company was not doing enough to prepare for the inevitable decline of fossil fuel demand. But there were two proposals that received majority support. At Chevron, 98 percent of shareholders voted in favor of a resolution calling on the company to re-evaluate its methane emissions numbers… :The resolution asks Chevron to directly measure its methane emissions via drones, satellites, and other leak detection methods, and prepare a report comparing the results to its previously published estimates. “The expectation is that would then lead the company to revisit its targets, which were based on the old approach,” Andrew Logan, the senior director of oil and gas at the shareholder advocacy organization Ceres, told Grist… “Another significant vote occurred at Exxon, where 52 percent of shareholders supported a resolution asking the company to analyze and report how a decline in fossil fuel demand would affect its financials — also known as “climate transition risk.” Investors are concerned that the company is not adequately contemplating how its commitment to growing its fossil fuel business could put their investments at risk.  “Their current financial statements don’t truly take climate risk into account,” Danielle Fugere, president of the shareholder advocacy group As You Sow, told Grist. “They are looking at significant growth of fossil fuel assets and fossil fuel demand over the next two or three decades. What happens to your business if we are successful in meeting the net-zero goals that we set in Paris? How many write- offs are there? What happens to your asset retirement obligations?”

E&E News: What’s next for climate-minded investing?
Adam Aton, 5/31/22

“Climate-minded investing is taking a political thrashing,” E&E News reports. “As inflation bites, Republican complaints about green-branded investing are reaching a new intensity. Democratic regulators, meanwhile, are heaping new scrutiny on the practice of screening investments for environmental, social and governance factors, known as ESG. And the finance sector is flaring with internal dissent over the green trend, which some skeptics consider misguided and others deride as mere greenwashing… “One of the more recent trends is that asset management firms, such as BlackRock Inc., are scrambling to mollify GOP complaints that rising prices are partly the fault of big money managers obstructing fossil fuel companies from within. Wall Street firms are assuring Republican lawmakers publicly and privately that, as major fossil fuel investors, they have a vested interest in the success of oil and gas companies. Some finance advocates argue that conservatives are wrong to conflate sustainable investing — which seeks to manage systemic risks like climate change — with the blunt tool of divestment. Instead of walking away from fossil fuel companies, they say, asset management firms are leaning in to help them thrive in tomorrow’s economy… “At the heart of the matter are questions about the goals of sustainable investing. Is it to propel the energy transition, or is it to protect investors’ capital against unprecedented risks? “…But across the financial system, major firms this month sent clear signals that they’re responding to the anti-ESG criticism. As conservative-led states move to restrict or punish money managers for trying to address climate change, top financial firms are now emphasizing their support for oil and gas. Wall Street giants are also promising to relinquish some of their power over polluting companies. The world’s biggest financial firms — including JP Morgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co. and others — assured Texas officials this month that they support fossil fuels, according to documents obtained by E&E News under the state’s open records laws. Texas has threatened to blacklist financial firms from state business if officials deem them to be “boycotting” fossil fuel companies — a loose designation that has proven difficult to implement. Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar in March requested information from 19 firms. Most responded by affirming they remain committed to investing in fossil fuels — with some firms detailing millions of dollars’ worth of specific projects they’re financing. The letters also illustrate the crosscurrents facing Wall Street as it tries to make money from all sides of the energy transition.”

TODAY IN GREENWASHING

Middlesex Centre: Deerhaven Park gets a little greener thanks to Enbridge Gas and local Scouts
5/30/22

“Middlesex Centre got a little greener this past weekend thanks to the hard work of local Scouts and a grant from Enbridge Gas,” Middlesex Centre reports. “Twenty-five Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and their parents from the 68th Scouting Group planted 20 large-caliper trees at Deerhaven Park in Ilderton. The trees, mulch and other planting supplies were purchased with a $5,000 Fueling Futures grant from Enbridge Gas… “Enbridge Gas staff were on hand to help with the planting and celebrate the hard work of the Scouts with an afternoon barbeque. “Enbridge is proud to support local priorities that make positive and lasting impacts in our communities,” said Steven Jelich, Director of Southwest Region Operations at Enbridge Gas in announcing the grant. “Together we’re energizing communities through initiatives that strengthen community safety, vibrancy and sustainability.”

OPINION

Des Moines Register: Opinion: Reject the carbon pipelines, which are not supported by science or ethics
Lee S. Tesdell lives on his farm in Polk County. He works to implement conservation practices on his land, 5/31/22 

“I urge the Iowa Utilities Board to deny building permits for the Summit, Navigator, and ADM/Wolf CO2 pipelines in Iowa for three reasons,” Lee S. Tesdell writes for the Des Moines Register. “First, the evidence from scientists and engineers at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University: 1. Complete capture of CO2 during ethanol production would have very minor effects on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. 2. The amount of CO2 captured during ethanol production would be a tiny fraction of what would be emitted out of vehicle tailpipes. 3. Eminent domain used to build CO2 pipelines in Iowa would force farmers and landowners to allow degradation of their fields and forests for very little public benefit. 4. Allowing profits to accrue to private pipeliners using eminent domain would be a corruption of the ideal of private sacrifice for public good and should be prevented. Second, we have better methods of sequestering CO2 on the land than building expensive, disruptive pipelines. As a Polk County, Iowa, Century Farm owner, let me describe those better strategies for sequestering CO2, reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and improving water quality as well. I have put all these practices into place on my farm. They are practical and make a difference: 1. Solar energy generation with electric vehicle on-farm charging. 2. Cover cropping with no tillage. 3. Edge-of-field practices: stream buffers, terraces, a waterway, saturated buffers and a wood-chip bio-reactor. Third, these pipelines pose serious ethical problems: 1. Ex-governor Terry Branstad appointed two of the three members of the Iowa Utilities Board and now works for Summit… “How can Iowans be assured that the board will make a fair decision when the deck appears to be stacked against us?  For these three reasons, I urge you to deny permitting for the Summit, Navigator, and ADM/Wolf pipelines across land owned by Iowa’s taxpayers. This includes denying the use of eminent domain to take private farmland to build those CO2 pipelines.”

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