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Extracted

EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 7/11/22

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips July 11, 2022

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PIPELINE NEWS

  • E&E News: Court says FERC can consider gas exports for some pipelines

  • Bloomberg: FERC Defeats Ohio City’s Challenge to Nexus Pipeline Approval

  • Blue Virginia: FERC Approves Mountain Valley Pipeline’s Request for an Expedited Renewal Process!

  • WVLT: Colonial Pipeline valve fails causing liquid gas leak in Loudon Co, cleanup underway

  • Austin American-Statesman: Natural gas pipeline route rattles Williamson County landowners

  • Tap Into Randolph: Residents, Town Show Frustration Over Lack Of Communication With Pipeline Project

  • Midland Reporter-Telegram: Energy Transfer names new pipeline link after Ted Collins

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • Washington Post: Climate activists worried after Biden releases review of Alaska oil project

  • New York Times: Biden Administration Signals Support for Controversial Alaska Oil Project

  • E&E News: Feds consider phasing out singe-use plastics

  • E&E News: Biggest CCS failure clouds Supreme Court ruling

STATE UPDATES

  • Courthouse News Service: Ninth Circuit denies oil giants’ appeal in climate change lawsuit

  • KTOO: New federal proposal for offshore drilling includes possible Cook Inlet oil and gas sale

  • Prairie Public Broadcasting: PSC okays plan to use natural gas for enhanced oil recovery

  • Colorado Sun: Utah crude trains could be rolling through Colorado after Forest Service denies objections to new rail line

  • Denver Post: Colorado takes over 106 oil, gas wells after crackdown on companies

EXTRACTION

  • Associated Press: EU decision on natural gas could threaten climate progress

  • OilPrice.com: Big Oil CEO Believes Carbon Prices Need To Double

  • S&P Global: Gas group sees lower-carbon LNG projects key for North America supply role

  • Globe and Mail: Suncor begins search for new CEO as focus turns to worker safety after deaths

OPINION

  • Des Moines Register: Opinion: Don’t be fooled by exaggerated ‘benefits’ of carbon pipelines

  • The Hill: West Virginia vs. EPA: A political tragedy disguised as a legal farce

  • The Hill: SEC: Step up on climate change

PIPELINE NEWS

E&E News: Court says FERC can consider gas exports for some pipelines
Niina H. Farah, 7/11/22

“A three-judge panel cleared the way Friday for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to look at planned natural gas exports to justify condemning land to build certain interstate projects,” E&E News reports. “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that FERC did not violate constitutional protections for property owners or the Natural Gas Act when it granted a certificate for the 256-mile Nexus Gas Transmission pipeline from Ohio to Michigan. The decision came after the D.C. Circuit had previously ordered FERC to explain why it was legal to include export precedent agreements in its analysis of the domestic public need for the project. A portion of the operational pipeline’s gas is sent across the northern border to the Enbridge Gas Dawn Hub in southwestern Ontario, Canada. “FERC could lawfully consider the export precedent agreements because an assessment of the public convenience and necessity requires a consideration of all the factors that might bear on the public interest,” said Judge Neomi Rao, writing the opinion for the court… “Carolyn Elefant, a private attorney representing officials in Oberlin, Ohio, who challenged the construction of the now-operational pipeline, told E&E the court’s ruling “effectively gutted” the D.C. Circuit’s original ruling in the case in 2019 that had required FERC to explain its reasoning for approving the pipeline. “Nevertheless, we are optimistic that the court’s ruling will be limited going forward.” For example, the court explicitly stated the ruling would not apply to pipelines feeding liquefied natural gas export terminals or pipelines that cross international borders, where all of the natural gas is destined for foreign markets, she said. The Nexus pipeline differs from those projects because, while a portion of its gas is transported to Canada, the pipeline itself is entirely within the United States and much of the gas is also used domestically. “Finally, in light of the recent spate of pipeline cancellations due to changes in project need coupled with the Commission’s ongoing revisions to the Certificate Policy Statement,” she told E&E, “we are hopeful that the Commission will take a more deliberative and robust review of proposed pipelines.”

Bloomberg: FERC Defeats Ohio City’s Challenge to Nexus Pipeline Approval
7/8/22

“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission adequately explained why it granted a certificate for Enbridge Inc.’s 256-mile Nexus Gas Transmission project, and its approval was lawful, even though the project will be used to export natural gas to Canada, the D.C. Circuit said Friday,” Bloomberg reports. “Nexus is “indisputably using its proposed pipeline to transport gas in interstate commerce,” according to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Therefore, it’s a natural gas company and FERC could study its application under Section 7 of the Natural Gas Act, the court said. The ruling was a loss for the city …”

Blue Virginia: FERC Approves Mountain Valley Pipeline’s Request for an Expedited Renewal Process!
Freeda Cathcart, 7/11/22

“The notice from FERC’s Secretary Bose was stunning when it granted Mountain Valley Pipeline’s request for an expedited renewal of their FERC certificate for four years, with only a 15 day comment period from the public,” Blue Virginia reports. “FERC’s notice was issued before the July 4th holiday weekend, with only a 15-day public comment period. Even more astounding was FERC’s acceptance of MVP’s assertion that their project was 94% complete, when independent analysis of MVP’s compliance reports indicate that the project is barely over 50% complete, while missing key permits that have been vacated by the courts multiple times. Proceeding with an expedited renewal appears to be incongruent with FERC’s mission… “FERC’s Notice is also not consistent with FERC’s Strategic Plan… “It’s confounding that FERC’s announcement to expedite MVP’s renewal would be made after the 5th Circuit Court still hasn’t issued their ruling on the Sierra Club’s challenge to the first renewal… “Scientists and engineers have warned that the most challenging parts of MVP’s project haven’t been constructed yet. Then there have been reports filed on the FERC docket showing the deterioration of the supports for the welded pipes, slippage and erosion and sediment control problems. Then there’s the analysis by independent organizations that the project is barely half completed based on MVP’s compliance reports filed on the FERC docket. It’s a tragedy that MVP’s partners haven’t been responsible to their shareholders by canceling this ever increasingly expensive boondoggle.”

WVLT: Colonial Pipeline valve fails causing liquid gas leak in Loudon Co, cleanup underway
Kelly Ann Krueger, 7/10/22

“Multiple county and state crews responded to a liquid gas leak from the Colonial Pipeline on Sugar Limb Rd. in Loudon Co. on Monday, according to Loudon Co. Mayor Buddy Bradshaw,” WVLT reports. “Colonial Pipeline Spokesperson, Meredith Stone, told WVLT News they were notified after a resident smelled gas. The company sent crews and immediately shut down line 18, which runs from Atlanta to Knoxville. Stone said that about 591 barrels were spilled due to a valve failure. Workers had the line fixed and back up within 24 hours, according to Stone. Crews with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation also helped seal the leak and control the environmental hazards, according to Bradshaw. The surrounding waterways were not affected as of Sunday afternoon, according to a TDEC report given to Bradshaw by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency… “Stone also confirmed that no health advisories were issued, and they were still in the discovery mode to investigate exactly what happened. The Colonial Pipeline runs through 13 states and transports more than 100 million gallons of fuel every day, according to its website.”

Austin American-Statesman: Natural gas pipeline route rattles Williamson County landowners
Claire Osborn, 7/9/22

“Carol Fox’s family holds its annual Easter reunion on land it has owned since 1945 by the San Gabriel River in eastern Williamson County,” the Austin American-Statesman reports. “…A few weeks ago, Fox said, she got a notice that said a natural gas pipeline was going to be routed through her property, running right underneath the family’s gathering spot. Austin-based Whitewater Midstream will operate the Matterhorn Express Pipeline, which will run 490 miles from the Permian basin in West Texas to the Katy area near Houston. Officials said construction is expected to last a year, starting in June 2023. The size of the pipeline will vary, up to 42 inches in diameter. “It is the worst possible route,” Fox told the Statesman. “The gravel bar is like an open-air living room because it’s so integrated into our lives.” She said the route also runs near her and her brother’s houses, which are on the same property… “In Central Texas, the pipeline will pass through parts of Williamson and Burnet counties. It will affect an estimated 175 to 200 landowners in Williamson County and 50 to 75 in Burnet County, said Jacob Merkord, an attorney. He is part of the Austin law firm Marrs Ellis & Hodge, which is representing several of the owners concerned about the pipeline, including Fox. The land Fox co-owns with her brother is about 15 miles east of Georgetown, near Circleville. “Some of our landowners are worried about the blast radius of the pipeline and how a natural gas pipeline explosion could impact their homes and properties,” Merkord told the Statesman. The pipeline also has drawn opposition from Burnet County commissioners, who passed a resolution opposing it June 14 because of safety concerns and “potential negative impacts to the environment, soil, water systems and land value in Burnet County.” Beierle told the Statesman he plans to ask Burnet County representatives to propose legislation that would require pipeline companies to provide more advance notice to landowners and county commissioners about routes. He said pipeline companies also should pay some kind of impact fee. A previous pipeline company damaged county roads and never repaired them, Beierle said “It was on the taxpayers’ backs to repair the damage,” he told the Statesman.”

Tap Into Randolph: Residents, Town Show Frustration Over Lack Of Communication With Pipeline Project
Tyler Barth, 7/10/22

“Both residents and the Township showed some frustration over a lack of communication by New Jersey Natural Gas, which has started work on a gas pipeline on one of the town’s major roads,” Tap Into Randolph reports. “According to Brad Swenson of Soulshine Farm, 54 Park, residents of Park Avenue received word last week of a gas pipeline project set to start July 7, cutting Park Avenue to a one-lane road. Parts of Dover-Chester Road have also been closed due to the same project. Work on the pipeline did indeed start July 7. “We don’t know what’s coming next”, said Swenson, “We don’t know how much disruption we anticipate seeing. We’re right on Park Avenue…and we don’t seem to be able to get an answer to that”. Christina Lavin of 57 Park also showed some concern, wondering if workers were simply going to “show up and dig holes in our property”. According to new Township Manager Greg Poff, this project was initiated by New Jersey Natural Gas, which has “spotty at best” communication and a tendency to send only basic plans to towns before showing up… “Poff added that he plans on inquiring for more details from New Jersey Natural Gas, but that the township has little control over “what New Jersey Natural Gas will do”, and that he was frustrated with the short notice.”

Midland Reporter-Telegram: Energy Transfer names new pipeline link after Ted Collins
Mella McEwen, 7/10/22

“Longtime Midland oilman Ted Collins, who passed away in early 2018, was frequently honored for his work in developing Permian Basin oil and gas reserves and his contributions to the industry,” the Midland Reporter-Telegram reports. “Now his legacy lives on with the completion of Energy Transfer Partner’s Ted Collins Link, which connects the company’s Nederland and Houston terminals. Collins was a close friend of Energy Transfer’s executive chairman, Kelcy Warren, and served on Energy Transfer’s board of directors. The Ted Collins Link significantly increases the utilization of Energy Transfer’s existing assets by repurposing its Eaglebine Pipeline, which previously brought barrels out of the Permian Basin, and provides market connectivity between the Nederland and Houston terminals. It will ultimately allow Energy Transfer to transport up to 275,000 barrels a day of crude oil from West Texas and Nederland to its Houston terminal.”

WASHINGTON UPDATES

Washington Post: Climate activists worried after Biden releases review of Alaska oil project
Joshua Partlow, 7/8/22

“The Biden administration on Friday released a new environmental assessment of a controversial oil project on Alaska’s North Slope but declined to reveal whether it was leaning toward approving a project that has faced stiff opposition from environmentalists and has some Native Alaskans worried it will disrupt their subsistence lifestyle,” the Washington Post reports. “Climate activists had hoped the administration would either sharply curtail or end a multibillion-dollar effort by the energy giant ConocoPhillips to expand oil infrastructure in the Alaskan Arctic, a project known as Willow. Environmentalists argue that burning all that new fossil fuel would undercut much of President Biden’s climate agenda, which proposes cutting emissions by more than 50 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. But the draft environmental impact statement from the Bureau of Land Management evaluated different alternatives and did not express a preference. The alternatives included reducing the number of drilling sites — and building nothing at all — but environmentalists greeted the new assessment as another worrying step on the road to approval. A public comment period now ensues, followed by a final decision. “We are disappointed to see BLM moving forward with considering the Willow plan when it is so clearly inconsistent with the goals this administration has set to transition away from fossil fuels and avert the worst consequences of the climate crisis,” Jeremy Lieb, an attorney with Earthjustice, told the Post. “This single project, which will release a staggering amount of climate pollution, threatens to send us dangerously off track by undercutting urgently needed measures to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.” “..This is an enormous project that they’re now disclosing is even bigger,” Lieb told the Post. “Approving it is incompatible with what science says needs to happen and what this administration has committed to doing to respond to climate change.”

New York Times: Biden Administration Signals Support for Controversial Alaska Oil Project
Lisa Friedman, 7/8/22

“The Biden administration took a key step toward approving a huge oil drilling project in the North Slope of Alaska, angering environmental activists who said allowing it to go forward would make a mockery of President Biden’s climate-change promise to end new oil leases,” the New York Times reports. “The ConocoPhillips project, known as Willow and located in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, was initially approved under the Trump administration and was later supported by the Biden administration but was then was blocked by a judge who said the environmental review had not sufficiently considered its effects on climate change and wildlife. On Friday, the Biden administration issued a new environmental analysis. In that analysis, the Department of the Interior said the multibillion-dollar plan would at its peak produce more than 180,000 barrels of crude oil a day and would emit at least 278 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over its lifetime from the burning of the oil produced, as well as from construction and drilling activity at the site… “Project opponents have argued that the development would harm wildlife and produce dangerous new levels of greenhouse gases… “Yet just by issuing the analysis, the Biden administration signaled its support for the project, opponents told the Times. Willow is a priority for Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a moderate Republican who is frequently the most likely senator to break with her party and support Democratic appointees and some policy compromises… “Totally furious that @DOI is one proforma step away from approving the ConocoPhillips Willow project,” Christy Goldfuss, the senior vice president for energy and environment policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank that is strongly supportive of the Biden administration, wrote on Twitter late Friday using the Department of the Interior’s initials. “This oil and gas project will be a hub for development for DECADES in a place that climate change is rapidly MELTING,” she wrote.

E&E News: Feds consider phasing out singe-use plastics
Jack Forrest, 7/8/22

“The Biden administration announced Wednesday it will consider limiting the government’s use of single-use plastics in a move that greens are calling “promising,” E&E News reports. “The General Services Administration is seeking public feedback on a proposed rule that could phase out some single-use plastics used in the agency’s government contracts, a move in response to a petition from over 180 environmental groups… “GSA’s request follows a February legal petition spearheaded by the Center for Biological Diversity and signed by 180 other environmental groups, calling out the United States as the world’s largest consumer of goods and services and GSA as its primary buyer. The petition asks GSA to use its purchasing power to cut down on single-use plastics, which makes up nearly half of all plastic produced, by reducing the amounts of single-use plastic bags, single-use plastic utensils and straws, beverage bottles, packaging, and other single-use food service items and personal care products the agency procures for the government’s properties and events… “GSA will accept public feedback on the proposed plan until Sept. 6 to “help inform future rulemaking on how to best reduce single-use plastics from packaging, while limiting burden and liability on our industry and logistics partners.”

E&E News: Biggest CCS failure clouds Supreme Court ruling
Corbin Hiar, Carlos Anchondo, 7/11/22

“The future for carbon capture and storage has perhaps never been brighter,” E&E News reports. “Congress has appropriated billions of dollars of funding to the CCS technology through last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law. And the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the West Virginia v. EPA case left the door open for EPA to require carbon capture as a way to reduce CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel-fired power plants. But there’s a cloud hanging over the potential CCS-building boom: Petra Nova. The $1 billion project was once the world’s largest post-combustion carbon capture system. Backed by the Department of Energy, it began operating in December 2016 — and shut down less than four years later. Petra Nova’s operator, NRG Energy Inc., cited the challenging economic conditions at the time, prompted by the pandemic-induced economic slowdown. The world economy has bounced back since then, but Petra Nova remains shuttered. Meanwhile, the conventional coal and natural gas units of NRG’s W.A. Parish Electric Generating Station — home to the shuttered Petra Nova installation — continue to dump planet-warming carbon emissions into the atmosphere. There are now just 27 operational CCS projects around the world, according to data from the Global CCS Institute, an environmental think tank… “The story of Petra Nova provides insight into the economics and politics of CCS — as well as its limits… “CCS could also receive a boost from a Supreme Court decision curtailing EPA’s ability to curb carbon emissions from power plants. The ruling, in the West Virginia v. EPA case, suggested to some experts that the agency could still address emissions from the sector by requiring the use of carbon capture technology. The fossil fuel industry and utility companies have strongly supported tax incentives promoting CCS. Proponents of the technology continue to push for sweeteners to 45Q, including an extension of the deadline for developers to begin project construction and an increase in the value of the credit… “I think there is a long way to go between what the Supreme Court ruled in West Virginia vs. EPA and the possibility that EPA might require CCS,” Scott Segal, a partner at the law firm Bracewell LLP who lobbies for several utilities with coal-dominated fleets, told E&E. “Even with substantial technological and economic improvement, it still may not meet the test” for pollution controls allowed under the Clean Air Act.

STATE UPDATES

Courthouse News Service: Ninth Circuit denies oil giants’ appeal in climate change lawsuit
CANDACE CHEUNG, 7/7/22

“The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday to deny an appeal by fossil fuel companies to transfer climate change lawsuits to federal court, forcing the fight to remain in state court,” Courthouse News Service reports. “The lawsuits, filed by the city and county of Honolulu and Maui County in 2020, accused the companies of exacerbating the effect of climate change on the islands to increase their own profits. The lawsuits, which name a bevy of energy giants including Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Shell as defendants, aim to hold these companies liable for the damage done by production and distribution of fossil fuels on the islands. They further allege that oil and gas companies did so with the full knowledge the damage their product had on the ecosystem and health of the islands while working to actively deny this damage… “The appeals court also cites previous rulings against gas and oil companies facing similar climate change complaints from other state entities. Hawaii joins California and Rhode Island as states who can now contend with these large energy companies in their own individual state courts.”

KTOO: New federal proposal for offshore drilling includes possible Cook Inlet oil and gas sale
Sabine Poux, 7/6/22

“There won’t be an oil and gas lease sale in Cook Inlet this year, or the year after that. An Obama-era proposal to hold a sale in the inlet was canceled this May due to a cited lack of industry interest,” KTOO reports. “But the Biden Administration may offer another sale down the line. In a new proposed five-year plan for offshore drilling, released Friday, the Department of the Interior floated the idea of auctioning off leases to oil and gas companies in the inlet in 2026. That’s in addition to 10 lease sales proposed for the Gulf of Mexico. “It’s frustrating sometimes to weigh in again and again and feel like you’re not being heard,” Liz Mering, advocacy director with Cook Inletkeeper, which helped get thousands of comments submitted in opposition to the sale last time, told KTOO. “But I think the administration did hear people last time and do want to hear people again,” she added… “The current plan from the Obama administration expires this summer. And while it also called for a lease sale in Cook Inlet, that sale never happened. Federal regulators said they didn’t hear enough interest from the oil and gas industry to go forward with that plan… “Kara Moriarty is president of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association. She told KTOO it’s hard to tell whether a lease sale will actually pan out this time. She said it will depend, in part, on what the market conditions are several years down the line.”

Prairie Public Broadcasting: PSC okays plan to use natural gas for enhanced oil recovery
Dave Thompson, 7/7/22

“The Public Service Commission has okayed what’s been described as a “pilot project” for enhanced oil recovery in the Bakken,” Prairie Public Broadcasting reports. “Continental Resources will be building a 3.1 mile natural gas pipeline, to bring the gas from WBI’s pipeline to the Buddy Domingo oil wellpad in Williams County. The gas will be used for enhanced oil recovery… “Fedorchak told PPB Continental will use this pilot project to determine the technical and economic viability of enhanced oil recovery in the Bakken and Three Forks formations. She said Continental is hopeful that this will be successful. “They’ve done some of this in other fields in other states, and have had pretty strong success,” Fedorchak told PPB. “They estimate that the increase in oil production could be anywhere from 25 to 60 percent over what they would expect without this method.”

Colorado Sun: Utah crude trains could be rolling through Colorado after Forest Service denies objections to new rail line
Jason Blevins, 7/11/22

“It’s looking likely that heated train cars loaded with a waxy crude oil will be rolling through Colorado after the Forest Service last week rejected objections to the proposed new rail line in a section of roadless forest in Utah,” the Colorado Sun reports. “We are going to continue to fight this terrible project with every tool available to us,” Deeda Seed with the Center for Biological Diversity, which has spent years battling to stop the proposed Uinta Basin Railway, an 85-mile stretch of new railroad that would connect the oil fields of northeast Utah with the national rail network, told the Sun. A consortium of environmental groups earlier this year filed objections to the Forest Service’s draft plan to allow the new railroad to traverse about 12 miles of roadless area, with new bridges and tunnels in the Ashley National Forest. Last week, the agency dismissed those objections, ruling that the yearslong Environmental Impact Statement conducted by the federal Surface Transportation Board, which approved the new railroad in December 2020, adequately addressed environmental concerns.  “In our view, the totality and essence of the reasonably foreseeable environmental effects were fully and clearly disclosed” in the environmental review, Deborah Oakeson, the Forest Service’s deputy regional forester, wrote on July 5 to attorneys representing the environmental groups… “If the railroad is built, it will connect with Union Pacific Railroad track that runs along the Colorado River from Grand Junction, through Glenwood Springs and Gore Canyon, to Granby and then through the Fraser River Valley through the Moffat Tunnel into Boulder County and Denver… “Many communities and environmental groups along that line strongly objected to the idea of train traffic on the mountainous railroad that winds along the Arkansas River from Leadville to Pueblo. Rio Grande Pacific Corp.’s newly formed Colorado Midland & Pacific Railway Co. promised it would not ship oil on the tracks and would only move passengers and non-hazardous commodities on the railroad that closed in 1997 after a history of derailments. The surface board in March 2021 denied the expedited approval, forcing Rio Grande Pacific to pursue lengthy environmental review if it wanted to revive train traffic over Tennessee Pass.” 

Denver Post: Colorado takes over 106 oil, gas wells after crackdown on companies
JUDITH KOHLER, 7/8/22

“State regulators are taking over a combined 106 wells from two oil and gas companies that faced several alleged violations and a total fine of $2.2 million,” the Denver Post reports. “The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission voted to suspend the fine. But the commission revoked the ability of the companies, 31 Operating and Lasso Oil and Gas, to operate in Colorado. The wells, mostly in Rio Blanco County, will be put on the state’s orphan-well list and closed and cleaned up with money in a state fund that uses revenue from fees on the industry and federal dollars. Kelly Rosenberg, the COGCC enforcement officer, said in a recent meeting that the alleged violations stretch back to 2018 and haven’t been cleared up. “Staff feels it is in everybody’s best interest if Lasso and 31 Operating simply stop operating and allow the state to manage their wells. The expectation is all the remaining wells will be placed on the orphan-well list,” Rosenberg said… “The latest information from the COGCC shows there are 528 orphaned wells and 981 associated sites in Colorado. The state estimates it costs on average $82,500 to plug and reclaim an orphan well, although environmental organizations contend it can cost well above $100,000 per site… “Lasso and 31 Operating are separate companies, but are listed at the same Texas address and have the same official representative in Colorado. The representative would have to seek approval from the COGCC before getting involved with another oil and gas business in Colorado and would have to pay the $2.2 million fine. Commission member John Messner questioned why the fine was suspended. “I’m trying to understand what other remedies may be available here,” Messner said. “We are suspending a $2 million penalty and taking on an operator’s entire portfolio of assets that they are clearly walking away from because they are unable to operate in the state of Colorado in a manner that’s protective.”

EXTRACTION

Associated Press: EU decision on natural gas could threaten climate progress
CATHY BUSSEWITZ, 7/7/22

“The European Union’s plan to include natural gas in a list of activities considered sustainable could derail its progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a time when climate scientists are calling for dramatic reductions to planet-warming releases,” the Associated Press reports. “The plan, approved Wednesday by European lawmakers, will allow investment in natural gas infrastructure such as natural gas power plants and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals to be considered green investments under certain conditions. Natural gas is a fossil fuel that causes warming of the Earth when it is burned and even more warming when it leaks out unburned. It comes at a time when the continent is struggling to maintain a reliable gas supply and consumers are suffering from painfully high energy prices. Russia, which supplied about 40% of the EU’s gas before it invaded Ukraine, has reduced the flow of gas to Europe and could make even more draconian cuts, and nations throughout Europe have been scrambling for alternatives to Russian energy. “This…makes sense only as a death knell for coal,” Rob Jackson, professor of earth system science at Stanford University, told AP. “Otherwise, it’s baffling. We’re approaching 8 billion tons of carbon dioxide pollution a year from gas use alone, and that can’t continue.” The European Union has a binding commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and to reach climate neutrality by 2050. And while Europe is working on transitioning to renewable sources such as wind and solar, it doesn’t have enough power lines in place to carry electricity from sunny solar farms and wind-fired turbines. Natural gas has been promoted as a “bridge fuel” because in a side-by-side comparison of power plants, natural gas produces less carbon dioxide when burned than coal. But that’s not the way climate experts see it. “We no longer have the luxury of using gas as a clean fuel,” Jackson told AP. “It’s cleaner than coal, but dirtier than most everything else we use today.”

OilPrice.com: Big Oil CEO Believes Carbon Prices Need To Double
Felicity Bradstock, 7/7/22

“The CEO of Exxon Mobil is calling for an increase in the price of captured and stored carbon,” OilPrice.com reports. “At present, the price of captured and stored carbon sits at around $50 per tonne. Exxon CEO Darren Woods says that the price of carbon needs to double in order to incentivize carbon capture and renewable energy innovations. Climate economists and major energy firms believe that the price of carbon should be raised to incentivize greater investment in carbon capture technology and renewable energy innovation. As, without setting a minimum carbon pricing scheme at the international level or introducing carbon taxes, companies are not being incentivized enough to pledge or meet net-zero carbon goals by 2050.  The CEO of Exxon Mobil, Darren Woods, stated in an interview that he thinks direct air capture, through the incorporation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies in oil and gas operations is “the holy grail.” He added, “if you can overcome some of those technology hurdles, get your cost down, you’ve got a technology then that can address this in a very cost-efficient way.” Exxon estimates the CCS market could be worth as much as $4 trillion by 2050. At present, the price of captured and stored carbon currently stands at $50 per tonne, but Woods believes this figure should be at least $100 per tonne. He believes an increase in the price of carbon would help to incentivize clean energy innovations, encouraging companies to invest more heavily in CCS technologies.”

S&P Global: Gas group sees lower-carbon LNG projects key for North America supply role
Tom Tiernan, 7/7/22

“The lower-carbon natural gas liquefaction and LNG export projects being developed in the US and Canada will play an important part in a global energy market that increasingly looks for decarbonization methods while gas use is projected to grow, the International Gas Union said in a July 6 report,” according to S&P Global. “The IGU referred to Venture Global’s plans to capture and store up to 500,000 mt of CO2 annually at its Calcasieu Pass and Plaquemines liquefaction sites in Louisiana. The company also is planning to have carbon capture and storage facilities at its proposed CP2 project in Louisiana, which has yet to reach a final investment decision. In Canada, the under-construction LNG Canada project led by Shell in Kitimat, British Columbia, with liquefaction capacity of 18 million mt/year, and the smaller-scale Cedar LNG and Woodfibre LNG projects, also in British Columbia, intend to be powered by hydropower to reduce emissions associated with the liquefaction facilities. “Low-carbon LNG is expected to play a key role in the global energy system,” as “LNG offtakers will be more cautious about the environmental and emissions performance of procured cargoes as the urgency to meet decarbonization targets intensifies,” IGU said in the report… “Another US LNG company planning to include CCS facilities, not mentioned in the IGU report section on lower-carbon projects, is NextDecade’s Rio Grande project that is looking to store up to 5 million mt/year of CO2 at the 27-MPTA project planned near Brownsville, Texas.”

Globe and Mail: Suncor begins search for new CEO as focus turns to worker safety after deaths
EMMA GRANEY, 7/11/22

“Former Suncor Energy Inc. chief executive Mark Little made it very clear earlier this year that the buck stopped with him when it came to the company’s safety record,” the Globe and Mail reports. “…He made his comments in the wake of the Jan. 6 death of a worker at the company’s oil-sands Base Plant operation in Northern Alberta, after the heavy haul truck the worker was driving rear-ended another vehicle. The collision also sent two workers to hospital with minor injuries. On Thursday, another Suncor worker died, this time a contractor who was struck by equipment at the company’s Base Mine. The next day, Mr. Little resigned as president and CEO of the oil-sands giant. Kris Smith, the company’s executive vice-president of downstream operations, was named interim CEO and the company has launched a global search for Mr. Little’s replacement… “The spate of recent fatalities had caught the attention of activist investor Elliott Investment Management, which earlier this spring pointed a finger at Suncor’s safety record as part of its case for an overhaul of the company’s board and management.”

OPINION

Des Moines Register: Opinion: Don’t be fooled by exaggerated ‘benefits’ of carbon pipelines
Silvia Secchi is a professor in the Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences and is Senior Research Fellow, Public Policy Center, at the University of Iowa, 7/9/22

“One of the companies proposing pipelines in Iowa to sequester CO2 from ethanol production commissioned a report from a private firm, Ernst & Young , that vastly overestimates the economic benefits of the pipelines,” Silvia Secchi writes for the Des Moines Register. “This is not the first time pipelines’ benefits have been inflated — it has, in fact, happened repeatedly, from the Keystone XL to the Dakota Access pipeline. A report by Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson makes this clear. These studies are a rhetorical device to convince decision makers and local communities of the benefits of pipelines, but they are not a very useful policy tool because, as I will detail below, they mischaracterize benefits and because they ignore costs, particularly environmental ones. The CO2 ethanol pipelines are different from oil pipelines like Keystone because they critically depend on subsidies from the federal government and California, so the public should have access to credible, science-based information on whether there are more effective ways to spend public money to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the environmental costs of all alternatives should be thoroughly assessed. The Ernst & Young study follows the Dakota Access playbook in overestimating the economic impacts of the pipelines, which are largely transitory and limited to the construction period, and — even then — heavily depend on out-of-state inputs and labor… “Last but not least, let us consider the elephant in the room. The pipeline will provide a rationale to keep growing corn and using it for ethanol for a long time. The industry and the Register’s editorial board are well aware that the future of corn ethanol is not bright. Ethanol is a complement to gasoline, not a substitute for it… “We should be seriously discussing ways to diversify Iowa’s agriculture away from corn, not invest resources in a technology that contributes to climate change and is not going to be economically competitive  in the long term. It is unconscionable to even consider the use of public money and eminent domain for such projects.”

The Hill: West Virginia vs. EPA: A political tragedy disguised as a legal farce
Durwood Zaelke is president of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD) in Washington, D.C. and Paris, 7/8/22

“In a political act poorly disguised as a legal opinion, the ultra-conservative majority of the Supreme Court issued a decision that makes a hard problem even harder to solve by fashioning out of thin air a new requirement for Congress to protect the environment,” Durwood Zaelke writes for The Hill. ”The majority’s reasoning in West Virginia vs. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is so fundamentally flawed that there is no other way to see the opinion than as a blatant exercise of political power. This would play as farce but for the lurking tragedy from an ultra-conservative majority showing their disdain for the administrative state that protects far more than the environment — and, indeed, for their utter disregard for the rule of law… “But the majority is just getting started. Kagan describes blow by blow how they abandoned the basic rules of statutory construction and created a new requirement for Congress to “magically appear”: if an issue like protecting our air is really important, Congress must say “we really mean what we’re saying.” Kagan’s conclusion sums up the ultra-conservative position, “Whatever else this Court may know about, it does not have a clue about how to address climate change. And let’s say the obvious: The stakes here are high. Yet the Court today prevents congressionally authorized agency action to curb power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions. The Court appoints itself — instead of Congress or the expert agency — the decisionmaker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening.” “…It is not clear how much the decision will hamstring EPA, as the agency has ample other authority to protect the climate and safeguard public health and welfare.  Yet, it’s possible — indeed, likely — that the ultra-conservative majority will do the same thing in the next case challenging EPA’s authority to regulate climate pollutants: torture legal logic sufficiently to justify the political outcome it wants… “While conservatives think they’ve got a victory from this court, they should beware. Because when respect for law is lost and the rule of law eroded, all of civilization suffers.”

The Hill: SEC: Step up on climate change
Dan Reich was an assistant regional counsel at EPA Region 9 in San Francisco for 27 years, 7/10/22

“It is no secret that time is running out to address climate change,” Dan Reich writes for The Hill. “…Despite this urgent challenge, last week the Supreme Court gutted the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) capacity to mitigate climate change… “Here’s a creative — and underutilized — strategy. The federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) can shift investment away from fossil fuels, while protecting investors and stockholders, by requiring publicly traded corporations to disclose their impact on (and vulnerability to) climate change. In fact, a rule requiring such disclosures, SEC’s Regulation S-K, has been on the books since 2010. But the regulation is mostly ignored. According to CERES, a nonprofit that evaluates climate disclosures, “nearly half of the 600 largest U.S. companies … still do not provide decision-useful disclosures on climate-related risks. Those that do often provide disclosures that are merely boilerplate or too brief, and effectively meaningless.” Worse, the SEC has taken zero enforcement actions to comply with the 2010 regulation. The result is that businesses shortchange investors and the public by “green washing” — providing glowing reports of their activities that are not supported by their business practices… “That’s why the SEC must act now. It can start with enforcement of the rule already on the books. There is strong legal authority and an existing regulatory framework for this approach. Further, there is a private bar willing to file shareholder suits if inaccurate or misleading information is disclosed. In addition, the SEC can move up its compliance schedule for its proposed regulation… “Policymakers and the courts can argue over whether Congress or federal agencies should take the lead on climate action. But it’s hard to argue that investors should be kept in the dark on climate impacts. That’s why the SEC must step up, before it’s too late.”

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