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Extracted

EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 7/6/22

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips July 6, 2022

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PIPELINE NEWS

  • Food & Environment Reporting Network: The great carbon-capture debate

  • Iowa Capital Dispatch: Third carbon pipeline would traverse several eastern Iowa counties

  • The Repository: NEXUS pipeline owes millions in taxes to Ohio schools, libraries and government agencies

  • Norwalk Reflector: Commissioners review pipeline tax determination

  • The Mercury: ‘Courts will protect them,’ lawyer says of homeowners plagued by pipelines

  • Bloomberg: Kinder Morgan Reports Massive Gas Release From Colorado Pipeline

  • MassLive.com: Springfield City Council will consider resolution opposing Eversource gas pipeline expansion

  • Grand Junction Sentinel: Study shows unexpected upside: Sage-grouse seasonally favor pipeline corridors, roadways

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • Associated Press: Kerry: Despite setbacks at home, US to make climate goals

  • Politico: ‘We don’t have to pretend anymore’: Greens ready to bail on D.C.

  • E&E News: Supreme Court ruling opens door to carbon capture

  • E&E News: Biden admin gives itself time with offshore drilling plan

  • E&E News: Biden’s 51 years of bad blood with Big Oil

STATE UPDATES

EXTRACTION

  • Guardian: Methane much more sensitive to global heating than previously thought – study

  • Associated Press: IEA: High prices, uncertainty will slow growth in gas demand

  • Bloomberg: Brookfield-Owned Inter Pipeline Starts Production From Heartland

CLIMATE FINANCE

  • Reuters: Bank of Canada survey shows energy sector investment to be muted vs previous price booms

  • E&E News: Treasury examines climate effect on insurance availability

OPINION

PIPELINE NEWS

Food & Environment Reporting Network: The great carbon-capture debate
Nancy Averett, 7/4/22

“One farmer dogged pipeline surveyors as they traversed his southwestern Iowa fields, peppering them with unwelcome questions about their proposed project. Another cornered Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds at a fundraising event. A third painted “No Carbon Pipeline” on a semi-trailer and parked it at the intersection of two county roads. These and other activists – an unlikely mix of Bernie Bros, Fox News devotees, Women’s March veterans, and at least one Q-Anon follower – meet weekly on Zoom to plot strategy, write letters to the editor, and leave angry voicemails with state legislators,” Food & Environment Reporting Network reports. “In a state that ranks number one in corn production, with 57 percent of that crop going to ethanol, rocking the agricultural boat has been, historically, rare. But that era appears to be over. As Jess Mazour, conservation coordinator for the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club, puts it, these protests are “the biggest thing to happen to Iowa in a long time.” “…It will also help Iowa’s corn farmers, they say, by lowering ethanol’s carbon footprint and making the product eligible for California’s low-carbon fuel standard, which was designed to decrease the carbon intensity of that state’s transportation sector and improve its air quality.  But for many Iowans, these “win-win” claims ring hollow. A coalition of about 1,000 people organized by the Sierra Club — about 200 of them meet online weekly — is suspicious of the companies’ motives and concerned about the potential for pipeline leaks, which could send asphyxiating plumes into the air. Farmers fret that burying the pipelines under 50-foot-wide swathes of farmland will compact soil and result in less productive acreage — as happened on land now hosting the Dakota Access Pipeline.” 

The Repository: NEXUS pipeline owes millions in taxes to Ohio schools, libraries and government agencies
Kelli Weir, 7/3/22

“The owners of the NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline owe millions of dollars to Ohio schools, libraries and governmental agencies, with roughly $5 million due to Stark County,” The Repository reports. “Ohio Tax Commissioner Jeffrey A. McClain has settled a three-year dispute with NEXUS officials over how much the roughly 256-mile interstate natural gas transmission pipeline is worth in Ohio… “Initial statewide estimates projected the pipeline would boost tax revenue by $83.7 million during its first year in operation. Stark County, which saw the pipeline cross Washington, Nimishillen, Marlboro and Lake townships, was expected to see a $8.9 million tax boost the first year and $41.7 million over the first five years of operation. But then an oversupply of natural gas caused natural gas prices to drop to all-time lows and reduced the amount of gas flowing through the pipelines. In 2019, the pipeline owners asked the Ohio Department of Taxation to reduce the taxable value of its natural gas pipeline statewide by almost half. The state had set the statewide valuation at $1.4 billion. While NEXUS’ valuation was under review, its owners paid taxes based on the value they believed the pipe was worth, not the state’s assigned taxable value, as they were permitted to do. Last week’s statewide settlement resets the taxable value of the pipeline for 2019 at $950 million statewide… “In Stark County, the settlement means that local entities will get hundreds of thousands of dollars they have been waiting for, but the amounts are far less than what they were initially promised. The pipeline owners owe Stark County schools and governments $4.8 million for taxes they didn’t pay in 2019, 2020 and 2021, according to data provided by the Stark County Auditor’s Office. That’s on top of the $13 million in taxes over the three years that they already have paid, figures show. The owed amounts do not include any interest that might be calculated, Harold told the Repository. He expects the money to be disbursed in October, as long as no county auditor objects to the settlement.” Among Stark County entities, Marlington Local School District has had the most at stake. Stark County auditor figures show that NEXUS was supposed to pay Marlington $11.3 million in taxes between 2019 and 2020 based on the state’s valuation of the pipeline. Nexus only paid $4.7 million to Marlington while it contested its valuation. Under the settlement, NEXUS will pay an additional $1.76 million to Marlington but the district will lose out on the $4.8 million it would have received if the valuation had not been appealed.”

Norwalk Reflector: Commissioners review pipeline tax determination
MIKE MAGNUSON, 7/5/22

“The Huron County Board of Commissioners reviewed Tuesday the Ohio Tax Commissioner’s final determination on the Nexus pipelines’ public utility personal property tax assessments for the last three years, totaling about $32.3 million in taxable value,” the Norwalk Reflector reports. “Huron County stands to receive about $523,000 from those valuations and that for 2022, according to Huron County Auditor Roland Tkach… “The pipeline is owned by Nexus Gas Transmission, LLC, of Houston, Texas, and, in resolution of the past three year’s Ohio Board of Tax Appeals cases, extending to various counties, the company’s assessments were modified to reflect a total tax valuation of just under $3 billion. Such utilities regularly appeal initial tax valuations to the Ohio Board of taxation, and are permitted to pay an amount based on their original estimated valuations, Tkach told the Reflector. Huron County Commissioner Terry Boose noted utilities use the legal mechanism, which amounts to a loophole in the law, to obtain more favorable rates… “According to McClain, who issued the determination, the company’s assessments for Huron County in 2019, 2020 and 2021 were $10,838,520, $10,919,150 and $10,646,040, respectively.” 

Iowa Capital Dispatch: Third carbon pipeline would traverse several eastern Iowa counties
JARED STRONG, 7/5/22

“A proposed pipeline that would transport liquid carbon dioxide from ethanol plants in Cedar Rapids and Clinton would span about 90 miles in up to five eastern Iowa counties, according to a preliminary map of the project,” Iowa Capital Dispatch reports. “Wolf Carbon Solutions, a Canadian company that has operated one of North America’s largest carbon pipelines, wants to hold public meetings in September in the affected counties — the first step to gaining approval from the Iowa Utilities Board to construct the pipeline… “It’s the third such proposal in less than a year and is smaller than the others. Summit Carbon Solutions’ project would span about 700 miles in the western and northern parts of the state… “All of the projects seek to capitalize on federal tax credits that are meant as incentives to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The pipelines have been the subject of fierce debate in affected counties and at the Statehouse, where lawmakers considered legislation this year that might have temporarily or permanently prevented the use of eminent domain to construct the pipelines on cropland and other private property against the landowners’ wishes… “The projects’ detractors argue that eminent domain should not be allowed because the pipelines do not benefit the general public. “What it will do is make wealthy people even wealthier and put communities at risk and it does NOT provide any utility for Iowa,” wrote Diane Norden, of North Liberty, in the first objection to the Wolf pipeline that was submitted to the IUB last week… “Wolf’s project has the potential to affect landowners in Cedar, Clinton, Linn, Johnson and Scott counties. The company has asked the IUB to hold public meetings to discuss the project in those counties Sept. 13 to 15, concluding with a virtual meeting online. It’s unclear when the board might set the schedule.”

The Mercury: ‘Courts will protect them,’ lawyer says of homeowners plagued by pipelines
MICHAEL P RELLAHAN, 7/5/22

“A Caln couple have successfully sued the operators of the pipeline, Columbia Gas Transmission, because of stormwater runoff problems and sinkholes they attributed to the reconstruction of a natural gas pipeline through their property,” The Mercury reports. “On June 28, a federal jury hearing the case of Scott and Kerstin Marcum returned with guilty verdicts against the pipeline operators for negligence, trespass, and violations of the state Storm Water Management Act and awarded the couple $850,000 in total damages. The couple, who filed the lawsuit in Chester County Common Pleas Court in 2018 after having dealt with the runoff problems for years only to see the company have the case moved to U.S. District Court in Philadelphia in 2019, have asked the court to award them an additional $142,120 in so-called “delay damages,” bringing the total award involved to $942,000. The jury in U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone’s courtroom heard the case over six days before returning with the verdict against the company and its subsidiaries after deliberating for fewer than two hours, according to the Marcum’s attorney, Joseph P. Green Jr. of West Chester. “It is important for residents affected by pipeline construction to know that the courts will protect them,” Green, who has handled a number of cases involving homeowners in the county whose properties have been damaged because of pipeline construction issues, told the Mercury. “If the pipeline operators cause harm, the courts will ensure that the operators bear the costs of that harm,” Green said last week in an e-mail. “The litigation process can be long and difficult. This dispute dates from 2015.  But if residents take to the courts to assert their rights the operators will have a real incentive to reduce the harm they cause.” “…Despite numerous attempts to have the company remediate the stormwater problems and help them with damages to their homes, the company took no action, according to a pre-trial memorandum filed in court explaining the case.”

Bloomberg: Kinder Morgan Reports Massive Gas Release From Colorado Pipeline
Aaron Clark, 7/1/22

“Kinder Morgan Inc. reported a massive release of natural gas from its TransColorado Pipeline following an equipment malfunction at a compressor station in Olathe, Colorado,” Bloomberg reports. “About 25 million cubic feet of natural gas was released June 25, the company said in an e-mailed statement. “Following the incident, all appropriate regulatory agencies were notified,” said the company. “An investigation into the cause and quantity of the release is being conducted.”

MassLive.com: Springfield City Council will consider resolution opposing Eversource gas pipeline expansion
Patrick Johnson, 7/6/22

“The City Council is poised to vote on a resolution opposing Eversource’s plans for a $65 million project to install an expanded underground natural gas pipeline from Longmeadow through parts of Springfield’s Forest Park and South End neighborhoods,” MassLive.com reports. “The resolution will be up for discussion and a vote at the council’s July 18 meeting, council President Jesse Lederman told MassLive.

Grand Junction Sentinel: Study shows unexpected upside: Sage-grouse seasonally favor pipeline corridors, roadways
DENNIS WEBB, 7/5/22

“A new study of greater sage-grouse north of Grand Junction confirmed overall impacts from energy development, but also found an unexpected seasonal affinity that the birds have for pipeline corridors and roadways that are part of that development,” the Grand Junction Sentinel reports. “This is a new phenomenon in the sage-grouse literature,” Brett Walker, a researcher with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, told Garfield County commissioners Tuesday in discussing the results of the study he led… “While much of the bird’s range is flatter and more arid, the Parachute-Piceance-Roan population’s habitat differs in that it is higher-elevation, with more moisture, and a fragmented landscape consisting of ridges, valleys and steep slopes. It also has seen extensive natural gas development, and Walker set out to examine things such as how many well pads, roads and other infrastructure are found around locations used by sage-grouse, the impacts of things such as disturbed versus reclaimed surface, and whether current caps on energy development density and disturbance are adequate… “The research found that the birds consistently avoided infrastructure features with disturbed surface during breeding/nesting season and winter, something also shown in past research. But it also found that they selected locations with low to intermediate levels of disturbed and reclaimed surface and locations closer to pipelines and roads in summer/fall… “This doesn’t seem to be just correlational; rather it seems to be that birds are actually actively selecting these pipelines in these high-elevation, mountain big sagebrush systems,” Walker said.

WASHINGTON UPDATES

Associated Press: Kerry: Despite setbacks at home, US to make climate goals
ELLEN KNICKMEYER, 7/1/22

“U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said Friday that setbacks for President Joe Biden’s climate efforts at home have “slowed the pace” of some of the commitments from other countries to cut climate-wrecking fossil fuels, but he insisted the U.S. would still achieve its own ambitious climate goals in time,” the Associated Press reports. “Kerry spoke to The Associated Press after a major Supreme Court ruling Thursday limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s options for regulating climate pollution from power plants. The ruling raised the prospect the conservative-controlled court could go on to hinder other efforts by the executive branch to cut the country’s coal, oil and gas emissions. It came after Democrats failed in getting what was to be Biden’s signature climate legislation through the narrowly divided Senate. The Biden administration is striving now to show audiences at home and abroad that the U.S. can still make significant climate progress, and strike deals with other countries to do the same. Scientists say only a few years are left to stave off the worst levels of global warming, triggering ever more deadly droughts, storms, wildfires and other disasters. Kerry, Biden’s climate negotiator abroad, said he had not talked to foreign counterparts since the Supreme Court ruling, which some climate scientists called a gut punch and a disaster. “But I’m confident they’ll ask me questions,” Kerry said. “But my answer is going to be look, we’re going to meet our goals … and the president is going to continue to fight for legislation from the Congress.” “We absolutely are convinced we can meet our goals,” Kerry said… “Kerry also pointed to progress the United States was making in cutting fossil fuel emissions independently of the government efforts, including through electric cars and other marketplace technological advances, and through clean-energy pushes from California and dozens of other states, mostly those led by Democrats.”

Politico: ‘We don’t have to pretend anymore’: Greens ready to bail on D.C.
ZACK COLMAN, 7/1/22

“The climate advocates who cheered President Joe Biden’s arrival at the White House last year are preparing to give up on Washington,” Politico reports. “Instead, environmentalists and many of their Democratic allies are starting to shift their focus to state capitals as the places to press for action on climate change — going back to a strategy that they employed with some success during the Trump era. The flight from D.C. is in large part a response to 18 months of frustration with major setbacks to Biden’s climate agenda, capped by Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling that hobbled the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases. Even before that decision, Democrats’ ambitious plans for hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of climate action wilted in the Senate. And November’s midterms are giving off vibes of a Republican sweep — similar to the rout that Democrats suffered in 2010, the last time they tried and failed to pass major climate legislation. While greens hope Thursday’s ruling could bring new urgency to a Capitol Hill push for sizable clean energy incentives, the doors to major federal action are either shut or closing rapidly in both Congress and the executive branch. That’s left them looking for alternatives — no matter that Democrats nominally remain in charge in the capital… “On the other hand, relying on the states that led the U.S. climate fight during Donald Trump’s presidency won’t get the nation to Biden’s target of aggressively cutting greenhouse gases by 2030… “We don’t have to pretend anymore that this is a country that’s united,” Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of Brooklyn-based environmental justice organization UPROSE, told Politico… “At the state and local levels, battles on environmental justice often center on individual power plants, factories and other facilities that produce pollution such as mercury, soot and ozone. The EPA still has the authority to regulate those pollutants despite Thursday’s decision, though the court raised uncertainties about how much leeway the agency has for future rules.”

E&E News: Supreme Court ruling opens door to carbon capture
Benjamin Storrow, 7/5/22

“The Supreme Court’s recent climate ruling means carbon capture will likely form the backbone of any new EPA regulations targeting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, energy experts and legal analysts said,” E&E News reports. “It’s an approach that could prove awkward for both the coal industry and the Biden administration. Environmentalists long have been skeptical of carbon capture and storage over concerns about its costs and environmental impact. They point to a series of failed and expensive CCS projects as a sign of the risks that could prevent the technology from delivering deep emission reductions. Many would capture carbon dioxide from power plants and pump it into aging oil fields to stimulate more crude production. Yet the technology is one of the few that has the potential to survive Supreme Court scrutiny. Coal companies and mining states long have pushed CCS as a way to keep coal in the fuel mix — and they’ve secured bipartisan support in Congress for carbon capture research and tax credits. But adding carbon capture and storage to existing coal plants is an expensive proposition, and making the technology the industry standard likely would prompt many plants to close altogether… “To adopt CCS as the best form of emission reduction, EPA would need to conclude carbon capture is demonstrated technology. Whether that determination would survive judicial scrutiny is an open question… “Congress has sought to spur the development of CCS in recent years by enhancing a tax credit for carbon capture facilities and providing $2.5 billion as part of the infrastructure law to develop a series of CCS projects. The law requires the money be spent at two coal plants, two gas plants and two industrial facilities. Yet CCS projects at power plants have a long history of failure in the United States.”

E&E News: Biden admin gives itself time with offshore drilling plan
Heather Richards, 7/5/22

“With the Biden administration’s release of an indecisive draft offshore oil strategy, the White House is giving itself room to maneuver during a fraught time for energy politics,” E&E News reports. “The Interior Department on Friday released a draft offshore plan that offers two main plans for developing oil and gas in federal waters. The first considers holding no new lease sales off the U.S. coastlines for the next five years, a scenario environmentalists and Democrats want in order to narrow the oil industry’s offshore drilling opportunities over time. But the draft proposal written by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management also weighs an updated version of the status quo, suggesting up to 10 auctions in the Gulf of Mexico and one in Alaska’s Cook Inlet between 2023 and 2028, which may help appease an oil and gas sector often at odds with a climate-focused president. One thing the proposal doesn’t do: declare which option President Joe Biden prefers, even as stubbornly high gas pump prices have created pressure on the administration to respond. At the same time, environmentalists are urging the president to stick with his campaign promise to end leasing on federal land and waters as a way to address climate change.”

E&E News: Biden’s 51 years of bad blood with Big Oil
Robin Bravender, 7/5/22

“President Joe Biden has been feuding with Big Oil since he was a 28-year-old county councilman in Delaware who went to war against a Shell refinery,” E&E News reports. “If Shell wants to build a refinery, let them build it,” Biden said during his brief stint as a local politician, the Wilmington News Journal reported at the time. “But first let them write it in blood that they won’t pollute.” He helped galvanize political opposition to the planned refinery, which was never built. Biden’s fight against the oil giant was a centerpiece of his two years on the New Castle County Council, where he served from 1971 until 1972. He leaned on his reputation for battling Big Oil to win his 1972 Senate race — catapulting a political career that ultimately landed in the White House. As president, Biden’s clash with the industry continues, but the stakes are higher. He’s hoping to prod drillers and refiners to step up production in an attempt to ease soaring fuel costs. But his public criticism of industry — and the industry’s disdain for his rhetoric and his policies — could make it harder for the administration and the industry to work together to lower gas prices. Earlier this month, Biden publicly quipped that an oil executive was “mildly sensitive” after the executive had accused Biden of vilifying the industry. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm appeared to make amends on the administration’s behalf, but the relationship between Team Biden and Big Oil isn’t great (Greenwire, June 24). The fight started decades ago, when Biden was an up-and-coming county councilman with an eye on a U.S. Senate seat. He won his County Council seat in part by courting middle-class Republicans in the heavily GOP district. “I understood they valued good government and fiscal austerity and, most of all, the environment. I promised them to try to check the developers and fight to keep open space,” he wrote in his 2007 memoir, “Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics.” “…Environmental protection was part of the reason Biden decided to run for office in the first place, he said at an Earth Day speech earlier this year. “It’s been a passion of mine as long as I’ve been involved in public life,” the president said. “I was a young attorney in Delaware, and they wanted — across the top of my state, they wanted to connect two highways, and it’s through what is the most beautiful part of the state.”

STATE UPDATES

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Biden administration backs Alaska LNG in new environmental study
Linda F. Hersey, 7/1/22

“The Biden administration has endorsed Alaska’s $38 billion natural gas project in an expanded environmental review that concludes the energy project would have little effect on greenhouse gas emissions,” the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports. “U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan — a vocal opponent of the administration’s restrictions on fossil fuel development — called the Department of Energy’s environmental impact statement “a glowing report on the importance of this project.” Officials at the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. lauded the report Thursday as a positive signal to potential investors and developers… “The supplemental report, scheduled to be released Friday, concludes that the Alaska LNG operation “would contribute incrementally to global climate change.” But the federal study does identify an urgent need globally for greater supplies of natural gas as well as the benefits of cleaner-burning LNG over oil… “After a draft of the environmental statement was released earlier this week, the Centers for Biological Diversity said it would continue to oppose the project. “Nothing in this analysis changes the fact that this massive fossil fuel project is a massively terrible idea,” attorney Kristen Monsell told E&E Energy News… “But the expanded environmental impact statement released Wednesday surprised environmental groups for its support of the Alaska natural gas project. The report states that “energy demand from foreign markets would remain and would need to be fulfilled from an alternate source” if the Alaska LNG project does not move forward. The environmental impact statement concluded that the project would have less impact on global warming than other LNG projects, including on the Gulf Coast, because the shorter shipping route from Alaska to Asian markets would have fewer carbon emissions… “The report also found that emissions from an Alaska LNG project would be less than similar projects in the Lower 48, because the gas would be drawn from existing oil wells.”

EXTRACTION

Guardian: Methane much more sensitive to global heating than previously thought – study
Kate Ravilious, 7/5/22

“Methane is four times more sensitive to global warming than previously thought, a new study shows,” the Guardian reports. “The result helps to explain the rapid growth in methane in recent years and suggests that, if left unchecked, methane related warming will escalate in the decades to come… “What has been particularly puzzling has been the fact that methane emissions have been increasing at even greater rates in the last two years, despite the global pandemic, when anthropogenic sources were assumed to be less significant,” Simon Redfern, an earth scientist at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, told the Guardian… “But another explanation could be a slowdown of the chemical reaction that removes methane from the atmosphere. The predominant way in which methane is “mopped up” is via reaction with hydroxyl radicals (OH) in the atmosphere. “The hydroxyl radical has been termed the ‘detergent’ of the atmosphere because it works to cleanse the atmosphere of harmful trace gases,” said Redfern. But hydroxyl radicals also react with carbon monoxide, and an increase in wildfires may have pumped more carbon monoxide into the atmosphere and altered the chemical balance. “On average, a carbon monoxide molecule remains in the atmosphere for about three months before it’s attacked by a hydroxyl radical, while methane persists for about a decade. So wildfires have a swift impact on using up the hydroxyl ‘detergent’ and reduce the methane removal,” Redfern told the Guardian… “Their findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, suggest global heating is four times more influential in accelerating methane emissions than previously estimated, with rising temperatures helping to produce more methane (by speeding up microbe activity in wetlands for example), while at the same time slowing down the removal of methane from the atmosphere (with increasing numbers of wildfires reducing the availability of hydroxyl radicals in the upper atmosphere). “It was a really shocking result, and highlights that the effects of climate change can be even more extreme and dangerous than we thought,” Redfern told the Guardian.

Associated Press: IEA: High prices, uncertainty will slow growth in gas demand
7/5/22

“The International Energy Agency says high prices for natural gas and supply fears due to the war in Ukraine will slow the growth in demand for the fossil fuel in the coming years,” the Associated Press reports. “In a report published Tuesday, the Paris-based agency forecast global demand for natural gas will rise by 140 billion cubic meters between 2021 and 2025. That’s less than half the increase of 370 bcm seen in the previous five-year period, which included the pandemic downturn. The revised forecast is mostly due to expectations of slower economic growth rather than buyers switching from gas to coal, oil or renewable energy. While the burning of gas emits less planet-warming carbon dioxide than other fossil fuels, methane released during the extraction process is a significant driver of climate change.”

Bloomberg: Brookfield-Owned Inter Pipeline Starts Production From Heartland
Robert Tuttle, 7/5/22

“Canada’s Inter Pipeline Ltd. has started production at a new C$4.3 billion ($3.3 billion) petrochemical plant in Alberta, a key milestone for a project that was at the center of a takeover battle for the company last year,” Bloomberg reports. “…The Heartland project faced cost overruns and delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic, putting pressure on Inter Pipeline’s stock and helping to make it vulnerable to an unsolicited takeover bid from Brookfield. The Calgary-based energy infrastructure company launched a strategic review, including seeking potential partners for Heartland, and secured a higher offer from Pembina Pipeline Corp. But Brookfield sweetened its bid and eventually prevailed in a C$8.6 billion deal. The Alberta plant will convert locally-produced propane into 525,000 metric tons a year of polypropylene, a polymer used to manufacture items including food packaging, textiles, health-care products and medical supplies, the company said. Inter Pipeline has secured contracts for 70% of the plant’s output for an average of nine years, according to the release.”

CLIMATE FINANCE

Reuters: Bank of Canada survey shows energy sector investment to be muted vs previous price booms
7/4/22

“Canada’s energy sector is expected to raise capital investment after a surge in oil and gas prices, but it will be a more modest increase than during previous boom cycles, the Bank of Canada said in a quarterly survey on Monday,” Reuters reports. “There are several factors holding back investments, with companies holding onto only around 40% of their cash flow for capital expenditure, compared to an average of above 100% in the years preceding the pandemic, the bank said. Another factor holding back investment is uncertainty over the long-term demand for hydrocarbon resources amid a shift toward low-carbon energy, the bank said. “Competition for labor is particularly strong for oil-field service firms that are seeing high turnover among drilling and well-service crews,” the bank said after consultations with gas firms and industry analysts.

E&E News: Treasury examines climate effect on insurance availability
Thomas Frank, 7/6/22

“The Treasury Department is growing increasingly concerned that climate change is making property insurance scarce in disaster-prone areas and is looking at launching the first nationwide assessment of insurers’ financial exposure to climate risk,” E&E News reports. “The Federal Insurance Office sent a preliminary email Thursday to insurance regulators in all 50 states asking what data they have that would show insurance coverage, liabilities and losses for each ZIP code in their state over the past five years. The data would help the federal office assess whether insurers are declining to cover homes and businesses in areas that are vulnerable to intensifying storms and wildfires and other effects of climate change. The office was created after the 2007-2008 financial crisis to monitor the availability of insurance and risks to insurance markets. President Joe Biden’s executive order in May 2021 on climate-related financial risk directs the insurance office to assess the “potential for major disruptions” of insurance availability in markets that are vulnerable to climate change. In August, the office solicited public comments on how climate change could undermine the stability of the insurance sector. The insurance office said in its email to state officials that it plans to analyze the risk that insurers face from potentially paying a rising number of claims in disaster-prone areas. Data from each state would identify “the impact [of climate change] on protection gaps and insurance availability, particularly in at-risk markets,” according to the email, which was obtained by E&E News.

OPINION

Herald-Palladium: Letter to the editor: State should abandon Line 5 pipeline
Brad Anderson, Bridgman, 7/6/22

“Michigan Senate Resolution 114 of 2022 urges the “…continued safe operation of the Line 5 pipeline in Michigan…” and makes other allegations related to “energy independence,” Brad Anderson writes for the Herald-Palladium. “The Enbridge Line 5 traverses the Straits near the Mackinac Bridge. Built in 1953, it has more than 400 river and stream crossings as it routes through Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas, according to “For Love of Water” (FLOW) fact sheet. This Canadian pipeline has allegedly had 33 leaks totaling about 1.1 million gallons. Line 5, many years past its design life, is a “ticking time bomb,” according to many sources, but our Michigan Legislature is apparently willing to sacrifice our lakes, for some notion of “energy independence.” The original design of Line 5 has been altered, due to “scouring beneath the twin pipelines by strong currents…” according to FLOW. Enbridge has installed “over 200 anchor supports” and did not request or obtain an “evaluation of risk” or authorization under the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act. FLOW states that excavating an Enbridge tunnel under Lake Michigan for Line-5 would result in millions of gallons of wastewater containing bentonite clay being discharged daily, creating issues for fisheries and drinking water. The “continued safe operation” of Line 5 is a fool’s errand in my view, as there are existing alternatives. The public will be left to pay the bill when it breaks.”

Akron Beacon Journal: Regulations must target methane from oil and gas operations; smaller wells also a concern
Michael Douglas, 7/5/22

“A changing climate doesn’t relent. Not for pandemic-era inflation. Or the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine, or the Jan. 6 committee, or an unrestrained Supreme Court,” Michael Douglas writes for the Akron Beacon Journal. “Roughly one-half of global greenhouse gases emitted since the 1800s have been generated the past 30 years — in other words, since the need for mitigating action has been plain. Yet, now, countries seek to expand production of oil and natural gas, leading drivers of climate change, in a bid to ease higher prices… “In November, his administration advanced a promising rule. Most impressive, the plan calls for covering not just new and modified operations but the many existing rigs across the country, too, including tens of thousands in Ohio. The federal Environmental Protection Agency calculates the rule would reduce methane emissions by 41 million tons from 2023 to 2035… “The rule calls for comprehensive monitoring programs to address methane leaks and standards to curb the routine flaring and venting of methane, more prevalent in Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota. As part of its rulemaking, the agency has collected public comment, and a line of thinking has emerged: Find a way to include smaller wells in a regular and effective monitoring regime… “ Researchers at the University of Cincinnati calculate that many such operations in Southeast Ohio produce the equivalent of less than one barrel of oil per week. They also report, tellingly, such smaller wells are prone to substantial leakage of methane… “On Thursday, a misguided Supreme Court made the task much more challenging. A dramatic reduction in methane emissions is indispensable, and that means strong regulations for smaller wells.”

WHYY: EPA proposals on methane need to be strengthened before they’re adopted
Joseph Otis Minott is the Executive Director and Chief Counsel of Clean Air Council, 7/3/22

“The last seven years were the hottest ever recorded on the planet, and a brutally hot summer is on tap for the Philadelphia region again. We know that dangerous heat is coming because of climate change,” Joseph Otis Minott writes for WHYY. “…Even though the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court issued a radical decision on June 30th that limits the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to determine the “best system of emission reduction” under section 111 of the Clean Air Act, the agency still has plenty of authority and discretion to tackle methane pollution. The EPA has a chance right now to substantially lower methane emissions through two recently proposed rules – one for new sources in the oil and gas industry and one for existing sources. However, these rules must be strengthened before being finalized… “However, while the current proposal is a step in the right direction, tackling methane emissions to aggressively fight the climate crisis demands more ambitious standards. The EPA must listen to the more than 470,000 people who submitted comments in support of the strongest methane rule possible under the Clean Air Act during the public comment period that closed in January… “The proposal especially lacks strong oversight for small wells with leak-prone equipment, which under this rule would likely be exempt from stringent, ongoing inspection requirements. Low-producing wells combine to make up over 50% of methane emissions nationwide, despite producing only 6% of America’s oil and gas… “Without strong federal rules establishing a protective baseline, states would be left to enact their own rules resulting in a patchwork of areas with pro-industry lawmakers and agency officials putting profits over public health. Unfortunately, methane leaks don’t abide by state boundaries, so one state’s methane problem impacts everyone. Look no further than Pennsylvania’s struggles to enact its own state methane rules, which is a prime example of why strong federal methane rules are so critical. Pennsylvania is a leading gas-producing state, second only to Texas. Highly partisan state politics, influenced by a small group of conventional well owners, are now hindering the implementation of strong methane rules in Pennsylvania.”

Competitive Enterprise Institute: Some Good News on the Mountain Valley Pipeline
Ben Lieberman, 7/5/22

“There are a lot of bad federal policies currently blocking American energy. Perhaps worst of all are measures bottling up Appalachia’s abundant natural gas that is in high demand on the East Coast, and abroad, but cannot get there due to environmentalist lawsuits stopping new pipelines,” Ben Lieberman writes for the Competitive Enterprise Institut. “But in a recent case, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit saw through a green group’s weak arguments and is allowing one such project to move ahead. The case, Sierra Club et al., v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, concerns a proposed extension of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The pipeline would carry natural gas 300 miles from where it is produced in West Virginia to where it is needed in Virginia to produce electricity… “But at least with regard to the extension of the pipeline into North Carolina, the Court saw through the vacuous claims of environmental harm. In truth, pipelines are among the safest and most environmentally benign means of transporting energy… “The Sierra Club has promised to continue opposing Mountain Valley and called it an “unneeded pipeline.” In reality, this and other natural gas pipelines have never been more needed.”

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