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Extracted

EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 7/7/22

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips July 7, 2022

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PIPELINE NEWS

  • AgWeek: Landowners in path of carbon pipeline challenge constitutionality of South Dakota law

  • Guardian: The bitter fight to stop a 2,000 mile carbon pipeline

  • Tri States Public Radio: Lee County landowners speak out against proposed CO2 pipeline

  • Iowa City Press-Citizen: Proposed 350-mile carbon capture pipeline would go through Johnson County. Here’s what you need to know.

  • CBS2 Iowa: Voices to be heard on ADM CO2 pipeline

  • The Gazette: Proposed CO2 pipeline would go through Linn, Johnson, Cedar, Clinton and Scott counties

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • The Intercept: BIDEN ADMINISTRATION PUSHES MORE OCEAN DRILLING AMID RECORD OIL AND GAS PROFITS

STATE UPDATES

  • New York Times: California Plans to Quit Oil. Resistance Is Fiercer Than You Think.

  • E&E News: Gas instead of coal? EPA tells TVA to look again

  • Tribal Business News: MHA Nation hopes to sell waste natural gas to proposed $2B hydrogen hub

  • Detroit Free Press: Tim Allen’s yacht spills gallons of oil into Traverse City area marina

  • KSWO: Reward offered for tips on Cyril park oil spill

CLIMATE FINANCE

  • E&E News: Why the Supreme Court’s climate ruling matters to the SEC

  • Reuters: U.S. investors form venture to pursue oil and gas projects in Venezuela

OPINION

  • The Hill: Why the Supreme Court climate decision is a canary in the coal mine

PIPELINE NEWS

AgWeek: Landowners in path of carbon pipeline challenge constitutionality of South Dakota law
Jeff Beach, 7/6/22

“A lawyer representing landowners in the path of a pipeline project says a South Dakota law that gives surveyors from the pipeline company access to private land is unconstitutional,” AgWeek reports. “Brian Jorde of Nebraska-based Domina Law filed a legal challenge on June 28, arguing that a state statute cited by Summit Carbon Solutions in letters to landowners violates the South Dakota Constitution as well as the 14th Amendment to U.S. Constitution. The filing seeks an injunction to keep representatives from Summit from going on to land where the pipeline might run and asks for a trial and a ruling on the constitutionality of the law. The filing was made in McPherson County in north-central South Dakota, where landowners have been vocal in their opposition to the Summit pipeline… “Summit provided the following statement from John Satterfield, director of regulatory affairs, in response to the filing: “Summit Carbon Solutions continues to work closely with landowners across the Midwest to create a mutually beneficial partnership built around voluntary survey permissions and easements. In South Dakota, the company has secured nearly 350 miles of voluntary survey permissions and has signed over 115 miles of voluntary easements. “While Summit Carbon Solutions doesn’t comment on current litigation, we think it’s important to highlight the need and role surveys play. Surveys are a critical aspect of the project and permitting process. There are three types of surveys our team is conducting, each with specific objectives.” “…So far, Summit has only applied for permits in Iowa and South Dakota, but asked for more time to finalize its route in South Dakota. The project has generated an unprecedented response with the South Dakota PUC, with a record number of comments and intervenors, with the vast majority stating their opposition to the project.”

Guardian: The bitter fight to stop a 2,000 mile carbon pipeline
Jenny Splitter, 7/7/22

“In August 2021, Sherri Webb found a letter in her mailbox about a new pipeline project. It would be a climate solution, the letter from Summit Carbon Solutions read, capturing planet-warming carbon dioxide and pumping it out of the state to be stored deep underground,” the Guardian reports. “…There are three CO2 pipeline projects in early stages of planning in Iowa. The companies behind them – Summit, Navigator and a partnership of Wolf Carbon Solutions and Archer Daniel Midlands – have been contacting landowners in hopes of getting them to grant easements. But hundreds of people say they won’t sign. Not only that, they don’t want to see these projects go forward at all. Webb and other landowners from different Iowa counties, some who farm and some who rent to other farmers, have joined forces in an unusual alliance with Indigenous groups and environmental organizations, to fight against the pipelines… “The Biden administration has pledged $2.3bn in funding to enhance capacity for existing US-based projects, each of which would be able to store at least 50m metric tons of captured CO2. But critics are concerned that CCS is being treated as an easy fix for the climate crisis, especially by polluters who may rely on the technology to avoid strict emissions reductions. In some instances, captured carbon is used for enhanced oil recovery – a technique that uses liquefied CO2 to flush out residual oil – which serves to entrench fossil fuel production rather than replace it… “But analysts from the non-profit Food & Water Watch say investment in carbon capture and storage is committing Iowa to an indefinite future of growing too much corn, which also means an indefinite future of pollution… “Vickie Beck, a farmer who owns land in Dickinson county, told the Guardian the tone of the first public meetings she attended about the pipeline made her feel unheard. She says she was told by Summit representatives: “If you don’t like it, we will consider eminent domain” – a law which gives the government the authority to seize land needed for a public project, provided the government compensates the landowner. In some cases, private companies involved in a public use project, like a pipeline, have been able to use eminent domain to acquire the property.”

Tri States Public Radio: Lee County landowners speak out against proposed CO2 pipeline
Will Buss, 7/5/22

“Landowners in southeast Iowa are speaking out against a proposed underground pipeline that would carry liquified carbon dioxide through Lee County,” Tri States Public Radio reports. “We’re all trying to keep our emotions intact, as I am, but it’s a living nightmare, to sum it up,” Jeff Weisinger, who owns 300 acres north of Fort Madison along the proposed pipeline’s path, told TSPR. During an informational meeting in West Point hosted by the Lee County Board of Supervisors, Weisinger and other landowners said they are not interested in selling any of their property for the project and they do not want to lose it by force through eminent domain. Weisinger said he and fellow landowners believe the company behind the project, Texas-based Navigator CO2 Ventures, will do what it takes to acquire the land to build the pipeline. “This is for profit,” Weisinger said. “This is for shareholders to profit from, and I guess I need to ask for an extra $1 million, to be sarcastic about it.” “…Brown also told TSPR that many landowners he has met with and spoken to are misinformed about the pipeline and its potential impact on their properties. “I understand that they’re concerned and that’s why we’re here,” Brown told TSPR. “We’re here to be open and answer those questions. They may elect not to want to accept the answers or to challenge answers, and that’s fair. And we’ll continue to come out here and will continue to engage directly with the Emergency Management Services and make ourselves available for public to have these discussions, and we commit to that.” “…However, Lee County Board of Supervisors member Ron Fedler told TSPR his constituents are not interested. “By far, a huge majority said they don’t care what they’re going to offer. They don’t want it,” Fedler told TSPR… “Hundreds of farmers in Iowa have jointly hired a law firm to help with their legal fight against the project.”

Iowa City Press-Citizen: Proposed 350-mile carbon capture pipeline would go through Johnson County. Here’s what you need to know.
George Shillcock, 77/22

“A sliver of northeastern Johnson County is included in the latest proposal for a carbon capture pipeline in Iowa after two much larger projects completely avoided the area,” the Iowa City Press-Citizen reports. “…Nick Noppinger at Wolf Carbon Solutions told the Press-Citizen in an email statement that the company’s goal is to reach voluntary agreements through respectful and open discussions with all landowners along this proposed route. He said the proposed 2-mile corridor, with one mile on each side of a proposed center line, would enable them to cooperatively work with landowners to determine the best possible route… “This pipeline is one of several proposed in the Midwest that would run through Iowa, drawing criticism from environmental groups and landowners amid fears that eminent domain will be used to take property for the construction of pipelines. Other critics argue the pipelines don’t do enough to lower carbon emissions and say Iowa should focus on transitioning the state’s farming economy away from producing renewable fuel, and the corn and soybean crops needed to make it… “The Johnson County Board of Supervisors and other county governments and elected officials and also signaled strong opposition to these projects… “While landowners can refuse to voluntarily give up their land for this type of project, Summit, Navigator and ADM-Wolf can ask the three-person Iowa Utilities Board to grant eminent domain powers if they’re determined to serve a public purpose. That would force unwilling landowners to grant easements at fair market values… “The Des Moines Register reported that several experts are skeptical of the environmental impact of these pipelines, despite the White House saying that carbon sequestration projects likely will be needed to meet President Joe Biden’s climate goal of net-zero emissions economywide by 2050.”

CBS2 Iowa: Voices to be heard on ADM CO2 pipeline
Daryl Veatch, 7/6y/22

“We’re getting our first look at the proposed path for carbon pipeline that would run through parts of Eastern Iowa,” CBS2 Iowa reports. “ADM and Wolf Carbon Solutions are behind the project and now have public forums beginning in September. The informational meetings for Wolf CO2 pipeline start on September 13-15 in Linn, Johnson, Cedar, Scott and Clinton counties… “Few people would argue that corn is Iowa’s financial backbone. But with the addition of a carbon capture pipeline, environmentalists like Sikowis Nobiss from Great Plains Action society says the science is untested. “There hasn’t been a lot of years of understanding this process yet. We know that it can salinate water. We do know know that it can displace ground water. It’s a pretty scary thing to imagine what’s going to happen by injecting this back into the earth.”

The Gazette: Proposed CO2 pipeline would go through Linn, Johnson, Cedar, Clinton and Scott counties
Erin Jordan, 7/5/22

“Residents of Linn, Johnson, Cedar, Clinton and Scott counties will have a chance in September to share their thoughts about another proposed CO2 pipeline — this one connecting ADM ethanol plants,” The Gazette reports. “…Wolf filed its first documents with the Iowa Utilities Board on June 27, submitting a letter asking for six information meetings and providing a map of the proposed route, which starts in Cedar Rapids and goes southeast through Cedar and Scott counties… “Once informational meetings are held, Wolf may begin reaching out to landowners along the proposed route and attempting to negotiate easements. Hundreds of Iowa landowners, county boards of supervisors and environmental groups have opposed use of eminent domain. The Linn County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in January against forced easements for CO2 pipelines. Critics are concerned about the safety of the pipelines and do not think private companies should get federal tax credits for what they consider unproven technology.”

WASHINGTON UPDATES

The Intercept: BIDEN ADMINISTRATION PUSHES MORE OCEAN DRILLING AMID RECORD OIL AND GAS PROFITS
Akela Lacy, 7/6/22

“NO MORE DRILLING on federal lands,” said former vice president, Delaware senator, and presidential candidate Joe Biden in March 2020. Debating his then-competitor Bernie Sanders on CNN, Biden urged: “No more drilling, including offshore, no ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period,” The Intercept reports. “On July 1, President Joe Biden’s administration put out a new draft plan to open up oil and gas drilling leases in the federal waters off the coast of Alaska and in the Gulf of Mexico… “The April announcement pointed to “a first-ever increase” in the royalty rate for new competitive leases on public lands — from 12.5 percent to 18.75 percent — meant to soften the blow of the resumption of drilling by packaging it with additional revenue for the federal government and, theoretically, forcing the fossil fuel companies to pay more. The rate hike the Biden administration has implemented isn’t permanent, and it does not apply to the areas affected under the draft plan. “While gas prices spike at the pump, these oil and gas drillers are not only squeezing drivers, they are fleecing taxpayers as well,” Zibel, of Public Citizen, said. “With the industry expected to report the highest profits on record this year, now is an ideal time for Congress and the Biden administration to get rid of longstanding giveaways to the oil and gas industry.” “…Asked if the Interior Department would, if nothing else, at least make the rate increase for drilling on federal lands permanent, Schwartz pointed The Intercept to the department’s existing public statements and a November report outlining the department’s reform and regulatory focus. The White House did not provide a comment.”

STATE UPDATES

New York Times: California Plans to Quit Oil. Resistance Is Fiercer Than You Think.
Brad Plumer, 7/7/22

“Every five years, this city of 7,000 hosts a rollicking, Old West-themed festival known as Oildorado. High schoolers decorate parade floats with derricks and pump jacks. Young women vie for the crown in a “Maids of Petroleum” beauty pageant. It’s a celebration of an industry that has sustained the local economy for the past century,” the New York Times reports. “This is oil country, in a state that leads the country in environmental regulation. With wildfires and drought ravaging California, Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, wants to end oil drilling in the state by 2045. That has provoked angst and fierce resistance here in Kern County, where oil and gas tax revenues help to pay for everything from elementary schools to firefighters to mosquito control.“Nowhere else in California is tied to oil and gas the way we are, and we can’t replace what that brings overnight,” Ryan Alsop, chief administrative officer in Kern  County, a region north of Los Angeles, told the Times. “It’s not just tens of thousands of jobs. It’s also hundreds of millions of dollars in annual tax revenue that we rely on to fund our schools, parks, libraries, public safety, public health.” Across the United States, dozens of states and communities rely on fossil fuels to fund aspects of daily life. In Wyoming, more than half of state and local tax revenues comes from fossil fuels. In New Mexico, an oil boom has bankrolled free college for residents and expanded medical care for new mothers. Oil and gas money is so embedded in many local budgets, it’s difficult to imagine a future without it. Disentangling communities from fossil-fuel income poses a major obstacle in the fight against climate change. One study found that if nations followed the urging of scientists and cut emissions from oil, gas and coal deeply enough to avert catastrophic warming, United States tax revenues from oil and gas production, currently about $34 billion per year, could fall by two-thirds by 2050… “Whether Kern County can transition to cleaner energy could offer a model, or a cautionary tale, to the rest of the nation.”

E&E News: Gas instead of coal? EPA tells TVA to look again
Kristi E. Swartz, 7/7/22

“EPA said the Tennessee Valley Authority should reconsider an initial decision to replace its largest coal plant with a natural gas one, arguing that there are cheaper and cleaner options to combat climate change,” E&E News reports. “The nation’s largest public power utility is weighing new generation choices as it prepares to close the massive Cumberland Fossil Plant, which is near the Tennessee-Kentucky border. TVA must follow the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires the federal government to analyze environmental impacts of major decisions, particularly with infrastructure. EPA’s statements, filed last week, are the latest in a tug of war between the federal government and TVA over carbon-reduction efforts… “The EPA believes it is essential for TVA to improve the proposed action and [environmental impact statement] because of the urgency of the climate crisis,” EPA said in technical comments. The tone and length of EPA’s remarks are unusual in this situation, one environmentalist said. “I think this from the EPA is significant,” Bri Knisley, Tennessee campaign manager for Appalachian Voices, told E&E. “It’s important for TVA to be in line with the administration’s goals for climate. But also, TVA’s plans aren’t good for local communities, not with this preferred alternative.”

Tribal Business News: MHA Nation hopes to sell waste natural gas to proposed $2B hydrogen hub
MATTHEW GRYCZAN, 7/5/22

“The Fort Berthold reservation in North Dakota lights up at night like candles on a birthday cake in a darkened room, illuminated by scads of oil well rigs that are flaring off millions of dollars worth of natural gas annually,” Tribal Business News reports. “It’s Mark Fox’s wish that the burning will stop, with hopes that his Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation (MHA) may someday be able to sell the gas that today is simply wasted and use the proceeds to improve the lives of tribal members. His wish is getting a big boost from an unlikely quarter: a federal initiative to wean the nation off fossil fuels and use hydrogen as a main source of energy for transportation and energy-intensive industries such as steelmaking and fertilizer manufacturing… “The tribe has signed a non-disclosure agreement and memorandum of understanding with Bakken Energy LLC and Mitsubishi Power Americas Inc. to supply natural gas to a coal gasification plant near Beulah that would be converted to produce “blue” hydrogen. If the project comes to fruition, it would be the largest producer of clean hydrogen in North America, according to a statement from Mitsubishi Power.  “So now instead of burning it into the night, the tribe would be paid for their gas — rather than flaring it and no one gets paid,” Fox told Tribal Business News. The stakes are high, both in terms of revenues lost and what it could mean to improve the lives of the MHA Nation… “In a story about the Fort Berthold flaring, the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at Arizona State University determined that “oil and gas operators on reservation land reported flaring more than 199 billion cubic feet of natural gas from 2012 to 2020, valued at more than $600 million.” The center’s independent analysis of satellite data indicated that the amount of gas flared from reservation wells may be underreported by 42 billion cubic feet of gas during that period. Fox said the MHA Nation, which has slightly more than 17,000 individual citizens, could use the revenues of flared gas to improve roads, build schools and clinics and increase law enforcement efforts. The nation encompasses about 1 million acres of land in western North Dakota bisected by the Missouri River. “

Detroit Free Press: Tim Allen’s yacht spills gallons of oil into Traverse City area marina
Sarah Raza, 7/6/22

“The Northport Village Marina temporarily closed Sunday after Tim Allen’s yacht leaked diesel fuel into the water,” the Detroit Free Press reports. “The spill was mostly contained in the marina, and the Northport Village Marina Harbormaster Bill Rosemurgy estimated it to be nearly 30 gallons. The beach south of the marina also closed due to oil in the sand… “The U.S. Coast Guard was also brought in to provide oversight and help with cleanup as a crew used brooms and a thousand oil absorbent pads to soak up the diesel from the water… “Though Allen knew the fuel filter gasket popped while he was out in Omena Bay, he was not aware that his boat was leaking diesel fuel until he docked his boat and onlookers pointed it out to him.” 

KSWO: Reward offered for tips on Cyril park oil spill
Mandy Cunningham, 7/6/22

“A $10,000 reward is being offered for more information on the parties responsible for an oil spill, which closed down a Cyril park yesterday,” KSWO reports. “The Caddo County Sheriff’s Office told KSWO that someone cut the chain link fence outside Stellar Drilling Fluid LLC, then made their way into the facility. They say the suspect, or suspects, then opened the valve on several storage containers containing drilling fluid, allowing the fluids to spill onto the ground.”

CLIMATE FINANCE

E&E News: Why the Supreme Court’s climate ruling matters to the SEC
Avery Ellfeldt, 7/7/22

“The Supreme Court’s EPA ruling last week is casting a shadow over a climate rule proposed by an entirely different regulator: the Securities and Exchange Commission,” E&E News reports. “The SEC unveiled a proposal in March that would require companies to provide investors with reliable information about their contributions to climate change and the risks they face from a warmer planet. Since its release, the draft rule has drawn opposition from both Republican officials and business groups, who say the SEC — an independent financial agency — is overstepping its bounds. Now, many of these same critics say the Supreme Court decision in the West Virginia v. EPA case gives them more ammunition to attack the SEC climate proposal. In their 6-3 ruling, the high court’s conservatives agreed to limit EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. They did so by holding up the “major questions” doctrine, a legal theory that says Congress must give agencies an explicit green light when regulating issues of “vast economic and political significance”. Opponents say this argument could apply to the SEC climate proposal because the agency’s sweeping mandate, which was penned nearly a century ago, makes no mention of climate change. Other rules affecting car emissions and pipeline approvals could also be threatened… “The agency’s climate disclosure push is “completely divorced from financially material information that has historically been the guide for what has to be disclosed, and with no authority from Congress to do that,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) in an interview on Bloomberg TV following the ruling. Legal experts and attorneys admit the high court decision complicates things. But they aren’t necessarily convinced the West Virginia v. EPA ruling itself is what ultimately would doom the SEC rule — at least not yet. Though the Supreme Court made clear that it is closely examining agencies’ regulatory authority, it did not clarify what types of cases would fall into the major questions category moving forward. In addition, there are fundamental differences between the climate rule at the heart of the EPA case and the climate disclosure proposal put forward by the SEC. Observers say the distinction makes it difficult to predict how the court would apply the major questions doctrine to SEC mandated climate disclosure.”

Reuters: U.S. investors form venture to pursue oil and gas projects in Venezuela
7/5/22

“Two U.S. investment funds on Tuesday said they formed a joint venture with a Venezuelan firm to pursue oil and gas exploration and production projects in the U.S.-sanctioned South American country,” Reuters reports. “Gramercy Funds Management and Atmos Global Energy said their joint venture would work with an arm of Inelectra Group, a Caracas-based firm that holds a stake in the Gulf of Paria East oil project off Venezuela’s eastern coast, where it found oil in 2001. U.S. companies are barred from doing business with Venezuelan state-run oil firm PDVSA, a policy begun in 2018 by the Trump administration and continued under U.S. President Joe Biden. The companies did not disclose the size of their investment in the oil venture. Spokespeople did not immediately reply to requests for comment. Any effort is subject to approvals by the United States and Venezuela, the companies told Reuters.”

OPINION

The Hill: Why the Supreme Court climate decision is a canary in the coal mine
Dena Adler is a research scholar working on issues of federal environmental regulation at the New York University School of Law’s Institute for Policy Integrity, 7/6/22

“You cannot kill what is already dead. So, while it is puzzling that the Supreme Court issued a decision on the unlawfulness of the Clean Power Plan — an Obama-era policy to cut climate pollution from the U.S. power sector that never actually took effect — that regulation is not the decision’s primary casualty,” Dena Adler writes for The Hill. “…The real wrecking ball in West Virginia v. EPA is how the court unnecessarily tied our societal hands from most effectively tackling a major problem. This case could be a canary in the coal mine for a wider attack on regulatory safeguards… “The true specter in the case is the “major questions doctrine.” Despite being dubbed a “doctrine,” this judicially created interpretive framework was, until recently, little-used, and it remains poorly defined. In West Virginia v. EPA, the court maintained that it would use the doctrine only in “extraordinary” situations involving “vast economic and political significance” where an agency used a long-existing statute in a new and transformative way. In those cases, it would infer an agency lacked authority unless Congress spelled it out precisely. The court then characterized the Clean Power Plan as such an exceptional case… “Anti-regulatory interests are already pressing courts to put other policies on the chopping block, arguing that they too qualify as “major questions.” In a particularly egregious instance, a coalition of Republican attorneys general argued that the Biden administration’s use of the social cost of carbon — a scientific assessment that agencies have relied on for a dozen years merely to value the climate impacts of policies — qualifies as a major question… “Absent judicial restraint, agencies can make applying the major questions doctrine an uphill climb by continuing to use their authority thoughtfully and identifying precedents for their actions. Congress could also help mitigate the damage by passing comprehensive, meaningful laws, including for climate action, that explicitly note an expectation for agencies to exercise their expertise to fill in the gaps. Finally, voters can go to the polls to elect representatives who will counter the doctrine’s influence.”

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