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Extracted

EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 8/2/22

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips August 2, 2022

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PIPELINE NEWS

  • New York Times: Manchin Won a Pledge From Democrats to Finish a Contested Pipeline

  • Washington Post: Democrats’ side deal with Manchin would speed up projects, West Virginia gas

  • Law360: Minn. Says Tribal Court Win Moots 8th Circ. Pipeline Appeal

  • KCHA: Senator Grassley: Carbon Pipelines Are State Decisions 

  • Waverly Newspapers: Bremer Co. supervisors vote to file an objection to carbon pipeline ahead of Aug. 23 informational meeting in Waverly

  • Oelwein Daily Register: County board hesitant to oppose pipeline plans

  • WZTV: Local organization opposes application for 32-mile gas pipeline through Middle Tennessee

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • E&E News: Manchin climate deal may face NEPA roadblock

  • InsideEPA: Senate Climate Deal Could Offer Boost To Several Major EPA GHG Rules

STATE UPDATES

  • Press release: Attorney General Bonta and Governor Newsom Announce Federal Moratorium on New Oil and Gas Drilling in Central California

  • Williston Herald: North Dakota’s ‘jackpot’ formations important to energy of the futrure

  • Associated Press: California not counting methane leaks from idle wells

  • Carlsbad Current-Argus: Oil and gas spends thousands on June primary. New Mexico GOP hopes to win big in November

  • Ventura County Star: Steep increases for oil and gas bonds move step closer in Ventura County

EXTRACTION

  • IEFFA: Carbon capture’s methane problem

  • PBS: U.S. Cities and States Are Suing Big Oil Over Climate Change. Here’s What the Claims Say and Where They Stand.

  • Natural Gas Intelligence: Cenovus Chief Urges Less Aggressive Canada GHG Targets for Natural Gas, Oil Producers

  • Marketplace.org: Why aren’t oil companies drilling on their 9,000 land leases?

TODAY IN GREENWASHING

  • KSLA: ‘HUGE SUCCESS’ Benefit raises nearly $250,000 to aid men injured in gas explosion

OPINION

  • Tri-State Neighbor: Letter: We need local officials to protect us from CO2 Pipelines

  • Truthout: Carbon Capture Won’t Work, But It Will Funnel Billions to Corporations

  • The Hill: President Biden’s offshore drilling plan will make or break climate and environmental justice promises

  • Guardian: The world is ablaze and the oil industry just posted record profits. It’s us or them

PIPELINE NEWS

New York Times: Manchin Won a Pledge From Democrats to Finish a Contested Pipeline
Lisa Friedman, 8/1/22

“Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia has secured a promise from Democratic leaders and the White House to complete a highly contested 304-mile gas pipeline in his state, his office said, a major concession won as part of negotiations over a climate and tax bill,” the New York Times reports. “Mr. Manchin, who clinched a surprise agreement last week among Democrats to pass landmark climate legislation, made easing permits for energy projects a requirement of the deal… “It would ensure that federal agencies “take all necessary actions to permit the construction and operation” of the gas line, known as the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The project — which has been opposed for years by environmentalists, civil rights activists and many Democratic state lawmakers in Virginia — would carry natural gas from the Marcellus shale fields in West Virginia across nearly 1,000 streams and wetlands before ending in Virginia. The pipeline was originally supposed to be completed by 2018 but environmental groups have successfully challenged a series of federal permits for the project in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth District in Richmond, Va… “Jared Margolis, a senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups fighting the pipeline, acknowledged that Congress does have the ability to override the courts and move the project forward. But, he told the Times, “That’s not going to prevent a challenge” from opponents. The side deal cut by Mr. Manchin and Democratic leaders would give the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit jurisdiction over all future legal challenges, taking the case away from the Fourth District, where environmentalists had found success. Other parts of the agreement would make it harder for opponents to hold up energy projects under the National Environmental Policy Act, a bedrock environmental law, by setting a two-year time limit for challenges. It would also require the president to establish 25 “priority” projects on federal lands that must include fossil fuels and nuclear energy. And it would revise a section of the Clean Water Act in a way that would make it more difficult to block or delay pipeline projects. Some Democrats like Raúl Grijalva, the chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, have said they will not support any measures that fast-track pipelines or other energy projects. But three people familiar with Mr. Manchin’s agreement told the Times Democratic leaders were likely to insert the Mountain Valley Pipeline and permitting provisions into a must-pass piece of legislation, such as the bill that funds the federal government, to maximize its chances… “Environmental activists denounced the Mountain Valley Pipeline and permitting deal, and called on Democrats to rethink that agreement with Mr. Manchin. “The implications of this side deal are very significant especially as Congress is poised to accelerate the development of energy projects,” Abigail Dillen, president of Earthjustice, an environmental group, told the Times. She said she was particularly concerned that limiting the time to review and challenge projects could allow developers to “run roughshod over communities.”

Washington Post: Democrats’ side deal with Manchin would speed up projects, West Virginia gas
Jeff Stein and Tony Romm, 8/1/22

“A side agreement reached between Democratic leadership and Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) as part of their broader deal on an economic package would overhaul the nation’s process for approving new energy projects, including by expediting a gas pipeline proposed for West Virginia, according to a one-page summary obtained by the Washington Post. “To win Manchin’s support for the climate, energy and health-care package that was etched last week, Democratic leaders agreed to attempt to advance separate legislation on expediting energy projects… “The side deal would set new two-year limits, or maximum timelines, for environmental reviews for “major” projects, the summary says. It would also aim to streamline the government processes for deciding approvals for energy projects by centralizing decision-making with one lead agency, the summary adds. The bill would also attempt to clear the way for the approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would transport Appalachian shale gas about 300 miles from West Virginia to Virginia. This pipeline is a key priority of Manchin’s. Other provisions would limit legal challenges to energy projects and give the Energy Department more authority to approve electric transmission lines that are deemed to be “in the national interest,” according to the document. One provision in the agreement could make it harder for government agencies to deny new approvals based on certain environmental impacts that are not directly caused by the project itself, Sean Marotta, a partner at the Hogan Lovells law firm who represents pipeline companies, told the Post.  “This is a pretty vague outline, but if you had this kind of efficient streamlining it could lead to the necessary build-out of energy infrastructure not just for fossil fuels but for all types of energy that are necessary for reliability and decarbonization,” Neil Chatterjee, former commissioner and chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, told the Post.” 

Law360: Minn. Says Tribal Court Win Moots 8th Circ. Pipeline Appeal
Caleb Symons, 8/1/22

“Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources is asking the Eighth Circuit to drop its appeal in a jurisdictional fight over state approval of an oil pipeline expansion project, after a White Earth Band of Ojibwe tribal court ruled last week that the matter should be left to the federal judiciary,” Law360 reports. 

KCHA: Senator Grassley: Carbon Pipelines Are State Decisions 
Mark Pitz, 8/1/22

“U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) says the fate of carbon pipeline projects in the state rests with the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) and the feds have no say in the matter,” KCHA reports. “Wolf Carbon Solutions is the latest company to propose a pipeline with branches that would run from the ADM plants in Cedar Rapids and Clinton, with the carbon dioxide ending up in Decatur, Illinois. The IUB has set public meetings on the proposal to begin later this month in Linn, Johnson, Cedar, Clinton, and Scott counties. The IUB is already in the process of looking at two other proposed pipelines… “Heartland Navigator also has IUB public meetings later this month for another carbon pipeline leg impacting northeast Iowa counties including Delaware, Fayette, Butler, Buchanan and Bremer.”

Waverly Newspapers: Bremer Co. supervisors vote to file an objection to carbon pipeline ahead of Aug. 23 informational meeting in Waverly
ANELIA K. DIMITROVA, 8/1/22

“The Bremer County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Monday to file a letter of opposition with the Iowa Utilities Board regarding a proposed carbon capture pipeline, which is projected to run through the county, among other areas in the state,” Waverly Newspapers reports. “…At the Aug. 1 meeting, Hildebrandt, the board chair, said that the main reason for his opposition is based on the use of eminent domain. “That’s not appropriate in this case,” Hildebrandt said of the use of eminent domain. In agreement with the rationale, Supervisor Tim Neil, the board’s vice-chair, said: “Eminent domain is for public use.” “Public good,” Supervisor Ken Kammeyer said. The supervisors had prepared a letter to the Iowa Utilities Board in opposition to the project. In it, they urged the IUB to deny the use of eminent domain. “We believe one of our most important responsibilities as public officials is to promote the general welfare and we strive to protect the rights of others,” the letter reads. “We believe we have a duty to protect private property rights, and our local environment, and respectfully request that you deny the use of eminent domain for Navigator Heartland Greenway, LLC CO2 pipeline project.” (See full text of the letter below.) But before they cast their votes, the supervisors invited the two audience members present at the meeting to speak. Farmers Howard Mueller and Dale Calease stated their opposition to the project… “Twenty-two county boards of supervisors have filed letters in opposition to the project, according to the Iowa Utilities Board docket… “It’s not an easy, just an open-and-shut case,” Hildebrandt added. “There’s some benefits of ethanol and the plants that produce it, especially to our rural farmers, so we got that in mind and that consideration to be aware of as well, but ultimately, still in my mind, it comes down to this: how could you possibly justify the use of eminent domain for this purpose?” “…Mueller, 90, elaborated on his opposition after the meeting. “We all have done the arithmetic,” Mueller told Waverly. “There’s no way we would get re-paid for what’s going to happen. It’s impossible to put a price tag on rural soil. It will cause permanent damage to the soil structure, it would be virtually impossible to properly repair the damage that would be done to a tiled field.”

Oelwein Daily Register: County board hesitant to oppose pipeline plans
DEB KUNKLE, 8/1/22 

“Area residents came forward Monday encouraging the Fayette County Board of Supervisors to create a county ordinance opposing plans for a carbon dioxide (CO2) capture pipeline that is planned to go through rural areas of the county including close proximity to Fairbank,” the Oelwein Daily Register reports. “Jeff Milks of Oelwein said he would like to see the supervisors take a stand by creating an ordinance against the pipeline. He noted that the corporations behind the pipeline construction use eminent domain to take over sections of farmland and property owners don’t have the right to say “no.” Milks later said the premise of eminent domain should be for the benefit of better roads and bridges, that improve the public good. This use of eminent domain is for the enrichment of a private corporation, in his opinion. “Laws at the state level that should be in place do not exist,” he said. Devyn Hall of the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Iowa City, also spoke to the board saying, “It doesn’t feel the companies are in it for the good of Iowa. It’s dangerous. I have heard stories of property owners traumatized by a company that comes in and just takes over.” Hall said she thinks it is time to take action because the pipeline companies are not going away… “Milks said it is important to have a letter of opposition or ordinance in place before the forum in order to stay ahead of the pipeline companies… “Ron Woods, a Fairbank businessman, said the proposed pipeline is supposed to go through near Fairbank, within about 3,000 feet of the ethanol plant. He said, as far as he knows, everything gained from the pipeline is going to corporations far away from Fairbank. “If it’s going through our area, we should see some benefit from it, but I don’t think we will. That’s all I’m looking for. If you can do it (make an ordinance in opposition), then you should do it,” Woods said. Fairbank Councilwoman Tammy Erickson spoke up, “I would say that the whole (Fairbank) council would be against it. It looks like big profits for big corporations.”

WZTV: Local organization opposes application for 32-mile gas pipeline through Middle Tennessee
Cindy Murphy, 7/29/22

“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has sent a notice announcing Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company’s application to build a 32-mile fracked-gas pipeline that would cross Dickson, Houston and Stewart counties as well as more than 130 wetlands and streams in Middle Tennessee,” WZTV reports. “According to Appalachian Voices, an organization committed to protect the land, air and water of Central and Southern Appalachia, the pipeline is associated with a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) proposal to replace the retiring Cumberland Fossil Plant with a fracked gas power plant. Appalachian Voices says the plan has been met with criticism for the financial risk it would pose for TVA ratepayers. In June, the EPA commented on TVA’s environmental review of the gas proposal, deeming the study inadequate and pointing out that TVA’s plans would expose customers to the price volatility of gas… “A recent study by Appalachian Voices demonstrated that replacing the Cumberland plant with renewable energy and energy efficiency would provide 20 to 30 times more permanent jobs than TVA’s gas proposal. This Notice of Application triggers a 21-day intervention period during which landowners, concerned residents, organizations or other impacted parties can preserve their right to participate in hearings and challenge decisions made about the pipeline project by the commission. The deadline for intervening is August 19.”

WASHINGTON UPDATES

E&E News: Manchin climate deal may face NEPA roadblock
Niina H. Farah, 8/2/22

“A provision of the landmark Senate climate and energy budget reconciliation bill could hit a legal stumbling block under the National Environmental Policy Act,” E&E News reports. “Tucked into the end of the nearly $370 billion deal struck last week by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is a requirement for the Interior Department to reinstate a massive 80 million-acre Gulf of Mexico lease sale that a federal judge blocked earlier this year for violating NEPA… ““If the NEPA analysis has to happen before the sale, [the spending bill] would seem to moot the NEPA analysis,” Jonathan Adler, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University, told E&E. Congress does have the authority to exempt certain projects from complying with laws, such as NEPA, and can overrule judicial decisions, legal experts told E&E. But lawmakers have to be explicit in drafting those exemptions. “If Congress had intended to exempt these lease sales from additional environmental analyses, they would have said so expressly,” Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, which has pressed the Biden administration to halt all new offshore oil and gas leasing, told E&E. Congress, she added, “didn’t do so.” “…But leases not specifically mentioned in the bill, he told E&E, would still be subject to compliance with NEPA and judicial review… “One other outstanding question is whether the leasing provisions in the climate deal will be upheld by the Senate parliamentarian, who will review the legislation to ensure that it follows Senate rules for what can be included in a budget reconciliation bill. Congress generally can’t use the reconciliation process to make substantive changes in law that are not directly tied to budgetary impacts, Adler of Case Western Reserve University told E&E.

InsideEPA: Senate Climate Deal Could Offer Boost To Several Major EPA GHG Rules
7/29/22

“The bill also establishes a direct link between future EPA methane rules and a new methane fee, making clear particularly for certain large facilities that methane emissions would entail a financial penalty, even before EPA’s standards for new and existing sources are fully implemented, according to Clean Air Task Force attorney Darin Schroeder,” InsideEPA reports. “More specifically, the proposed methane fee program applies to owners and operators of various oil and gas equipment that report over 25,000 metric tons of GHG-equivalent emissions annually to EPA. The fee would apply to emissions above certain thresholds that vary depending on the type of facility. The fee also includes an exemption if EPA determines there has been an ‘unreasonable’ delay in permitting gas infrastructure relevant to methane offtake, as well as an exemption once the agency determines that methane standards and plans approved and in effect ‘in all states with respect to the applicable facilities’ achieve emissions reductions ‘equivalent or greater’ than EPA’s methane proposal.”

STATE UPDATES

Press release: Attorney General Bonta and Governor Newsom Announce Federal Moratorium on New Oil and Gas Drilling in Central California
8/1/22

“California Attorney General Bonta, Governor Gavin Newsom, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced a settlement with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (Bureau) prohibiting new oil and gas leasing in Central California while the Bureau conducts a supplemental environmental review. In January 2020, the Attorney General, Governor Newsom, and the state agencies filed a lawsuit challenging a Trump-era plan to open up more than one million acres of public lands in Central California to oil and gas drilling, including hydraulic fracturing (fracking), without conducting an adequate environmental review of the plan’s impacts on California’s resources and residents.  “Fracking is dangerous for our communities, damaging to our environment, and out of step with California’s climate goals,” said Attorney General Bonta. “The Trump Administration recklessly opened Central California up to new oil and gas drilling without considering how fracking can hurt communities by causing polluted groundwater, toxic air emissions, minor earthquakes, climate impacts, and more. In keeping with the Bureau of Land Management’s mission to preserve the health of our public lands, it must reassess this Trump-Era mistake.” “…Today’s settlement imposes a moratorium on new oil and gas leases until the Bureau conducts an adequate environmental review. Specifically, the Bureau agrees to not hold any lease sales until it finalizes a supplemental environmental impact statement (EIS) that supersedes its flawed 2019 review. Attorney General Bonta, Governor Newsom, and the state agencies reserve the right to comment on the supplemental EIS and to challenge the new EIS in court if necessary.”   

Williston Herald: North Dakota’s ‘jackpot’ formations important to energy of the futrure
Cari Tomlinson, 7/24/22

“When you talk about the future of energy in North Dakota, Kathy Neset gets excited. One of the reasons is North Dakota’s geologic “jackpot,” something that’s been frequently mentioned by Gov. Doug Burgum,” the Williston Herald reports. “North Dakota’s infrastructure and technology is progressively moving forward in the research and study of these “jackpot” formations, Neset told those attending the Education Session of the Bakken Rocks Cookfest, held recently in Trenton… “We have such a jackpot of formations to do different things. CO2 storage is one of them, and the other is our salt zones,” Neset said… “It’s amazing the different things we have underground here in Western North Dakota,” Neset added. “Storing gasses underground is more environmentally safe and economically effective than above ground.” “…One key point Reset often stresses in her educational talks is how the oil and gas industry protects our water from the inside of the wellbore. Geology also plays an important part in how the water system is protected. There are 2 miles between surface waters and where fracking is done in the Bakken and Three Forks… “Another key element for North Dakota’s energy will be carbon dioxide storage from energy projects to put it into permanent sequestration. “When you hear the term CCS, that’s carbon capture and storage. The term CCUS is carbon capture, utilization and storage,” Neset said. “There is up to 250 billion tons of storage resource potential in deep saline formations and 100 billion tons of storage in the Broom Creek and Deadwood.”

Associated Press: California not counting methane leaks from idle wells
DREW COSTLEY, 8/1/22

“California claims to know how much climate-warming gas is going into the air from within its borders. It’s the law: California limits climate pollution and each year the limits get stricter,” the Associated Press reports. “The state has also been a major oil and gas producer for more than a century, and authorities are well aware some 35,000 old, inactive oil and gas wells perforate the landscape. Yet officials with the agency responsible for regulating greenhouse gas emissions say they don’t include methane that leaks from these idle wells in their inventory of the state’s emissions. Ira Leifer, a University of California Santa Barbara scientist told AP the lack of data on emissions pouring or seeping out of idle wells calls into question the state’s ability to meet its ambitious goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. In July, residents who live in the communities nearest the leaking wells protested at the California Geologic Management Division’s field offices, calling for better oversight… “A 2020 study said emissions from idle wells are “more substantial” than from plugged wells in California, but recommended more data collection on inactive wells at the major oil and gas fields throughout the state… “Howarth told AP even if methane from idle oil and gas wells isn’t a major pollution source, it should be a priority not just in California, but nationwide, to help the country meet its climate pledges.”

Carlsbad Current-Argus: Oil and gas spends thousands on June primary. New Mexico GOP hopes to win big in November
Adrian Hedden, 7/30/22

“After the last ballots were cast in New Mexico’s June primary election, oil and gas companies had sent millions of dollars to influence political campaigns during New Mexico’s June primary election that selected nominees from both parties to run for governor in the November General Election,” the Carlsbad Current-Argus reports. “Former meteorologist Mark Ronchetti secured the GOP nomination for the governor’s race over former State Rep. Rebecca Dow and led other candidates in contributions received from oil and gas, per a recent report from New Mexico Ethics Watch. Ronchetti garnered about $500,000 in donations from the oil and gas industry, records show, while Dow received about $154,000. The New Mexico House Republican Campaign Committee took in about $216,000 from the industry, per the report, during the primary season. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, seeking re-election and facing no opponents from her party for the nomination, got about $137,000 from industry sources, the report read, while the governor’ race accounted for about a third of oil and gas’ contributions leading up to the election… “In the House, Democrat Rep. Patricia Lundstrom (D-9) received the most from the oil and gas industry at $44,000. Lundstrom, who chairs the Legislative Finance Committee, pushed a series of bills during the 2022 Legislative Session earlier this year to embolden a hydrogen power industry in New Mexico which environmentalist opponents argued would amount to support for fossil fuels as most hydrogen power presently requires the burning of natural gas. Chevron was the highest contributor among oil and gas companies, the report read, giving $250,000 during the primary cycle, followed by Devon Energy at $122,000 in contributions and Exxon Mobil at $104,000… “The study also analyzed environmental groups’ contribution, which it said totaled about $160,000, led by Conservation Voters New Mexico that gave about $44,000 during the primary.”

Ventura County Star: Steep increases for oil and gas bonds move step closer in Ventura County
Cheri Carlson, 7/29/22

“In a split decision Thursday, the Ventura County Planning Commission advanced a proposal to require oil and gas companies to post substantially higher bond amounts for their operations,” the Ventura County Star reports. “The 3-2 vote is expected to send the proposed zoning amendments to the Board of Supervisors later this year… “For most companies, the proposed zoning amendments would require bonds ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 for surface restoration; $36,000 per well for plugging work; and $15,000 per well for those idle for 15 years or more. Those companies have 50 or fewer wells. But three oil and gas operators – Aera Energy, Carbon California and CalNRG – have 400 or more wells each and could have to post more than $15 million in bonds. The proposed changes are expected to better protect taxpayers and the environment when something goes wrong or if an operator abandons wells without properly plugging them. They also could significantly increase costs for the oil and gas industry that has repeatedly opposed other efforts to tighten restrictions… “Carbon California Vice President Jane Farkas has said the deposits the company would owe under the proposal top $15 million. She doubted the company could obtain the much cheaper bonds… “The surety amounts in front of you today are a company killer for Carbon,” she told commissioners. “The staff report expresses concern about bankruptcies in our industry and then lacks awareness that the county itself is creating that problem.”

EXTRACTION

IEFFA: Carbon capture’s methane problem
David Schlissel and Dennis Wamsted, 8/1/22

“Enchant Energy’s claims about the efficiency of a carbon capture installation at the San Juan Generating Station in New Mexico are exaggerated,” IEFFA reports. “An IEEFA analysis finds the effective carbon dioxide capture rate at San Juan — after including its mine emissions — would be no more than 72%, not the 90% that Enchant claims… “DOE also says projects must achieve a minimum unit-widecarbon dioxide (CO2) capture rate of 95%“once stable operations are achieved.” Like other proponents of carbon capture and storage (CCS) seeking federal funding of their projects, Enchant Energy and its allies claim that retrofitting the San Juan Generating Station (SJGS) in New Mexico for carbon capture could capture 90% or more of the CO2 emitted by the power plant. Real-world evidence suggests that this carbon capture rate is unrealistically high… “Even if Enchant captures 90% of the CO2 produced by SJGS, the combined CO2-equivalent (CO2e) capture rate for both the mine and the plant would be only 68%. In this scenario, the project would continue to emit more than 3 million tons of CO2-equivalents annually… “As disappointing as these findings may be to carbon capture advocates, they likely substantially understate the SJGS project’s total climate effects. In addition to uncaptured CO2 from the power plant and significant methane emissions from the San Juan coal mine, CO2 can leak during transportation to a storage site, and may also leak from underground storage facilities. In addition, if SJGS carbon were used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) projects, significant additional volumes of CO2 would be released during the production process and through consumption (CO2 leakage and the CO2 emissions from EOR are not considered in this analysis).”

PBS: U.S. Cities and States Are Suing Big Oil Over Climate Change. Here’s What the Claims Say and Where They Stand.
Bruce Gil, 8/1/22

“There are at least 20 pending lawsuits filed by cities and states across the U.S., alleging major players in the fossil fuel industry misled the public on climate change to devastating effect,” PBS reports. “While the precise claims vary from case to case — from securities fraud to nuisance, negligence and tort — most center on an argument that companies failed to disclose what they knew about their potential impact on the environment. It’s a relatively new legal tactic in a longtime argument from industry critics: that oil and gas companies must be held responsible for downplaying the impacts of fossil fuels and stalling government action on climate change — claims examined in FRONTLINE’s three-part documentary series The Power of Big Oil… “While the U.S. remains at the vanguard of this approach, Vancouver’s city council voted July 21 to fund a 2023 class-action lawsuit against big oil, making it the first Canadian city with specific plans to do so… “The claims hinge on longstanding local statutes and common-law torts first widely used in consumer-protection lawsuits from the 1960s and more recently in litigation over tobacco and pharmaceuticals. Key to these laws is that companies can be held accountable for failing to warn consumers of known potential hazards, Sokol told PBS… “When contacted for this story, API referred FRONTLINE to their response to The Power of Big Oil: that critics were “cherry-picking information from decades ago to support a misleading predetermined narrative.” “…Nearly all of the cases remain embroiled in battles over jurisdiction, with the typical trajectory looking something like this: A lawsuit is filed in state court, claiming common law or consumer-protection laws have been breached. Defense requests the suit be moved to federal court, citing the federal regulation of both greenhouse-gas emissions and the international sale of oil and gas… “Succeeding on these types of claims historically has been difficult. In the case of big tobacco, a 1998 settlement forced tobacco companies to pay states billions of dollars in healthcare costs — but only after nearly four decades of litigation.”

Natural Gas Intelligence: Cenovus Chief Urges Less Aggressive Canada GHG Targets for Natural Gas, Oil Producers
MATTHEW VEAZEY, 8/1/22

“Framing the Canadian government’s goals for cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from fossil fuel production as too much, too soon, management at Cenovus Energy Inc. expressed doubts about how workable the system would be for natural gas and oil producers,” Natural Gas Intelligence reports. “I am very worried that if we remain on this path, it could lead to shutting in production at a time when the world is literally crying out for more oil and gas,” Cenovus’ president Alex Pourbaix told analysts Thursday while reviewing second-quarter earnings… “Pourbaix said “those are much more aggressive goals than are being asked of any of the other industrial sectors in the country, including agriculture, heavy industry, and transportation…I think they’re going to be incredibly difficult. I don’t think they’re possible to hit.” As an alternative to the government’s proposal, Cenovus and other Canadian producers have advanced the relatively modest Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero initiative. Pourbaix said the 30% oil and gas GHG reduction by 2030 target in the Pathways plan would “represent the best case that we could do if everything worked out really well and we were able to get investing in these carbon reduction strategies very quickly.” Pursuing the government’s GHG targets, “what you’re going to see is that ultimately the risk could be a cut in production from Canada at a time when these resources are just incredibly desperately needed worldwide,” he said.

Marketplace.org: Why aren’t oil companies drilling on their 9,000 land leases?
Andy Uhler, 8/1/22

“Back in March, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was sending the price of oil sky-high, President Joe Biden noted that the oil and natural gas industry has 9,000 permits to drill that it isn’t using. In other words, 9,000 chances to increase the supply of oil and gas — and drive down prices,” Marketplace.org reports. “To be clear, Biden wasn’t wrong about that number, but citing it as evidence that energy companies are sitting on their hands to keep prices high needs a bit more context… “Private property is also where almost all of the oil in this part of Texas comes from. Those 9,000 permits Biden mentioned allow companies to drill on federal land… “Cohorn told Marketplace subcontractors are so busy, they can only make it to wells like this every so often. As a result, Henry Resources has been standing by with an unproductive well for two months. Labor is in such short supply in the region that stories like this are common… “He told Marketplace not only is labor in short supply, but steel pipe and other equipment are on back order for months. The sand and water necessary for fracking are hard to come by too. And any company that wanted to start drilling on those 9,000 federal leases would face the same problems… “And the bottom line is, if people like Mike Oestmann and Patrick Cohorn could drill more, they would.”

TODAY IN GREENWASHING

KSLA: ‘HUGE SUCCESS’ Benefit raises nearly $250,000 to aid men injured in gas explosion
Alex Onken, 8/1/22

“Hundred of thousands of dollars were raised this weekend for two men seriously injured in a gas line explosion on the grounds of Barksdale Air Force Base,” KSLA reports. “In a news release sent out by the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office, The Energy Transfer Benefit Sporting Clays Shootout, held at the Los Paloma Sporting Range and Event Center in Benton, raised $248,884 for Clay Moock and Adam Purland, who were injured in April 2022… “The two men are employees of Energy Transfer. The company matched the funds raised that day of $124,442, bringing the total to $248,884. The men both received $124,442 to go towards medical bills.”

OPINION

Tri-State Neighbor: Letter: We need local officials to protect us from CO2 Pipelines
Joy Hohn, Hartford, S.D., 7/29/22

“Summit Carbon Solutions is proposing a very hazardous, potentially lethal, CO2 pipeline across 18 counties in South Dakota. This proposed pipeline would be the first CO2 pipeline in South Dakota and is unlike any other pipelines running through our state. Unfortunately, there is still so much confusion on where Summit’s final route will be. In addition, Summit is proposing the largest CO2 pipeline with no previous experience constructing pipelines,” Joy Hohn writes for the Tri-State Neighbor. “The pipeline is proposed to be buried 4 feet underground which, as South Dakotans, we all know during rainy seasons with heavy equipment that 4 feet underground is not nearly enough! This pipeline will be under 2,100 pounds of pressure. Carbon dioxide is odorless and colorless, a silent killer. A pipeline leak or rupture under these high concentrations can result in death in less than 15 minutes of exposure. Even if you think that you can drive yourself to safety, CO2 displaces the oxygen in the car engine which results in your engine stalling out… “Let’s look at one of the most engaged lobbyists for Summit, Dan Lederman. Yes, Dan Lederman, chairman of the South Dakota GOP, who is registered with the U.S. government as a foreign agent, working part time for the royal embassy of Saudi Arabia for a mere $10,000 per month. Whose interest is Lederman really representing? Furthermore, South Korean Holdings, a company fined $70 million for defrauding U.S. contracts, has 10% ownership in Summit. What other investors are involved with Summit? Summit is not being transparent. Is this the type of company that we want running a pipeline through South Dakota? Did the state’s attorney and commissioners succumb to the pressures from Summit that they will be sued if they continue with a moratorium or pass ordinances? Have they considered what happens if there is a rupture or leak? How many landowners and citizens will sue the county then for their inaction to protect the citizens of Hand County?.. “Remember that only individual counties can set ordinances. It is up to you to hold our elected officials accountable in order to protect our future and our state of South Dakota!”

Truthout: Carbon Capture Won’t Work, But It Will Funnel Billions to Corporations
Wenonah Hauter is the executive director of the national advocacy group Food & Water Watch, 7/31/22

“Carbon capture is having a moment, and it’s not hard to see why: As Texas Monthly reports, “According to estimates, the worldwide carbon-capture market is expected to grow from about $2 billion this year to about $7 billion in 2028,” Wenonah Hauter writes for Truthout. “Last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law devotes billions to advancing the technology, and atmospheric CO2 levels have now reached their highest levels in human history. The Supreme Court’s recent ruling, which limits the federal government’s power to reduce climate pollution, is making techno-fixes all the more appealing, and California’s own climate plan appears poised to lean on carbon capture to reduce emissions in accord with the state’s net zero goal. There’s just one problem: There is no real evidence that carbon capture can or will do what its optimistic name suggests… “But despite billions of dollars and decades of effort invested, no such facilities exist on any meaningful scale. The most high-profile CCS projects in the country have been multibillion-dollar failures… “So why does carbon capture maintain its trendy status as a bipartisan climate fix? For Democrats frustrated by their inability to pass more meaningful climate legislation, carbon capture has the allure of doing, well, something. And for many voters, it has an intuitive rhetorical appeal: Who wouldn’t want to “capture” carbon pollution?.. “So, what is enabling this foolish CCS trend? Massive subsidies from the federal government. An IRS tax credit program known as 45Q has provided a per-ton credit to companies based on how much carbon dioxide they capture. In total, 10 companies have claimed about a billion dollars over a decade. But a damning 2020 report from the Treasury Department found that almost $900 million in capture credits did not even meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s monitoring and verification guidelines; it remains unclear how much actual pollution is being captured… “On the one hand, carbon capture has been a colossal, expensive failure. But by another measure it’s been a resounding, frightening success. Fossil fuel companies have managed to persuade the federal government to waste billions on false schemes that do nothing to solve the climate crisis. This is terrible news for the planet, and it will only continue to worsen until lawmakers pull the plug on these illusions and get serious about stopping pollution at the source.”

The Hill: President Biden’s offshore drilling plan will make or break climate and environmental justice promises
John Beard Jr. is the founder, president, and executive director of the Port Arthur Community Action Network, serving the Port Arthur/Southeast Texas area as a community advocate, 8/1/22

“You’ve heard the news and seen the reports: the most catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis are coming unless we transition from fossil fuels to clean energy as soon as possible,” John Beard Jr. writes for The Hill. “ But for some of us, the climate crisis is already here and impacting our health, safety and communities. I am a retired Exxon-Mobil employee from Port Arthur, Texas — a city that has become a sacrifice zone for the profits of the oil and gas industry, where the United States government has permitted pipelines, liquified natural gas and petrochemical facilities and offshore drilling. Here, we have seen firsthand what happens when the government listens to the fossil fuel industry instead of people. The costs on our families and communities are mounting. It’s time for the status quo to change and for politicians to keep their word to us, starting by putting an end to new offshore drilling leases… “For those of us who’ve spent our entire lives in endangered Gulf communities, there is a world of difference between a five-year plan from the Biden administration that includes new offshore leases and one that doesn’t. The former means devastating oil spills, rising sea levels and constant flooding, and a continued threat to our respiratory health. The latter brings hope for a livable future and a start to the clean energy transition that President Biden promised on the campaign trail… “We need a five-year plan with no new leases, we need bold climate investments to truly transition us away from fossil fuels, and we need to hold our elected officials accountable for turning their backs on our communities. There is no room for more fossil fuels if we want a livable future — if the Biden administration bows down to the fossil fuel industry, we have to rise up and push back.”

Guardian: The world is ablaze and the oil industry just posted record profits. It’s us or them
Hamilton Nolan, 8/2/22

“It is useful to think of capitalism as a robotic savant, spectacularly gifted at doing one thing and cripplingly blind to everything else,” Hamilton Nolan writes for the Guardian. “Global capitalism is an incredible machine for extracting fossil fuels from our planet, refining them, shipping them to every corner of the Earth and making staggering amounts of money doing so. The humming of this machine, the fuel and the money that it spits out, has powered a century of unprecedented production and consumption by the Earth’s first-world nations. Unfortunately the machine is also poisoning us all. But one of its exquisitely evolved functions is to make it almost impossible to turn it off. Oil and gas profits in the most recent quarter were astounding. Exxon Mobil made $18bn in profits in the past three months. Shell and Chevron each made nearly $12bn. Those are all record numbers… “Fossil fuels make enough money to corrupt politicians, cause wars and bend public opinion through the brute force of a firehose of propaganda. The machine does not just extract and sell fossil fuels; it also concerns itself with ensuring that the entire world is arranged in a way conducive to maintaining the demand for those fossil fuels. The growth of oil profits even as the reality of climate change is burning before our eyes is proof that no single crisis, no matter how existential, will be enough to shut this machine down naturally. The machine must either be broken by us, or it will break us all… “So next time you see young people sitting in at a senator’s office or blocking the streets or hollering at Joe Manchin’s yacht, don’t mock them. Join them. They will be living through a grim future long after all that sweet oil money has been spent.”

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