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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 8/8/22

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips August 8, 2022



  • New York Times: Manchin’s Donors Include Pipeline Giants That Win in His Climate Deal

  • Des Moines Register: Pipeline company to begin notifying Iowa regulators where it may seek to force landowners to sell easements

  • WESA: Energy Transfer pleads no contest to criminal charges related to Mariner East pipeline construction

  • Calgary Herald: Public support for Trans Mountain pipeline drops slightly in Alberta: poll

  • Counterpunch: We Stopped a Fossil Fuel Pipeline in Idaho….And We’re Just Getting Started

  • Major gas leak reported from northwest Louisiana pipeline


  • Press release: Indigenous Environmental Network Statement on the Proposed Inflation Reduction Act

  • Wall Street Journal: GOP Lawmakers Lobby Oil Industry to Denounce Tax-and-Climate Bill

  • E&E News: Republicans Urge Interior To Streamline Methane Permits


  • Associated Press: State Supreme Court strikes key portions of ‘pore-space’ law

  • Politico: California scorns fossil fuel but can’t keep the lights on without it

  • Texas Tribune: EPA says it is looking for “super-emitters” of methane gas in Texas’ Permian Basin

  • Billings Gazette: DEQ seeks comments on Phillips 66 proposal to change groundwater cleanup


  • Groundwork Collaborative: Oil and Gas Companies Gloat About Blockbuster Earnings

  • Bloomberg: Big Oil Is Paying Out Years of Dividends in One Day

  • Financial Times: US oil producers defy calls to open taps and tame war-driven energy prices

  • National Observer: Environmental groups oppose proposals to build LNG terminals on Canada’s East Coast

  • Canadian refinery spills diesel into St. Clair River

  • NPR: 17 missing, 121 hurt, 1 dead in fire at Cuban oil facility


  • Press release: TC Energy announces $1.8 billion bought deal offering of Common Shares


  • Los Angeles Times: Op-Ed: California wants more ethanol and carbon capture. That would lock in pollution for decades

  • Bloomberg: Natural Gas Is Better Than Many Environmentalists Admit

  • Los Angeles Times: Editorial: Climate change is an emergency. Biden should use his executive powers to do more

  • Washington Post: Amid world crises, ‘grotesque greed’ wins out

  • National Observer: Canada continues to fuel environmental racism by letting it fuel us

  • Hill Times: Federal fight against climate change stops at the oil patch


New York Times: Manchin’s Donors Include Pipeline Giants That Win in His Climate Deal
Hiroko Tabuchi, 8/7/22

“After years of spirited opposition from environmental activists, the Mountain Valley Pipeline — a 304-mile gas pipeline cutting through the Appalachian Mountains — was behind schedule, over budget and beset with lawsuits. As recently as February, one of its developers, NextEra Energy, warned that the many legal and regulatory obstacles meant there was “a very low probability of pipeline completion,” the New York Times reports. “Then came Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and his hold on the Democrats’ climate agenda. Mr. Manchin’s recent surprise agreement to back the Biden administration’s historic climate legislation came about in part because the senator was promised something in return: not only support for the pipeline in his home state, but also expedited approval for pipelines and other infrastructure nationwide, as part of a wider set of concessions to fossil fuels. It was a big win for a pipeline industry that, in recent years, has quietly become one of Mr. Manchin’s biggest financial supporters. Natural gas pipeline companies have dramatically increased their contributions to Mr. Manchin, from just $20,000 in 2020 to more than $331,000 so far this election cycle, according to campaign finance disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission and tallied by the Center for Responsive Politics. Mr. Manchin has been by far Congress’s largest recipient of money from natural gas pipeline companies this cycle, raising three times as much from the industry than any other lawmaker. NextEra Energy, a utility giant and stakeholder in the Mountain Valley Pipeline, is a top donor to both Mr. Manchin and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, who negotiated the pipeline side deal with Mr. Manchin. Mr. Schumer has received more than $281,000 from NextEra this election cycle, the data shows. Equitrans Midstream, which owns the largest stake in the pipeline, has given more than $10,000 to Mr. Manchin. The pipeline and its owners have also spent heavily to lobby Congress. The disclosures point to the extraordinary behind-the-scenes spending and deal-making by the fossil fuel industry that have shaped a climate bill that nevertheless stands to be transformational.”  But in Appalachia, where the Mountain Valley Pipeline cuts through steep mountainsides and nearly 1,000 streams and wetlands, the deal has highlighted the economic and social tensions in a region where extractive industries over the generations have produced jobs in coal mines and on fracking rigs but have also left behind deep scars on the land and in communities… “The pipeline deal means Appalachia is again becoming a “sacrifice zone” for the greater good, Russell Chisholm, a Persian Gulf war veteran and a member of Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights, a coalition of groups that oppose construction, told the Times.”

Des Moines Register: Pipeline company to begin notifying Iowa regulators where it may seek to force landowners to sell easements
Donnelle Eller, 8/5/22

“The Ames company seeking to build a $4.5 billion carbon capture pipeline across Iowa said it would begin notifying state regulators Friday where it may seek to use eminent domain powers to force landowners to sell access to their property for the project,” the Des Moines Register reports. “Summit Carbon Solutions executives said this week the company has reached voluntary agreements with 750 landowners on about 1,200 parcels needed to build the pipeline through Iowa. But that’s only about 40% of the roughly 2,900 total, Justin Kirchhoff, president of Summit Ag Investors, a sister company to Summit Carbon Solutions, told the Register. Both companies are part of Bruce Rastetter’s Summit Agricultural Group, an agri-industry conglomerate that’s based in Alden… “Brian Jorde, an Omaha, Nebraska, attorney who represents farmers and other landowners opposed to the project, expressed surprise that Summit has agreements for less than half the needed properties. “Summit has been at this over a year, and all they have is 40%,” he told the Register. “That’s shockingly low. Embarrassingly low.”  Summit expects to continue adding names to the list of landowners it’s reached voluntary easement agreements with, Kirchhoff told the Register, adding that it takes time to negotiate the contracts. “We’ve really been encouraged by a growing recognition of the direct impact that this is going to have on ag,” he told the Register, adding that it’s “led to a lot of momentum” in getting voluntary agreements… “Iowans who oppose the project have complained that Summit land agents have harassed them with repeated calls and visits to their homes. “They’re trying to beat down people,” Mazour told the Register. Kirchhoff told the Register Summit Carbon has fired agents who are “not representing us in a way we’re comfortable with.” “…Jorde told the Register voluntary easements don’t exist when the utilities board can grant Summit and other companies eminent domain powers. “Eminent domain is a gun held to landowners’ head,” he told the Register, adding that the property owners “have no negotiating power.”

WESA: Energy Transfer pleads no contest to criminal charges related to Mariner East pipeline construction
Susan Phillips, 8/7/22

“The state attorney general says Texas-based pipeline builder Energy Transfer is “accepting criminal responsibility” for dozens of charges related to construction of its Mariner East pipeline project,” WESA reports. “Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the company waived its preliminary hearing scheduled for Friday. Energy Transfer pleaded no contest to the charges, and the company will have a permanent criminal record for causing damage to drinking water, wetlands and waterways across the state during five years of construction on the liquified natural gas pipeline system. “It’s about time this company was held accountable for the damage they inflicted on residents and the environment,” Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum told WESA. In October 2021, the Attorney General released a grand jury presentment dozens of pages long that detailed sinkholes, drilling mud spills, and drinking water contamination at 22 sites in 11 counties across Pennsylvania. In February, the AG charged the company with nine additional criminal charges related to the 2018 explosion of the Revolution Pipeline in Beaver County… “As part of the plea, Energy Transfer is required to remediate and restore damaged water supplies. People who believe their water to be impacted will get free testing from an independent party. The Attorney General will hire independent professional geologists with no connection to the company to perform a review. Energy Transfer will spend $10 million to restore waterways damaged by its construction… “He highlighted the testimony of Rosemary Fuller of Delaware County, whose daughter was hospitalized after drinking water contaminated by Energy Transfer’s pipeline construction. The company had told her nothing was wrong with the water, but testing revealed E. coli and fecal coliform bacteria. Fuller’s water has not been restored… “The grand jury also found the company used unapproved chemicals in its drilling mud.”

Calgary Herald: Public support for Trans Mountain pipeline drops slightly in Alberta: poll
Michael Rodriguez, 8/7/22

“Public support in Alberta for the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline has waned since 2020, but a substantial majority of Albertans still support the project, a new poll from Research Co. suggests,” the Calgary Herald reports. “According to polling data, almost seven of every 10 Albertans, 69 per cent, support the federally owned pipeline project, down five percentage points from a November 2020 poll. The federal government bought the Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion in 2018, with the cost to finish the expansion — set to increase the capacity of the pipeline from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels a day — then estimated around $7.4 billion. Since then, the project — running from Edmonton to the B.C. coast — has faced several hurdles, including legal pushback from Indigenous groups, protests that spurred multiple arrests and a skyrocketing price tag, estimated in February to be around $21.4 billion. Calgary showed the least support in Alberta for the expansion, with 66 per cent still professing favourable views of the project… “Polling data suggests a slim majority of B.C. residents are now in favour of the expansion, 51 per cent, though that number has risen by six points since 2021… “Most Albertans and British Columbians think the expansion will bring hundreds of jobs to their province — 78 and 71 per cent, respectively. Still, 61 per cent in Alberta and 51 per cent in B.C. are disappointed in the federal government’s handling of the project. Around 28 per cent of Albertans believe the TMX expansion threatens the health and safety of residents, and 40 per cent of B.C. residents share that view. Less than half of residents of both provinces think the expansion will help lower gas prices — 40 per cent in Alberta and 37 per cent in B.C.”

Counterpunch: We Stopped a Fossil Fuel Pipeline in Idaho….And We’re Just Getting Started

“This week, we secured a huge victory for the climate, as well as free-roaming endangered species like grizzly bears, wolverines, and lynx, when we stopped a natural gas pipeline called the “Crow Creek Pipeline” in Idaho,” Counterpunch reports. “Our organizations, Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Yellowstone to Uintas Connection, have been fighting a legal challenge against this pipeline for over two years, and our unrelenting efforts just paid off. Not only did the government cancel the pipeline, but it also made a legally-binding commitment to us to conduct a complete environmental analysis before the pipeline could ever be brought back from the dead. What we did in this case was unprecedented: after litigating this case for two years and filing our opening brief, the government tucked its tail and ran, without even waiting for a final court order. We have never seen this in a legal challenge to a pipeline before. What this means is no possibility for any appeals to an ideological Supreme Court that would reverse this win if given the chance. Instead, this win is here to stay… “In addition to the harm to the climate, the pipeline would have increased illegal wildlife killings, invasive weeds, and illegal motorized use.” Major gas leak reported from northwest Louisiana pipeline

“A pipeline in northwest Louisiana leaked 8.2 million cubic feet of natural gas last month, sending large amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere, officials said Friday,” reports. “The leak came from an Energy Transfer LP pipeline near Ringgold, about 40 miles east of Shreveport, on the morning of July 22, Patrick Courreges, state Department of Natural Resources spokesperson, told It resulted from a ruptured gathering line, a pipeline that leads from a drilling site, and was shut off the same day, Courreges said. The cause is being investigated. The volume of the leak was enough to power about 40,000 homes for a day, Reuters reported. It chased 10 residents from their homes and closed part of Louisiana 4, State Police told No injuries were reported. Residents were able to return home after about 90 minutes. “The leak was found to be the result a 16-inch gathering line that ruptured for unknown reasons,” state trooper Jonathan Odom told… “Courreges told a sample section of the pipe has been sent to a laboratory for clues about what might have caused the leak. The pipeline is shut off until further notice, he said.”


Press release: Indigenous Environmental Network Statement on the Proposed Inflation Reduction Act

“Last week, Senator Joe Manchin (D -WV) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced they reached a legislative deal to confront climate change and have since included that deal within the 8newly announced  Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022… This legislative bill continues where the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act 2021 left off by propping up the same harmful industries Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and frontline communities are fighting now. The so-called “climate deal” is a wholesale investment into destructive climate false solutions designed to line the pockets of the fossil fuel and energy industries and cultivate the growth of the extractive industries. The most insidious framework in the bill is the attempt by Senators Manchin and Schumer to buy off BIPOC and marginalized communities by allocating comparatively meager amounts of grants and loans as “environmental justice investments”—dangling a carrot in the face of Tribal communities to open up their lands to harmful practices like carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, nuclear, forest and agriculture offsets, and biofuel development. Similar tactics to gain the support of the labor movement by haphazardly attaching boilerplate “prevailing wage requirements” are seen throughout the bill, without providing any meaningful pathways to a Just Transition for workers and frontline communities. Not only does the IRA ignore frontline communities’ calls to address the climate crisis at its source, the bill exacerbates the climate crisis by stymying the ability for a Just Transition to community-based renewable energy through an unprecedented quid pro quo with oil and gas leasing. The Democrats are mistaken if they believe that Indigenous communities will be duped into being a pawn for the fossil fuel industry… “President Biden must declare a climate emergency under the National Emergencies Act and keep fossil fuels in the ground.”

Wall Street Journal: GOP Lawmakers Lobby Oil Industry to Denounce Tax-and-Climate Bill
Timothy Puko, 8/6/22

“Congressional Republicans are ramping up pressure on the oil-and-gas industry to take an aggressive stance against the Democrats’ tax-and-climate bill, frustrated that the industry hasn’t done more to help Republicans defeat a cornerstone of President Biden’s agenda,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “Minority leaders in both chambers are coordinating what one aide called “a full-court press,” cajoling lobbyists in Washington and energy executives around the country, aides and lobbyists familiar with the outreach told the Journal. Republicans have called and emailed the country’s largest oil company, Exxon Mobil Corp. , and the industry’s largest trade group, the American Petroleum Institute, pressing for more forceful opposition to the compromise plan negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Manchin, (D., W.Va.)… “The oil-and-gas industry has had a mixed response to the Senate plan. For example, some companies and trade groups have objected to a proposed tax on methane emissions, but natural-gas companies and others have applauded a promised companion measure pushed by Mr. Manchin to streamline permitting for new pipelines… “On Thursday morning Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee sent an email to industry representatives, calling out Exxon and others including BP PLC, Shell PLC and AARP, the Washington-based advocacy group for older adults, for supporting some provisions of the bill. “Stakeholder support for ‘just one’ of the included provisions will be classified as support for passage of the bill in its entirety; you can’t get your one without sacrificing for the others,” said the email that went to people at those companies. The companies didn’t respond publicly to the email, but the U.S. arms of both BP and Shell on Friday signed on with 38 other companies in a letter supporting quick passage of the bill… “Staff for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) have also reached out to industry representatives, frustrated that some lobbyists have publicly supported provisions in the bill, people familiar with the matter told the Post. 

E&E News: Republicans Urge Interior To Streamline Methane Permits
Jeremy Dilon, 8/5/22

“Senate Republicans are urging the Interior Department to streamline environmental reviews for energy infrastructure on federal lands, arguing such a move would limit the release of methane emissions,” E&E News reports. “The letter from 17 Republicans, led by Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), comes as the Senate considers a host of issues related to methane reduction and permitting reform — all mostly tied to Democrats’ tax and climate reconciliation package. No Republican is expected to support that Democratic bill. Instead, they argue in the letter, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland should follow through on a bipartisan provision in last year’s infrastructure law that would speed permitting via categorical exclusion zones. Such zones could help speed permitting by reducing the time needed for reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act. The lawmakers contend that unleashing more pipelines could help oil and gas producers cut down on the amount of venting and flaring in natural gas production. ‘A further reduction in methane and carbon dioxide emissions requires the federal government to serve as a facilitating partner in the development of midstream infrastructure, with federal land managers playing a pivotal role,’ the lawmakers wrote. The group argued that the Interior Department has yet to follow through on the infrastructure law authorities. ‘To date, we have not seen any substantive evidence of federal land managers utilizing the permitting efficiencies at your disposal,’ the lawmakers wrote. ‘Rather than pursuing a punitive approach, federal land managers should use NEPA authorities like this to work with producers in a collaborative manner.’”


Associated Press: State Supreme Court strikes key portions of ‘pore-space’ law

“North Dakota’s Supreme Court on Thursday struck down key portions of a state law that a landowners group argued amounts to the unconstitutional taking of private property rights,” the Associated Press reports. “The so-called pore space law passed the 2019 Legislature after supporters sought clarification on the use of voids or cavities in underground rock formations. Pore spaces are used when the petroleum industry injects saltwater from oil and gas production underground for permanent storage or for enhanced oil recovery. The Northwest Landowners Association sued the state arguing the law deprives them of their right to be compensated for the use of their pore space. A state district judge last year ruled the law unconstitutional because it gives the landowners’ value from pore space to the oil and gas industry for free. Justices, in their unanimous opinion made public Thursday, largely agreed… “Under the law, landowners couldn’t be compensated for pore space when it is used for saltwater disposal or enhanced oil recovery, unless they had an existing contract. Landowners adjacent to a disposal well also could not make a claim that saltwater, a byproduct of oil production, had migrated into their pore space, nor could they sue for trespassing. The Supreme Court struck down those provisions.”

Politico: California scorns fossil fuel but can’t keep the lights on without it
LARA KORTE, 8/4/22

“California wants to quit fossil fuels. Just not yet,” Politico reports. “Faced with a fragile electrical grid and the prospect of summertime blackouts, the state agreed to put aside hundreds of millions of dollars to buy power from fossil fuel plants that are scheduled to shut down as soon as next year. That has prompted a backlash from environmental groups and lawmakers who say Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s approach could end up extending the life of gas plants that have been on-track to close for more than a decade and could threaten the state’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2045. “The emphasis that the governor has been making is ‘We’re going to be Climate Leaders; we’re going to do 100 percent clean energy; we’re going to lead the nation and the world,’” V. John White, executive director of the Sacramento-based Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, a non-profit group of environmental advocates and clean energy companies, told Politico. “Yet, at least a part of this plan means going the opposite direction.” That plan was a last-minute addition to the state’s energy budget, which lawmakers in the Democratic-controlled Legislature reluctantly passed. Backers say it’s necessary to avoid the rolling blackouts like the state experienced during a heat wave in 2020. Critics see a muddled strategy on energy, and not what they expected from a nationally ambitious governor who has made climate action a centerpiece of his agenda… “It’s also an acknowledgment of the political reality that blackouts are hazardous to elected officials, even in a state dominated by one party.”

Texas Tribune: EPA says it is looking for “super-emitters” of methane gas in Texas’ Permian Basin

“Federal regulators are flying over large stretches of Texas looking for “super-emitters” of methane, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced this week,” the Texas Tribune reports. “The helicopter flyovers surveying thousands of oil and gas operations in the Permian Basin region of West Texas and southeastern New Mexico began Monday and will continue through Aug. 15. The flyovers will allow the agency to identify emitters of large amounts of methane and excess emissions of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, according to a news release… “The region has produced large quantities of methane and VOCs over the years, which contribute to climate change and poor air quality, Region 6 Administrator Earthea Nance told the Tribune… “The agency plans to address noncompliance with significant penalties and referrals to the Department of Justice. It plans to monitor violators to verify that they are taking corrective action to address excessive emissions… “The agency’s announcement of flyovers came four days after The Associated Press published an investigation that showed 533 oil and gas facilities in the region are emitting excessive amounts of methane. An agency spokesperson told the Washington Post that the timing of the announcement was not related to AP’s story and that similar flights had been conducted in previous years.”

Billings Gazette: DEQ seeks comments on Phillips 66 proposal to change groundwater cleanup

“The Phillips 66 refinery in Billings is asking the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to approve its proposal to use sparging to improve groundwater quality in four contaminated areas,” the Billings Gazette reports. “The refinery is located on about 200 acres on the southeast side of the city. Sparging is a means of “injecting air, oxygen or other additives (such as ozoneperoxide) into the water table to stimulate the breakdown of contamination by microorganisms,” the DEQ explained in its draft environmental assessment. To use the technique, the DEQ must sign off on a modification to Phillips 66’s permit… “Prior to the request to switch to sparging, the company has used a groundwater interceptor system to prevent contaminants from leaving the refinery’s property. “The main hazardous constituents of interest (COIs) in groundwater and soil at the refinery are benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, and vinyl chloride.” The Yellowstone River is approximately 1,000 feet east of the refinery. Groundwater at the site flows northeast toward the Yellowstone River. About 22 feet under the soil, a layer of Colorado Shale limits the downward flow of water… “The refinery has been working to clean up the contamination since the 1990s, using a variety of techniques which have “shown success at reducing the extent and magnitude of groundwater contamination.”


Groundwork Collaborative: Oil and Gas Companies Gloat About Blockbuster Earnings

“Today, the Groundwork Collaborative released new research showing oil and gas executives bragging on corporate earnings calls about their record-shattering profits. Lindsay Owens, executive director of the Groundwork Collaborative, responded with the following statement: “The data is in. As Americans hit their breaking point with high prices at the pump, Big Oil CEOs are using the crisis in Ukraine to bring in eye-popping profits. Exxon brought in $2,245 a second in the second quarter – that’s not a strong quarter, it’s a one-way racket.” “On their earnings calls, Hess executives said they planned to exploit high oil prices “to increase the return of capital to our shareholders through further dividend increases and share repurchases.”  Hess Corporation’s CFO said that despite inflation and supply problems increasing costs, “with the higher oil prices, obviously, we’re getting much higher returns in cash flow.” Shell executives admitted that high prices weren’t simply because of the war or inflation: “while indeed the war is a driver of a lot of the pricing that we are seeing,” their profits were not merely a “windfall because there happens to be a war on the continent here.” Shell’s CEO said the company’s earnings were up 65% from the last time the average price of oil was $108 and “this quarter our cash distributions were the highest ever.” “…Chevron emphasized it was not seeking to increase production significantly, but was “focused on generating returns.” Chevron downplayed inflation and recession costs, saying the company was focused on “more free cash flow for shareholders.” Chevron told analysts it plans to increase stock buybacks to $15 billion per year. Phillips 66 said that supply constraints were “supporting elevated refining margins,” leading to earnings over $3 billion.”

Bloomberg: Big Oil Is Paying Out Years of Dividends in One Day
Geoffrey Morgan, 8/5/22

“Some oil and gas companies are flush with so much cash that they are paying out a full year’s worth of dividends in a single day — and sometimes more than that,” Bloomberg reports. “While reporting second quarter results Thursday, ConocoPhillips informed investors that it will pay them $1.40 per share in a special dividend on October 14. For context, that’s almost three times its regular quarterly dividend of $0.46 — and shareholders get both the regular and the special payout. The shareholder reward comes after a full quarter of crude prices averaging around $100 a barrel. Similarly, Tourmaline Oil Corp. will reward its investors after a quarter of bumper natural gas prices with a C$2 per share special dividend on August 12 — worth roughly double a full year’s worth of its regular dividend payments. Its the third such special dividend from Tourmaline this year. The energy industry right now is a “broken ATM spewing out cash and there aren’t enough people around to pick it up,” Rafi Tahmazian, a senior portfolio manager at Canadian investment firm Canoe Financial, told Bloomberg. Tahmazian expects to see more investors flocking to energy companies distributing cash windfalls. The blockbuster payouts could even fuel energy stock performance this year.”

Financial Times: US oil producers defy calls to open taps and tame war-driven energy prices
Justin Jacobs, 8/6/22

“America’s largest oil and gas producers are keeping a lid on supply, defying calls from the Biden administration to lift output even as soaring fuel prices driven by Russia’s war in Ukraine deliver bumper profits,” the Financial Times reports. “Top shale oil and gas producers including ConocoPhillips, Pioneer Natural Resources and Devon Energy all unveiled a sharp increase in second-quarter profits this month as high crude and natural gas prices fill the industry’s coffers. But executives say they remain under pressure from Wall Street to return the windfall to investors through dividends and share buybacks rather than spending heavily to increase production. “Unless we have shareholders that come in and say, look, we absolutely — we do not like these big dividends. We do not like your share repurchase programme. We want you to go back to a growth model,” Rick Muncrief, chief executive of Devon Energy, one of the shale patch’s biggest producers, told analysts. “Until we see that, I see no reason to change our strategy.” That sentiment was echoed by other shale executives in the latest sign that oil companies and their shareholders remain unmoved by politicians’ calls for more oil and gas supply after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent fuel prices soaring. Energy prices have driven inflation rates across the US and Europe to levels not seen in 40 years. President Joe Biden and other western politicians have attacked the oil companies’ decision to funnel profits back to shareholders rather than invest in new production that would help tame prices… “We don’t feel the need to grow production,” Occidental’s chief executive Vicki Hollub told FT. “We feel like one of the best values right now is investment in our own stock.” Billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has built an almost 20 per cent stake in Occidental, helping its share price more than double over the past year.”

National Observer: Environmental groups oppose proposals to build LNG terminals on Canada’s East Coast
Michael MacDonald, 8/5/22

“A coalition of environmental groups is calling on Ottawa to reject any proposals to build export facilities for liquefied natural gas on Canada’s East Coast, saying such projects will produce “climate-wrecking emissions,” the National Observer reports. “The coalition, which includes the Sierra Club Canada Foundation and Climate Action Network Canada, issued a statement Thursday that also takes aim at the financial risks associated with multibillion-dollar ventures that could take several years to come on stream. “On the world stage, Canadian politicians deliver passionate speeches about climate action, but their words will be revealed as empty promises if the federal government approves new fossil gas infrastructure on the East Coast,” Kelsey Lane, climate policy co-ordinator for the Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre, said in the statement. On Wednesday, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly told a chamber of commerce audience in Montreal that Germany is looking to invest in LNG projects in Canada. Calgary-based Pieridae Energy has been promoting construction of a multibillion-dollar LNG export terminal in Goldboro, N.S., since 2011, but it put the project on hold last summer because of “cost pressures and time constraints” linked to the COVID-19 pandemic… “Gretchen Fitzgerald, national programs director for the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, told the Observer the federal government is using the war in Ukraine to “hoodwink” the public into believing that LNG projects are a necessary evil. “LNG export plants will blow our chances of meeting emissions targets,” Fitzgerald told the observer. “And all this for projects that have no hope of coming online faster than truly clean alternatives, such as wind, solar and energy efficiency.” Canadian refinery spills diesel into St. Clair River
Sheri McWhirter, 8/4/22

“An unknown amount of petrochemicals spilled into the St. Clair River from a refinery in Canada during heavy rainfall Wednesday night,” reports. “An overflow in Suncor’s Sarnia refinery’s internal sewer system left a sheen on the river that caused officials on both sides of the international border to close off drinking water intakes. But Canadian authorities cleared water plants to return to normal activity Thursday morning. Officials with the Aamjiwnaang First Nation reported a sheen on the St. Clair River just before 8 p.m. Wednesday to authorities with Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment, Conservation & Parks. Michigan environmental regulators are also tracking the situation with the U.S. Coast Guard… “A company spokesperson said the incident was not an oil spill, but that area residents may notice a “diesel fuel-type odor.” “The overflow was stopped almost immediately and all water for the site is being safely managed. However, there was the presence of a sheen on the St. Clair River and downriver water users were contacted and asked to take the necessary precautions until the sheen passed,” Cassie Naas, from Suncor’s communications team, told Mlive.

NPR: 17 missing, 121 hurt, 1 dead in fire at Cuban oil facility

“A fire set off by a lightning strike at an oil storage facility raged uncontrolled in the Cuban city of Matanzas, where four explosions and flames injured 121 people and left 17 firefighters missing. Cuban authorities said a unidentified body had been found late Saturday,” NPR reports. “Firefighters and other specialists were still trying to quell the blaze at the Matanzas Supertanker Base, where the fire began during a thunderstorm Friday night, the Ministry of Energy and Mines tweeted. Authorities said about 800 people were evacuated from the Dubrocq neighborhood closest to the fire, The government said it had asked for help from international experts in “friendly countries” with experience in the oil sector… “The official Cuban News Agency said lightning hit one tank, starting a fire, and the blaze later spread to a second tank. As military helicopters flew overhead dropping water on the blaze, dense column of black smoke billowed from the facility and spread westward more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) toward Havana… “Cuba’s Health Ministry reported that 121 people were injured with five of them in critical condition. The Presidency of the Republic said the 17 people missing were “firefighters who were in the nearest area trying to prevent the spread.”


Press release: TC Energy announces $1.8 billion bought deal offering of Common Shares

“TC Energy Corporation today announced that it has entered into an agreement with a syndicate of underwriters led by RBC Capital Markets and Scotiabank, pursuant to which the underwriters have agreed to purchase, on a bought deal basis, 28,400,000 common shares of the Company (the Common Shares) at a price of $63.50 per Common Share (the Offering Price), for gross proceeds of approximately $1.8 billion (the Offering). The Common Shares will be offered to the public in Canada and the United States through the underwriters and their affiliates. TC Energy has granted the underwriters an over-allotment option to purchase up to an additional 2,840,000 Common Shares at the Offering Price, exercisable at any time up to 30 days following the closing of the Offering (the Over-Allotment Option). If the Over-Allotment Option is exercised in full, the aggregate gross proceeds from the Offering will be approximately $2.0 billion. The net proceeds from the Offering will be used, directly or indirectly, together with other financing sources and cash on hand, to fund costs associated with the construction of the Southeast Gateway Pipeline, a US$4.5 billion, 1.3 billion cubic feet per day, 715-kilometre offshore natural gas pipeline in the southeast region of Mexico.”


Los Angeles Times: Op-Ed: California wants more ethanol and carbon capture. That would lock in pollution for decades
Carolyn Raffensperger is an environmental lawyer and executive director of the Science and Environmental Health Network. Sheri Deal-Tyne is a policy advocate with Physicians for Social Responsibility-Iowa, 8/5/22

“As California prepares to update its low carbon fuel standard — a policy aiming to reduce emissions from transportation fuels — Indigenous groups and environmentalists across the Midwest are fighting one of its key provisions. The policy would incentivize ethanol production through technology that stores carbon underground not just in California, but anywhere in the U.S.,” Carolyn Raffensperger and Sheri Deal-Tyne write for the Los Angeles Times. “Here in Iowa, where much of the nation’s corn is raised and corn-based ethanol is produced, we are facing a corporate stampede to build thousands of miles of dangerous pipelines crisscrossing six Midwest states. This includes the development of underground toxic waste disposal sites to store carbon under Midwest lands… “Carbon capture technology is aggravating climate change in other ways as well. Drilling companies pump captured CO2 underground to help extract more oil, ultimately leading to more pollution… “Such technology will require thousands of miles of CO2 pipelines across six states… “Carbon capture projects need permission from landowners to build pipelines, but if farmers in Iowa refuse, developers are working with government authorities to seize the land using eminent domain. Iowans’ opposition to the pipelines is fierce and includes county government officials, farmers, Indigenous organizers, scientists and environmental activists… “In response to the Satartia CO2 pipeline rupture, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a report in May warning about the potential for damage to pipelines caused by earth movement and climate change, such as increased rainfall and higher temperatures. In Iowa, the pipelines are slated to be buried in farmland, where heavy farm machinery will drive over them, further increasing risks of ruptures.”

Bloomberg: Natural Gas Is Better Than Many Environmentalists Admit
Matthew Yglesias, 8/7/22

“While most of progressive Washington has celebrated the announcement of the Inflation Reduction Act, at least one left-wing gadfly isn’t having it. “A pipeline?” asked Nina Turner on Twitter last week. “In a climate bill? It’s not a climate bill,” Matthew Yglesias writes for Bloomberg. “Turner, a former state senator from Ohio and co-chair of Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign, is referring to provisions of the IRA that would all but guarantee the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline between Virginia and West Virginia. (The proposal also includes some broader reforms that would generally make it harder to block pipeline construction.) And while Turner’s view that this provision invalidates the entire bill is very eccentric — essentially every mainstream environmental group has said that the legislation is, on balance, very good — her specific opposition to the construction of new pipelines is very mainstream. The fundamental issue is that, at current margins, natural gas is a better option than many environmentalists would care to admit. That’s not because the gas itself is clean (though it is cleaner than coal and oil), but because it nicely complements renewable wind and solar power… “Environmentalists will argue, rightly, that to meet global emissions goals, the world eventually needs to move to zero or even negative emissions, and that is incompatible with the current natural gas infrastructure. But the painful truth is that there is not yet the technical capacity to do this in a way that is compatible with continued global economic growth… “For most of the world, though, getting to zero emissions will require a technological breakthrough. That could mean advanced nuclear (which I am enthusiastic about, as it is compact and can go anywhere), or it could mean better batteries and long-term electrical storage (which many environmentalists are enthusiastic about). Advanced geothermal power could do the job. It’s also possible that the fossil fuel industry’s bet on carbon capture and sequestration will pan out, and the world will be able to keep burning gas… “With today’s technology, in today’s global economy, more gas means lower emissions, not higher. That’s why a pipeline absolutely does belong in a climate bill.”

Los Angeles Times: Editorial: Climate change is an emergency. Biden should use his executive powers to do more
Editorial Board, 8/5/22

“Last week’s unexpected Senate deal on a $369-billion climate spending package is bound to ease pressure on President Biden. Days earlier, when it looked like opposition from West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III had killed Biden’s climate agenda, the president vowed to take “strong executive action” if the Senate would not act,” the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board writes. “Facing increasing calls from activists to break the glass and declare a national climate emergency, Biden said in a speech on July 20 that “climate change is an emergency. And in the coming weeks, I’m going to use the power I have as president to turn these words into formal, official government actions.” That was before the breakthrough with Manchin. With congressional action now looking more likely, will Biden’s promise to confront the climate crisis with presidential proclamations, executive orders and regulatory power go unfulfilled? Let’s hope not. Of course, we don’t need the president to tell us the overheating climate is an emergency; our planet is making the effects of our pollution loud and clear, hitting us with severe drought, deadly heat waves, devastating wildfires and flooding. The threat now is so dire that we need Biden to deliver on his pledge. That means using every executive and administrative power legally available to him to protect Americans from climate-fueled disasters, boost renewable energy and shift away from fossil fuels. And because declaring a national emergency would unlock additional tools and resources, he should do it.”

Washington Post: Amid world crises, ‘grotesque greed’ wins out
Ishaan Tharoor, 8/8/22

“For months, spiking inflation has roiled poor and rich nations alike,” Ishaan Tharoor writes for the Washington Post. “…But for major multinational fossil fuel companies, it’s the best of times. Recent second-quarter earnings reports proffered eye-popping figures: BP posted second-quarter profits worth $8.5 billion, its biggest windfall in 14 years. ExxonMobil went one further — its $17.9 billion in net income was its largest-ever quarterly profit… “And it’s not just oil and gas — coal, which climate campaigners are desperately seeking to phase out, is surging, too. Glencore, the world’s largest coal shipper, generated record profits in the first half of 2022 and plans to pay out an additional $4.5 billion in dividends and buybacks to shareholders. United Nations Secretary General António Guterres believes this state of affairs is abhorrent. In remarks made last week, he hammered energy companies for price gouging at a time of global crisis and urged governments to aggressively tax these corporations’ profits… “Oil industry executives have insisted they are reinvesting some of their profits into projects that are part of a broader green energy transition. Some oil experts also contend that profitability in the energy sector is cyclical and subject to the volatility of the market… “Climate campaigners argue that the ballooning profits of the past half-year and the snail’s pace of the energy transition are all part of the plan for fossil fuel corporations, many of which have spent vast sums lobbying Group of 20 major economies on curbing the scale and speed of their decarbonization policies.”

National Observer: Canada continues to fuel environmental racism by letting it fuel us
Tori Cress is Anishinaabe from G’Chimnissing, an island community on the shores of Waaseyaagami-wiikwed (Georgian Bay, Ont.) in Williams Treaty territory, Aliénor Rougeot is a program manager at Environmental Defence Canada where she advocates for a just transition for workers and communities and for the full cleanup of the tailings “ponds” in the oilsands, 8/8/22

“August 9 marks International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. As per tradition, governments, companies and institutions across Canada are showcasing their ability to use nice words and make enticing promises of a better tomorrow for Indigenous people,” Tori Cress and Aliénor Rougeot write for the National Observer. “Yet, their talk about reconciliation is sharply contrasted with the reality that government and industry continue to support one of the most notable instances of environmental injustice in Canada: the industrial takeover of Indigenous lands by oil production. Canada must face the fact that until we have phased out oil production in the tar sands, we will continue to fuel and fund the injustice we are claiming to care about. Racialized communities and Indigenous people are disproportionately subjected to higher levels of environmental risk than other segments of society. They experience higher exposure to pollution, toxic chemicals and other environmental hazards and unequal access to human rights, such as clean drinking water — this is known as environmental racism. The oilsands in northern Alberta are the site of immense environmental racism, yet they have conveniently escaped being a part of the national conversation on the topic… “In fact, they are actively and knowingly perpetuating environmental racism on the predominantly Indigenous front-line communities, while their own data shows toxic chemicals are leaking from tailings ponds into the surrounding environment and groundwater. As the ponds are not impermeable, operators are ramping up production, which will continue to fill the ponds… “No matter the words we say to celebrate Indigenous history and tradition, they will mean nothing if Canada continues to protect and fund — often with our taxpayers’ dollars — an industry that knowingly perpetuates environmental racism.”

Hill Times: Federal fight against climate change stops at the oil patch

“Is there anyone in Canada—anyone?—who believes that Justin Trudeau’s government is serious about tackling climate change?” Susan Riley writes for the Hill Times. “It seems unlikely, given the ongoing failure to contain emissions from Alberta’s oil patch, the single largest domestic source of the greenhouse gases that are damaging our planet… “Instead of continuing the ritual humiliation of pretending to ‘work with industry’ to lower emissions, the feds should shift attention and resources massively to electrifying transportation, home heating, and energy production in concert with willing provinces…”

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