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Extracted

EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 9/12/22

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips September 12, 2022

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PIPELINE NEWS

  • DemocracyNow: Appalachians Protest Manchin’s Mountain Valley Pipeline Plan; Sanders Decries “Disastrous Side Deal”

  • Common Dreams: ‘Listen to the Frontlines’: DC Mobilization Demands Congress Stop Manchin’s Dirty Deal

  • POWHR: Mass Resistance To Manchin & Schumer’s Dirty Pipeline Deal Comes to DC From Frontline Communities

  • Charleston Gazette-Mail: Mountain Valley Pipeline’s high risk of landslides, other WV pipeline failures fuel safety fears

  • Healing MN: Bad River Band gets big court win against Enbridge and its Line 5 crude oil pipeline

  • Des Moines Register: Builders vow CO2 pipelines will be safe. Worried Iowans point to a Mississippi rupture.

  • Des Moines Register: A carbon dioxide pipeline burst in Mississippi. Here’s what happened next.

  • Pen City Current: Supervisor wants input on utility zoning, ordinance

  • KWWL: Delaware County Board of Supervisors send letter to Iowa Utilities Board opposing proposed Navigator pipeline

  • Tri States Public Radio: CO2 pipeline opponents: ‘The clock is ticking’

  • Carbon Herald: Summit Carbon Solutions Slaps Landowners With Lawsuits In The Dakotas

  • Detroit Free Press: Michigan farm to end 22-year corn maze operation amid plans for pipeline project

  • Lehigh Valley Live: Proposed expansion of Pa.-N.J. natural gas pipeline is focus of October hearing

  • E&E News: Manufacturers push regulators for more natural gas pipelines

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • Press release: Chair Grijalva, 71 Other Members to House Leadership: Keep Permitting Reform Out of a Continuing Resolution

  • E&E News: Progressive opposition grows ahead of permitting bill release

  • E&E News: House Republicans Build Support For Scrapping Biden NEPA Rule

  • E&E News: Hearings set to attack fossil fuel industry and its backers

STATE UPDATES

  • Reuters: New law helps U.S. firm launch Wyoming direct air carbon capture project

  • E&E News: Companies unveil plans for massive Wyo. CO2 capture project

  • E&E News: Lawsuit Aims To Block ‘Delaware-Sized’ Oil And Gas Project

EXTRACTION

  • National Geographic: To find old methane-leaking oil wells, researchers look to history

  • Grist: The year’s best graphic novel might just be about life in Canada’s oil sands

  • New York Times: Finding Humor, and Humanity, in Canada’s Oil Fields

OPINION

  • Virginia Mercury: Now isn’t the time to reduce environmental review of energy permits

  • Roanoke Times: Limpert: Mountain Valley Pipeline reassurances downplay catastrophic safety risk

PIPELINE NEWS

DemocracyNow: Appalachians Protest Manchin’s Mountain Valley Pipeline Plan; Sanders Decries “Disastrous Side Deal”
9/9/22

“Climate activists from as far away as Alaska, Indigenous peoples and Appalachians rallied in Washington, D.C., Thursday against the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline,” DemocracyNow reports. “The protest — No Sacrifice Zones! — spoke out against concessions to West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin included in the Inflation Reduction Act that would expedite the pipeline slated to cut through Appalachia, as Senator Bernie Sanders gave an address on the Senate floor calling it a “disastrous side deal” to the Inflation Reduction Act that undermines climate activism. We speak with two environmental activists in D.C. who helped organize the protest, Crystal Cavalier-Keck and Russell Chisholm. “We do not want this dirty deal that Senator Joe Manchin is pushing forward,” says Cavalier-Keck. “This project must be stopped, and these extractive industries that create sacrifice zones must also be stopped,” says Chisholm. AMY GOODMAN: As California faces a record-breaking heat wave, climate activists joined Indigenous and Appalachian groups at a rally in Washington, D.C., Thursday to protest against the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The protest came a month after President Biden signed the $739 billion Inflation Reduction Act, which included major concessions to West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, the biggest recipient of fossil fuel money in Congress. One provision expedites fossil fuel permitting, including for the controversial MVP — that’s Mountain Valley Pipeline. If built, it will carry 2 billion cubic feet of fracked gas across more than a thousand streams and wetlands in Appalachia, including parts of West Virginia. On Thursday, Senator Bernie Sanders, the independent of Vermont, slammed what he described as a “disastrous side deal.” We’re joined now by two guests who took part in the protest. Russell Chisholm is the Mountain Valley Watch coordinator for the POWHR coalition — P-O-W-H-R, that’s the Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights coalition. He’s also an Army veteran of Operation Desert Storm. Crystal Cavalier-Keck is a citizen of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation in North Carolina, chair of the Environmental Justice Committee for the NAACP.”

Common Dreams: ‘Listen to the Frontlines’: DC Mobilization Demands Congress Stop Manchin’s Dirty Deal
JESSICA CORBETT, 9/8/22

“Hundreds of people descended on Washington, D.C. Thursday to lobby lawmakers and rally against a federal permit reform proposal—which would serve the fossil fuel industry that’s driving the global climate emergency,” Common Dreams reports. “U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) agreed to pass permit changes in exchange for Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voting for the Inflation Reduction Act—and Schumer made clear Wednesday that he intends to connect the reforms to a continuing resolution that must pass this month to avert a government shutdown… “Leading up to the mobilization, “No Sacrifice Zones: Appalachian Resistance Comes to D.C.,” Joye Braun, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and Indigenous Environmental Network, told Common Dreams that the deal is “a threat to our democracy.” “The American public needs to be concerned that their voices are being cut out of the democratic process. That in and of itself is scary enough,” she said, arguing that no politician should be making deals like the one Manchin and Schumer struck to push through a flawed climate package. Braun—one of the speakers at a Thursday evening rally in D.C.—added in a statement that “this dirty side deal is nothing short of a wholesale giveaway to the fossil fuel industry to the detriment of frontline communities, tribal nations, and Mother Earth.” Manchin has called for prioritizing projects of “strategic national importance,” time restrictions on permit reviews, altering clean water rules, limiting court challenges, and boosting federal authority for some proposals. “This deal will mute the voices of the pollution-overburdened, paying lip service to pleas for relief from petrochemical, pipeline, and LNG expansion, while allowing Big Oil and Gas to further inflict damage to their lives and health by their expansion, and the weakening of environmental laws and enforcement,” warned John Beard, CEO and founder of the Port Arthur Community Action Network.”

POWHR: Mass Resistance To Manchin & Schumer’s Dirty Pipeline Deal Comes to DC From Frontline Communities
9/9/22

“Frontline organizers, Indigenous water protectors, and climate activists traveled from all corners of the U.S. to show mass opposition to West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s dirty pipeline bill. More than 600 people convened for a rally in front of the U.S. Capitol where they heard from people on the frontlines of environmental justice and climate change who called for no sacrifice zones and an end to Manchin’s bill. Members of the group spent the day lobbying Congress members – including Manchin himself – asking them to oppose the deal and fulfill other demands of their respective communities. Sen. Bernie Sanders said he will oppose a government funding bill if the Manchin’s deal is included in it… “This bill directly impacts communities in Appalachia, Alaska and the Gulf. Due to so-called “permitting reform,” the bill will also impact frontline communities across the U.S. because it will severely reduce the time they have to comment on proposals. “We have seen time after time our sacred places, water and land destroyed for fossil fuel greed with little thought or acknowledgment of the cultural and legal connections of Tribes to these lands,” said Crystal Cavalier-Keck, co-founder of 7 Directions of Service. “It is past time we stand up for our earth — our home. We have one chance to protect our children and prepare for the next 7 generations.” 

Charleston Gazette-Mail: Mountain Valley Pipeline’s high risk of landslides, other WV pipeline failures fuel safety fears
Mike Tony, 9/10/22

“During a rally in Charleston in May, Mountain Valley Pipeline opponent Maury Johnson of Monroe County remembers Mirijana Beram, who had opposed the Mountaineer XPress Pipeline crossing near her Doddridge County home before her death earlier this year,” the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports. “Critics of the Mountain Valley Pipeline say the Mountaineer XPress Pipeline’s lingering struggles with erosion and land slips are reasons to stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline in its tracks. Mirijana Beram saw no difference between the right-of-way and wrong. She wanted the state officials who had gathered in her neck of the woods to see that, too…”

Healing MN: Bad River Band gets big court win against Enbridge and its Line 5 crude oil pipeline
9/8/22

“The Band River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa got a significant victory Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, where a judge ruled that Enbridge Energy and its Line 5 pipeline had trespassed on Reservation lands and unjustly enriched itself since 2013,” Healing MN reports. “In the 56-page ruling, Judge William Conley said the Band was entitled to financial compensation. He stopped short of granting the Band’s request that Enbridge immediately cease pipeline operations across its lands. “[A]n immediate shutdown of the Line 5 pipeline would have widespread economic consequences,” and have significant implications “on the trade relationship between the United States and Canada,” Conley wrote… “Land within Bad River, like other reservations, has multiple owners. The Dawes Act of 1887 forced private land ownership on Native Nations. The federal government unilaterally broke up communally held Reservation lands into individual allotments, or parcels. Some were allotted to Tribal families. Some were sold off to settlers… “By 2013, the Band owned some parcels with 50-year easements, and some parcels with 20-year easements… “Bad River refused to renew Line 5 easements on the individual parcels it had acquired with 20-year easements. On Jan. 4, 2017, it passed a resolution stating its unwillingness to grant new easements… “In spite of the resolution, Enbridge refused to remove the pipeline from Reservation lands, and continued to operate Line 5. Enbridge made several arguments saying the Band was required to extend the easements. The Judge rejected them all.”

Des Moines Register: Builders vow CO2 pipelines will be safe. Worried Iowans point to a Mississippi rupture.
Donnelle Eller, 9/11/22

“Schools have a lot to worry about these days, Marshall Lewis, superintendent of the Graettinger-Terril Community School District in northwest Iowa,” tells the Des Moines Register. “Classroom shootings, the pandemic. “It’s a reality that we have to deal with,” Lewis, who returned to lead his hometown district after several years as an educator elsewhere, told the Register. Now, Lewis has a new potential hazard on his mind: Two corporations want to build pipelines that would carry pressurized, liquefied carbon dioxide just outside Terril, the home of Graettinger-Terril Elementary, with 140 students and 30 teachers and staff… “With two carbon capture pipelines slated to pass close to an elementary school in his  Graettinger-Terril Community School District in northwest Iowa, Superintendent Marshall Lewis is worried about student safety… “This pipeline will be one of the safest in the country,” Jimmy Powell, Summit’s chief operating officer, told the Register. He told the Register modeling shows that a plume from the company’s buried carbon dioxide pipeline would pose no threat to the Terril school. “By the time it reached that building, it would be completely dissipated into the atmosphere,” Powell told the Register… “For critics of the pipelines, a rupture 2½ years ago in a carbon dioxide pipeline a mile from Satartia, Mississippi, illustrates the risks. It sent 45 people to the hospital and forced the evacuation of 200 area residents… “Unlike crude oil, natural gas and other products that are moved through pipelines, carbon dioxide ruptures “can impact areas measured in miles, not feet,” according to a carbon capture pipeline safety analysis that Bill Caram’s Pipeline Safety Trust commissioned… “Summit officials have said at public meetings that there’s a big difference between what happened in Satartia and Summit’s project: The Ames-based company’s pipeline won’t contain hydrogen sulfide, the poisonous impurity that caused the rotten egg smell and sickened residents… “But indoor and outdoor testing in Satartia overnight and into the next day showed no hydrogen sulfide, federal investigators reported, although it was likely the gas initially was present… “Caram, the Pipeline Safety Trust director, said Summit is understating the risks tied to carbon dioxide by focusing on hydrogen sulfide in Satartia… “Additional factors drew federal regulators’ attention in the Satartia leak. They said Denbury failed to address “the risks of geohazards in its plans and procedures,” underestimated “the potential affected areas that could be impacted by a release in its CO2 dispersion model,” and didn’t notify “local responders to advise them of a potential failure.”

Des Moines Register: A carbon dioxide pipeline burst in Mississippi. Here’s what happened next.
Donnelle Eller, 9/11/22

“Nearly two years ago, a 24-inch pipeline carrying liquefied carbon dioxide ruptured near the village of Satartia, Mississippi,” the Des Moines Register reports. “The pipeline was built through hilly, rugged terrain. Saturated with rain over two months, soil around the pipeline slid, causing a pipe weld to break and releasing an explosion of ice and carbon dioxide, according to the federal agency that investigated the accident. A plume of carbon dioxide rolled toward the village of 50 people. Emergency personnel evacuated about 200 residents from there and the surrounding area, and 45 people sought medical attention, according to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. There were no deaths. The agency is seeking nearly $4 million in fines connected to the rupture from pipeline owner Denbury Gulf Coast Pipelines of Plano, Texas. Among the violations cited, federal investigators said the company “significantly underestimated the affected area that could be impacted by a release.” One noteworthy conclusion of the report: It took Denbury about two hours — double the requirement — to notify federal authorities of the rupture, although it knew within minutes of the breach that the pipeline had lost pressure. Local authorities, meanwhile, weren’t aware of the leak’s source for almost half an hour. Opponents of three proposed carbon-capture pipelines in Iowa point to the Satartia rupture, expressing concern that residents along the Iowa pipeline routes could experience a similar emergency. The developers say their pipelines would exceed federal safety requirements and that the Satartia incident was an anomaly brought about by unique factors. Here’s a timeline of what investigators say occurred in Mississippi…”

Pen City Current: Supervisor wants input on utility zoning, ordinance
Chuck Vandenberg, 9/8/22

“A Lee County Supervisor wants input from the county around an ordinance governing future utility installments,” the Pen City Current reports. “Supervisor Garry Seyb said he would be interested in hearing how county residents feel about the possibility of drafting an ordinance to not only look at future and current pipeline plans, but also wind and solar projects as well… “Seyb told the Current he’s hearing from many residents that the county should try and stop the the proposed Navigator Heartland Greenway pipeline from being built in the county. But Seyb told the Current he’s also heard that Nu-Star, which is proposing another anhydrous ammonia pipeline through the county, has already acquired close to 90% of right of way compliance. In contrast he’s heard of zero compliance with the CO2 pipeline proposed by Navigator… “But Seyb told the Current he’s concerned that the county has few options to legally stand up to the pipeline company, or future utility companies, because there are no ordinances in place… “Seyb told the Current there are other utiliites out there sniffing around and he said he learned at Iowa State Association of Counties meetings last week that those counties that don’t have ordinances are the ones utilities target because they only have to deal with the landowners. “They deal with the landowners and don’t have to go through the county. There’s no rules or regulations. If citizens want us to do that, that’s what we need to look at doing,” he told the Current. “But if they’re okay with a neighbor putting up a windmill or a solar farm so be it. The ordinance would create requirement for utility to come to the county. Right now they just have to deal with the landowners.”

KWWL: Delaware County Board of Supervisors send letter to Iowa Utilities Board opposing proposed Navigator pipeline
9/11/22

“The Delaware County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to the Iowa Utilities Board, expressing their “unanimous opposition” to a proposed pipeline project more than 1,300 miles long, spanning five states,” KWWL reports. “..As a County, we stand for the health, safety and wellbeing of our residents and businesses for the present and future,” the letter said. In the letter, the Board of Supervisors outlined their concerns with the project, specifically mentioning long-term compaction, drain tile damage and future loss of crop yields. “Our landowners have many concerns about what happens during construction and long-lasting effects after construction,” The Board of Supervisors wrote. “Historically, the pipeline that cut through Delaware County 20 plus years ago left many acres of land that will never return to its original state, crop loss of 50-70 bushels per acre over the pipeline easement, and the ground is not firm.” In August, Navigator held an informational meeting in Manchester to discuss the proposal with the public. Many in the crowd were outspoken in their opposition to the pipeline’s construction in their county. Some said they did not want a limited liability company (LLC) building on their land… “The Bremer and Butler County Board of Supervisors have also submitted letters opposing the pipeline’s construction in their counties to the Iowa Utilities Board. The Oelwein City Council passed a resolution opposing the project… “Several of the letters expressed concerns about possible leaks and the potential safety hazards that could arise. “CO2 is odorless, colorless and heavier than air,” The Delaware County Board of Supervisors said. “Navigator representatives said they might consider adding an odorant so that nearby residents might be able to smell if there is a leak. That does not offer adequate protection for our citizens!” In a letter to the Iowa Utilities Board, Oelwein City Administrator Dylan Mulfinger said, “the threats of personal safety from the proposed Navigator Heartline Greenway would cause undue burdens on public safety.” The Delaware County Board of Supervisors said Navigator has not reached out to their county’s emergency services to discuss the potential safety hazards… “All four letters also expressed opposition to Navigator’s use of eminent domain to acquire land to construct the pipeline on.”

Tri States Public Radio: CO2 pipeline opponents: ‘The clock is ticking’
Rich Egger, 9/11/22

“Navigator Heartland Greenway filed its petition with the Illinois Commerce Commission in late July to build a CO2 pipeline through parts of the state. Opponents said there is no time to waste in fighting the project,” Tri States Public Radio reports. “The clock is ticking on getting counties ready to intervene and intervening in the process. That really needs to happen now,” Pam Richart of the Eco-Justice Collaborative, which is part of the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines, told TSPR. “If counties want to get their objections heard and get meaningful testimony entered into the record, they need to be doing sooner than later because at a certain point we’ll be beyond that in the (ICC) schedule.” The organizations were involved in a gathering that filled the meeting rooms at the Spoon River College Community Outreach Center in Macomb… “Richart called CO2 pipelines and sequestration “a false solution to climate change” because she feels it is unproven technology that will help keep the fossil fuel industry alive for decades to come. She hoped people came away from the meeting energized, inspired, and ready to take action. “I’m hoping that they will write letters to the editor. I hope they will call their county board chairs. I hope they will go to their township meetings and ask their townships to adopt resolutions,” she told TSPR… “Richart also told TSPR county boards can take a couple actions: they can file with the ICC to intervene, and they can adopt zoning and other land use ordinances… “McDonough County resident Bill Jacobs said he wants local officials, especially county board members, to work against the project. “We need our elected officials to provide our voices in Springfield,” he said… “Organizers of the meeting made anti-pipeline yard signs available for free, and they urged people to join the group Citizens Against Heartland Greenway Pipeline. The not-for-profit group formed so that pipeline opponents could pool their money to pay for legal services. A one-year membership is $500.”

Carbon Herald: Summit Carbon Solutions Slaps Landowners With Lawsuits In The Dakotas
Violet George, 9/8/22

“Some landowners in North and South Dakota have refused to allow pipeline survey crews from Summit Carbon Solutions onto their properties and are now facing lawsuits from the company,” the Carbon Herald reports. “…So far, the project has faced much opposition from landowners, environmental groups and even government officials. And in the latest sign of protest, property owners, whose land is in the way of the future pipeline, have denied survey crews access to their properties. Although access is said to be granted voluntarily, it appears that the company is entitled to take legal action in the event that it isn’t given freely, which is what Summit Carbon Solutions is now doing. Domina Law Group, a law firm in Omaha, Nebraska, has taken on some of the cases and will be representing landowners that have been served with lawsuits in all five states on the pipeline route.  Attorneys are arguing that while the issue of eminent domain being used to cease land is a bigger one, even the survey can be considered an act of taking private property and therefore in breach of the constitution… “However, attorney Brian Jorde is certain that the more people are sued, the more attention will be brought to the issue and more fuel will be added to the opposition of the carbon pipeline project.”

Detroit Free Press: Michigan farm to end 22-year corn maze operation amid plans for pipeline project
Neal Rubin, 9/11/22

“For seven months, Mark and Dolly Benjamin thought eminent domain and a Consumers Energy pipeline were going to take their farmhouse, and most nights, Dolly cried herself to sleep,” the Detroit Free Press reports. “It turns out the house will be fine, if you overlook 18 months of construction work 25 yards from the bedroom window. But the pipeline means it’s the last season for Mark’s corn maze, and at the thought of that… “Losing the corn maze hurts, though. He led a bit of a tour last week, showed the graph paper where he sketched out this year’s design, ran through some of his greatest hits since the first maze in 2001, and yeah. He got weepy… “The power company trimmed his sails, he told the Press. It could have agreed to use directional boring, a more expensive but less intrusive way to build the pipeline that wouldn’t have threatened his home, wouldn’t have torpedoed his plans for new attractions, wouldn’t have lopped off more than a third of his parking lot and wouldn’t be ending a 22-year run of fall entertainment… “A check of the line last year by Consumers Energy found a spot 100 yards from the maze that needed an immediate patch, he told the Press, and it turns out a section across the road is only 20 inches beneath the surface, close enough to be reached with highly unfortunate consequences by the deep-tillage John Deere V-Ripper he’d once considered buying… “The company said the directional boring method it will use beneath I-96, preserving the surface, is significantly more costly than the standard work it will do on the farm and buries the pipeline deeper, which makes it harder to maintain. Benjamin was paid in advance for the revenue he’ll lose when the maze can’t operate after digging starts next year. He points out that the lot will still be unusable in 2024, and he has a list of reasons why it won’t make sense to reopen after that.”

Lehigh Valley Live: Proposed expansion of Pa.-N.J. natural gas pipeline is focus of October hearing
Kurt Bresswein, 9/12/22

“A proposed expansion of an existing natural gas pipeline from northeastern Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale production region into New Jersey is the focus of a state regulatory hearing next month,” Lehigh Valley Live reports. “Williams proposes the enhancement of its Transco Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC line, in what’s being called the Regional Energy Access Expansion Project… “The proposal follows the cancellation of what would have been a new natural gas pipeline into New Jersey from the Marcellus Shale region, where hydraulic fracturing has helped to make Pennsylvania the second-largest producer of the fossil fuel behind Texas. The natural gas companies behind that previous project, PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC, ceased efforts to pursue construction in the face of difficulties securing the needed permits. Environmental advocates have signaled plans to fight the Transco expansion, as well, with the Bucks County-based Delaware Riverkeeper Network spreading the word about next month’s hearing among those “concerned about pipeline development, anti-degradation, high quality and exceptional value streams, climate change, fracking, riparian buffers, wetland degradation, deforestation, and endangered species protection,” according to a a news release from the nonprofit organization… “The estimated $800 million investment is projected to generate 6,396 local union jobs, with labor compensation totaling an estimated $295 million — plus a total projected gross domestic product contribution to the region of $375 million, more than $17 million in state tax revenue and over $6.6 million in local tax revenue, the company says.”

E&E News: Manufacturers push regulators for more natural gas pipelines
Nico Portuondo, 9/9/22

“Manufacturers told lawmakers Friday that federal agencies should have a responsibility to secure reliable and affordable access to natural gas, mainly through a dramatic growth in pipeline infrastructure,” E&E News reports. “A letter released Friday envisions an industry-oriented course correction at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corp. — one that sees the agencies turn from slow-walking regulators to active proponents of new infrastructure. “For decades, the current system has worked well. When pipeline capacity was needed, pipeline companies filed permits to the FERC and for the most part, the pipelines were approved and built without much delay,” wrote Paul Cicio, CEO of Industrial Energy Consumers of America. “That is no longer the case.” The letter argues a transformation is necessary because of the dire energy situation U.S. manufacturers find themselves in. Manufacturers, which have long used natural gas for fuel and as a raw material, have been particularly slammed by the rising costs and have to compete with utilities and LNG export facilities for the fuel… “FERC and NERC, Cicio argues, have an obligation to step in and ensure adequate pipeline capacity to fulfill the national imperatives of reliable energy and electricity… “He also said FERC should coordinate with power generators to potentially keep nuclear power plants or even coal-fired power plants online until more natural gas is available to all ratepayers.”

WASHINGTON UPDATES

Press release: Chair Grijalva, 71 Other Members to House Leadership: Keep Permitting Reform Out of a Continuing Resolution
9/9/22

“Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today sent a letter with 71 other members of Congress to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) expressing strong opposition to including “comprehensive permitting reform legislation” in this month’s Continuing Resolution (CR). Last month, the American Petroleum Institute (API) leaked a one-page summary of the permitting reform proposal and draft bill text with an API watermark. As outlined in these documents, the provisions would accelerate permitting review processes and timelines for energy development projects, including fossil fuels. Fundamental public health and environmental protections, like the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) would effectively be weakened. For decades, low-income communities, communities of color, and Indigenous communities who have been overburdened by pollution from dirty energy development have fought to strengthen the public input processes mandated by NEPA. As the lawmakers write in their letter, the provisions mandated by NEPA “are among the only tools local communities have to force careful review of federal projects that may have serious, long-term, environmental, and public health consequences in those communities.” Chair Grijalva’s and Rep. A. Donald McEachin’s (D-Va.) Environmental Justice For All Act, the most comprehensive environmental justice legislation in history, would strengthen NEPA, among other important provisions. Chair Grijalva and the other members go on to say that attaching permitting reform in a Continuing Resolution would “force Members to choose between protecting EJ communities from further pollution or funding the government.”

E&E News: Progressive opposition grows ahead of permitting bill release
George Cahlink, 9/12/22

“Congress could unveil stopgap spending legislation this week that could carry a contentious permitting reform overhaul and aid to address the water crisis in Jackson, Miss.,” E&E News reports. “The House will return from August recess with progressives eager to derail a plan to attach permitting overhaul legislation to stopgap spending legislation that Congress needs to pass by the end of this month to avert a government shutdown… “More than 70 Democrats, led by Natural Resources Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), wrote Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) late last week warning that including the proposal could jeopardize their support for the funding bill, known as a continuing resolution… “Among the signers were eight other panel chairs, including Oversight and Reform Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.); Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife Chair Jared Huffman (D-Calif.); and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Chair Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.)… “House Democrats only have an eight-seat majority. Progressives uniting against a CR with permitting legislation would jeopardize the effort and threaten a shutdown. While House Republicans have long backed a permitting overhaul, it’s unlikely a large bloc of GOP lawmakers would be willing to cut a deal with Democrats less than two months before the midterm elections.” “…Also last week, a group of 31 environmental justice groups wrote Pelosi last week asking her to keep what they called a “dirty side deal” on permitting reform off the CR. They said the proposed permitting revisions are being written by groups like the American Petroleum Institute and would hurt climate action and environmental justice.”

E&E News: House Republicans Build Support For Scrapping Biden NEPA Rule
Kelsey Brugger, 9/9/22

“House Republicans are rushing to build support for rejecting President Joe Biden’s new National Environmental Policy Act rules,” E&E News reports. “Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), ranking member of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, is taking the lead on promoting a resolution against the rules that passed the Senate last month. The White House moved to make sure agencies take account of climate impacts when conducting NEPA reviews. Republican critics and their allies say the Biden rules — which undid ones promulgated under former President Donald Trump — would hurt infrastructure projects. ‘NEPA has gotten out of hand,’ Graves told E&E News this week. ‘It has grown so far from its original intent of actually protecting the environment.’ The Congressional Review Act allows lawmakers to rescind a rule by a simple majority vote, but Congress has a limited time to act after a rule is finalized. The deadline for action is sometime this month.”

E&E News: Hearings set to attack fossil fuel industry and its backers
Nick Sobczyk, 9/12/22

“Democrats plan to tear into the fossil fuel industry during a pair of House hearings this week,” E&E News reports. “The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will meet Wednesday as part of its ongoing investigation of public relations firms’ role in spreading climate change denial. Natural Resources Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and subcommittee Chair Katie Porter (D-Calif.) have been seeking documents from several companies detailing their work for fossil fuel companies and industry trade associations. They have also threatened to subpoena FTI Consulting Inc. over what they called a “blanket refusal to provide even the most basic information about its clients or descriptions of the grounds for its refusal beyond the vaguest assertions of confidentiality and privileges”. The hearing Wednesday, however, will not feature testimony from any of the companies. FTI was not invited, as the committee is still negotiating with the firm on its cooperation in the investigation, Natural Resources spokesperson Lindsay Gressard told E&E. The subcommittee did invite Singer Associates President Sam Singer, Story Partners CEO Debra Cabral and Pac/West Communications President Paul Phillips to testify this week. Singer and Cabral declined, while Phillips was unresponsive, Gressard told E&E… “Instead, the subcommittee will hear from a panel of outside experts and advocates on the issue of fossil fuel PR. Among the witnesses is Melissa Aronczyk of Rutgers University, who co-authored a book on public relations and modern environmental politics.”

STATE UPDATES

Reuters: New law helps U.S. firm launch Wyoming direct air carbon capture project
Valerie Volcovici, 9/8/22

“A Los Angeles-based company kicked off on Thursday what it said will be the first large-scale direct air capture (DAC) project to capture and store 5 million tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2030, benefiting from new U.S. government incentives,” Reuters reports. “CarbonCapture, founded by technology entrepreneur Bill Gross, announced the start of Project Bison in Wyoming with Frontier Carbon Solutions, marking a milestone as government and private investment pours into the nascent DAC climate technology. The company described it as the first major scalable deployment of DAC technology and the first to inject and permanently store CO2 underground in federally approved wells. The passage in August of new law by Congress accelerated the launch of Project Bison by a couple months, giving CarbonCapture and the DAC industry the financial support and long-term certainty needed to scale up the technology, CarbonCapture CEO Adrian Corless told Reuters. “With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the proliferation of companies seeking high quality carbon removal credits, and a disruptive low-cost technology, we now have the ingredients needed to scale DAC to megaton levels by the end of this decade,” Corless told Reuters… “Some climate justice groups have opposed the Biden administration’s support of what they say is unproven carbon removal technology, arguing that investment is better spent on proven renewable technologies.”

E&E News: Companies unveil plans for massive Wyo. CO2 capture project
CARLOS ANCHONDO, 9/9/22

“Two companies announced plans yesterday to build what could be one of the world’s largest facilities to pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at a site in Wyoming,” E&E News reports. “CarbonCapture Inc., a climate technology company, and Frontier Carbon Solutions, a carbon storage developer, said they were aiming for the direct air capture (DAC) project — known as “Project Bison” — to be operational by late 2023 and remove 5 million metric tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide annually by 2030. Project Bison would be the first direct air capture facility to use wells for geologic sequestration of CO2, known as Class VI wells, to permanently store the gas, according to the companies. It also will be able to grow more quickly because of provisions in the climate and energy law signed last month, Adrian Corless, the CEO and chief technology officer of CarbonCapture, told E&E. The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act has a “huge impact on pulling forward the economics” of direct air capture, he told E&E… “Absent the [Inflation Reduction Act,] I think we still were trying to get this project announced around this period of time, but I think the metrics that we would’ve announced would’ve been more modest, for sure,” Corless told E&E… “The reduced threshold “allows projects to fully ramp up into commerciality while benefiting from the credit,” Steve Lowenthal, a spokesperson for Frontier Carbon Solutions, told E&E… “Still, Kimberly Mazza, a spokesperson for the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, told E&E the state agency has not issued any Class VI permits since taking primacy, including for Project Bison. Only one company, North Shore Exploration and Production LLC, has submitted a Class VI application to date, Mazza told E&E.”

E&E News: Lawsuit Aims To Block ‘Delaware-Sized’ Oil And Gas Project
Niina Farah, 9/9/22

“A coalition of environmental groups is suing to block a massive Trump-era oil and gas development that would add 5,000 new wells in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin,” E&E News reports. “The Converse County Oil and Gas Project was approved by the Interior Department in 2020 as a key feature of the Trump administration’s ‘energy dominance’ agenda that aimed to bolster domestic fossil fuel production… “The Powder River Basin Resource Council and other environmental challengers raised concerns about the impact of the Wyoming fossil fuel project’s scale on the climate, air quality and wildlife in their challenge filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Wednesday. ‘The Bureau of Land Management has already started permitting hundreds of the 5,000 wells contemplated in the Converse County Oil & Gas Project,’ Maria Katherman, a Powder River Basin Resource Council board member, told E&E. … The challengers urged the district court to toss BLM’s approval of the project for the agency’s alleged failure to take a ‘hard look’ at the potential harms of the project under the National Environmental Policy Act. They also said BLM did not ensure that the leases complied with federal air quality standards or land use plans under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA).”

EXTRACTION

National Geographic: To find old methane-leaking oil wells, researchers look to history
LESLIE NEMO, 9/9/22

“Natalie Pekney and Jim Sams are hunting across the United States for a treasure they’d rather didn’t exist: undocumented oil and gas wells, some so old that foliage has overgrown them and hidden the environmental hazards they pose,” National Geographic reports. “Like any good explorers, the team needs reliable maps—ones they’re constructing, in part, with historical documents. Old photos and drawings, paired with new data gathered by remote sensing, help Pekney, an engineer with the U.S. National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), and Sams, a geologist with the information technology company Leidos, navigate as if they were some of the country’s earliest oil and gas prospectors themselves. “When you go out into the field and attempt to find wells, it can be really overwhelming,” Pekney told NatGeo. The better their maps, the easier the search. “It increases confidence that if I walk to the coordinates that I have here, I can find a well.” There are likely hundreds of thousands of wells that are both unplugged and unregistered with governments, according to the 21 state agencies that replied to the 2020 Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission survey. The unsealed wells they and their team from the NETL find, which still could be emitting the potent greenhouse gas methane or threatening to pollute groundwater, help create more complete datasets for state environmental agencies deciding which wells are causing the most damage, and which to seal up first.”

Grist: The year’s best graphic novel might just be about life in Canada’s oil sands
Kate Yoder, 9/12/22

“In the spring of 2008, an estimated 1,600 migratory ducks landed in the wrong place: a pond of toxic sludge in Fort McMurray, Alberta, in the heart of Canada’s oil sands. The birds, slick with oil, struggled to get out of the bitumen-covered water; wildlife officials shot the ones that didn’t die to put them out of their misery,” Grist reports. “…But at the same time, there were other problems in the oil sands — human ones — that escaped media attention, according to Kate Beaton, the author of the upcoming graphic novel Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands. After graduating from university in 2005, Beaton left her home in Cape Breton, an island off the east coast of Canada, to try to pay off a mountain of student loans by working in Fort McMurray. A white lie got her a job in the “tool crib” at the Syncrude Base Mine, where she handed wrenches and hard hats to workers. Around the time the ill-fated ducks landed in the toxic pond, Beaton was working in an office for Shell in the Albian Sands, using the office copier on her lunch break to scan the cartoons that would launch her future career… “Ducks has already drawn comparisons to classic graphic novels such as Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. It offers an empathetic picture of her coworkers while also portraying the harsh realities of life in the oil sands: isolation, environmental destruction, and for Beaton personally, an endless stream of sexist comments.” 

New York Times: Finding Humor, and Humanity, in Canada’s Oil Fields
Robert Ito, 9/12/22

“In 2005, Kate Beaton was 21, with a brand-new degree in history and anthropology, student loans she said felt like a foot on her neck, and few job prospects. Around her home in Cape Breton, a picturesque, wooded island in Nova Scotia, the joke was that everyone was “on pogie,” she said — on unemployment,” the New York Times reports. “So she headed west, to the tar sand fields of northern Alberta, one of the world’s most environmentally destructive oil operations, where workers lived in barracks-like camps and men vastly outnumbered women. Her experience there, detailed in the graphic memoir “Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands,” out on Sept. 13 from the Montreal-based publisher Drawn & Quarterly, was one of isolation and sexual harassment. It also gave her an insider’s view into a place and piece of Canadian history few outsiders ever see. “You know how some times in your life, some memories, stay there and replay themselves?” she asked. “A lot of my time in the oil sands was like that. It seemed like a book I was always going to make, or it would be the one that would always be sort of swimming in my brain.”

OPINION

Virginia Mercury: Now isn’t the time to reduce environmental review of energy permits
Chelsea Barnes is legislative director for nonprofit Appalachian Voices, 9/9/22

“On August 22, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (D) made a trip to Twin Valley High School in Whitewood, Virginia, where just weeks prior, the community was ravaged by flooding, with more than 100 homes destroyed,” Chelsea Barnes writes for the Virginia Mercury. “…However, at the same time Warner is making these promises to communities, the U.S. Senate is considering a bill to change how energy companies are regulated — including what environmental review processes are necessary and how impacted communities can provide input.  The exact text hasn’t been released, but the proposal by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III (D) goes in the wrong direction — it reduces environmental oversight and community input. Warner must oppose the so-called “permitting reform” bill if he intends to keep his promise to those who are so badly affected by flooding. Now is not the time to attempt to green-light energy projects that will contribute to more flooding and more erosion — not when scientists tell us such flooding events will become more and more common. We must retain our environmental protection laws… “While we must advance clean energy to tackle climate change and do our part to avert more record-breaking floods, a bill that decimates the Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act is not the way to do it. A bill to truly expedite clean energy should be written explicitly for that goal, and passed on its own merits, not as part of a political ploy tied to other must-pass legislation. If he wants to keep his promises to residents, Warner must oppose Manchin’s “permitting reform” bill.”

Roanoke Times: Limpert: Mountain Valley Pipeline reassurances downplay catastrophic safety risk
William Limpert, a Smithsburg, Maryland resident retired from the Maryland Department of Environment, once owned a property and house in Bath County that he learned in 2016 was in the path of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, 9/11/22

“Roanoke Times reporter Laurence Hammack’s article (“Pipes sit outside as construction delayed,” Sept. 3) regarding the significant threat to public safety from the Mountain Valley Pipeline points out the fear and danger that people living near it will endure every day if the project is completed. MVP has been reckless with their pipe, and federal regulatory agencies have been missing in action in their failure to protect nearby residents,” William Limpert writes for the Roanoke Times. “…An MVP explosion would be catastrophic. It would dwarf the horrific San Bruno pipeline explosion which killed eight people, injured 60, left a crater 72 feet long and 26 feet wide, threw a 3,000 pound segment of pipe 100 feet from the crater, and had a reported 1,000 foot high fireball… “MVP misleads the public once again in saying that any damaged coating or thin spots will be repaired prior to installing the pipe. It’s not that easy. Expert Richard Kuprewicz’ statement that the pipe must be in terrible shape indicates that field repair is not enough to assure the public safety. Damaged pipe, in the ground or on the surface must be discarded or returned to the factory for recoating. There is no question that additional testing is needed to reduce the significant public safety threat. The tests must investigate loss of coating flexibility, uptake of contaminants, coating adherence to the pipe, as well as testing for holes, and coating thickness. Every one of the 40,000 pipes for the MVP may be unsafe, and a weak link in what is essentially a 303 mile underground bomb… “Bad pipe is dangerous. Landslides are dangerous. Bad pipe plus landslides is a disaster on the doorstep of our fellow citizens, whose safety and well-being are being sacrificed to increase corporate profits.”

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